We’re back in Jo’burg after a stunning week in Umhlanga; I can say with confidence that this has been the best week of my life (so far). However, I have no doubt that I’m still going to experience many more ‘best weeks’.

You will recall from last week’s blog that I was writing to you from the Umhlanga Sands Hotel, a day into our holiday. Well the week that ensued left me with nothing but the fondest of fond memories of my first holiday, which I will now share with you. In true holiday mode, Monday started off nice and leisurely. As is the practice back home, Dad took charge of my morning cares and fed me my breakfast. We confined ourselves to the back bedroom so that we wouldn’t wake Mom. After breakfast some hard play was the order of the day, and then I settled in for my morning snooze. Sometime later, as I started stirring from my snooze, I could see things being packed for the day’s activities. The day would be dedicated to basking around the hotel pool.

Once downstairs the friendly hotel staff organised loungers and mattresses for us, as we settled in. Pretty soon drinks orders were placed and we all sat back and relaxed, reflecting that this was the perfect life. Tammy and Granny came down to join us as well, and soon afterward Dad and I were in the pool. Being autumn already the water was a little on the chilly side, but Dad and I persevered and we had a great swim together, first in the kid’s splash pool, and then we headed to the open water (i.e. the deep grown-up section of the pool). My little lower lip chattered in the cold, but I was having a whale of a time. Dad would drag me around the pool in my swimming ring. Every now and then he would go so fast that the water would splash in my face, but I didn’t mind. All too soon it was time to get out of the water, and I was handed to Mom who was ready with a nice big fluffy towel. She rubbed me up and down to dry me and warm my little body. After a change into dry clothes the rest of the time at the pool was spent playing with Tammy.

That evening Granny baby sat me while Mom and Dad went down stairs for dinner. Apparently after dinner they took a walk to the lighthouse and out onto the jetty. On their way back they got caught in a drizzle, so by the time they relieved Granny of babysitting duty they were soak through.

Tuesday morning, during my morning snooze, Mom and Dad spotted dolphins out at sea. I was so disappointed that I was asleep at the time, but I figured I’ll get another chance to see them later in the week. I could tell from the items being packed today that we were going to be spending the day on the beach. I was so excited. I love the beach and the sea. Pretty soon, with Dad looking like a pack-horse, we headed sea-ward. After a brisk walk a suitable spot was identified and Dad set up my little UV protection tent. I was seated in the tent, but instantaneously I managed to reach the tent entrance and dig my hands deep into the wonderfully fine and warm sand. Before you could say ‘Mexican with swine-flu’ I was covered in sea-sand; and I loved it! The rest of the day on the beach was spent playing in the sand, throwing Frisbees about, dipping our feet in the sea and generally just having a superbly tranquil time on the beach. Dad and Tammy waded out to the second sand bank and splashed about in the waves. From my vantage point on the beach I could see them having a wonderful time ducking under the enormous waves, each one popping up quickly to see if the other had had the misfortune of being washed back to shore by the strong currents.

In the afternoon we all went for a walk into the village, where we bought some essential groceries (i.e. Woolies goodies). At a curio shop we found some wonderful animal skin African drums; after I tested them I showed Dad the one I wanted. I am now the proud owner of my own drum – I can’t wait to go back to my music lessons next week and show off my drum to everyone.

Back at the hotel, we spotted Aunty Kim and Ronnie near the pool deck. We joined them for some drinks, and pretty soon Granny, Tammy and Ryan were there too. Dad and Ronnie spent over an hour playing backgammon, with Dad on a losing streak. The hotel had organised a “bring ‘n braai” for the evening, which Aunty Kim and family were going to partake in. Mom and Dad, not being big on braai’ing, opted out of the invite. Instead we all headed down to the volley ball court where, believe it or not, a drumming event had been arranged. It had already started, so there was no time for me to head back to our room to collect my new drum, so I settled for one of the hotel’s loan drums. All the kiddies sat in a circle and we drummed to our heart’s content. The drumming was spiced up with some ‘musical chairs’ type games, and as the kids ran around the circle of drummers we drummed even harder and louder. When it was my turn to run, Dad swept me up and off we went – I absolutely loved it. Being the youngest drummer I sadly couldn’t stay to the end, as my dinner and bath time were looming on the nearby horizon. Tammy gracefully took over my spot in the drummer’s circle. We passed the “bring ‘n braai” on our way back to the hotel lobby, and I couldn’t really understand Mom and Dad not being great fans of braai’ing, as the aroma of charring meat was mouth-watering.

