Australia

blue ocean

My final country on the long list of travels is Australia. It is to be my new home and has been for 7 months now. How time flies when you are having fun. Life still feels like a holiday and the thought of getting on a plane (not that I have to) still feels too soon. It took me three years to get here and a lot of hurdles to jump but it was worth it.

sea and sand sea cloudy day sun and see waves jetty perth city ocean blue

 

What I find really striking about Australia are the views. I find myself catching my breath each time I see the ocean. The blues are incredible and my camera does not do them justice. I have so enjoyed walking along the coastal paths and sandy beaches. Oh and did I mention that I love the sunshine! It has been wonderful to experience 2 springs and 2 summers this last year. I almost forgot what goose-bumps were like. I still have the habit of taking a long-sleeved top everywhere with me, just incase it gets cold. People keep asking me how I lived in London for so long if I don’t like the cold. Well I did tend to hug the radiators, sleep with an electric blanket and this last winter I walked around the house with a microwavable hot ‘bean bottle’ strapped to my body.  My first experience camping in Australia had me fearing I’d be cold. I packed thermals and a duvet and extra blankets. Why would I need all this in Australia in summer you ask? Well I had a nightmare experience camping in England in Spring where I nearly froze to death. This is not an exaggeration. I woke up because my body was shivering. I could not stop myself. Shivering became shaking, so much so that it woke my tent mate up as we were sharing an air mattress. She however was not cold having had the right kind of sleeping bag where as I had no idea there were different types of sleeping bags. I was so grateful when the sun rose and I was alive and I could get up and walk around to get my blood moving. With this in mind I was super prepared for Aussie camping and in fact I was over dressed and too hot.

beautiful beach

I have enjoyed being a tourist in my new home. My mum and I decided to find a different tourist spot each week to drink coffee at. I have seen some lovely places and some that I would rather not visit again. I have been to wine farms, olive groves, breweries, beach cafes, chocolate factories, ice cream shops,  coffee shops and restaurants. We visited a lovely beach cafe for lunch on the last day of summer, only we did not know it was the last day of summer at the time. It was a hot day. People were swimming in the sea. Boats were zipping across the bay and I was sitting under an umbrella dressed in a sundress watching the world go by. It was the perfect setting for a seafood lunch and I had my favourite, calamari. Seafood is meant to be eaten by the sea where you can smell the salt in the air. It was a wonderful day but the last sunny hot day we had. The very next day autumn arrived. It was like a switch had been flicked. The air turned cooler and we even had rain. Suddenly everyone was wearing long sleeves. I knew it would warm up again before the heat really said its goodbyes, which it did, but the days have turned autumnal with cool morning and evenings and some warmth in the middle of the day. Winter is around the corner.remains of a jetty

Australia is beginning to feel more and more like home and I am really enjoying it. Of course there are things I miss about London too. I often get questions about how strange it must be moving from a huge city to the country side, but honestly it is not strange at all, just different. I also get asked about what I miss most. This is what I miss: My friends,  there are a great bunch of people who I miss talking to and sharing life with; I miss how quick the postal service is in the UK, ordering anything online takes weeks, in fact mail sent from down the road seems to take days; I miss Waitrose Chorizo – I know that sounds funny, but I had found a gluten-free one in the UK and I have tried as many different kinds as I could get my hand on but I haven’t found the right one yet, it takes time to find things in a new place. I haven’ really started clothes shopping here yet but while I was unpacking all my winter clothes the other day I found all my lovely items from Fat Face and I thought, ‘I’m really going to miss that shop’. I wonder if they will post to Australia?

amazing bay

Things I love about Australia already: The colour of the ocean; being close to my family; having a car to drive; making new friends; the wonderful friends I have already made; supermarkets that sell things like coconut oil, almond butter, almond flour and other health food products; Kangaroos roaming around free, almost in my garden; that so many restaurants and cafes have gluten-free options; hot summers. I’m sure that this list will grow as time goes on.

