Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Arniston - November 2013

The Adventures Potter Romero blogger is back in action! 

We've just returned from a lovely weekend getaway in Arniston. The getaway was prompted by a weekend-long event next door at the River Club, which we feared might be too noisy! So we rented a lovely cottage in Arniston for the weekend, and on Friday we collected the children from school, had a quick lunch, packed the stuff, the food, the dog, the children and finally the adults into the car and we set off!
Our lovely cottage at Arniston
We arrived in Arniston at around 5pm, and of course first we had to inspect the cottage thoroughly...

... and then we went to check out the sand dunes! :)

Those two little figures are Ana and Liam!

... Laika and Mami had to follow in a hurry - Liam is nearly at the top!

And he's made it!

Sand dunes needed some decorating..
On Saturday morning, we went to check out the beach. But a surprise awaited us.. 

Um... :/
Luckily, there was no evidence anywhere of any beached whales OR sharks... Phew! So we proceeded to check out the beach and got very busy:


Collecting treasures...

Building stone towers...

.. until the wave came along... 


So we shall build it again... and again... ;)
The beach morning was awesome, but it left us all staaaarving! So after a lovely braai (bbq) back at our lovely cottage, we hit the sand dunes again. And this time, Ana had a genius idea: we brought with us... a toy truck! And this part of the story is better told in movies. Here's the first test...

What a success! Even Laika thought this was too much fun!

Let's do it again! But this time, let's find a steeper slope! :)

And then the loooong climb back up....
.. only to do it again!! But this time we'll film from the bottom!

Some of us also did some digging around....

Afterwards, exhausted and coated in sand, but happy, we went back to our little cottage where it was bath, pyjamas and special story time.. Pinocchio!

Daddy, why is Gepetto holding Figaro above the fish bowl?
The next day, after a lovely breakfast, we said goodbye to our little cottage and went to check out.. the southern-most point of Africa - Cape Agulhas!

The Potter-Romero family at Cape Agulhas!

.... where even toilets can have surprising dangers!
And to end the weekend on an even happier note, when we finally got home to Observatory in the afternoon, we could hear no music at all from the River Club. What a lovely surprise! :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mauritius - 17 March - MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

D day finally arrived, and I resigned myself to stop being a 30something. I am now officially 40 years old! :o
Upon waking up, Ana reminded Liam that today was Mami's birthday, and they both came over to wake me up and sing happy birthday to me. Stephen brought me my gift - a box of Amarula chocolates! Yum! Except that Liam looked at me with his big round eyes and said ever so sweetly 'Mami, are you going to share?' ... and we promptly had to abandon any idea of trying them out, as he would be hurt if I didn't! :D I also got for my birthday a lovely blue sarong and pretty flowery flip-flops from Nanny, which I had to fight the kids to wear. HA HA. Thank you Nanny, they are lovely! :)

As we were about to leave our room, we discovered it was raining and I had to laugh - I had been dreaming of pina coladas on my birthday for so long, that of course it had to rain! But it was still lovely and warm as we headed out to the restaurant, where we had a nice big breakfast again (Liam and Ana particularly enjoyed the biscuits).  By the time we'd finished our breakfast, however, the clouds had parted and the sun was shining, and the day promised to be awesome. 
I'd hoped to do some adult snorkeling again today, but naturally the kids didn't want to go to the mini-club so we decided to check out another section of the beach, beyond the boats. I decided this is my favourite section - it has the rocks and the fish and the shallow waters for the kids, but it also gets deep enough for me to do some proper swimming! Hurrah! Daddy and the kids made me a 'happy birthday Mami' sign on the sand with broken pieces of coral, and then the artists happily posed for a photo. :)

Birthday pina colada, new sarong and shoes!! Cheers! :)
At around 12:30 it was time to hide from the Sun for a bit. The kids got into some serious playing in the room with their toys and didn't want to go out to lunch (they claimed they weren't hungry), so Stephen went out to get some take-away... and came back with ham and cheese croissants and.... wait for it... my very own birthday pina colada!!!!! MY HERO!!!!! The pina colada was a little stronger than I expected but oh so yummy!!! This is what I call having a birthday in style... wooohoooo!!!! Can I turn 40 again tomorrow? :)

