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:

Facebook
Website
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Sleep Soundly This Winter In Granny Goose Linen.

There’s nothing in this world like climbing into your cozy bed after a long day, especially in Winter. The crisp, fresh linen that’s ice cold as it first touches your skin that quickly warms your shivering body as you frantically rub your feet together.

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I think back to my early teen years. I saved up for months to buy the perfect duvet set to match my baby pink room. Hot pink covered in daisies, reversible – the other side turquoise blue with hot pink polka dots. It was perfection to my thirteen year old self. But, did I love and look after that duvet set! You bet. The quality was so good that when I finally outgrew it, I passed it onto another girl who loved it just as much as I did, and she passed it onto someone else.

But, time went on and as I grew up and moved on, life changed a little. My double bed turned into a queen size bed to accommodate my man. And that turned into a King size bed… well, to accommodate a baby. And our choice of linen was just out of our reach financially. We settled for linen that was cheaper. The quality wasn’t great, and only now do I really understand how good linen can really impact your quality of sleep!

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I vividly recall tossing and turning every night. Waking up feeling irritated, trying to adjust my duvet cover. That feeling of discomfort that you just can’t get rid of. Cold winter nights I would find myself shivering beneath my covers. Hot nights spent frustratingly attempting to stop our sheer covers from sticking against my body.

Making my bed was never enjoyable. It was boring. A chore. I would fight with my duvet cover to get it on, as the loose frayed threads would tangle around my fingers as I hurriedly tried to just get the task done as quickly as possible. Bed time would arrive and I’d wait until the very last minute to climb into bed hoping I would be so tired I’d fall asleep immediately.

I sound like I’m ungrateful, however, I never really realized that my linen was actually the problem until I started using linen from Granny Goose! This sounds like the perfect advertisement. Like, I found the cure to all of your problems! But, in reality – they honestly have been my perfect solution to a bad night sleep!

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Criene Images

It created a cozy environment that very quickly became a place I felt I could escape to in order to reboot, to refresh my mind and to gain some sanity after a long day of motherhood. It has become a place that we snuggle up as a family to watch a movie. The perfect Sunday morning lie in spot that memories are created with my little boy finding his spot in the middle for tickles and stories. It’s become a place that my hubby has the desire to hang out in after a long day of work. Funny that something as simple as linen can have such a huge effect.

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Their linen is obviously made from Cotton and the style we chose is made with their 200 thread 100% count cotton percale. I’ve noticed how warm and snuggly I feel even with the same duvet inner. The thread count & cotton has made the hugest difference for Winter. We also chose a gorgeous Herringbone Throw which we have been using at night too. It is a beautiful, soft throw spun from soft acrylic fibers and finished with a trendy blanket stitch. They are available in Mint & Cobblestone (and are actually on sale at the moment!). Sometimes, during the day, I will sit and work on my bed and just use it over my legs – and it warms me up immediately. Such a perfect buy!

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I always thought that white would be such a silly colour to have on our bed due to having a toddler, but the marks that he has made have washed off without an effort. And, let’s be honest – there’s nothing better than fresh white linen! Right?

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I have to be totally honest and say that I have truly been enjoying my sleep at the moment. I was worrying about winter creeping up on us with the thin linen we had before that just wasn’t going to cut it for the cold nights. And we managed to get our Granny Goose linen just in time. It has made the hugest difference, and we wake up well rested!

It was such a pleasure going through the ordering process with the Granny Goose team. They are so helpful, and are incredibly well educated on their products and what will work best for you! They have a gorgeous selection, and really are well priced for the phenomenal quality. You won’t need to be replacing your linen any time soon after investing in new linen from them.

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I just want to add that the beauty of the Granny Goose linen is that it easily fits into your current bedroom style. No need to change things around for your linen – your linen fits in, yet stands out!

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We obviously couldn’t forget about our fur babies either – so we decided to get one of the Pet Duvets for them. My female Alaskan Malamute is besotted with her new bed. It is super padded, warm and cozy for her, and I love it because it means I can put it on our bed or the couch and I know that the hair won’t be a problem. My Siberian Husky hasn’t had much of a chance on it yet, as Skye isn’t a fan of sharing her bed with hairy men. 😉

*I will be telling you a bit about my experience with their luxury Duck Down Pillows in my next blog post as they have totally cured the migraines that I used to wake up with almost every morning and have helped me sleep so much better at night. I’m really excited to share my thoughts and experience on this with you as I am sure that it could help a few other people too!

Have a look at Granny Goose’s social media platforms:

Facebook
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Instagram


A huge thank you to the incredibly talented Lauren McCreath Interiors for helping style the room to perfection. She did such a great job, as per usual!

Bedroom Photographs shot by Seppi Hochfellner.
Lounge Photographs shot by Criene Images.

You can also follow me on Instagram or Facebook to see future collaborations.

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
Facebook
Instagram

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

Win This Mothers Day!

COMPETITION TIME

Motherhood is challenging. It’s beautiful and it’s rewarding in so many ways. But you only truly understand just how hard another Mom works on a daily basis once you become a Mother yourself. The lists are endless, and very seldom are we ever thanked for all that we do.

