What to do in Quarantine

Since both the U.K. and South Africa are in, essentially, full ‘lockdown’ now (movement restricted, shops and businesses closed), I’ve decided to dedicate a few posts as promised to what it is we, as a family, are doing to stay sane during this extended quarantine.

First things first, we have to acknowledge how incredibly lucky we are right now. As I said in my last post, my in-laws’s home is not a bad place to be quarantined – second only to being at home. I know most people probably won’t have easy access to the space that we have, and I can’t claim it as my own so this is in no way a smug post. What I can do is share ideas which have worked for us, and which can, hopefully, work in smaller spaces, too.

My mother-in-law, since she moved to this house 20 years ago, has become a keen gardener. She’s had the girls helping her with doing the borders – if you have a balcony, terrace, or even a big, sunny windowsill, this is definitely possible.

She’s given me a tutorial in the best things to plant for little kids – they can get their hands dirty AND make the place look lovely! Kids love knowing they’ve been involved with something they can see; they love feeling proud.

Firstly, please, don’t be put off if you only have a sunny window. Secondly, you may think that, in quarantine, you can’t find seeds etc, but most can be found either at your local supermarket or on Amazon. Finally, these are super purse friendly, even after all the corona virus nightmares. If you don’t have a plant pot, find a decent size, deep bowl – make sure to gently drain it the evening after you’ve watered, to make sure you don’t get stagnant water in the bottom.

The best flowers to start with for kids, and ones that yield pretty flowers, are probably sunflowers (seeds available at every supermarket with your fortnightly big shop, on Amazon for less than £3 or Takealot where you can get an entire 2kg for R149) or Nasturtiums (Amazon for £5 or Takealot – R99 for a bulk pack, also including sunflowers!).

Both can be planted in a small-ish pot, either on a windowsill, on a balcony/terrace or in your garden. Make sure to keep the seeds far enough apart, treat them lovingly, and watch them grow! If you have access to a bird table, or space for birds to land, then, once your sunflower has lived its beautiful life you can pop the spent head on the table and watch all the birds flock to nibble on the seeds in the middle. Nasturtiums are, as I’m sure you know, the edible flowers you see on cakes and cheese boards. Plant them now (before the end of April) and they’ll flower all through summer. They’re a no-brainer for kids – they look pretty and they can eat them afterwards!

Other easily bought options are herbs (you can buy them already planted in small pots at most supermarkets), which you can pop on a kitchen window and eat straight from the pot. Rocket seeds are easy to get hold of, and can be grown in 3 weeks (plus, it’s a year-round herb). It can be eaten straight from the pot, and occasional ‘thinning’ (i.e. eating and tasting, so nobody can see) only helps it grow better. French beans and carrots are also easy to grow, and start in small pots – and Sweet Peas are great fun if you want another cute little flower – plant them now, and they’ll flower from May until October.

I understand gardening might not be for everyone, but it’s a fun way to keep kids entertained and concentrating. Another, really easy way to amuse them, especially the younger kids, is to feed the birds. You might think that sounds overly simple, but why not mix it up a bit? Fat balls and suet-based feed (available at bigger supermarkets, on Amazon and Takealot) last for ages. You can make a bird-feeder out of old wire coat hangers, or buy from the same places. My girls love watching the birds (and squirrels, ahem) eating the food they’ve put out for them, but they also really like dividing the food out, too.

It can be difficult trying to keep children occupied when they’re not allowed out of your property (even in the U.K., we can only go out once a day for exercise purposes) – and trying to do things other than screen time can be trying. Much as we’re resigned, for now, to letting the girls watch more telly than usual, we’ve still started saving ideas to do over time. Tomorrow, we’ll be making banana bread. Watch this space!

Oh, Corona…

I know, I know. You must be so very sick of hearing about the damn Corona Virus strain, Covid-19, by now.

Did you know that coronaviruses have been around for decades? Approximately 30% of common colds are caused by a strain of coronavirus. It is not new – SARS was also a separate strain. This strain is Covid-19, and, so far, it’s turning out to be a little bit more severe than people originally thought.

As I’m sure you’ve realised, we’re still stuck in the U.K. With CV19 causing countries, including South Africa, to close their borders, we’re fully expecting to still be here until at least May. Part of the worry about schooling has been taken away, as there are no longer schools in operation anywhere we want to be, but that now leaves us wondering how, exactly, to keep two kids entertained for the next few weeks without museums or soft play centres!

