Another amazing place I have been lucky enough to adventure to multiple times. Today I am sharing a few pics from a January wander to Tuscany.
This particular wander down travel memory lane has given me pause to reflect. So many of the journeys I have shared during this April virtual wander are due to where life has taken some especially precious family of mine.
You guys know who you are. Have we ever really acknowledged how much your path has opened opportunity for me to explore the world?! That path has certainly not been easy – life never is. But if you’re ever searching for silver linings you have my eternal gratitude. It has been an absolute joy to catch up with you in all these delightful places – South Africa, Italy, Philadelphia and the UK. A lifetime of memories to treasure. Love you guys 💛
In today’s collection you will glimpse the Duomo di Firenze in Florence. There’s the Ponte Vecchio all lit up. There’s wintry Tuscan landscapes. There’s a market visit to San Gimignano. Bliss!
Today’s wandering takes us to the other side of South Africa. To Mpumalanga.
Near Ohrigstad there’s a pass that winds up towards the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment – Robbers Pass. At the top of this pass there is a forestry track off to the left, hard to spot unless you’ve been there before. Bump along this track through the pine plantation for a short way until you turn a bend and the whole valley stretches before you. You have arrived at Themeda Hills Mountain Camp.
Now I don’t know if it still operates anymore, but this spot has to be one of Mpumalanga’s best kept secrets. My family have been visiting for years. I can’t remember who found it first, but I definitely associate trips to Themeda with my Grandad Jim.
Eight little stone rondavels perch on the edge of the world here with simply spectacular views. At a fairly decent altitude there is a distinct alpine tinge to the air and vegetation and the sometimes moody cloud. Rondavel 8 is the best. I saw my first African Crowned Eagle here.
Words and photos do not do the magic of this pure space justice.
After losing yourself on top of the world for a little while, time to join reality again. Down the other side of Robbers Pass you will come to Pilgrims Rest. Two options from here.
First, the road less travelled. A dirt road the follows the Blyde River from its source near Pilgrims Rest as it ambles and meanders its way toward Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
The second option is the more popular R533 to Graskop. A stop at Harrie’s Pancakes before finding the R532 which will start you on the Panorama Route through the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve with lots of scenic stops like God’s Window, Lisbon and Berlin Falls along the way.
One way to define advent is the anticipation of a coming event. Historically Advent has been associated with the lead up to Christmas and involves particular rituals and traditions in the Christian faith.
These days advent has taken on a number of different meanings. I think for many people today the “anticipation” is simply the stress of being caught up in the consumerism juggernaut that is the lead up to the festive season, worries over finances and being able to afford the “expected” way to celebrate or sadness at what can be the loneliest time of year for some.
For me, it has always been “the most wonderful time of the year”. And what I have come to realise is just how much this season means to me and my mental and emotional well-being, of all things!
Anticipation of a coming event. To me this anticipation is the expectation of a positive experience, a child-like excitement. At my age I certainly can’t put this down to getting up at the crack of dawn to open Christmas presents…. those days are long gone!
Now advent is steeped in ritual.
Some advent rituals are around preparation for the coming celebration that is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the family time we are so privileged to share. Advent in my world is a way of keeping those loved ones who have passed or that live far away close by…. part of our reflection and celebration, always in our hearts.
Other rituals centre around my need to reflect – on the year that has been as it winds to a close, checking in with my dream life goals, a gratitude practice…. and gradually beginning to set the intent for the coming year.
A reflection this advent is just how lucky I am to have these positive, uplifting memories of childhood Christmases to draw on. As well as a rich source of family ritual and tradition to continue observing. And how lucky I am, being so wired to the idea of seasons and cycles, that my work allows me to take the time at this time of year to acknowledge advent in my own quirky way.