Visit 2008

2008 – What a fabulous time! When initially planning our wedding, we decided on a small wedding in South Africa with our families, but what a wonderful surprise we had when it turned out to be rather larger than expected! It seemed that many of our friends were just waiting for an excuse to visit South Africa, and what better excuse than a wedding.

100 people attended our wedding, most of them travelling from Europe. Friends and relatives came from the UK, France, Australia, and of course, South Africa.  They spent time visiting Cape Town, the Game reserve and ended their holiday by attending our wedding at Pilgrims Rest and at Kruger Park Lodge.

The weather was wonderful for our big day and the best part was having 16 children from the rural village of ‘Belfast ‘ to sing for us in the church. Most of our guests were unaware that this was a huge event for these children. Most of them had never left their village before, so to have an outing on a coach through the mountains, arriving at ‘Piligrims Rest’ and singing in front of a church full of Europeans must have been daunting to say the least! They not only looked stunning in their African dress, they sang beautifully too.

For a whole year before the wedding I was paranoid about Josephine catching chicken pox for our big day. After all, Henri had it when he was a baby but at the age of 4 she had still not caught it. My friend Karen kept telling me that if I kept worrying about it I would ‘bring it in’. I thought this was a load of rubbish and still kept worrying!

All was fine, then 4 days before our wedding Josephine came downstairs in the morning and aghhhh! she was covered in spots! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! The doctor confirmed it was chicken pox and told us that she couldn’t attend our wedding. Not only was she my daughter, she was my bridesmaid too and we had travelled all the way to South Africa to get married, there was no way she was missing all the fun! A concealer stick helped to hide the spots on her face and she was a beautiful little bridesmaid and Henri, in his little suit to match the men, looked very handsome.

A great wedding and a fabulous holiday was had by all!




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Visit 2006

What a fabulous holiday to South Africa! Six weeks of glorious sunshine to enjoy during the UK’s long cold winter as well as Christina finally convincing her mother & father to come out to our home in the bush after five years of trying! They realised that if they didn’t come come now, they may never get there and so at the ages of 76 & 82 Nicole & Jim accompanied us to  South Africa for the trip of a lifetime!

Their reaction to their first trip to South Africa was one typical that we have seen from Europeans many times before. They were completely shocked by EVERYTHING they saw and South Africa was ‘nothing like we had imagined’! They loved the diversity of cultures and the beautiful scenery. Cape Town was awesome and Jim was in heaven in the wine estates sipping wine and admiring the beautiful gardens. ( We did the usual tourist sights of visiting Table Mountain, Robben Island, Boulders beach with all its penguins, Camps Bay and Hout Bay, to name but a few.

After two weeks in Cape Town we flew to Mpumalanga for a 4 week stay at our house in Kruger Park Lodge. Once again Jim & Nicole were stunned at the beautiful setting of our house by the river on the golf estate. ‘I had no idea it was anything like this!’ said Jim. At 82 he was in his second childhood, running around with the grandchildren, playing with them in the pool, enjoying walks along the river and simply sitting, gin & tonic in hand, watching the river running through the grounds.  It reminded him of his childhood in Ireland living close to the River Liffey with its fast flowing waters

Jim on the Bench

Jim on the Bench

Our children loved the impala grazing on the lawns outside the house and the troop of monkeys that often paid us a visit. Nicole was surprised to find a particularly bold monkey  in the house one day, it calmly took a mango out of the fruit bowl, walked out, then sat eating it in front of her, leaving the peel for her to clean up!

Mum & Dad loved the little towns of Pilgrims rest, Graskop, Sabie and the visits to the Waterfalls. They also experienced a visit to a rural village that we have been visiting for several years. We took them to Homezeya Primary School and all 900 children and teachers were outside to greet us on our arrival with some African songs.

With donations from the parents at Farnham Gymnastics Club in the UK, we were able to bring much needed sports equipment to the school. The children went wild at the sight of the footballs. The school had no sports equipment at all and the Head teacher told us they used to have a football, but that it had burst and they had been unable to buy a new one. We visited the village Church and again with the donations from Christina’s gym club we were able to give £500 towards bricks for the building of a new Church.

Once visited, South Africa stays with you for ever. Christina’s parents enjoyed every minute of their six week stay and we know they would love to return again. Jim said he was going to come back as soon as he got home! Our enjoyment was seeing them having such a fantastic time. Sadly three weeks after returning home Jim had a heart attack. He is so happy that he was able to see South Africa before his health declined and often thinks about his holiday. Four months on he is recovering and often wonders if he will ever look at our river again.

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These pages are a set of our own personal times since 2001 at Shangani Kruger Park Lodge in Hazyview Mpumapanga South Africa.


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