Our Families Dream Night At Aquila

As parents, we often find ourselves dreaming of doing special things with our kids. Things that we once did that we loved and cherished so much. In our case, it was taking our little guy to a game park. Game parks have always been a very treasured memory of David and mine. We visited one soon after we started dating, and just fell in love with being there. That slow life, and being completely surrounded by nature and rustic beauty. That smell of thatch and wood and the delicious hearty meals that we enjoy. It’s sitting around the fire having drinks and being totally absorbed in the stories the game rangers share of their experiences. It’s absolute bliss.

This dream came true when we visited Aquila Private Game Reserve this past weekend. We couldn’t wait to finally have the opportunity to share our love for this experience with our little boy. We were told by a couple of people that he would be too young and wouldn’t enjoy such a long game drive, but we in fact experienced the opposite. We arrived a bit late on the Friday, which resulted in us missing out on the longer afternoon game drive, which actually worked out for us, as it was getting cold, but it also meant that we had the afternoon to relax a bit and to enjoy watching the two elephants stroll on the mountain side in front of our room, have some coffee and then take him to swim inside the Tranquila Spa which has two heated pools.

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We then got ready for a delicious dinner.

Before dinner, we headed down to the Pub for a drink which has the most incredible kids play area as well as a kid sitting service. Olly wasn’t feeling well, so we didn’t make use of the service unfortunately, but it was totally kitted out, neat and hygienic. The pub is super cosy with fire places and couches. Everyone was enjoying a drink to warm up while watching a bit of the Football World Cup.

The meals are buffet style, and NOBODY is left out. There is so much variety, and everything was delicious. Before going, we actually had people raving about the food and telling us that they were jealous because it was so delicious when they went. I couldn’t agree more. I loved that the restaurant was totally kid friendly and very casual. We didn’t have to feel that we needed to keep Olly quiet or seated the entire time. They also cater for the kids with food which is fantastic. We were enjoying this so much, I actually forgot to take any photos!

We then headed back to our Premier Suite and climbed into our warm, cosy beds. I loved that they put hot water bottles on our bed, already filled up knowing how incredibly cold it was. Our room had a main bed, a sleeper couch, a bar fridge and coffee station.

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We woke up early the next morning, it was icy cold and windier than it’s been in a LONG time. We layered up and headed down to the reception ready for our Private Game Drive. Memory was our game ranger and we just fell in love with him. He has been a ranger for over 20 years and has experienced almost everything. He is so passionate and just loves every single one of these animals so much. It was a bit of a struggle at first with the wind and cold air, but the sun soon started to shine and Memory made it so worth the while. He allowed my little boy to sit in the front with him where it was warmer and answered all of his 3 and a half year old questions.

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What makes Aquila so special is that it is home to the Big 5, yet it is just a 2 hour drive from Cape Town. But it gets better – Aquila is like a rehabilitation reserve for their animals. As an example, their two male elephants were once used at another game park for Elephant Back safaris. This means that they had been ‘trained’ in an inhumane way to obey commands, etc. They were used to make money. I love that they have saved these beautiful animals from such a terrible life and have replaced that with a new home that is on their on their +/- 10000 hectare conservancy.

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If you’re holding your breath for a Kruger type experience, then Aquila isn’t for you. Aquila is about educating their guests, and installing a love for these beautiful animals in the hearts of young children. Instead of having uncountable wild animals, they instead have a smaller amount, which they know the story behind. They have studied their behavior and understand their emotions and way of doing things. Due to their space, they respect the animals and only have a certain amount so that they can live a happy life in the space that they each need.

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They also have anti-poachers who follow their Rhino to ensure that they are not harmed. This truly makes my heart happy. They are known for their responsible tourism and have a non-profit, conservation and comprehensive anti-poaching solution which offers free anti-poaching training to game rangers working on African private game reserves that are home to rhino and elephants.