Wednesday heralded brilliant weather once again, so off to the beach we headed. Again Dad expertly set up my UV protection tent and I sat in the shade at the entrance to the tent playing in the sand. I began to get bored with playing in the sand, so Dad and I headed down to the shore. First Dad sat on the shore with me on his lap and we let the small waves that had dissipated their energy wash over us. As the tide was coming in, these little waves started becoming stronger and stronger, and eventually one of the waves spun Dad around and we were both facing the beach, and no longer the horizon. This was our cue to try a different tactic, so Dad picked me up and we headed into deeper water. I was thrilled. The water was above Dad’s kneecaps and as the waves came driving to the shore they splashed both of us from head to toe as they struck his legs. When the waves had dispersed, Dad would dip me into the sea, amidst roars of laughter emanating from me.

Back on the beach, Mommy took over holding me on the shore, with feet and legs in the water. Dad waded somewhat deeper into the water and video filmed me as the little waves crashed about me and splashed me in my face. I squealed with laughter! I’m hoping my Dad will soon learn how to edit DVD’s and upload them onto my blog (can anyone offer him any advice?). Granny and Tammy joined us a little later, and off we all went to the shore again for me to show-off to them how much I enjoyed the sea. Afterward Mommy and Granny opted to for a walk along the beach, and left me in my Dad’s charge. Tammy was undecided as to whether she should stay with me and Dad, or walk with Mommy and Granny, so she flipped a coin, at Dad’s suggestion. Heads – off on the walk she went.

Dad and I chilled on the beach watching the horizon. I then decided to try my crawling attempts once more, as I know Mom and Dad are eager for me to start becoming mobile. I lay on my tummy in the sand and realised that this was the perfect support my little body needed to get into a crawling motion. The soft sand gave way under my tummy where my MIC-Key is and sank into the soft sand, thus not sticking into my tummy uncomfortably. Next with my arms and legs I began the crawling motion, and believe it or not, it worked!!! Dad and I were thrilled. We understood that this was not a ‘normal crawl’ but rather a ‘quasi-crawl’ as my abdomen was being supported by the sand. Dad whipped out the video camera and I tried again, but alas, I was already tired from the first attempt. Having been lying on my back for the first 4 months of my life has really compromised the strength in my arms and legs, so these activities are taxing for me.

Next I opted for my midday snooze – it was incredible falling asleep right on the beach, with the waves crashing onto the shore only a few metres away. When I woke up, Mommy, Granny and Tammy were back from their walk and we recited with the excitement my first quasi-crawl to them. They too were thrilled. To commemorate my first holiday at the sea, Tammy found a handful of shells for me to keep during their walk. Dad filled a small packet with sea sand which Mom was going to use in my scrapbook to also denote my first holiday at the sea.

Back at the hotel room Dad bathed me for almost half an hour to try and get all the sea sand off me. After my midday bath, which was a somewhat new experience for me, we all got out our beach clothes and got into shorts and t-shirts, as we were heading into Durban for the afternoon to visit someone called Gambit. Mom and Dad were really excited at this prospect; I was yet to discover who Gambit is.

Once in Durban we followed the directional signs to Ushaka Marine World. I could the feel excitement welling up in me; we were going to the ocean park to see fish, sharks, dolphins, seals and other interesting sea creatures. Walking through the Ushaka Village Walk, en route to the Marine World, we first stopped in at a Milky Lane where I had a small feed and something to drink, while Mom and Dad had ice cream topped waffles. Soon afterward we were in the ocean park and I was in awe of the enormous fish that were on display there. As we moved from one observation window to another I was amazed to see such variety and difference between the various types of marine life. There were little creatures and big creatures, there were snake like creatures and spiky creatures, there were shelled creatures and lots of scaly creatures, there were dull creatures and exquisitely colourful creatures. Some of the more memorable creatures that we watched were the sharks, who effortlessly floated by, their jagged teeth protruding from their mouths and their beady little eyes taking in every detail around them. Next we spotted enormous sea turtles, easily bearing the burden of their huge heavy shells. The stingrays were beautiful as the glided elegantly through the clear water. The stone fish looked remarkably grumpy and truly unhappy with life – I guess that happens when you so closely resemble a stone! I thought the seahorses were incredible, moving forward with a sharp downward flick of their bony tails. After all these wondrous creatures we headed to the dolphin stadium.

