After months of radio silence, we’re back! We hope to incite a lust for adventure by supplying your inbox with a gentle stream of African road tripping images, wildlife shots and general Wuth family shenanigans. Hopefully they’ll burn a desire in your heart to head out into the wilderness and experience the beauty in this world. Maybe they’ll be enough to satisfy your desire, but either way, we hope they give you lots of enjoyment. A glimpse into our life for the next 6 months, the good… and the not so good 🙂 So before all that begins, here is a little bit of what we’ve been up to and how we got here… Read More
This struggle is real. There, I’ve said it. I’ve said what mothers aren’t supposed to say about their kids, or about parenting. But I am owning this difficulty. I don’t see being competitive or non-competitive as a failing, I just see them as being un-harmonious exercise partners, and I have reason for my sudden outburst too. We’ve just done a Parkrun with the kids. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a 5km timed, free event, done around the world every Saturday morning. We decided to go and do the one in Stellenbosch where you wind through the vineyards, views of the misty morning mountains in all directions; it’s nothing short of exquisite. Hard to think of something I would enjoy more on my Saturday morning. Couple that with being with my family and I’m thinking this is the best possible start to the weekend. But let’s put that thought on hold.
I worried that Lola wouldn’t want to do it fast, so I said I’d go with her and we could do it at her pace, while Shaun and Lincoln ran ahead. I did N.O.T. realise what I was committing myself to.
The kids are stellar in the mountains, they can climb, they can run, they have endurance, and they usually love our adventures. Sometimes it takes a bit of convincing, but Shaun and I generally know what will get them fired up. Today was a different day – we don’t win every outdoor adventure with the kids.
I have written many articles about the kids and their differing personalities, Lincoln’s double speed, and Lola’s gentle calm nature. I know who she is, but I guess I don’t always know who I am. Sometimes I surprise myself.
I wasn’t always like this you see. If you ask my parents, they will probably paint a very different picture of me as a kid. Fun loving, happy-go-lucky, always up for an adventure, but not if it meant too much effort on my part. I preferred to be the cheerleader at cycling races where my mum and brothers raced competitively, always there to support, but I found the pressure of my racing with the intention to win, too much. Every time I got to a serious level in my sport, I caved. As soon as the pressure was on I stopped enjoying it. I know this about myself, and I recognise this in Lola. Sure, she may only be 7, but some attributes present themselves early, some fights we have already fought. She is sporty, she is a fast runner and she can do anything she puts her mind to. The problem is she doesn’t like putting her mind to it very often. She gets upset if she doesn’t come first so she often opts not to try. This I understand very well, because it is a carbon copy of me. A genetic blue print if you will. It is also why I struggle to parent her through it. I hate that quality about myself, and it has taken me 34 years of growing up to talk myself through it. She on the other hand only has 7 years of growing up behind her, and many frustrating sporting years ahead, learning that failure is normal and nothing to be embarrassed about. If you give it your all, that’s all anyone can ask.
The problem is, after all this time I have come to enjoy healthy competition, and even though I don’t like being beaten, I’m a little more mature about it now. That is, until a middle aged male looking like he hasn’t run further than from his tv to his fridge in the last 30 years shuffles past me, while Lola and I are walking at a snails pace down a flat road because she doesn’t feel like running. That is when maturity and I part ways. It is also when I bend down very calmly and tell Lola that if she doesn’t pick up her pace I am going to leave her behind.
Now if you know Lola, you know this threat would mean nothing, not because I don’t follow through, but because she does nothing unless she wants to do it. Threats are a vapid string of words to her; it’s like whispering into the wind. She will hold her head high, and with the dignity of the queen mother, dare you with her eyes. She has terrified many an adult with this look. It’s a challenge I always feel compelled to accept, the only problem in a situation like this is that I got 100meters down the road and stopped to wait for her because it’s not entirely safe leaving her alone. While I waited for her to catch up, two sweet old ladies walked past talking about her being like a fairy in a forest. Not half a kilometre up the road we had to stop while Lola had a ‘quick’ look in a forest we were walking past. Their description couldn’t have been more prophetic.
