Posts Tagged With: Beach Resort

Nelson Mandela Bay – weekend 4

Congratulations to Robynne Bosch & Siziwe Mnukwa!  You each win a set of five x day passes (valued at R1000), complements of Kingfisher FM & Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism .

There’s otwo more sets up for grabs, those we’ll give away next week.  😀

The day pass gives you access to a whole range of activities & discounts.  It is a fun & affordable way to travel Nelson Mandela Bay.


LOCATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  It is 763 km east of Cape Town.

DATE VISITED: 21 – 24 September 2012 (Spring)

WHAT WE DROVE: A Fiat Punto complements of Maritime Motors

WHAT WE DID: This was an exciting weekend.  We visited the South African Airforce Museum, Bayworld, The Donkin Reserve, Ron Belling Art Museum, St Georges Park & St Croix Motor Museum.  Monday the 24th was a public holiday & we took part in an exciting Travel Quest, a race against time from clue to clue.

WHERE WE STAYED: The little house on the not so little hill

WHO GUIDED US: Craig Duffield from Mosaic Tourism

RECOMENDATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is the ultimate family destination.  There is a whole lot of history to be discovered.  This was our fourth weekend exploring our city – a tourist could easily spend a whole week experiencing new & interesting trips.  Come visit Nelson Mandela Bay!

WEBSITE: Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism

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A good word to describe Nelson Mandela Bay.


Culturally savvy.

Aware of European influences.

Deeply rooted in the soil of this continent.

This past weekend, as we experienced re-invented urban spaces & vintage museums, it dawned on us: Nelson Mandela Bay is utterly unique.

Johannesburg is the New York or London of our continent.

Cape Town our Paris.

Nelson Mandela Bay has no twin.

Nothing to compare it with.

It was in this city that the South African Airways was born.

It was here that motor manufacturing started on our continent.

This we learnt as we spent time at the South African Airforce Museum & St Croix Motor Museum.

Our city’s Bayworld is nothing like Florida’s Marineland.

It does offer an intimacy nowhere else to be found.

And perhaps, as tomorrow comes, this intimacy will be retained, even if it grows into a large-scale ocenarium.

Anyone interested in Africa’s past, would do well to spend time at the Donkin Reserve.

Here you’ll discover one of Africa’s oldest lighthouses.

A love-story of an officer who became a gentleman while longing for the partner who died too soon.

You’ll experience the story of freedom, creatively depicted in art & sculpture, walkways & picnic spots.

It is a positive space.

A meeting place.

Loaded with emotion.




Perhaps none of the tourist brochures & websites speak of Nelson Mandela Bay & art in the same breath?

They’ve not been to the Donkin Reserve or the many other spaces with public art scattered everywhere.

They’ve not spent an afternoon at the Ron Belling Art Gallery.

Or the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum.

Or the Epsac Art Gallery.

They’ve not taken in a show at the oldest Opera House on the African Continent.

Or the Ford Little Theatre.

Or Manville Open Air Theatre.

They’ve not been mesmerized by the sounds of talented musicians busking in surprising places, un-affected by the commercialization of an industry too easily consumed by money & fame.

Culturally savvy.

More than you could ever imagine.

Have you walked St Georges Park?

Sheltered by trees planted lifetimes ago.

This city has a Campenile, which commemorates the arrival of the British Settlers, comfortably co-existing with three Mosques in close proximity to each other.

It has a Red Location Museum, which remembers the injustice of apartheid, comfortably co-existing with two Concentration Camp Commemorative sites, which remembers the injustices of the South African War (1899 -1902).

This city is more than just more beaches.

It is the heart of African optimism.

The rhythm of a new way gradually infecting new souls.

It is a good place to live.

A good place to visit.

A must experience for any traveler who wants to taste more than the plastic of piña colada‘s on overcrowded brochure-beaches.

We are fortunate to spend our days here.

To travel from this city.

To always come home.

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Nelson Mandela Bay – weekend 2

CONGRATULATIONS to Navadia Marnay & Lungile Mnukwa.  They each won a set of five x day passes (valued at R1000), complements of Kingfisher FM & Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism.

