Load Shedding Memories

We all loath load shedding. Of course. But secretly I enjoy it when it is scheduled late in the evenings. We have a few useful lights we use, but in our bathroom we light candles, which transform the room into a place that takes me way back into time. With every flickering of a candle and in every dancing shadow, I am transported back to a simple and innocent time before there was Eskom power on farms.

Way back, every evening offered a candle lit dinner and weekend nights were filled with all the people I loved back then, around a table – either in our kitchen or in a kitchen of my parents’ friends. Those were happy, happy days.

There were no phones intruding in a dinner conversation and no social media to capture an aunt’s embarrassment if she had one glass too many. Children sat with adults around the table, listening to adult conversation, but were mostly only heard when laughing at a joke or an anecdote.

I’m not naïve enough to say “those were the good old days”, because there are many better things available to us nowadays and many bad things were going on in those days, but our parents knew how to live good lives above their circumstances.

Those nights by the candle light were wonderful and memorable and every flickering of every candle I light, will always remind me of those moments and of the people whose faces the shadows gently caressed around those tables – most of which are now gone.

So now load shedding gives us the opportunity to light candles to make new (non-virtual/digital/electronic) memories with our families. I’m almost sure that our children would one day look back and not talk about 2020/21 as ‘simple’ or ‘innocent’ times, but with a bit of living-in-the-moment-on-purpose and less absent-minded time spent on our phones, we just might create memorable nights for our children and grandchildren to remember one day.

#loadsheddingmemories

© 2021 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂

5 Free Definitely have-to-do’s in Hermanus

Walk the Cliff Path

Walk the cliff path from Grotto Beach to the new harbour (or vice versa). Pack a day pack and stop to have something to eat along the way. The walk can take anything from four to six hours, depending on your pace, how many times you stop, etc. Don’t be in a hurry. Take a swim along the way and stop to smell the fynbos. Reward yourself with a liquid refreshment at Dutchies Restaurant at the end at Grotto beach. This is a nice family activity. There are very few steps along the way, so it is possible to do with a child in a stroller if there are a pair of hands on deck to help carry it up and down. Find out more about the cliff path here: https://www.fernkloof.org.za/index.php/fernkloof-nature-reserve/hermanus-cliff-path.

Walking in Fernkloof

There are three dams in Fernkloof. The first is easy enough to reach for healthy persons. There are steps with uphills and downhills involved, but nothing serious. It is an activity that can be done with young children. Small children must be always accompanied by a parent. This route is not stroller friendly, so keep that in mind. To reach the second and third dams is much more difficult and is definitely not suitable for children younger than 12. You also need to know the route to these two dams, because the footpath is not always visible everywhere. Rather go in groups than alone for your safety.

Fernkloof also offers hiking and cycling trails which start from the entrance at the foot of the mountain. Find out more here: https://www.fernkloof.org.za/.

Walking on Grotto Beach

The beach from Grotto Beach stretches for kilo’s along Walker Bay and one can walk all the way to De Kelders (about 20km) and even further. With a day pack on the back, good shoes and food and water, this is a great walk if you want to have a hike along the ocean. If you do not want to go that far, do shorter walks (like an hour out and an hour back). Take a dip in the sea when it gets too hot. It is also safer to go in a group.

Cycling on the beach is another alternative if you want a bit more adventure and have your own fat bike. (Bikes are for hire, but this is a free activities article.)

Watch the Sunset on the Mountain Top

Sunsets are just fabulous from the viewing points on the mountain. When driving out of town towards Cape Town, turn right on the Rotary Way (https://www.hermanus.co.za/rotary-way) and follow the road to the viewing point. Have a nice non-alcoholic sundowner up there while watching the sun vanish behind the water horizon. (Again, go in a small group or as family. Keep car doors shut and no valuables openly visible in your vehicle.)

Picnicking on the Beach

With the long never-ending summer days, a picnic on the beach is a wonderful end to a magnificent day in the sun. Take along a picnic basket, an umbrella if needed, a picnic blanket and welcome the evening while watching the sun set with the people you love.

!Remember!

  • Wear sunblock
  • Be alert towards you and your family’s safety. If possible, do these activities in groups or as a whole family.
  • Respect all animals on your adventures and do not feed them.
  • Put emergency numbers in your cell phone contact list. Click here to find the list of numbers: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/.
  • Please leave only your shoe or wheel prints behind. For everything else, use the bins provided.

For more safety tips, click here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/

For more to do in and around Hermanus, read here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

Enjoy your stay!