After a little bit of  skyping with family, we were too late to head for the glass-bottom boat, so we went to the pool instead. Ana and Liam had a blast marching up and down the edge of the kids' section of the pool (about 1/2 metre deep) and splashing about - and every so often "accidentally falling off the road" and having to help each other back up again. They were joined in the water by Oscar and Barnie and they all played together. Every so often a rainbow would appear behind the hotel building and a minute or so later, we'd get a drizzle of rain - but who cares when you're already wet from playing in the swimming-pool? We finally gave up when a bigger raincloud came over with bigger and colder drops of rain, but by then it was already time to get back to our room and get ready for dinner anyway! ;)
Dinner was yummy as usual, Liam really enjoyed the roast chicken and the stir-fry lamb while Ana had chicken with plain pasta - they both ate lots! For dessert, the kids were delighted to discover that the chocolate mousse was again available. But as we sat down to eat our goodies, our waitress and one of the waiters came along with a small birthday cake for me, with candles and everything! What a pity we didn't have our camera with us, it was so pretty!! After I blew the candles and they all sang happy birthday to me, the waiters left us to enjoy it. It was actually a delicious cake, decorated with a 'happy birthday' message and with two thin pieces of solid chocolate with "Victoria Hotel" written on it - which the kids ate on top of their chocolate mousse. And yes, they both finished all of that chocolate and despite our misgivings, neither got sick!!
We all talked about going for a walk after dinner again, but as soon as we got started, Ana decided she wanted to go to the room instead.  Daddy and Liam joined us shortly after, as Liam heard the waves and did not like them being awake again.
And so ended my awesome 40th birthday in Mauritius. Let's do this again!! :)


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mauritus - 16 March - snorkeling!

Stephen with our hotel behind him
On Friday we all woke up a little earlier, at around 8am. As we opened our balcony door, we were met by two boys from a couple of rooms away - Barney (nearly 3 years old) and Oscar (4 years old), who had come to say hello to Ana and Liam. Barney solemnly told us his Mum was sick - oh dear, we said. Oscar wandered into our room and approved of "The Gruffalo's Child", which is one of Ana and Liam's favourite books. And so we struck a friendship. So of course we ended up arriving for breakfast at about the same time as the day before. And that's our excuse and we're sticking to it.
Me with the Mauritian coastline behind me
After a rather big breakfast, the kids headed out to the mini-club for some games first at the club house and then at the pool, and we adults finally headed out for some snorkeling! The skipper was the same grumpy man as yesterday - I forgot to mention him but he barely spoke the whole trip (yesterday and today), young and tanned and not too ugly but all serious business-like and no smiles in case they hurt. His only words were to warn us not to get too close to the shallow waters of the reef  - well worth listening to. 
I tried jumping backwards off the boat in a stylish diver's way, but of course I wasn't wearing any diving gear and I failed miserably to look stylish as my mask was kicked off my face by the fall and I came up coughing and spluttering. Stephen naturally took the ladder - git. 
Anyway, we finally got into the water! Words fail me here - it was awesome and despite snorkeling about 40 min, it felt entirely too short. So many different tropical fish and colorful corals! I noticed a beautiful fish in stripes of different shades of blues and yellows that followed Stephen around... and so he'd managed to pull yet again! No fish followed me - sniff. He pointed out some beautiful long pipe fish, I showed him some gorgeous, enormous pink shells, we scattered together a shoal of yellow fish with two more pipe fish in their midst (we couldn't resist he he). I saw a pinnacle with two round through-holes near the top covered up by a lacing of red coral which looked amazing with the sunlight shining through, but Stephen had swam too far and by the time I got his attention, I'd lost the site. It was all incredibly beautiful. We loved every second of it and hoped we'd get the kids into the mini-club again soon so we can do this again (and again? Or would that be too greedy?). ;)
We met the kids by the main pool as arranged, and after playing a little bit more in the water with them, we went for showers and lunch at the bar. Ana wanted to go back to the mini-club after lunch to learn how to do a Sega dance, which is a traditional Mauritian dance, but Liam was too tired and not at all interested. So Liam stayed in the room with Stephen for some rest, while I took Ana to the mini-club. She reluctantly put on the traditional Sega dress (long skirt and a cropped top) but totally refused to dance or let me go. We watched the other girls for a while but she did not get into it, so we gave up and went back to our room... where we found Liam was fast asleep on the bed! Aawwwww. So Ana played quietly on her own for a while, careful not to wake up her little brother, while I got on with some blogging and Stephen played his new star-wars game on the iPad. 
When Liam woke up, we noticed he'd had a "little accident" and wet the bed! Ooops! Poor Liam, he was horrified! We quickly washed him, changed his clothes and as we were heading for the beach, I also noticed my flip-flops were missing. Blast - I'd left them by the pool in the morning! So I went to the pool to retrieve my flip-flops and to reception to ask them to change the sheets, while Ana, Liam and Stephen headed out to the beach. 
The beach was gorgeous at that time of day. By the time I got there, Daddy and Liam were in the middle of building a wall between the rocks to stop the tide from getting through, and then Ana and Liam went round and round the rocks and splashing about and jumping over the sand wall. There we also met up with the neighbour boys, Barney and Oscar, who promptly borrowed our kids' buckets and spades and had enormous fun - Oscar even managed to get a little fish in "his" bucket! He was so proud! Rachel, another South African child from the kids' club, came along a little later dressed up in a traditional sega dress in reds and whites - she looked beautiful and her parents and Ouma (grandmother) took full advantage of the sunset colours and took loads of pics of her in various poses and settings. Stephen did so too of course, so here you can see some of his stunning pics... :)

