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Snaps: Rose-picking at Chart Farm

For the longest time now, I’ve wanted to visit Chart Farm in Wynberg to wander among the roses and – best of all – pick a selection of my own to take back home.

But, on one condition: that my mom could come along, as her love for these fragrant blooms runs deep and connects with a tender nostalgia for the birthdays of her childhood in Piet Retief. Born on the 16th of November, my mom’s celebration of life falls slap-bang in the middle of peak rose season, which also happens to be most spectacular in the highveld areas of our country.

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jeffreys bay, beach, supertubes, travel, south africa, shells

Snaps: A morning in J-Bay

At the beginning of August, my mom and I took a little trip up the coast just to get away for a bit and spend some time together. She had recently wrapped up five intense years of political work as a ward councillor in the Overstrand municipality and I was on the brink of starting a brand new job after a few months of trying to make ends meet as a freelancer (more about all of this another time).

In short, we both needed a little breather before stepping into something new.

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Rod's Trail, Betty's Bay, mountains, hiking, overberg, overberg hiking, adventure, travel, explore, fynbos, kogelberg

Snaps: Rod’s Trail, Betty’s Bay

While the past week or so has been a rather stormy one down here in the Western Cape, I must say, we’ve really been blessed with some particularly pleasant winter weather.

And nowhere is a bright winter’s day more beautiful than in Betty’s Bay. Anyone familiar with that side of the world will know that for 80% of the year it’s a high energy zone – all gale force winds and stormy seas. But when it decides to take a breather and… just… rel…ax, it’s seriously the most exquisite place in the world.

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Ice Cream sandwiches in Sea Point

I’d heard about ice cream sandwiches before, but never really paid them much attention.

The picture I had in my mind was that ice lolly you buy when you can’t afford the big guns – Magnum and Mega and even Fruttare: a rectangular slab of vanilla ice cream encased in two crispy wafers. Relatively uninspiring, but icy and creamy enough to suffice as a substitute for deliciousness on really hot days.

So, when my cousin, Nikola called me up one afternoon to ask whether I wanted to go for an ice cream sandwich at Crumbs & Cream, this new place in Sea Point, I was slightly skeptical.

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oupa and tannie marie

The ones who go ahead of us

This is an adaptation of a (translated) text I sent to Guillaume… just because I think it captures the raw thoughts and emotions I had while visiting my Oupa Andre and Tannie Marie last night. Oupa is currently undergoing a six-week stint of radiation for a malignant growth detected in his body.

I wanted to tell you about the visit I had with Oupa and Tannie Marie, and how inspiring I found it.

It was one of those times where you set off thinking that you would be the one bestowing grace upon someone else: the young person taking time out of her busy schedule to visit her aging grandfather… but then end up coming off it the more enriched, enlightened and blessed one.

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My grandfather’s passport

It was just over year ago that my Oupa Marius passed away. He breathed his last – a peaceful sigh, my brother said – surrounded by loved ones on the 16th of June 2013, which also happened to be Father’s Day.

While it felt sudden and unexpected to me at the time – I mean, I’d spoken to him just a few days before and he’d said that he was feeling better and would be heading home from the hospital soon – I guess it wasn’t really.

He was going on 89 and had lived a life fuller than most.

In the time he walked this earth he had been many, many things: a husband, father, grandfather. A teacher. A writer. A cultivator of crops. A singer. A laugher of the highest order – it would always start deep in his stomach, bubbling up and inevitably end with him wiping tears from the corner of each eye. A lover of God’s good creation with a passion for exploration.

He was an adventurer and traveller who knew exactly how to get off the beaten track. And if you happened to be with him when the whim to take the road less travelled hit, boy did you just have to hang on and surrender to the ride.

In my oupa’s mind, roads marked with no entry signs in the Kruger National Park only meant better game viewing opportunities. And those who said you couldn’t 4×4 with an Elantra obviously lacked imagination and guts.

I think it’s this part of my grandfather’s character that I adored the most. Cursed with a tendency toward timidity, I have always envied and admired that sort of robustness.

(So much so that, in recent months, when faced with a challenge or posed with an out-of-my-comfort-zone opportunity, I’ve taken on the mantra: “What would Oupa Marius do?”

And always end up thinking: “Actually what wouldn’t he do?”)

Of course this resilience went hand-in-hand with the sort of free spirit you simply couldn’t quite pin down. It was no doubt the driving force that had propelled him and my Ouma Naomi to the furthest reaches of the earth.

I recognise the fluttering of that spirit so poignantly in myself… although I haven’t allowed it to move me nearly as often as I would have liked it to… yet.

So, last year, while spending time with my gran and the rest of the family before and after the memorial service, I was struck by the sudden urge to see, touch, inspect the passports my grandfather had filled over the years.

At first I found this urge weird and completely out of place. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So finally decided to ask my gran if she knew where they were and if I could have a look at them.

