When the Clarks go on a break we do it properly. What do I mean by that? I mean that we do it premised on the fact that we are not going to be allowed/invited back. The Clarks on tour is not dissimilar from the Khan family on tour, and by the Khans I don't mean that lovely family two houses down from us. I mean the Genghis Khans. The only difference between us and the Mongol horde is that we have a VW Kombi and fewer swords.
So this last week we packed up Gus the Bus and headed out to the Montagu region for a weekend of fun. The place we were staying at promised idyllic surrounds, plenty of swimming and a fun tractor ride. Because we clean up pretty good and some people are just born stupid, we managed to lure another family into joining us. They probably won't be joining us again.
Our arrival was pretty tame as far as Clark arrivals go. As the Kombi door slid open, Sizzles, Mackers and the Moose (my three daughters) ran off screaming into the woods to rustle up and probably assault some local flora and fauna while the Lovely Jacs ("TLJ") and I started unpacking. This is usually about the time that TLJ figures out that I have forgotten to pack something crucial like the food, a sleeping bag or one of the girls. This time, however, I passed with flying colours and only I was left wondering at what stage of our epic journey we had jettisoned my prize oversized watermelon. I suspect it might still be lying in the forecourt of the Engen garage in Worcester.
As soon as we were unpacked, the girls insisted that we go to the highly anticipated swimming dam for a swim. I have to admit that the swimming dam was a thing of beauty. Set against a back drop of pine trees with bizarrely azure coloured water, I must say that I have not yet seen a swimming dam quite like it. I immediately fell in love.
Then to the sound of the 4 year old Sizzles screaming "Cowabuncher" (she is not big on pronunciation) and throwing herself off a hitherto unseen 3 meter high diving board I immediately fell out of love. You see I am afraid of heights. This isn't really a big deal except for the fact that my girls really don't care what I am scared of or not. I am the dad and I am expected to perform.
So it was that I found myself, against all better judgement, standing on the stupid and completely unnecessary diving board trying desperately to recall my matric science and work out what effect my mass and the acceleration force of gravity would have on my body as I hit the water. According to my calculations there was a better than average chance I would die. Fortunately, I didn't have to contemplate this for too long because the Moose, my eight year old, got impatient with my deliberations pushed past me and in so doing knocked me off the board. I may or may not have used some unfatherly language on the long way down. It turns out that perfectly horizontal is a less than optimal manner in which to enter the water. I still have a red mark down the entire length of the left side of my body. Thank goodness the other family hadn't arrived yet otherwise they probably would have left immediately. Eight year olds can be very tricksy and very hard to catch especially when they are wet, slippery and won't come down off a stupid 3 meter diving board.
The next day promised to be a much better day. After all, who can resist a fun tractor ride? Of course not being the kind of person who concerns himself with little things like details I was slightly surprised when the tractor ride turned out to be a tractor ride up a mountain. Of course my insane daughters (they get that from TLJs side of the family) wanted the best seats in the house and so chose the seats situated on the bull bar of the tractor. I believe we officially met the definition of a bumper for the best part of two hours. In this precarious position we ascended 1 x unnaturally high mountain with much screaming and excitement. You guessed it, I was screaming and the girls were excited. On the plus side the vistas were breath-taking as we ascended to 1500 meters. That is of course a direct quote from TLJ because I saw nothing because my eyes were closed the entire trip. I only opened them at the rest hut at the top to answer the very urgent call of nature and to down several complimentary shots of Muscadel to fortify myself for the journey back down.
All in all it actually wasn't a bad trip for the Clark family. We didn't destroy anything and we didn't incur the wrath of the owners. In fact it was so successful that if my parents ever try to book to go to the place I'm pretty sure they will get a booking. Why you ask? Well, this isn't our first rodeo. The Clarks always book in my parents' names first in case we want to come back a second time. It works brilliantly for us but not so well for my folks who are not welcome at several destinations in and around the Western Cape.
You just can't take some people anywhere.