On our way home.....
We left JFK airport at 10.30 pm for the beginning of our trip to South Africa. And arrived at Frankfurt at 11 am on the 24th October. There we had a 10 hour layover which was not the best! Flight to Johannesburg, connection 3 hours later, and we eventually arrived in Cape Town at 2pm on the 25th.
It was wonderful to find Carmen waiting for us at the airport. It had been too long since we last saw each other. The grandchildren were still at school, so we collected them on our way back to her house. It was wonderful to receive all the hugs and love from Leah and Ryan. On our bed at their home, we were greeted with welcome cards, poems, homemade bookmark....so sweet.
Wonderful Cape Town King Protea
In the evening Andrew’s wife Debbie arrived with Megan and Amy (Andrew was in Jhb on business). More hugs and kisses and cards, letters and gifts. Knowing Amy, I was afraid of putting my hand into the gift bag which she presented me, thinking there may be a spider or something in there! It is so lovely to know that our grandchildren love us so much. When Carmen’s husband Vaughn arrived, we all had a wonderful family dinner.
The next morning we went to breakfast with Carmen and then out to Fish Hoek to collect Beulah, Charl's mum, and took her out to lunch. She was so happy to see her son as it had been eighteen months since last they had seen each other.
Leah and I spent the evening organising Halloween packets of sweets for the Halloween function which was held in the estate where they live. Again, such fun to be doing something together with a grandchild.
The following morning, we woke to a beautiful Cape Town day. So Carmen, Charl and I, together with Carmen's two dogs, had a lovely 6km walk through the green belt. The mountain looked so majestic and all the Fynbos was waiting to greet us.
One evening Carmen, Debbie and I went to the Clay Cafe at Springfield school for a pottery evening. We each had a large piece of clay, shaped into a platter, in front of us and then we had a choice of many stamps and tools, with which we decorated the platters. Such a fun evening, what a super birthday present for me from the two families. Very special evening, that's for sure. Meanwhile the boys were having a whiskey tasting evening in Andrew's man cave. It was such fun for Charl and I to be spending special times with our children.
Our first week-end in Cape Town, we had hired two cottages, outside of the city, so that we could get away as a family and have good quality time together. We all looked forward to our weekend away to Piekernierskloof Mountain Lodge, which was about a two hour drive from Cape Town. We had two awesome days and nights with the families. This was a very special time spent with our offspring, their partners and the four grandkids. We chose to have the grandkids stay in our cottage and the adult children had a cottage to themselves so they could catch up on much needed sleep and relaxation. We loved having the children, listening to their chat, watching how well the four got on together etc.
The Grandies fooling around at Piekernierskloof
The following week was spent trying to see as many friends as possible over coffee or dinner or drinks and the other main objective was to see as much of Beulah as we could. The two weeks we had allocated to Cape Town was very short, but at the end of 3.5 months we felt we needed to get back home to Noosa. But it did make it difficult to fit in all the visiting and partying!
A group of us at Cape Point Vineyards - including Taqui's brother Allan and sister in-law Elspeth
It was also super to be able to see Leah and Ryan as they left for school, when they came home from school and sport, collecting them and being a part of their daily lives. Games to play, stories to listen to, watching them do their homework, antics to watch, dog walking together, very special times indeed.
With Halloween there was great excitement in the house. Charl painted Ryan's face, turning him into The Joker and Leah had a mask and cloak which turned her into a skeleton. There was heaps of fun on the estate with many excited children all collecting their lollies.
Ryan looking mean as The Joker and Leah as a Skeleton
Carmen and I managed to fit in our usual 'mom daughter morning of shopping' - always good to shop together and fun. This was also the day that we moved from the Barkhuizen residence to the Gold residence. And it was really special to see the new house that Andrew and Debbie had moved into.
The view from Andrew & Debbie's house - high on the slopes of Table Mountain
Megan and Amy were excited that Marney and Pops were moving in for a week. We had the opportunity of climbing up into their tree house, swinging on the swing, playing 'shop, shop' in the well-equipped playroom as well as good family times together. We attended Megan's sports day at school, I got to lift them to and from school, meet the teachers, saw the classrooms and the years’ work they had done.
Megan in her running race
We watched Amy studying a butterfly through a magnifying glass, Megan writing and making cards; them running around the garden.....seeing the schoolwork brought home. By now you realise that we miss our grandchildren so much and absolutely enjoyed all the time we could, together.
I had my first try on a Segway at Andrew and Debbie’s house, quite fun, and I didn’t even fall off! Met the tiny tortoise, was introduced to the two hamsters and we walked up hill and down dale to see the local horses.
Carmen turned 40 during our visit and she organised a lunch for a group of her girl friends. In true Carmen style, she started with something a little different, an ice breaker, for those who did not know each other. We were split into groups of four and sent out on a treasure hunt. It was such fun, knocking on doors asking if we could climb into the dog kennel to have a photo taken; asking for things on our list of treasure requirements such as a button, chopsticks or being photographed in impossibly small spaces. It certainly was a good ice breaker.
The mural on the wall at Carmen's party - depicting her upcoming trip to New York. Her friend Ilza is so talented
Lunch began at around 12.30 and it was a wonderful spread, some lovely speeches and super to see the friends I know from her school and university days, as well as new ones who have come into her life. As the day became evening some of the husbands joined in, more wine and champagne flowed and eventually we finished up around 10.00pm. I think she enjoyed her special day!
Carmen after a bit of make-up from Leah
Charl and Carmen
The 3 generations of girls - Carmen,Taqui, Leah
We continued through our second week, enjoying times with the grandchildren, soaking up the good weather and enjoying the vibe of the city of Cape Town. It has a unique 'beat' found nowhere else.
We were lucky enough to share Carmen's actual birthday with her by having a breakfast together and in the evening the six of us adults went out as a family; very special.
All in all our time in Cape Town was most special, dividing our time between the two families and seeing the children go off to school, coming home from school, homework, extra murals, the fun they have, music they play and what it is like to see life through the eyes of a child. Carmen flew off to New York the day before we left to meet up with some school and uni buddies, to celebrate all of their 40th birthdays. They now live all over South Africa and the world. How lucky she is to have good friends from so long ago and still have good contact.
Our last morning breakfast with the Gold family before returning home started with panic stations. We awoke to the news that our flight to Johannesburg had been cancelled, meaning we could have an issue making our connection to the Qantas flight to Sydney. We cut our visit to Beulah short and hot footed to the airport. BA were great, they got us onto a plane immediately and we were soon in Johannesburg. However it ended up with a very long 11.5 hour wait in Johannesburg as there was a huge storm so the incoming Qantas plane was diverted to Durban before getting to Johannesburg 5.5 hours late for us to board. We had a good flight over to Sydney, then a little delay for all connecting passengers and finally on to Brisbane and the last leg home was the 1.5 hour the bus trip.
The reason for our delay in Johannesburg - a massive storm cell saw our plane diverted.
We were shattered, but very happy to be home and in our own beds again. Malcolm and Virginia had done a wonderful job looking after our house whilst we were away, so we were soon back into our routines of golf, gardening, swimming, kite-surfing, etc.
Well folks.....that's all from this travel blog.....it has been an amazing and unforgettable four months away with so many different experiences and we hope you have enjoyed our travels as much as we have. Thank you all for following us, your comments and concern; both on the blog and on email. With only five weeks to Christmas, we will be thinking of you all.
BTW – Chuck has left the building – Charl is back!!
Taqui and Charl