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Holiday With Kids: Affordable Flight and Human Origin

Issue no.: 33

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angus@africanstorybook.com

So December’s approaching yet again. A little quicker than last year, which was already a little quicker than the 12 months before and so-on and so-on.

 


lizard in Peters hand

That's what I was thinking last year, in about August. Being a single dad, I was thinking this would leave me four months in which to arrange with my son's mother what has become the annual Cape Town – Johannesburg flight to see our families.

Such is the life of millions of single parents around the world.



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Parenting on our own we can't help but observe how the lives of our contemporaries evolve, the change in the circumstances of respective friends; if not Fynn's mates' going to the proverbial family holiday house 'at Kenton-on-Sea or Plett', my now-global school friends are taking their kids to Europe and the US for skiing holidays, while our horizons by circumstance don't stretch much beyond our shrinking families and Johannesburg. And I'm ok with that.


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The relative peace of Joburg is welcome. The children spending quality time with their fast-ageing and generally immobile granny is also pretty key, to nurture their sense of paternal family.

 
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There's something calming in the Christmas quiet of Jo'burg, driving avenues lined with the trees of my childhood (the Joburg-Pretoria conurbation represents the world's largest urban 'forest') and spending time surrounded by childhood memories. And Fynn especially loves being with his aunt and cousin.

But before booking the tickets, the pressure of fitting in a little 'real' holiday made itself felt. I was aware that most of his school mates would be going to the beach, and anyway, few holidays can be better for a child - something for once other than Jo’burg. Which sent me off exploring both options; combining a little beach with Christmas in Joburg.


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I’d been meaning to visit a friend at his Sandpiper Cottages in Boggomsbaai (bay), outside Mossel Bay on the southern Cape coast.

To make it sound more alluring, I could mention that Boggomsbaai is a nature conservancy, and that it is around the coastal corner from Pinnacle Point, which houses a collection of live archaeological digs, among them cave 13B; in here are the first examples of modern man learning to fish, honing tools and using ochre for decorating purposes.

 

But it was the size of cave 13B that I knew would interest Fynn. Plus the restricted-access, stepped walk down a relative cliff-face to get there, with waves slapping the rocks below.

So we needed to get to Johannesburg and George (the nearest airport to Mossel Bay) from Cape Town. The only airline I found flying to both without asking an exorbitant price was that relative new entrant to the low-cost runway, FlySafair. With legal fees these days ever-present in my mind, and knowing the two-day drive would rob us of half Fynn’s time with his family, I contacted the airline and offered a true editorial – critiquing the flight in exchange for our tickets. They said yes, and this is the way it was.

Point of Human Origin Tours

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lizard in Peters hand

I’d always known it in my younger days as Safair, the commercial arm of South African Airways, which, however complex and Machiavellian the goings-on at our national airline, meant it wouldn't be a fly-by-night.

The decision was an easy one; a five-hour drive to George would be fun, as Fynn's aunt and cousin had meanwhile decided to join us for three days. This meant we could drive up together, stopping for legendary pies at the Blue Crane stall on the N2 (just before the town of Heidelberg) and playing the silly games that families do on long drives. The sort of thing we don't get to do.

Plus, if I remember correctly, it beat the other low-cost offerings by roughly R300 per flight. Most importantly though, driving would’ve stolen two days of four with his family.

 
lizard in Peters hand

As it happens the flight was good, in what looked to me like a Boeing 737 maybe two years old. The food on offer was the standard low-cost offering of a refreshments cart being pushed up and down the aisle (although I prefer to make our food at home, in a possibly vain attempt at demonstrating that we don’t have to buy everything!


They even had a kiddies box which we didn't end up buying (R60), as when he wasn’t playing with his Star Wars lego troopers I would read to him, and he played a little on the iPad.

Nevertheless, the box had contents suitable for children from 3 to about 9, colouring and drawing games included, giving them the option to be creative. So all was good, if (or when) I forget his or his sister’s toys, I know they’ll have me covered. For part of the trip anyway.


lizard in Peters hand

 

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