Budgeting for Ireland – food and travel

img_5902

Cliffs of Moher

Our 3 1/2 weeks in Irelands are coming to an end as we fly out to Munich tomorrow.  I don’t think that there has been a day that we haven’t loved.  This country and its people have blown our minds.  From its incredible beauty and history that is everywhere to the kindness that has been shown to us from every person that we have come into contact with.  In our 23 days here, travelling 3000 km, we don’t feel like we even touched sides with what there is to see but here are some of our tips and suggestions to travelling as a family on a very tight budget in Ireland and things we found were unexpected costs.

Car Hire

Get a bigger car than you think you will need

As a family, it is preferable to have your own transport to get around especially if you want to be outside of the main cities.  We underestimated our luggage to boot (trunk) space.  I had booked a petrol polo and we had to upgrade to a Golf 1.6.  Being 4 in the family and travelling for 4 months, we have packed extremely lightly.  We have 3 medium suitcases for all 4 of us and each of us have a day backpack.  In these bags are 1 terms worth of school work as well as 3 sleeping bags and then our clothes….I think that is pretty darn impressive!  We only JUST fitted our bags in and when we did the food shop it was extremely tight.  Make sure to use the wheel well as there is an amazing amount of space there.  We stored most of our groceries in that area.

Go for Diesel

I had booked a petrol car and when we upgraded the agent suggested we change to diesel.  Diesel is cheaper in Ireland and you also get more kilometres to your tank.  We managed to get just under 1000ks per 50 liter tank.  We used 3 tanks for our entire trip so our fuel cost was around 195 Euros for 3 weeks.

Travel time and Distances

We had grossly underestimated the time it takes to travel anywhere compared to the distances you are travelling.  Everything takes MUCH longer than you would expect.  We weren’t on the highways much as we were doing as much of the coastal and village areas as we could.  This means that you are on tiny lanes a lot of the time and they take a lot longer.  Therefore a general rule of thumb is that it will take an hour to do roughly 50km.  Also, there is so much to see wherever you go and being on holiday, you will stop to take a pic and appreciate, which adds even more time to the above.  So we spent a lot more time getting places than we expected and were really grateful for having over 3 weeks here.

So if you have less time, rather stick to a smaller area as it is really stressful suddenly trying to cover ground in order to tic off the big attractions.

Money spent on transport

R2,750 = 175 Euro – 3 tanks and we covered nearly 3,000kms

R6,150 = 390 Euro – 3 weeks car hire through dollar

Car insurance is an extra cost.  You will have to choose what is best.  We went for full comprehensive which added a whack on over and above our rental, but the lanes are very small and we had quite a few close calls.  It was a once off charge when we fetched the vehicle.  The other option is that they hold 1,800Euro deposit on your credit card that you get refunded but if you have an accident, scratch or dent you don’t get that back….which freaked us out.  So insurance is really your own personal call.

Food Budgeting

Money Spent on Food in 23 days

R6,400.00 = 405 Euro – Groceries bought over 22 days at supermarkets for a family of 4.

R1,660.00 = 105 Euro – Eating out twice for lunch, 1 breakfast, 1 afternoon tea and cake

0efebc5d-d6b7-4177-bb68-b9c443467de0

The pretty town of Kinsale

Eating out is expensive.  Due to travelling on the South African Rand, our exchange rate is terrible(Rand16 to Euro1), and also because we are travelling for so long we really have to be careful and watch our budget.  We had booked self-catering places through AirBnB, so we rather cooked at home in the evenings.  Yes, I would have loved to not have to cook, but when you are looking at a minimum of 10Euro per person for the cheapest meal option, eating out it is not viable as a family of 4 for this length of time.  So we shopped and cooked and this kept the cost down hugely!  And we ate well too and had treats etc.  Groceries and especially meat are cheaper than back home in South Africa.

So when we picked up our car we went to the supermarket on our way out of Dublin, we bought all the basics (and put them in the wheel well ;).  Also, due to not being very hot, when we moved from place to place food didn’t ever spoil and we didn’t have a cooler bag for our milk, yogurt and cheese etc.

Supermarkets for the win

img_7643We found the larger supermarkets were really great, especially Lidl and Supervalu.  If we had a choice, we would go to a Lidl as the prices were better and they had amazing specials.  Also, if you drink wine, it is very expensive in Ireland as they have a very high alcohol tax.  Lidl had the best prices for wine by far!!!!  It was nearly half the price of anywhere else.  We found that supermarkets were very accessible and we could pop past one at least somewhere along our daily route.  Thank goodness for google maps ūüôā

Picnic lunches

Out of our 23 days on the road we have picnicked for for roughly 20 of them.  Simon and I were just discussing that doing this took us to some amazing places.  Being out and about, instead of staying in the town to eat, we would drive to the local park, find a stunning forest or go to a pretty beach or eat at the walls of a ruin.  This made us see things that we probably would have missed staying to eat in town.

Every day we would just grab our picnic bag (a cheap shopping bag) and pop in our cheese, salami, mayo, tomatoes and then go past a supermarket or petrol station (a lot of them have good bakeries) and buy yummy baguettes.  This also meant that whenever the kids suddenly lost the will to live due to hunger we could literally eat before we got hangry.

