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Road-Tripping South Africa with My Boy (7) Part 1: Cape Town to Hog Hollow (The Crags)

My share of the holidays with my 7 year-old Benjamin* was approaching, and with telephone communications with him where he lives (mostly) at his mother’s house difficult, I couldn’t really  prepare. We don’t really have the spare cash to fly anywhere, but the thought of a 13-hour drive to a best friend and his family – which includes a 9 year-old daughter – is equally daunting.

Many mothers would just insist on the Dad promising he would call with details each night. As it is, with cellphones communications these days are extremely easy. Unless, as can sometimes be the case, it’s more about control than communcation. Anyway, robbing a child of a seminal, impromptu road-tripping adventure with his Dad – or his Mom – would be cruel.

That was my thinking before we started. The trip has been over now for just over a week as I write, and it was a brilliant bonding experience. Here’s a visual precis of how it went.

Day 1. We left a day late because Benjamin’s mother had not released him on his due day for holiday with me. This is not extraneous to the topic, this is what single parenting can be like if you’re unlucky. So I had to readjust my thinking. A first night in Montagu, about two and a half hours from our Cape Town home, followed by a drive down the R62 – a South African roadtrip classic – had been the plan.

My boy with my friends’ nine year-old girl on th ebeach in East London. He developed his first crush, I was so proud of him.

This wouldve included the Cango Caves and ostriches of Oudtshoorn, and taken in the Outeniqua Pass to George, Knysna and our 2nd night in the Crags, outside Plett on the southern Cape coast. But him not being releases on the day we were meant to start called for adaptation. So we headed straight for the Crags at about 08h30, and at about 3.30 that afternoon – with food-stops and points of interest not only included, but actively encouraged (otherwise it wouldn’t be a road trip) – and pulled in to our sumptuous, very child-friendly accommodation at Hog Hollow.

The scooter in the boot is useful for a child that needs to stretch. Tiny Victoria Bay, just off the N2, outside George en route to Knysna from Cape Town. Surf spot, beach and a rare boardwalk.

 

We settled in with some Lego games and popcorn (already in the room) for the afternoon, before going out for a walk in the brisk and qiet country freshness.  Then went through for the sort of meal that you’d expect of a four-star establishment. The owners are good people, and run a fine establishment that was Fair Trade long before the brand was established out here. And children are so very welcome in this part of the world. The next morning would see us at the quite brilliant #Monkeyland and #Birds of Eden across the ravine, before conitnuing on our journey.

Moneyland is a brilliant facility, built and owned by a caring couple, best place to see lemurs, capuchins etc in their natural habitat.

*Benjamin, a pseudonym

www.hog-hollow.com

www.horseridinggardenroute.com

 

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Single Parenting Holidays: Joburg for Christmas again ?

 

So Christmas has passed and December’s approaching yet again. A little quicker than last year, which was already a little quicker than the 12 months before and so-on and so-on.

That’s what I was thinking last year in about August. Such is the calendar of a single parent battling to see his children; I was thinking this would leave me four months in which to arrange what has become the annual Cape Town–Johannesburg flight to see ageing grandparents and maintain connections with cousin, aunt and friends.

Without being morbid, the thing with the sharp end of ageing is that you don’t know which trip to see the children’s gran or grandad will be their last, so going elsewhere, like a holiday destination, doesn’t happen. Just in case. Like my Dad. He hardly got to know his grandchildren before he moved on. My son has meanwhile learnt about ageing from these visits, and is far braver than I remember being about ‘old people’ at that age.

IMG_4473Drawing with Gran. My Dad and My SonMy Dad and My Son 

There hadn’t been timeous agreement regarding the previous three Christmas holiday suggestions with the my boy’s mother, and again I had no option but to book flights the week before the big day; which for me and my 6 year-old pretty much cost half the price of a ticket to London.

Which, heading off on a tangent, leads me to think how our holiday expectations evolve . If not my son’s friends’ going to the proverbial family holiday house at Kenton-on-Sea or ‘Plett’, favoured holiday spots here in South Africa, my now-global school friends are taking their kids to Europe and the US for skiing holidays.

Cousin T has joined uncle pat as a firm favourite for Fynn. Sassy joined in.  IMG_1057    IMG_1213_2

In comparison, spending my share of the annual big Christmas vacation with my boy and our family down the road from Westpark cemetary in Johannesburg was ok. That’s another  reality of the single-parenting world; if you’re close to your family and not necessarily flush, horizons often don’t extend much beyond remaining families.

We enjoy the relative peace. Well I do, my boy obviously lives for the moment, and if he’s surrounded by love and his holiday animals – with a swimming pool as a bonus – he’s happy.

He loves being with his aunt and cousin. So does his four year-old sister, but unfortunately she only gets to see them on one day a year (for reasons that won’t be addressed here).

I appreciate the quiet of Jo’burg, driving avenues lined with the trees of my childhood (the Joburg-Pretoria conurbation represents the world’s largest urban ‘forest’). It reminds me too, earlier comments or morbidity aside, that the children spending quality time with their fast-ageing and generally immobile granny is also pretty key, to nurture their sense of paternal family.

IMG_4481

And anyway, peak-season airports are hell.