Monday, January 10, 2011

Mid-week weekend

Can you remember what you did on the weekend of 7-9 January 2011? Gattina of Writer Cramps hosts this fun and interesting meme. Do pop onto her blog via the link below and join us in telling what you did this weekend.

Once again, Grant and I did a trip down to the Drakensberg, this time to surprise John for his 37th birthday. As usual we seem to have our weekends mid-week! It has been raining in the Free State for the past ten days. We left home on Wednesday in the rain and as it's been raining steadily in the Drakensberg for the past fortnight as well, we arrived at John and Debbie's home in the mountains in the pouring rain.

We spent two wonderful days of quality time with them although at times we couldn't hear each other speak because of the rain on their tin roof! We enjoyed birthday cake and tea together; Grant and John repaired the kitchen door; Debbie and I caught up on news and Grant and I had a lovely time with the precious grands.

We left home (in the Free State) in the rain;  it had been raining steadily for days in the Drakensberg so we arrived in the rain and it continued to rain heavily while we were there!
When we arrived at the first low-level bridge on the way to John and Debbie's house, a municipal vehicle with a crane was picking up debris from one side of the bridge and placing it on the opposite bank.  The occupants of the car in front of us wasted no time: they washed their pick-up while waiting to cross the stream
After we'd waited a short while, the lorry moved back in order for the present traffic to get through

Debris that washed up against the low-level bridge. If these logs and branches are not removed from banging against the structure, they can cause serious damage 
Fording the river in our Nissan. LOL!

A few minutes later we could see John's house on the hill above. However...

... we had to drive around the mountain and approach their home from the other side where we found that the gate to their property was locked!
I phoned John and said we were at his gate, could he come and open it? A few minutes later he, Joshua and Eryn arrived on the motorbike. He was very pleased that we came to surprise him for his birthday!
John, with the two oldest children on the motorbike, leads the way back to their house ahead

I ordered a birthday cake over the phone from the local bakery. Even though I spelt Debbie's name three times (D E B B I E), when we arrived to collect the cake on Tuesday afternoon, this is what was on the cake! Much mirth when Debbie and John spotted this on Wednesday! And no, it's not the phonetic spelling of Phoebe. No-one here would even know there is such a name as Phoebe. The beauty is that the lady who took the order from me, knows Debbie very well from when they lived in Marquard and even asked after her when we collected the cake. Is this young woman a product of watching television only as a child and never reading a book? Mmm. (BTW, the icing got a little squashed in transit but we all knew it said: Happy Birthday!)

Grant and John adjust the kitchen door which had been sticking. The Hedges men just LOVE to fix things... BTW, editor often distorts my photos as has happened with the one above. Our men are tall and thin but not as shown in the photo. Fortunately neither of the subjects read my blog so they won't see their "skinny" selves in my photo!
On Thursday morning I managed to capture our oldest grandson, Joshua who'd just woken up, sitting on the stairs. He ventured halfway downstairs and then sat down to recollect himself!  He had a boy doll called Caleb (dressed in pink, no less!) under his arm. Perhaps this is why modern fathers are much more hands-on than the men were when my sons were little?

This is the normal start to a busy mum's day. From left is Eryn, seven-and-a-half years old; Joshua, four-and-a-half; [Debbie]; next is Elijah clocking in at seven months and 22 month-old Bethany trying to protect her interests, err,  her bottle!

While Debbie settles the two youngest children with toys in the campcot in one corber of the schoolroom...
...another child learns Zulu on the computer . Zulu is one of the 11 official languages in South Africa and already both Eryn and Joshua have a vast vocabulary of this musical - sounding language
And another is doing her pacers at the dining table
The sun came out on Friday morning and everyone was outside having fun. Here Joshua splodges in the mud while doing a spot of "gardening"
Bethany, who only started walking last month (at 21 months) is steady on her pins now and industriously sweeps the patio for mum

How about this cheesy grin for Gran!
John and Grant, deep in conversation as they walk down to the bottom of John and Debbie's land

John gives his dad a helping hand when the Nissan got stuck in the newly dug garden. (Note baby Elijah on John's back cheering his dad on!)