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Your Guide to a Safe Hermanus Holiday

Your Guide to a Safe Holiday in Hermanus

Hermanus is looking forward to welcoming holidaymakers back to our town for a well-deserved rest after a weird, challenging and probably life-changing year. Just a request: Please, please, please make sure not to bring an unwanted guest (I’m of course referring about a certain little virus) with you to our town, so that we can limit and eventually stop the spreading of this horrible Covid-19 thing.

Covid-19 Related Information

Make sure not to decrease your personal alertness with regards to the virus while on holiday. Keep us in Hermanus, yourself and your family safe by following the basic protocols. Remember the following:

  • Do not to leave your place of accommodation without a mask.
  • Have extra masks in your car, handbag, beach bag and jacket pockets for use when out and about.
  • Wash your masks every evening and let them dry well – in the sun if possible.
  • Be kind to fellow holidaymakers by practicing safe social distances on beaches, in the streets, in shops and in public areas.
  • Stay inside, away from people when you are sick or feel unwell.
  • In case you get sick and are symptomatic, call a local medical practice and they will advise you accordingly.

Tips for an Injury-free Holiday

As an experienced holiday-goer you know the basics. Here are just a few reminders when preparing for a relaxing and accident and injury-free holiday:

  • The sun in our area is a bit on the mean side, so always use sunblock when going to the beach, going for a hike or even when just going for a stroll on the cliff path or in town. Get after sun soothing cream for those irresponsible moments. Use an umbrella/gazebo when spending extended times on the beach.
  • Always wear a hat when outside in the sun.
  • Beware of the strong currents when swimming/surfing/body boarding at especially Voëlklip, Kammabaai and Mossel River. Diligently follow instructions from lifeguards on duty.
  • Be careful when leaving the cliff path to walk on the rocky areas near the sea, as waves can splash high and aggressively and surprise holiday-goers.
  • Be respectful of wildlife on the cliff path. Stay out of the fynbos and do not feed any animals.
  • Always carry water when going for a stroll, exercise or a hike.
  • Bring along a basic first aid with tablets for headache and fever, band aids, antihistamine tablets etc. Also make sure to bring along enough prescription medicine on holiday and have an up-to-date copy of your prescription with you or on the system at the pharmacy in case of an emergency.
  • If you reside on the east side of town, beware of the baboons. Never feed them and keep windows closed when they are in the vicinity. Don’t leave food unattended outside and keep garbage bins firmly closed. Contact the Baboon Hotline (072 028 0008) when experiencing problems.
  • Children:
    • Take extra precautions to teach your little one’s sun-safety.
    • Always watch small children near the water and on the rocks. Don’t let children walk on the rocks (or anywhere else) unattended.
    • Don’t lose sight of children on the beach.
    • Don’t let small children walk alone or let them out of your sight in shops.
  • Cell phones.
    • Keep you cell phone charged when out and about, in case you must make an emergency call.
    • Don’t use your phone while driving.
    • Don’t text while walking on pavements and crossing streets in our town.
    • Don’t take selfies at dangerous places.
    • Don’t turn your back on the water when filming on the rocks when the sea is rough and even when it’s not. Freak waves can occur even when the water is calm.
    • Try using your cell phone less while on holiday and rather enjoy every moment of your rest with your loved ones. Cleanse your soul. Give your mind a rest. Live in the moment.

Tips for Staying out of Crime’s Way

Unfortunately, criminals never go on holiday and Hermanus isn’t exempt from opportunists. Don’t drop your guard. Be alert as if you are still at home. Stay safe, alert, and streetwise by keeping the following in mind:

  • If possible, always move around in groups. Don’t walk alone in Fernkloof, on the cliff path or go alone to the Rotary Way viewpoint on the mountain. Although these places are generally safe most of the time, criminals might be on the lookout for unassuming holiday-goers.
  • When walking on the cliff path, consider carrying a whistle so that you can draw attention to yourself should you land in trouble. The Hermanus Public Protection (HPP) services are on duty daily and will hear when you make a noise. (Say “hi” to these friendly people dressed in brownish uniforms when passing them. They are performing a great service in helping to keep Hermanus safe.)
  • Make sure your young children are always accompanied by at least one adult.
  • When observing poachers, do not confront or interact with them. Rather call law enforcement. If you report them, mention where you saw them. There are place names everywhere alongside the cliff path (https://www.fernkloof.org.za/index.php/fernkloof-nature-reserve/hermanus-cliff-path).
  • Do not confront any criminals yourself. Call law enforcement.
  • If you are unfortunate to become a victim of a crime – even petty, please report it and make a case to the police. No action can be taken if this isn’t done, which means that culprits go free to commit crime again.
  • Don’t run or walk alone after dark.
  • When driving around and leaving your vehicle in a parking lot, do not leave valuables lying around inside the car. Lock them in the trunk, carry it with you or leave it in a safe place at your holiday residence.
  • When having a braai or just sitting on the stoep at night, keep doors locked and make sure purses, wallets, watches, phones, laptops and other valuables aren’t lying around openly. Thieves are on the lookout for opportunities when holidaymakers are relaxed and at their most vulnerable. Keep security lights on at night when kuiering outside.
  • Don’t leave garage doors open for long – even if you are at home or working in the garden.
  • If you are staying in a bed-and-breakfast or hotel, familiarise yourself with their security guidelines and follow it.
  • If renting a self-catering flat or house, make sure that you are informed about the neighbourhood and security system watch and know how the alarm works.
  • Switch on outside lights at night as dark premises encourage criminals to enter without being seen by law enforcement and neighbourhood watch vehicles.
  • Have telephone numbers for emergency services in Hermanus readily on your mobile phones in order to call for help should an emergency arise.
  • Use local official businesses for excursions, tourist attractions and events. Don’t fall for opportunists trying to scam you.
  • Hermanus does not tolerate begging in streets as this only encourages drug usage and other issues. There are various organisations where people can go for help. Be on the lookout for chancers harassing holiday goers.
  • Don’t keep your cell phone/money/wallet in your back pocket.
  • Do not put your handbag on the floor/ground when sitting in a restaurant. Rather keep the handle around your leg or keep it on the seat close to you.
  • Cell phones.
    • Keep you cell phone charged when out and about for in case you must make an emergency call.
    • When in public (walking/restaurants) keep cell phones out of sight. Try not to walk with a cell phone/tablet in your hand in case as it can easily being grabbed by thieves.
    • Don’t keep your child busy with a phone/tablet in public as they make soft targets for criminals.

Bottom line: Don’t become lax in exercising safety and security just because you are on holiday.

Emergency numbers

(Please Note: Do not confuse the 028 Hermanus’ area code with a cell number. The NSRI uses the 082- cell number though.)

We hope you enjoy your time in Hermanus and make such wonderful memories that you want to come back again and again.

A friendly PS: Please make sure to only leave your footprints behind.

Read here for more about Hermanus and things to do: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

5 Reasons why you Absolutely should Visit Hermanus

  1. It is nestled in the heart of the Overberg region

The Overberg region includes Hermanus, Gansbaai, Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay, Stanford, Greyton and many more picturesque towns which can be visited during short day trips while on holiday in Hermanus. Visit SA Places at https://www.places.co.za/html/towns_in_the_overberg.html to read more about these beauties waiting for you to visit.

2              Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Wines

Hermanus has got its own wine route in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (translation: Heaven and Earth Valley). Click here to plan your wineries visits – https://www.decanter.com/wine-travel/south-africa/hemel-en-aarde-wineries-to-visit-378182/ or make use of the wine hopper from Market Square in Hermanus. Learn more here: https://www.hermanuswinehoppers.co.za/. This is a fun and safe way to visit farms without having to drive. It is ideal for families and small groups.

3              The Fynbos

Fynbos is the generic name for a great variety of fine-leafed plants, with more than 9 000 of the 30 000 species being indigenous and unique only to the Western Cape region of South Africa. Fynbos doesn’t grow naturally anywhere else in the world. Learn more about fynbos here: http://www.percytours.com/fynbos-plants-cape-floral-kingdom.html#.X75UaGgzbDc. A long or short hike in Fernkloof and on the cliff path in Hermanus showcases thousands of species. The Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay (https://www.sanbi.org/gardens/harold-porter/) is just a stone’s throw away and offers a great morning or afternoon outing for the whole family.  

4              Everything the Village has to Offer

Hermanus has some of the best restaurants in South Africa (and we locals believe in the world). The promenade is lined with restaurants with magnificent ocean views, but there are jewels to be found in the heart of the village, offering fantastic food. Walk around to find them or look them up on the Internet. In the December holiday period, booking is essential.

Hiking on the cliff path, in the mountain in Fernkloof, cycling, kayaking and canoeing on good weather days are just a few outdoors things to do. Hermanus Sportsclub (http://www.hermanussport.co.za/) offers tennis and squash and has a restaurant too.

Hermanus has 20 art galleries and a display of outdoor art at Gearing’s Point as part of FynArts Hermanus (https://www.hermanusfynarts.co.za/).

