This weekend I'm getting increasingly excited about my upcoming trip to Amsterdam - for our annual mother/daughter getaway - while praying for my cold to go away. Perhaps three years is a bit premature to deem an event "a tradition", but I think these things can be as much about intention as they are past evidence!
It started in September 2014, when mum won a holiday of her choosing through her work (yes, I know!) and decided this was the opportunity to go on her dream holiday. Being hugely interested in all things nature, and a David Attenborough worshipper, she'd always fancied a safari - so that was the starting point for what turned out to be an amazing 10 days in South Africa.
I've never fully written about our trip online, so thought I'd take the opportunity now (as I sit under a blanket feeling a bit grotty) to share some of our experiences on what is one of the best holidays of my life, so far.
To start... Hermanus
After the 11 hour flight from London to Cape Town we were picked up by car and travelled another 90 minutes to the seaside town of Hermanus.
Why here you say? Because during springtime in SA it’s where you can stand on the coast and clearly see Southern Right Whales frolicking in the waves. We also thought it would be a calm location to relax into the holiday before we tackled the more touristically-demanding streets of Cape Town.
We weren't disappointed. Not only did we see the whales almost immediately after arriving - helped by the whale caller, a man who blows a huge pipe whenever a whale is spotted - but we continued to see them from the comfort of our hotel balcony.
And when we weren't looking at the whales, there was plenty of other nature to wonder at - from the dassies (who the locals consider a nuisance but we thought were quite cute!) to the absolutely stunning flora and fauna, set against the sea.
Hermanus also offers lots of lovely boutique shops, with a few surprises - including an antiques shop with it's own retro cinema (sadly there was nothing being screened during our visit). In one shop I bought some locally-made, brightly coloured pottery as a memento.
Where we ate
When travelling I generally use two methods to find the best places to eat - search Tripadvisor for restaurant reviews and/or ask a friendly local where to eat. These proved very successful for us in Hermanus...
The Eatery: This lunch spot was recommended to us by the owner of a beautiful shop selling regional crafts. We both had vegetable and beef soup, with a thick slice of toast - delicious! Add in two coffees and a bottle of water, and it came to just R95 (around £2.50 each!) - it was a this point we realised just how favourable the exchange rate was for us.
The Cuckoo Tree: Run by a mother and daughter, this restaurant has only a handful of tables - including out in their lovely courtyard, which is also frequented by lots of garden birds. We had a delicious two-course lunch - I opted for toast topped with roasted veg, goats cheese, salad and nuts, followed by an almond and fruit tart with homemade orange ice-cream (see above) - delicious!
Bergundy: Only 30 seconds from our hotel, this is where we ticked off two SA specialities - malva pudding (like a light sticky toffee pudding) and bobotie (spiced mince meat and dried fruit topped with a layer of egg - very tasty but also very rich - we only managed to half a portion!)