The day pass gives you access to a whole range of activities & discounts.  It is a fun & affordable way to travel Nelson Mandela Bay.

The next winners will be announced on Friday 21/09/2012 on Kingfisher FM’s Big Breakfast.


LOCATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  It is 763 km east of Cape Town.

DATE VISITED: 7 & 8 September 2012 (Spring)

WHAT WE DROVE: A Jeep Grand Cherokee complements of Maritime Motors

WHAT WE DID: We went on a Township Tour on Friday afternoon & evening exploring the Red Location Precinct, Njoli Sqaure & Township life in general, meeting beautiful people along the way.  On Saturday we did the South End Museum Tour & then relaxed at The Willows Resort, enjoying their fabulous amenities for the rest of the weekend.

WHERE WE STAYED: The Willows Beach Resort

WHO GUIDED US: Craig Duffield from Mosaic Tourism

RECOMENDATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is the ultimate family destination.  This weekend was immensely interesting & with out a doubt I would recommend anyone to try and fit both activities into their itinerary.  For the township tour I would suggest utilizing an experienced guide who know the people & area.

WEBSITE: Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism

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This weekend was a weekend of contrasts.

It challenged us.

Made us think about who we are & where we are & what we do.

We were driving the very comfortable & very opulent Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Probably the most luxurious vehicle we’ve driven in a long-long time.

It’s powerful 3.6 Pentastar V6 engine smoothly accelerating everywhere.

The leather seats, climate control & cruise control with its ‘beyond imagination’-awareness, really being awe-inspiring.

We were staying at The Willows Beach Resort.

Right on the ocean.

The waves lulling you to sleep.

Becoming the rhythm as you wake up & drink coffee, surrounded by green lawns & well kept amenities.

More than comfortable family accommodation.


Inside the heart-beat of nature.


Staff always ready to answer your needs.

Fellow-guests friendly & happy.


Children enjoying the super-tube water-slide.

The putt-putt mini-golf.

The game center.

Relaxed lounging breakfasts at the warm restaurant.

Vervet Monkeys curiously watching from large green trees.

We were exploring history.

The drive to the tourism office, from where we took a bus to Port Elizabeth’s Main Train Station, was quick & comfortable.

The Willows is truly only a few minutes from the city.

An ideal spot, no matter what part of Nelson Mandela Bay you want to explore.

Then we took the train to New Brighton station.

New Brighton is our city’s oldest existing township.

Townships are part of our countries spacial history.

Predominantly inhabited by black people.

Supported by failing old infrastructure.

Set aside.

From the rest.

A reserve of sorts.

Where people have come to live & make a living & be.

Become, even.

Saturday we saw a glimpse of our country’s ‘relocation’-history.

Through the South End Museum.

Families ripped to pieces.

Away from friends.

Some times even away from relatives.

From community.


All the way.

Not only them.


As we lose community.


Coming to believe that we are different.

Which we aren’t.

For we all value the same things.






As we crossed the pedestrian bridge from the New Brighton Station to the Red Location precinct, our guide shoved white people to one side.

Blacks to another.

You must be separate.

And we walk on the one side of a barrier.

The white side.

As it was.

Before 1994.

Apartheid is a sad part of our history.

Even sadder than the concentration camps of the English War (1899 – 1902).

For the ones who were set aside.

Set aside.

Like a son who saw his father beating his mother.

To grow up.

To beat his wife.

So that his son & grandson could do it again.

That is probably the greatest grace & gift of Tata Nelson Mandela & the African National Congress.


To be more.

To be different.

To embrace.


To a new future.

A new future is, however, not created in a moment.

18 years.

Since 1994.

A moment.

In comparison to almost a century.

Preceded by centuries.

On Friday evening we stop at Lafa & Mifa’s.

Its a butchery.

With a dining area & open fires.

You buy your meat at the butchery.

Then come to the dining area & cook it on the open fire.

