#GreensGoTroppo – all about our Mauritian adventure

If you’ve had any interaction with me at all, both in real life and online, you’ll know that I’ve just had the best vacation E.V.E.R! It’s all I spoke about for months beforehand and it’s all my sweet dreams are about now.

A couple of months ago, Belinda, based in Dubai, decided that the very best way to celebrate her milestone birthday was with her family on a tropical island. Cue a ton of excitement from all of us and a mad panic to renew passports and get kids’ unabridged birth certificates. That, in itself, is the subject of an entirely different blog post.

July seemed a very long way away back then, but time flew by and before we knew it, the big day had arrived and the Dubai Green and the Jozi Greens were jetting off from ORT to meet the Perth Greens in paradise.

Ready, steady, fly!
Slightly dishevelled!

We stayed in the most fabulous resort – Beachcomber Trou-Aux-Biches – worth every single star of its 5 star rating. The 13 Greens shared two villas, each beautifully furnished with ALL the creature comforts including a private pool, outdoor showers and more Nespresso than even my caffeine addicted body needed. The beds were incredible – Jon reckons he should have worn his fitness tracker to roll over and kiss Jess goodnight – they were big, like super king size! The whole hotel, from the villas to the restaurant restrooms, was scented with the most unbelievable fragrance. I found out later that it’s a Beachcomber fragrance called Royal Orchid.

Basically, our days were spent as follows:

  • Wake, Nespresso, dress in appropriate resort wear – ie bathing suit, shorts, sarong.
  • Buffet breakfast where you have no choice but to try ALL the food then swear you’re not eating until supper.
  • Beach/pool, read, roll over, repeat.
  • Decide you’re peckish and might head up to the restaurant for a bite of the buffet lunch. You have no option but to try ALL the food. Wonder if you’ll possibly be able to eat dinner?
  • Back to the beach/villa to read nap.
  • Sundowner drinks and the butler arrives with a plate of pre-dinner snacks. Amazingly, you’re able squeeze one or three of the spring rolls.
  • Dress for dinner and a golf cart to take us to one of the numerous hotel restaurants – Italian/Thai/Indian/Gourmet Seafood/Themed buffet)
  • Drinks and chatter after dinner at one of the villas and blissfully to bed.

The Greens did mix it up a bit by snorkeling, canoeing, pedal boating, stand up paddling, a glass bottom boat trip and a trip into Grand Baie and a few walks to the Trou-aux-Biches village for some retail therapy. We could find pretty much anything we may have needed at Chez Popo supermarket.

That’s not me…

So snorkeling. Can’t say that was my favourite thing ever. I am a massive scaredy-cat when it comes to swimming, especially sea swimming. So the first time we went out on the snorkel boat, I decided I wasn’t even going to try. Then FOMO struck as I watched everyone bobbing about, so I borrowed a pair of flippers and tried to climb off the boat. Panic and nerves set in and I just couldn’t do it. The next time we all went snorkeling, I decided to try again, this time with the safety of a life jacket. I actually got off the boat that time. But I was too busy popping my head out the water to find Nemo. I had to make sure the boat hadn’t sailed away without me! I am quite comfortable to now admit that snorkeling is not for me. I am quite happy to marvel over the wonders of the ocean floor from a safety of a glass bottom boat.

We decided to celebrate Belinda’s big birthday on Friday night and we were treated to a barbecue in our villa, cooked by one of the chefs and served by our amazing butlers. The hotel staff made the most incredible effort and it was a special night. We spoiled Belinda with some bling in a teal box and a photo book of memories. I think the photo book that we created for her was a hit! 

Wasn’t the table setting just gorgeous?

On Saturday we had to say a sad goodbye to the Aussie Greens, so we had to take a traditional family selfie before they left.

After that, we were all very subdued. Cocktails were necessary…

And on Sunday – it was all over. My only regrets – that the hotel shop had sold out of the Royal Orchid fragrance diffusers – the little memento I was planning to buy myself to evoke memories of my week in the tropics. Oh and that I didn’t get to meet our celebrity neighbours.