While I stood and watched Lola gazing into the forest, I remembered what I had said to her, we could do the race at her pace. What kind of mother am I if I don’t stick to my word? I knew the answer, I didn’t have to think about it. After a few deep breaths, I decided on a new approach. We would actually do the race at her pace. This meant not trying to make her run, not threatening to go ahead if she didn’t run, and not telling her that her brother and dad were probably already finished in the hopes she’d hurry up. None of which are proud parenting moments for me, but sometimes we mothers slip up too.
I am pleased to say that after that point, we skipped, we galloped, we stopped to smell the flowers – literally, and we walked, even when we were the absolute last people on the course. Ok in all honesty, I did do a bit of encouraging to get her to pass another 7 year old boy and his family so we didn’t come absolutely stone last. That, and the smell of the coffee proved too much for me, and I may have dragged her a little on the home stretch so I could drown myself in a large latte for my sins.
It would be an immense exaggeration to say that I enjoyed the race. For the duration of the event that I was ‘racing’ in my head, I was frustrated, annoyed and ready to throw in the towel. With every glimpse of a short cut home I had to practice good parenting and lecture about perseverance and not giving up. I’m not sure if the lecture was for her or for me. But when I changed my intention, and realised if we were going to finish this thing at all, I had to do it the way I told her we would, at her pace, it suddenly became fun and happy time together. It would be grossly misleading of me to tell you I could do this every time though. I enjoy pushing myself, I enjoy taking up a challenge and seeing what I’ve got, and it’s frustrating that I can’t seem to convince Lola that it’ll be fun. I want her to enjoy it like I do. But then I remind myself what I was like as a youngster, and I remember the wise words my mom shared with me after another rant I was having about the kids.
She said, no matter how much I might want to, I cannot wrap up my experience and give it to my children as a gift. They will make their own mistakes.
Who knows, maybe Lola won’t look back with regret; maybe not competing won’t bother her in the slightest. Maybe, like her mother, she will wish she had taken on the challenge a little more. But it is ultimately her path to forge, and her choices to make. All I can do is encourage, offer opportunities, and watch who she becomes. Keeping my competitive nature to myself will be a challenge, but if this race taught me anything, it’s that I had better stick to my word, because telling her we can take it slow while my every intention is to convince her to run, makes for a very unpleasant morning. And if I multiply that out a little, it will make for one unpleasant childhood as well. And that simply, isn’t fair.
In many ways, it has been a gloomy start to 2016. After the most wonderful family holiday, we rolled into Jan with a dash of apprehension, but mostly, loads of gusto. We had served ourselves a plate of work piled so high, we knew it was going to be soul crushing to get through it. But there it was. We needed all the momentum we could muster to speed roller our way through it. So we hit the year running, determined not to let it get the better of us.
Lola and Lincoln were both punching into big school now so there were wonderful changes afoot, while we were still fastening the wheels back onto the cart after a tumultuous 2015 in our company. And then before we knew it, the year had started.
Two weeks into the year I had a miscarriage. Not the start we had planned, and although you always think you understand when someone else goes through it, dealing with it yourself suddenly opens up a world you knew nothing about. I am a sharer, but this is one piece of our story I have held very close to my heart. It still aches. The timing of it was of course impeccable too, we were on the precipice of a make or break moment for our company. So packaging our emotions neatly into a box where we could safely look through them later, we blundered on. Shaun, into 20-hour workdays punctuated every few weeks by a few hours off. Me, into full time single parenting, mornings of work, and weekends of trying to keep the children busy, in the hopes they won’t ask why dad isn’t with us, again. It’s been Groundhog Day for 4 months.
May the 3rd was our D-day.
Through no easy feat, we accomplished what we had to, scraping in a full 24 hours before the deadline. This in itself was a miracle. It had been a real team effort. We had all taken a hit from the workload, and it was time to get out as a family again. These adventures have been few and far between in the last few months, so we let the kids dictate our movements for the day, while we followed along, thankful we could ride the coattails of their enthusiasm, and just pleased to be spending some quality time together. So after very little deliberation, we hit the road towards town, they wanted to climb Lions Head. This time they added a twist, they wanted to see the cave we have always talked about but never actually been to. So with the route set, we began our climb up the mountain.
The day was perfect.
