Road trip

I have been on the go now for a while, just arrived back for 48 hours…leaving tomorrow again. I am taking my boy on a Karoo trip to farms and wildlife rich open regions. Here are some things we have seen..

The Valley of desolation is awesome and standing on a rock for the second photo made my knees buckle a little.

In the same region we (Boeta and Me) saw wildlife like kudu, standing at the perfect angle with the sun rising behind him.

We saw many other animals and birds and I captured what I could. A favorite was the korhaan walking as they do (low) when they sense danger.

This is open semi-desert country, beautiful to my heart and eye.

We drove to another region about 200 km from this and found more grass-like Savannah.

Just a small sample of what I took. Later.


Always great at Southern Point of Africa…

We spent the first week of 2017 at Struis Bay, which some of the older followers may know as our most special place, holding deepest of meanings.

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As our little grows, it just become more special to us. He is enjoying the space and unique environment there too.

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We loved taking a drive, buying fish and chips at our favorite shop and eating it at the beach, sometimes in the car, other times sitting on the rocks.

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The real Southern Point of Africa has a whole different feel of ominous danger to it. Many a ship has gone down over the years. This part reminds us very much of our home, the rocks being more similar, but not as sharp and pointed.

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Family time

I am taking you back to the Karoo and our holiday. Some of you may remember that I was taking you on a walk around the sheep farm, ending with the medusa succulents. When I got back at the stone cottage, Boeta was awake and it was family time. We took the yellow ball grandma gave Boeta, the week before and started playing. From this point I will add a note or two, but the photos will talk for them self….

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So much fun to kick the ball past daddy…

The cottage-9 The cottage-10 The cottage-11 The cottage-12 The cottage-13Every now and then we worked on the ball catching skills. Boeta was precisely 2 years old and since this point we have progressed to catch and pass, but it all starts somewhere…

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Got one…

Then mom got an invite to play along…

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Daddy snapped up the camera for a few shots… Boeta was really in his element by now, especially now that mom joined in the fun…FULL BLOWN FAMILY TIME!

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I took a final shot of him watching a bird on the chimney as the sun was setting, before joining them for some more play.

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About 20 minutes later we had to stop and get a fire going. We had a fun day with lots of exploring and walking great distances, it was time to feed the tummies and build strength for the next day.

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Boeta looked for the tractor and while mom took a break, dad lit the fire and the adults had a nice red wine to finish a perfect day as a family.

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Round about the time the meat was done, Boeta was also running out of steam.

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He slept soundly that night, as he does for most nights. We hope and believe that he does so in the knowledge that he is loved and in his dreams he is still laughing and having quality family time with mom and dad.

Important interaction

At the farm, the most important ingredient for us was our son interacting with nature and seeing farm animals. Doing reading in books and showing him things on television is one thing, but nothing will ever beat giving your child the opportunity to interact with nature.

DSC_1050This happened on all 3 days of our trip, when there was a chance and at Kududu, the owners had a lamb, possibly orphan and chickens. The chickens slept with the parrots in their cage at night.

As we walked around the place, we eventually came to the area where they were and some toys as well. Boeta walked past all these toys, directly to the lamb, which he now mimics, asking and pointing.

DSC_1055 DSC_1058 DSC_1065He then saw the chickens and parrots, jogged around to them.

DSC_1036 DSC_1080 DSC_1101He was so pleased with this find and even tried to give the chickens and the lamb some grass. The best part, seeing the little one’s eyes. They were full of wonder and excitement. Each time he saw another parrot, ran over to point and ask, then he saw the lamb again, like seeing it for the first time, jogged over to that side.

I think another important note to this little story is the fact that mom or dad was always there with him, sharing his joy, answering the questions, laughing with him and exploring with him. It is amazing how quickly he picks up when you are not invested in a process, even at 20 months, they recognize it immediately and it takes the shine off their excitement for sure.