5              The Beaches

Grotto Beach is Hermanus’ Blue Flag pride with loads of space to swim, surf, sit in the sun or having long walks. The estuary mouth is currently open, which offers canoeing, kitesurfing and swimming opportunities.

Voëlklip, Kammabaai (ideal for families with small children) and Langbaai are more intimate beaches and ideal to enjoy a sunset picnic.

Neighbouring beaches include Onrus, Sandbaai and Hawston.

And there you have it – just a few reasons why Hermanus is such an irresistible place to keep coming back to. Again and again. And again. And again. And…

Read here for more about Hermanus and things to do: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

PHOTOS: Fielies de Kock

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

Hermanus is Awaiting your Visit

Hermanus is a picturesque village in the Western Cape, South Africa, nestled between the fynbos-dressed Overberg Mountains and the cold Atlantic Ocean. Although Hermanus is a smallish town, it has a big town feeling with a wonderful vibe and lots of events taking place.

As everywhere else, the restrictions during the Covid-19 lockdown had also left its dirty prints on the town and business owners are doing what they can to up the area’s economy and provide employment for residents and travel opportunities for tourists again.

Although the annual Flower Festival (second last weekend in September) and the Whale Festival (last weekend in September) was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, other activities are slowly starting to happen again. The monthly First Fridays Art Walk (September to April) commenced in September and although it was a bit of a subdued affair – probably due to the fact that no wine and snacks were served – it was a necessary step in normalising village life in Hermanus again.

Hermanus is a convenient one and a half hour-drive from Cape Town which provides an easy daytrip opportunity for someone on a limited time budget. Be warned though – a day in the village will not even cover the basics, while a visit of four days or so will give one at least an idea of what the town has to offer.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when planning your visit to our beautiful little village:

  • Book in advance to ensure your stay at one of the many guest houses or hotels.
  • Make sure to include a Saturday in your trip planning to visit one or more of the markets in the area. Also keep the art walk on the first Friday of every month in mind (only between September and April).
  • Start your visit in Hermanus with a trip up the Rotary Way to the top of the mountain to enjoy the view of the whole of Walker Bay.
  • The town offers quite a few walking options. There are various routes into the mountain from the Fernkloof Nature Reserve as well as a cliff path walk along Hermanus’ 7.5km coastline from the new harbour to Grotto Beach (or the other way around). One of the local taxi services can be used for transport to the beginning and from the end point. You can also walk shorter distances on the cliff path from anywhere you stay in town.
  • For nature lovers there are plenty to see. The area is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom with plenty unique fynbos species to be observed.
  • Weekly Parkruns can be attended on Saturday mornings at the venue on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road (after lockdown).
  • Other physical activities to explore in the area are surfing, mountain biking, fat biking on the beaches, scuba diving, kite surfing, sandboarding, sea fishing  etc.
  • During the months of August through to early November travellers flock to Hermanus to see Southern Right Whales frolicking in the bay with their new-born calves. They can be watched from the shore or from one of the whale watching boats if weather permits. You can read more about this in my next blog entry at https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/16/hermanus-whale-watching/
  • On wind-quiet, sunny days, kayaking is a wonderful way to get exercise as well as do some on-water sightseeing between the two harbours.
  • The town has no shortage of beaches with the main beach, Grotto, being the largest. On windy days, the estuary is a favourite playground for kite surfers. Alongside the cliff path lies Voëlklip (famous for surfing), Langbaai, which is small and intimate; and Kammabaai – a favourite for parents with small children and also suitable for surfing. Mosselrivier and Kwaaiwater beaches are also well-liked, with Kwaaiwater’s beach being a popular picnic area to lazy away summer evenings when the sun only sets after eight o’clock.
  • Hermanus’ restaurants are world-class and the road alongside the marine is lined with many options offering delicious food and the most beautiful views.
  • For art lovers there are 20 art galleries to visit around town as well as outdoor sculptures to adore as part of the annual FynArts Festival (in June).
  • The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is Hermanus’ contribution to South Africa’s wine industry and offer fourteen wineries to visit for wine tasting and other activities. Tours are available from the Market Square to ensure that tourists do not drive under the influence.
  • Hermanus is a favourite extreme sports destination, featuring a leg of the Cape Epic. Other activities include hang gliding, zip lining etc. (on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road).
  • Other places to visit are the old and new harbours, the many sites alongside the cliff path from where one can appreciate the view from a wooden bench on the rocks, Hoy’s koppie in the middle of the town and the surrounding suburbs of Onrus, Sandbaai and Vermont. Stanford (and De Kelders are also close by which provides more entertainment opportunities such as river cruising, fishing and much more.
  • Hermanus is a photographer’s paradise, so bring your camera and tripod or test your cell phone’s picture taking abilities. You will not be disappointed!