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Taking up her walking frame she accompanied me to my Oupa’s study. Filled with books, magazines, files, stamps and all sorts of bric-a-brac that he had spent hours poring over, the study had become a place of comfort and commemoration to most of us. A shrine.

She opened one of the desk drawers, scratched around for a bit and finally brought forth a pristinely preserved specimen of the all-too-familiar green booklet.

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Casting a quick look over the front page, my Ouma handed it to me and said it dated back to the late 70s and early 80s. She mentioned a stamp or two I might spot and then left me to indulge my curiosity.

Although the passport had by no means yet been filled, what I found inside captured my wanderlusting imagination.

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From Transkei (yes, you needed a passport to get to the wild coast in the old days) to Turkey, Italy to Iran, Cyprus, Malawi and Bahrain, my grandparents had travelled to a delectable selection of unlikely destinations.

While I remember them visiting Australia and the US in their later years, I had no idea that their taste for adventure had been so all encompassing. I suddenly wished that I had known this earlier. That I could sit down and ask my Oupa about Iran. What was it like back then and if he thought there was any comparison to the politically-isolated place it is today. Which spots I should visit when I finally take those trips to Turkey and Malawi. If Cyprus should feature on my destinations-to-visit list.

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My Ouma must have seen how taken I was with the outdated document and graciously told me to keep it as a memento.

It sits safely on my bedside table and every now and then I turn to it for inspiration.

Although my Oupa was a particularly well-travelled individual there were a few places he (and his passport) never got to explore. A few of the places I simply have to see for myself.

South America with a backpack, for one. Oh, and also India. Morocco, Costa Rica (the sloth sanctuary in particular) and Zanzibar. I’m not too sure about Scandinavia, but I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t mind visiting again. And, of course, gorilla tracking in Uganda.

So, I hope Oupa Marius’ passport is ready for take two, because it’s coming along. A tangible token of his special spirit of adventure.

Why we should be thinking about our King Suits

Lunch time under the fig tree of forgetfulness

A post shared by nadia (@nadia_safaria) on

Just a small contingent of the clan

My mother is the eldest of 10 children, my father the third of four siblings.

Collectively, my extended family numbers close to 70… and I know each one personally.

Now, one of the absolute BEST things about descending from a clan of such colossal proportions is the stories.

Oh, the STORIES!

Some date back to well before I was born – like the one where Oupa Marius spent an entire morning in the ocean, trying to evade the long arm of the law for harvesting ‘alikreukel’ (or was it Oysters?) without a license in Tergniet. Sure, it was illegal, but he had been doing it for so many years that, really, what did a piece of paper really mean?! Besides, it was only one Checkers bag full of delicious contraband – I mean, come on!! Ah, it’s such a great story – wish he were still here to tell it (but my uncles and dad do a pretty good rendition too).

Others, I witnessed with my own eyes – like the time our young mothers decided to have a spontaneous race in Betty’s Bay’s botanical garden and unwittingly triggered a collective abandonment panic among their children. I remember not knowing whether to be horrified or amused as I watched my tiny cousins leave whatever they had been playing with and set off after their mamas – hair and tears streaming, sobs and yells echoing.

Another of the stories I witnessed myself involved my enigmatic cousin, Fi and a nonchalant phrase that slipped off her little girl tongue and right into the canon of classic Van der Spuy family (my mother’s maiden name) stories. In my mind at least.

It goes something like this:http://society6.com/joojoo/always-wear-your-invisible-crown-iji_print#1=45

Thinking about your King Suit

One day when I was somewhere between the age of 6 and 10 and Fi between the age of 2 and 6, our family went to visit their family in Saldanha Bay. It was close to the end of the year and there was much excitement about a Christmas play she and her older sister, Lea would be taking part in.

Now, Fi was especially thrilled about the fact that she had been given the role of a king (aka a wiseman). I don’t think she really cared about how significant it was that she had been promoted beyond the generic angel choir. Or that she would be getting more attention than many of her little friends.

There was only one thing that made this achievement truly exceptional to her, and that was the costume she would be wearing.

If memory serves, she even had the royal garb on display for us.

Anyway, as the evening progressed, so did Fi’s excitement and at one point it reached some sort of dubious fever pitch that got her sent straight to the bathroom to think about what she had done wrong.

My brother, Lea and I sat around, wide-eyed, waiting for her return. Would she blame us for her behaviour? And in that case, what communal punishment would our parents possibly dream up.

Our fears were soon stilled when Fi waltzed back into our company completely unperturbed after being released (about 10 mins later). There were no tears, no cross looks. The only difference was that her previous exhilaration had now melted into a transcendent serenity.

Noticing the far too slight change in demeanor, my aunt Fiona posed the question:

“So, Fi. What did you think about while you were in the bathroom?”

I’m sure she was fully aware of the fact that she should have said something like: “About how sorry I am for having been so naughty, Mamma.”