A ‘braai’ (almost like ‘buy’, just with an ‘r’ in there) we call it.

All of us.

A large sign declares: ‘anytime is braai time’.

We are the same.

South Africans.

We love cooking outside on an open fire.

We love being together.

And so we talk.

To locals who come there regularly.

To families who love the community.

To people walking the streets.

Hoping the effort of fathers & grandfathers weren’t in vain.

And as we drive back in the luxury of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, to the comfort of The Willows Beach Resort, I wonder how this spacial heritage could be overcome.

For amidst the hardship of relocation a vibrant, energetic culture has come to life.

Perhaps it has always been there.

Perhaps it just did not die.

Despite everything.

Wasn’t quenched.

A beautiful resilience.

Hairdressers on the side of the street.

Mamma’s baking roosterkoek (bread baked on the open fire) for those who pass by on the way to work or home.

Children playing.

Herbs & chicken for sale.

Little bags of sweets.

Mini-bus taxi’s flying up and down the street.

Large municipal buses making their way in the late afternoon to homes, where people live.

Still set aside.

Its been decades.

The poverty of loss, more visible than ever.

As we savor that first morning coffee on Sunday morning, at The Willows, our weekend-neighbor walks over.


He lives in Motherwell.

With his family.

His father’s family relocated there.

Decades ago.

We talk of life.

His children.


We talk of a new future.

A hope.

Our children play.

Run off together to the water-slide.

Unaware that once we were separated.

We hope.

And as we say our goodbyes we agree that we need to intentionally move beyond the invisible boundaries created by a dark meaningless past.

On our behalf.

Without our consent.

And we agree that we are the same.

We desire freedom.



For our children.


And I admit that I will need to intentionally redress the works of a previous generations hands.

For nothing changes by itself.

This is what travel does.

It challenges us.

And we become.


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Jeffreys Bay – Funky Town

Congratulations to Hilda Beukes from Bloemfontein in the Freestate on winning the Funky Town Flashpackers (in Jeffreys Bay) Competition.

Keep looking, we try to give away what we enjoy & experience – who knows, soon you might win your own family weekend experience.

Competition details are always here


Location: 77 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, on the N2 in the direction of Cape Town.

Date Visited: 29 June – 1 July 2012 (Winter)

Where we Stayed: Funky Town Flashpackers

Where we ate:  The Mexican, Bay Pasta Co, Sunflower, Cafe Kima, Vue de Cafe & InFood

What we drove: The Dodge Caliber, complements of Maritime Motors.

What we did: Wow!  Where to start?  We met amazing people over tables filled with delicious food.  We re-discovered relationship, went sand-boarding with Wacky Wipe-outs, visited the shell-museum, went surfing with Wavecrest Surf School , got ourselves donuts at infamous Donut World & enjoyed warm winter sun & hospitality.

Recommendation: Jeffreys Bay is an awesome coastal town not even 45 minutes drive from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay.  We’ve been there before & couldn’t resist going back.  If you cannot spend a weekend here, it is at least worth a day-trip.  It is known as Surf Capitol of the world and not without reason.  It has perfect waves in so many different spots.  The beaches are clean & white.  The environment is friendly, happy and safe.  Surfing isn’t the only offering of this fantastic destination.  There are awesome restaurants, breath-taking game viewing, horse riding, diving, fishing and sandboarding.  A visit to South Africa is not complete without a visit to Jeffreys Bay.  If you live in Nelson Mandela Bay, it is unthinkable that you would not spend a day or weekend recharging here.

For more on Jeffreys Bay, click HERE





I know we’ve visited Jeffreys Bay, before.

But when Michelle Campbell contacted us & enticed us to go back to Jeffreys Bay, with the invitation of  a stay at the newly opened Funky Town Flashpackers & the promise of seeing what we’ve not seen, we just could not resist.

What is a ‘Flashpackers‘ anyway?

It is something extraordinary, we would discover.

A stay like The Traveling Tribe has not had to date.

The Dodge Caliber, probably the best value, with the most ‘car’, for the least amount of money, available in South Africa, was an easy drive to Jeffreys Bay.