Unfortunately, not even beautiful Hermanus is excluded from crime, so always be alert, especially when walking. Preferably, always walk in pairs at least.

(To avoid unbalance advertising regarding businesses, I don’t include links to activities businesses in this article. I plan to showcase individual activities in the future, so watch this space. For now, you can just search (for instance, ‘kayaking in Hermanus’ or ‘restaurants in Hermanus’) to find what you want.

So – don’t even bother wondering about where to go to for your next break away. Come and see why we are raving about our beautiful village. Hermanus is awaiting your visit.

© 2020  Fielies De Kock ž HERMANUS UNLIMITED ž

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

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HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

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Time to Practice the ‘Need to Know’ Principle

I was in the army (and air force) long ago, where I learned a lot of helpful skills I still apply in my life today. (I will get to that in a few paragraphs.)

By now we are beyond the point where the tekkie hit the tar (South African for ‘the rubber meets the road). It’s Day 17 of the national lockdown in SA due to the Covid-19 virus and our president has already increased the proposed 21-day lockdown with at least a further two weeks.

In the beginning it was almost fun. Everyone forwarded jokes and kept Facebook diaries of their days, their improvisations, their silliness. Nobody really expected the lockdown to be lifted after only 21 days, by hey, one could hope…

The whole Corona epidemic is a rollercoaster experience for me. I didn’t particularly look forward to the lockdown, as I presume was the case with everyone else, because limitation of movement isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a free life. But nevertheless, we all went into it positively. I still am positive – one have to be (!), but like everything new, this also wore down pretty quickly.

I too, follow the news and read everything that passed my phone screen in the beginning. The jokes were hilarious and still are, the motivational video clips and spiritual songs are uplifting, beautiful and emotional and the updates from friends, families and strangers on social media makes one smile and sometimes laugh loud. All fun and games.

But. I’m also a person who, like many of you, gets bored easily. I get fatigued very, very quickly. And my Corona fatigue started already before the lockdown! Getting fatigued can be a very dangerous thing, because what can happen is that you just switch off and ignore the situation that bores you or make you tired and can miss the things you really need to keep you safe, sound and healthy.

This Covid-19 epidemic is something really puzzling. We all ‘know’ now where it originated from, we have the ’facts’ about the virus and we are getting ‘updates’ on the spread daily. I put those in quotation marks, because I’m not sure that we get the real picture. Actually, I am sure. I have so many unanswered questions about this pandemic, which probably would never be answered. We are being given information from governments’ sides, we are bombarded with ‘expert’ opinions and on top of that, our feeds are flooded with conspiracy theories. It’s very confusing and difficult to really know what goes on, where it goes on and what precisely is done about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe everything we’ve been told. Not just about Covid-19, but in life generally. That doesn’t make me a conspiracist – just a realist. I like a good conspiracy theory though, and being a creative writer, I can even think up a few myself easily – although I never go public with it. I’ll leave it for my novels one day. 😊

Our family has quite easy circumstances to being locked down in, so we really have no reason to complain. But we are still humans. And humans tend to feel human emotions when their circumstances change. On Day 8 I felt cooped in for the first time. I could hear my husband sigh when he went to the kitchen in the morning to make coffee, and I’m sure he hears mine when I go to the bathroom in the morning and the realisation of another locked in day kicked in. Day 11 was tough again. Today is easier to stay in because of the wind storming outside. The point is even though we have comfortable circumstance to do it in, any limitations take their toll on the physically and mentally and causes our emotions to go up and down by the things that enters our minds.

And this is where my remark about being in the army comes in. One of the first things you learned when entering any defence force is the very important THE NEED TO KNOW-principle. This is for your own good, you learn, because what you did not know, you could not tell and couldn’t hurt you. This meant that a great deal of discipline had to be practiced. You were to stay out of conversations where you would hear what you were not supposed to hear and out of places you didn’t belong. We all know that we are by nature curious, so it is very tempting to listen to gossiping, do things which can be harmful to us and watching things that are not good for us. After all, we now have access to almost any information we want.

In today’s circumstances this is more relevant than ever. We can listen to and believe everything we read or watch on our phones and forward it to our as-gullible family members and friends. When an overwhelming lot of information is going around as is the case at the moment, it can drive us mad.

