Joshua's Blog

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   Jul 03

South Africa Visit

On Wednesday 15th of June 2011 Daddy, Mummy, Savannah, Luke, Morgan and myself went to Heathrow to catch a plane to South Africa. We had a connecting flight in Madrid but when we landed, realised our flight was cancelled so we had to sleep at the airport. It was very uncomfortable and Daddy was very unwell. We all put our jerseys and coats over him to keep him warm. Mummy, Morgan and I walked around the airport from 3 to 5am talking and looking for medicine and something to eat for Daddy. In the morning we had to wait for a long time but eventually got to our plane and took off and we were on our way again. When we were almost there, everyone was sleeping and Mummy asked the air hostess if they could put a movie on for me which they did and it was called RANGO. I really enjoyed it, it was very funny. My best character was Rattlesnake Jake.

When we landed in Johannesburg we went to my mummy’s big brother, Paul’s home and slept there for the night. It was very cold. Before we went to bed and had supper, I played chess with my uncle Paul and even beat him out of the 5 games we played. I was very pleased as he is a good chess player. In the morning we met Tim, my godfather and uncle, Paul and his girlfriend Louise, their son Nicholas who is 4 months old, Naomi, my mum’s big sister and Jo, Tim’s girlfriend and my cousin, Paul’s daughter, Irene and we then drove in convoy to my mummy’s godparents, Felix and Barbara, who live in Ficksburg on a farm called Emma.

There was a dog called Laser, an Alsatian, who was quite old and barked at us a lot. We went for a long walk with Albert, who is Felix and Barbara’s grandson. He is 7 years old and showed us the tractors in the huge shed and we climbed up to the top of the storage place. We also went on their trampoline for ages and had lots of fun.

Barbara then showed us the Pecan Nut Tree and we climbed it, shook the branches and all the remaining pecan nuts fell off. We collected them in our pockets and a mug mummy was holding then went inside, as it was getting dark and very cold, cracked the nuts and ate them. Do not eat the ones with a black shell though as they do not taste very nice.

We sadly had to leave early the next morning, as we were a day behind schedule due to our plane being delayed in Madrid, and headed on to Bloemfontein, my mummy’s previous home in South Africa where she grew up and went to school. We went straight to my mummy’s other godparent, Nora’s 90th surprise birthday party. We were a bit late as we had to travel 250 kilometers but we were very pleased to get there. We went on a great big carousel, which was made up of huge wooden animals, like a chameleon, a dog pulling a sledge, a horse, a giant lizard and a donkey to mention a few.

My mummy’s friend Mel arrived from Welkom, after a 2 hour drive, to see us. Her husband Bruce and their children Taegen and Kienna also came along and we had a great time playing in the gardens at Oliewenhuis, which is where the party was held. Tim took us on an adventure trail through the gardens and we spotted a Dassie, a rock rabbit, like a big guinea pig. I tried getting a photo of it but it ran away. We also saw a bird house that was so big, an ostrich could have fitted into it. We also almost got lost. A great adventure.

We had great fun with Taegen and Kienna and later went for supper altogether to a restaurant called the Spur. Taegen couldn’t believe I didn’t know what a milkshake was. At the end when we had finished our food, they had a children’s section which had computers where we played games.

We then went to my mummy’s old house for the first time where my Nana still lives. It was fun because there was a ledge you could look out over and at night we played a trick on Irene that we could see something moving in the shadows in the flower beds.

My Nana’s house looks over Naval Hill and she took us for a drive in her mini to see if we could see the giraffe and ostrich’s there. My Nana is 83 and still goes everywhere by herself in her little car. She is amazing and drove like Lewis Hamilton up the windy roads. We had a great fun.

Nana gave us all some precious stones which she had collected at Scratch Patch in Cape Town when we were there with her in 2004. It was very exciting as we had many colours from which to choose and Morgan, Luke, Savannah and I ended up with our own little bags she said we could take home. We were very pleased.

We went to my mummy’s old church on Sunday where we had a photo taken with everybody in the Stewart and Pomeroy family. We met James, the gardener who has been there for over 40 years, and his lovely dogs called Sammy and Rex. They barked and barked at us until they realised we were friends of James’. Then they couldn’t get enough of us stroking them and giving them lots of attention. Rex is a sheep dog and Sammy a brown labrador.

Then Daddy and Mummy said they had a big surprise for Nana and us children. After helping Nana sort out some of her stuff, as she is moving to England soon, we left Bloemfontein in our big white bus. We went back to Emma for another overnight sleep as we missed seeing mummy’s godparents for a decent amount of time, then headed away the next morning, on to our surprise.

We drove and drove and drove and when it was dark, we got to the main gate of the KRUGER PARK! We were SO excited. This is where we were going to stay for 4 nights. When we got there the gates were closed, we actually got there with 4 minutes to spare, as they close at 5:30 but they said we were too late. Mummy spoke to the man at the gate and asked if they could provide an escort to take us to our camp. As soon as mummy mentioned we would pay them, they said yes immediately. We were so pleased and relieved we wouldn’t have to sleep in the car.