DSC_1040 After properly examining everything and feeling confident he covered all the birds and one lamb, properly, he decided to go and investigate the toys around.

DSC_1071Then he saw the parrots again…we started all over. We have seen it over and over; nothing beats giving a young mind space to explore. If at all possible, getting them outside in real nature with the family, to enjoy and explore, cannot be overstated and you cannot put a monetary value on it.

Keep up mom!

After our amazing experiences at the waterhole with the elephant and hyaenas, we drove to another favourite spot, also a waterhole, but you stand high up viewing down, nice to see birds and animals from a high spot. One can also get out of your vehicle at this point, at own risk, as this is within the park and with lions, hyaena and all other animals around, it needs a careful look around. Daddy did a walk to see, saw nothing and we let the energy ball out to run. He was off in a flash…

DSC_0738 DSC_0740Mom caught up with him and took him by the hand to walk safely by her side. DSC_0741Daddy said it is okay, let him run, nothing around at the moment, I checked 3 times. Mom hesitantly let him go and he immediately picked up that this will be a game of catch me if you can.

DSC_0755 DSC_0759Too easy, lets walk with mom and try to surprise her.

DSC_0768 DSC_0772 DSC_0773 DSC_0775Okay then, did not work…now just run…

DSC_0778 DSC_0779 DSC_0780 DSC_0787 DSC_0791 This went on for a while…and he did enjoy every moment.

He then saw the bushes looked interesting and this became the new focus, investigating and eventually tossing a few rocks, chasing a bird who did not seem to mind as it kept flying from bush to bush with Boeta in hot pursuit.

We thought after the heavy posts of the past few days, we would do something a little more fun to see. Till next time.

Another milestone

Today our little man is an unbelievable 20 months old. He has grown and developed at such a speed over the last 2 months, daily adding 2-3 words. Yesterday, boat, horse and sound of donkey. Keeping pace is the main aim now…

Above all, he is a healthy and we think typical toddler. For that we are eternally grateful. Here are few shots to show what we mean. He loves playing in the soil and creating dust, toddler heaven…

We stopped at our regular spot in the Addo for lunch and he was all to ready to enjoy this break from looking for wildlife…First checking, nobody says anything, creating dust…checking again, any negative reaction?

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Walking and exploring, sitting in his favorite position.

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Then there is the opportunity to learn, always asking us to tell him something…


He is good with color now, not saying, but showing if we ask, counts 6,7,8 and can show some letters, including spelling his name out, but not saying yet. We can not imagine a life without our Boeta standing between us, holding our hand, smiling with those eyes twinkling.

Also added this to “Love is in da Blog”, check it out, lovely idea…


Interesting 2014…wildlife.

Interesting 2014…wildlife.

We are at the end of the year 2014. Time to look back at the year, for the most part, we only started blogging a few months into the year, but still shared many of our findings. What would be the top finds? (We will add links to the full posts for those who has not seen it.)

What about the starfish we saw? Lovely to see one again.

92-DSC_0372The post about the bathing elephant still remain a favorite but it hails from an earlier visit.

DSC_0626-001In 05-DSC_0791August we saw more bathing elephants, we saw lots of elephants to be honest, all of them presenting different angles to these incredible animals.

Our Favorite remains the daycare with playing youngsters.

23-DSC_0423Finding the Black-backed Jackal drinking water one early morning presented a nice photo opportunity, but the plover attacking it made the opportunity unique.09-DSC_02408-DSC_0281One of the most unusual finds has to be the Caracal we saw, by pure luck again, giving a yawn as it got up. We seriously decided we could hardly do any better on that trip. 6-DSC_06661-DSC_0654More recently we got a nice shot of a male lion, which we liked.

DSC_0359On the same trip the 2 Giraffes that had a mock “love” fight and then made a mirror image were going to count under the best catches of the year.

DSC_0681 DSC_0678We loved the whales (mom and calf) playing in front of the house, mimicking each other.