If you are going to picnic, a few things we bought which makes it easier

Utensils – we went to the cheap Dollarz store and bought a set of plastic Knives and Forks set and a little sharp Knife

  • Pencil case – we used this to keep all the utensils in and the kids got them on Emirates
  • Tupperware – bought a cheap Tupperware to put boiled eggs in or cheese etc
  • Kikoi/lightweight towel – made it easier to setup/sit on and we kept one in our backpack

c2da6322-272a-4e00-9ec7-e887a7b9cf0d

I will post a few more of our experiences in Ireland.  We are in the middle of our 4 month trip around Europe, so writing is secondary to doing school with Jesse and Livi, keeping in touch with our business at home and being present in the day.

Lots of love

#familyonamissiontoseeireland

Off to Europe – Italy

Helping with Camps in Italy

For the last 5 weeks, our little South African family of 4 have been in Italy at my aunts farm just outside of Rome helping her with her summer camps.  For the last 19 years my aunt Sara has run camps for kids between 8-11 years old, giving them 6 days of amazing farm fun.  They camp in tents, walk rivers, ride tractors, learn to ride horses, spend a night at an Etruscan Antiquities Center, and in general have good clean outdoors fun.  She has 16 kids at a time and do 3 camps in a row between the months of June and July

The grounds that the camps are held on are amazing.  The castello has been in my uncles family for over 200 years and if I remember correctly was built between the 11th-15th century and is situated just 60km from Rome.  On their amazing property Etruscan tombs have been found which date back over 2500 years along with an old Roman road.  I spent a wonderful summer there when I was 11 and have been back many times over the years and it never fails to amaze and is the most magical place, especially as a child.

How does this tie in with us?

15 years ago Simon and I came and ¬†helped with the camps, and this year my aunt didn’t have anyone to assist her. ¬†So we got chatting and decided to take the opportunity to come over and help her and give our kids a different experience and a chance to learn and immerse themselves in a different culture and interact with kids from another country. ¬†We have then further taken the opportunity to stay longer and travel Europe and Ireland for the next three months. ¬†So we have traded in our 4×4 and overland trailer for aeroplanes and suitcases and some new and amazing family adventures. ¬†We have rented out our house for 6 months to help fund this amazing trip, friends have kindly taken our beloved animals (thanks Elaine and Winks) and Simons fabulous cousin is helping to look after our business back home (thanks Bev).

The last 5 weeks in Italy

I think we are still recovering! We arrived early June and had 10 days to see family, go into Rome for a few days and play tourist, and then setup the camp and get ready for the kids.

Looking after 16 kids plus your own 2 is hard work. ¬†Throw in the fact that Italian kids go to bed late……very late, and you have exceptionally long days!!! ¬†We would start getting the kids into their tents around 10pm (which they thought was way too early), and they then woke up just after 7am. ¬†I don’t know how they function! ¬†It must be years of training.

The language barrier is also quite difficult and exhausting. ¬†Our Italian is pretty broken and majority of their English isn’t great, but there was always one little translator who was an angel. ¬†So you have hard work and looooong days and it is exceptionally hot too. ¬†All that aside, the experience was great though but I think I will be happy not to be sleeping in a tent for the next while.

We had nightly joys of the most ginormous toads waking kids, a cat that would come into camp around 2am and then ‘hunt’ our tent straps, the rooster that thought 3am was a good time to crow, Antsy the donkey hee-hawed at around 5am, kids that had sweets in their tents (when they weren’t allowed) and then climbing into bed and finding ants had invaded, the nightly hunting sessions for grasshoppers, caterpillars an any other insect that freaked them out due to the fact that they hadn’t zipped their tents shut, even though we had told them a million times and the list goes on and on…..but hey, it makes for great memories.

How did the kids handle?

Jesse and Olivia participated in the first camp completely as part of the group of kids as we only had 12 the first week. ¬†The second two weeks they assisted us as well as participated where possible as there were 16 kids each week, so the camp was full. ¬† It wasn’t always easy for them and nor for us, as they got the dregs of our patience and our time due to the fact that we were working and looking after the other kids was our priority. ¬†But they were troopers and learnt to be a bit more self sufficient.

¬† And now…

Our family journey begins in earnest! ¬†We packed up a few days ago and caught our first flight en route to Dublin. ¬†We will be spending the next 3 1/2 weeks exploring the green isle. ¬†We have rented a car, booked airbnb’s and have no plans further than that. ¬†We will also have to start our term of homeschooling this week, which will be something new. ¬†The kids school has been incredibly supportive. ¬†We are missing the whole of the 3rd term, but will do our best to keep up with Maths and English, after that this journey is the most incredible education they can receive.

After Ireland, we are heading to Germany to cycle the Rheine and then renting a camper van where our no plans journey continues.  We will be heading back to South Africa at the end of September.

So come along for our journey.  I will endeavour to post whenever possible, but follow Instagram an our Facebook as that is more of the day to day

lots of love

the van Nierop family – Simon, Tammy, Jesse and Olivia

img_3622

 

 

 

Desert Knights – a Namibian mountain bike adventure

 

Desert-Knights-2014-12

Photo courtesy of Desert Knights Gallery

Being spontaneous has its rewards.¬† I got offered the amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to go and partake in the Desert Knights¬†mountain bike adventure in Namibia!¬† Frankly, when I got the message I thought it was spam, but I had nothing to lose by responding and hey, presto, it was genuine!!!!¬† It’s an event I had looked at previously and thought looked like a bucket list must.¬† Who doesn’t want to cycle through the desert during full moon and canoe down the Orange River?

