A Southern Africa Holiday – Cape Town

Well, hello!  It feels like such a long time since I was last here.  The big children went back to school today. I missed them.  As ever the summer holiday seemed too short but I suppose it is better that way.

Thank you so much for the lovely comments that you made at the beginning of the summer.  I really appreciated them and feel bad that I wasn’t able to reply.  We set off at the beginning of July for a month long trip.  We have come home with such wonderful memories from a very special trip.  As I have mentioned before my parents spend half the year in South Africa and, with some very generous help from them, we were fortunate enough to have a real adventure trip to South Africa and Namibia.  We spent the last 2 1/2 weeks in Namibia with mum and dad which was a new country for them as well as us – they make the most of their 6 months away each year and spend a lot of time exploring Southern Africa so it was especially fun to spend time with them in a country that was new for all of us.

I don’t want to bore you rigid but I do want to share a little of these special counties and all that we were lucky enough to see and do (and document it for myself too) – I’ll try not to take too long but I do plan to share a few posts breaking the trip down into chunks……and then I’ll go back to the normal crafting and homelife and outdoors documenting!


We first flew into George in South Africa which is mum and dad’s home town.  We had three nights there to allow us to do some stocking-up for later in the trip and just generally relax from the 36 hour journey to get there……..we had originally wondered about a 2 night stop but decided we’d be safer with an extra night in case of flight troubles and/or lost luggage…..lucky, because we were delayed by nearly 12 hours and arriving late at night bedraggled and tired, so thankful to be able to catch a taxi to a house we knew (i.e. mum and dad’s!) which had all the basic supplies we needed.

Then the road-trip began.  With my parent’s Landover loaded to the gunnels with essentials such as air jack (for flat tyres on sand), normal jack, tools, water, large set of first aid supplies, border-crossing documentation, cool bags and food plus our belongings for the next 3 and a bit weeks.*

Off to Cape Town.  We spent three nights in Simon’s Town, to the south of Cape Town on the Peninsula which runs down to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.  Much of the way was a beautiful drive, it was especially dramatic coming over Sir Lowry’s Pass and looking across False Bay towards the Cape and the huge area of flats in between – home to the Cape Flats, a series of Townships including Khayelitsha, which you may have heard of.  Hills border this whole stretch of coastline, and we had travelled alongside them for the 5 hours from George, but I hadn’t been prepared for how spectacular the mountains around Cape Town are.

There was time for a quick walk down to Boulder’s Beach and the colony of endangered African Penguins, in Simon’s Town, just before dark (dark falls fast in Africa and at this time of year it is pitch black from around 6pm to 6am).  The penguins were very fun and noisy – and the reason for their previous name, ‘Jackass’, was pretty evident!  We all enjoyed watching them surfing in on the waves.

boulders beach and african penguin

We had a day in Cape Town making what we felt was an important trip to Robben Island.  It didn’t disappoint.  Our guide was a former political prisoner and the stories and images he conjured were very strong and poignant.  What impressed me most was the way the prisoners managed to fight against the regime they were under – never accepting anything, always questioning, trying to finding ways round situations, prepared to make a point at every turn.  I have included some photos of personal accounts which were displayed in many of the cells – I think these give a feel for the place.

cape town, table mountain and lion's head cape town from robben island Nelson Mandela Cell, prisoner 46664, internal courtyard cement bag paper education

political prisoner stories

By this time it was early afternoon and we had time for a quick look around Victoria and Alfred Waterfront (which is beautiful and would be very easy to part with a lot of money!) before heading for Table Mountain. If we had more time we would have preferred to walk up, but the trip to Robben Island takes several hours so we opted for taking the cable car.  Once again I really was bowled over by the natural beauty of the area – the combination of mountains and sea with a city and surrounding towns squished between is very special.  I’m not a city person by any means but I would recommend visiting this beautiful place without hesitation.

V&A waterfront, table mountain cable carrock dassie and red wing starlingcape town with robben island offshore

table mountain views

We had a very scenic evening trip back to Simon’s Town taking in Camps Bay and  Chapman’s Peak Drive.  Even in the dark we could sense this was a stunning route…….one day we’ll make it in daylight!


I think that is probably enough for one day…..I’ll be back in a little while with more.  I do hope you are well and have been enjoying a lovely summer.

