The Story of Our Holiday

I love collecting shells. Look at this urchin shell I found whilst we were on holiday in the Eastern Cape over Christmas- it was beautiful, and huge- almost the size of the palm of my hand!  We had to send Aiden knee deep in a swirly rock pool to retrieve it. I had never seen one so big before. Amazing.urchin1.jpg

 

Then I also found this one: unimaginably small, and so satisfying when I found it.

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The thing is, they’re the same urchin. (Yes, I lied. Sorry.)

I hope you fell for this, because it will make me feel better about the story I’m about to tell you. No, of course we don’t believe everything we read or see or get in our inbox, right? But sometimes information on the internet gives you a different perspective to the reality.

And here begins the story. Once upon a time,  I had to book accommodation for my family in order to partake in a family reunion (and a re-visit of family childhood holiday destinations along the Wild Coast of South Africa) which had been planned by my very impetuous and spontaneous brother, who will gladly conjure up any excuse to visit Africa again. He has lived in America for +20 years, and our parents have now lived there for 12. What a wonderful idea to bring the folks to the South African coast, which they adore, and for us to see them all again. We had not seen my parents in almost 11 years. In August, heIMG_7445.PNG could only find ample accommodation in a place called Kei Mouth (we’d never heard of it either) and so when we realised he was actually serious, we began to look for somewhere to us to stay. As experienced members of family, we agreed that it is better to get separate accommodation so that no-one kills anyone. Finally, end of September, we booked in the only place left (well, that was below the R10,000 per night price bracket)- at Kei Mouth Country Club- they have a “country flat” that they rent out, and it was 5 minutes away from Brendan, the impetuous brother and family, so…perfect. (You’ve still got the urchin analogy in your head, right? Good. Bear with me.) I knew that with 2 bedrooms, and 2 sleeper couches we’d be roughing it, but was prepared to do that to see family, and to get our butts in that warm sea.

So this is not really the story of a holiday. It’s an accommodation review; an exposé, if you will.

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Yeah, well, no. It’s not AT the Country Club. It is built ON TOP of the actual Country Clubhouse, and only accessible up a flight of stairs. Not ground floor…surprise! “Full facilities” entails a jumping castle (err…no toddlers here) and a pool table. No, not POOL. Pool table- snooker- yawn. And when the internet says, “ideal for golfers and holidaymakers,” they don’t really mean the holidaymakers.  reality.jpgAround the other side are made-to-echo corridors that efficiently transmit and amplify every bottle delivery (glass bottles in plastic crates x 4300), every key jingle of the manager who opens up at 6am and locks up at 11pm, and every joyous Xhosa chorus sung by whoever it was at 1:30am. Seriously, it sounded like they were on the bedside table.

And what about those completely lovely, pictures of the place? I’ve got that covered, too:

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Keep going, it gets better. Worse better.

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Moving along to Bedroom #2:

flea.png And some other features:

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The lounge…lounge.png

Some additional features not listed online:

There are no reviews of the place online, because it is only used by their close family members, fishermen getting in touch with nature (fleas and cockroaches all inclusive) and golfers, who are drunk and thus oblivious when they come home.

After a very detailed email to the agent listing much of the above on Day 1, we did meet with the Chairperson of the Golf Club on day 5 (he was amazed he hadn’t been able to ‘find us at home’ much!) They did graciously agree to discount the accommodation rate. Personally, I was expecting to be paid by them to cover psychiatric fees, but they have costs to cover, apparently. Like paying their caddies. And keeping the bar stocked. Maybe we should’ve taken advantage of access to bar facilities, it may have taken the edge off.

So, the accommodation was appalling. Lesson learned: the internet sometimes lies. And sometimes, when you’re desperate, you’re gullible.

We spent most of our time at Brendan’s place with the folks. Beach days were great; lots of memories made with cousins Morgan and Sean. Here are some good ones, without fleas or cockroaches. But mostly with freezing sea and 50+km/hr winds.

 

The peculiar markings of the rare tribe, TeenagerLeftToDoHisOwnSunblock. Too funny not to remember.

Cousins got proper wrapping paper. Someone got the leftovers of it (see tasteful gold Christmas trees on white background). The rest got brown paper (Stewart tradition), so the gifts looked like giant loaves of bread.

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Braaied prawns- traditional Christmas day fare

On the way home, we explored the Knysna heads for a bit.

We slept over in Sedgefield, just past Knysna. That way, we could do 6 hours travel on one day, and then 5 on the next. The children are getting longer, and they begin to make a noise if they are squashed in the car too long.

Sedgefield was an unexpected jewel. The Sedgefield Arms, although basic, seemed like paradise compared to our previous accommodation. I mean, little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and dishwashing liquid almost brought me to tears. The food and service in their restaurant was spectacular. Spectacular…coming from a very picky restauranteur of 20 years (Heath)- high praise indeed. Once settled, we checked out the beach- it was lovely. There weren’t many people swimming though, so we assumed the water was also freezing like Kei Mouth. But it was beautifully warm! Err. They weren’t swimming because of the shark that had been sighted recently. So the boys could paddle (wrestle and fall down) in knee-deep water, but lifeguards were restricting any deep water swimming. They had a ball and got rid of much pent-up road-trip energy.

So, holidays are over and it makes me realise how important they really are, accommodation bookings aside. They break the routine and re-shift focus from mundane-daily-grind things to what’s really important, and what you really want to focus on in the coming year.  Wishing you all clean flea-free rooms, warm sea and clear focus in the year ahead.

May the lessons learned in the quiet or the chaos lead you closer to Him.

Lots of love,

Lea.

 

Here are some silly pictures that show what happens when you move during a panorama. Bored boys + technology.

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