So although I have reached the last destination on the long list of countries I have visited in a short space of time, the adventure is only just beginning.costal walk

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Madikwe Safari – South Africa

elephants drinking

I have been putting off writing this post for months now as I just did not have the words to describe the amazing 4 days I spend in the Madikwe Game Reserve. I have often heard friends say that their heart are in Africa and I hadn’t really understood what that meant until I experienced the wild bush of Africa myself. This trip was the trip of a life time.zebra

We left cold and windy Cape Town and arrived in cold and wet Johannesburg. From there we boarded a tiny 9 seater plane and flew to the Madikwe Game Reserve, which lies close to the border of Botswana. It is quite something flying in such a small plane. One poor passenger, not in our party, was not so happy with the turbulence and caused the other passengers to have an uneasy feeling. I kept my eyes on the pilots and they seemed so relaxed, so I knew this was normal. Landing on a dirt runway is also interesting as we have to circle the runway to check that there were no wild animals crossing or taking a break where we were about to land. The safari 4×4 trucks were waiting to pick us up and take us to the lodge we were staying in. We stayed at Motswiri, a beautiful lodge that we took over completely as it only has 10 rooms.

leaving joburg    madikwe's runway   elephantWe arrived at 2:30 in the afternoon and told that high tea, actually lunch, would be served at 3. So we were shown to our rooms. The rooms were beautiful – four-poster beds, fire places, large bath tub, out-door shower and balcony all facing a water hole. There were so many animals that came daily to drink that I could lie in bed and watch the zebra or elephant close up. Showering outside with a nosy Kudu, coming to see what the noise was, was also an interesting experience but there were electric fences every where so that the animals don’t get too friendly.

motswiri bedroom                                            motswiri lounge motswiri dining room         motswiri pool

Lunch was great and they were so accommodating with all the family allergies. After lunch the game ranger who was with us our whole stay, took us on our first safari – three hours in the bush, spotting animals and have sundowners. We got to choose what we wanted to drink and it was all packed up with delicious snacks for us to enjoy at sunset. Well the animal spotting was fantastic. I think we saw 4 of the Big 5 that first evening. We  even got to see wild dogs with their kill, right up close. Wild dogs are apparently quite rare to see in parts of Africa.  After about 2 hours of great excitement and numerous photo taking, we stopped for sundowners. It was getting quite dark and the game ranger told us to keep quiet and not make any sudden movements as coming down the track to greet us were a pair of eyes. Thank goodness it was a hyena and not a lion. He was just being nosy and pushed off quiet quickly. Back into the 4×4 we climbed for some night game viewing. We had a spot light, which we shone and all had to look out for any eyes reflecting back. It is rather funny to see tons of glowing eyes in front of you and then as you get closer you see lots of wildebeest.wild dogs and their kill coming to say hi up close

Then it was back for dinner and as we drove into the lodge the friendly staff were waiting for us with hot towels to clean our dusty faces and hands. Dinner was served and we were told it was a 5am wake up to leave on another game drive at 5:30. So we all headed for an early night. My room was ready and waiting for me, with the curtains closed, the lights on, the bed turned down and a little chocolate was left on my pillow along with a short story about how the cheetah got its spots. 5am came all too quickly. Some had asked for a wake up call, but there were no phones in the rooms so they were woken up to the calling, ‘wake up, wake up!’  coming from outside their door.  In the cold and dark we all made our way to the lodge lounge ready to leave. On the morning game drive we had sun-uppers not sundowners, and coffee, tea, rusks and muffins were all pack up for us to enjoy in a few hours time. Thank goodness there were warm blankets in the 4×4 for us, as it can be quiet cold. Once again the wild did not disappoint and we saw so many animals and their cubs too.

sundowners or sunuppers

mother and cub

I think the highlight was being right next to the lion when he roared to call his brother and then his brother popped out the bush. They walked up to each other, nuzzled and then collapsed in a heap to sleep. We were so close we could see their scars and wounds from hunting and fighting. Elephants too are amazing and you can see a real family dynamic in their troops. All the females arrived at a waterhole with their babies and then a male came from the opposite direction and came up to each one and said hello with lots of trunk touching and nuzzling.licking his paw

IMG_9393

sleeping lions

We would stop for coffee and muffins and then continue animal spotting. By the time we got back to the lodge it was almost 9am and time for breakfast. After breakfast everyone would disappear either to catch up on sleep, or read by the pool or water hole. Then it was lunch or high tea at 3pm and another game drive at 4pm and so the process repeated itself each day.giraffe

