In my last post, I wrote about our Family History Tour – and what I did for 10 days with my mom and my kids (whilst my husband was on a shoot in Europe).  This post is just a fun, photo-filled post to share a bit about the stuff I did with the kids while on our Family History Tour.  Sure, we did lots of driving around to churches, old homes, cemeteries and such… but I also made sure the kids had a load of fun too!

Here’s a few pics of what we were up to a week ago (and also why I was a bit silent on this blog for a while)…

Above:  We visited the beach.  Can’t go to Durban and not visit the beach!  My Aunt Meryl and her hubby, Les (on the right) live on the Bluff, 2 minutes away from the beach… so we took the kids for a swim…

Above:  It was a windy day, and slightly chilly – so the kids had these lovely big pools – all to themselves.

Above:  This tidal pool has been there for years.  My mom and her siblings used to swim in it when they were kids.

Above:  We took the kids to Wilsons Wharf at Durban Harbour, the old dockyard where my dad used to build boats many years ago – before he married my mother.  These days, the old boatyard has been converted into shops and restaurants – where we had dinner (overlooking the lights of the harbour).

Above:  We celebrated Mom’s birthday too!  Her birthday is on the 2nd August… her sister, Aunty Meryl, was born two years later on the 3rd August.  This year was the first time (in many, many years) since the two sisters have celebrated their birthdays together.  Nice!

Above:  We had cappuccino and fresh scones at a lovely park (think it’s called Mitchell Park?).  It’s been there for many years – it has gorgeous gardens, huge trees, a lovely tea garden and lots of fun stuff for the kids to do… here’s some more photos of the same spot…

Then we took them to uShaka Marine World to visit the Dangerous Creatures.  We all loved it!

… followed by a visit to uShaka Kids World…. which provided many hours of fun (and lots of photo opportunities)…

Above:  And, in the evening, they did this!  Aunty Meryl and her husband, Les, have a big jacuzzi.  They filled it with bubble bath – and let the kids go wild… (which they did).

Above:  Years ago… when I was about 7 or 8, my parents took us to Durban’s Minitown.  There are 3 things I remember about Minitown.  I remember what a hot day it was, and how my bare feet were burning on the tar walkways.  I remember that my cousin, Clare, was also there (and obviously, my sister Soo).  And I remember how I LOVED Minitown – and especially the moving trains, ships, bridges and planes.

So, given that we were on a Family History Tour, it was a really nostalgic moment for me to return to Minitown (after 30 years) and to share the experience with Morgan and Joah.

Here’s a few more pics…

Then it was time to go on a rickshaw.  I have visited Durban many, many times… but this was also a first for me!  The kids, of course, loved it!

…Followed by ice-cream and more beach time….

And… then to the Aquarium at uShaka!  We’ve been 3 times, and we’ve not been disappointed yet…

Above:  Mom getting friendly with an octopus.

Above:  Joah was enthralled.

AND FINALLY…. AN UNEXPECTED ADVENTURE!

Finally, it was time for us to leave Durban and head back to Johannesburg.  Our plan was to take a slow drive north, heading home to Joburg – but stopping off at Underberg, Ladysmith and Estcourt along the way.  All 3 places have very significant memories for Mom and she wanted to show us her old schools, homes and towns.

But a day before we were due to leave, the weather suddenly turned bad and the whole country experienced a very intense cold front that even brought snow to Johannesburg!  In Durban, where we were, it suddenly turned cold and very… very rainy.

On the day we were due to leave, it was raining heavily.  The weather channel cautioned people to stay inside and avoid the roads if possible.  The N3 highway (the main road from Johannesburg to Durban) had even been shut down due to extreme and dangerous weather conditions.

Mom suggested that we wait out the bad weather at Meryl’s house and maybe head back to Joburg when things had calmed down a bit.

I, however, was having none of it.

“I lived in Northern Ohio for a year – where they had very extreme weather and their winters consist entirely of snow – and life goes on!”, I said.  “South Africans get just a bit of snow… and they freak out to the degree that they don’t even leave their homes!  Let’s go on a road adventure – and hopefully we WILL get to see the snow… Morgan and Joah will love it!”.