We got to our cottage in our camp which was called Berg-en-Dal and settled in for the night. Daddy woke us up very early, 6am, the next morning with a yummy rusk and tea. We all got dressed quickly and drove to reception where PG, our safari guide, met us. We climbed into the jeep and we were off for the day..

Very soon we started spotting animals, giraffe being our first and a white rhino, although he was far away in the bushes so we didn’t see him very well. I spotted an elephant and then 2 young lions, one male and one female. We heard 2 hours later, after PG telling us the lions were very hungry because their tummy’s were so thin, they tried attacking a passing cars tyres. One grabbed the front tyre of a car and the other jumped onto the back of a jeeps spare tyre. We wish we’d been there to see it. We loved the story told by another guide.

My favourite animal is the Yellow Billed Hornbill, commonly known as Zazu – The Lion King :-)

I was very pleased as they have Southern Ground Hornbills on their endangered species list and are researching them by tagging their legs to watch where they go, hunt and nest. I spotted them right at the end of the holiday, so was extremely pleased as I had been looking out for them. They are big, black and red.

I had said to Daddy and Mummy I really hoped to see a snake and my luck was in – as we were driving along, I saw a Green Mamba, one of the most poisonous snakes, cross the road. I shouted out “snake” and PG swerved to avoid driving over it. Mummy managed to capture him on film… here he is..

I was very happy. Mummy was so determined to get a photo she ended up taking 2 photos of just grass. We laughed and laughed.

Our best was when we came across a cheetah sitting on the side of the road although he was so far away initially, I thought he was a meerkat. We stopped and noticed he was hungry as he was showing signs of being alert and looking around. He dashed into the bush and we reversed quickly to see where he went. We stopped our jeep and all kept very quiet. We couldn’t believe it when he started walking towards our jeep and ended up marking a tree that was only about 3 meters away from us. It was thrilling. Here are some photos of him.

The other best viewing was mummy’s favourite – a leopard. He was quite far away but we saw his majestic, huge and beautiful head in the grass. He was a magnificent male and was on the hunt. We saw some Impala nearby and he was definitely hungry for one. It wasn’t long before he disappeared into the bush after them.

When we went on an adventure trail around our camp, we spotted Nile crocodiles, tons of Terrapins (freshwater turtles), Waterbuck, a hippopotamus on the banks of the river and a Bushbuck right near the fence.

We also spotted a Sausage Tree which Daddy and Mummy had seen for the first time in Zambia a few years ago. The huge sausage like things hanging from the tree are fruit.

We also saw many Red Hot Pokers, which are part of the Aloe family, known for their medicinal purposes and even used some of the juice on Luke’s skin as he had a very itchy reaction to something in the bush. It really helped him which pleased us all.

On the second day when we spent the day in camp, we had many Vervet monkeys running around our cottage. They were so mischievious. When we were all out hunting army ants, they snuck onto our kitchen and stole 3 apples. When Daddy went to the bus to fetch the meat for our braai, he left the boot open and they climbed inside and played all around the car. Mummy saw them and told us what they were doing. We all ran to the bus and mummy tried to get them out but they wouldn’t listen. Mummy mock charged them and one mocked charged us back. It was so funny but a little scary too. It felt as though he was going to jump on us. Mummy shouted for Daddy to come so we could distract them by going to different doors to chase them out. What fun we had.. we eventually won the battle. Luckily they didn’t get our yummy braai food. When we went to the shop later I asked Mummy if they perhaps sold ‘monkey repellent’.. we had a good laugh.

We saw a very old Impala Lily, PG said it was about 50 years old and he also showed us some very strong grass that is used for making thatched rooves. If you run your hand or fingers up and down the grass, it it can cut you. He also gave us some Khakibos to smell. This plant has a very strong smell and it is not native to South Africa. It was brought to South Africa, many years ago, by the British forces, as food for their horses.

Here is a list of all the other animals we saw:

Zebra, ostrich, lilac breasted roller, pied kingfisher, grey heron, woolly necked stork, grey lourie which is a bird that makes a sound like ‘go-away’ so also called a ‘Go-Away bird’, kudu buck, ghecko, blue-tailed lizard, wildebeest, baboons, scops-owl, pygmy shrew, buffalo, termite hills, fish eagle, squirrels, bateleur eagles, white backed vultures, community spiders, dwarf mongoose, blue waxbill, warthog, guinea fowl and even a locust.

After our stay in the Kruger Park we drove back to Johannesburg and stayed in a place called Dullstroom. At supper we played in a ‘Kidz Room’ that was very fun. It was such fun because it was so cold and the rooms were out the back and away from eachother so Daddy and Mummy slept in the same room as us. We had two big double beds and the four children all slept head together. We were all as warm as toast. We woke up and had breakfast then drove to Mummy’s friend Carol in Johannesburg where we had a big party, braai and we played on the trampoline and had mud fights with her children Jonathan and Annabelle. I especially liked their Labrador called Thornton and Sausage dog called Pickles. We slept at their house and in the morning went back to my uncle Paul’s house, said good bye to him, Nicholas and Nana (as well as William the ginger cat) and went to the airport and flew home.

I cannot wait to go back to Africa and go on another Safari.

There is a link at the top of the page (South Africa – 2011) with a full gallery of pictures.

 

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