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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Look Who's Walking Now ...

It's been an exciting few days at our house. Miss J has found her feet and as the days have gone by, her confidence has grown and grown.



She is so proud of herself! And so are we :)
Definitely a proud Mummy here tonight xx

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A Baby Shower

One of THE BEST things about my life here in Bots would have to be my Mothers Group or "babygroup" as we like to call it. For the last three or so years these women have been my comfort, my sanity keepers, my confidants, my source of laughter and smiles, and most importantly my friends.

Since joining the group back when LL was only a few months old, our group has grown and expanded to welcome not only other mothers and their kiddies, but also more babies to the mums already in the group. 

And yesterday we had a little celebration for one such mother, who is heading off to the big smoke today (Jo'burg) to await the arrival of baby number 3. 









 Good luck Lola!! We cannot wait to meet your baby boy when you return xx

Friday, 21 June 2013

Getting our knitting on ...

Last night was the annual Women's Institute's Knitathon. Having participated twice before, I really wanted to go again this year. It's a bit of fun, a laugh at how terribly I (and some others) knit, it's for a good cause - the WI - and its also a rare night out in Francistown.

The WI is a non-profit organisation here in town, run by women, who raise money through various events and activities (including a small library), to use to benefit those less fortunate in our town and surrounding areas. Examples of their charitable work include a yearly blanket scheme, where they ask for donations of blankets, which are then distributed to the elderly and needy, as well as several feeding projects, contributing towards feeding children either in local institutions or those in poorer areas. Past knitathon funds have been used to provide a playground at a local nature reserve, and assisted with a program aimed at keeping children in a home environment rather than the local orphanage.

So you can see it is a worthy organisation to support. Funds are raised for the knitathon by either donations or sponsorship per row knitted.

I initially tried to form a bookclub team, but some weren't so keen, and some doubted their knitting abilities more than I did my own. So instead I called a few lovely girlfriends and begged, cajoled and in the end convinced them to join me.

First things first though, my Mum (who was luckily here visiting) had to teach two of my friends how to knit. It was more a refresher really as most of us had earnt our craft badge in Brownies at one stage or another, many moons ago.

Another friend discovered the marvels of you tube and a great knitting tutorial on there. Ahhhhhh, what you can find on the interwebs!!

In the end we all managed to work out how to do it, and then give it our best crack on the night.




The idea is, you cast on 30 stitches, then once the bell tolls everyone knits for an hour. Of course during that hour there is lots of nattering, a sip or two of wine, and of course laughing - lots and lots of laughing. I must have laughed and giggled and smiled the whole night as when I got home my cheeks were so sore. The sign of a good night I think??



At the end of the hour everyone casts off and then those "squares", however big or small, are collected and sewn together by one of the WI members into a blanket that is then donated.
 




 Our team did pretty well I think, for a bunch of novices.



Friday, 7 June 2013

Playschool Sports Day

Yesterday was LL's first ever Sports Day. His Pre-school held a fun sports day for the kids to show the parents all that they had been learning at Playball, and to show the kids what a sports day is all about. It was lots of fun for everyone.

Of course Mr B, Miss J and I went to watch (and participate!). But luckily for LL, Grandma and Grandpa were here to watch too. He was super chuffed.



LL's Class - the Green Team!
All the kids from Francistown Playschool
Apparently there had been some "training", as LL had been telling Grandma hoops would be involved.

Sure enough they were ....


LL's class had to jump into the hoop and then run to the other end. LL did really well (despite being distracted by all going on around him!!)


Other classes had to race by riding bikes, or by balancing bean bags on their heads :)



After the races we moved off to watch the kids do various activities - throwing bean bags through hoops, kicking soccer balls, and doing little obstacle courses. It was wonderful to see LL so confident with the activities, doing them all easily and happily.










LL with his friends :)
After the kids had finished their activities, it was the parents turn to have a go. I think I need to go back to pre-school and learn how to listen as I obviously missed a few points when lining up for the race ... 1. Listen for the word go, 2. don't mind the small child at my feet, and 3. forget your ideas on trying to balance the bean bag on your head; instead hold it there and RUN ... my ignorance on all these points saw me coming last by a long way :( I was definitely not paying attention!



To make matters worse, LL didn't even notice I was in the race!! So typical!

Upon returning home, I asked LL what his favourite part of the sports day was. He said, you watching me Mummy! Ah melt my heart :) The boy definitely deserved a treat after that!!



Monday, 3 June 2013

Weekend Fun

This weekend was slow and quiet, and one of those weekends where not much is done but everyone is perfectly happy with that. There were things we could have done, and places we could have gone, but as both kiddies had colds, and everyone was still feeling a bit tired from last weekend, it was nice to not be heading off somewhere, or to something.