Be honest. Can you even remember all the information, jokes, videos, songs you’ve seen during the past few weeks? Of course you can’t, because we have been bombarded with information – good and bad. We are getting overloaded by the news, social media and our friends and family. So, that overwhelming feeling you sometimes get after reading or watching another post is very normal.

Now, on Day 17 it maybe is a good time to get a bit more disciplined in an effort to keep our sanity. We are in the middle of lockdown and the toughest part is still coming. Lockdown can even be extended again, so now is a good time to start taking better care of yourself mentally. And this is where we can implement and practice the NEED TO KNOW principle. This is where you start making decisions to your advantage – and to advantage of all those you love.

  • It is a time to start reading selectively. Read and watch only what you need to know to stay safe and healthy.
  • Laugh about and share the funny jokes.
  • Listen to good messages with sound spiritual input.
  • Don’t forward fake news and conspiracy theories. Check facts before forwarding and overwhelming others with info that they DON’T NEED TO KNOW!
  • Put down your phone. You don’t need to be on it the 24/7/365. Read something printed on paper. Like a good book. And The Good Book!
  • Keep a routine, but also do something out of the ordinary every day.
  • Exercise – even if you have to run in one place while watching a TV program. Everyone can exercise, no matter how small their place is.
  • Be creative. Build something, draw something, write something, bake something, sew something, plant something… We are people made to create, not to just duplicate (or forwarding in this context).
  • Don’t read or watch Covid-19 any other news just before going to bed.
  • Most of all – keep spiritually strong. Read the Word of God, meditate upon it and pray for all.
  • And lastly – give thanks for what you have and for your circumstances.

The virus and its effects are still with us and it will be with us for quite a while longer. We must stay strong from the inside. There was an old WWII poster stating ‘Loose lips may sink ships’. Listening to and believing everything we hear and forwarding it to everyone we know, isn’t something responsible people who love their friends and family do. Discipline yourself. It starts with me and you.

Keep your ship afloat. It still has places to go after this.

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂🙂🙂

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/26/were-all-riding-in-this-corona-bus-together/

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/27/in-the-beginning-we-were-created-to-be-creative/

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/31/family-traditions-creates-unbreakable-bonds-and-awesome-memories/

Family Traditions Creates Unbreakable Bonds and Awesome Memories

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What do the Sunday night movie, playing Monopoly on holidays and eating dinner at the table have in common? They are the glue that bonds a family together.

According to https://www.childhelp.org/ family traditions are handed down from generation to generation and add to the rhythm and seasonality of life.

What are Family Traditions?

They are those things we tend to repeat doing when we are together, like the things mentioned above. Family traditions differ from family to family and are normally just simple things we do that we as a family love, like having rowdy conversations around the dinner table as the Italians and Greeks tend to have. Or it is taking that annual holiday to the same place every year. So many of my husband’s childhood memories derive from their seaside family holidays, so much so that we live in the town they had their holidays in! My family didn’t have seaside holidays, but we had a big mass of water nearby where we lived and we went camping there over the Christmas season when I was little. It was also my birthday this time of year and to me it felt as if I had my birthday every day during those holidays, as different family members arrived daily with gifts for me!

Family Traditions look Different and can Literally be Anything!

Times have changed and so have the activities we do. But we still participate in traditions – even though we don’t even think of them as ‘traditions’. Mom and the girls going to the mall on a Saturday morning, Dad playing cricket with the boys in the garden on Sunday afternoons, visiting the grandparents for Saturday braai or watching the rugby together, are all good examples of South African family traditions.

The Advantages of Family Traditions

Other than helping the family to bond, it also builds children’s confidence, because their parents are spending some real time with them. That makes them feel grounded and safe and help them to be more outgoing and courageous. You can read up more on the advantages of family traditions on your own.

Family Traditions in the Time of the Corona Virus

Yep, we are locked in and can’t even take our dogs for a walk in the streets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still do things together. We are after all, cooped up together like never, ever before in our lifetimes! So, this makes it a perfect time to bring back some old family traditions or establish new ones.

If you have stopped or never eaten together at a table as a family, start doing that – even if it is for only one meal a day. Here are a few pointers for this:

  • Ban cell phones from the table and keep a few conversation starters handy to get your family talking to each other again.
  • Research a few good conversation topics which are fitting for your family’s age.
  • Allow difference of opinion, but make sure to establish rules so that it is still done respectfully and things don’t get ugly. If we teach our children to have an opinion and speak their minds at home, educators don’t have to teach them what they want to teach them.
  • Start debates about different topics. Divide everyone present into two groups and let them debate two sides of a topic. When things get heated, change it around. It is fun to see everyone suddenly out of their comfort zones when having to defend the other side! And it normally ends fights immediately.

