I spy with my little eye…

9 October 2018

It was a funny old night… it was so warm in our bedroom, I ended up taking my cold water bottle from the fridge again, and placing it against my neck and head. Ian had the bright idea of using our silk sleeping bag liners that we’d bought as a last minute thing back at home “just in case” to cover us to stop the insects fly onto us, and it worked brilliantly. Then, at just after 01:00, an alarm sounded… I leapt out of bed and followed the sound to the fridge/freezer. It took me a couple of minutes to work out how to switch it off (press the red “alarm off” button…) before returning to bed and trying to sleep.

We woke up early, just after 06:00, but it was a beautiful morning and the sun was rising from behind one of the distant mountains. I went to the front door to look at the watering hole, just twenty metres away, and was delighted to see a pair of young springbok there, having a drink. I told Ian who came and joined me for a minute, then we went back to bed and I read my book (for the first time this trip!) and Ian contemplated a shower.

We thought that Bugsy would stay asleep for ages this morning, with the comfort of a bed and dark curtains, coupled with a few nights of less sleep than normal, but she bounced into our room just after 07:00, full of beans. Ian and I are in separate beds as there are no double beds here, so she came to each of us for a cuddle, before we all got up for showers. The water is solar-heated, and with the cloudy, rainy day yesterday, we were a bit worried that there would be no hot water, but in fact, all three of us enjoyed lovely warm showers, washing away the dirt and dust from yesterday.

Over breakfast, we kept an eye on the watering hole, and saw two more majestic gemsbok come to drink. While we were brushing our teeth, I spied a couple of giraffe there. I could barely contain my excitement as I gathered Ian and Cornelia quietly and we watched silently as they were joined gradually by another four giraffes. It was so magical watching them drink from the watering hole, scratching themselves on the little tree and just hanging out! Ian had only moments before read that the giraffes here are like a needle in a haystack, so we were really in luck!! It was fascinating and I was hooked! Incredibly annoyingly, the battery on my nice camera is nearly dead and I cannot believe that I have left the charger at home 🤦‍♀️

Once the novelty of the giraffes had worn off for Bugsy, Cornelia and I spent an hour playing different games with the Jenga blocks I had bought from the airport. We made a chocolate cake, some peanut butter cookies, an airport and an aeroplane! Then I moved on to the kitchen and Cornelia helped me make a bolognese for tonight, after which I made a chicken casserole for tomorrow night, when we are in another campsite.

Whilst waiting for Steven to arrive, Ian and I sat in front of the patio window watching the various animals taking turns to visit the watering hole. How wonderful to have grown up here! In fact, there is an entry in the visitors’ book from a lady who lived here as a little girl. The entry is now printed and framed on the wall, and she shares her happy memories of learning to ride her bike, and how to swim in the dam. The entire house has a great feeling of history about it.

Ian and I moved outside and relaxed, watching for animals in the distance, while Cornelia took the opportunity to spend some time watching Peter Rabbit, out of the sunshine. It felt very indulgent, just sitting around doing nothing, but we have been on the go for a week now, and it was unexpectedly nice to just sit.

When Steven arrived, Ian spent some time with him by the van, deflating our tyres sufficiently for a drive later on, around the Nature Reserve. Frustratingly, the compressor supplied with our van doesn’t appear to work at all, which is a major concern for our future desert drives that form part of our route. Steven also came to look at the fridge freezer. Because of the lack of sun yesterday, the battery had completely drained, hence the alarm going off. He recommended unplugging the appliance completely for half an hour to let it recharge, which we did. Fingers crossed. It would be “quite” annoying if we lost all of our fresh food because of this, especially as I had already had to throw away our frozen foods.

Just as Steven had arrived, we were having lunch at the table, watching a herd of nearly thirty zebras approach the waterIng hole. They stayed there for nearly an hour, and this watering hole totally encourages laziness, as I sat there watching them again!

Cornelia, despite making an earlier promise that having a satsuma and some crackers would not spoil her lunch, did not even take a single bite of her sandwich which was infuriating. I try not to make too big a deal of it, as I do not want to inflict food self-consciousness on her, but I did find myself feeling most annoyed!

To get over myself, I dedicated an hour or so making an origami elephant and zebra with her (a clever gift from Auntie Carole). My zebra was totally wrong, and Ian had a go and got his perfect first time, and I was able to copy his method to improve mine quite considerably! Cornelia made a baby zebra and shoved it inside my zebra’s tummy, saying now it was having a baby!

This zebra came with us on our nature reserve drive in the afternoon, as Ian drove slowly around the designated one-way path, while we listened to nursery rhymes… Although we didn’t see anything animal-wise more spectacular than we had seen from the comfort of our veranda earlier, the drive was unmissable. Even the trees here are starkly beautiful, with their trunks made of twisted, gnarled bark, as if they have been fighting to survive for years against the harsh desert conditions. It really was like driving through an oil painting at times, especially when we were at the top of the dunes and could see the contrasting stripes of the dunes, grasses, mountains and blue skies for miles and miles around us in all directions. Cornelia was bored, so we ramped up her interest levels by taking close ups of animal poo for her to identify from our Southern Africa book and, together we yodelled our way through The Lonely Goatherd from Sound of Music – a hilarious highlight, with Cowding and Zebra singing in peculiar voices made up by Bugsy. Two hours and fourteen miles later, we ended up back at our Hideout, as Cornelia observed “Did we just drive around in a circle?!” (Yes!)

Back in our holiday home, I finished off the bolognese for tea (Cornelia had declared that she was “starving” because she hadn’t eaten her lunch and so wasn’t allowed any afternoon snacks) and we ate early, once she’d done some handwriting practice with Ian, which she was keen to do. In fact, it turned into Ian transforming a picture of an aeroplane in her alphabet book into “Pig Air” complete with a snout nose, pig pilot, trotters for wheels and and a curly vapour trail….!

She ate all her tea and had a yoghurt, and I read Alice in Wonderland to her, before she brushed her teeth and got ready for bed. Ian did her bedtime stories tonight, and I was requested for cuddles while she listened to the next Mumfi instalment. I cuddled her for ten minutes, during which she chatted quietly about the Alice in Wonderland book, which had obviously captured her imagination. “Imagination is …..” as she had informed me earlier! I told her that I’d be back to cuddle her again before I went to bed and within five minutes, she was asleep. I had a beer with Ian and finished off my book before checking in on her at my bedtime – she hadn’t moved an inch!

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