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This month, we celebrate Moms! Every mom from every walk of life. We salute you for all that you do. We appreciate you for all of the sacrifices you have made for your children and for your families.

And, we want to reward you, and to encourage you to take a moment to yourself this month!

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One lucky Mom will be winning a R1000.00 Spirit Jewellery voucher to spend either online or in-store, a pair of gorgeous Poppy Divine PJ’s valued at R900.00 and a voucher for you and a girl friend to have some ‘you’ time enjoying a Foot Soak and Massage at Rouge Day Spa valued at R150.00 each.

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The total value of this special Mother’s Day competition is R2200.00.

In order to enter, please visit my Facebook or Instagram account to enter!

The winner will be randomly selected. Please note that we will be checking that each entry has been successfully completed.

Please note: Rouge Day Spa is located in Cape Town, you may still enter if you are an SA resident, but aren’t in Cape Town, and you are welcome to gift your voucher to a friend who lives here!

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GOOD LUCK, and may you all feel appreciated and relaxed this Mother’s Day! This competition is only open to South African residents! The prize is not refundable and may not be exchanged or returned.


Photos: Criene

A Morning Of Sanity – Kid’s Pantry At The Playstation.

Sipping on my single shot latte, with actual thoughts processing in my head for the first time in awhile, watching my little guy happily squeal with delight as he gets his sensory fingers covered in chocolate dough – I can’t help but find myself wondering why I never thought to do this before.

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Just a short drive from our home, I left the house with an excited 3 and a half year old, excitedly anticipating his very first cooking class ever. I often find him begging to bake at home, which I do often allow, but find myself with minimal patience, and cringing about the mess. It doesn’t stop me, but does, at times, make me more hesitant. I also try to minimize the amount of sugar in our home. Baking means an entire batch of something sugary and sweet, which generally means that you’ll find yourself consuming sugar over the next few days.

Baking classes mean that they leave with just a few special treats that they made themselves.


If you haven’t yet heard of The Playstation, you’re likely to be living under a rock, or perhaps just a busy mom who hasn’t had much of a chance to venture out to discover a place such as this. But, you can thank me now, because I am about to change your life!

My son only goes to school three mornings a week, which means that I have a Tuesday and Thursday to play teacher and mom. I love these mornings, they are incredibly special to me, yet, at this age, it is tough and challenging to keep my busy boy stimulated, and to constantly find new, and exciting projects or ideas to keep it exciting. When I heard about The Playstations brand new Kids Pantry, my heart skipped a beat. I knew exactly what we would be doing once a month.

The thought of my son being able to do something that truly makes him happy, with somebody trained to have patience and who has the passion to bake and do messy activities with kids while I work, and sip on coffee for two hours almost seemed too good to be true. I’ve never had somebody to look after my son, so this felt like Heaven. Cher runs the lessons with the kids, and was previously a teacher – which means that she has the experience working with young kids. This is a huge bonus!


Now to tell you about our experience, and, it feels surreal, but I am actually typing this as my son is in the kitchen baking!!!

Kids Pantry begins at 09h30 and ends at 11h30. This class consists of some play time before the baking begins for approximately 15 minutes. They then get called to the table, wash hands and they go through the ingredients with them. Because the classes are small, they are highly interactive, and they get tons of one on one attention, which is ideal for my sons age!

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They each get their own little station with their utensils, etc. Perfect for your independent child. In between, they break to play and then return to complete the next task. This is phenomenal for a child like mine who isn’t always capable of concentrating for a long period of time. But, due to the small classes, he wasn’t overstimulated or overwhelmed, and was able to listen and follow instruction so well! Half way in, they got to get on their hair nets and visit the kitchen, where they helped melt their chocolate, safely! He loved watching the cooks preparing other meals while in there.

I arrived at a clean and hygienic baking environment which was beautifully laid out and 100% organized. They use utensils which are colourful and without even being aware, perfect for creating a sense of calm.

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I loved that they asked me if they wanted me to have it plated to take home, or if he was allowed to eat one here. I think that is so important – for you to be respected as a parent rather than somebody else making that call. He was, of course, allowed to have one of his cake pops here, and we took the other two home.

The kids were enabled to be independent, make a mess, and unlike how we often are as parents, they were left to just be. This is something I struggle with, I suppose, as a perfectionist. The sticks were allowed to be skew, and the cake pops didn’t HAVE to be totally covered in melted chocolate. And it has made me realize how important it is for kids to be able to do things their way. Imperfection is perfect.

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This has been such a special morning for both of us. A learning curve for me, and a wonderful opportunity for me to breath, and to not feel guilty for getting work done because my son has had the very best morning at the same time!

For two hours – the Kids Pantry as well as play time in the main play area at The Playstation, it is only R95 per child. It is every Tuesday, and there are only 10 spaces available. I would highly recommend booking online. The classes are open to kids aged 18 months – 12 years. Each week, they bake something different – cake pops, muffins and biscuits.

For those of you who have never heard of The Playstation before, it is based in Tokai, Southern Suburbs, Cape Town.

Do yourself a favour and check out their social media handles for more information, as well as to see what other exciting classes they offer – such as Bright Sparks, Sensory Kids and Book Worms.

Website
Facebook
Instagram

We have had the most amazing morning, and I don’t want to leave.

We will be back!