 After sunset, it was time to get ready for dinner, which was again lovely. For dessert, Liam got to have his own little glass of chocolate mousse and he thought he'd died and gone to heaven! "All for me!" he kept repeating. To our amazement, he managed to finish the lot, and his face was a picture of pure happiness smudged with bits of chocolate. My kingdom for a camera! :D
We then went out for a little walk. Liam couldn't hear the waves as we were leaving the restaurant, so he said that they'd gone to sleep and we mustn't wake them up (!).  We saw Jupiter and Venus next to each other over the sea, looking absolutely stunning next to the Pleiades, with Orion and Canis Major above them. The skies look so dark here despite the hotel illumination and there were so many stars!  Stephen of course couldn't resist the pull of trying out some astro-photography, so the kids and I sat by the stairs to the beach and I told them stories about the stars and the planets while Stephen "hunted" on the beach for the perfect setting.  Here you can see one of the resulting pics.. isn't it stunning? :)
We then continued with our walk, but a few metres ahead, Liam heard the waves and he said "Oh no Daddy, I told you to be careful, now you've waken up the waves!". So of course now that the waves were awake, neither of the children wanted to continue with the walk, so we went back to our room to get ready and off to bed. And so ended another day in paradise... and tomorrow was my birthday! Can life get any better? :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mauritius - day 3 - Kids' club and snorkelling

We again woke up at 8:30am, got dressed and went straight to breakfast by the pool. On our way over we checked the kids' club schedule - it was pirates day and they had games by the beach in the morning, and face painting and then dressing up in the afternoon. Ana sounded quite keen to play with the other kids in the beach! :) 
Once seated at our table, we ordered our pots of tea (for Stephen) and coffee (for me), and some milk for Liam's bottle, and then Ana and I went "hunting" for some goods to eat. We brought with us also some food for Liam and then Stephen went out to choose some food for himself. It was ever so thoughtful of Stephen to have already prepared me my coffee, I thought while I gratefully took a nice big sip... of sweetened tea!!! Bleurgh!!! I should have known better - duh. I found my coffee pot on the other side and an empty mug and served myself, and then finally the world started to go back into place. Given Ana's worried look, I must have looked a picture after that swig of tea!! HA HA :D

