In the summer holidays the boys are I are going to Africa for 3 weeks. Its a treat for us all, and I’ve told myself that it is mostly funded by the money I have not spent on alcohol since I quit drinking in March 2016.

My little counter tells me that so far I have saved almost £13,000 (although that doesn’t take account of the money I spend on alcohol free beer!)

It’s been a year in the planning and developing the specifications. I actually booked, through a small specialist company, last August. Now its 23 weeks (165 days) away and I’m busy planning the details. I actually LOVE this part of holidays. I love investigating what options there are , developing an interesting itinerary, thinking about the destinations, the likely weather, the participants and what they would enjoy. I love rooting around on trip adviser for different options and pencilling in plans for different days.

A significant part of the trip will be spent on safari in Botswana, in 4 different locations –  camping in big east African tents, including one night out under the stars…. but towards the end we have 6 days in Cape Town, and its these days I’m specifically planning for. We will be staying quite centrally, in an apartment for added flexibility, and I want to use our time as actively as possible to see as much as we can. Following the stay in Cape Town we are heading to the Coast for a couple of days Whale watching – and possibly diving for sharks !

It’s very important to me that I introduce the boys (well the younger two) to the side of Africa that we will not really see, in our Western bubble and high spec safari jeeps. The part that is poor, and hugely disadvantaged, the part that I saw in my early 20’s when I went on an elective trip to Tanzania for a few months. The part that saw women, three to a bed in hospital (top to toe and one – the healthiest one – underneath) the part that saw women trek 3 days to hospital to give birth, women with obstructed labour whose babies died and who often died themselves. That experience has stayed with me my whole life, that and the kindness and sociability of the Tanzanian people as we travelled around the country with backpacks on a student budget! This trip will be considerably more comfortable – but I don’t want to lose ALL of the ‘real’ Africa – I want to find ways to explore it.

Finding this part of South Africa is not easy – particularly given the security concerns, I don’t think its a good idea to just walk into the Townships ! I have discovered Uthando, here , an organisation that promotes community projects and uses funds raised from responsible tourism to plough back in the poorer communities development. It looks fascinating and I’m proud to have booked  a tour with them. I’m hoping that such a unique glimpse into the cultural aspects of South Africa that would usually be closed to tourists will encourage a questioning mind and provide an alternative view of this rich and diverse country. Its also in my mind that we could, as a family make a regular donation to one of the projects we visit, and in this way I hope to interest the boys in philanthropy and consideration for others who are less fortunate than we are.

I dragged all the boys to see the film “Long walk to Freedom” about Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment and I’m intending to visit Robben Island, the prison and museum to help them to appreciate and understand the suffering that took place – within MY lifetime. I’m hoping that this opportunity will open their eyes a bit to the privilege we enjoy just by being born white, in the UK.

The one things we will NOT be doing is visiting Cape Towns vineyards and wine tasting sessions – which would have been nice, but … !

I’m tremendously excited by this holiday. Having travelled with son 1 so recently I know hes a fantastic companion, and son3 (who’s ambition is to be a vet) is already wide eyed with anticipation. I’m looking forward to the time we will have together – far from Wifi and computer gaming, where evening activities are likely to be card games and chatter, where the days experiences can be discussed and savoured. I hope I’m not building myself up for disappointment.

If any of you have visited Cape Town, or Hermanous, or Victoria Falls where our trip starts, please let me know any recommendations !


  1. I love this Lily! I grew up in South Africa and recently took my kids back. It was my first trip home in about 8 years and I was really sobered (ha!) by the bubble that wealthy middle class people are able to move in. It’s really important to me that my boys understand how immensely privileged we are by accident of birth and grow up impelled to contribute to a more just world. I love the way you are approaching the trip and hope that you have a wonderful time. xxx

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  2. I love this post – What a wonderful adventure and amazing opportunity for you and your boys. I spent a month in Mozambique, as part of a church team, teaching and supporting the volunteers at the school and orphanage and it was life changing. For your boys to experience this at such an early age when they are open minded to culture and experiences will make it a trip they will never forget. And all this being paid for with the wine pennies!! Well done you xx

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  3. Sounds utterly fantastic!! I visited Southern Africa a few years ago.. was drinking then – had a blackout or two, almost lost my iPhone (i think it was stolen by security and given back.. as they asked for a finders fee..) and since I saw my ex there we’ve stopped talking.. ha! So sober maybe have been better…
    the trip sounds incredible, such a great mix. I first went when I was 9 and it opened my eyes to a lot (even tho I grew up in a place where poverty and the wealth divide is more obvious than the U.K.)


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