A Contradictory Life

Short spontaneous sojourns


Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. - Chinese Proverb

I am a big believer in sprinkling short spontaneous sojourns (ok, I’ll stop with the alliteration – or sibilance more specifically) throughout the year for mental, physical and emotional rejuvenation.

Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioural economics and someone who I totally have a mind crush on, has said; “On a long vacation, day seven is less good than day one because it’s not as exciting. That’s why in general, going away four times [a year] provides more benefit than you would expect, and going away for one week provides less benefit than you would expect.”

Basically, people’s enjoyment wanes as they become accustomed to their holiday lifestyle (The Telegraph).

Taking a long break can also be more stressful than a quick weekend away here and there because of all the planning and financial stress that accompanies such a break (think about family fights in the couple of days leading up to the annual December getaway).

I do think that one should have a longer break at least once a year to completely unwind but I definitely also recommend that everyone takes three shorter breaks during the year – at least. People often have so many excuses to not take leave but as Sydney J. Harris said, “the time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” The benefits are obvious: a chance to rest and destress, quality time to spend with quality people, less financial stress and if you only take a Friday afternoon off you don’t use much of your leave.

In SA we are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a place for a relaxing weekend away! For our five year anniversary in July Wes and I chose to go to Somabula Nature Reserve, an affordable, gorgeous and quaint place.

Somabula is a 400 hectare nature reserve located a few kilometres south of the small mining town of Cullinan, only one hour from Johannesburg and 40 minutes from Pretoria. Somabula is home to antelope as well as giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, eland, water-buck, wildebeest and all kinds of smaller animals such as warthog, duikers and reptiles. To read more about the mountain biking at the reserve click here: zebra trails flow throughout the reserve and head towards watering holes, where you will view some game and some of the bird life, or up onto the mountains where the views are breath-taking.

We were originally planning to stay in their refusrbished Ox-wagons but they were fully booked so stayed in the gorgeous chalets instead. There is also a campsite. Somabula is completely off the grid and relies on solar power and solar water heating. A stunning lapa and braai facilities are also available for day visitors at no additional cost as long as they are booked ahead of time. It really was the most lovely weekend away although do remember that the kitchen is outside so pack loads of jackets, beanies, gloves and scarves to get your cooking done at night (especially if you go on the coldest weekend of the year as we did!).

If it is your turn to man the office this December holiday (as it is mine), try to squeeze in a weekend away before then or early on in the New Year.

It is so very important for people to learn how to turn stress into a positive factor in life, learn how to cope and have it be an effective motivator and the best place to do some inner reflection is somewhere beautiful and relaxing.

Any suggestion of places for us to visit next year? We absolutely love weekends away and exploring on our bikes!