I am starting with Day 10 – take a photo of something that brings you joy and share it🧡 New books to read spark so much joy for me And I have so enjoyed rediscovering my love of sketching in recent weeks.
We have arrived at the last day of this challenge to self – wander travel memory lane all through April 2020. A way of travelling virtually while in my lockdown bubble. Dreams of travelling again when this too has passed. An exercise in gratitude for all I have been given in this life already.
Going to finish with Kruger memories part two.
No more stories…. Just some Johnny Clegg wisdom… from the Johnny Clegg & Savuka song Great Heart
There’s a highway of stars across the heavens There’s a whispering song of the wind in the grass There’s the rolling thunder across the savanna A hope and dream at the edge of the sky And your life is a story like the wind Your life is a story like the wind I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart To hold and stand me by I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart Under African sky
So day 25 of this virtual wander down my travel memory lane.
From tomorrow, for the last 5 days of these wanderings I will be tackling the “big shaping” journeys of my life so far.
In light of that, I thought today would be a good opportunity to pause. Returning back to NZ for a retreat “travels with mom” reminisce. We stayed in the Valley Hut at Kōmanawa. A pure space if ever there was one.
Today these pics have helped me soak up that retreat “atmosphere” once again. In these last days of lockdown here in New Zealand and with it being Anzac Day too, there is much time for reflection.
Time for this quiet revolutionary to take stock, re-evaluate and keep dreaming. I still believe in magic…. the magic that makes hope float up.
That’s what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up.
“Hope Floats” (1998) – Sandra Bullock as Birdee Pruitt
For today’s wandering we are back in beautiful Aotearoa/New Zealand remembering another “travels with mom” adventure in search of Middle Earth.
New Zealand’s North Island. State Highway 3 takes you through the King Country west of the Waikato River. The landscape here is mystical and intriguing – limestone and sandstone bluffs surrounded by ancient Podocarp forest.
Take State Highway 3 and wind your way through the Awakino gorge till you hit the west coast and its black sand beaches.
Stay at Struan Farm if you like a green country garden setting with the sheep wandering by.
And then definitely adventure into the hills near Piopio to find the Hairy Feet tour – a perfect Middle Earth location. On this farm they filmed part of the first Hobbit movie – An Unexpected Journey.
The day mom and I were there it was pouring rain. It was just us and the guide…. and it was magical. Not just because I am such a Middle Earth fan but also the karst landscape. I am a bit of a geology geek too!
I remember my first visit to Scotland so vividly. It was a “travels with mom” adventure circa 2003. We drove up from London to Glasgow. Overnight in Glasgow and then on the train up to Mallaig, overnight in Fort William and the next morning more train to Edinburgh. Then a couple of days taking in the sights and sounds of Edinburgh. It was April but it was freezing!! A deep fried Mars bar was an experience, as was trying to understand a Glaswegian accent! Ben Nevis was jaw dropping to behold. But most overwhelming for me was how at home I felt, instantly on arrival. Me and Scotland – love at first sight.
I have been back a couple of times now – solo traveller. Still love it. Could live there if the opportunity presented.
Dream of going north to John o’ Groats and the Hebrides.
Today’s virtual wanderings take in a winter wander – Edinburgh and the Highlands including Loch Ness. And then another set of pics of a summer stay – Edinburgh, Stirling and Loch Lomond.
I think my need to wander began as a girl. Growing up, my mom and dad organised wonderful family holidays that took us the length and breadth of South Africa. Often intrepid and roads less travelled, sparking a wanderlust that has remained with me.
These days I also have incredible memories of travels with my mom – just the two of us. So grateful to have had these opportunities with my very special mama bear.
Today’s wanderings takes on one of these “travels with mom” adventures in search of Middle Earth. She is very patient with me and my obsessions. This will make more sense as my story unfolds.