Mom decided to go with my plans – so we loaded up the kids, said our good-bye’s to our family and hit the road.

Our first destination was Underberg – which lies in the Southern Drakensberg.  Mom wanted to show me her old boarding school where she spent many happy years.

I will let the photos tell the rest of the story….

Above:  It was interesting driving towards the Drakensberg Mountains from Durban.  First there was the rain…  then the rain slowed down and eventually stopped… and eventually, as we headed towards Underberg and into the mountains, we started seeing light snowfall on the ground… which grew thicker and thicker as we drove deeper and deeper into the mountains.  By this stage I was thinking:  “No worries – our car can handle this.  If the roads remain kinda slushy like this, we’ll be fine!”

Above:  Eventually, we reached this traffic jam.  We couldn’t see ahead – or tell what, or who, was holding everyone up.  We decided to wait our turn… and while we were waiting, we let two (very excited) kids out of the car to experience ‘real’ snow… for the very first time.

Above:  Morgan in the snow.  Yes – she’s wearing slippers!  We had packed for Durban… and the beach!  We weren’t expecting The Great Freeze… and certainly not snow!  I also had my slippers on (it was either that – or I’d be wearing my slip-slops).

Above:  Mom and the kids step out into the snow…

Above:  Then, the traffic started moving again – so I hustled Mom and the kids back into the car, and we started inching forward.  At this point, I need to point out that our car is a Renault Modus… it’s small, it’s low, it’s light on fuel.  It’s a city car – and certainly not built for any adventurous territory.  I wrote a bit more here about a previous failed attempt to get the Modus to go anywhere remotely exciting.

Needless to say…  the deeper the snow got, the more the Modus struggled.  The wheels started spinning… and then, shortly afterwards, we were completely stuck.  We weren’t going forward – or backwards.  Nothing.

I thought it was funny… I really did!  I mean – the whole scene was funny:  Eye-rolling Grandmother and gleeful grandkids in small city car… stuck in deep snow (in a country where it doesn’t typically snow)… whilst giggling mother (that’s me) – in SLIPPERS – gets out of car into calf-deep snow and attempts to push car out of icy rut.  I slipped… I fell… I slipped again… I laughed… my feet froze… it was FUNNY!

“Oh well!”, I said to Mom who was looking less happy and decidedly more flustered than I, “At least we’re getting a nice little adventure today!!!”

“Yes, aren’t you just”, said Mom… with a wee bit of bite in her voice.

Thankfully, there were some nice, kind strangers on hand who eventually… with the help of a big 4 X 4… and only after snapping one tow rope… eventually pulled us out.

Above:  Soon, we were on our way again…

Above:  And by the evening, we were defrosting by the fireside at Sani Pass Hotel.

Speaking of the Sani Pass Hotel, it was another nostalgic moment for me.  My parents took my sister and I to the same hotel when we were kids – and I have some really fond memories.  It was another nostalgic, and special experience, to return 30 years later with my own children, and to share the moment with them.

Above:  Nice… comfortable (and warm!) rooms at the Sani Pass Hotel.  We ordered room service and watched the Olympics (women’s 10m diving) on the TV.

The following morning, the kids explored the hotel grounds – and I went on a serious trip down memory lane.

Above:  I have an old photograph of my father standing on this bridge, with my sister and I…

Above:  There wasn’t much snow in the valley where Sani Pass Hotel is located (I think it was slightly sheltered)… but, we left in the morning – heading for Estcourt… and on the way, we stopped at a lovely snow-filled meadow.  By day two, the freezing wind was gone, the sun was out, and it was the perfect weather for the kids to just go wild and enjoy the snow… which they did!

And so did I!

I still think it’s funny that the kids were swimming in the sea and playing on the beach… and two days later, they were frolicking in the snow!  All in all – a lovely mini-trip… and more special memories and moments created.