As we hit the N2, I engaged the cruise-control, only slowing down as we took the turn-off into town.

The Caliber loaded our luggage & the entire tribe with ease.

There wasn’t space for a pram, but even with Maddi’s other baby-gear nothing had to be pushed or shoved or squashed to get a spot in the boot.

At Funky Town Flashpackers we were welcomed by James & Tayrene.

And amazing art.

By Buffy Braveart, amongst others.

And covers from Tintin books & pictures of  a ’67 VW Fleetline Combi & Vespa Scooters & comic book characters on the walls, mixed with exquisitely beautiful furniture, tastefully combined with little surprises hidden everywhere.

We take our luggage upstairs.

We are drawn to the lounge-area for drinks & conversation.

James’ passion for Funky Town is very evident.

As is his very beautiful soul as he comfortably mingles with my bizarre children who have no concept of age or appropriate as children-of-the-system might have or as adults might very often expect.

For which I cannot blame them.

As it is Zuko & I who took the bold step of raising them in the spirit of non-conformity & authenticity, to the detriment of most lovers of all things appropriate.

James talks of the art.

The decor.

The opportunity of bringing something new & fresh to a world filled to the brim with the same-old, same-old, same-old stuff.

A ‘flashpackers’ combines the opulence & comfort of up-market accommodation with the social-opportunity of meeting & discovering new people.

Cooking together in the state-of-the-art kitchen.

Sharing the fire or drinks at the bar.

Enough privacy & comfort in your own en-suite room.

With just the right amount of ‘social’ to remind you why you loved traveling in the first place.

If anything should be mentioned about this weekend in Jeffreys Bay, it is the amount of wonderfully interesting people we met & spent time with.

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Michelle Dean at The Mexican, where we had supper on Friday night.

A wife & mother, who alongside her husband wanted more of a family life & translated their entertaining at home into a business which brings people together & creates relationship.

Jane who was so into Food that she started InFood & became loved for her food, beyond Jeffreys Bay.

She served us breakfast on Saturday morning & spoke of finding ourselves & being true to our own being & walking away from that which is not us, always finding more in honesty & success in enjoyment.

Bruce at The Sunflower who took disappointment & translated it into new opportunity, alongside his father.

Andonis at The Bay Pasta Co, who alongside his brother, wanted to be close to Jeffreys Bay’s infamous waves & ventured into the world they grew up in, to create something of their own which is exceptional & accessable & delicious all at the same time.

Marlene who created Vue de Cafe, a quaint Beachfront Cafe serving breakfasts & luncheons to droves of hungry beachgoers & tourists & locals, while she would fulfill a dream & build a new life.

On Saturday afternoon, after we surfed & explored & enjoyed scrumptious food we were met by a crowd of locals at Funky Town.  They say they came to meet us & they are very kind.  I think they came because they were curious about Funky Town Flashpackers & wanted to see for themselves the beautiful art & exquisite decor everyone is talking about.

Liz is a dancer, model & performer.

That is how she made her living.

She ‘is’ a kind heart.

An embracing soul.

A refined spirit.

Sonja is there with her daughter.  They talk of tomorrow & yesterday all at the same time.

Of hope & disappointment.

Of doing everything different & doing it as expected.

The three of them join us later at The Bay Pasta Co for Andonis’ deeply rich food.

But first we also meet Maureen who made a living writing contracts, before coming to Jeffreys Bay, by chance & starting a (now hugely succesful) blog on everything Kindle related.

Saturday morning saw us spending time with Andre Moon from Wavecrest Surf School.

A man who love the ocean & his family & found a way of bringing it all together in one place.

Sunday we spend time on the dunes with Reg or Regardt, depending on who you are & what language you speak.  He gets even me sandboarding like a professional.

While the children’s impossible energy remains undrained we talk high up on a dune with the warm winter’s sun on our faces.  He grew-up in this world.  Came here as a young boy when both his parents died.

Grew up with grandparents.

Found his way through life.

Into surfing.