Image result for desert knights mountain bike

Photo courtesy of https://tfcaportal.org/desert-knights-2

 

The event takes place in the Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and combines 5 days of cycling and 1 day canoeing down the Orange river.  I have been lucky to spend a few holidays in this region and absolutely love it (read here). So we start on the Namibian side  of the park in Hobas and end on the South African side in Sendlingsdrift.  What is so unique is that the event takes place during full moon and most of the cycling is done from late afternoon and into the night.  How incredible to cycle to the Fish River Canyon and watch the moon rise over this iconic and beautiful place?  Or to camp in the dry river bed of the Gamkab Canyon?  As you can tell, I am beyond excited!

Our route area map

Having only gotten my entry a week ago, one week before departure, means that I haven’t had months to prep and train.¬† But here is another bonus, this is a tour, not a race.¬† You are supposed to enjoy the scenery, stop and take pictures and generally just appreciate the area that is truly a magical place on earth.¬† Luckily I ride regularly and am pretty fit….well here’s hoping.

Desert-Knights-2014-71

Photo courtesy of Desert Knights gallery

So I am off tomorrow and we start on Friday.  It has been a bit of a scramble getting my bike together as I was waiting on a part from the UK, but all is sorted in the nick of time as well as having to have the clutch replaced on our Toyota Fortuner.  But all was packed this evening and I am ready to get going early tomorrow morning.  Hopefully the sun will be shining and I will get to see some of the flowers through the Namaqualand en route which will be a treat.

This will be a solo mission, Simon and the kids will sadly remain at home holding the fort.¬† But a solo adventure isn’t always bad, it is good for the soul to have time to think, meditate, appreciate and rest and this is something that the silence of the desert does bountifully.

Image result for desert knights mountain bike

Photo courtesy of Jacques Marais Media

If you would like to follow my adventure on this event I will be posting to my personal Instagram page and to our Family On a Mission page.

Here is to a Bucket List Must!

Dreaming Big – is it reality?

I was given a gift bag and on it had the wording, “Dream big, live the life you have always imagined!”¬† Simon and I have had a dream for our family for a while, and that is to take our kids sailing for a few years.

But the birth of the dream to the actuality of it sometimes seem insurmountable. They say that the ideal time to do this is before kids reach ‘teen’ years.¬† Obviously this is not the rule, but it seems to be the average guideline.¬† Jesse is turning 10 in June, so this ‘ideal’ deadline is creeping up.¬† Then there is the very real monetary factor.¬† We aren’t rolling in it.¬† We work for ourselves with our event flooring company, and at the moment the industry is not doing well.¬† That means that all that we have saved has been thrown back into the pot to keep going.¬† So 2 steps forward and 3 backwards!¬† Simon has his coastal skippers, only to find out that it is only valid in the UK and not recognized in South Africa.¬† So if he wants to get his Yacht Master off shore, he has to start from scratch again.¬† And this is only a few of the ‘hurdles’ in getting from here to there.

This isn’t including trying to buy the boat.¬† We don’t want a complete fixer upper, as this takes time which as stated above, is limited.¬† But obviously the nicer the boat the ‘nicer’ the price which brings us full circle and back round to the hurdles.¬† How do we go about buying a boat that is roughly going to cost us over a million Rand?¬† Selling a kidney and half a lung seem to be the easiest options at the moment!¬† Just joking….I think.

So how do we go about accomplishing the life we have imagined?  What do we give up?  Do we sell our house and buy a smaller apartment that is then paid off so that there is no debt?  But if we sell our house we move out of an amazing community we are knitted into.  Do we rather rent it out hoping that our tenants pay on time etc?  Do we keep our business and try run it from abroad?  This then gives us a monthly income.  But at the moment we need to sell the business in order to use the capital to fund the dream.  If we keep the business this then means you are constantly trying to keep in touch with clients and overseeing things.  Do you rather sell it and thereby not have anything you are constantly having to watch?  If we sell it, what are our alternatives?  Do I look at doing online freelance work?  Does Simon go back to doing yacht deliveries?  (which he did before we were married)   This can then be done when we are in various ports and also from home in Cape Town when we come back, keeping a possible option of income.  Which homeschool system will be best and easiest?  At this moment our kids are beyond on board with the dream, but when time comes will they truly be happy to uproot and say goodbye to friends and family?

So at the moment we have more questions than answers.  We have more what ifs than we wills and definitely more against us than for us.  But we will continue to dream and work towards this goal and I will keep you posted on what we decide to give up, trade in and sell.

But this I do know, even if we don’t accomplish this exact dream – we have not failed.¬† For it is far better to dream and maybe fly than to never try¬† for fear of falling and failing.¬† We will always have each other, and for that we are rich!IMG_2508

Clothing guideline for an Overland Trip

DSC_9492

I am not a khaki and strops and socks kinda girl, no sirree!!!!! ¬†Neither do I need to blowdry my hair and wear full make up but don’t deny me my mascara and nail polish and cute tops. ¬†Just because you have to be practical doesn’t mean you can’t do pretty.¬† My husband does not subscribe to the same.¬† As long as he is comfortable he couldn’t care less, neither could our son.¬† My daughter on the other hand as been spotted in a leotard and tutu in the desert with leather gloves and takkies!