We had the opportunity to see their Elephants up close at the water hole, these boys have become best friends since growing up together, and it is truly something special to see. We also saw a family of hippos, Zebra, a Giraffe family, a pride of lions as well as various Buck and a female ostrich doing the mating dance for her male friend. The buffalo were beautiful but seeing the Rhino up close, and having the opportunity to have my little boy see them was quite an emotional experience. I really do pray that we are able to save these spectacular animals, so that my son can show his kids them one day.

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Our two and a half game drive went by in the blink of an eye, and we were sad to end the drive, despite the icy cold wind. We then headed to the restaurant for a divine buffet breakfast. We were planning on doing the Quad Bike Safari, however it was just too cold, and Olly wasn’t well so opted out. Olly was also going to go on a very special Children’s Adventure on their own Game Drive to see the Rhino Orphans with the other kids. Here they would have had the opportunity to be educated at their level on these rhinos and do activities in the ‘wild’. This was sadly cancelled due to the weather, but we were somewhat grateful as he wasn’t well, and actually fell asleep soon after. We had booked ourselves a back, neck and head massage at the Tranquila Spa, and luckily they catered for us and put us into a couple treatment room as he slept throughout the entire thing on a chair in the corner of the room.

Now, this massage should be an entire review of its own! It was something that still feels surreal. When it was over, David still looked at me and said ‘ Now, that’s how a massage is done.’ We both had written on our form that we wanted to our aim for the massage was for muscle relief. They understand exactly what you mean when you tell them the pressure you want, and I have never had that before. It was incredibly relaxing and we did leave feeling loosened up. It was such a treat, and I can highly recommend booking yourself in for a treatment at the Spa.

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We really had such a special time at Aquila, and I do believe that my son was the perfect age for us to take him! He didn’t seem to take note of the long game drive and was very alert and excited, asking questions the entire drive. Aquila is DEFINITELY family friendly. They really cater well for children. We wished that we had braved the cold and taken our little guy down to the Star Safari down on the lawn in the evening, but we were exhausted after a long day, and were ready to just climb into our warm beds and to read Olly the incredibly special multilingual book they had left waiting for him (which is available here: https://www.florenceandwatson.co.za

Words will never fully be able to describe how much this night was at Aquila for our little family. Thank you for having us! Your beautiful place is so close to our hearts.

I want to take this moment to mention that Aquila is currently running 5 Winter  specials which you can read more about here: http://bit.ly/2HuINIS

Aquila has some beautiful social media accounts, so to keep up with all of their news and specials, you can follow them here:

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A Girls Night Off The Grid & WIN A NIGHT At Copia Eco Cabins.

Before I even begin, I’d excited to announce that we are running a very special Father’s Day Competition where you can WIN a night stay at this beautiful place!
Enter here!

My dear friend Lauren McCreath, an incredibly talented local Interior designer and myself were recently invited to visit the breathtaking Copia Eco-Cabins. For those of you who have not yet heard of it – it is located on a private farm in Bot Rivier. With it being just over an hour drive from Cape Town CBD, we jumped at the opportunity to drive up for just one night. What could be more perfect than old shipping containers that have been carefully converted into luxury self-catering accommodation up on a hill in the middle of nowhere?

We had been awaiting this moment in anticipation for months, and being busy Moms – we were so looking forward to a girls night away to kick our feet up, enjoy some wine and to soak in the Wood Fired Hot Tub. We got to ditch technology for an entire 24 hours, which gave us the opportunity to truly absorb real silence, something this generation doesn’t fully understand.

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Copia, without even trying, brings out real conversation, a connection between two people – friends or lovers. It allows you to escape from the hustle and bustle of the world and leaves you in a little world that belongs to just the two of you. Being surrounded by nature and having escaped from the tech world gives you a moment to look up from your screens, and instead of wasting time watching what the rest of the world is doing, it has you absorbing and really appreciating the beauty of the basics that surround you. I left understanding, that really, all one needs for true happiness is being surrounded by the ones that you love.