And sandboarding.

Not only creating a tourism business, but also manufacturing sand-boards & assisting with the creation of a lodge.


Beautiful people.

All around us.

All weekend long.

Tayrene of Funky Town talks of her excitement to be building such an exciting new venture.

James, who came up with the idea & brought it to reality, speaks of reminiscence.

Of remembering where we came from, despite where we were or what we tasted.

Of hope, always alive.

Even if the flame burns low at times.

And he loves.

And embraces.


And our children.

And it is visible in the Funky Town of his imagination.

Somewhere along the weekend we also get the chance to enjoy the jacuzzi.

A warm pit-fire.

The best donut in the world from ‘Donut World’.

On Sunday at lunch we catch up with Margreet from Healthy Mom& Baby Clinic.

We sit outside at Cafe Kima.

The food is tasty.

The rhythm slow.

We talk of her recent trip to The Netherlands.

Of our mutual love for Africa.

Of hope found in relationship.

Of  relationship across boundaries.

Affecting us.

James drives up.  His car is loaded.  He is heading back to Cape Town.  He just wanted to say goodbye.

We exchange kind words.

Pippa leans into the car, intruding personal space without hesitation to give a farewell hug. Theunsie offers a firm handshake.

I wonder if we’ll see each other again?

It was almost to brief.

Too fleeting.

And yet so very intimate.

Then we eat.  And talk to Ilse, the manager of Cafe Kima.  Another beautiful being.  Living close to family & friends in the slow dance that is Jeffreys Bay.  Food in her soul.  Hope in her heart.

Margreet says goodbye.

And as the late afternoon gives way to evening we load our bags & say our own goodbye at Funky Town.

The Dodge Caliber accepts the relaxed speed I choose with as much ease as it would a more urgent acceleration.

We savour the last moments of our weekend together.

Pippa talks of different lives seen.

Which is good.

For if we think that everyone is as us, then we make the mistake of expecting everyone to give themselves up.

Zuko & I talk of the people we met & the ones we connected with.

We talk of our desire to love & be loved.


For who we are.

And not what we have or can offer.

We talk of time.

The greatest gift we can give to each other.

The most precious gift we can receive.

And we resolve to never let it be about the stuff.

To always let it be about the relationship.

Ours with each other.

And with others.




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Ganora Guest Farm (Nieu Bethesda)

Location: 266 kilometres from Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay, past Graaff Reinette, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Date Visited: 18 – 20 May 2012 (Fall)

Accommodation: We stayed in a beautifully fitted 2-bedroom cottage with a kitchen,  lounge & two bathrooms – only one of the options at Ganora Guest Farm, which also offers serviced luxury rooms, as well as accomodation for groups and something more standard for couples.

What we Drove: The Jeep Cherokee, 3.7 litre V6

What we did: We did stargazing, discovered fossils, explored Nieu Bethesda, visited artists and art galleries, enjoyed scrumptious food, played with Meerkat and met the most interesting people.

Recommendation: Ganora Guest Farm is the perfect base from which to explore this area.  Nieu Bethesda is a must visit.  The village is almost perfectly preserved, it is rich with history – a perfect destination on your itinerary.  A must see for anyone visiting the Great Karoo.

Websites: Ganora Guest Farm & Nieu Bethesda

Little did we know, as we left Nelson Mandela Bay in the Jeep Cherokee, on this cold Friday afternoon, that we would encounter so much in a single weekend.

The 220 kilometre drive to Graaff Reinet was easy & comfortable.  The Jeep Cherokee’s 3.7 liter V6 enjin is loaded with power.  Going past Uitenhage I engaged the cruise control on a comfortable 120 km/h setting and for the rest of the journey the smooth automatic gearbox did the rest.

We stopped in Graaff Reinette for refreshments and supplies, then tackled the last 40 kilometers to the village of Nieu Bethesda.  The Cherokee’s heated seats & climate control easily kept the Karroo winter’s 10 degrees Celsius at bay.

It was late afternoon when we descended on the village.

The setting sun painted autumn trees with gold and orange brush strokes.

