Winter school holidays mean different things to parents, depending on where you live in the county. To the Highveld dwellers it’s, “Oh yay, off to the bushveld time”; to Durbanites it’s tolerable temperatures for the beach; if you live in the Free State or Karoo, well, best you get down to KwaZulu-Natal quickly. While Cape moms brace themselves for cold, wet kids in muddy gumboots whining, “What can we do?” as the grey rain patters outside the window.
But take heart, the midyear break is not all frosty mornings and drizzle, even if you couldn’t get a booking in Kruger and are housebound this holiday. The Olympics are about to kick off in London so harness the spirit and set up your own Olympic stadium in the lounge, playroom or garden. These events may not be on the bill at London or sanctioned by the International Olimpic Committee but they’re lots of fun and good energy expenders.
First up is skittles or ten-pin bowling. Buy a cheap set of plastic ones at a Chinese shop or simply use plastic cool drink bottles and paint them for added activity value. A passage makes a perfect bowling alley and any ball will do.
Croquet was invented by English aristocrats in straw boaters on manicured lawns. But it works well in houses too. Set up a series of obstacles – under the coffee table, through a toilet roll inner, over a carpet hump . . . Use golf putters, hockey sticks, cricket bats and whatever balls you have. And in the true spirit of croquet, mom and dad can get among the G&Ts and cucumber sandwiches.
Rhythm gymnastics – that part of the Olympics where small Chinese and Russian girls do incredibly contortionist things with ribbons and balls – is a perfect indoors event. Select an apparatus – stick, hoop, ribbon, lightweight ball and choreograph a simple routine to a piece of music. Remember, moms, the outfit here is very important.
For the shot-put event it’s advisable to move outside and far from any windows. See how far they can toss food tins of various sizes – tomato paste for the littlest, and up to baked beans for those young teens. And finally, carpet bowls. The purpose of the game is to gently roll your ball as close to another ball (called the jack) on the other side of the carpet as possible. A variety of balls in all sizes and weights just makes the game more interesting.
Of course, after each event you should have a medal presentation ceremony and appropriate prizes for the winner. Then they can all sing Nkosi Sikelele, followed by juice and muffins.
You won’t find ice skating at the upcoming summer games but you will find it at the Northgate Ice Arena in the Northgate Shopping Centre, Joburg. It’s open seven days a week for family fun, or join the skating academy to learn whirls and twirls like Torvill and Dean. And don’t miss Disney on Ice at Coca-Cola Dome(Computicket).
New on the Gauteng landscape is the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre (www.sci-bono.co.za), located in the old Electric Workshop building in Newtown. With hands-on exhibits and innovative workshops it offers children of all ages the chance to participate interactively in fun-filled activities in mathematics, science and technology. Just think what it could do for those flagging school marks.
In Durbs, it’s generally hot enough for all the thrills of uShaka Marine World by midday. Or dare them to climb The Rock – the highest artificial climbing wall in the world – at the Gateway Shopping Centre in Umhlanga. Then see the ugly sisters get their come-uppance in Cinderella at the Catalina Theatre, 12 June to 11 July.
Down in the Mother City, Kira and I plan to see The Little Mermaid at Canal Walk (so I can combine the outing with a little retail therapy for myself) from 23 June to 15 July. And I know she’ll love the likes of Tinker Bell whipping about on skates for Disney on Ice at the CTICC from 6 to 10 July (both Computicket). Oh, and the Table Mountain Cableway has a two-kids free special in the holidays – on the first clear day we’re there with Polarfleece, beannies and mittens.
Talking of chilly, June to July is when the Cape Mountains get their first snowfalls. Watch the weather and join the pilgrimage to Matroosberg Reserve near Ceres (www.matroosberg.com) when the snow arrives.
I’ve already been primed by 10-year old Tom that we are going surfing. “After all, Mom, you get wet anyway so it doesn’t matter if it’s raining.” Just think how much I’ll l save on sun cream. Happy holidays.