It’s been five months since we left the big smoke to do anything. FIVE WHOLE BLOODY MONTHS. So, for half-term when we were all feeling a bit ragged around the edges we decided to head to the bush. We’ve struggled for years to find somewhere close to Joburg that we enjoy going to. We’ve found a lot of overpriced places that charge you every time you fart, but nothing that really grabbed our fancy. We are also beach people which I think probably coloured our experiences – and not in a good way.
We won’t mention the resort we went to where we just about died of fright because the hot air balloons took off in what felt like your bedroom at about three in the morning (I exaggerate. It was probably four thirty). Or the one where you paid to go sit in the jacuzzi for an hour (basically wallowing in other people’s pee) while there were people queuing up outside ready for their precious hour to wallow in the pee.
We seemed to have a knack for choosing the kakest places.
Because of these experiences we decided to look a bit further afield to Bela Bela. We wanted a house with a *splash pool, a view and wifi – because naturally I had to do a shit ton of work while we were away.
We found a very nice house and thought we had a couple of days to pay the deposit but there must’ve been some misunderstanding because the house was booked before we got a chance to confirm.
That meant we then ended up booking a substantially more expensive house called Kamabe Lodge – it was vast, with two cottages, a pool and a view but no wifi. This is the story of our lives. Because of my work, nothing ever gets planned in advance, so we are the last-minute-dot-com family. Sometimes we get good deals – but often we end up paying more.
We were able to leave early-ish on Friday and the drive was really pleasant – so pleasant I managed to do some writing in the car. It’s on the freeway most of the way and it took us two hours from the petrol station to the gates of Mabalingwe.
The directions to our actual house were hilariously convoluted and confusing, but after a couple of wrong turns and me saying through clenched teeth “it said we turned at the road AFTER the sign not AT the fucking sign,” we found our spot.
Kamabe Lodge was everything it promised and has the most INCREDIBLE views from the deck – and from the baths!
There are ceiling fans in the rooms and the beds have feather pillows as well as foam ones. I have to sleep with a feather pillow so I always take my own, but I am always deeply impressed if they are provided. There was also soap and shampoo in all the bathrooms and our cleaner – the lovely Maria – came every day at around 11 which was perfect.
More important than pillows and fans – the house has a pool table and a dart board which the kids loved. And although the no-wifi thing was slightly irritating for me, what it did do was get the kids off their devices which is a Lazarus-coming-back-from-the-dead level miracle. There were spectacular thunder storms on two of the evenings we were there which put paid to us going for game drives at dusk – we should of course have woken up at the crack of dawn instead – but trying to get the two superspreaders up for an early morning drive was beyond my capabilities.
The husband did however make me go for long walks in the morning.
He kept assuring me it was quite safe and that there was no game around that would attack me. He was lying. Our lovely cleaner, Maria showed me a picture of an elephant that she had seen near the house a couple of days before.
Anyway, the fear of being charged by an ellie certainly made my fat little legs work a helluva lot harder as we climbed the hill (and dear Lord what a hill it was.)
We did go for a lovely long game drive on Saturday morning and although the bush was quite dense we saw ostrich, giraffes, loads of buck and warthogs.
We also had a squiz at the two pubs in the resort but they were a bit busy so we retreated to the house for drinks where we had enough food and booze to sink a battleship.
I was clearly concerned that I would find no Woolies close to where we were so I had shopped for South Africa before the trip and then made sure that everyone ate the food so just as well the Husband insisted on the early morning walks.
On our last night, the rain cleared and after the kids had been on an official game drive (where they got to see zebra and rhino), we finally got to sit around the fire pit and look at the stars and play conversation starters.
How this game works is that one person asks a deep and meaningful question and everyone answers. For eg: “if you could do any job in the world, what would you like to do?” When it came to my turn the kids were like “and don’t tell us you already do what you want!” *cue massive eye-roll*
I had to disappoint them because my job is EXACTLY what I want to do.
I get to make up shit every day and I get paid for it. What’s not to love?
Book recommendations for this week: in the midst of all the work I managed to gobble up two books over the weekend; the one shall remain nameless as it wasn’t great, but I thoroughly enjoyed the other one called Lies she told by Cate Holahan. It’s about a thriller writer whose star is waning, I adored all the in-jokes and I thought it was a fabulous page turner. Could not put it down.
I also started The Appeal by Janice Hallett which is written in the form of emails – I’m really enjoying it as I love an epistolatory novel (does anyone remember Daddy Long Legs and Dear Enemy by Jean Webster?? I regret to say that I still have my copy of Dear Enemy that I borrowed from the Sacred Heart Library in 1985).
In bookish news, a little birdie told me that we can expect a new book later on this year from fave, Qarnita Loxton. You may want to start reading the other books in the Being series, if you haven’t already. The first one is Being Kari. I highly recommend all of them.
TV recommendations: Nothing! I was in the bush.
After I wrote this blog, I had three phone calls with some of my fave writers (shout out to Eva Mazza, Amy Heydenrych and Sue Nyathi,) and a chat over messenger with the fab four (we are writing a group novel together – it’s my turn to edit and I’ve done NOTHING). I then snuck out for a quick pub lunch with the Husband to our local The Blind Tiger Café – and there I bumped into three old chums from the son’s prep school. It wasn’t all jolly as we got the news that a dear old friend has terminal cancer.
What struck me about all of these interactions is the importance of CONNECTION. On spending time with people we love – of reaching out. I felt so much better – even though most of the talk was about how tough life is at the mo, and I did have a little blub with one of the friends. So, I guess that’s my message to everyone this week…life is short…don’t waste it on stuff that doesn’t matter…spend time with people you love…REACH OUT. We’re only here for a little while. Sending love to you all xxx
*the daughter swam in the pool once. So much for getting a house with a pool 😊