Like any holiday or weekend away, we always tend to take way too much. ¬†The one trip I took my knee high Timberland leather boots! ¬†Yes, they are comfy but flip packing those things was a pain in my b-hind. ¬†So over the years I’m starting to get better at packing for both myself and the kids. ¬†(I do check my husbands packing and tend to shove a few extras in without his knowing. ¬†Once he went with two t-shirts and some board shorts¬†and hardly anything else! He froze his ass off)

When you don’t have the luxury of wheelie bags and a 32kg limit but rather an ammo box measuring 235(h) x 395(w) x 505(l) for 20 plus days of travel with both hot and cold weather, you get clever. ¬†Thank God for the micro down jackets which have come out in the last few years that pack away into tiny bags. ¬†They have made my life soooo much easier.¬† So we each have one crate for clothes and then there is a shared crate for shoes and toiletries and another for the families towels etc.¬† So for a family of 4 there are 6 crates that are allocated for personal and then the rest are food etc.

This is all my clothes on my list below in one crate – it can be done!!!!

So here is my do or die live by list for roughly 15 days.  You will need to hand wash whenever you have available water.  If you want a food packing guideline, click here

Clothes for The Pink Puff (Olivia)

  • 3 shorts – no cuff turnups as sand gets in them and usually comes out in the car.¬† Half of the Namib desert seemed to end up in our car due to cuffs and pockets.¬† Try to keep to darker colors as they don’t show the dirt so much.
  • 3-4 leggings – I tend to pack more as they back up as extra PJ bottoms. Track pants are bulky to pack.
  • 6-8 tshirts and vests
  • 3-4 light long sleeve tops
  • at least one skirt or dress for the pink puff is essential
  • 2 warm hoodies – no zips because if they need to sleep in them if it is cold, zips are uncomfy.
  • 1 wind breaker –¬† we use the lightweight ones from Kway
  • 2 pj’s – one short and one long.¬† I am very strict that they are not allowed out of the tent till they have changed as they then get played in and filthy.
  • enough panties and socks so that if you are not in campsites you have enough to get by till you can hand wash again
  • 1 swimming costume
  • 1 buff/head band that can be used as a scarf or head band
  • Hairbands & clips – if your daughter has long hair, plait it!¬† This keeps it so much more manageable.¬† They will stick their heads out the windows of the car and if you can’t necessarily wash it that often it becomes a nightmare to deal with.

Clothes for Jesse (Boys)

  • 4-6 shorts (he gets so much dirtier)¬† Board shorts are best as they wash and dry quickly and sand doesn’t get into them like normal fabrics
  • 2¬† tracksuit pants – can double as spare pj’s
  • 6-8 tshirts
  • 3-4 long sleeve light weight tops
  • 2 warm hoodies – again try for no zips
  • 2 pj’s – one short and one long.¬† Again, they have to change before leaving the tent.¬† I set their clothes out the night before.
  • 1 windbreaker
  • enough undies and socks¬†so that if you are not in campsites you have enough to get by till you can hand wash again
  • 1 buff/head band that can be used as a scarf or head band
  • 1 broad brimmed sunhat
  • when Jesse was little I would take waterproof lightweight rain trousers, as they kept him clean when playing (you can get them from Cape Union Mart)

Shoes for kids

  • Crocs or strops: You want something a little more covered than a slip slop but easy to put on getting in and out of the cars and that they can also shower in
  • Wellingtons/gumboots or hiking boots: shoes that cover the ankle if they are mucking about in rocks and bush where scorpions and snakes may be, so it covers the ankles.¬† My kids don’t have hiking boots so we take gumboots and takkies (trainers) but space could be minimized by just having hiking boots

Examples of some essentials for the Kids

Splash Pants from Kway               Jesse lives in his Keen strops       Lightweight Kway Jacket

If you need a basic guideline on kids and their toys/entertainment when overlanding, then please click here.

For the Hubster:

  • 3 pairs boardshorts
  • 1 pair cargo shorts
  • 1 pair long trousers/jeans
  • 5-6 tshirts
  • 1 lightweight long sleeve shirt (great for keeping the sun off)
  • 1 fleece
  • 1 light down jacket
  • 5-6 pairs underpants
  • pj’s – simon takes a long light weight pair of pants that can be layered with socks and the fleece top and then just sleeps in his jocks if hot
  • couple pairs socks – at least one warm pair and preferably dark
  • takkies/boots
  • slip slops/strops – needed for shower and in and out the car
  • beanie
  • cap/sunhat

For Me:

  • 2 pairs black leggings – I take my Nike full length ones.¬† I can then run in them if I want otherwise they are so comfy for evenings etc.
  • 2-3 pairs shorts – cutoff stretch denim is my go to as they are hardy and don’t get as dirty but they are a pain if you want to wash as take a while to dry.¬† ¬†Stay away from a turnover cuff as sand sits in it.¬† Short gym leggings are also versatile.
  • 6-8 tops
  • 1 shirt – I find they are great to keep the sun off and cool and an easy extra layer
  • 1 light weight dress – sometimes you just don’t want to wear shorts and t-shirts
  • 1 hoodie/fleece
  • 1 down jacket
  • 1 set light weight PJ’s – I layer with hoodie if cold
  • 8-10 pairs panties – on a hygiene side, panty liners are a must
  • 1 swimming costume
  • 2 sports bras – they are much more comfortable to travel in and dry quickly
  • 1 scarf or light sarong
  • 1 cloth bag to put all your underwear and socks in.¬† It helps keep the crate tidy.
  • Paez shoes – these I swear by.¬† Lightweight, they keep your feet clean and easy on and off and they don’t smell.