We couldn’t resist a quick drive through main street before making our way on a well kept gravel road to Ganora Guest Farm.  The beautiful historic buildings & tree lined streets welcomed us.  Two boys were playing in a water furrow along the street.  In the distance a young man was leading a horse to pasture, probably for the evening.  An elderly lady, grandly dressed with a floppy white wide brimmed hat, was out for a walk.  A dog of unknown heritage made his way across the street.  On the front porch of what seemed to be a home two men were having coffee and conversation.

At Ganora Guest Farm Hester was waiting for us as we drove down the scenic road to the homestead of this 4000 hectare working farm.  Hester is the hostess.  Jan-Peet, her husband, is the farmer.  And the palaeontologist.  He grew up in these mountains.  He found his first fossil as a boy and could not escape the fascination of an earth with a history beyond that of his own kind.

That evening, before supper, he shows us his private collection of pre-Jurasic fossils.  Our children are mesmerized by his stories of very ancient reptile like animals roaming a swampy basin.

We’re not the only ones at Ganora.

Renowned photographer and teacher, Pine Pienaar is also there with a group of people who are keen to learn photography from him.  Some have driven as much as 800 kilometers to spend time under his hand.  After dinner he takes us on a journey into outer space.  A lecture on astronomy, richly blended with fascinating stories from Greek Mythology.

Before all of that we find our accommodation.

Our cottage is more than comfortable.  It overlooks the homestead’s white buildings with their characteristic red roofs.  A river, autumn trees and mountains completing the picture.

Supper is butternut soup, Venison Pie and freshly grown vegetables topped off with Malva-poeding & Custard, coffee & conversation for desert.

It is past eleven when we settle in bed, the children talking about all they saw & learnt on this Winter’s Friday.

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Saturday morning is slow.

By nine the kids bring us coffee in bed.  Maddi slept well.  The rooms were warm.  The bedding soft.

By ten we’re up.

Together we make breakfast.

A walk along the winding river, through fallen autumn leaves, then we drive the six kilometers back to Nieu Bethesda.

We make our way to Andre Cillier’s Snowberg Brewery & Two Goats Deli.

Andre and his family moved to Nieu Bethesda almost eleven years ago, giving up a teaching position in economics in Cape Town.  They couldn’t resist the pull of this little bit of world.  Today life, for him and his family is filled with everything involved when you brew three different kinds of beer, make & mature five different types of Goat’s cheese, roast special coffee and bake artisan bread.  They raise & keep their own goats.  Along with their three children they serve the guests & enjoy a life many envy & few imagine possible.

Lunch & beer is a slow affair.

Then we head out to explore a bit more.  We’ve heard of Aunty Evelyn’s eatery on ‘the other side’ of town.  We stop for a moment.  We pop-in at Charmaine Haines‘ Ceramics Gallery.  We end up talking away the rest of the afternoon with her and her husband, Martin.  We talk Nieu Bethesda.  We talk South Africa.  We talk living abroad.  The three years they spent in the south of France.  The longing to come home.  The awesomeness of our country in labor.  The gift of raising children.  The privilege of being able to spend your days on creating beautiful articles which bring joy to the lives of diverse people.

As we make our way back to the Jeep, the sun is pushed low by eager winter’s cold.

At Ganora Guest Farm a warm fire awaits us.

And delicious food.

Rich conversation.

Pine brought along a huge telescope.  He shows us Jupiter with its rings.  He tells us of Orion & the scorpion.  Of how Greek Mythology made sense of Winter & Summer.  The children view Mars with their own eyes.  And Alpha Centauri.

Supper starts with Biltong Soup, followed by Roast Beef, vegetables & Hester’s famous pumpkin bake.  Desert is traditional milk tart & koeksisters with coffee.  Jan-Peet walks us to our cottage.  Over dinner we talked about Anglo-Boer War History.  About Bushman drawings & artifacts on the farm.  The children drift away to sleep.  Even Maddi, our seven week old baby, do not hesitate to embrace sleep’s wonderland.