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I have never, in my life laughed like the two of us did. We sat in the Wood Fired Hot Tub for hours, enjoying red wine and enjoying that blissful feel of the cool breeze brushing our shoulders.

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Time. Every second is cherished when it isn’t wasted. In a way, one day felt like two, and I can vividly remember every step we took while we were there.

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We arrived on a dirt road, with pretty much nothing surrounding us but mountains, hills and horses. We entered the farm and were greeted by beaming faces of the farm kids. ‘Shame’ was the first thought that crossed our minds – however, on departure we couldn’t believe our naivety of such an absurd thought. Shame? Far from. I’ve never seen kids laugh and play and use such imagination. Imagine living in such simple beauty every day.

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Copia is so well equipped, with everything you could possibly need for the duration of your stay. There were rusks and fresh eggs awaiting us in the kitchen along with tea and coffee, etc. I love that they had a little jar filled with all of the things you may need while you stay. Panado, plasters, etc. This means that there really is no need to leave for any reason while you stay.

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Night fell, and we enjoyed a dinner for two. Copia has really put in that extra special touch with providing little gas lanterns to create chemistry and beauty even when its complete darkness surrounding you.

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We climbed into what must have been the comfiest bed I’ve ever slept in, and found ourselves chatting for hours. With no curtains, you find yourself staring at the stars, and the faraway farm cottage light, which really looks like nothing but a star itself.

It is truly something special being blessed with time away at such a unique place. I love that they promote an eco-friendly lifestyle. Providing people with an off the grid escape. However, they have done this in a way that is still comfortable for visitors.

I can’t wait to return, with my hubby in tow as it really is just the most perfect escape. Copia currently has two cabins – Copia Cabin, which is the one that we stayed in AND Lone Tree Cabin. They both cater for two adults.

I must say that many may be put off visiting in Winter – but it has to be the best time! We absolutely loved being there with the rain!

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Please do yourself a favour and read what inspired Lucas to create Copia Eco Cabins here: https://www.copiaecocabins.co.za/our-story

I haven’t touched on anything decor wise as Lauren has covered this section (see below), as she has a phenomenal understanding of Interiors due to her expertise.

DO follow their social media accounts as they are always sharing beautiful images shared by their visitors and that’s also where you’ll see any last minute deals!

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INTERIOR REVIEW: Lauren McCreath Interiors

When it comes to out of the box thinking, Copia Eco Cabins has taken this one step further. Who would have thought a mere shipping container could become a sophisticated and endearing little house on a hill.

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Overlooking the beautiful valleys of Bot Rivier, this ticks all the boxes. The creators have seamlessly married the metal, boxy structure of the reinvented shipping container with the landscape. Using dark charcoal and organic tones of wood, it’s symmetry is juxtaposed with the rolling hills and mountains in the distance.

Once inside, you are immediately drawn to the large glass stacking doors which allows you to be fully aware of the stellar views outside. That’s the beauty. There is little distraction of the interior to the exterior. A carefully thought out colour palette of greys and neutral tones only enhance the beauty of what’s outside-fynbos and stone, fields of the working farm below and the mountains of greenery in the distance.

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A simple yet sophisticated, minimalist approach to the choice of furnishings, allowing guests to truly relax, and focus on nature and each other. Being almost completely off the grid, there is every opportunity to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Copper tones are used throughout. From the shower fixtures, (that shower was absolute bliss) to smaller details seen in the kitchenware and cutlery. I love how this adds a warm element to the decor without making it obvious and cluttered- in keeping with the Scandinavian feel.

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Wooden elements from the outdoors have been brought into the interior, and can be seen as bedside tables, and cleverly, as a basin stand in the bathroom. This creates a perfect balance of organic and industrial.

The bed was absolute heaven. HUGE pillows and lovely, crisp white linen on the king size bed says “let’s stay in bed all day! “ Again, a less is more approach works so beautifully against the backdrop. A huge window adjacent the bed allows you to take full advantage of the scenery outside. Waking up to the soft morning light, delicious,freshly brewed coffee and quiet.

