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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our recent 2-night trip to Etali Safari Lodge was absolutely wonderful. So much attention to detail, nothing was too much trouble, and the fare was absolutely delicious! Here are some pics I took while we were there. This lodge is absolute luxury -a real spoil-me kind of place. Our own plunge pool on our wooden deck overlooking the bush. Fudge in a little triangular box on our pillow each night. - Pure indulgence!

The lodge is situated in the bush- no fences - only small electric fence in front of the deck at each chalet to prevent the elephants from damaging the deck. (I felt a little more at ease with the electric fence!) The lodge is really tucked in the trees on a small rocky hill in the Madikwe. Everything is open to the bush and you really feel a part of nature. Reece had very big eyes and gave Leon a knowing look when the game ranger cocked his rifle before walking us to our room each night after dinner. (You aren't allowed to walk around unescourted after dark).

We saw 4 of the Big 5 - all except a leopoard. A very close encounter with a very brave elephant got us a little nervous. I've never heard a game ranger talk in a stern voice to an ellie before- telling him to back off! Then I knew we could be in a spot of trouble! Luckily when he reversed slowly, the elephant also kept coming slowly and eventually moved to the side and carried on eating. I was so nervous I didn't even dare pick my camera up off my lap to take a pic for fear of startling Jumbo!

Leon spoilt himself with a back massage and me with a facial and facial massage at the Etali Spa - absolute bliss! Definately worth it, even though it cost a fortune!

Reece found the cutest 'Shoobeedoo' jacket for himself in the lodge's boutique. He saw it through the window and decided then and there it was his! He was so thrilled with it he even wore it when it was still 30 degrees C outside! Let me put you in the picture here- it was 30 degrees C after dark there! Oh boy was it hot during the day! - 45 degrees! When we saw the wild dogs I was so hot that I couldn't wait to leave them - and this is not something you see everyday. Wild dogs are extremely scarce. There are only 5000 left in the world today (including in captivity). Even when the open game vehicle was moving it was hot!

We returned home really relaxed and looking forward to the preparations for Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wow has time flown? We are exactly one week away from Christmas! I still haven't got all my shopping done - so tomorrow is D-day!

I've had a busy week. Starting off with a wine-tasting on Monday evening- we decided on Monday as Tuesday was a public holiday here in SA. Our friend of many years, Steve, finally got to do a winetasting fro us in our cellar.
We invited 8 guests (plus my folks and us - made 12) and we were treated to a wine tasting on "affordable South African white wines for Summer". Here's list of the wines we savoured...

  • Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rosé - a delightful pink bubbly in the méthode cap classique
  • Cape Atlantic Sauvignon Blanc - a gorgeous summer wine - maybe a little to acidic, but with the right food- perfect!
  • Blue Cove Viognier - I loved this one- really different to my usual favourite, Sauvignon Blanc

  • Hartenberg Weisser Riesling - this one I really loved- filled with the aroma of oily paraffin

  • Savannah Chardonnay - not being a fan of wooded Chardonnay, this one was great- unwooded with plenty of fruity flavour

  • De Krans Pink Port - wow, this was delicious! Soft pink port - such a pretty bottle with a taste to match!

Well on Tuesday, we were all recovering from the wine overdose, but there's no rest for the wicked as they say- we had a huge family reunion at my cousin, Jay & his wife, Belinda. The entire Preece family got together for our first reunion.

"Plus que les choses changent
Plusqu'ils ne changent pas"

-The more things change,
the more they stay the same.

In this case, I found that my cousins had not changed all that much, except that they all had children who had grown up really quickly & some of them I had not seen in years- the last time I saw them they were toddlers! Totally unrecognisable, of course.
One thing that was amazing was Reece's resemblance to Raymond, my cousin Wayne's son. My word even their mannerisms are similar! We always thought Reece & Wesley (Jay's eldest son) looked alike, but now there are 3 boys in the family who look alike- must be a Preece thing!
We also were so happy to have Elaine Reed out from Rhode Island in the US. Her father was my dad's cousin. She has just spent about a month in Aus & New Zealand, and stopped over here for 3 days and then flew out this evening for England before returning home for Christmas on Sunday. I think if it hadn't been for Elaine's visit, we would never have got together for the reunion, so thanks to Elaine, we were all able to catch up & thoroughly enjoyed the day together.

I have to get going now as I have to be up early tomorrow to get everything ready for our trip to Madikwe Game reserve on Saturday where we'll be spending to nights.

The deck outside the chalets...I think I'll just spend the time reading and relaxing from the early morning game drive to the evening one! Absolute bliss....