After a slow Sunday morning breakfast we saunter down from our cottage so that Hester could share their Meerkat sanctuary with us.  Sometimes Meerkat babies are orphaned.  Sometimes they are captured and kept as pets, but because they are territorial tribal animals they become difficult to manage as they mature & then they’re abandoned.  Hester & Jan-Peet take the destitute Meerkat in.  They nurse them to health & then go about the slow patient process of re-introducing them back into nature.  The children play as we talk of life & time and a world in desperate need of intimacy.

Then we load up & make our way to Nieu Bethesda for a last goodbye.

We visit the Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre.  The children finding their own fossils in the village’s river-bed.

We walk through the Owl House, saddened by Helen Martin’s story, fascinated by her sculpture garden.

We stop at Frans & Heidi Boekkooi.  Heidi runs a gallery.  Frans has his studio.  We drink coffee on their front porch.  The children play in the street.  They talk of life in this village.  Of people’s lives connected to each other.  Of neighbors caring.  Of interest in Frans’ work.  The Meerkat sculpture he is working on.  The commission he received.  The little farm school where their children enjoy a different kind of education.  It is here, on this front porch, that I discover my own tribe’s origins in this historic place.  BJ Pienaar buying the farm in 1855.  A town developing.  A Church building built.  Streets named.  In the graveyard many graves carry our surname.  A street is called Pienaar Street, a part of town Pienaar-sig.

We take lunch at the Art Centre, a centre promoting local artists.  Beef Curry with Rotti.

What we thought would be a quick goodbye, ends in a slow Sunday, as if the village was holding on to us, not wanting to let us go.

The drive home is easy in the Jeep Cherokee.

The children talk of fossils & galaxies, of sculptures & forefathers.

Maddi suckles & sleeps intermittently.

It is dark when the Cherokee’s headlights light up our carport at our little house on the not so little hill.

Our weekend converted to memories & thoughts to be cherished in years to come.

For time is precious and we all leave a trail.

And sometimes we pick-up on the trail of those who came before us.

And sometimes we find something good.

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The Willows Resort

Location: 18 kilometres from Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay on the ‘wild side’ of the city’s coast, in the Eastern Cape. It isn’t even 15 minutes drive.

Date Visited: 4 – 6 May 2012 (Fall)

Accommodation: We stayed in a beautifully fitted 2-bedroom chalet with a kitchen, dining room, lounge & bathroom. The resort offers chalets & cottages of varying sizes, as well as camping sites for caravans & campers.

What we Drove: Our 1998, 2.8i Landrover Defender 90-series

What we did: we loved the ocean a few steps from our chalet’s front door. It is mesmerizing. We listened to the ocean, which at times washed over every thought we might have had and at other times created the rhythm of our conversation. We went for a beautiful walk. We did a treasure hunt for our lunch, enjoyed breakfast at the resort’s breakfast room, cooked supper together on an open fire. We played miniature golf, air-hockey, pool & table tennis. The children devoured the super tube water slide, while Zuko & I took the opportunity to read & think & talk. We also explored the area close to the resort.

Recommendation: The Willows is really the ideal family destination. If you live in or close to Nelson Mandela Bay, The Willows is perfect as a weekend destination, avoiding long distance travel, but still affording you the feel of being far away from home. If you’re visiting the city, The Willows is a perfect base from which to explore this area. It is 15 minutes drive from the airport and 10 minutes from almost everything else you’d want to visit.

Website:The Willows Resort & Conference Centre


Zuko & I have many memories of Nelson Mandela Bay.

We both grew up in this city.

We went to school here.

Studied here.

Fell in love, here.

We left together in 1995 and returned together in 2002.

We came back with some children and had some more here.

We learnt of defeat & resilience & hope & the ability to begin again, right here in this little bit of world.

Memories aren’t words.

Memories are filled with color & texture.

With emotion.

And smells.


This Friday afternoon we tasted and felt the memories of our own childhood as we drove through the resort to our chalet.

We swam in that tidal pool as a five-year old.