Instead we did some cooking, watched "tee-tee", and we played. And what's best to play with on lazy weekends when Daddy is home to help build?? Why, Duplo choo-choo tracks of course! :)









Mr B took over an hour building this track. As soon as he was done, this happened ...


LL seems to love the building process, but not really the part where the trains just run.
Oh well, it was fun while it lasted :)

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Mashatu

In the almost five years that Mr B and I have lived in Botswana I have been very fortunate that my parents have come to visit us almost every year (Mum has been five times, Dad has been four!). Throughout all those visits though they had never experienced the fun of a real safari trip. Sure they'd been to Chobe, Khama Rhino Sanctuary, we'd tripped together through Namibia, and even holidayed in Cape Town, but the whole safari experience had yet to be enjoyed by them. Until now!!

This trip I was dead keen for Mum and Dad to experience it. Mr B and I have been so fortunate to visit some pretty incredible places and seen so many amazing things; I wanted this for Mum and Dad too.

Prior to their visit I suggested to Mum that we might all go here. I told her to check out the website and let me know what she thought. One look at that website and Mum was sold. Book it, she said. So I did. And last weekend Mr B, LL, Miss J and I had an absolutely brilliant time on safari, together with my Mum and Dad. They loved it. We loved it. The kids had a ball. It was a GREAT weekend!

Mashatu Game Reserve is located in the south-east of Botswana in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, which borders both Zimbabwe and South Africa. It's about a four and a half hour drive from Francistown.

Mashatu offers the choice of two camps - their Main Camp, which caters to children under 12, and their Tented Camp. We obviously stayed at the Main Camp, enjoying the luxury of a large family room with plenty of space for us and the kids; tastefully decorated and very comfortable.







 

Mashatu's staff would have to have been some of the most friendly safari staff I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Everyone was so lovely and helpful, and so wonderful with our children. Miss J was held and carried and kissed and cuddled by just about everyone. LL was teased and chased and high fived as well. They seriously could not do enough for us.

The food was delicious and as is always the case at these places, it felt like we were constantly eating - breakfast, brunch, high tea and dinner. It was all yum.

The absolute best bit of the weekend though was the game drives. I have to say I have LOVED just about every single game drive I have ever done in Africa. No one game drive has ever been similar to another. Even on the drives where we've unfortunately not seen many animals, I have still enjoyed bumping along in the back of the truck. It's just a pleasure to be enjoying the bush.







This weekend at Mashatu we were very very  lucky to have two fantastic safari guides. Our guide Elvis was knowledgeable, friendly, and very accommodating to us with our kids. Edward our spotter, was softly spoken, a wealth of information, and also very good at telling me what I should be taking photos of. We enjoyed their drives and their company very much.

In the almost five years we've been living here, and despite all the safari drives we've experienced, both Mr B and I have continuously failed to see leopard. Leopard would probably be one of the hardest animals to spot and find. As it is one of the Big 5 animals, Mr B and I were desperate to cross it off our list. We just HAD to see leopard .... And FINALLY this weekend we did. And it was a fantastic sighting.

Mr B and I took it in turns to stay back at the camp with Miss J for the afternoon/early evening drives. I went out on the first drive with Mum, Dad and LL. About an hour into the drive we spotted them - two leopards, mother and cub, drinking by the river. They had made a kill - an impala - dragged it into the bushes and then gone for a drink. We watched them by the river until they were done, and then attempted to follow them back to their kill. They were wary of the vehicles though ( by this stage two other trucks had joined us) and played their typical elusive game by not returning to their kill, instead hiding in the dense foliage of the bushes and trees by the river. Still, I had finally, FINALLY seen leopard, and they were beautiful.




I was disappointed though that Mr B had not been there, and kept my fingers tightly crossed that Elvis would be able to find them again the next day. Sure enough, Elvis came through for us, and whilst I stayed back at camp with Miss J, the others found a leopard. A cub again, but this time without it's mother. Mr B was rapt. I was relieved!




Both LL and Miss J behaved beautifully on the game drives. LL got to go on all four drives, and loved seeing the giraffe and elephants. Miss J did both morning drives, and was intrigued and excited by all the animals we saw.














Our final morning drive we came across two lionesses, with nine cubs between them. Elvis and Edward had searched tirelessly to find some lion for us, and just as time was running out, there they were, sated from a meal of dead giraffe. The lion themselves had not brought the giraffe down, but rather the giraffe had died from old age, and they were the lucky recipients of a free meal. The stink though was putrid as the giraffe had probably been lying there a few days before the lions had found it. The smell didn't spoil the sighting though and we sat and enjoyed watching the cubs play for a bit.







Leopard, lion, giraffe, elephants and more! We were very spoilt last weekend by what we got to see and experience. I highly recommend a visit to Mashatu if you are ever in Botswana. It's got it all - abundant game, great service, opportunities to relax, delicious food, and excitement galore. Can't wait to go back :)

A Mashatu Tree for which the camp is named


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