PANDAS IN SOUTH AFRICA 2017
Day 1: 26 April
It's been 6 years since my last long leave, when we travelled from Sandton to the Serengeti. The 4 month trip took us through Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
My long leave 2017, started on 13 May, leaving school with with an excited bunch of kids as they embarked on their Easter holidays. I return on 4 September and since Gray is ‘retired’, we have 5 months of freedom to pursue our passion for travel. For the past 2 weeks we have caught up with friends and family, celebrating Easter – still hiding the kids Easter eggs, although it's now bottles of wine – my dads 88th birthday and Gray's birthday. A highlight was dinner at the Saxon, thanks to Gareth and the LDRS team.
We have decided on this trip to travel around our beautiful South Africa, there is so much in our own country we still have to explore and many old favorites to revisit. We are also at a funny stage of our lives where we seem to be in the middle of being responsible for aging in-laws and ‘adult’ children and so don't want to venture to far from civilization.
This time we leave behind our 2 wonderful old dogs, one blind and one deaf, our 2 beloved cats and Gray’s 4 Indian runner ducks. The dogs and cats are low maintenance and just want love and food. The ducks on the other hand are high maintenance and want no love. They have to be put in their ‘Duckingham Palace’ enclosure before sunset or they sleep (and crap) in the swimming pool all night. Looking after them appears to be a tall ask for Gareth and Kirsty, both complaining that this will be difficult due to onerous work commitments. The problem is that as baby boomers, our generation has molly coddled our Gen Y and millennial children to the point that they find adulting difficult . Hopefully we will get back to our house still standing.
The idea this long leave is go where the wind blows. Our starting point is KwaZulu Natal, to attend a wedding in Greytown on Saturday. We will then move onto Northern Natal and return home for a few days for another wedding. Originally, we were to leave on Friday but managed to get a last minute booking at Granny Mouse Country House in the Midlands for 2 nights, so we packed up and left this morning.
We are traveling lighter this time, no trailer and less ammo boxes of tools and spares. The main reason being that our old 2000 Discovery has been replaced with a new 2017 model. It was sad to put the trusted old vehicle out to pasture after so many years and 1000s of km through deserts, rivers and over mountain passes. However, I cannot lie, I love the comfort and smooth ride of our new car. Gray is really going to miss not having something to fix along the way.
The other upgrade of this trip is thanks to technology. Blogging has become so much easier, as I discovered on our Namibia trip, thanks to my Ipad. Writing, pics and posting are a one stop shop, all done on one device. I remember the Pandas in Africa trip; the struggles of a broken lap top screen, uploading and jpegging photos from my camera, linking the lap top up to a pay as you go phone, after hiking up to the top of a hill to post our blog.
Today, after a pleasant drive drive down the N3, we took the Balgowan turn off and drove through the beautiful Natal midlands. The peaceful rolling hills are known as the land of milk and honey, where black and white Ayrshire cows graze the farmlands.
We were welcomed at Granny Mouse Country House with a glass of champagne, good start. I love staying at this thatched cottage retreat nestled in the valley of natural bush on the Lion’s River. The accommodation is elegant and cosy. I love walking through the beautiful, overgrown gardens with their quirky signs; like ‘butterfly crossing’, ‘shhh the bulbs are sleeping’ and at the entrance ‘everybirdy is welcome’. Great start to our trip.