a little bean update (with pics)

Today I’m not going to post a whole bunch of mush on how much motherhood has changed my life (but yes, it has) and I’m not going to rant for long, I’m just going to post a few pics of my little mate. He never fails to put a smile on my face and hopefully he’ll have the same effect on you.

Much love xx

DSC_1502Stirling-34

stirling smile

review: phinda mountain lodge, south africa

This would have to be it… the most wonderful place I’ve ever stayed (so far, anyway).

Phinda Mountain Lodge, an andBeyond property, is located near St Lucia in the province of KwaZulu Natal. The lodge itself is located on the Phinda Private Reserve and there are several other lodges within its confines.

The first impression of this place is incredible. We were seated on the main deck for our welcome drink and orientation, and it was hard to take in much information when the view of the mountains and valley is such:

lounge/main deck

lounge/main deck

view over the mountains from the main deck

view over the mountains from the main deck

We were assigned a guide and driver and briefed on the afternoon’s game drive before being shown to our rooms. The rooms could be more accurately described as a villa; a sprawling space with everything one needs, opening up to a beautiful deck complete with loungers, a plunge pool and an outdoor shower. One can sit in the plunge pool and look down onto the plain to watch elephants roam. Or imagine taking a shower afterwards and a giraffe pops his head up to say hello!

We were given extremely strict instructions, however, that after dusk we were not to attempt to enter/exit our rooms without security as the risk of injury was too high (read: being eaten)! No matter, the security guards were so caring and obliging of us that it felt lovely to be looked after so.

my bed - wonderful

my bed – wonderful

The mini bar was extensively stocked (to the point of having cocktail shakers) and this was included in our room rate – no nasty surprises upon checkout!

In the evening, I would arrive to my room thinking to myself “gee, what a day, a long soak in the tub would be beautiful” only to walk into the bathroom and find it already filled – complete with rose petals!

bathroom

bathroom

outdoor area

outdoor area

getting around on game drives with our driver/guide and spotter

getting around on game drives with our driver/guide and spotter

Unforgettable experiences are guaranteed at Phinda, whether they be sundowners on a hill overlooking a herd of elephants, tracking a rhino on foot, or a candlelit braai feast in the middle of nowhere. The wonderful guides and spotters are extremely well-educated on the wildlife, but the highlight for me was having an in-depth discussion on the universe with our guide while star-gazing. I thought I knew quite a bit on this topic but he put me to shame!

All in all the three days/two nights spent here on safari were absolutely incredible and I’d recommend it to anyone. The only negative about my stay was that hubby wasn’t there to share the experience; no matter – we’ll be staying here when I manage to make it back with him.

the author travelled to Phinda as a guest of South Africa Tourism

nosy iranja, madagascar in pictures

This little island is about an hour and a half from Nosy Be island (in the far North of Madagascar) by boat. It’s tidal, so when we arrived it looked like two round islands with a massive beach connecting the two, but as the tide came in the two islands became separated.

There’s a baby turtle nursery (a bit dubious about this) and a village too. Here are some pictures.

 

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thailand in pictures

 
FACT: my photographic skills are horrendous.
 
FACT: this will never, ever be a photography blog.
 
but here are some photos anyway…
 
 
 
 
Boyfriend, who can actually take a decent photo, unlike me, gives it a go on the River Kwai.
 
Bridge over River Kwai (Burmese Railway), Kanchanaburi
 
My new friend! Tiger Temple
 
Boat trippin’ through the canals to the Floating Markets
 
Our little boat
 
Sampling the local brew
 
Pretending for five minutes that we like monkeys (more on this later)
 
 
At Red Sky Bar on the top of our hotel (the Centara Grand at Central World)
 
Amazing nibbles at Red Sky Bar
 
How to handle an annoying Boyfriend
Boyfriend gets sophisticated at the pool bar

 

 
 

lions and hippos and elephants, oh my!

As I mentioned in the last post, my mum was not too keen on me going to Johannesburg. Well, I survived the first night! Granted, I went through my first (and second, and third…) gun checkpoint which was an eye-opening experience, but of course I wasn’t packing so I got the all-clear.The next day we flew to Richards Bay in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), which is the state up in the North West of South Africa, near Swaziland and Mozambique. The flight itself was nice and bumpy, made more so by the fact we were in such a small aircraft – another first for a few of us. From the airport we drove to a lovely town named St Lucia, which was the perfect jumping off point for some game drives in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park and hippo viewing at iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Everyone asks me, “did you go to Kruger?” I answer No. The look of disappointment is obvious in whoever asked. But there are so many different parks and possibilities for game drives – Kruger isn’t the only one. Not only that, but where I went is the best spot for viewing hippos. In fact, on our second night in St Lucia, we walked out into the street after dinner, and were told to stop and stay still because there was a hippo across the road. She had wandered into town for dinner and was helping herself to some grass in the playground!
From St Lucia we made our way to the magnificent Phinda Mountain Lodge, which is a private game lodge in KZN. The difference between a private game reserve and a National Park is that you stay within the grounds of the park, you are assigned a driver and a spotter (who know their stuff inside out) and the animals are closely monitored giving you an increased chance of encountering them.
From here on, I will let the photos speak for themselves. I am a terrible photographer, but I hope you get the idea. Enjoy!
Hippos at iSimilangaliso
 
A quick safety warning…
The savannah
Unfortunate fact: this guy is really not that nice. Thanks for getting my hopes up, Lion King.
Phinda Mountain Lodge
The view over Phinda
The bathroom of my suite at Phinda… pretty nice!
My balcony at Phinda, complete with dipping pool and outdoor shower
Bones
Our view from the hill where we enjoyed our Sundowners
The safari vehicle, driver/guide and spotter (they were amazing)
In Adelaide, we’re lucky to have two zoos with Giraffe populations, so I see them quite regularly. However, the thrill of driving around in the bush and seeing one poking is head over a tree way in the distance and edging closer and closer to say ‘hello’ is something else entirely!
 
Speaking of experiences that are “something else” – this guy followed us for about a mile, keen to see what we were up to.
Down at the waterhole…
Juvenile lions
Hanging out…