So we finally managed it!!! We went away as a family for 2 weeks! We went far away.... far far away to another hemishpere. We went to South Africa, first time out of the country with the kids, first uninterrupted holiday for me and Al EVER - even our honeymoon in Wales was punctuated by work stops to internet cafes!
I bought rocks...
The girls bought rocks...
Alaric bought rocks....
I took photos of and told everybody who would listen about rocks (lit. I have taken hundreds of photos of rocks!!!).
The rocks were pretty...
Really we did get alot of rocks...
Did I mention the rocks?
The girls came home with some new friends 🙂
We all did!
Lots of trinkets 🙂
And clothes! We took very little with us so we could buy cloths and things... well we bought lots of cloths and books and rocks!
This was Mary's first buy 🙂 At Cape Point where the seas meet where there were baboons and rocks!
It was amazing!!! I was petrified on the way out, planes... terrorism, pilot error, blood clots, I knew it was stupid I knew the most risky bit was the bus journey from our house to the train station. But it was still there, as it was I'd checked the blood lot thing out (I had blood clot issues due to pregnancy and wasn't allowed to fly but I was unsure as to when that restriction was supposed to end). Then there was the Gluten Free thing - seriously me and Mary are hard to feed - add in that I also can not have bannanas and strawberries and what not...
Turns out South Africa is MUCH MUCH MUCH better at catering for this stuff and not cross contaminating you than the UK is!!! I think this is because they are already catering for a range of food needs so it was little hassle for the restuarants and cafes to add another variant. (There were multiple options for dairy free milks and gluten free pizza crusts!!!!).
And the flights were great and I caught up on films I'd missed in the cinema. Though big plane rides (which I find less stressful as turbulence tends to be less) result in me having seizures 🙁 To be fair on the way out there was a stress as the car to take us from the hotel to the airport in Amsterdam was delayed (we were over nighting). And lighting and patterns in the airport began to make me feel not great so I had like a mini seizure thing and so was struggling when I got on the plane (and made us even later so we were like the last in the queue but at least the queue was still there!). I switched off my little screen and stuff but everyone elses was on and the lighting on the plane and it kept switching back on for announcements etc...
So I went into a deeper/bigger siezure and was embarrassed and did not want to talk to anyone as my speech was slurred. But I slept and carefully watched films with the brightness on my screen turned down and looking away for bright flashy action and fight scenes - avoiding films that had caused past seizures.
On the way back I got to the end of the flight before having the seizure, as in I was getting off the plane - scared the poor flight attendants :/ They have a new LED lighting system on the plane and were still working out how to us it. This did mean I was then stuck at transfer in a bit of a state, unable to talk properly and standing and walking hard etc... people kept trying to help which was lovely and embarasing.
Seizure was bad enough that I got some sort of weird cramp, spasm thing with my leg and now 2 days on my leg still hurts. It also meant Alaric was looking after me and the girls and trying to get us on the right vechile at the right time. Hence we ended up stranded at Paddington on the way home for 4 and a bit hours so we had pizza hut and it was good.
This means the travel there and back was a little stressful - the way out was a mini adventure of it's own which I shall shortly relate 🙂 (allbeit in another post).
And I had little mini seizure things if I looked at the sea too much and when we drove at night in the city and when the sun was shining low etc... but each time I learn better ways to avoid and cope and yes I was scared about traveling with it, I don't want to hit my head again but I can now tell when things are going arey and falling down is actually pretty rare. Muscle spasm things have happened twice as far as I know. Lynn's friend has the same issues and finds a sun visor helps so I borrowed one of Lynn's and that was a real help!
Anyway yes innoculations were painfiul, yes we couldn't really afford a holiday, yes it was scary getting on that plane, and it was a time of political unrest for the country.
HOWEVER.... it was mind blowingly AMAZING!!!!
We got to see family we'd never met, Alaric got to spend good times with his dad, the girls got to see the grandparents they tend to physically see every 2 yrs approx. and the country is full of wonders!!!
We saw a whale giving birth, seals in the harbour, penguins feeding their babies and deciding to swim with Jean, Jean surfed, we rode in a cable car, Mary loves giraffes as in the cuddly she chose to take with her was her giraffe, she was kissed by a giraffe, we saw where the oceans meet, I scared Alaric by disappearing on the mounting, we went to the places of Granny Lynn's childhood and learnt about her parents struggle, she got an award whilst we were there, there was singing, there were cycads (the "trees" of the dinosaurs) and dolphins and art fairs and the Maker Station (a hackspace). I painted and sketched and wrote some stories, I watched humming birds that flashed in the sun and read speculative fiction written by people living just up the road. I met artists and was climbed on by a little bright yellow monkey, Jeany surfed and taught Alaric and Grandpa Lionel to body board, we had a party with some local kids who came to play with the girls, we got painted and our hands washed in rose water, I discovered that Zulu mythology holds the same elements at its heart that Celtic mythology and Greek mythology does.
I found I could still read a landscape, could still see the stories the rocks wanted to tell. Jean spent ages talking to the lion rescue lady and... and.... it was not as foreign as we were expecting, the urban areas had a... well Dagenham vibe to them. Seriously it was like the old docklands and surrounding areas but with palm trees and random creatures like mongooses and baboons appearing. I think it's a port thing... all ports are the same on many levels.
As I said I have a bizillion photos and plan to do proper little writes ups of it all. I noted what we did each day in my note book - filled up the one I bought with me and bought another 3 whilst out there including one that smells of mushrooms in a non-rotten way. I also plan to paint more pictures from my photos now I am back but will share the ones I did as quick sketched there in Africa.
Also there is the question of the curry. Turns out the curry Alaric always thought wasn't real curry, the sort of curry I grew up with, that I cooked for him... is Cape-Malay curry. I thought mum had been taught how to cook it by a friend but it turns out her father was in South Africa at various points I don't know if that was as a member of the Merchant navy or as a fisherman but either way he bought curry back with him so it is indeed South African curry which is just bizar!
We owe a big big thankyou to Alaric's parents for hosting us and encouraging us to get our bums out there!!! You will all now be bored stiff with holiday pics and vids!!! You have been warned!!!