Perfect in the kind of way only Cape Town can be at the changing of the seasons. The sun’s rays gently caressed the mountain while the day warmed up through beautifully filtered light. There wasn’t a breath of wind and the calm of our surroundings seemed to permeate through us all. Autumn is truly Cape Town at its best.
Sneaking up the front of Lions Head, we managed to avoid the majority of the crowds as we made our way up the city side of the mountain. Steeper and more rugged, it suited us perfectly. The kids could saunter, scramble and race each other at their own pace, leaving us both to reflect, freewheel and file away as we climbed. It was the therapy we needed after the past while and I couldn’t have imagined a better destination.
At the point where you reach the first rocky cliff, you follow the path left and walk around Kloof Neck side of Lions Head, facing Camps Bay. As you round this corner and look up, you stare into the bowels of what was once, undoubtedly, the home of many a Capetonian caveman. We were not alone, there were others on this quest, but they were few and far between, possibly also looking to escape the crowds in search of a place to unpack their own inner chaos. And there it was, inside that cave, the sounds of silence, nothing but a postcard in front of you. The perfect place to unload the heavy satchel you’ve been carrying, scattering your worries amongst the wisps of cloud.
When you live in a bustling city, a place where you can loose yourself to your work, your chequebook, your never ending to-do list or the hurts that haunt you, being able to escape to a sanctuary carved into the side of a mountain, is a blessing no Capetonian should take for granted.
It seemed like the most fitting place to be to reflect, hiding out in our cave on the side of a mountain. Having faced down some of our most challenging moments in the past few months, being able to rest, together and happy, just a little worn down, is treasured time. It’s moments like this when you look at what you’ve been through and realise how fortunate you really are. Simply having a family to be with is one of the greatest blessings.
I’m not sharing our story for sympathy. I’m not sharing it because I think everyone wants to hear our drama. I’m sharing it in the hopes that it can help the people who need to hear it, the ones having a hard time, or the ones who think everyone else has it sorted. There are times when we all need to let go of things, acknowledge what we’ve been through so we can move forward, sometimes to bigger and better things, but sometimes just to peace. Decompression is so necessary. It doesn’t always take a day, in fact it almost never does. But it’s a start. I hope you all have a ‘cave’ you can visit to do just this.
I wish you all moments of peaceful, indispensable, reflection, wherever your cave may be.
Looking for good spots to hike in Cape Town? A number of people have asked me recently and this is one of those times where you are positively spoilt for choice. There is so much on offer it can leave you with decision fatigue. So for those of you who live here, or those visiting on holiday, here is a list of our favourite hikes, both with and without children. So, in no particular order:
This is one of Cape Town’s most popular hikes (and night hikes on or around full moon). Lions Head is right next to the city bowl and has arguably the best views in the Cape, looking over the 12 Apostle Mountains towards the South, Camps Bay, Clifton, the city and surrounds, and all the way out to the Paarl mountains. 360 degrees of awesome!
The walk starts off steeply along a dirt track but flattens off into single track as it winds its way around the mountain. You complete a full circle of the peak before the final summit, which requires agility to ascend the sandstone rock that is its peak. There are sections of rungs bolted into the rock where you need to climb (be weary if you are afraid of heights, but to put it into perspective our children do it with relative ease). Alternatively you can opt to walk around it, which is slightly longer but cuts out the climbing. There are still ladders to scale further up however.
This is an energetic climb but ‘bang for buck’ probably the best hike I’ve ever done. The views are extraordinary and you get very high very fast.
Ability level: You do need to be fairly able bodied and coordinated, but our kids can do this climb without any trouble.
Time: 1.5 hours up and 1 hour down. At a mild pace.
Kasteelpoort (Camps Bay side of Table Mountain)
Undoubtedly one of our children’s favourite routes up Table Mountain. This is not because it is easy. It is in fact, one of the more challenging routes we have done. It is fairly steep, requiring you to do a fair amount of scrambling, using arms as well as strong leg muscles to keep you going up. There is no “easy” on this climb. It is exciting, it is beautiful, and it gets you to the top fast.
Our children get bored when there is nothing for them to “do”, so this is ideal in that they are always climbing, always using their whole bodies, always having to concentrate.
They did this for the first time at 3 and 4 years old, under close supervision (falling over backwards is a very real possibility), but with very little actual help.