I'll be updating the blog asap with an account of all we get up to at Etali Safari Lodge in Madikwe as well as tons of photos!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday already! Can't believe it. Shannon has her last singing lesson today for this year. She has to start working on her songs for her Intermediate exam - she needs to learn 7 songs to perform as well as heaps of theory.
I have to buy a doggie basket today! Went yesterday- but I'm fussy- I want soemthing cute, (& practical)! Will have to drive to Wetherleys. Okay- been to Wetherleys and two pet supply shops- nothing there we like! So it's back to shopping elsewhere now.
We're off tomorrow to Valérie's farm - two nights (or sleeps -as Reece would say). Lookign forward to relaxing and doing nothing! Actually not entirely true- I'm taking along my Christmas baubles that I bought at the Scrapbook Expo. They are clear plastic that come aprt in 2 halves. Then you add photos, decorations like glitter & beads, small little charms and such , and then finish it off with a ribbon. Will post a pic here soon.
Speaking of Christmas decor -I have some pics of our Christmas tree - I was playing around with my camera settings again.... Each year I go through the decision making process of where to stand the tree. First Christmas in the new house, it was in the entrance hall - which looked gorgeous as you enter in the front door, and you could see the lights through the panels of glass on the door as well as the large window - but the problem came when opening pressies on Christmas morning- we had to sit on the staircase as there are only 2 chairs in the entrance hall.

Then, last Christmas we placed it in the lounge - worked well, but I had to move furniture around a little for it to fit properly.
This year, I opted for the family/ bar / snooker room. I like it here as the colours in the room are warmer- (actually the idea for the decorating was to make it more 'masculine' because of the bar - hence the warmer colours).
So I think this is a winner. Also, there's more space and I didn't have to move furniture around. The pool-players may have to have a little tiff with the tinsel- but hey it's only for around a month LOL!

Here are a few of my favourite ornaments...

These little Santas- I picked up for a steal at the CNA around 6 years ago. The must stand at least 6 inches (15cm) tall & their arms and legs can bend into position - so you can get them to hug a branch, lie on a branch, or look like they're swinging from the tree like Tarzan. I can't remember how many I have, but there must be around 10 - I think I paid around R7.00 each at the time - which really was dirt cheap!

My mom gave me this apple (last year, I think). I love the chrystallized effect on it - so pretty.

I bought this little guy in Paris (where else would they have Santa climbing the Eiffel Tower?) Don't you think he is just too gorgeous! I had to have him- he is all of around 10-12cm tall and last year I paid around 9 euros for him- which was then around R90! Eek! (But so worth the memory!)

I need to continue sorting out my studio now, so I'll upload more ornament pics some other time. I probably will only get back here on Monday. Though I have tons to do then as we're having a wine-tasting at home on Monday evening. Our friend Steve, a real whiz at wine is hosting a tasting here at home for us. We've been wanting to have one for years, and finally we get to use our cellar for the purpose it was intended!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Today's going to be a hot one again. Shannon's organized to go visit her cousin, Jessie-Leigh, this afternoon and Reece is also dying to get to a friend - so maybe if I get him sorted too, I can go get some shopping done. The dogs need a new doggie basket - they managed to destroy their's last night - they got sick in them from bones Leon gave them and the baskets simply aren't salvageable. (I actually have been looking for an excuse to get new ones!) That's the last time they get any bones too! I saw such a cute basket - a little wrought iron 'daybed' with a cushion- so pretty! And you get a matching doggy bowl set also on a little stand- perfect!

Looks like we're off for the weekend to my friend Valérie's farm in the Waterberg. Really looking forward to it- the kids love it- this year in May, they had such fun playing in the mud in the near-empty dam....

Such good clean fun! Shannon is already excited as her & Megane have become good friends.

I'm sure after all the rain we've had the kids will be swimming in the dam- not wallowing in it like a family of little warthogs.

I think I'm finally getting this blog thing sorted too. (Well not completely!) I managed to get it into 3 columns- yay! And I am starting to dress it up a bit now & make it look pretty & subsequently more interesting. I am now going to clean up my studio which has looked a mess since the day we moved into our house 3 years ago. Okay, not always this messy- but it has now got to a level where it needs some of those helpers from "Clean House" on the Style Network - know what I mean? Off to chase the cat off the fax machine- seems that's his favourite spot to sleep lately!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Okay, so here I am trying to figure Blogger out. I have no clue as to how HTML works. It really is a case of me plodding along in the dark, typing in numbers and dots, brackets & bits and holding thumbs it doesn't all bomb out on me!

I decided I wanted a totally new look and here it is. My new blog - called Pixels & Paperie - my passion : Digital scrapbook product designing & then paper - photographs, acrylic painting (okay so that's not really paper), watercolours, making cards & crafts from paper- really just about anything creative.

The kids are finally engrossed in a movie, and hubby's coming home early from work as it's officially "Summer Holidays" so he takes it a bit easier now until they close for Christmas & New Year.

We'll have a good old fashioned South African braai for dinner- so easy coz I don't have much to do then - yay! Only need a sald, maybe some potatoes, and I'm done. Leon barbecues the meat and voila!