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Don’t stay for just one night- it’s so worth an extra day.


*Please note that ALL professional images have been extracted from Copia’s website.

*Lauren & myself make a great team when it comes to reviewing beautiful places. We love travel and are adamant to find some of the best places to stay that tick all of the boxes (experience, hospitality and interior) to share with our readers. If you have a place and would like for us to visit – please email me a proposal to onemodernmom@hotmail.com

Cape Town’s Latest Pop-Up Shop: The Strangers Club.

I imagine that by now ‘The Strangers Club’ in Green Point is no stranger to you? A restaurant that is pure beauty to the eye & breathtaking to anybody who appreciates good taste in décor. Why not make a turn this Wednesday 30th or Thursday 31st between 10h00 – 17h00 for their very own Pop-Up store showcasing a handful of Cape Town’s very own local brands?

 

Like anybody, I’m sure you’d like to find out a little more about which brands will be there? Let me share a little info with you so you can better understand why you can’t miss out on this very special event.

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POPPY DIVINE:  has got to be my absolute favourite local luxury lounge wear and sleepwear brand. I wore it through pregnancy, while in labour, after giving birth and even now almost 4 years later. They have a lovely selection of incredibly well made garments. With winter making its appearance, you must be in the market for some new cozy PJ’s and, might I add, a few super comfy lounge wear garments that you can get away with sneaking out of the house with for a quick grocery shop. They have a stunning new range that will be available at the pop-up store. Poppy Divine has something for the younger and older woman. No matter what your age, you’ll find something suitable in their range.

POPPY DIVINE was launched in Cape Town early in 2012 by Kirsten Brandon and Lesley Rabinowitz, friends for 30 years, who share a love of fashion and global trends. Kirsten and Lesley identified a gap in the market for luxurious, well priced, quality sleepwear with an innovative use of fabrics and colours. Their hands on approach to every aspect of the business including sourcing of fabrics, design, marketing the product and supervising the production, has resulted in a stylish beautifully made range that is both comfortable and chic.

POPPY DIVINE is a locally manufactured sleepwear and loungewear brand. Our philosophy is simple…relax in comfort, lounge at leisure and dream divinely in the sumptuous style and femininity of this gorgeous range.

With new and exciting collections to look forward to each month, POPPY DIVINE will tempt you with fresh additions to your sleepwear wardrobe. As many of the POPPY DIVINE’S items are sold as separates, you can mix and match to suit your every need.

Kirsten and Lesley are blessed to be both best friends and business partners and enjoy working together to create beautiful sleepwear which they absolutely love (and have a lot of fun at the same time). They get to meet wonderful suppliers and customers on a daily basis and the compliments that they receive for Poppy Divine make all the hard work really worthwhile. It’s simple really…. They love what we do!

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NANOU B: is such a beautiful brand that was recently introduced to me which is renown for its boho-chic clothing with a touch of Ibiza flair. Nanou B encompasses it’s owners sensuous personal style, her love of travel and her passion for design; with Nanou B, Nathalie (a self confessed clothes addict) has created a must-see, must-have collection from top designers around the globe. Originally from Belgium, Nathalie believes that we reach the stage where we want to wear beautifully designed garments, which make us feel good about ourselves, increasing our sense of femininity and sensuality. Her passion for high quality fabrics and craftsmanship ensures that Nanou B garments will become cherished items, easily adapting to different occasions and seasons by combining and layering them together. Nanou B is, therefore, a unique collection combining luxurious fabrics, creative designs, intricate embroidery and stylish prints – all with Natalie’s uninhibited, relaxed and glamorous sense of style.

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MISS KNITWEAR: was born out of a passion for design, the Miss Knitwear mohair range combines the best of old-world mohair techniques with new-age fashion trends to create a line which resonates with the modern woman.