18-DSC_0397We cannot leave out the Blue-headed Agama’s that returned to the garden…they are still here and offer lots of interest for the family.

2-DSC_0288 The Leopard Tortoise that walked into the garden and stayed up to now, we see him now and then, feeding on the grass.

11-DSC_0367.NEFThe Blesbok with the calf was a cute find.

DSC_0640 DSC_0638Photographing the dolphins hunting small fish at full speed made December already something to remember.

2-DSC_0134 08-DSC_0073But it culminated into the find of the year, just nudging the Caracal and the elephant babies, we would say, with the Cape clawless otter, such a rare find, maybe not fully understood by readers seeing them regularly, but for us in South Africa not that common, adding the fish for breakfast added the cherry on the cake.

DSC_0035e DSC_0070We saw and captured much more than just the few we mentioned above and each time was special, because Boeta shared in almost all, except if he was sleeping, but it is also always an honor to be able to see and experience nature as we are fortunate to do. You can see a full list of the fauna posts under the fauna page.

Here is hoping to see more of the same to share in 2015! Cannot wait. It is one of our greatest gifts to share it with Boeta and teach him about the wildlife we see, and he is enjoying it too, more and more, even started to talk softer as we look at something – very cute…and then loudly – THAAAAAT!! Hehe!

Shoutout to mom…

This is a post for mom. She is away on a 3 week trip to USA, flying somewhere between 2 continents right now. We miss her already.

1-DSCF0050As you fly away
we need you to know
we are okay
although we are feeling a little low.

You are our delicate flower
such a beautiful little seed
You created with your womanly power
giving him all he needs

As you fly away
we will count day and night
yes, we are okay,
but coming home will be such a delight.

We love you mom!
The Boys.
O.R.O. 2014

5-DSC_0068Daddy is no poet, but we hope she likes our little effort and gets comfort from it.

Note: The flowers are that of a Anacampseros sp., a local succulent. They flower at sundown for at most 1 hour for 1 day. They are delicate little things.

Mom, Dad and our boy – our little family

As we came to the last stop, where we could allow our son to walk and experience the thick spekboom forests, it was, especially now, looking back, such a great 3 days.8-DSC_0363 7-DSC_0350 I see my wife, the person I have loved deeply for almost half of my life, who has achieved so much, given so much to me and everyone she has met, coaxing our 13 month son through the forest. Showing him all the wonders, his little mind filled with questions, what is this, that and everything else.

1-DSC_0340 3-DSC_0343 5-DSC_0346 4-DSC_0345What a wonderful experience to be the dad in this group of three. This little blessing that joined us after so many years, making everything around him shine, becoming vivid, sharply, no crisply in focus as if it is touched by the beautiful dawn of another day, that freshness that is so nearly touchable before the sun fully brightens the day. We are three, mom, dad and son, but we are also ONE family.

We will be back, soon as we can, to this place where the elephants play in the water, the jackals and nightjars provide the background music of the night, this place where the dung beetle has right of way!


Warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicas)

We found some Warthog in Addo National Park. Not the most beautiful animal you could ever see, but yet, there it is.

3-DSC_0594 1-DSC_0592A muddy concoction of compactness, with a huge head, small eyes, and a wart just below the eyes, males have another set lower down, and then the canine teeth forms prominent tusks, growing outward and then upward. The weight of the males average around 80 kg.

They like open woodlands, grassland and floodplains. They feed on grass, roots, seeds, fruit, bark and even invertebrates. Interestingly babies eat mother’s dung to inoculate their gut with bacteria.

Their love for mud is for removing parasites and cooling off. They form loose families, usually males with 2 females and piglets. I managed to capture a meeting of 2 groups and in what is said to be a friendly meeting with recognition, some sniffing and possibly a bout of head pushing.

6-DSC_0613 7-DSC_0614 5-DSC_0612After the head pushing, all was good again, and everybody went on with their day’s task of foraging for food.