Ability level: Not for those looking for a gentle walk (except for the first section of jeep track). Make sure your kids are coordinated, if they are not, walk behind them to steady them. Fairly tiring, but well worth the effort.
Time: 1.5 hours up at a good kids pace, easy pace for us. Less than an hour down.
Skeleton Gorge (Kirstenbosch Gardens side of Table Mountain)
This walk starts inside Kirstenbosch gardens and is beautiful and shady from the outset. It fairly quickly becomes steep stairs, but a wonderful canopy shelters you as you climb the gorge to the top. As you get higher you are required to use your arms as you cross over the gorge and scale boulders, making it a full body climb at times. The last time we did this route our kids were young enough to be in packs on our back. It was tiring going for us as there wasn’t much area to let them walk at 1 and 2 years old. As you get closer to the top it begins to flatten out and you emerge into the sunshine. At this point you can pick one of many return routes.
A great idea is to walk across the top to the cable car for lunch. Don’t underestimate this distance however.
Other options including returning down a different gorge into Kirstenbosch, or walking south and down Constantia Neck.
Ability Level: You need to be willing to sweat going up. It is certainly not for the faint hearted. I would attempt it now with our kids as I think they would manage well (although I’m sure they would have enjoyed it when they were younger too).
Time: Going up you are looking at roughly 1.5 hours, moderate adults pace. From the top it is another 2 hours to the cable car.
Absolutely one of my favourite routes up the mountain. Unspoiled views, incredible fynbos and relative solitude await. Being one of the lesser known, or possibly just lesser climbed paths up the mountain, makes this even more enjoyable. The climb includes all types of terrain; normal climbing, short rock faces, some stairs, as well as flatter sections. There are great lookout points and interesting rock formations as you get closer to the top.
Cresting the final rise gives the most breath-taking view of Lions Head and Table Mountain from the south; I could sit there for hours.
The hike begins next to the entrance to Ruyterplaats Estate, at the top of Suikerbossie in Hout Bay.
Ability level: We have walked this a couple of times with our kids but it took us a few tries before we reached the top and required determination to get there. Not recommended for young children or those with no hiking experience. There are a few sections of climbing up rock faces, narrow paths with steep drop-offs, as well as slippery rocks in the rainy season.
Time: It took us about 3.5 hours to reach the top of the climb. This did include a lot of stopping. You could continue on along the top of the mountain at this point or turn around and walk down again. We turned around and it took us 2 hours to reach the bottom.
There are a number of walks you can do up Chapmans Peak. The first starts at the old forts, and winds its way up the first mountain. We have never been to the top, but it is a lovely gentle climb to while away a few hours on a weekend.
If you park at the check point near the top of Chapmans Peak, you can walk up a beautiful path surrounded by magnificent Cape fynbos.
This path diverges after reaching the first plateau. You can either walk east towards Muizenburg, or you can turn right, heading west up a path which leads to a rocky out crop with a look out over Noordhoek, Hout Bay and False Bay.
Ability level: You needn’t be very fit; it is a gradual climb that can be taken at your own pace. Old and young alike can manage and it has wonderful views once you have crested the first plateau.
Time: At a medium pace with our kids we took 1.5 hours to get to the rocky outcrop over Noordhoek, once you follow the path right.
Note: Chapmans Peak is still closed to hikers from the 2015 fires and is currently devoid of its proliferous, lush, fynbos.
This well walked and popular tourist climb is +/- 1km to the left of the cableway. It is steep going from the start and the majority of this climb is a winding, rocky staircase. You don’t have to be incredibly fit, you can do this at any pace, plodding slowly up. It is deceptively long and deceptively high however. We recently walked up with our kids (accustomed to this madness), a friend of ours, and his son. All the kids were full of beans on the way up, racing to be in first place, but needed encouragement on the way down.
This climb is not easy on the knees so if you have knee issues consider a different route down (potentially the cable car).
It is a fun climb to get to the top and see all the other tourists who cruised up in the cable car, and then join them for some lunch in the restaurant.
Ability level: Strong knees required, but that withstanding, you just need the heart to reach the top. No climbing/scrambling sections. No ladders. No flat sections.
