Thursday, January 18, 2007

Holiday Highs

Yesterday we made clay pots on a wheel, learnt how to play the drum, picnicked by a river, stroked a cheetah and some owls and held an eagle. This trip to Spier wine estate was a splendiferous end of holiday treat from my sister-in-law to the children.

We have spent most of the holidays at home, busy with Christmas preparations, singing carols, swimming and playing, playing, playing but my son’s “What I did in the holidays” essay was going to look rather sparse. Now he has enough material from our one day out to fill several pages.

He was over the moon with his pot. Jimmy, the potter guided our hands to achieve extremely respectable pots, which we were able to bring home after they had spent the rest of the day drying in the sun. He now has plans to get a potter’s wheel at home and make a few vases, as he reckons he’s got the hang of it now and can do it on his own.

There are two animal conservation and rehabilitation initiatives at Spier. This is the Cheetah Outreach program, where you can pay extra to spend five minutes in the enclosure stroking and getting to know a cheetah.

The sound of a contented cheetah purring in the shade on a hot day as we stroked it I hope will stay with the children for ever. My son had a big grin on his face, all the time we were there.

Then the raptors – the birds of prey. Some of these are being rehabilitated after accidents, for release into the wild. Others have been kept as pets by misguided humans, so think they are human themselves and will have to remain in captivity.

Youngest was entranced by the barn owl, as we sat stroking its soft feathers and my son was daring enough to don the leather gauntlet and hold Wally the Walbergs eagle. We then got a personal viewing of the flight training session, as we were the only ones there. After being an ardent viewer of Animal Planet, and having decided to be a park ranger when he grows up, it was amazing for my son to be up close and personal with the flesh and blood animals.

He later waxed lyrical on the subject of pots but hardly mentioned the animals at all. I think therefore I can deduce that the animal experience went pretty deep and is still being absorbed and processed. I guess I'll find out, if that essay gets written when the new school year starts on Tuesday.


  1. Wow, what an amazing day you all had! The Spier sounds wonderful- love all of the pictures. I especially like the hands on the pottery wheel...and getting to pet the cheetah is pretty amazing!

  2. Splendid pictures and writings for your children...what a wonderful gift for them and memories to last their lifetime. I also love the first picture of the hands working the clay together. I did not know cheetahs could be so docile!

  3. Am so envious, can we move in with you!?
    Julia LOVES cheetahs, jaguars, and tigers... she would have died at the chance to pet one! She exclaimed, "THOSE KIDS IS TOUCHING A CHEETAH!"

    What a great day.

  4. I always wanted to try a potter's wheel when I was a kid!

    My sister works at the state zoo and once when they brought in a new cougar she found out that it had been raised by humans. Nobody was allowed direct contact with it, but when there weren't any visitors around she would play hide and seek with it and it would "stalk" her from the other side of the glass just like a giant kitty.

    If you went to the far end of the viewing space, there was an open area that you couldn't reach through, but if the cougar came near enough, you could hear it purring.


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