Matthew is almost 7 months old, and boy, what changes we have seen in him. Donal and I were both lucky enough to witness some of the exciting milestones our sweet baby has reached as we spent a whole month in beautiful South Africa. My home. My heart.
To begin with… Matt’s first long haul flight. We did it in 2 stages- London City Airport to Zurich- then onto Johannesburg with Swiss Air. I won’t pretend that I wasn’t slightly anxious about flying across the world with our almost 6 months old baby boy. I had visions of a screaming baba in the middle of the night, and people on the plane hoping and praying that we wouldn’t be sitting next to them! (Which they probably did! To be fair, I had those same thoughts before I had Matt! Please Lord, no babies near me!) What I can say, is that Matthew was a complete pleasure. He slept more on the flight- in the bassinet- than he usually does at home, only waking when other children around us cried. Go Matt! Apparently the hum of the engines can have that effect on babies. I was a very proud mama indeed. We came well prepared though- ear defenders, dummies, change of clothes, tons of nappies and wet wipes and a new toy to keep him intrigued and entertained. He became a bit restless near landing, when he had to be sat down constrained with a seatbelt- not his best friend. How dare we make him sit still for so long? But all in all, we were so chuffed. Nonetheless, happy to have landed in SA as I barely had a wink of sleep. I felt like I had a cactus in my eyes and almost died of horror when I looked at myself in the mirror. Seriously girl, you need a facial and a lot of sleep! Ha!
We had the most amazing holiday with family and friends and I truly mean that. There is something about that spectacular country of mine; it’s natural beauty, great company, food and wine, that is like therapy to my soul. I feel revived and happy, so very happy.
We landed in Joburg and Matt got to meet his great Grandpa, Eddie Crouser, as well as my aunty Buffy, Ian and Brenda. We had a lovely meal at our hotel as we only had one night in Jozi. Matt thoroughly enjoyed all the attention from everyone. The hotel staff was amazing! From the driver, to the waiters, to the receptionists; everyone had smiles and sweet words for our boy. They all wanted to hold him too! That’s when we first realised that South African people are SO different from Londoners! Here in London, people generally keep to themselves, with as little eye contact given to strangers as possible! And it’s amazing how easily one conforms to that when living here. In SA, it’s completely different, quite refreshing actually. Most people are so friendly and positive, it’s heartwarming, given that a lot of them probably have very little in the form of material possessions and money, but so much love and light. It opened my eyes…
After our very quick stint in Joeys; we caught our first domestic flight to King Shaka Airport- Durban. The place of my childhood and my sister’s birth. I have wonderful memories of vibrant curries, hundreds of bananas, luxurious and humungous butter pears (avocados) , humidity (oh my gosh, it gets so HOT!), beautiful tepid waters of the Indian Ocean, family and my best and oldest friend Rikki! To name but a few of the reasons why I love the place! Matt was AMAZING on the Kulula flight. It was only around an hour, and full to the brim with families ready to hit the coast for the summer holidays. I was very proud indeed when the lady who was sitting next to us, commented on how lovely and good our baby had been. (He fed and then literally slept the whole way!)
We had a fabulous week in Kwa Zulu Natal, spending time at the luxurious Zimbali Resort with our friends Rikki, Wesley and their baby Ryder. We would get to see Rhyse (our precious godson) the following day. We enjoyed lazy days by the poolside, seafood dinners, WINE (too much of it) and great conversation. It’s always so special catching up with Rikki, although we’re miles apart, we chat constantly and when we meet up again, we just pick up where we left off! I was spoiled to an awesome night spa at Mangwanani with Riks, while Donal and Wes were on baba duty!
After a fabulous and sweltering time in sunny Durbs, it was time for us to venture to the Eastern Cape- Jeffreys Bay to be exact. Renowned for its big waves at super tubes and the now the home of Matt’s ever loving grandparents and great grandparents. My parents moved to J-Bay from Port Elizabeth earlier this year and absolutely love it, and so do I. Although my dad is still commuting to PE for work on a daily basis; the sea view and beautiful, spacious home make it all worthwhile.
It was lovely to finally see their new home, and for Matt to finally meet his grandpa at 6 months old. He was lucky enough to have met grandma just a few days after he was born, we she came to London to help a new mama out!
The time spent with my parents was absolutely priceless, they were so amazing with Matt, it honestly warms my heart so much. My mom- being the most loving grandma, having everything specially organised for our arrival. Matt had his own cot, with beautiful bedding (even a mosquito net in tow), a range of bath toys, and all the baby lotions and potions we could think of! So thoughtful and so lovely. My parents had bought a brand new car seat for Matt, (apparently my dad would only have the best for his grand babies!) Matt absolutely loved my parents, always giggling and wide-eyed at the adventures he’d be taken on. We did so much, from many walks on the beach, to early morning coffees on the deck, to eating amazingly tasty food, the numerous braais, dops, darts and endless conversations with so many laughs – every moment was truly wonderful. I wish time could have stood still.
Matt grew and changed so much while we were in SA. He started sitting without support, eating a variety of fruit and veggies (with fewer shivers!), he loved roaming around in his new walker as his legs had grown stronger, he enjoyed many lazy afternoons splash-splashing in the pool (under the shade of the brolly of course!) He also spent his first night away from me and Donal (we went to my friends wedding). He is still a happy soul, giggling and smiling that contagious smile of his a lot. He loves his reflection, enjoys being out and about and observing things in nature very closely. Almost everything going in his mouth, but not one tooth yet! I’ve been saying “I think he’s teething!” from about 12 weeks, haha!
To top it all off, he was fabulous on the flight home, and slept most of the way. It was tough coming back to mud island, especially on a frosty, grey January morning. But hopefully, we’ll be back home soon. I’d love to go back. My heart is still in Africa and to be honest, I think it always will be.