This elegant and luxurious mohair collection is designed by Cape Town based designer, Candice Johnson. Using rich quality kid mohair. Candice has created a range of scarves, ponchos, shawls, beanies and other knitwear, which possess a soft, comforting and gentle make-up. (Now, wipe that image out of your head, because I doubt that her products are what you may be imagining. Her creations are a perfect fit for the younger, modern woman. They are super trendy, and versatile.)

A celebration of femininity, love, dreams and romance, the Miss Knitwear range strikes the perfect balance between pure comfort and elegance by offering an array of masterfully created authentic, stylish, natural and sophisticated mohair pieces. Sourced from unforgiving and arid landscape of the Karoo, this collection is symbolic of finding beauty and comfort in the world and luxuriously knitting it into a range that showcases the very best of the Karoo in a collection that is characterized by quality, softness and elegance.

Miss Knitwear, however, is not just a collection of elegantly designed mohair garments. It is a commitment to treading lightly on the earth, creating authentic beauty and originality, celebrating the wonder of Mother Nature and committing wholeheartedly to sustainability. It is a unique and authentic collection, which offers fashionable women a nostalgic throwback to the golden age of mohair production with an ingenious modern twist. Modeled on contemporary stylings and trends, this range of quality mohair garments is completely removed from mainstream mass production. Rather, it provides an avant-garde, natural and elegant approach to women’s fashion that complements the trendy contemporary woman who is looking for the perfect combination of style and comfort.

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JOYA JEWELLERY: is internationally trend aware, African influenced and locally manufactured in Cape Town. Every piece of Joya jewelry is skillfully handcrafted with semi-precious gemstones, genuine leather and gold plated beads.

I love the bohemian feel of their jewellery, and although they have a tropical feel, they compliment your wardrobe year round. Joya Jewellery has a large variety, and definitely has something that suits all different ages and personalities. They are made beautifully and are worth every penny. They’ve been finished off to perfection, and are of high quality.


Will you be visiting their Pop-up store? It’s at the top of my list for what’s supposed to be a cooler week in Cape Town. Be sure to tell your friends, and make a date in your diary for during your lunch break (if you work in the area) or for a date with your girlfriends.

Capturing An Indescribable Love: Mother & Son.

IMG_7896There’s something incredibly special about raising a family in this generation. Things have changed, and the fact that we are able to do photo shoots with our families and children really is something magical. We are enabled to capture special moments, and to freeze a moment of time so much more easily than when I was growing up.

It certainly does take someone talented to capture the true emotions between a family or between two individuals. They have to make themselves vulnerable behind their cameras to just slip into your normality as a family. I’ve met some photographers who just don’t have that – and then there’s those, like Aimy from Aimy-Louise Photographer whose just got it.

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I was amazed at how quickly, and effortlessly Aimy captured my little boy and I on Saturday afternoon. The entire shoot was totally natural, and not once did I find her stopping my little guy from doing something he wanted to do to force him into some ‘perfect’ frame. Aimy simply awaited the moments that had emotion overflowing from them – she watched as we played, and allowed us to, well, just be us!

 

We wanted to have some updated photos in time for Mother’s Day, and although the deadline was short, Sunday rolled around and I had my images popped neatly in my inbox awaiting me. My heart burst with love, emotion and pride as I scrolled from one image to the next. She captured the imperfections, the raw and real moments. The happiness and vulnerability of a mother and son.

 

Aimy’s photos speak emotion. Her colours deep, leaving you with a sense of wonder and allowing you to see directly into the heart. I love that she doesn’t cover up every flaw, but rather shows your imperfections as what makes you unique and beautiful. These photos are so special to me. By looking at them, I will always look back and remember that feeling of my little boys small, warm, dirty hands holding my face to plonk a kiss on the tip of my nose. Those same hands excitedly gripping onto mine, trusting me to guide him out of harms way into safety. The sound of laughter echoing between the trees as he throws the fresh, crisp Autumn leaves above my head waiting for them to take landing.