Fish from the beach - not the snorkeling spot!
After breakfast, we quickly got ready and took the kids to the kids' clubhouse. They were given a bag each to put their things in, and we joined them for a while at the beach. The games were all organized in French, but their carers also speak English and after a little while they started to enjoy themselves. Once they were settled, Stephen and I left them there and went to arrange some stuff for ourselves - he booked himself a tennis lesson for 18:30 and we then went to the beach. Since it's Thursday, I thought it would be funny to send an email to my SALT colleagues to be discussed at today's meeting, but in the end we couldn't think of a funny one as it was too early for cocktails and they don't seem to put umbrellas on them anyway, so we gave up and enjoyed the beach instead. Stephen also booked a snorkeling trip on the boat for the afternoon, which we thought the kids would love.  At 12:15 we were joined at the pool by our little ones and after some more games in the water, we went back to our room to grab a snack and get ready for the boat. When we got to the snorkeling spot, however, Ana freaked out. She sat on my lap and I patiently calmed her down while Stephen got on with some snorkeling. He came up once or twice asking for a swap, but Ana, although calmer, was not willing to let go of me so he continued on. Liam and I watched from the top as the skipper threw some bread over the side which attracted loads of fish - that was fun! Daddy reported that the snorkeling was awesome so we decided to try again tomorrow on our own, after dropping the kids off at the mini-club. :) 
Once we got back, we went straight to our room for a couple of hours of rest (and for me to catch up with some blog-writing!) and then we had a split - Ana and I went to the pool while Daddy and Liam went to the beach. Everybody had a nice afternoon messing around in the water (salty or not) until it was time for Daddy to get changed for his tennis lesson and for the rest of us to get ready for dinner! Ana had a small accident and slipped in the bathroom at shower-time - she got a bump on her knee, but I put some arnica gel on it and she was soon a happy banana again. You can't even see a bruise now. Dinner was a sort of thai affair with some fish on the stick the kids liked, and Daddy joined us a little later after his tennis and a shower. Ana devoured for dessert a chocolate mousse that tasted rather heavenly. Liam had chocolate cake, I had a small red berries tartlet and Daddy had some fruit cocktail. Afterwards we all went for a little walk along the front of the hotel and admired the amazingly dark skies (despite the hotel lights) and then it was time for bed. End of another day in paradise.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mauritius - Day 2 - finally on the beach!

We woke up the next day at 8:30 am, which must be a record of lateness for our family! We couldn't remember at what time the breakfast buffet finishes, so we quickly got dressed and rushed over. The restaurant was the same as last night, next to the pool, and the buffet was full of yummy stuff, so we took our time and ate lots! On our way out we stopped by the kids' club desk. We signed them up for a 10:30am session of games by the pool and for a 2pm session of water-ski! We then got back to our room, changed into our swimming-costumes and hit the beach! Hurrah! :) :)
As you can see in the photos, the beach is awesome and it's not too busy. It's shallow, has lots of small fish and rocks and it has no waves! It's a bit too shallow for us adults but if you're careful with the rocks, you can swim. At least I can ha ha! :) We played at the beach all morning and had a blast. The kids enjoyed making themselves a swimming-pool in the sand and then filling it up with buckets of water from the sea. They then had to race to get into their pool before the water magically disappeared.. and then they had to go and get some more! It kept them busy for ages! They didn't want to go to the pool with the kids' club, which was fine.
When the Sun got too high, around midday, we went back to our room for showers and then went to one of the bars for a lunchtime snack. The cheese and ham croissant we ordered was yummy but the kids only snacked on a little. They didn't want to try the water ski (!) and they claimed to be a bit tired, so we all went back to our room for some rest.  
After a little while we went out again, this time to check out the lovely enormous swimming pool. We had a lot of fun playing in the water, which was shallow enough for Ana to stand on but not Liam. We then showered and got ready for dinner, and then finally the restaurant opened - we were all staaaarving! It was an Indian buffet and all the food was delicious. They also had pizzas and chicken drumsticks for the younger members of the Potter family, which was perfect, and a little chocolate ecclair for dessert. The adults ended their meal with some lemon meringue pie, which was a little too sweet for my taste, and then it was time for bed. The kids seemed rather alert after their chocolate and I thought they'd be chatting for hours... but in the time I took to brush my teeth, they were fast asleep. :) 

Stephen then went out for a little wander (he really needed to check out the tennis courts he he) - that didn't take too long, and then we went to sleep too.