Time: If you are fit and strong, approximately 1 hour. With kids, it took us 2 hours. Once you reach the top it is another 20 minutes to the cable station. Down we managed in roughly 1 hour.
A firm favourite with the southern suburb locals. There are numerous paths and dirt roads to be explored and you will be doing it in the company of a wide variety of both animals and people. Despite the frequency of visitors to this part of the mountain, it remains beautiful and filled with wildlife. We have encountered many snakes on our walks here and if you persevere to the top of the mountain you will be rewarded with wonderful views and a flat surface to explore while resting your legs for the descent.
On a hot day you can take a dip in the reservoir on the top of the mountain and enjoy breath-taking views of the Atlantic Ocean if you walk west to the top of Llandudno Ravine.
Ability level: Any age, shape or size. You walk as far and as high as you can. There are many options in this area.
Time: Your route. Your choice. (Roughly 1.5 hours to the top with our children)
A route for the adventurous. Not something we have attempted with the kids yet. You climb up directly beneath the cable cars and follow the path as it skirts around to Camps Bay where it heads straight up to the cable car area.
This route has lots of climbing, some hair-raising height sections and requires lots of spirit.
You would normally see the more seasoned hikers walking this route but that’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a shot. The hiking is varied and offers a bit of everything.
Ability Level: This is a great option for relatively fit people looking for an exciting climb (or anyone with lots of heart).
Time: Roughly half a day’s hike up and down, depending on your speed. If we took our kids I’d imagine it would be closer to 6 hours.
Cruising the Top
The trick here is you have to get to the top somehow. We are never ones to queue for the cable car, but if you don’t mind that, head up for some breakfast with a view, and pick your route across the top. I am always surprised by the topography on the top of the mountain, regardless of how often we have been up there; it is unbelievably varied. There are valleys of lush fynbos, dry rocky outcrops and rivers that wind their way towards plummeting ravines.
Our favourite side to walk is from the cable car towards Llandudno Ravine.
You walk down through valleys, up and over hills (no, it’s not flat up there) and all while enjoying peace, quiet and relative solitude.
Ability Level: There is something for everyone, even if you only walk along the viewing area next to the cable car.
Time: There are route markers on the top of the mountain with estimated hiking times, use those as a guide when planning your route.
…Now get out there and enjoy our mountains!…
Victoria Mall, Cnr Victoria & Empire Roads, Hout Bay. Cape Town
tel: 021 790 8008
Kiddo’s Declare… It’s Love
Parentals Take… Firm favourite
Overall Rating… 8/10 **********
What’s to do?
This could quite easily be described as the Hout Bay locals ‘go-to’ spot. There is a deck area outside but no garden or play area for children however. This is more of an adult spot and caters to the meeting population of Hout Bay during the week. If your kids are able to sit at a table and eat then you wont have a problem, but if they need to run around I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant as a sit down spot for you (unless you can distract them with iPads and phones). Rather pop in for a take out coffee (which is great) and get one of their delicious muffins or cakes to go.
It is perfect for breakfast, brunch and lunch, (closes at 5) and they have a fantastic selection of cakes and muffins for tea. They cater to vegans, wheat intolerances, banting diets and most peculiarities. Their cooked meals are mouth watering and I have yet to be disappointed with what I order.
Discerning Lola – opted for a gluten free bran muffin. She gobbled up the whole thing and then ordered scrambled egg on gluten free bread, which she then declared was the best bread she’s ever eaten. Even better than mine.
Less-fussy Lincoln – he too had scrambled egg on gluten free toast with extra bacon. The bacon didn’t survive more than a minute on his plate but the egg and toast was consumed at a more medium pace. Big thumbs up from both mini critics.
The Parentals – Shaun wolfed down a croissant with egg and bacon. He has yet to complain about anything he puts in his mouth from La Cuccina. I tried something new, getting the poached eggs with roasted tomatoes and bacon on corn-fritters. They were incredible, as is every other morsel in the restaurant.
The Coffee?! – Delicious, every time!
The attention to detail is evident in each cup of coffee, complete with a freshly baked biscuit. Every staff member greets you and your water glass is never empty, this is a rare treat in South Africa.
Our experience has been one of friendliness and fantastic food, both with and without the kids.
La Cuccina comes highly recommended.