We walked on the soft sand, there, when we were seven.

We explored the rocky shore, hunting for crabs & sea stars & tiny fish when we were eight.

We did not know each other then, but somehow this shared history brings us closer together as we forge new memories with our own children in this wonderous place.

In some ways The Willows was able to retain a feeling of familiarity, despite upgrades & renovations & modernisation.

It is a welcome feeling.

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While we stock the fridge and settle Maddi into our new surroundings, the older three of our tribe goes off to explore the resort.

Their free passes in hand.

Now there’s a memory.

The excitement on their faces as they opened that envelope & discovered those little cards.

‘Do they really mean we can do anything for free?’ they repeatedly ask in disbelief.

And then they’re off to go and test them.

It is almost dark when they return with laughter & excitement.

They’ve played air-hockey & foose-ball, pool & darts & soccer.

Tomorrow they’re going to super tube & play miniature golf.

It is a children’s paradise.

Not once during the entire weekend did one of them say those three dreaded words: ‘I’m bored!’

In fact, on Sunday I had to bribe the tribe with the promise of lunch at The Boma, to lure them away from The Willows.

Friday night we cooked together on an open fire.

Saturday morning, as I lay in bed, listening to the sound of the ocean’s rolling waves & our children playing, I realized that I am content.

This is good.

It is very good.

We drank coffee, then strolled down to the games room & breakfast room.

We had a slow conversation filled breakfast.

We made new friends.

Then we set off on a walk along the ocean’s edge before letting the children loose on the super tube water slide.

They were tireless.

They’re fervor inspiring other children to join the fun until a whole band of young ones were splashing through the water with excitement.

‘It always seems like summer, at The Willows’, I think as I watch from the lawn, taking the opportunity to read and talk and dream.

As the sun climbs high up into the sky & our shadows shrink to almost nothing, a scroll is brought to us.

It holds a secret.

It sets us off on an eventful treasure hunt, for our packed picnic lunch.

We seek birds on walls & ladies who listen for bells, a place of many holes and a bear who does not move.

It is the bear who tells us where we can find our lunch and as we spread the colorful blanket on neatly kept lawn and unpack an exquisite lunch, Pippa and I discover that we both love a picnic.

We resolve that we’ll do it more often as we devour a perfectly made meal.

We take an afternoon nap while the children disappear on an adventure. Later they tell us they explored some puddles and pools, found a sea star and almost caught a crab.

We join them for miniature golf.

Sophia gets a hole-in-one.

I accumulate the highest score and the tribe agrees that it is the one with the highest score who wins.

As the sun starts to set and a full moon rises, we find our way to our chalet and preparing supper together and reliving the excitement of hunting for lunch.





Sunday morning is even more relaxed.

Coffee is followed by more fresh breakfast & more conversation in the breakfast room.

We play another game of pool.

Pippa challenges me to an air-hockey stand-off.

Sophia takes on the winner.

As Zuko and I pack our bags & load the Landy, the children take a last wild splash on the super tube water slide.

Sunday Lunch has come.

Too soon, as always.

Reluctantly we say our goodbyes.

We stop at The Boma restaurant & Reptile World for lunch.

We delay the end of this journey.

As long as possible.

We could’ve stayed longer.

There is so much to do & enjoy & explore.

We didn’t get to the Seaview Lion Park or Heavenly Stables’ Beach Horseback ride.

We didn’t even consider the paintball or golf course ten minutes away.

The time together was too precious.

The time there.

Hidden away.

On the ocean’s edge.

When we arrive home we’d travelled a mere 36 kilometres.

We created the memories of a journey.

Colorful memories.

Pippa careful places a yellow serviette holding a blue knife and fork, tied together with rough brown rope in her memory box.

Soffie takes some prestic & stick her free-pass to the inside of her cupboard’s door.

Theunsie writes on Facebook that the tribe is awesome.

Late that evening I lie in bed listening to them chew on their weekend’s experiences.

It is beautiful memories.

One’s they might just share with their children, as one day they too take them to this wondrous world.



Categories: Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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