The other day on Twitter there was discussion about bookshelves, and various folk I know posted "shelfies".  I added my own shelfie, but the whole discussion got me looking more closely at some of the books in our bookcases.  One book, larger than the others, stuck out slightly because of its size.


I'm not sure how it found itself in amongst the gardening books but pulled out of the shelf, the book is very plain, almost boring looking:


The book is over 32 years old, and inside it holds the story of our honeymoon.  Not in written word, but it is simply filled with receipts from places we visited, and the route that we took:


Our honeymoon began in Cape Town, and 5864km later (about 3600 miles) we ended back in Cape Town, having travelled almost the full length of South Africa.  We had to plan the trip very carefully as there were petrol restrictions at the time in South Africa, and we had to ensure that we didn't get caught out, so we kept close track of fuel consumption, and miles between destinations, to ensure we would always get to where we were hoping to.  It is hard to believe our faithful little van which we just called "The Bakkie" saw us through so many miles.  We had kitted out the back with all the essentials for sleeping in it if we needed to, but the need never arose.


The book brought back so many memories of places we visited on our trip, including The Cango Caves close to Oudtshoorn.   This was how I looked after climbing and crawling our way through the caves - still with camera (an OM1) in hand though I see!  I still have that camera.


Many of the places where we spent a night were reflected in the receipts recorded in the book:


I've tried looking up the places were we stayed, but many of them no longer exist, or have changed their name.  But one still exists, The Panorama Ruskamp, although it is now called Panorama View Chalets.  Something which South Africa always got right was the ability to book self catering accommodation by the night - you don't have to book a week at a time.  This means you can tour around the country under your own steam and not be tied to one place for a full week.   When we booked our little house for one night, it cost us R12.72 which, with today's conversion rate, is about 73 pence.  To rent a bungalow there today costs a little more, but at about £45 per night it is still excellent value, especially given the views:


Opting for self catering made for a cheap trip, and meant I was able to practice my pretty well non existent cooking skills!:


There were so many highlights to our trip.  How could I forget panning for gold at Pilgrims Rest, or talking to the Talking Tree in the Sabi Forestry Museum, or reading the "house rules" at one place where we stayed where bikinis were not allowed in the swimming pool!  However two events do stand out.  The first was our stay at Londolozi Game Reserve, a private game reserve that borders the Kruger National Park.  We were so fortunate to be able to spend a few nights here, and our experiences on the reserve and the animals we saw will never be forgotten.  All our photographs from those days were 35mm slides, and are now scratched and a little worn, but you can still visualise how close we were able to get to the animals in our open land rover:


We were treated to fantastic food (I seem to remember I ate warthog .....) around the campfire each night inside a boma:


and in the morning I remember being pretty shocked at seeing lion paw prints right outside our little rondavel.  They had warned us not to leave our rondavels at night and they were not kidding!

The second amazing event on our honeymoon was the birth of my nephew, Martin.  We were making our way further and further north to spend some time with my sister and her husband up near Louis Trichardt where they lived and worked at Elim Hospital, and we arrived to find my sister had gone into labour, and a few hours after our arrival Martin was born.

[caption id="attachment_7734" align="aligncenter" width="706"]RC-202159-18082014 Martin as a babe in arms[/caption]

Martin and his wife, Avery, visited us last year soon after their wedding, and are now proud parents themselves.

[caption id="attachment_7741" align="aligncenter" width="640"]RC-211403-18082014 Martin and Avery - Clachtoll 2013[/caption]

Astonishing how a simple conversation on Twitter about book shelves sent me down this particular memory lane.