 

Each family, and mother and child has their own unique story – and Aimy makes sure that she captures your story exactly for what it is. There are no corny poses, and no rights and wrongs. She allows your family to be comfortable in your own skin. And that is what makes her stand out to me as one of the best photographers for family, engagements, couple, newborn or wedding photography in Cape Town.

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Aimy-Louise Photography is offering a special on her Mommy & Me Mini Sessions. For R700 you get 30 minutes with her and 10 edited photos. This is such a wonderful deal, and I really encourage you to make use of this special if you’re needing some updated images with your kids, if you are based within the Cape Town area.

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You can see Aimy’s portfolio here:

Website
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Thank you, Aimy for the beautiful images of my little boy and I. You truly captured our quirky and very special relationship perfectly!


*My wardrobe: My Scattered Heart

The Shop That You SHOULD Take Your Kids To!

How many times have you glanced through the windows of a beautiful store, but dragged your kids in the opposite direction? Each time you do your grocery shop at that shopping center, that shop pops back into your mind, but the thought of all of the things your kids will want to touch and may break just creates an urge to ‘go inside to browse next time without the kids rather’.

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It is incredibly rare to find a shop like Diggers and Dandelions, which can be found at the Checkers entrance of the Sun Valley Shopping Mall. A hidden gem that stocks some of the highest quality, exclusive pregnancy, newborn, baby, toddler and kids products. The owner, Jurika, supports local South African designers and brands, and you will find a handful of the most breathtaking products which she has hand selected herself. She only has three international brands stocked in her store, including the well loved Melissa and Doug.

Back to my point – what makes Diggers & Dandelions so rare? They encourage the kids to touch and play with everything in the shop while mom browses. Did you hear me? THEY TELL YOUR KIDS TO PLAY WITH THE PRODUCTS IN THE STORE WHILE YOU SHOP!!! There are two gorgeous areas in each corner of the shop that have little set up areas where the kids can quickly snap into their imaginary world, they are allowed to go around the shop and touch, feel, pick up and play with the gorgeous products that are in store. I was in the shop for about an hour, and my three and a half year old son was totally fascinated and entertained the entire time. This never happens!

Jurika believes that every person who comes into her shop should be able to leave with something, no matter how big or small, that makes them feel special. Whether it be a handmade dummy clip or something larger like a hand crafted wooden reading nook. She has created a place that has products of all price ranges, and after browsing her store in depth, I noticed that even the high end products are priced at a very affordable cost!

The baby clothing is just divine. Some really unique and high end garments made locally. It certainly makes me wish to have a baby to dress up again. They have a wonderful selection of wooden toys from the well loved toy collection – (Melissa and Doug, which you could win an R800 voucher for, to choose a toy of your choice!).

What I loved about the shop is that from the moment you step food through their door, it’s almost like stepping into a fantasy world – partly for moms, because, well…when do we ever get the opportunity to really look at a shop? And for kids, having the opportunity to explore. But, apart from that – seeing so many new products in a shop that you haven’t seen before. I love that! I so  often walk into a shop and just find shelves packed with the same thing I saw at the last shop. So, I really do find it so refreshing to see some original products, but to also see the well loved ones snuck in there too.

I really encourage you to pop into their store at the Sun Valley center when you happen to be that side. For baby shower gifts, there is no doubt you will leave with something truly special, or even for your own baby, or a gift for a toddler. They have also recently launched a maternity range, which is awesome!

You can also shop online, so if you aren’t in the area, don’t fret! You can do your shopping from the comfort of your own home here:

Want to find out how you can win a Diggers & Dandelion voucher valued at R350 AND a Melissa and Doug prize valued at R800 (of your choice). Pop over here to enter the competition:

Enter Here

I truly do wish for each of you to visit the beautiful Diggers and Dandelions store, because my photos really don’t do it justice. I would love to know if you do visit, and would also love to hear your thoughts on it.

DO take your kids, and DON’T avoid it because you have them with you. There really are no excuses!

Happy Birthday, Diggers & Dandelions! To the next 2 years of providing beautiful products to the Valley.