MARK'S (NOT SO) DAILY BLOG
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Wedding anniversary at Makweti Safari Lodge

Nicole and I celebrate our wedding anniversary next week. We got married on 7/7/7.  Ten years and 2 kids later she still laughs at my (same) jokes and we still hug and kiss each other every day. Being a big milestone, we decided to leave our young girls with gran and have a few days alone together to celebrate the 3650 days. What better way to connect as a couple than in the bush. No cellphone signal. No ability to check what’s happening on Facebook. No television.

MakwetiIf you live in Johannesburg (or are a tourist and arrive at OR Tambo airport), there’s a great “Big 5” game reserve only 2.5 hours north of the city called Welgevonden. We’ve been there a few times before, stayed at various lodges and love the proximity of it as well as all the animal sightings.

This time round, being our anniversary, we decided to spoil ourselves by staying at the 5 star Makweti Safari Lodge. With only 5 secluded villas (and more staff than guests) you know you’re in for a pampered time. Believe me, we were not disappointed. From the sounds of the African drum being played on our arrival to the warm hospitality of the staff throughout our stay, it truly was a luxurious 3-night excursion away from home. 

Makweti

It started with a rope bridge walk to the villa..

Makweti

The villa itself was luxurious as you would expect from a 5 star lodge:

Makweti

We had our own pool (but being the middle of winter was way too cold to swim):

Makweti

We had romantic baths prepared for us on our return from evening game drives...

Makweti














Without any fencing, there’s always a possibility that animals roam right past your front door. There were often zebra and smaller animals at the watering hole in the camp. We even had an elephant swing past to say howzit one morning.

Makweti

What makes the experience 5-star for me though, besides the world class amenities, is the service. The hosts Neil and Jessica are kind and attentive without being in your face. It’s as if they appeared when needed and melted into the background when Nicole and I enjoyed romantic lunches and dinners for two on the viewing deck. And the food… oh my lord, each meal was carefully crafted by the hands-on chef and was probably some of the best meals Nicole and I have eaten in a long time. In fact, it’s probably what I’ll remember the most about the experience. Since I also had pudding at every lunch and dinner setting, I probably walked away slightly heavier than when we arrived.

Makweti

Even the table decor was always laid out with careful preparation:

Makweti

Whilst we had one "communal" dinner with fellow guests, Nicole and I preferred dining alone, and we had a romantic table set up for us every day:

Makweti

Makweti

When it came to the game drives, we went on a 3-4 hour ride every morning and afternoon and saw some truly spectacular sights, the most memorable was a cheetah and her 3 cubs feeding on a fresh kill (pic blurry due to my iPhone zoom!):

Makweti

There was also the lion who was having a morning nap in the bushes...

Makweti

What I found equally enjoyable was our game ranger’s imparting of knowledge (without being one of those in-your-face cocky types). With an honours degree in botany, Neil even got us fascinated in the fauna and flora as we drove along the gravel roads.

Makweti

Being the middle of winter, it got pretty chilly on the game drive vehicle, but Neil and Jessica had that covered with hot water bottles, warm ponchos, hand warmers and… and some much enjoyed Amarula on ice at sunset. Being the boy scout that I am, I had come prepared and just donned my own kit, so I looked like a cold ninja burglar…
Makweti

Nicole and I loved our time there. Thank you to our hosts Neil and Jessica for making our anniversary so special. We look forward to coming back again soon! If you want to have a 5 -star bush break, we highly recommend Makweti Safari Lodge.

Makweti

Footnote: 
This was a paid-for holiday and not a sponsored post. 
In today's age of always moaning about bad service, its great to give praise where due.


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A good marriage. What's the secret?

Over the years, many of my mates have got married... and split up.  The divorce rate is something along the lines of 80%. I'm sure that almost all of my mates stood at the alter that day professing their undying love with absolute sincerity and with all good intentions of being with that person for "all eternity". But it didn't work out. Some hit the rocks because of infidelity, others simply said the relationship just fizzled away.

Why is it that some relationships last and others don't. I would imagine it's been the thesis topic of many a psychology student. I can't speak for other peoples' relationships, but I would like to think that as Nicole and I celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary today, there have been certain key variables that have ensured we continually roll as one.


So often, when you ask someone about the proposal day, they'll say they proposed even though there was a little niggle in the back of their minds that said don't do it. That's a little fissure crack that can only widen as the years go by. Going back to the day I proposed to Nicole, I knew with 100% certainty that this was what I wanted to do. 


Mark & Nicole Pilgrim
We believe in doing the small things everyday. No matter how chaotic the day, we kiss each other when we say hello and say goodbye. We'll sometimes stop in the passage and give each other a 5-second hug in between sorting out the kids squabbling. It helps us maintain the intimacy within the frenetic antics of our daily chores.

Mark & Nicole Pilgrim
There's a few other values we believe in too. Honesty. There are no mind games. We play open cards with each other. If something bugs me or her, we bring it out in the open. Not in an aggressive way. It's a discussion. In the 12 years in total we've been together, we've had only 2 arguments where we've gone off in a huff. Don't get me wrong, we differ in opinions on many subjects, including sometimes on matters that involve parental discipline. But we don't attack each other. I suppose its because we respect each other.

Laughter. It's not a concerted effort to make each other smile. It just happens. It helps that we share the same sense of humour.


Mark & Nicole Pilgrim
We are by no means the poster kids for the perfect couple. We get tired and grumpy. We opt to rather have an early night than romp all night long. We're just a normal married couple that know we made the right choice. 

Someone once said:
"You know you've found your soulmate when you can spend the whole afternoon together not saying a single word, and at the end of the day you still feel like you've had the best conversation of your life".

Happy 9th anniversary to the love of my life! xx
Mark & Nicole Pilgrim


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Happy anniversary to the love of my life!

When I was younger I always thought I didn't want to ever get married... and then I met Nicole. At that moment I realised that until her, it wasn't that I didn't want to get married, just that I had never met anyone that I WANTED to marry.

The first time I saw her I knew she was my soulmate and I wanted to marry her. As I glanced at her through a recording studio window I was at a loss for words (at a moment when I was being paid to talk).

Seven years ago today, on 7/7/7, Nicole and I got married on a beach in Mauritius...

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About seventy close friends and family made the journey and joined us. Here's a collage of some great moments:


To my angel pie, thank you for coming into my life. 
For showing me how much love I have to give. 
Thank you for smiling even though you've had a rough day at work. 
Thank you for being a great mum to our 2 gorgeous girls. Thank you for still laughing at my jokes, even though they become more inane the older I get. 
Thank you for putting up with me when I get a new gadget and hibernate for 2 days while I master every aspect of the electronic contraption. 
Thank you for supporting my career over the years, always being my number 1 fan. 
Thank you for being in the public eye alongside me even though you are extremely camera shy and would rather be behind the scenes. 
Thank you for even being bold enough to appear on magazine covers!:

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But most of all, thank you for just being you. 

I love you. Happy anniversary.... and I typed this without a single seven year itch :) 

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