The Point at Nature’s Valley
We’re coming to the end of an outstanding summer Christmas holiday, which I know is quite hard for those of you in the colder Northern hemisphere, to understand. Its been hot, the rain has stayed away, the wind has been moderate, and we could not have asked for a more perfect holiday on the coast. Golden sunshine for the best part of five glorious weeks together as a family.
We spend our summers in a place called Nature’s Valley. It is on the coast of the Western Cape province of South Africa, along the Garden Route coastline. It has only 400 houses, no shops and is down a mountain pass from the main roads, tucked next to a lagoon and the sea.
Walking back from the gully at sunset
On the other side of the lagoon is a the Tsitsikamma National Park – miles and miles of forest along the shoreline (there is a gorgeous pic of the lagoon, forest and mountains on the Home page on their website.) Our boys are basically growing up in heaven. They are able to: walk or cycle to their friends houses. swim in the lagoon or sea. boogie board, skim board, surf, paddle, snorkel, go on endless adventures hikes and walks, play cricket, soccer, touch rugby in the cooler hours, read, nap, swim with gully sharks. fish etc. We are also able to hang out and have long, laughter-filled meals with friends and our boys get to spend unhurried quality time with us. Memories like these cannot be bought. They are priceless. We are exceptionally lucky.
The Boys on the Beach
Thankfully the boys know they are lucky too. We constantly try to instill in them their values, as well as the need to look after our environments, to honour them, to conserve them and to appreciate them. Some days its good, others days are horrid. You win some, you lose some, especially on the manners and the values front. But that’s what we as parents are there for. They cannot be expected to be faultless at 7 & 8, or even at 15 & 17. Our sons (and daughters) need us as their rudders, to put them back on track, as kindly as possible, even though we feel like we’ve done it too many times already sometimes.
Happily, the Nature’s Valley Trust runs an extremely popular Christmas programme. As part of this they host a very successful Day Camp for children from 4-12 years. A huge part of this day is spent teaching the kids about conservation: animals and the environment. Other activities include a morning at low tide on the rocky shores examining and learning about the sea creatures found there, bird ringing demonstrations and bird & tree walks through the forests. The kids learn so much they begin to teach (and reprimand) us if we step out of line.
After weeks of sunshine, sea, surf, exercising in the great outdoors and overindulging our diets, it’s almost time to head home to Johannesburg and back to school. As much as I love Jo’burg, as its affectionately known, what happens in Nature’s Valley can’t be replicated there. And I hope the effects of the family bonding are enough to last a while. While we still focus hard on being together wherever we are, the pace of a big city is a bit different. And I really hope school wise, 2014 is a much better year for our family. (We were only too happy to see the back of 2013!)
I hope wherever your Festive Season took you, you have some great memories of family and your boys to carry with you into 2014. Or maybe you have the excitement of some family plans for the coming year? I’d love to hear about them. Much love, Kim x