    IMG_8324

    My faithful Paez.  I swear by them!!!!

  • Trainers/takkies/hiking boots – I just take my trail running shoes.¬† I can walk in them and also try get a run in where possible
  • Slip slops for the shower
  • Buff – I take a couple as they are great to keep your head warm, a scarf and then I also use them to keep my fringe flat when I am drying it ūüėČ
  • cap/sunhat

For the Trailer:

  • 2 sheets – we put them both on the bed at the same time.¬† You can then swop them round by putting the dirty one at the bottom.¬† You then don’t need to pack them into a crate.¬† Also, they are tan color so don’t get as dirty.
  • 1-2 pillowcases – can do same as the sheets or just use one and turn it inside out when needed
  • Micro fibre towels – get the biggest size as they are just nicer to use. They really pack small and dry quickly.¬† I don’t love them but its functional.K-Way Trek Towel XXL
  • Fleece blanket each – these are used in the car and also to line the sleeping bags for very cold nights.
  • Kikoi/sarong – these are great for a multiple of uses.¬† If its hot, to sleep under, and as a second towel.¬† Once when we were in the Okavango, it was stinking hot and there were flies everywhere and we couldn’t sit in the tent as it was stifling.¬† We would dip the kikois in the water and then just lie under them.
IMG_4527 (2)

My aunt and brother hiding under a kikoi from the heat and flies

Richtersveld – Fluospar Valley Review

IMG_3183

Setting up camp in the riverbed next to the mine.

The Fluospar Valley, like Tierhoek, doesn’t have a lot said about it online. ¬†Again, like Tierhoek, it is part of the community initiative but we never saw anyone to pay any camping fees to. ¬†I did find basic fees and info¬†here.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect. ¬†Simon had been before and raved about this old abandoned mine with Fluospar just lying everywhere and crystals that you could find scattered around. ¬†He didn’t exagerrate! ¬†The kids had a ball finding all different gems and rocks and then also throwing the fluospar in the fire that night where it then burns bright green.

The drive in was not too hairy and very accessible in a 4×4 and the trailer had no problem. ¬†We got there a bit late so camped in the riverbed next to the mine as we would have gotten to the ‘official’ camp area in the dark.

We even had a light rain shower en route in, which feels like a little miracle when you are in such a barren area. ¬†Camping next to the mine was perfect. ¬†The kids did the obligatory scorpion hunt, but didn’t find much.

IMG_3187

The kids with the UV lights (and gloves) looking for scorpions

On the GPS, there was noted that there was a spring 30-40mins from the mine. ¬†So the next morning we decided to head up and see it. ¬†Well the drive took us nearly 2hours and the going was rough. ¬†It was sandy, hot and the spring a bit anticlimactic. ¬†So, I wouldn’t recommend the detour unless you are spending two nights at the mine and just want to do a day drive. ¬†To do the drive and then still have to come back and head out of the valley severely limits your time. ¬†If you are going to the spring and have a trailer, we would recommend off hooking it and fetching it on the way back. ¬†But the safety is always an issue as there are herders around, but it should be fine.

We did take a drive down to the old deserted mining village.  There was the obligatory deserted old car, crumbling houses and old windmill.  You can have such fun taking pictures here.

So if you are going to the Richtersveld, I would definitely recommend doing the Fluospar Valley en route to Tierhoek before heading into the official park.

Tammy’s Top Tips¬†

  • Get to the area early enough that you have enough time to explore and look for stones
  • Avoid these bushes, they are complete bastards to deal with as they look soft but get stuck on everything!

     

  • Don’t go to the oasis unless spending two days there
  • There is no water or ablutions, so come prepared
  • Take time to wander the abandoned mining village
  • Find large pieces of fluospar for the fire as smaller ones dissipate
  • There are no large wild animals except for snakes and scorpions
  • Light a fire, star gaze and drink a nice glass of wine and enjoy the silence

Good intentions can go awry!

IMG_0755

Grace – our pretty little Holiday 23 who we co own with great friends

It was fathers day a while back and Simon’s great passion and joy is sailing. ¬†We are lucky enough to be co-owners of a beautiful little Holiday 23 which is based in Saldhana. ¬†For two 6ft plus adults and 2 growing kids, it can be a little cramped but it is our stepping stone starting point for our long term family goal, but generally I come away with bruises everywhere each time we go. ¬†I am a clutz at the best of times, put me in a mall space and it is disaster waiting to happen!

Anyway, the kids and I planned an overnight journey to Grace (our boat) for Father’s Day and my mum in law, Caroline, was coming along for the day. ¬†We were going to head out into the bay for a bit of a sail, drop anchor for some lunch and then return to the club for the evening so Caroline could head back to Cape Town before it got too late. ¬†Got to love good intentions! ¬†Thirty minutes into our outing, motoring along as there was no wind, we get yelled at by a stranded jet ski couple who’s motor had cut out. ¬†A 20 minute detour later taking them to Slipway Restaurant where they could get help, we set off again.

