Merry Christmas, everyone!..Hope you are having a fantastic day, making memories…

Our dear friends, Kathy and Don from Hawaii (and Marloth Park), sent us this beautiful Christmas arrangement when they knew we didn’t have decorations for our newest holiday home.

We don’t buy a Christmas tree. We don’t have any Christmas decorations. We don’t send or receive Christmas cards other than thoughtful wishes on Facebook and through email from our many readers worldwide.

But, over the past several years, we have received a solitary Christmas card, which at times required a lot of effort to get to us from our dear friends Kathy and Don, whom we met ten years ago on Christmas Eve in Marloth Park. We may have told this story a few times in the past. But today, it was especially meaningful for us to tell it one more time for our newer readers who may not have seen it.

We arrived in Marloth Park for the first time in early December 2013. At that time, rental cars were outrageously expensive, so during those three months, we used the services of a driver, Okey Dokey, who became a precious friend to us as well. She was able to take us everywhere we needed to go for a reasonable cost, and we spent a lot of time with her.

Early on in our visit to Marloth Park, Leon, who has since become dear friends with his partner Dawn, owners of Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, picked us up at our holiday home, the Hornbill house, to take us on a game drive-through Marloth Park, ending at their restaurant where we had a spectacular dinner and made more friends.

Lynne and Mick were seated outdoors on the veranda, and Leon made the effort to introduce us to this lovely couple from the island of Jersey, UK. The four of us hit it off, so much so that they drove us back to the house later that night. They told us they’d connect us with dear friends Kathy and Don, who have a beautiful house in Marloth Park overlooking the Crocodile River.

We didn’t meet Kathy and Don until Christmas Eve, 2013, when they invited us to dinner at their home, never having met us. How brave they were to include us at their lovely Christmas Eve dinner when they’d never met us! With no plans of our own, we were honored to be invited.

As soon as we met Kathy and Don, I suspected we’d be friends for a long time. Little did we know at that time the depth of this friendship that has grown and endured over the past ten years. We have been blessed to make many close friends in Marloth Park over the years. If you are reading this, you know who you are and how much you mean to us.

Last week, while we were seated on the sofa, as I was preparing a post and Tom was watching football on his laptop, we heard a light tap on the door to our condo. I jumped up to see who was there to find the gorgeous Christmas arrangement as shown in today’s main photo.

We both were shocked to receive such a surprise and couldn’t imagine who it was from. It only took a moment to read the attached card to realize it was from Kathy and Don. My heart did a flip-flop with sheer delight. Only a few days earlier, when Kathy and I chatted on the phone (from their home in Hawaii), I mentioned that we had no decorations for Christmas.

We could hardly haul decorations around the world with us or spend money on a single year’s use of decorations. Years ago, Tom and I resigned ourselves that we’d never decorate as long as we were traveling. That may change if and when we ever stop traveling, but right now, we don’t see that in our immediate future.

That beautiful arrangement has meant so much to us, a reminder of the holiday season right before our eyes. In some ways, it looks like a Christmas tree. We thank our friends for their thoughtfulness, their friendship, and the heartwarming memories we’ve made together throughout the years.

We thank Kathy, Don, and all of our precious friends, readers, and family members for the joy they’ve brought into our lives throughout the years as we look to the future with love, hope, and determination for more amazing memories and adventures.

Merry Christmas!

Photo from ten years ago today, December 25, 2013:

Ten years ago today, with years of travel ahead of us, we posted this quote from Robert Frost, reminding us of what was yet to come. For more, please click here.

Part 3…Photos of “things” in our holiday home…Outdoors, that is!…

We like the message but we do have WiFi and…we do talk to each other.

It’s a cool windy day, heavily overcast. We’re bundled up in warm clothes but it’s unlikely we’ll be sitting outdoors this evening. Many of the animals are hunkered down when they don’t seem to feel comfortable in the wind. A sweet little female duiker, whom we’ve named Delilah, who usually hangs out with her partner, Derek, ran off when a huge gust of wind startled her.

We look forward to spring when frogs will occupy such masks and sit looking out at the world through one of the eyes or mouth holes. Very funny.

Even Lollie is tucked away somewhere when we’ve only seen her for a few minutes earlier this morning. Several Big Daddies have visited and devoured the tops from the celery and outer leaves of the lettuce, which I cleaned for tonight’s salad. It’s funny they love the bitter celery tops.

We use this high-quality gas braai no less than three times a week, if not more. Tonight, we’ll be cooking a silverside roast.

We have celery in our dinner salad daily, along with purple onions, grape tomatoes, and crispy lettuce. I make an easy sour cream dressing we toss before serving it. I chop the vegetables daily and feed the scraps to the kudus and bushbucks, who love veggie chips. The warthogs don’t seem to like any leftovers other than carrots. They are more interested in higher carb vegetables which we don’t eat.

A pot with succulents is located on the edge of the veranda. We water it occasionally when it hasn’t rained.

Last night, we finished The Godfather II and III and loved every moment of these good movies. Now, we’ll move on to other shows to stream at night. If you have any suggestions for newer series, please send them our way. We’ve already watched many of the popular series that were available during the pandemic.  We’re now looking at the newer series that have been released since then.

Louise and Danie provide firewood for the braai (firepit). We have yet to make a fire but will do so soon.

Our simple lives of good food, wildlife watching and interacting, good music, good movies and TV series to stream, laughter, and fun among ourselves and others. It couldn’t be more pleasant. But, others often ask if we’d be happier in a home of our own, whether abroad or in the US.

Zoom in to see these stone benches by the braai, the perfect place to sit when there’s a bonfire.

Our answer is always the same, as long as we are healthy enough to move at our discretion to anywhere we choose outside the US, that provides us with enough adventure and stimulation, we will continue to strive to travel the world. As some new world travelers do for the first few years, the concept of being on the move all the time is unappealing to us.

Now that it’s winter, we’ll certainly use this excellent outdoor heater. We’ve already used it a few times on very chilly evenings.

Remember the number of flights, hotels, and venues we experienced going to the US over a month ago? Of course, it was more difficult having Covid most of the time, but even so, we’ve always preferred to live in a country for four months or more. We are kind of going overboard now, staying in South Africa for so long. Still, the pandemic has taught us a few lessons about losing money from canceled bookings, exposure to the virus, and the difficulty of travel until things improve.

A little hand-carved wooden table in the shape of an elephant.

When that happens, we’ll be excited to explore more. But, we certainly have some booked adventures on the horizon, including our upcoming trip in less than two months to Zambia and Botswana and, of course, the exciting 42-night cruise from Athens to Cape Town beginning in only a little over four months.

I couldn’t recall if we’d already posted a photo of our outdoor refrigerator, secured by a monkey-proof handle and latch. Monkeys are clever, but they can’t figure this one out.

Indeed, these adventures are more than we’d ever considered in our own lives. But, the magic of our current daily lives, living in the bush, is compelling enough in itself. After all, people from all over the world come to Marloth Park for their one big holiday/vacation of the year, and we are blessed to be here, reveling in the wonders of the bush, its wildlife, its unusual experiences, and its people. All magical.

A hand-crafted outdoor light. A beaded gecko adorns it.

Since I began today’s post, it’s started raining. We moved the laundry rack further under the veranda and have moved indoors to sit at the dining room table. We’re at Stage 4 load shedding today, and the power was supposed to go out a half-hour ago, but it hasn’t happened. Go figure. It’s the nature of the beast. TIA.

There are two hanging lamps on the veranda, one over the bar and the other over the table.
This stand attached to a post is for placing food for bushbabies and bird seeds for our flying friends.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2021:

Rita, Gerhard, and Tom were situated in our chairs, ready for the evening to commence. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Photos of “things” in our holiday home…

In the second-level lounge room. I love what this says!

A reality of living in holiday homes and hotels year-round is that the decor is not our own. In South Africa, a predominantly African set is commonplace, especially in homes in the bush. I suppose if we owned a home here, which we never will, there is no doubt we’d probably do the same.

In the kitchen.

It would look ridiculous to decorate a home in the bush with anything other than an African theme. However, some houses with early colonial and Dutch-influenced furnishings and fixtures were very appealing. The following historical facts influenced South African decor:

In the second-level lounge room.

“The two European countries which occupied the land were the Netherlands (1652-1795 and 1803-1806) and Great Britain (1795-1803 and 1806-1961).”

“What is the Dutch style of interior design?”

Dutch design focuses on minimalism, functionalism, and innovative yet simplistic designs. But what truly sets Dutch design apart is its focus on the designers. The designers that create this beautiful and modern home decor are integral to the entire development and production process.”

Above the headboard in the main bedroom.
“British style is loved because its austere elegance, classic luxury, high quality materials, the presence of many decorative elements, and is an example of elegance and good taste in its best form example of elegance and good taste. But, to recreate it in its entirety, it will take a significant investment.”
The lounge room is on the second level under the thatch roof.
As we’ve learned over the 3½ years we’ve spent in Africa in the past almost ten years, the wealth and abundance seen in the US are not necessarily seen in this country. Sure, there is a wealthy faction, but overall, the South African people living in bush houses are on a budget and strive to create as pleasant an environment as possible, at a cost they can afford.
In the second-floor lounge room.
The decor in this bush house is not unlike others we’ve seen in Marloth Park, containing many decorator items that depict the nature and beauty of the bush and also an upbeat and optimistic ambiance. Today, we have the opportunity to share our surroundings with our readers that depict that persona.
Bespeaks African art.
Please remember that today, when I took these photos, it was a dark and dreary day. Windows are kept to a  minimum when houses are built here to keep out the monkeys and potential burglars. Using flash caused unpleasant reflections, so I did the best I could.
In the second-floor lounge room.
It’s funny how I overlooked the items shown in today’s photos after living in this house for over a month. We’ve been so busy noticing the inclusion of many things we love to use and watching the activity in the garden we’ve hardly paid attention to the decor.
In the second-floor lounge room.
Instead, we ask ourselves…Is the bed comfortable? Yes! Is the shower good? Yes! Do we have all the kitchen gadgets we need to cook our favorite meals? Yes! Does the WiFi work? Yes! (Most of the time). Do we have a good security system? Yes! We notice these things during the first month of living in a new holiday home. As time passes, we pay more attention to the little details, such as those we’re sharing today.
The interior thatched roof as seen in the second-floor lounge.
Last night, as always, we had a fantastic dinner and social time at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. But, by 2000 hrs., 8:00 pm were back at our house. There was load shedding, so we hunkered down on top of the bed and watched a few more episodes of “The Offer,” the excellent show on Amazon Prime about making the movie “The Godfather.”
The table and chairs are on the second-level veranda.
We’ll watch the last episode of The Offer, and we’ve decided to watch the actual movie, which neither of us had seen again since we watched it in a movie theatre when it was released in 1972. This will be a great way to spend Saturday night!
The hooks in the main floor lounge room where I hang my two Africa bags.
We hope you have a great Saturday night, whatever you choose to do. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2021:

This is so typical for Broken Horn. He peeks around the house to see if we’re outside. He always makes us laugh! For more photos, please click here.