School Holidays, Grandkids, Extras and Outings

On Wednesday just before the school term ended The Kokstad Kids arrived for the holidays.   We had a happy family braai in the evening and on Thursday at 11 Lauren and Allan dropped Shannon and Simon off at school where they slotted in beautifully with my Grade 1s till Jay collected them at 2.

Our oldest grandson is 14  and his brother 13 and one would think they would have no time for their younger cousins. But the contrary is true. They took the little ones under their wings straight away and kept them amused and happy the entire week they were with us.  Simon (6) hero worships his big boy cuzzies and Shan, a self-sufficient 9-year-old adds some feminine calm to the mix.  She is wonderful with her brother and looks after him without being mother-hennish about it.

Jay and Simon went off to the boat with Grandpa on Sunday and I took Josh and Shan bird-watching.  What fun the two had – I gave them each a camera, binoculars and a chart showing the birds they were likely to see.  Josh has lived with me all his life and has been exposed to birds from time to time – but Shan is the one who has shown the most interest out of all of them.  She was in her element and didn’t want to leave SIBA (Strandfontein Important Bird Area)

On our return I found I had an extra child – a fishing friend of Jay’s returned with them in spite of having no change of clothing or toiletries – never mind – he could borrow from our boys.

On Monday we all set off for Rondevlei. I packed a picnic basket and after Jay went to Extra Afrikaans and I to gym we set off in cool, still weather.  The bird life was disappointing but we did see some interesting things – a giant tortoise, purple swamphen which were absent at Siba, a lovely close-up spoonbill and an African Jacana which is rare in our area.  Earl phoned to say he would join us for an hour and luckily I’d packed an extra roll so there was enough for everyone to enjoy lunch under the trees.

Tuesday was fun at the Aquarium. We stopped in Orange Street to collect clothes for Sam and then the fun started. The Nemo tank gave lovely photo opportunities – with Jay being the official photographer.   The boys were thrilled at the variety of fish but regretted that they weren’t allowed to catch any!  Shannon loved the eels and a moving shell revealed a hidden octopus.    On our way to find a restaurant on the waterfront the kids thought a Ferris Wheel ride would be in order.  Simon declined so I had to stay down with him while the other four enjoyed the thrill of seeing the city from a bird’s eye view.   “I’m scared I’ll puke,” was Si’s excuse.  Yet a couple of day’s later Ratanga had no effect at all!

After enjoying Rondevlei the gang were keen to go to Siba where I promised there would be more of a variety.   Gym and Afrikaans over – we did lunch at home then I packed a picnic tea and we were off.  After a bit of delay to meet Sam’s dad at the tackle shop to buy some line and sinkers for an upcoming fishing trip we finally arrived at Strandfontein at 3 o’clock.  It was a mission sorting out seating in the Caravelle and taking photos caused a temporary hiccup but eventually the sharing kicked in and everyone was happy.    And yes – although Siba was not at its best – too much wind and birds hiding to shelter – there was a good variety and the birds behaviour was interesting.   Birding is supposed to happen quietly but with a car full of boys and just one really feminine girl – that was not to be in our vehicle – yet we found the fowl and a grand time was had by all.  Even Sam who was a bit indifferent to yet another birding trip seems now to be a convert.

Today the gang except for Sam who went fishing with another friend, headed to Ratanga with the parents who have now returned from their special time of renewal at spas and wine-estates.

While they enjoyed the thrills and spills, I visited my classroom and spent a couple of hours preparing for the fourth term.  The rest of the day was peaceful.   The moms only went to Ratanga while rural son-in-law had a business meeting in town.   He returned at 2, did some computer work then took a nap to recover from a late night after being at the Coldplay concert.

The gang returned exhausted but happy well after six and the lads had to race off to do their paper round but were rewarded with the treat of a pizza supper before a shower and early night!

On Friday they all went to visit our close friends and godparents to our kids. They declined a dinner invitation tonight as the Godfather is going through chemo and not well right now.

I took a very dirty Caravelle in for a valet while I shopped for the dinner party after which I prepared everything then dashed off to a committee meeting at 3.   My wonderful daughters finished off the preparations and the roast was almost cooked when I returned at six.  The family reunion was a huge success – aunt and uncle and  cousins all caught up and there were lots of laughs and reminiscences especially about the late grandparents.

All happy things come eventually to an end and sadly we bade farewell to Lauren, Allen, Shannon and Simon with hugs and kisses and promises of seeing them again soon – we will on our return from Kruger in November and then again when we all make the annual trek to celebrate Christmas with them in the December school holidays.

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