I loved seeing the lionesses with their cubs. One poor cub had and injured foot and we didn’t think he would make it. We didn’t see him the next day and thought he was gone but on the last day he we spotted him and he was still following the herd. The sad thing is that he was a male lion and they get pushed out of the herd and have to hunt for themselves, something he wont be able to do. If he were a female, the females hunt together and he/she would have been fine. But that’s nature for you, the law of the wild, only the fittest survive.lioness cubs lioness lion cubs

We spotted cheetahs, rhinos, buffalos, wildebeest, giraffe, elephant, leopard, wild dogs, jackals, lions, birds and most of the animals hand cubs with them. Such a special sight. On our last evening game drive we had an interesting experience. We were on our way home in the dark when we got a flat tire. No worries, our guide was going to change it. We asked if we should all get out. We were told to stay in the truck and shine the light around looking for eyes while our guide quickly changed the tire. There was no quick to it. The truck kept slipping off the jack. So we all had to get out except for one, who stayed in and shone the light around looking for eyes. But still the truck was slipping, as the road was soft. I started getting nervous laughter and hoping there were no hungry lions about. About 6 attempts later we finally had successes and were safely on our way back. We all lived to tell the tale. Funnily, or no so funnily, enough it happened again to us the next morning. But this time we could all see if there were any hungry animals approaching us without the need of a spot light. This time the wheel was changed in 5 minutes.cheetah

Seeing so many animals so close and in the wild like that really did something to my heart. I would not say I was big into animals in any way, but I sure loved those animals and wished I could have stayed longer. I could easily have cried when it was time to climb into the plane again but I knew my next adventure was waiting for me across the Indian Ocean and that was where I needed to be. It will always be a holiday I look back on with the fondest memories.

memories

If you have a bucket list, I highly recommend you add a safari to it and  Madikwe does not disappoint. If you want to see Hippo then go somewhere else but for everything else it was amazing and it is a Malaria-free area which is a big plus!

african sunset

 

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Cape Town South Africa

cape town

South Africa was the next stop on my frequent flyer card. This trip was extra special. Not only was I going to see friends I hadn’t seem in ages but my brother was getting married and so was my aunt. 2 weddings, one hen party, huge family gatherings and lots of coffee dates, dress fittings, seafood, laughs and not much sleep was on the agenda while we were in Cape Town.waterfront

We spent most of our time on wedding admin so much so that we were nearly late for wedding number one, my aunt’s. We had to go suit shopping for the grooms men which took longer than anticipated. Who knew it was that hard to find clothes for guys, but it was. We then had to rush back to pick up our clothes for my aunts wedding and drive the 2 hours to the venue as it was out of town. We arrived at the hotel 5 minutes before the bride was meant to walk down the aisle. However we were not dressed for the wedding yet nor was the wedding at the hotel. I have never seen 8 people get dressed so quickly in my life. We all cleaned up really well and headed for the venue. Thank goodness the bride was running late so we had plenty of time to catch up with family before the ceremony started. It was a beautiful ceremony in a wine cellar. Sadly it was cold and wet but they had prepared for the cold part and there were blankets on each persons chair as well as the canape area. The rain stopped long enough for us to capture some great photos and the rest of the night was a great party. Keeping with the wine cellar theme, the wedding cake was a pinotage cake and the guests got to choose between two favours. The guests had great fun bottling their own brandy, however I decided to go with the favour that would be able to packed into my suitcase with ease – brandy fudge. Let’s just say I didn’t need to worry about it fitting into my suitcase, it didn’t last long, yum yum.aunt's wedding wine cellar

dining in the cellar wedding cake

Between the 2 weddings we enjoyed lots of seafood and sushi. I think it was almost a competition to see who could eat the most sushi during our time in South Africa. The V&A Waterfront has some great restaurants but we kept returning to our favourite one Willoughby’s. I can highly recommend it if you are ever in the area.

sushi

My favourite spot to visit in Cape Town is a lovely little cafe called High Tea. It is just gorgeous. They serve individual sized cakes. My favourite is the lemon meringue pie. I order it every time. I am very grateful that I have a friend who loves it as much as I do and we always get together for tea here.high tea high tea lemon meringue pie

