Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kids' Paradise

I gave myself a day off from the computer today and went with the girls to Kirstenbosch Gardens, after dropping our son at his cricket camp. If you ever come to Cape Town, with or without children in tow, Kirstenbosch is a place not to be missed. A little piece of tamed and manicured mountain with enough wilderness for children to play, making man-made playgrounds or theme parks totally redundant.

First of all the girls made straight for this shaded jungle of twisted trees, broad intertwined trunks to climb and explore, requiring ingenuity and agility to traverse. I let my inner child have a go too and perched high up on a comfortable elephant sized branch, watching an agitated nanny try to get her small charges to come down to safety.

I was reminded of Tertia's post yesterday. She had put up photos of her twins riding for the first time on their first ever bicycles, training wheels firmly in place, Dad hovering nearby, an empty, smooth suburban back street, sun shining. She was flabbergasted and upset to be attacked by the parent police because they weren't wearing helmets. Apparently in the US it is law to wear helmets on bikes however small and the police can fine you. This is one of the things I like so much about South Africa - we are still allowed to take responsibility for our own kids and decide what is safe, how much physical risk we can let them take, without us turning into jelly. If these trees had been in a public space in Europe or the US, no doubt they would have been cordoned off, or at least have had large notices disclaiming responsibility for any injury sustained - maybe they would have been fitted with rubber mats or guard rails. Rant over!

The girls moved from scaling the heights to catching tadpoles in the stony stream, which kept them happily occupied for an hour.

There were several other groups of girls all engaged in the same activity, some of them disappearing way up the stream, far out of sight of the mothers on their picnic rugs. Containers of frogs, rather the worse for their prolonged immersion, were carefully carried back to the picnics, one girl vehemently insisting to her mother that the two frogs, which were floating upside down, were only acting. It took some persuasion to insist that the tadpoles and frogs needed to be released here in their natural habitat, not back home.

After some sandwiches that got rave reviews - home-made white bread with the leftover Easter gammon, we moved down to the sculpture garden for a culture fix and rounded it all off with an ice-cream. An utterly perfect South African outing like a shining jewel to be treasured.


  1. I love Kirstenbosch. I used to go there as a student. Looks like you had one of those diamond Cape Town days that make life wonderful.

  2. Oh, my gosh, I can't believe you didn't put helmets on your kids while they were climbing those gigantic roots!! (Just kidding!) You're so lucky to be able to raise your kids the way you want.

    What a gorgeous place to go play! I'm so jealous. There's nothing better than catching tadpoles and climbing trees. Lovely post, thanks for sharing!

  3. Oh my gosh that is incredible!

  4. What a lovely day. As usual wonderful photos. About the US and our laws to protect everyone from their own husband and I were just talking about how much life has changed here in the past 30 years. We used to ride without helmets as kids, no one wore seat belts, babies bounced around freely in the backs of cars, people rode in pick-up truck beds right down the highway....and now everything is different. It really was a fairly quick change it seems. Some of it good I think - and yet sometimes - I wonder if we aren't preventing the natural evolutionary survival of the fitess?

  5. Kirstenbosch is lovely - and I love those sculptures too. So true what you say - often when we are visiting SA we'll see somebody doing something and joke that this woudl NEVER be allowed in the UK on health & safety grounds. For example, if the V&A Waterfront were in the UK, you would not be able to get anywhere near the water and there would be a lifebelt every 2 metres!! In the UK, it is presumed that you don't come equipped with even enough intelligence to ensure the survival of the species :o)


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!