I have been obsessed with Professor JRR Tolkien’s writing for as long as I can remember. Then Peter Jackson chose New Zealand as his Middle Earth. I think Professor Tolkien would have approved. Anyway, it has been fabulous to have Middle Earth on my doorstep.
Today I am sharing some pics from a Queenstown and surrounds trip with Mom. We found evidence of Middle Earth all along the way from the Fords of Bruinen to Isengard, Ithilien to Parth Galen, the Mountains of Mordor to the West Fold of Rohan. Magic!
Even if you aren’t in search of Middle Earth like we were, New Zealand’s South Island is simply spectacular. A true pure space. I love mountain environments probably more than being on the coast. Just as in the Kalahari, I am similarly inspired by changing light and colour in these stunning surroundings. And just like in the Kalahari, there is something of the serene juxtaposed with harshness in this space that captures the soul.
We visited Queenstown, Glenorchy, Paradise, Arrowtown, Wanaka and Cadrona among other beautiful South Island spots. Besides wonderful sights and scenery there also seems to be great coffee, food and wine to taste everywhere you go in this area. Mom even got me to go on a little horse ride with her in Paradise! The motivation? A chance of wandering through Lord of the Rings filming sites only accessible on said horse ride.
The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with weary feet, Until it joins some larger way, Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.
So we are back on the Panorama Route headed towards one of my most favourite places on earth.
Many happy childhood memories spent driving this route. Our end destination today, Hoedspruit, holds a particularly special place in my heart.
Wind your way along the R532 which hugs the edge of the escarpment. Definitely a stop at the Three Rondavels lookout for photos of these iconic mountains and into the Blyde River Canyon below. Mariepskop in the distance.
The R532 meets up with the R36 at the Abel Erasmus Pass. This pass takes you through the last of the mountains past interesting vegetation and rock formations. As you are nearing the J G Strydom tunnel there’s a pretty waterfall if you know where to look amongst the cliffs. Peregrine Falcon breeding spot apparently?
The other side of the tunnel you will start a sharp descent into the lowveld of the Limpopo Province, the Olifants River to your left. You gain a different perspective of those same mountains and cliffs of the escarpment from below.
Drive past the game farms and citrus orchards until you get to Hoedspruit. So much to see and do in this area. I highly recommend staying for a while.
Choosing today’s pics was a tough task… a year’s worth of Kalahari wildlife encounters limited to 10!
Of course, there are the iconic Kalahari predators like lion and leopard. Then there is the majestic gemsbok (oryx) with their sabre horns.
The bird life astounds – raptors, owls, vultures…. I chose ostrich and a kori bustard to share today.
Then there are the cuties like the meerkats and ground squirrels… the mischief makers like the ratel (honey badger).
Cheetah were an added bonus. A little taste of true wildlife conservation research by accompanying Dr Gus Mills on a cheetah radio collaring project. We followed this sibling group most a of day through the dunes. The next day we changed tack and found a new female to collar. Elena had recently become independent. After I left the Kalahari Gus and Margie sent me photos of her with her first litter. There she was looking healthy, a gorgeous first time mum still sporting the collar I had helped to fit…
My lodgings – a shipping container village within the staff village affectionately known as Blikkiesdorp (Tin Town).
I remember the sound of the barking geckos of an evening, dodging scorpions on windy nights and the amazing family of yellow mongoose who kept the cape cobras at bay.
28 March 2020 8:30pm many acknowledged Earth Hour around the world. I happened to be in Twee Rivieren for the first ever Earth Hour. It was my task to communicate about climate change and its impact on this area of the arid North West. With not too many resources to hand and bearing in mind we are talking 13 years ago, I cobbled together a display, of sorts😀 I have included a pic of the display board in the Twee Riveiren visitors’ centre. We also parcelled up candles with a little info sheet for all the chalets, campsites and staff houses so guests as well as staff could participate.
More Kgalagadi wanderings tomorrow…. this time remembering many breathtaking moments with the incredible wildlife of this unique region.