The wedding celebrations started the day before the wedding. Two families about to become one big family came together to help set up.  I must say it was a real family event, as family were involved in so many aspects, which I love. The groom designed the wedding invites, the bride painted the cake toppers (the bride did way more than that but I thought that was pretty cool), the brides aunt did all the flowers, the brides sister made the cake, the meat came from the brides parents farm, my other brother made the rings, the brides sisters and myself were some of the bridesmaids, my twin brothers were groomsmen and my cousin was the ring bearer. After everything was set up we had a huge family braai(barbecue) for all the family staying on the next door wine farm, Zevenwacht. My mum’s family had come from all over the world for this special event so it was a big reunion. The bride and groom’s families had an early-ish night as the next day was the big day!

zevenwatch

Most of the time we were in Cape Town it was freezing cold. I had not packed for this weather so that did not help either. We were all getting nervous about the wedding day weather. But I know there is power in prayer and I knew there were quite a few of us praying for warm weather. We were not left disappointed, it was the hottest day of the whole trip and perfect for our strapless bridesmaid dresses.

bride and bridesmaids

My married friends all tell me that your wedding day goes past so fast, well this wedding day flew by for me so I’m not sure what to expect when I get married. It was just such a fun day. The morning involved hair and makeup for the bride, bridesmaids, mother of the bride and mother of the groom and granny of the groom at the wedding venue, Langverwagt. The groom, groomsmen and a few close friends were running around setting up last minute things while we kept the bride hidden away from the groom. Before we knew it it was 3 o’clock and we were waiting to be fashionably late. The groomsmen all turned up looking pretty good in their waistcoats and escorted the bridesmaids to the beautiful garden, a short walk round the corner.

groom and groomsmen

There is something so magical about a wedding, seeing the groom with a tear in his eye as he watched his bride come towards him. And then they were husband and wife and it was time to kiss the bride and celebrate.

love

bride and groom

beautifulbridal partyeveryone

sunset

We had such a great party. Everyone was on the dance floor including my gran, who would put a few youngsters to shame with her partying ability. We were all very sad when it was the last song and the clock struck 12. I had danced my shoes broken –  it could possibly also have been from climbing into bushes for some of the beautifully posed photos, I think a bit of both. See more pics here.

wedding cake

inside the venue

We had a day to recover and spend more time with family before some of them had to return to the airport and we had to go off on our next adventure…into the WILD!

cape lights

All wedding photos are from Kellandphotography.

more than cupcakes

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Time flies when you are having fun!

continent number 4

I think the title of this post is so fitting for where ‘I have been’ because I haven’ been on the blog for a while. Sorry about that. I am sure some of you were looking forward to hearing how my last 2 continent adventures went and how live on continent number 4 is treating me. I have been waiting for some crucial photos before I wrote those posts and sadly put off writing about anything else until I had those photo. I have also been having some technical difficulties which I am in the process of sorting out and then things will be back on track.

So I will be updating the blog soon with my adventures as well as the crafts that have been keeping me so busy. I have also updated my ‘about’ page as I realise that I want to share more with you then just food. I am still a foodie lover but I am ‘More than Cupcakes’ and I want to share that with you.

So watch this space and hopefully I won’t keep you waiting 4 months again.

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A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

hampton court garden

A picture is worth a thousand words or so the phrase goes. If it is true then maybe the following pictures of my time in England can speak for me as I struggled to find the words. snow dayship in a bottle snowy common

borough marketleeds castle library leeds castle london mist royal albert hall thames buckingham palace wisley gardens london wicked coffee van chez bruce street party stomp london olympics olympic stadium hampton court palace greenwich jamie olivers snow snow in the common red phone box wimbledon village london zoo london zoo dorchester blue sky country life west end covent garden national gallery piccadilly whole foods anthropology liberty O2 arena harrods borough market starbucks country stall petersham nursery west end buckingham palace flower shop walk in the park

standing in the east and west

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Europe – London

united kingdom

I have started and re-started this post. But each time it just doesn’t work. How do you write about a visit to a country, a city; that has been home for 7 years, that holds such fond memories and houses so many special friends? I just don’t have the words really to do it justice. But it was a tea and coffee drinking, cake eating, hugs and kisses, lots of chatting and fun-filled time. It was the people who made these 2 weeks so special and memorable. tea drinking