But instead she opted for honesty, and replied:

“Oh! I thought about my King Suit!”

There was a moment of astounded silence… and then a peel of giggles from us kids, followed by fully-fledged laughter from the adults (probably led by my dad).

It was such a silly little moment in the grand scheme of things, but something about it just stuck.

So much so, that “thinking about my king suit” has become a regularly used phrase in our nuclear family.

And the more I think about it, the more wise these words become. If I had to give it a bit of a pop psychology twist (which I love doing with EVERYTHING), I’d say it’s probably one of the most profound things we can do to live a happy and balanced life.

Why?

Well, in this world, we’re constantly being told how we should really be striving for more, how we can improve ourselves, what we’re doing wrong and how we simply aren’t good enough just yet.

We get sent to the proverbial bathroom on a daily, nay hourly, basis to think about our various sins and shortcomings – with every ’10 ways to be a more successful (fill in the blank)’ article that pops up in our Facebook feed, every television advert that renders our brand of washing powder inferior to the one that washes so much cleaner, every magazine cover that nullifies the beauty of our unique body shapes.

We get so caught up in what we lack and where we’ve gone wrong, that we forget about all the things that are so good and right and delightful and within our grasp already.

Our proverbial King Suits.

Sure, we aren’t exactly where we want to be yet and we do get a lot of stuff wrong. We’re human, it’s to be expected! But that does not mean that we have to constantly beat ourselves up about these things! Right? I mean, there’s always room for growth!

So, whatever your King Suit may be – whether it’s a talent you’ve just started coaxing from its slumber, a holiday you’ve been dreaming of or just a really good relationship that makes your life sweet – I challenge you to think about it next time you’re tempted to lock yourself in the bathroom and sit in sackcloth and ash.

Come on, let’s make a pact! If you dare to think about your King Suit the next time you’re expected to think about your naughty, naughty wickedness, I’ll do the same.

How about it?

Grootvadersbosch camping

I’ve always been of the opinion that Easter weekend is the perfect time to go camping. Falling on the cusp of either summer and autumn, or autumn and winter, one would think that weather-wise this long weekend would be like the little bear’s bowl of porridge was to Goldilocks – neither too hot, nor too cold, just perfect.

However, after two consecutive years of braving the elements – huddling in the large stoep area of my parents’ tents as torrential drops and gale force winds play a game of tag outside, my family and I have realised that perhaps it may not always be the case.

Despite the terrible weather, and deciding to leave a day early, our Easter camping trip this year was rather magical. We headed to the Grootvadersbosch Nature reserve just outside Heidelberg in the Western Cape and discovered there, hidden amongst the flat farmlands and fynbos, a forest as lush and mysterious as the Tsitsikamma itself.

The reserve comprises 250ha of this Knysna-type forest and is the most noteworthy in the southwestern Cape. Among indigenous trees like red alder, stinkwood, yellow wood and the dominant iron wood, a few exotic species such as camphor, Australian blackwood, eucalyptus, ash, Californian redwood and oak can also be found. They were planted here between 1896 and 1913 to cover the areas denuded by woodcutters. Now, a century later, Cape Nature is working hard to reclaim these areas for indigenous trees.

What we didn’t know beforehand, was the fact that this area lies in the transitional zone between winter and all-year rainfall regions and that Grootvaderbosch has an average annual rainfall of about 1 050 mm. Drier periods are from May to July and December to January. Ooops…

I must say, however, that there’s something strangely charming about camping in the rain. It’s kind of cosy and when it does let up, energy levels seem to rise at an alarming rate, pushing one to explore the area while you can.

And that’s exactly what we did. Here are a few pics.

Karoo through the window

I say Karoo, you think what?

Probably long straight roads, hot days, sun beating down on the cracked, barren earth, thirsty sheep and little round shrubberies.

Well, after almost being washed right out of the Mountain Zebra National Park’s campsite this weekend by furious thunder storms, hail and rain beating down, I have come to know a different side of this almost mystical part of our country.

Yet, yet, yet…

It managed to make itself even more magical than ever before.

Even though we had to up and move campsites on Saturday, then brave temperatures shallow in the minus at night, huddle in almost too close for comfort tent enclosures… I have to say it was an invigorating and revitalising experience. My senses were filled and my endless thirst for wildness quenched just a little bit.

Here are some pics

Don't be fooled by the friendly Mario bro clouds. Nadia Krige

Don't be fooled by the friendly Mario bro clouds.

Vellies in the Karoo. Nadia Krige

Vellies in the Karoo.

Mountain Zebras. Cute!

Mountain Zebras. Cute!

Windmill.

Windmill.

Vastness personified.

Vastness personified.

A bicycle repurposed at the Willow Historical Hotel in Willowmore.

A bicycle repurposed at the Willow Historical Hotel in Willowmore.

Rainbow :)

Rainbow 🙂

Huisie

Huisie