Just as we are getting somewhere the kids start to grumble that they are now getting hungry. ¬†We decide to stop at a close little bay for lunch where they could have a kayak while I prepare and then maybe play on the beach after lunch for a bit. ¬† Just as we drop anchor a rolling swell starts to come through which means in about 3 minutes after sitting down to make lunch, we are now slightly queasy and uncomfortable. ¬†By now Jesse, our son, has started saying that he has a bit of a sore tummy. ¬†He’s not the greatest eater at the best of times, so I don’t really believe him (remind me of that later.) ¬†Lunch doesn’t go down overly well. ¬†Kayaking gets shelved as the swell is crashing onto the little beach and it was a guaranteed promised soaking if attempted. ¬†Being winter, not so much fun. ¬†So after packing up and motoring out the little bay we now discover the wind has disappeared completely. ¬†Oh well, back towards the harbour where en route I somehow manage to lose my Paez overboard. ¬†Thankfully it floats a charm so I am able to fish it out with the boathook.

IMG_6173

Shoe fishing!

By this stage, Jesse had mentioned a few times that his tummy was sore but was still asking for treat snacks, so I still didn’t believe him. ¬†Back at the club, we pulled up to the hard (the permanent jetty you can moore your boat onto for a bit) and the kids went off to play. ¬†The rest of the afternoon was relaxed and because the club was so quiet we decided to sleep on the hard for the night and not go back to our mooring. ¬†It means the kids can come and go without having to paddle from the boat back to land etc. ¬†With no more mishaps, dinner was uneventful and the kids went off to bed.

IMG_6178

Good old Woolies, a winner for dinner when you don’t have much prep space! ¬†Rotis with yummy indian…yum

Now a Holiday’s layout is pretty clever for the size. ¬†Simon and I sleep in the main cabin and there is a loo literally next to the bed (obviously there is a little wall) but it is ‘open plan’. ¬†And by open plan I mean the space is not enough to swing a cat nor stretch or actually even stand up straight if you are over 6ft. ¬†The kids fight over the quarter bunk and the ‘couch’ and take it in turns. ¬†That night Olivia was in the quarter bunk and Jess on the couch.

H23 0153 profile interior O

This is the layout of Grace.  Simon and I sleep in the forpeack (the front pointy bit) and the loo is right there as you can see!

30 minutes after everyone was in bed we suddenly hear the trawlers leave and then we remember why we shouldn’t sleep attached to the jetty. ¬†The boat was rocking like it was a bucking bronco. ¬†And then the rattles started. ¬†Now my husband HATES a rattle. ¬†He will pull our cars dashboards apart to find a squeak or rattle and if he can’t find it he starts to get a wild look in his eyes and a nervous tic. ¬†Now when we went to bed it was so still we didn’t think to secure the boat hook pole and various other boaty things (yes I am a complete boating terminology officianado….not!). ¬† I think for the next hour or so Simon was in and out of bed and back up to deck to find the latest rattle, knock or noise. ¬†All of which are amplified when inside the boat. ¬†Finally we seem to have sorted them all out and are just drifting off to sleep when Jesse bolts upright, runs to the loo, says he doesn’t feel well and proceeds to vomit…..everywhere. ¬†He is standing right in front of the toilet, it is literally right below his face and yet do you think he manages to actually get his aim right? ¬†Nope, he misses! ¬†A lot! And my husband is one of those that if someone is vomiting he starts gagging too. ¬†Put that together with the fact that your face is inches from this delightful spectacle your son is providing…not a good combo. ¬†We opened up the forward hatch above the bed, gulped fresh air and proceeded to put our big girl panties on.

Between trying to change child out of clothing, clean up the mess, wash down the area and crying with laughter because hell, what else could we do?! ¬†You then look across at the partner and friend and realize amidst the calamities of what life throws our way, joy is found in the small things. ¬†That even when things don’t go as planned, hell they went completely sideways, to realize that the planned outcome isn’t the important thing but the journey in getting there. ¬†So choose to find the humor in your unusual situations you may find yourself in, look out instead of in, build memories to last a lifetime, don’t get upset when things might not be according to plan and look around at all that you have! ¬†Life is good and wondrous and messy and beautiful, seize it!

IMG_6190

Simon celebrating Father’s Day after our ‘momentously’ awesome evening

IMG_6185IMG_6180

Shopping for an offroad trip

IMG_2948

Packing our trailer is like a tetris game sometimes.  Writing lists of what is in each box and sticking it on the top of the ammo box lid really helps

So I was chatting to friends of mine who are heading off to Namibia for their first time doing something slightly wild and untamed. ¬†Going to these wild and rural places is amazing but so often when we don’t know where to start or what to bring it can turn into an overwhelming experience. ¬†So here are some of the things that I would recommend especially when travelling with kids.

You need to have a rough idea of distances and times to be covered each day. ¬†The one thing which has made a HUGE difference is that on the days that you are having to cover quite a large distance is to have a meal already made. ¬†This worked so well for us because as we arrived at camp my husband would setup and I would prep supper for the kids and it would be ready within 10-15 mins. ¬†You then weren’t having to set up camp and then start to prep meals on fires etc and have children who were moaning and unhappy. ¬†We took along a bolognese so only had to cook the pasta, a chicken curry so just cooked rice and just froze them before hand. ¬†Always have a few backup ‘easy meals’. ¬†I take a few pesto’s that can be put on pasta or soups that only need to be opened and heated. ¬†Again, problems can arise like wheel issues or engine problems so that you can be delayed getting to your destination. ¬†In places like Namibia and Botswana there aren’t exactly restaurants you can just pull up to en route.