At the dolphin stadium we selected a seat right in the front row where we could observe the dolphins first hand. After some announcements and traditional stories about the dolphins four of them appeared, leaping skyward out of the water. I was astounded at the combination of strength and gracefulness that they displayed. The four dolphins whizzed around the pool doing all sorts of tricks, such as jumping side-by-side, then by-directional, followed by corkscrews through the air and lastly flopping down close to the stadium seats in an attempt to splash the spectators. Lastly, one of the dolphins balanced a huge ball on its nose before thrusting it high into the sky. Amidst enormous applause the dolphins were given snacks of fish.

Next Gambit made an entrance! He is gorgeous! I now know why Mom and Dad were so excited to see him. He is huge and majestic, with a really wise and friendly looking face. Apparently he is the oldest and largest performing dolphin in the world, weighing in at 517kgs. Later this year he turns 37 years old, and to boot, he shares his birthday with Madiba (Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela) on 18 July. Not only did Gambit jump and perform for us, but he also chatted to the audience! Everyone was thrilled, and the applause was overwhelming.

On Thursday, after a very late breakfast, we decided to head up to the Gateway Theatre of Shopping to mull around the stores. I was truly impressed at the magnitude of this shopping centre; mainstream stores were interspersed with stunning little boutiques and brand-name stores. We walked the entire length upstairs, and then headed down the entire length downstairs, stopping often to look into shops and visiting some of the more interesting stores on our meander. Throughout the walk, and admittedly on previous days already, Dad had been complaining of lower backache. To further insult injury, he tripped over my baby bag two evenings previously and landed on one of my baby bottles, which acted as a roller under his feet, resulting in his landing in a heap on the ground. It was for this reason that we decided to cut short our visit of the Gateway and head to the nearby Umhlanga Netcare Hospital to have it checked out. The staff there were incredibly friendly and professional, and immediately got to the job of admitting Dad as an out-patient to treat and examine him. All of us are very familiar with hospital procedures and triage rooms that it was in a jiffy that Dad was on a bed. The examining doctor opted to put Dad on a drip for pain management and inflammation, as well as for nausea, as the drip can make one feel unwell. He also suggested x-rays to ensure there wasn’t any major damage. So the remainder of the afternoon was spent with Dad lying in a hospital bed on a drip, trying to compete with me and the numerous drips I’ve had during my lifetime. I just said to Dad, nice try, but you got a long way to go to match me. As this was going to be quite a time consuming exercise, Mom and I headed back to the hotel where I would be put in Granny’s care to feed and bath me. Later that evening Mom and Dad arrived back home, with Dad moving a lot more comfortably, clutching a bag of drugs and an envelope of x-ray reports. I suspect he’ll be taking those to Dr Sonja without delay once he’s back home, as he’ll need more than drugs to sort out his back. Owing to the hectic doses of drugs Dad was quite lethargic in the evening, so it turned out to be a family TV night in the hotel room.

Friday morning dolphins were sighted in the distance again, and this time Dad managed to capture pictures and video of them. Amongst the adult dolphins were two playful calves which kept jumping out the water. Dad’s timing was on target as he snapped a photo of the baby dolphin flying through the air (see below). Before heading down to the beach, Dad set up my new train-set which we bought at Gateway the day before. We played with it for quite a while before we headed to the beach for the last time during our holiday. After the beach we headed back to the hotel where we settled in at M&A for some leisurely pizza and pasta, and some aimless chatter. In the evening we invited Granny to join us for dinner at the Spur in the hotel lobby. It was an awesome dinner, but we also were a little sad that we knew the next morning we would have to pack our bags and head back home to Jo’burg.

There was much activity in the room on Saturday morning as all our belongings were gathered up from around the room and packed away. After all the bags were ready to roll, Dad called a porter and our luggage was taken to the car. I had one final snooze in the room, after which we headed downstairs to meet up with Granny and Tammy. We all had breakfast together and then we bid farewell to Tammy. Granny had asked to travel back with us, so Granny would be keeping me company in the back of the car. I was hoping Tammy would also travel back with us, but her Mom wasn’t too keen, so Tammy travelled back with Aunty Kim, Ruan and Ronnie.

Back home everything was in order, as our house-sitter Rudy had done a great job of looking after the house and our pets. Jake was first to great us at the gate, followed by Roxy. Their tails waged so hard that it looked like they would snap off. Shatzi meowed from the top of the driveway where tickles were immediately administered. Faithful old Maple waited in the passage, and purred his approval at our return. Only Sonic hadn’t made an appearance as yet. As Mom and Dad unpacked the car they called for Sonic, and she appeared at the pinnacle of the house roof meowing at the top of her voice. She rapidly made her way down the side of the house, jumping from eave to eave to window sill and then onto the ground from where she ran to Mom and Dad for loves and tickles. The whole family was back together again.

Sunday proved to be an incredibly lethargic day, with all of us staying indoors and in our pyjamas the entire day. It was quite a contrast from last seven days that were filled with events and activities non-stop. I guess there’s nothing wrong with a bit of a post-holiday rest. Also Dad has to go back to the glum salt-mines tomorrow, so I guess he needs to build up some strength and motivation to face work!

Tomorrow Mom and I are heading back to Unitas, as Prof Fourie wants to meet with us to discuss the micro-catheter that is still running through my body. I guess its pretty serious as his offices called on Thursday to see us on the next working day, which is tomorrow (as Friday was Worker’s Day, or May Day as it was traditionally known as in Europe). So going to bed tonight I am feeling somewhat nervous, and I know Mom and Dad are also feeling great trepidation about this meeting. I will let you know soonest what the outcome of this meeting is.

That’s all for tonight, enjoy your week ahead.

Love and kisses,


Figure 1 Giggles at the pool

Figure 2 Loving my first holiday

Figure 3 Happiness

Figure 4 Our hotel – Umhlanga Sands

Figure 5 Tammy enjoys the pool deck with us

Figure 6 Dad and I share giggles

Figure 7 Cousin Tammy

Figure 8 Enjoying a dip

Figure 9 Gone in deep

Figure 10 Warming up after the cool swim

Figure 11 Tammy and I at the pool

Figure 12 Squinting in the sun

Figure 13 Drumming with the kids

Figure 14 Snuggled up with Mom – going back to our room

Figure 15 Ready to hit the beach, in my outfit from Grosstante Leni in Germany

Figure 16 Chilling in my tent

Figure 17 My very own footprints in the sand

Figure 18 Giggles in the waves

Figure 19 Beach smiles

Figure 20 Waving to a shark

Figure 21 The Dude!

Figure 22 A Ray

Figure 23 Little monster!

Figure 24 Happy dolphins

Figure 25 Chatting to the spectators

Figure 26 Gambit says hello!

Figure 27 Thirty-six years old and still going strong! Gambit rules!

Figure 28 Playing in the spray

Figure 29 Snoozing bunny

Figure 30 Dad on a drip in hospital on holiday

Figure 31 A calf jumps out the sea for the camera

Figure 32 Dad and I playing with my new train

Figure 33 Snoozes on the beach

Figure 34 Hanging out at M&A

Figure 35 Sweetening up the place

Figure 36 Getting ready for 2010

Figure 37 My last snooze on holiday

Figure 38 Inspecting the under carriage of my train

2 Comments on Best Week of My Life

  1. Claudi says:

    It looks like you had a wonderful time! I hope it goes well with the docter…

    Love Claudi 🙂

  2. Lisle says:

    Jarrod, I find it difficult not to think about your last blog posting, so I decided to cheer myself up and re-read this one. It looks like you had a BRILLIANT time, what fun, I love your floating doughnut!
    I can’t wait to see your holiday pics in years to come….if you could just keep your “old man” out of the hospital…..
    All the best for next week

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