*  I thought it might be useful to share what we packed in the way of entertainment for a month-long trip with four children (aged 12, 11, 8 and 3)……….very little……..we don’t tend to take much away with us anyway but because of the nature of this trip there really was almost no space for anything other than bare essentials.

We had the following: 1 pack of cards, 1 travel scrabble, several books per child, 3 soft toys for Katie, 1 colouring book for Katie, 1 journal each for the others, felt tip pens, coloured pencils, 4 pencils with rubbers and 1 pencil sharpener…….plus two parents and, for much of the time, two grandparents!  We rarely had access to a television and we had no electronics.  They didn’t get bored.  It probably helps that they don’t watch much TV at home and access to electronics is very limited too but it just shows how little children actually need other than their imaginations and some space to run around.


Tracksuit trousers for Katie

katie trousers pocket katie tracksuit trousers

katie trousers

Recently I have been on a mission to persuade my little Katie, who is otherwise quite a tomboy, to wear trousers.  She has been refusing to wear them for well over a year now.  Leggings are fairly acceptable but trousers get a huge refusal.  I did try persisting for a while but got fed-up of her wandering around in her pants – her approach is to remove the offensive trousers as soon as my back is turned.   However it occurred to me that she might accept the idea of ‘tracksuit’ trousers since that is what she sees Finn, Angus and Islay wearing for Fetlicks (athletics).  She is desperate to join in their activities, especially running.  My first pair met with her approval but weren’t much of a success in terms of looks (my attempts to adapt a baby shaped pattern didn’t go very well) but the second pair is much better.

I used super-soft Nani Iro flannel (from a washi dress that I don’t wear – I have a washi top but don’t find the dress style very flattering on me) and added elastic at the bottom, in a knit fabric channel, to create the tracksuit effect.  Katie is happy and so am I.  I think that is a win!  I adapted the Basic Pocket Pants pattern from Meg McElwee’s Growing Up Sew Liberated*.


Pattern:: Basic Pocket Pants from Meg McElwee’s Growing Up sew Liberated book

Fabric:: Nani Iro flannel, a few years old recycled from a dress which I don’t really wear

Size:: Size 4T but with waistband made with knit fabric and bottom adapted to create a knit fabric channel for elastic

*I have made lots from this book over the last few years.  I tend to find that some sewing books are very good value, I only need to make 2 or 3 items from the book for it to be more economical than buying individual patterns and often there’s a lot of other information included too.


Open wide zippered knitting pouch

open wide zippered knitting bagopen wide zippered pouch open wide zippered pouch birdsWhen my lovely friend Vannessa very kindly sent me three gorgeous fat quarters of fabric I knew I wanted to make a treat for myself and an open wide zippered knitting pouch seemed like the perfect project.

It is rare for me to have fabric that doesn’t really have a purpose, I don’t tend to buy fabric unless it is to make something specific – most often for a commission or present and occasionally, as recently, to make some clothes.  But nowadays I really can’t justify buying fabric on a whim and many of the smaller things I make are made using fabric left-over from other projects.  Which is great, satisfying, economical and all the rest of it, but it does mean that three beautiful pieces of fabric, picked just for me, really are very special.  I had them lying out for a few weeks just to admire before cutting them up and making my open wide zippered knitting pouch last week.

I have used the Noodlehead pattern for the open wide zippered pouch many times.  I think it is my favourite way to make a zippered pouch and such a great free tutorial.  I have a couple of small knitting project bags now so I decided to make this one big enough to for a bigger knitting project to hold several skeins of wool, plus pattern, notions and so on.  I adapted the pattern dimensions to make it bigger and make the most of the amount of fabric I had.  I quilted it with normal quilt batting between the layers to give it a little more body and help it keep it’s shape .  I also added an internal zip pocket (something I have done often enough now not to have to refer to instructions but I have learnt from Lisa Lam’s The Bag Making Bible) to stop smaller things from getting lost at the bottom.

Thanks so much V.  I love it!


Pattern:: Noodlehead Open Wide Zippered Pouch

Fabric:: Art Gallery Fabrics, Winged by Bonnie Christine

Size:: adapted from pattern – approx.  46cm wide by 29cm tall by 13 cm deep at base (18″ wide by 11″ tall and 5″ deep at base)

Internal pocket:: based on Lisa Lam’s Bag Making Bible