Thinking Back: With Age Comes Wisdom

COVID-19 has everyone is losing their minds on some level. If you’re not, then please share whatever Kool-aid it is that you’re drinking. I am suffering from migraines again, and my sleep is constantly interrupted. Last night when I couldn’t sleep, I found my mind wandering back to 2004, when just as I was about to leave for the airport on December 26th, the media shared the news of the tsunami that had hit Thailand.

I boarded the plane anyway, because I was going to Singapore and the news reported that the island country had not been affected. I was 24, without a care in the world and it was my first overseas holiday. Nothing was going to stop me – not even Mother Nature sending a potential follow-up tidal wave.

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What’s Been Happening

So, remember the list of goals I made last week? Well, I have ticked off at least one – the renewal application of my passport. I sat at Home Affairs for a while yesterday as they were offline, but once they were back on, the process was dealt with quickly. In seven to fourteen days I will have my new passport, so should a trip come across my path, I can grab it with both hands.

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Review: Sekelbos Restaurant

I’ve been seeing daily ads in my Facebook newsfeed for a place called Sekelbos Restaurant, so decided to take The Bean there yesterday for a light bite. Sekelbos, as explained to us by our polite waitress (whose name I didn’t get) is a type of wood that is said to burn for ages, but never to ash.

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2020 is Here

New year, new decade…no resolutions, just goals:

Blog more and grow my blog and Facebook following.  My dream is to establish Reflections of a Misfit as a brand of sorts.

Drink more water and get some sun, because according to some memes, I’m nothing more than a houseplant with complicated emotions.

houseplant-with-complicated-emotions

I’ve already decided what the theme for my birthday, which is nine months and twenty days away, is going to be.  I would love to say that it came to me in a dream, but the truth is that a friend shared something on WhatsApp that spurned the wheels of creativity.

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2019, Goodbye!

As the sun begins to set on 2019

I reflect on where I am,

what was,

what might have been…

I remember the rivers I cried:

How, in March, I wished I had died.

So much has changed this year

Yet much is the same

Family, friends, job, dreams

Yet the solid ones remain my team.

I remember the laughter and smiles:

Gatsby, weekends away, foresty miles.

Photo by Johannie van der Hoven (c)

Often it was tough, but mostly good;

I loved and lost and stumbled and fell

But like a Phoenix, I rose

and finally understood

I remember feeling undefeatedly victorious:

The freedom of turning forty, so joyous!

Photo by Liezel Volschenk Photography (c)

Photo by Liezel Volschenk Photography (c)

Photo by Liezel Volschenk Photography (c)

Excitement grew, as did my dreams:

Of travel and writing

Of leaving what’s safe, to open my mind

To see new places, to spread my wings.

I remember the sad goodbye of dear, dear friends,

But our bond is stronger than time’s end.

I remember standing in speechless awe

Of the Mighty Zambezi and Victoria Falls

As 2020 looms, undoubtedly with challenges of it’s own

I take solace knowing I won’t have to face them alone.

Cheers!

**Unless otherwise specified, all photos are my own and my not be used without my prior written permission.**

Review: Bellevue Restaurant

I’m a firm believer of taking the road less travelled, because often, they do lead to stunning destinations, unless you get lost, of course!

On Saturday a friend celebrated her birthday and invited me to join her and some others at a place called Bellevue Restaurant, at The Village Lodge.  It is about 40 minutes’ drive from my house, seven kilometres of which are on a well-maintained gravel road.  A bonus is that on the way, you may get to see some game.  In this instance we saw zebra, Cape Buffalo and some antelope (but they were too far away to photograph).

Zebra 1Cape Buffalo

It is essential to book ahead if you’re planning a visit, as the lodge may have guests, and they have preference to dine at The Bellevue.  The atmosphere is relaxed, as both the lodge and restaurant are child friendly.  There is a luscious green lawn where kids can run around to their hearts’ content, as well as a jungle gym and tyre swings.

Saturday’s meal was so impressive, that I booked a place for Sunday, intent on taking a follower-friend and my parents for lunch.

Saturday’s meal consisted of two harvest boards:  A Ploughman’s Platter and an Antipasti Platter, and three pizzas:  Parma Ham, Cajun Chicken and Pulled Pork.  The platters are colourful and fresh.  The orange slices on the ploughman’s were sweet and juice, without spitting in your eye.  The pizzas were delicious too, and have super-thin bases, making them easy to fold to enjoy your pizza calzone-style if you prefer.

Afterwards we had milkshakes for dessert.  I’d seriously go all the way back there just to drink another one.  The Lemon Meringue one I had was out of this world!  There are other options, like Bar-One, Salted Caramel and Peppermint Crisp to name a few.

Lemon Meringue Milkshake

Sunday, after our coffee-stop, we hit the road again; this time we saw zebra, some antelope and rhinos.  Even if we’d gone home starving, seeing the rhinos would have been enough.

Zebra 3Rhino and ZebraZebra 2

We were seated outside, close to the bar area, and if it’s a little chilly, there are light blankets available for patrons on request.  There is also seating indoors and in the evenings the fireplace is lit.