It’s also good to be prepared to make some bread. ¬†If you don’t have time to knead and leave then try my¬†Beer Bread on the Fire¬†as it is quick and easy to make. ¬†Irish Soda bread in a pan¬†is also a winner. ¬†This can be used for lunches and breakfasts and doesn’t need a lot of prep time.

Don’t forget to zip loc or wrap anything in paper bags or cardboard. ¬†We opened our trailer once to find flour everywhere when the bag exploded due to driving on rough roads. ¬†An oil lid also popped off once and a Jimmy’s Braai sauce also exploded….cleaning those was no funding the residue and smell lingered for ages! ¬†We also bought milk in cardboard cartons and they started to leak due to rubbing along the bottom of the crates. ¬†The next time we put a layer of bubble wrap and paper and it was much better. Also labeling your crates with a basic list of what is inside can be a huge timesaver.

When kids have to be in the car for lengths of time they seem to snack ¬†incessantly. ¬†I would make a ‘lunch box’ each morning before setting off. ¬†Bars, biltong, a sandwich and fruit. ¬†You can’t always stop when they expect lunch so this holds them off for a while but takes a bit of planning as you have to make sure you have enough for the whole trip.

So below are some essentials I take along. ¬†It is a pretty basic list but its a good start to then build from. ¬†Let me know if there is anything you would think is an ‘essential’ that I should add as well ūüôā

IMG_1078

Before we modified our trailer all the food had to go into crates.  It was a permanent game of shuffle

BASIC SHOPPING LIST

Condiments: salt, pepper, olive oil, cooking oil, fresh garlic, liquid stock sachets, dried rosemary, basil and thyme, mayo, tomato sauce and butter if possible, jam, peanut butter, nutella (can be used for smores), bovril/marmite, honey, mustard, pesto.  We forgot all spices our first trip and food was pretty bland! Nothing like a pooitjie with no spices. I like to take along some smoked paprika, chilli, curry powders so that we have the option of a curry or a tagine on the fire.

Lunch aids¬†(when you can’t get bread): pre-packed wraps – we use the Woolworths ones as they last long, they can also be used for bacon and egg breakfast mornings when bread may be finished. ¬†Dry biscuits like provitas and rice cakes are good backups and snack fillers if necessary.

General Food Goods: Rice, flour (either decant into a tupperware or double wrap), couscous (can be used for salads or supper base), baking powder, baking soda, oats, marshmallows, teas & coffee, sugar, bottled beetroot, olives, sundried tomatoes, vinaigrette, tuna, tinned tomatoes, baked beans, corn, tomato paste, longlife cream, longlife milk, coconut milk, custard, marshmallows, marie biscuits (for smores), tinned apples (Desserts in the Desert), jelly (a winner with the kids but have a tupperware with an airtight lid)

General Items:¬†Rubber gloves, leather gloves (for collecting wood), dishwashing liquid, handy andy, hand washing powder, dish sponges, wire pot scrubber, kitchen cloth, dish towel (they get so dirty so pack a few extra) double thick black bags (often you have to take your rubbish along and you don’t need them breaking), smaller bags for rubbish, extra thick tinfoil, plastic wrap, kitchen towel/serviettes, wet wipes, zip loc bags various sizes (great for leftovers as they then fit in spaces in the fridge as containers can be restricting), a few tupperwares

I am a firm believer in not skimping on the good things because when you have those added ‘luxuries’ a hard day just becomes that much more palatable and good food should never be compromised on!

Shop, be adventurous and enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

Carpe Diem Dammit – why the hell not?!

IMG_5985

Last Thursday evening after the most amazing rain snow had fallen all along the Hex River Mountains. ¬†Yes, for you wintery Northern Continental and Hemisphere people this is a common occurrence but for us Capetonians the white cold powdery stuff is a bit of a myth. ¬†We do get some snow in South Africa, regions like the Drakensberg and Lesotho but Cape Town…not so much. ¬†The Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, just after Ceres, is the most accessible spot for us to go for a day to experience this phenomenon but windows are short. ¬†Once the sun comes out it starts to get drippy very fast. ¬†We have been up there twice in the past nine years. ¬†The first time Jesse was 10 days old and he was definitely the warmest of us all. ¬†We just went to Klondyk Cherry Farm before Matroosberg. ¬†The second time Olivia was 3 and Jesse 5 and we went into Matroosberg. ¬†We thought we would do the 4×4 route but it was pretty hairy and ended up just going along the 2×4 track and it was more than enough for us. ¬†Olivia lasted all of 10 minutes and then sat in the car and cried about sore fingers and toes. ¬†We had come woefully under prepared!

Jesse at 10 days old on the fields by Klondyk Cherry

Olivia (3) and Jesse (5) in their first snow on Matroosberg

For the last few years since then we have been promising the kids we would take them, but after each first snow fall we would put it off saying there would be better to come. ¬†We would wait and watch and invariably there was no better snowfall and we had missed our chance! ¬†Then we would have to say to them, “Next year.” ¬†So this year we changed our tune. ¬†At the first sign of snow up in Ceres, after the first wintery storm came through, we gapped it. ¬†For the day we put work on hold, took the kids out of school and went to play in the snow. ¬†We took a moment and built a great memory. ¬†For what they missed they gained 100 fold in quality family time, rich laughter and life experience!