Play together, whether it is board games or games in the garden. And don’t stop when the lockdown is over.

Create something together, such as cooking, baking and braaiing, making clothes, building puzzles, building lego or whatever your family is into.

Try to teach your children something regularly during the lockdown, but keep doing it hereafter. Teach them to pray and care for others, braai, plant veggies, snoei trees, play chess, build something out of wood, do DIY chores in the house etc. Doing this on a regular basis will not only teach them skills, but give them confidence and the ability to do things for by themselves and for themselves.

Read together. Read bedtime stories to your children from day one. (Yes, they need to hear stories in their dads’ and moms’ voices from an early age.) When they are older (and now during lockdown) you can lie around reading for a few hours a day.

Start a thanksgiving tradition, either at the breakfast or dinner table or whenever you are all gathered together and bored during the lockdown. Think about those less privileged during this time and start a ‘Thank You’ jar where you can all contribute with things you are thankful written on a piece of paper and put into the jar. Open in up in a year’s time or so and read it aloud around the table while eating.

These are just a few examples. There are lots more. You know what your family love doing. Dust off a few old ones or start new traditions. Search the Internet for more ideas if you need to.

Keeping it Up

Our young adult son is still with us at home. We continue doing things together as a family on a regular basis, such as eating together every meal, even though he lives outside in the cottage. We go for picnics at the beach and going on Sunday exploring rides etc. My sister-in-law’s two adult children are having dinner with them every Sunday evening. Some dads and their adult sons have weekly squash appointments. You get the point.

So, when this lockdown is over or when the children are all grown up, don’t stop with the traditions. Many South African families are split up and live all over the world, but with the technology available these days, we can still be ‘together’. Make a family group call on a week night/morning (depending on time differences) and kuier together on Skype or WhatsApp video calls.

Do whatever it takes to keep your family traditions going, because they create awesome and precious memories for your children which they will carry over to their children.

 

© 2020 Fielies De Kock 

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂🙂🙂

 

We’re all Riding in this Corona Bus Together

 

We have become used to disasters wreaking havoc somewhere in the world at any point in time lately, looking on from afar and praying and feeling sorry for the people it happens to. Not this time. A petit, unseeable-with- the-naked-eye virus had made its way into homes all around the globe.

I know everyone is jumping on the wagon with jokes and tips and advice and to be honest, I’m one of those people who gets bored very easily and I already Covid-19 fatigued a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, ignoring this one isn’t a luxury we don’t have. We are all forced to deal with it.

Two thirds of the world live under restrictions already. Many countries are in lockdown mode. Tonight at 00:00 South Africa will go into lockdown too. Our little family leads quite an active lifestyle now and I will miss our walks on the cliff path alongside the sea very, very much. No running, cycling or walking dogs will be allowed during this time. We may only leave the house to get medical help and buy food, but then it is restricted to one person per family at a time as far as possible. My mind struggles to comprehend the situation, because it is unprecedented. To think we can not go out is… well, unthinkable!

We used the last opportunity today to go out to the beach where others were sitting in their cars or taking last strolls along the cliff path with their four-legged friends. (Don’t worry, it is a small town, so the social distancing was well implemented!) Restaurants in our town are closed already. Apart from the petrol stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and medical institutions everything else will not open tomorrow morning.

This is not just a bus passing by. We are already on it and we will stay on it and only get off when it is time to get off. So, we should do it together and make the best of it by helping where we can and praying for the vulnerable, the needy and for the economy. And who knows how many good things can come from it also! We already see the positive influence that people staying home has on pollution in places like China and Venice. And how people are singing together on balconies in Italy. And how people reach out and help each other everywhere else. Maybe this little scary thing will teach us to be human again.

If you aren’t working for an essential service such as medical assistance, policing, crime prevention and food transportation or working in a supermarket, a petrol station or keeping us informed on radio and TV or doing something else that is important and needed, you WILL be stuck at home for the next twenty one plus days.

So, consider using the time you have productively to rest and do the things that you never have time for or start working on that dream you have, but don’t chase.

To all our heroes who have to go out every day to work to keep us all safe, happy and sound, we salute you and we pray for your health and safety.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make His face shine upon you,

and be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,

and give you peace.”

(Numbers 6:24-26- NKJV)

Stay healthy and safe. Until tomorrow, when I will have a few ideas for you on how to spend your time in such a manner that you get enough rest, but do things to keep you not only physically healthy – but most importantly – also mentally sound.