Yes – I almost forgot to tell you – we had celebrity neighbours, just a few villas away! Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are staying at the resort to film a movie. Sadly, I only got to spot the back of Anne – but other family members got really good sightings and Jess even made eye contact with Ms Hathaway. I did consider doing some real stalking, but that would be a bit uncool, you know?

A resort holiday is absolutely indulgent from the minute you set foot on the resort, but everyone agreed that by far the biggest treat of all was spending a full week together as a family. The cousins bonded, as did the mom, siblings and siblings-in-law, and we all treasured the quality time together.

I am also so grateful for the opportunity for my kids to experience an overseas trip. Travelling broadens your horizons in so many ways. I am pretty sure an overseas gap year is definitely on Ewan’s to do list now! He’s even talking about wanting to be an exchange student.  And I have a travel bucket list as long as my arm, so it’s time to start doing some planning and budgeting!.

P.S. I wanted to call this post How the Greens got marooned – you know… marooned on an island and a play on the colours – geddit? Instead I chose #GreensGoTroppo – that was our chosen holiday hashtag for all pics we shared on social media. “Troppo” is a nod to the tropical island experience and Aussie slang for going nuts. And since we shared the week with the Aussie Greens, it seemed appropriate!

Ta-daaa

I’ve hinted a couple of times about a big and exciting change happening in my little corner of the blogging world.

Finally, after much deliberation and procrastination, I have taken my blog to the next level. From a .wordpress.com site to my very own domain. And here you are… www.inhilshead.co.za!

I am so, so happy be able to share this space with you! A lot of time and love has gone into creating a space that’s all mine, from the design to the written content.

So what’s going to be happening InHil’sHead in the coming months? I guess the best way to describe this space is as a lifestyle blog… about my life as a busy, working mom, trying to live my best life. From my food and life hacks, to parenting, my efforts at fitness, the books I read, the places I go and the thinks I think. And everything in-between. I even have my first giveaway lined up – super exciting and I can’t wait to share it! I’ll be sharing my monthly column with you too – a light-hearted look at parenting tweens and teens. I have so much news to share about what I’ve been up to recently – expect loads of tropical island pics!

Oh – and my old posts are all here too, so you’re welcome to take a look through those while you’re here!

Click subscribe below so that we can stay in touch! You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And please, please let me know what you think in the comments below!

Loads of love,

Hil xxx

The Hanging Gardens of Walkerville

I haven’t been in the most chipper of moods lately. To be honest, I’ve been feeling quite cynical and disillusioned. But the cloud is lifting – it always does – and there have been been a few rays of sunshine this week. The biggest was a little bit of CSI work I got involved with, through the company I work for.

We have this campaign on the go at the moment about “sustainable growth” and how we are all about building better futures and making positive change. There’s been much publicity internally and externally about the various CSI initiatives we are involved in.

The growth thing began with a tiny little box placed on each of our desks with a plant kit inside. After staring at it for a few days, I finally delegated the planting of the seeds to Claire. We were overjoyed when our little Swiss Chard finally sprouted a teensy Swiss Chardling! Now if only I could remember to water the damn thing!

Plants are so not my thing… I could probably find a way to kill a plastic plant if I tried!

Last week we were invited to watch Bongani Bingwa, of Carte Blanche fame, interview one of our CSI partners. We were also invited to participate in a mystery CSI project during the course of this week. I, being the corporate good sport I am, stuck my hand in the air for the mystery project.

The person that Bongani interviewed was an amazingly inspirational woman named Nonhlanhla Joye and her story is just incredible. And while what she does is seriously clever, it involves gardening. Did I mention that gardening is not my thing?

So guess what the mystery project was?  Gardening, obvs! We were building Mama Joye’s raised food gardens in various underprivileged areas around Jozi.

Yay… I guess.

So off I went to Walkerville with a bunch of colleagues who I barely knew, brimming with fake enthusiasm and trying to ignore the fact that I’m now too fat for my purple volunteer t-shirt ignore the sniffly cold I’d developed overnight.

Well nothing like a bit of charity work put things in perspective, right? Right!

The garden-making was pretty cool. The concept really is very clever:

All we really had to do was hang recycled, soil filled bags on the wooden frames and then plant seedlings in each. I hardly even got a dirty hand.

We finished by giving each newly planted seedling a drink of water to bed it down properly. For that part, we had assistance from some little kids from a local care centre. These kids have very recently tragically lost a fellow learner in a road accident and they are going through a very sad time. The sadness was almost palpable.

But whilst they were sad, they were also incredibly sweet and earnest and enthusiastic and they were the highlight of my day! For a while I forgot all my un-chipper nonsense.

We showed them what to do and each child dutifully filled their beakers with water and took turns at watering each bag. Ok, so some seedlings got more water than others – but all is fair in love and gardening. One of the guys who was busy building the frames assured me that once they make the holes in the bags for drainage, the lettuce would be just fine.

I really needed this afternoon of simple innocence to gain some perspective. And I’m almost convinced that I could manage an Umgibe veggie garden in my backyard… almost.

Check out Mama Joye’s website here.

And speaking of websites… I have exciting news about my blog changes. I’m one step closer to the big reveal. Watch this space 😉

My Top 5 TED talks

I don’t know if this makes me super-geeky, but one of my favourite ways to pass the time, especially when I’m looking for a bit of a pick-me-up-slash-kick-my-ass-into-gear, is to head into the black hole that is YouTube and watch a TED talk or four. 

They also make for pretty cool podcasts to listen to while driving. The nice people who curate the podcasts on my iPhone have made sure that the podcasts are suitable for audio only and you don’t need the visuals to enjoy them.

Going to a TED conference is on my ever-growing bucket list, so I was very keen to hear Carel Nolte of CN & Co give some feedback on his recent trip to the main TED event in Vancouver. 

I was amazed that Carel was the only South African in attendance at the event this year! Unless you count Elon Musk who was one of the main speakers.

I was also intrigued by the idea of TEDx events – which are independent TED-like events held all year round, all over the world, provided you have a license to host such an event. I’ve always thought that a TEDx event would make for the most awesome corporate conference! 

I have a couple of TED favourites and I thought I’d share them with you: 

  1. Liz Gilbert’s talk on creative genius. 
  2. Brené Brown on the power of vulnerability.
  3. Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking – I’ve also blogged about her audio book
  4. Sarah Kay’s amazing poem. Oh man – Sarah Kay is just the most amazing poet – I could listen to her forever!
  5. Shonda Rhimes on saying Yes!

If you haven’t discovered TED yet… then where have you been? 

And if you have… please share your favourites, I’d love to hear about them!

If only social media were a bit more… social!

I’m a social media junkie – I’m not going to even try and pretend I’m not. Any attempts at “detoxing” from the constant stream of information that I allow myself to constantly be exposed to, has failed dismally. But then again, I’m not very good at detoxes from sugar, wheat or caffeine either. Judge away. 

Back to social media though… I’ve noticed a trend in the last few years about how much less we seem to actually interact now, compared to the early days.  

We used to do so much more than “like” things. I seem to remember a lot more talking, banter, debate, feedback. 


Nowadays it seems like all I, and a lot do others do, is “like”. A heart here and a thumbs up there. I’m totally guilty of this. How many blogs do I follow, and how rarely do I say anything to the bloggers I like and respect? 


 And yet, as a blogger and socialmediaphile (yes, I totally made that up), nothing makes me happier than a real wordy comment on my IG pic, blog, tweet or FB share. Yes, views and likes are cool… but tell me what you think? What you really, really think?

Like I said – I’m absolutely guilty of this myself. Maybe it’s a symptom of information overload and too little time to take it all in? There’s just so much happening on the WWW that I spend the time I allocate to it skimming the details. Maybe what I follow needs to be more carefully curated? But FOMO is real y’all!

I’m going to make it my mission to have quality engagement with friends and acquaintances on social media. Really try and build networks. Less emojis and more real words. 

Tell me what you think? What you really, really think?

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Forgive me friends, it’s been much more than a month since my last spillage of words onto a page. 

Crazy, last minute, deadline driven attempts to focus on exams has taken precedence over normal life. In fact, if you ask anyone in my house… it’s pretty much been each person for themselves, while I’ve been camped out at the dining room table, nose in books/laptop, drinking copious mugs of tea for sustenance. In fact I’m amazed that that they were still loving and kind to me on Mother’s Day! I don’t feel like mother of the year at the moment! But they’re sweetie pies and we’re family and we adore each other through studying and fun. 

Even my kitty is over this constant studying… 

 

Anyway exam end is in sight and the results will be what they will be. And I have big plans for when this exam season ends… 

Are you sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for details? 

My big plans (for now) involve finishing a painting, reading books that are entirely ficticious and fun, binge watching a series or two on Netflix, and rebranding this blog. 

Yes, time to rebrand! If you have known me for any length of time, you’ll know that my interests are vast and varied. I’ve been giving the the rebrand of my blog some thought for a while now and I want it to be about more than running, momming or studying or any one thing. 

I’m thinking along the lines of “ordinary girl trying to live an (extra)ordinary life” vibe because essentially that’s what I’m trying to do. I want to be and achieve so much more than existing. 

I love people and their stories and I want to blog about things which will hopefully provide a bit of a laugh, some inspiration and even some motivation. I want to talk about all the things that I’m trying to do to help me live my best life!


I’m certainly not promising blogs climbing Everest or adventures through the Amazon or anything so extreme, unless someone feels like sponsoring a trip. In which case I’ll blog away! 

So while I consider how this rebrand is going to look, hit me up with some exciting 
ideas for names…

Inspiration Everywhere!

On a very good day, I spend about 90 minutes in traffic on my commute to and from work. That’s an hour and a half of my waking hours staring at cars in front of me and dodging taxis. Last year, I made a conscious decision to be more discerning about what to do with my ears during that time. I’ve always preferred talk radio to music radio. And as much as I enjoy music, I am not much of a music listener in my car. My commute changed, very much for the better, when I started listening to online radio, podcasts and audiobooks.

In terms of online radio – it’s mostly cliffcentral.com. I can’t lie – I’ve been a fan of Gareth Cliff since his early days on 702. He is the same age as me and I was fascinated back then by how he, as a 21 year old, could hold his own, be so smart, confident and erudite on a prime time show on a popular radio station. I guess you could say I have a crush on his brain. I was super excited to pick up Gareth and his team online. His show is clever and funny, irreverent and sometime totally politically incorrect and so much fun to listens to. I reckon that an evening at a pub with the people on his the team would just be the best evening!

I don’t get to hear the whole show in the morning so I listen live while I am driving to work and often pick up on third hour of the show as a podcast on my afternoon drive home.In the third hour of the show, Gareth mostly does interviews. This week has been particularly cool, with both Monday and Tuesday’s interviews being fascinating!

Monday’s interview was with a guy named Matthew Kanniah who has been picked up by the legends of Top Gear – Clarkson, Hammond and May for their DriveTribe project. I enjoyed the chat with Matthew but more than anything, I was struck by his go-for-it attitude. He is a 25 year old petrol-head blogger and he got picked up by the ex-Top Gear dudes as a result of his tweeting and following the DriveTribe producers and then having the guts to share his work with them. Now that I’ve checked out his work on Instagram, I have followed him and I am super keen to see where he goes! I guess the point is just to put yourself out there. You never know where or who might see you and like what you do!

The next awesome interview I listened to was with Robby Kojetin. Another supercool chat with great banter between Gareth and his guest. I’ve never come across Robby before but wow, what a story! He’s an adventurer and is on his way to climbing all of the seven summits. The really, really amazing part is that he spent over a year in a wheelchair after a really silly and horrible accident. He was so down and out after the accident that he literally counted out the Synap Forte’s to off himself! The only reason he didn’t was because he didn’t have the magic number of pills – the number he was sure would do a thorough job. Even more thought provoking and inspirational than picking himself up from rock bottom and literally summiting Everest, was his talking about about bucket lists. Making a list of things you want to do and then actually doing them. This post sums up the idea beautifully! Please click on the link – you won’t be sorry. I think it’s time I started writing my bucket list down. I really want to read Robby’s book now. From listening to him on the radio, it sounds like he would write a pretty good story!

The final “Aha” moment (yes – I just Oprah’ed) that I’m going to write about was a short little podcast that I picked up while I was driving home last night from my stats class. Rich Mulholland is a really rad speaker that I follow. I’ve heard him live – he spoke at the induction training that I attended when I joined Hollard. He is a regular visitor to Gareth’s show. I think I have a crush on his brain too. I love super intelligent people (that’s also why I adore my hubby!) Anyway, Rich was talking about “curiousity boxes” – the idea that instead of thinking out the box, you think outside your own box. How being curious makes you a more interesting person. Taking time to learn about something you know nothing about.

You know how you start watching a TED talk about something completely random and unrelated to your life and before you know it, you’re drawn completely in and you’re kinda sad when it’s over and you want to tell everybody to watch? That. (Or is that just me?)

This little piece really resonated with me and reminded me to download some more podcasts and audiobooks. Apple and Audible have amazing selections. And maybe I need to be more random in my podcast selection and open more curiosity boxes?

Three very cool lightbulb switching talks and it’s only Wednesday. Imagine what I would be like at SXSW or Design Indaba or a TED conference (which, btw, is definitely on my bucket list!)FullSizeRender

Statistics. Or maybe Greek?

One of the modules I need to take as part of the degree I’m working on is Business Statistics. I avoided it last year but I couldn’t avoid it any further because it’s necessary for some of the second and third year subjects I’m taking. 

So here’s the thing. I don’t have a numbers brain. My head works in words and pictures, designs and colours.


I passed matric math, but it certainly wasn’t my strongest subject. Not by a long shot! And now, 21 years later, I’m taking a numbers based subject at university level. I figured if I wanted a shot at passing, I would need to attend lectures.

The classes started last week and I was pleasantly surprised at how easily I followed the class last week. The lecturer was passionate about the subject, patient in his explanations, with a dry sense of humour. I left feeling quite excited about my prospects in the class. Okay, maybe not excited. But pleasantly surprised. I think my exact words when I got home were “I’m not as dumb as I thought I was!”

I was far less nervous about attending last night’s class. For the first half of the class I was still happy with how much I was able to comprehend. When other students needed help with the “less than” and “more than” symbols, as well when to round up or down, I decided that at least I hadn’t forgotten everything I learned at school! 

I was even a bit smug, because when we took a break, two of my class mates asked me to help with one of the concepts they hadn’t quite managed to grasp. 

Maybe it was the tiredness of a long day catching up with me but when we returned to class, it was a different story! 

It was as if Stan, our lecturer, had started speaking a foreign language. Suddenly he was sprouting formulae with square roots and Greek symbols and letters divided by letters and I literally felt my eyes glazing over. I had the distinct feeling that I was hanging on to my understanding by a mere thread. That if my mind wondered for more that a second that I’d lose the thread completely. So much for my smugness! 

Fortunately, I know that I wasn’t the only student looking dazed and confused and the lecturer called it a night soon afterward. 

I’m seriously hoping for a recap next week! I can’t really have lost the plot so early into the semester? 

Musings of a high school mom

If you’re a friend or a regular reader you’ll know that this year Ewan started high school. I posted a long while back about choosing a high school. In the end, we chose the all boys traditional public school. 

It’s only been a few weeks since the new school year started. We’ve dealt with so many changes in such a short time! Looking back, I can’t really believe that it’s only been just over a month. It feels like we’ve been doing this forever. 

The first few days were rough. The older grades asserted their seniority, which was a little intimidating for the total newbie. Fortunately there wasn’t any of the horror initiation I’ve heard about! For the most part, I think it was good natured and just the older boys showing the formies where they fit in this new society that they’re part of. Ewan took it well, with his usual good humour. All the same, he was relieved when it was over and they were left alone to blend in with the rest of the school. 

The bigger shock to his system was having to deal with making new friends in a completely strange environment. He was a well liked kid in his nurturing primary school and he’d made some very close friends in the time he was there. Finding new friends in a new school, where everyone was a stranger took some time. I underestimated how hard it could be for a 13 year old. You know how little kids who’ve just met will just wander off to the jungle gyms and an hour later be best friends for life? Well I had to remember that it gets more complicated when you’re older. He had to find his crowd. Boys that he could relate to.

For the first week or two, he was pretty sure that no such kids existed in his new school. I’m so grateful that his old primary school friends have been around on weekends for hangouts and a sleepover or two during this time. Thankfully, he’s now found a gang! He’s  found his people and he’s starting to feel comfortable in his space.

All in all, it’s been a positive experience. 

I am still finding the communication lines a bit confusing but I guess I’m getting used to where to find out what and I’m also learning to rely on Ewan for info.

It’s strange not to really know who teaches him what. We’re yet to formally meet any teachers. We’ve only listened to them talk at a the parent’s info evening. 

I appreciate the strong sense of respect and discipline the school is instilling in the boys. 

And brotherhood… it’s only been weeks and I sense that Ewan already feels a strong bond to the school. 

They each have a matric mentor and it’s awesome to see the older boys taking the younger ones under their wings. Yesterday, the formies had a braai with their matric mentors and I was really happy to see them actually interacting with the older boys when I arrived to fetch him. And goodbyes were said with fist pumps, elbow bumps and everything, lol!

I love the regular visits and news they get from old boys who have done well. From Rhodes scholars to Olympian medal winners & provincial sportsmen. I really do think it inspires the boys to be all they can be. 

I enjoy our car trips to school. We’ve solved the world’s problems, had silly laughs and driven in companionable silence (and I’ve given a few lectures – I am the mom of course!)

I’ve learned that buttons don’t get sewn on. They pierce holes in their blazers and anchor the buttons in place! Ingenious, I tell you. 

So far, so good, but bring on the holidays!

And for our next trick, we need to figure out where to send Claire!!!

P.S. This post was read and vetted by the subject before I hit “publish”. 

The only constant thing

It’s been a big, hard week for my big kid! So much change, so much to get used to! While I have no doubt that in time, we will all find our way in this new teenage world we’re navigating, it doesn’t make the right now the easiest place to be. 


Which got me thinking about all the times in life I’ve been through the same thing. There were those five schools I went to. Oh and the move from Jozi to Witbank and then a move back to the big city a few years later – which just happened to tie in with the year I went to highschool! 

Then there was me joining the working world. Lordy, that was big! I distinctly remember not being sure whether I was allowed to leave my desk to go to the loo without permission from my boss – and her laughing at me when I did finally get desperate enough to ask! And then my second job – okay, admittedly it  made somewhat easier by having a bit of prior work experience and the fact that I made an awesome friend on that first day. Who just happened to be the guy I married a few years later. 

There was moving out of my parent’s home into a flat share and then later into my own place. And after that, sharing a home with Nick. Learning to budget for monthly groceries, deal with house maintenancy stuff. Hey – when Nick first did a grocery shop, he bought the most enormous tin of instant coffee and bag of cake flour. The flour grew weevils way before it got turned into something edible and we had bad coffee for months and months! 

There have been a bunch of work changes since those first two jobs. Most recently it was when the comfy little company I worked for got bought out by a big corporate. I knew it was a good move with great opportunity but my word – those first few days in the new place! I remember feeling so strange and uncomfortable as I walked the passages. The hundreds of unfamiliar faces. The uncertainty of how any of the processes worked, even something as simple as ordering a meal in the canteen. Now, just over a year later, I walk down the same corridors and cheerily say “Hi” to colleagues and friends (assuming I’ve had  my two cups of coffee by then)!

The thing is, I’m a reasonably confident girl when I’m comfortable in my space. I can be chatty and friendly and even a bit funny. But put me in a space which is new and intimidating and I’m suddenly quite shy and reserved. I’ve only recently tried to learn the art of “fake it till you make it”.

Probably the biggest change of all was becoming a parent. The belly and all the physical preparation for a change which was so much more complex than just adding a new person to our household. And then the rapid and constant change that parenthood brings! I remember remarking, in frustration, that no sooner have I gotten the hang of one stage of mommying my baby when they would suddenly have a growth spurt and some new challenge would present itself – growing teeth or spitting out apple purée or peeing behind the couch. 

So yep, this change that’s happening now, this big new world – it’s hard! But it’s the way life works – he’ll find his feet. And just when he thinks he’s got it all waxed… 

H. 

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