Our lovely waitress, Claudine, took our drinks order and within a few minutes we were clinking glasses, drinking to happy days and new places.

I ordered a Ploughman’s Platter for the four of us (which mind you, was enough for us to all have our fill).

Ploughman's Platter

Follower-friend opted for the Parma ham pizza (as I told her it’d been a hit the day before), Mom had battered fish, hand-cut chips and salad, Dad had pork hock served with mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables and I opted for a rosemary Karoo roast lamb sandwich on seed loaf with sweet potato fries and salad.  That seed loaf tastes almost sweet and has a cake-like consistency.  Deeeeee-lllliiiii-cious!!!!

At the beginning of our culinary adventure, we’d wanted dessert, but we were so full we had to take the leftovers home, so we’ll have to go back for sure.

Menu

There are dishes for every taste, ranging from mid-level to high prices.  The quality and freshness of the food justifies the price, as does the service.  The waitstaff are always close by, without hovering over patrons, which is a huge plus.  There is also a large selection of beers and ciders I’d not seen before until my visit.  The cocktails described on the drinks’ list sound superb, but if you’re driving, I’d probably say it’s safer to give them a miss until you can savour them and have someone drive you home.  The setting is tranquil, and given the distance from home, a delightful place to escape to over a weekend even if only for a cocktail, coffee and something light to nibble on.

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars.  Highly Recommended.

Circles in the Forest: Oakhurst Farm Cottages

One of the followers on my Facebook page asked for a few facts about me, so here they are – 13 of them because I’m not superstitious.

MB1

Also, four come up in this post:

Forest-lover, but not tree hugger

Mild arachnophobe

Cheesecake freak

Enjoyer of puns

Growing up I spent time reading South African author, Dalene Matthee’s books because they were set in the Knysna Forest, which is an hour’s drive away, and also because I knew they would be our Afrikaans prescribed literature at some stage.  She published many books, but the two I think would be her most well known are Fiela se Kind (Fiela’s Child) and Kringe in ‘n Bos (Circles in a Forest).

Last weekend, after literally being home from Victoria Falls for two days, I set off on another adventure with three girlfriends from work, Catherine, Yoki, Rhonda and Kerryn (Rhonda’s daughter) to Oakhurst Farm, where we stayed in one of the quaint cottages, called Kween’s Kaya (Queen’s Home).  Apt, considering that we are amazing gals who could rule the world if the humdrum of work and paying bills didn’t stand in our way.

Kweens Kaya

We arrived at dusk on Friday afternoon, using trusty Google Maps.  We found our accommodation with no problem. There are various types of accommodation available – check out the website here.  Our home-away-from-home was clean and well equipped.  What I found particularly lovely is a box of different toys in one of the cupboards, for those people travelling with young ‘uns, and a really cool way to play Tic-Tac-Toe, or as some others may know it, Noughts-and-Crosses.

Tic Tac Toe

We lit a fire in the small indoor fireplace, more for atmosphere, than warmth and dinner prep was begun shortly after.

Kindling

Fire

I go away every year with the same group of friends and every year is an experience because we gel as a team.  One loves to cook, others don’t mind washing or dishes and I love setting the table.  We have a silent understanding that we’re all away to relax and that there is no need to keep one another entertained.

Saturday morning after a hearty breakfast we set off to explore the farm a bit.

Area 3Area 4

It is a working dairy farm so we saw many cows.

CowsArea 2

We also got to sample the fresh farm milk because our hosts had placed a bottle in our fridge.  Soooooo creamy!

milk

There is a lovely playground for children, a delightful farm shop, a farm pool in which to cool off and activities such as archery and horse-riding, costs of which are not included in your stay.

Welcome Pack

Beautiful pastures, meadows and dams are dotted around the farm, and the dusty road is lined by tall Bluegum trees.

Road

We decided to do the Forest Walk, (which this forest lover, but not tree-hugger was happy about).

Forest Walk

It is meant to be a 5 Km circular route, with a waterfall just past halfway.  Not one of us thought to bring water, nor did we think that we would be character candidates for Kringe in ‘n Bos, volume 2.  We found the waterfall with relative ease, although the water was more of a trickle than a fall.

Waterfall

Maybe I’m biased after having seen Victoria Falls, who knows?  On the way to the waterfall, we saw a sign that read, “To Cottages/Church” and decided that this was the way home.  It may very well have been, had we not gone to the waterfall, because after circling back to get on that trail, we ended up doing almost 10 Km in total.  Catherine pretty much summed it up in a single sentence “It was fun, and then it wasn’t anymore”.

Mental note to self:  Do not wear jeans during a hike, regardless of the distance.

Additional note to self:  Take water, regardless of the distance.

While the distance was slightly killer, we made it and we got to see some beautiful things walk.

FeatherFungiMushrooms

Rhonda spotted a skull in a hole in the ground.  I of course immediately thought murder in the forest, but it turned out I read too many mystery novels.  The victim was a baboon. Did you see what this Enjoyer of Puns did there?  Kerryn adopted it, christening it Bobby/Bobbi (because we’re not anthropologists, so we couldn’t sex it just by looking at its orbital sockets), intent on gifting it to her Biology teacher.