Thankfully, we’ve become almost dab hands at the homeschooling game. I’ll write a whole different post on our favourite activities for children. We’ve found quite a few things we enjoy doing. This post is just about one.

We have fallen in love with country walks. I know, that sounds weird – we’ve always been big walkers. Our dogs get walked daily, when we’re home, and I take them on at least one big trek per week.

Since we’ve been here, however, Stevie has decided her favourite place is out in nature. This is fantastic for all of us – well, apart from Elia, who is decidedly more of an indoor type of person. And we are incredibly lucky: short of being home, my in-laws’ house is definitely the best place to be quarantined. We are surrounded by vast acres of Yorkshire countryside and national park glory. I’m sure it’ll get stifling, eventually, but for now we’re fully enjoying our surroundings. Stay safe, everyone!

Stuck in a Cold, Intermittently Snowy Rut

I know, I know. I restarted my blog with a single post in December, then vanished off the face of the earth.

We travelled to England for our every-other-year (what do we call that? Is it biannual? Biennial? Answers on a postcard/in the comments pretty please) Christmas holiday, and I decided to leave my blog until we returned – hopefully, with a lovely, full list of things to blog about.

Well, things never seem to go how you want them to, do they. Oh, sure, I’ve got a fantastical long list of blog subjects (which I will post in the upcoming weeks, I assure you), but I haven’t been able to sit on my sofa and talk about them, just yet. Why, you may ask?

Well, because we’re still stuck here. Without going into too much detail, we’re playing a waiting game with South African home affairs, and we can’t go home just yet. We don’t even know when we will be able to – nobody can tell us.

My mother in law (retired primary school teacher) is homeschooling Stevie. We are trying to keep them outside, playing, for the rest of the day, but it’s very difficult. They constantly want to return home, as do we. We miss our dogs! Stevie asks at least once a day, when she can go to big school (she’s supposed to have started Crawford 3 weeks ago).

This is not a post to moan or complain – just an information post, for those who may have assumed I’d vanished. We’re still here; we’re still just about hanging on. Our sanity is just about still intact. But, my word, I have never known homesickness like this!

Sum Ting Fresh

If you’re a follower on Instagram, you may have noticed my now-monthly obsession with fried chicken. A specific fried chicken, in fact, from local food-truck-turned-restaurant Sum Ting Fresh.

Started in 2012 by Hezron Louw and Andrew Leeuw as a loose idea of a food truck, they opened their restaurant in trendy Norwood in 2016.

I first tried the wonder which is their Gua Bao in early 2017 at the St. John’s Rugby Fest. I was on the lookout for something gluten free for my sister, and found these beautiful little fluffy buns of joy. A few weeks later, we went to Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein for the first time, and found them again. I was hooked. Pete took a bit longer to come around, but we soon found ourselves making excuses, on Saturday mornings, to drive into town for our fried chicken fix.

At the end of 2017, when I was 8 months pregnant, that same sister got married in Hartebeesport, the most beautiful location an hour from Johannesburg. The day after their wedding, guess who did the catering? Yup, the one and only Sum Ting Fresh popped up again. Imagine my pregnant excitement? I think I ordered 2 portions of Gua Bao.

Then, the Bedfordview Night Market came to town. On the last Friday of every month, Jeppe Quondam, a local sports centre, allows the market to take over their cricket pitch. After a couple of months, Sum Ting Fresh moved in. Well, that was us happy forever. We could have our date nights in between, at their Norwood location, and, once a month, we could sit outside in the lovely evening air and enjoy our chicken while the kids go crazy on the bouncy castles.

The Norwood cafe is now closed for renovation, until further notice. We are exceptionally thankful for the Night Market, especially as we are heading to the U.K. for the next 7 weeks. We managed to get our final Sum Ting Fresh fix for the year, last night! I wonder if it’ll tide us over long enough, until we’re back in the lovely, hot, African summer sun?

Hello, Old Friend

It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? If anyone is interested in a very long story, read on. If not, there’ll be a TL;DR at the bottom for you.

Shortly after my last blog post (we never did win that World Cup, after all) I decided I was going to focus wholly on my modelling, and take a step back from the blog. All went well for a while, until I had an 8 day stint in London which, well, didn’t go quite so well. It was decided, mutually, that, since I would need to spend infinitely more time overseas than I already was doing, I would take a giant leap back from the European modelling circuit.

Why didn’t I start my blog back up then, you may ask? Well, because I’ve been working on a couple of novels, and to be quite frank this year has been a big, hard adjustment for us all. I’ll dedicate a whole post to that in the new year, once I’ve got the festive season out of the way.