Okay yes, there are extenuating circumstances which enables us to take these opportunities. ¬†We work for ourselves and our kids aren’t old enough to be writing exams but so often we let things go past us for fear of stepping out of our comfort zones. ¬†Simon and I are guilty of that so often but every so often you get it right and our family snow day was one of these.

So if you get lucky and take the gap to go up to the snow, here are a few tips to prevent miserable kids:

Tammy’s top Tips for a Fun day at Matroosberg

  • Leave really early. ¬†We left at 6:30 am and were there by 9am. ¬†We then had a few hours before the sun came over the mountain. ¬†The snow started to melt around mid day.
  • The day permit for Matroosberg is reasonable. ¬†We didn’t do the 4×4 route but just went slightly higher than the first car park and went along the 2×4 route a bit and walked. ¬†Lots of snow and not too many people. ¬†Cost for the whole family was R170 (R50p/adult and R35p/child).
  • Take loads of shopping packets! ¬†If your kids are wearing gumboots (lace up boots are preferable), put their feet in a shopping packet first and then tuck it into their socks. ¬†Snow goes straight down the top of the boots and within a few minutes their toes are icy and wet = miserable child.
  • Take extra socks, shoes, and clothes. ¬†Jesse had soaking wet trousers within 20minutes from doing snow angels
  • Must have water proof gloves!!!!
  • Sunglasses and hat that covers ¬†your ears
  • Take food along. ¬†You are on top of a mountain on a farm!
  • Have fun with your kids!

IMG_5988

 

 

Richtersveld – Tierhoek Campsite Review

IMG_3451

A panoramic view from above the Tierhoek campsite

In my previous blog I touched on the Richtersveld in general (click here to see). ¬†Again, I am no aficionado, this was my second time going but it truly is a special place. ¬†When looking into going to the Richtersveld, obviously the SANPARK’s area is well documented and you can pick up a phone and ask questions about the campsites etc. ¬†But there are lots of areas outside the park which are run by communities and are still a part of the Richtersveld. ¬†Tierhoek is one of these and like many community run sites in Namibia and Northern Cape, they seem to have been started out as a community initiative that over time has been neglected. ¬†Regardless, Tierhoek is a must if you are happy to ‘rough it’ for a night or two as this is a stunning and photogenic spot with its soaring orange boulders, panoramic vista from the campsite, the leaning toilet (which the kids found hysterical) and an old sunken car or two.

IMG_3435

Jesse loved this car!  It seemed to capture his imagination completely

The sight is on a slight rise at the base of a kloof and from the campsite you look down over the plane.  The silence and the stars at night are incredible.  The first time there we got to watch a thunderstorm in the distance with lightening brightening the sky and stars lighting up the foreground it was an epic show of nature.

IMG_9555

The first time we camped at Tierhoek we watched this incredible lightening show

There are a few various places to camp up the little valley, but both times we have camped at the top where there are big boulders and¬†two unused reservoirs. ¬†The first time ¬†there was not a breath of wind when we setup camp but maybe the thunderstorm in the distance should have tipped us off. ¬†During the night it slowly started to pick up and our winner of a campsite became hell. ¬†People¬†had¬†chucked their plastic bottles and cans into the empty reservoirs. ¬†This means that at night the bottles and cans get blown around the reservoir forming the noisiest orchestra possible! We lay there for an hour hoping that the wind would soon stop…to no avail! ¬†Pillows were put over heads and my husband huffed and puffed while tossing and turning – the kids typically slept on obliviously. ¬†Simon finally climbed into the reservoir in the early hours of the morning and took the biggest culprits out, but it was a very long night! ¬†This time we sent the kids in with leather gloves and a black bag as soon as we set up camp. ¬†They found it hysterical chucking out the cans like missiles!

 

In the morning a fog bank rolled in over the plane and watching the big boulders turn orange around you as the sun rises is magic.  After packing up camp, we took a hike to the top of the koppie and the view is breathtaking.  There is no specific path and you can boulder hop your way up.  It is a very easy one to do with the kids and they loved the feeling of being on top of the world.

 

Another hit with the kids is that the¬†campsite also has a network of boulder caves that they had a ball climbing through. ¬†They start right behind the braai area and come out around 10m behind the campsite. ¬†Send a dad in first just to check that there are no ‘critters’. ¬†They were also seriously chuffed to find a huge scorpion when they did the required scorpion hunt with the UV light but otherwise there were no other encounters.

Seriously, if you are en route to the Richtersveld National Park, you won’t regret stopping here for a night en route.

 

Tammy’s Top Tips for Tierhoek ūüėČ

  • Take cash, the community running the site do come past every so often. ¬†I think it is around R20 pp p/night
  • Arrive being willing to share the campsite, there are no bookings so anyone can be there
  • No water or ablutions. ¬†There is apparently a water source in the next valley over if needed. ¬†We took shower bags and rigged them between to rocks. ¬†The kids got filthy climbing through the caves and ontop of the rocks and into the reservoirs so it is pleasant for parents being able to wash them down before bed.
  • Leather gloves – always useful for picking up rocks, collecting rubbish or wood etc
  • Sturdy shoes for the kids. ¬†Takkies for the hike and gumboots for when they go looking for creatures.
  • Definitely do the walk to the top of the koppie. ¬†It is truly a magical view!
  • If camping at the reservoirs, check to make sure there aren’t any large plastic bottles or tins in.
  • As always, good wine and good company!