Crossing the Little Tugela river which runs past Winterton, on Friday, it was a raging torrent after ten days of heavy rains in the Drakensberg

Grant in his most treasured hat, a genuine Akubra , which was a gift from an Australian collegue while working on the gold mine in West Africa. "Chairs mate!" (lol!)

 Beautiful sandstone cliffs in The Golden Gate Highlands National Park. This is our normal stop for coffee and sandwiches halfway between home in Marquard and the Drakensberg and on the way back again!  The sun was out in the Park on Friday although a few kilometers up the road the storm clouds gathered and it started to rain again
We left home in the rain on Wednesday morning and arrived home in the rain on Friday afternoon

The last 34 kms before home. The countryside is so beautifully lush and green

For more on what people did over the weekend, click here


  1. Great pictures Jo! It looks like the rain broke long enough to get some great shots anyhow. I feel like I spent the "weekend" with you and your family with your wonderful pics and your great story telling. Have an awesome week.

  2. What a wonderful family, Jo. I love the little one's "cheesy grin"! I guess you're glad to get your rain despite floods here and there, so I'm reassured you're not experiencing what Queensland is having.
    We're up to our eyeballs in snow. Dick and Lindy saw eleven deer on their walk today, so Lindy was in and out of the house until it got dark, hoping they'd show up in the back yard. Now she's asleep on her "window seat" and doesn't believe me when I tell her the deer will come here in the dark to eat our ornamental crabapples because they can't find grass.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. You had a very busy weekend. The family looks Great. Even if the baker can't spell I'm sure everyone enjoyed the cake, and your surprise of being there. Soon.

  4. Great picture story Jo - brought back memories of a childhood family trip ... we stopped at relatives in Natal who had a smallholding similar to the one in your pics - our cousins were three naughty boys and I remember that we sat down to dinner apart from the adults - we said grace and when we opened our eyes the meat had been stolen from our plates ... :)

  5. Superb post, Jo. It was really like being right there with you all. Debbie certainly has her hands full, but what a wonderful childhood those children are getting, with living in such magnifent surroundings and having home-schooling that far exceeds anything offered by the more formal route! You have a LOVELY family!

    The countryside looks so beautiful (as you say, so green and lush). I'm envious!! It's so hot and dry down our way.

    Washing ones car in a fast flowing river could only happen in Africa :) Just loved that picture!

    The sandstone cliff-face where you enjoy your halfway sandwich break is absolutely breathtaking. I also love that you pack a picnic to enjoy en route. My Mum ALWAYS did that when we were growing up and continues to maintain the tradition in Australia. Her emails are full of, "When Dad and I went usual, we had our picnic basket..." and she often tells me what they'd had with them that particular day :)

    Visiting your blog today has been the equivalent of enjoying a mini-break. Just super! Thank you!

  6. Great pictures. You sure are in a beautiful place. It looks like you have a very busy weekend.

  7. Loved reading your adventure . Happy Belated Birthday to John. Your family looks wonderful. What a trip there you had. That river looks mighty rough, glad you made it across. Family together time is precious.

  8. Hi Jo,
    I know I've said it many times but your life is truly an adventure! Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures. I got a good giggle from the cake!
    Happy Birthday to John.
    ☼ Sunny

  9. I opened my ombrella while reading your post, lol ! although I am very much used to rain. It seems to me as if you were in another world, it really looks like "out of Africa", so much space around ! I don't have to take a motorbike to open the garden door, lol !
    The kids are all so cute !

  10. I Love your post about the weekends!
    And I dearly love the family photos! Beautiful family...

  11. Thanks for taking me along on your surprise visit to John & Debbie's (lol...FEEBIE's!) I've said it before, but I'll say it again--Your grands are absolutely adorable! Bethany's cheesy smile made me chuckle. Debbie is a very busy mama...I am so impressed with all she does! Gorgeous countryside!


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo