Out of Africa

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It’s been woefully quiet on the blog front.  Woefully, pitifully quiet.  That’s because during the long summer break, we’ve been in transit.  It was our turn to pack up, ship out and move on.  After five fabulous years, the sun has set on our South African adventure.  It has been a huge wrench to say goodbye.

Since those first stumbling days where one child got a little too up close and personal with a lion cub and the other innocently asked whether Nelson Mandela was the guy on the red and white KFC boxes our kids have learned, experienced and grown (quite literally, height wise they are both catching up with me at an alarming rate) an enormous amount   They’ve encountered  many of the wild residents of African bush, learned about the unfairness of apartheid, ridden an ostrich and can recite the alphabet in Zulu.

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Visiting or Moving to South Africa? Here’s how you can get Culture Smart!

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Culture Smart! has updated their guide to South Africa and as part of their first ever blog tour, promoting updated and brand new titles, I was invited to take a sneak preview.

What is Culture Smart!?

The concept of the Culture Smart! book series is similar to traditional travel guides in that they cover the basics of geography, history, language, climate and so forth. However, rather than accommodation, restaurant and sightseeing listings, Culture Smart! focusses on culture, customs and traditions.  This is for the traveller who wants to travel easily without offending local sensibilities.

 

What can I expect from Culture Smart! South Africa?

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What Dr Livingstone saw – A trip to Victoria Falls

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Victoria Falls “Flight of the Angels” – Mind blown.

Victoria Falls has been inching up our bucket list since we moved to South Africa and finally made it to the top.  We followed in the footsteps of explorer David Livingstone, albeit in a great deal more comfort.

There are plenty of things to do close to the falls dependant on water levels, your appetite for adventure and the age of any children you have in tow.

Here’s what we managed to squeeze in to around 48 hours.  All of the activities (except for the nighttime moonbow hunt) were family friendly and probably best suited to families with children aged 6+.

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Epic Namibia – Go. See. Do. Be.

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Namib Rand Nature Reserve and Nice Sticky Finger Print on the Lens.

Epic is the only word to describe the vast, untouched and immensely photogenic Namibian landscape.   The open space and the scale of the diverse scenery is mind boggling .

Would I want to live somewhere so remote? Not on your Nellie. Would I visit again? In a heartbeat.

There is more, so much more to write about Namibia, but here’s a quick summary of our highlights:

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When did economy air travel become a form of social and spatial torture?

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Have you travelled Cattle Class?

Once upon a time air travel was glamorous and even now, at the front or top of the plane you have private cubicles resembling bijou studio flats in London. There you will be offered a wine list, linen napkins, flat screen TVs, a bar, perhaps a massage and maybe even a dry-cleaning service.

However, at the back of the plane, affectionately known as Cattle Class, travel becomes more and more like the game of sardines.  You have the pleasure of being uncomfortably squished in a tin can for hours, with total strangers and all their bodily habits.  You will have every opportunity to get acquainted with Knee Bashers, Chair Kickers, Arm rest Hogs and Aisle Loiterers.

I know that airlines are businesses and they need to manage costs, turn profits and part of that involves cramming as many of us into the smallest space possible, but have you seen the latest hideous new patent pending for a more intimate and space saving seating arrangement?

You can see it HERE.

Just in case you can’t see it properly I’ve added my own version of this delightful proposal below using Lego Duplo people. Buzz Lightyear might look like he’s smiling on the outside. On the inside he’s crying because he’s lost his jet pack and instead of holding hands with cowgirl Jessie he’s stuck playing involuntary footsie with a stern policeman and a burly fireman.

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If this seating plan were to go ahead, future economy travel would treat you (i.e. force you) to rub shoulders, shins and hey, why not even hold hands, with complete strangers. And just think, if you are one of the lucky rear facing passengers take off and landing will feel even more like a roller coaster.  Pass the sick-bag.

An alternative ‘genius’ suggestion I came across while writing this little piece, involves adjustable seating. More leg room for taller passengers and less room for shorter ones. I can only imagine that when the passenger in front of the shorter passenger decides to recline their seat that the shorter passenger will end up with their nose pressed against their tv screen and their meal tucked under their chin.

Getting to the bathroom could be interesting with either of the above proposals.

I’m wondering how long it is until someone suggests standing room only as a serious option. That way, airlines could fit double the passengers in Economy and add en-suite showers for their premium customers.

I realise that cargo is more profitable and less demanding than live passenger cargo – “Could I get an extra pillow?” “My headset’s not working.” “I think my child is going to be sick.”  I’m curious though, are there any human rights directives that apply to a minimal personal space quota on an airplane?

…and if there are, how minimal is that space?

I quite easily found information about transporting livestock (live cows, pig, chickens etc), and their welfare in transit, but couldn’t find any similar enlightenment regarding human airline passengers.

I’m sure there must be a rule or law somewhere, feel free to point me in the right direction.

In the meantime in the ongoing battle for personal inflight space, anti-seat-reclining devices known as knee defenders have been causing controversy (and an actual plane diversion) up in the skies.

Do you have any ‘Invasion of Personal Space on a Plane’ stories you’d like to share?

Lesedi Cultural Village where you can Eat Worms and Spit on Stones

As promised in my last post, Heritage Day, here’s a little rundown of what you can expect on a visit to Lesedi Cultural Village. If you are visiting or living in Johannesburg or Pretoria, it’s certainly a great place to spend half a day and learn about some of South Africa’s peoples. It’s located in the Cradle of Humankind, to the North of Johannesburg and West of Pretoria.  You will need your camera handy because there will be  lots of great photo opportunities.

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Lots of great photo opportunities.

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