Enjoy your walk or run tonight. And sleep well knowing that “He has the whole world in His hand…”

Until tomorrow when I will have a few ideas for you on how to spend some time in a creative way during the lockdown here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/27/in-the-beginning-we-were-created-to-be-creative/.

 

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂🙂🙂

Let your Characters Reveal Themselves to you

By Fielies de Kock

I am always amazed by how my characters can surprise me. Just this morning I wrote a flash fiction story. Yesterday the ending of the story popped into my head. I decided to write it on my phone last night whilst in bed, but I was too lazy to figure out the plot details. This morning I decided to sit down and labour over it a bit. I knew the ending was words uttered by a soldier in a war, but I had no idea about how I was going to get there.  But when I started writing, Uwe, the protagonist turned out to be a dentist in the German Army during WW2 who was experiencing a crossroads moment. I didn’t make Uwe up. He created himself before my mind’s eyes. All I had to do was to start writing a few words. The moment Uwe was ‘born’, he developed a life and a voice of his own.

The same happened years back when I started writing a novel (which is still only two thirds into the creating phase of the writing process). I wrote a chapter in which the two main characters – a couple – invited a new friend over for dinner. This friend plays the other main character in the story and they were chatting away soon enough. At that stage, all I knew about my couple was that they previously had a relationship, were reunited and were engaged now. During the dinner conversation I learned that they both left South Africa at different times to work on kibbutzim in Israel. They eventually ended up at the same kibbutz, fell in love, got pregnant, lost their baby girl in a bus bomb during an intifada and then the woman went home brokenhearted. They met again years later after she got divorced from her abusing husband and finally had counselling – and were now sitting, engaged to be married, at a dinner table, telling their new friend – and most importantly, me – their whole story. I was flabbergasted by my characters’ secrets. I really didn’t know all those things about them until that scene.

Listen to your Characters

So the moral of the two stories is to learn to sit back and let your characters do the talking – literally! We live in a world of helicopter parenting, controlling our every move to the finest detail and fomo, and writers sometimes tend to overkill on character development to a point of stereotyping (just watch any Hollywood movie) – like the police detective whose boss hates him, is divorced/getting divorced, has a drug/drinking problem, is an absent father and has a heart which is just waiting to attack him. Where are the out-of-the-ordinary detectives who are kind-hearted, crochet with their grandmothers, are happily married, romantic husbands etc? Are they really too boring to write stories about or are we are just too lazy to work out great story lines for them? (And there’s another challenging story idea right there! Don’t steal it – it’s mine!)

We should sometimes just sit back and just listen to our characters telling us who they really are. Maybe they have more to offer than the one dimensional stereotype we so often mould them into.

How do you Listen to your Characters?

Go about your character developing the way you normally do. Give them their eye and hair colour, pet peeves, characteristics, likes, weaknesses, family ties, problems etcetera, as much as you like, but don’t limit their back stories because of your own preconceptions. Put them in different circumstances and see how they react. Listen to how they talk to other characters and to what they tell them. You might be stunned at what they might reveal. The best way to do this is to sit down and whether you write to a strict outline or if you are off-the-cuffing it, free write your scenes. Follow these guidelines.

  • Don’t think too much or wait until you have everything figured out before you start writing. If your character do or say things that you didn’t plan, let him/her without interrupting or censoring them.
  • Explore the character by keep writing. Don’t hesitate if weird things flow from your pen or keys and don’t stop writing for even a second! And never, ever stop to correct anything until the free writing is over! Allow freewriting sessions of at least ten minutes per character.
  • Write whatever comes to mind – even if it scares you a bit or if you didn’t plan things the way it plays out. You can always adapt the story line later or edit some of what you have written. It is better to have and to do away with than not to have at all!
  • Trust your instincts (or those of your characters), because when you free write, your instincts take over and most of the time we write better this way than when we are forced to write according to a plan.
  • Just keep going until you reach a point where it feels as if it is done – even if it takes longer than the time allotted for the session.
  • Don’t edit immediately after writing. Leave your work until the next day or even a few days later. This will give you time to think about the revelations you characters made and how it will influence the plot and your story line and if everything still fits in the greater plan. Most of the time you will be pleasantly surprised. If you really find after rereading your work that it is not the case or that it really is a bunch of Charlie Romeo Alpha Papa, you can always delete what you don’t like and/or edit it until you are happy.

Learn to start trusting your characters to reveal themselves to you. You might discover a whole new approach to character development for future use.

© 2019 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with her husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and their adult, graduate, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