Bobby

Back at the cottage we all wolfed down our lunch (tuna or ham & cheese rolls) and Kerry and I headed off to the outride we’d booked for the afternoon.  Her horse was called Striker and mine, Home James.  We had a lovely walk on the farm and again through the forest, guided by Isaac, who comes from a jockeying family and clearly loves horses.  He even showed off some of his dressage moves in one of the meadows.

We got back to the cottage and soon the fire was lit outside for a braai.  We were intent on dining al-fresco, but we found quite a few eight-legged creepy crawlies which very quickly made us rethink our plans.  This mild arachnophobe was just grateful to be inside, because even though there were spiders indoors too, they were smaller than the one that had nearly hitched a ride on me because I’d been standing too close to the wall it was on.  After dinner and washed dishes, we all checked out to Club Duvet.  The walk had tuckered us out.

Sunday morning, we headed home after another delicious breakfast, but not before stopping at Hoekwil Country Café, for something to drink.

 

Whenever I’m with Catherine I always feel the need to drink a pot of tea, preferably Earl Grey.  The friendly waitress shared a story with us about the café’s cheesecake having been voted the best cheesecake in South Africa in 2010.

 

It may be nine years later, but oh my giddy aunt, the cheesecake freak in me had what Sally had when she met Harry.  I will drive to Hoekwil again just to have cheesecake; it was that good!

Tomorrow is Catherine’s birthday and she’s invited some friends and I to join her for lunch at a place I’ve not been to yet, and on Sunday I will be taking my mum and dad to lunch at a new place that opened on Thursday less than five minutes’ drive from my house.  Reviews to follow next week 😊

In the meantime, have an amazing weekend, and if you’re crazy enough to venture to the stores for the biggest shopping day of the year, don’t get trampled by the Stampede of Shoppers.

 

 

 

 

 

Old Drift Lodge Sunset Game Drive

The Saturday night I dinner at the lodge, this African Proverb was on the menu:

Wisdom is like a Baobab tree; No-one can embrace it

Menu

Oddly enough, I saw it in a friend’s Instagram newsfeed today and thought The Universe is telling me to finish my post about the sunset game drive at The Old Drift Lodge, during which we saw a beautiful Baobab tree, about 800-1000 years old.

Baobab

There is an even bigger one outside the reserve with a rather stout trunk: Victoria Falls’ own Big Tree, estimated to be about 2000 years old.

Saturday had been a rather exhausting day with all the excursions I had done, so the afternoon game drive was the perfect way to wind down and process all the sensational things I’d experienced during the day.

Vusa was the guide for the excursion which I shared with Alex & Dawn, a couple honeymooning from Canada, and Tova (who was traveling with friends – they opted for the sunset cruise) from Norway.  It is clear that Vusa knows his field, and he has a practiced eye for spotting animals that are extremely well camouflaged by the vegetation and grass.

The first animal we saw was a Monitor Lizard (also known as an Iguana).  I initially thought it was a baby crocodile.  After that faux pas, I cleaned my spectacles and saw the reptile for what it was.  They are usually found close to water and at this time of the year are on the prowl for unattended crocodile eggs to eat.  This one was digging in the dirt, and Vusa explained to us that it may be looking for eggs or insects.

Monitor Lizard

Further along the drive we saw a journey of giraffes.  That is the right collective noun – Vusa told us so.  These tall animals, despite their size, are extremely graceful when they move.  The older they are, the darker their markings will be, and like no two humans will have the same fingerprints, no two giraffes will have the same markings.  We sat at a spot where they were grazing for quite a while.  As a South African, I admittedly take seeing African game for granted, because I’ve been on a few safari-like outings in my life.  However, seeing the sheer childlike-wonder and hearing the squeals of excitement and wonder of the other people of the drive with me made me smile.  Ah, the magic of Africa.

Giraffe

My favourite African animal is by far the elephant.  Maybe it’s because they operate in a Matriarchal society, or maybe it’s because the baby elephants are just so damn cute.

Mama Baby

I’ve been fortunate enough to interact with them up close, at places close to home that do such things, but I’ve never been in a Mexican (or would that be African?) standoff with one, like we were during our excursion.  One young elephant ventured away from the herd and came to stand squarely in front of our vehicle, of which the ignition was off.  It didn’t show any signs of aggression, but it was still intimidating.

Elephant

At one stage I was holding my breath, thinking if it hears me breathe, I may be a goner.  First the hippo that morning, now an elephant in the evening.

Hippo 1

Who says Africa isn’t exciting?

Another interesting sight was that of a Cape Buffalo carcass.  It has been taken down by lions about three weeks before.

Buffalo Carcass

The temperature began to drop, bringing with it welcome refreshment in the form of a pop-up-bar next to the Zambezi River.

Pop Up Bar

What a privilege to stand next on the bank, enjoying a creamy Amarula on ice, while listening to the babbling of the water and intermittent birdsong.

I didn’t take many photos during the drive, partially out of complacency coupled with slight exhaustion, but mostly because I was simply enjoying the dusky coolness of the sunset.

Dusk 1

Dusk 1