Mid-year escape – choosing the right place

July school holidays are long and cold, choosing the right place to for a break-away can be more than finding  a sunnier spot, we can embrace winter and go somewhere to really escape our routine, rethink our goals and bond as a family. IMG_8713

When we sat down to make a decision we couldn’t agree on something at first, feeling a bit frustrated I picked up the magazines I just bought and there it was! A paradise nestled in the Knysna forest.

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Our great escape suddenly became so apparent, we had to take Mish to see the Big Tree! And we absolutely had to stay at The High Acre Forest Cottage with the incredibly creative owners, DP (a friend from my school days) and Hannes. Men of many talents, decorating the cottage certainly is one of their gifts. Everything so perfectly thought out and so fitting for this beautiful forest setting.

Their use of colour is clever, for example the blue on the walls are amazingly warm in winter but cooling in summer! The fabrics used can only be choices of someone who knows his textures and textiles! Not to mention the little nick knacks and art, so right up my ally: eclectic, interesting and creative.

This truly is a home away from home, everything you could possibly dream of having on your break-away. Best of all: it is pet friendly – Gigi was spoiled as much as we were with space and an extra large drinking bowl.

Just a few kilometers from the magical Big Tree and so many beautiful stops and coffee shops, staying here is also very convenient when you want to explore the greater Knysna area. Returning to High Acre Forest Cottage after our daily explorations was just such a treat!

But this is not the only special attribute of High Acre Forest Cottage, DP & Hannes are both avid gardeners and they grow anything and everything from food to flowers. As a fellow gardener, I couldn’t resist! More in my next blog post and some of my gardening tips and treats.

 

The value of crafting – hooray crochet!

As kids, my sisters and I always thought we were the lamest girls because we spent our holidays learning to do all kinds of crafts. Well, where we grew up malls did not exist and our winters were so long and excruciatingly cold, we didn’t really want to get out anyway.

Today I am incredibly grateful for those housebound holidays because I can spoil a friend or my family with something I made with my own two hands. It just says so much more than a store bought gift, because in this handmade gift lies my time, my feelings and my effort.

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Some crafts did not come that easily, and as it sometimes goes with mom and daughter, patience run out. But I did not give up, I took my crochet pin and a few balls of yarn, walked over to my Nan and did not leave until I got it right. Left handed or not!

Of course when boys entered the picture, the crochet kit was buried and was not resurrected until the other day. Finally I have time and head space for crafts again!

Don’t for a second think its like riding a bike, oh no! I had to learn the few basics again and made Mishka a beautiful thick blanket.

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A month ago when I featured the beautiful socks and ponchos from Little Yarn Shop I rediscovered this burning desire to create more than a simple stitch blanket. I contacted them and they offer beginners classes. Chane fro the Frogging Fox is an amazing teacher! I learnt to crochet fluffy hats and face rounds, so I am totally hooked again!

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There is so much more I want to do! If my mom did not ignite this crafty fire, I would never have thought I had the ability to make something so complicated myself. That is why I am exposing Mishka to crafts too. Even if she doesn’t enjoy every single activity, she will learn something about patience and ability, and perhaps one day be able to crochet a blanket for her own daughter.

It is also a connection point, an activity you can enjoy while spending time with others. This gift of crafting gets passed on from generation to generation, but it is also a way women can get together and share stories while sharing tricks of the trade.

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Mishka will spend some time with Granny Ronnie during our winter break, when it seems to rain forever in this part of the country. She still has plenty of time to learn before boys occupy too much of her thoughts and time.

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My advice to anyone who wants to start any craft, start simple, find the simplest pattern and a whole lot of youtube videos, set aside time, pour a glass of wine and just start!

There’s a teacher in every town, just ask and you will find. If you are in the Hermanus area @thefroggingfox will teach you a few tricks!

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I hope my crochet over-share inspired you to take up that craft you’ve always wanted to master! Not only does it keep you out of trouble, but actually has been proven to be imperative to your mental health:

People who exercised their artistic muscle were 73% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, a condition that can mean memory problems and reduced mental function, than those who didn’t partake in artistic activities. People who did a lot of crafts like woodworking and quilting were 45% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than people who did not, and computer users were 53% less likely to develop it compared to adults who didn’t use the computer. Social adults were 55% less likely to have memory problems later on than their antisocial peers. BY ALEXANDRA SIFFERLIN  – Times APRIL 8, 2015

Food for thought!