But I also had great fun visiting a few places, such as the Humming Bird Bakery. I have one of their cookbooks and love making their cheesecake brownies. They are very famous for their red velvet cupcakes which I would have had too except for the fact that I had had red velvet cake the night before. So I chose a black bottom cupcake with cream cheese frosting – the best. It is times like these where I feel like a kid in a candy store, there was just so much choice. I wish I could have had a bite of everything. hummingbird bakery

cupcakes cakes yum yum cupcakes more cupcakes window display mine, all mine

Another place I chose to visit was the V&A Museum. I love visiting the fashion exhibition. I wouldn’t say I was big on fashion but I love seeing all the old dresses and how clothes have changed over the years. I love to imagine what the wearers daily lives were like. I found a dress that I would actually wear today because I just loved it. I love spots and stripes and this dress was black with white polka dots, strapless and such a party dress. The V&A has so much to offer but I always spend my time in the fashion wing and then in the gift shop. Museum gift shops have the best things!pretty in pink blue and gold dots and spots

My housemate and I also visited the British Museum to witness the Japanese Tea Drinking Ceremony. Japan is her favourite place and since I met her she has talked about this ceremony, so it was wonderful to go there with her and share in her interest. From Japan we journeyed to Egypt to see the statues, artefacts and hieroglyphics of the Ancient Egyptians. Having taught this in school to my students many times it was lovely to go and see again as the last time I visited I was a student myself.egyptian egyptian wing

The rest of my time was spent with friends – so many special memories made before the start of my next adventure.

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Sailing Around Langkawi – part 2

harbour at dusk

Telaga Harbour Marina was our next stop and unfortunately it was bucketing down when we arrived. We got soaked. It was the first time I had felt cold since we arrived in Malaysia, it was a refreshing feeling. But it cleared up quickly and it was another scorcher of a night. The next day we went in search of a supermarket. I love visiting local supermarkets. It was interesting to see that lots of products came from America. Chips and Oreos were everywhere. I did notice seaweed Pringles which is not something you see everyday. We were able to stock up and head back to the boat. Thank goodness we flagged down a taxi. That is one thing about this trip, we always managed to get a taxi with ease when we needed one.

the shopbananas seaweed pringles

It was so hot that we had to go in search of an air con and we found one in the best place, a bakery! This bakery, called The Loaf, was the best as they had loads of taste testers with all their pastries so we could try everything before we decided what to eat. I just loved that! I decided on a custard doughnut and an iced mocha. Both were delicious. We were also introduced to Japanese red bean paste buns. They had coffee and green tea flavoured buns. I really liked the coffee bun so we bought one to have later.

telaga harbour walking in search of coffee coffee break red bean paste bun red bean paste buns outside loaf

The harbour has a clock tower and a bell that rings on the hour. The funny thing is that although the bell does ring on the hour, if you look up at the clock it will only say twenty too. So if you want to know the real time you have to add on 20 minutes.

bell tower

A delicious discovery I did make in Malaysia was watermelon juice. It is just the best as they take fresh watermelon and whirl it up in a juicer. I loved it! My first taste of it was in the tapas restaurant at Telaga Harbour and from then on I had it every where I went.

tapas

We then travelled across the top of the island of Langkawi to the Hole in the Wall. We left in thick fog and hit big patches of rain. The amazing thing about being on the ocean is that you can see the rain coming from quiet some distance due to the pattern it makes on the water’s surface.

Telaga lighthouse fishing boats cooling my feet in the rain

Hole in the Wall is very protected from the elements so lots of boats are left there. It felt a bit like a ship grave yard as there were so many empty yachts parked all over the place. There is a floating restaurant and fish farm there and a few other floating buildings. Lunch time is their main trade time and the water taxis speed up and down from sunrise to sunset. The Hole in the Wall restaurant was very kind to open for us to have early dinner. We could go and choose the fish from their farm nets and they would cook it. The food was very good and I loved that after we were settled they sat down to eat their evening meal in the restaurant as well. hole in the wall fish farm

hole in the wall restaurant meet and greet dinner the view to the north view to the south

Our last night of sailing, before we returned to civilisation, was in a beautiful deserted area where we could swim and barbecue and just enjoy a night under a star lit sky. Magical.

before the rain sunset last day

On the journey back it was so calm and flat that it was like sailing on a mirror. What was extra special for me was that we saw a dolphin. This was a super holiday and such a wonderful adventure to experience.

sailing

Now it’s time to visit the next continent.

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