You may now be wondering, why have I not changed the name of my blog? Well, I still have representation here in Soutb Africa, and over in Germany. And I still do bits and pieces, here and there. Expect a video, starring both me and Pete, to come soon, and I’ll share mine and Stevie’s full shoot and cover story for Your Family in the next few days.

TL;DR I’ve taken a step back from modelling and will be restarting my blog ASAP

Welcome back to the wonderful, chaotic world of Mumming and Modelling. Hope you enjoy it as much as last time!

PS – I chopped off my hair, by the way!

A Perfect Tuesday Morning

We’ve had a bit of a manic week and weekend. Most of it good – we had plenty of nice parties and events to go to at the weekend, plus my sister (Auntie Georgia, cheetah sister) and her man were in town, so we had lots of family time. But Cleo, our big dog, got a haematoma in her ear which has now become infected, and Stevie and Elia both decided to shout at me on Saturday – all morning – so it’s been just a bit much.

So, this morning, I woke up with the sudden realization that we have to hurry up with Elia’s passport paperwork (thank god we called to sort that out yesterday) – and this made me realise just how close I am to going back to work. Back to travelling and being away from my family.

I decided I’d get up and do the morning again this morning, to have some quality time with the two of them – and this happened…

What a way to start a Tuesday morning! We read books and watched Paw Patrol and snuggled until school time. It really cheered me up, so I thought I’d share it. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Boredom and After School Activities

A piece of writing went viral last week on the problem with organising your toddler’s day after they’ve finished school.

Stevie’s preferred after-school activity.

And it made me think.

Right now, with Elia so small and needy, it’s easy to organise every last aspect of Stevie’s life, to keep her occupied whilst I’m busy with Elia. But what if I’m giving her too much to do? A few days ago, Pete and I were busy and she brought her Duplo brick through to the lounge and happily played with them for hours. On other days, she’ll ask to paint or play with her Play-Doh. And, yes, at times she’ll want all of my attention, and sometimes have a breakdown if she doesn’t get it – but, surely, that’s a really important part of life for her to learn?

Oh hi, Rome!

I used to think I was doing her a favour when I organised things for her to do. But, having watched her deal with her own boredom by requesting to go in the pool, or play hide and seek, or help Daddy around the house, I can see that by letting her decide what she wants to do, I’m giving her a really important responsibility to control her own fun. In effect, she’s teaching herself a valuable resource for later life. So, from now on, she can decide what she wants to do on an afternoon, if possible (but not Tuesdays – horse riding is her one requested hobby, so that’s staying). Let’s see how it goes…

The Ideal

I’m going to share my idea of paradise. Please share yours, too…

In paradise, we would live in a log-and-brick house out in the bush (its paradise, okay – the animals are all there but miraculously we only see them when it’s convenient, and there are no accidents… or maybe we’ve got a fence around paradise, for the realists in here) with a thatched roof that really keeps that thatch smell. It’s constantly Spring, and in front of the house are two constantly flowering jacarandas.

My children don’t go to school full days ever – the school comes to them for four hours, but mainly for social skills. The teacher is never angry (she disciplines, but never out of anger) – she is a modern day Mary Poppins, and children come with her to learn in our home. They never leave a mess behind, and I spend those four hours in the bath, and doing yoga, and playing with my dogs in the shade. We spend the rest of the day outside, making mud pies, running naked in the sun, paddling in creeks and dams, playing hopscotch or sorting flowers into water for perfume. It very rarely rains, but when it does it’s never cold, and we use the rarely-used television for movies only.

The children go to bed when they’re tired, after bathing outside in the fresh air, with stories galore. Then Mummy and Daddy sit and drink wine (Mummy) and smoke (Daddy) and even have sex whenever we want to (unscheduled – now there’s an idea!). The stars always shine and the cicadas and crickets always sing. As Mummy starts to drift off, the evening comes to a close and I go to bed in our giant, comfy wonder bed, to start all over again tomorrow. Maybe there will be fresh eggs for breakfast (this is paradise, there are always fresh eggs when we need them, our chickens are that good) to make egg and feta and spinach and tomato on the toast. And maybe we’ll see the animals, and follow a dung beetle rolling his poo happily. And maybe we won’t get sunburn, and maybe there’ll be no bickering or misbehaving…

And maybe, tonight, I’ll dream of this little paradise. But for now, this life will do just fine.