Mauritius - Day 1 - getting there!


Greetings from Mauritius!
I've decided this time to write an actual blog, as the travel story last year took too long and I was always playing catch-up. Like today - and it's only day three! :D

The Mauritius adventure started two days ago, on the 13th March 2012, although for Laika, who is staying in her favourite kennels, it all started the day before of course. We humans got up at 5:30 am, had an early breakfast and at 7am, amazingly on time, we were all loaded in the car and ready to go to the airport! Sudhanshu, our neighbour, kindly came along with us and took the car back - thank you! :)
There was no queue at the airport that early in the morning, at least for our flight, so we quickly got the formalities out of the way and went through to look for our plane. Ana and Liam were very excited and our first flight, only 2 hours from Cape Town to Jo'burg, zoomed by. We had snack on the plane which was surprisingly yummy - even Liam ate the yoghurt! We landed at 10:40 am and our next airplane departed at 1:35pm, so we again had some time to look around the airport and watch the planes loading and unloading until it was time for our flight.
For our second flight Ana's child meal had somehow not made it to the plane. The air-host claimed it was all the agency's fault, of course, so we didn't even get an apology. Charming.
Luckily, Ana enjoyed the alternative fish adult meal I asked for, which also came with chocolate cake for dessert - and that, of course, made up for the mix-up. At least in her eyes, which are the ones that matter.
We finally landed in Mauritius at 7:40pm local time and it was already dark, to the kids' amazement - they were worried it was bath-time already but it was only 5:40pm SA time!! We were kindly allowed into the preferential queue for passport control as we had little ones with us - sometimes traveling with kids has its advantages. But then we noticed that the queues moved very slowly, and our preferential queue so much slower than the rest because our desk dealt manually with families with kids while all the other desks dealt with only one person at a time.... Hmmm... I think we were conned. People were very friendly throughout though. We approached our tour operator's desk as our name was not on display anywhere. The lady checked her own list, took our voucher and we were given in exchange a brochure to wave around once we got out of the airport. So while Stephen was taking some cash out of the ATM, I dutifully did as we were told. Despite my misgivings (and feeling rather like an idiot waiving a brochure around), we were approached by the correct porter. Phew. We delayed the proceeds somewhat because poor Ana was ever so thirsty and we had no water for her! So Stephen quickly rushed to a bar and used some of our newly obtained cash to get her a bottle of water while everybody waited... and then she took a little sip and felt soooo much better. :D
We boarded a mini-bus (with seatbelts!) and we set off. Stephen thought it would be a fast trip as he thought we'd be on motorway most of the way. But Mauritius motorways are full of roundabouts, so it wasn't as fast as anticipated, and of course we didn't get any of the views - except for the sky, which was awesome. After Port Luis, we ended up going through narrower and narrower roads at a rather fast speed (which at least amused Ana) and ended up stopping at a big hotel and people started getting off... but we didn't know what hotel we were at! Stephen got off to ask the driver - it was ours! So we all got off and we'd finally arrived. Hurrah! Our suitcases stayed outside, we were welcomed and rushed through as the buffet dinner was already ending, leaving the formalities until afterwards. The restaurant is next to a gorgeous enormous pool. We weren't all that hungry but we managed to eat a little bit and finally we made it to our room. It is air-conditioned, next to the restaurant, and our terrace gives, through some grass and trees, to the beach. Hurrah! The kids loved their double-bed but they were exhausted and Liam demanded his bottle - so I quickly bathed them and dressed them while Stephen went out 'hunting' for some milk for the bottle. It came cold and Liam refused to have it cold, so we warmed up the milk in the hot water from the kettle - we are nothing if not resourceful! They pretty much fell asleep during story-time (Winnie the Witch) and we followed right after.