The Core of US…part 1 (Life)

10-2010_07140095On the tip of South Africa is a place called L’ Agulhas, and next to it Struis Bay. L ‘Agulhas point is where the warm currents of Indian and the cold currents of the Atlantic ocean meet. It is also the place we call home in our hearts for many reasons.09-2010_07140072          08-2010_07140071

It is a place that represents love, life, laughter, bliss, intense pain, heartache, loss and all the other human emotions not mentioned. Our story begin approximately 40 years ago, for one of us, in any case, and got richer as time past.


Long before I knew my husband, I went to Struis Bay for the holidays every December and January. My dad hooked up the old caravan on to the 1965 Mercedes, and we started the 3 hour drive to our annual spot. The Merc was an old fin-tail model and I was highly embarrassed that my dad drove such an old car.

I though it was the ugliest car in the world and to this day I have not developed an appreciation for cars of that era.

02-Struisbaaikamp90The trip took us over the Helderberg pass from Cape Town, through the fruit orchards, apples mostly, of the Grabouw region, to a town called Caledon, in the Overberg (Wheat growing region). From here you turn off the main route and drive down to the coast.

07-Heleen&PaWe spend our Christmas and New Year in Struis Bay’s caravan park. I remember the dances on Fridays and Saturdays, the little natural Harbour and the smell of fish being offloaded (Yellowtail in that part the year) and buying it fresh from the boat.

04-Struisbaaikamp9011 05-Struisbaaikamp9016Lazing my days on the beach, the longest in the Southern Hemisphere of 14 kilometers, and how peaceful was the early morning or late afternoon walks on the beach, and yes a few holiday flings too.

03-Struisbaaikamp903My dad always booked our “spot” for the next year, the day when we left. It was always the exact same stand and many of our “neighbors” did the same, resulting in the same people coming back year after year. We always arrived when the caravan park was close to full and left when it was empty. It was always strange to get used to the hustle and bustle and once you get used to it, there was a sense of loss when everyone departed in the first week of the year. We always stayed until the middle of January. I only later (in my teenage years) came to appreciate the wonderful feeling of having the beach to yourself, doing my own thing and being able to be content with my own company.

In 1993, after my dad’01-HeleenPaenMapre97s retirement, and some family discussion, my parents decided to permanently move to Struis Bay and bought a plot and built a small 2 bedroom home on it. They moved to Struis Bay in 1995.

In part 2, Love, we tell the continuing story of our deep relationship with Struis Bay.

Postcards from a Travelling Mom 2

Recently, I was asked by a Senior manager in our operation, “How do you handle the traveling while having a baby at home?” I started to explain the usual. Husband looks after baby full-time while mommy work, blah blah blah. Smile…

Then he asked, “But how does your maternal instinct handle it to be away from your baby?” I told him that I do not think that he prefers to be away from his family either living as an expat in another country not seeing his family in weeks, either, but work required both of us to make this sacrifice.
It left me thinking: Is there something wrong with me? Am I an unfeeling, cold mother? That same evening I had a Skype session with my boys at home and during the time Boeta fell down and started crying like it is the end of the world. My husband still told me not to worry as he did not hurt himself, he was just tired. I could not handle it. I was sitting in the only place I could get an internet connection, the hotel coffee shop, I cried shamelessly, not even trying to hide the tears. And at that moment I realized that I should not worry, this mommy still have a heart.
I am back with the boys and can be there for both of them and just in time, as we are having a cold front moving through, with gale force winds, rain and significant drop in temperature. This can lead to delays or cancellations in my link flights home, made it, thank goodness.
My latest trip was to Nampula, in Northern Mozambique. I did not have much time to take pictures, but took a few on the go, just to give some reference.

Just before landing


Nampula from the air


A local bar


A street market selling hardware

The next series of pictures will give you some idea of the general town environment.

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