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Never walk alone - 25. Chapter 25

The next day, Christmas Eve, was a relaxing one and in the evening everyone gathered at The Cameron for dinner. Apart from Andrew, Ryan and the twins, the guests included David and Janice, Donna and Craig, Paul, Marie and Jonathan, Darren and Kerry, and Beth and Nicky. Once all the greetings were done, they made themselves comfortable at a table situated against the windows with a great view of the gardens, beach and the city across the bay. They were all given a complimentary glass of sherry, medium cream or pale dry, and Paul and David ordered bottles of wine for the table. They all ordered whatever other drinks they wanted and then it was time to consider their meal choices which, for the night, were vast.

The full buffet was available as was the normal a la carte menu. But they were all there for James' special Christmas Eve set menu consisting of a choice of two starters, two entrées and two desserts, plus coffee.
The starters were either a warm salad with scallops and bacon on a bed of flash blanched spinach with a dressing made using the juices from the scallop and bacon pan or a Scottish pink salmon terrine, wrapped in smoked salmon with all the usual accompiaments. The split was fairly even over the table. Andrew and Ryan ordered one of each and changed plates halfway through and pronounced both hors d'oeuvres excellent.
For the main meal, there was a choice of pink salmon on a bed of buttered leeks, wrapped in puff pastry, baked in the oven and served with creamed spinach and new potatoes, or a roast turkey roulade which both Andrew and Ryan selected, The whole turkey had been deboned and all the dark meat removed. The breasts were butterflied and a stuffing of pork sausage meat, the diced dark meat and chopped gammon spread over the breasts before it was all rolled up, enclosed in the skin, tied with kitchen twine and roasted in the oven. It was served sliced with pan jus, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts with walnuts and sweet glazed carrots. In Andrew's opinion, the turkey was a triumph being moist, flavoursome and very moreish. Andrew had a fork full of Janice's salmon and it too was absolutely delicious.
The desserts were a choice of Christmas pudding which was flambéed at the table before being doused with brandy custard or traditional Scottish cranachan, toasted oats with whisky, honey, whipped cream and raspberries. Once again they ordered one of each and shared it and as expected, both were delicious.
Just before coffee was served, Andrew slipped away to the kitchens and found James at the pass controlling the dinner service like a general. When he spotted Andrew he smiled and walked over to him.

"Evening boss, what brings you to the kitchen?", he asked.
Andrew shook his hand and smiled as well.

"I just came to compliment you on our dinner. It was superb. I'm not a great lover of turkey, but your roulade was fantastic. My compliments to the chef".
James grinned and lowered his head, slightly embarrassed.

"Thank you. I appreciate you coming back here. Did everyone else enjoy their meal?"

"I only heard good things. It was very well done. I don't want to get in the way, but may I thank your brigade personally?"

"Yes sure!". He turned around an clapped his hands. "Kitchen brigade, listen up!" he said loudly. When he had everyone's attention he said,

"Okay, for those of you who don't know, the gentleman with me is Mr Andrew Devlin-Major. Yes, one of the owners! He has something to say!"

"Thank you chef. I and fourteen of my family and friends have just had the set menu dinner in the restaurant. I want to thank you all for a superb meal. Everything was tasty and beautifully presented. Well done, all of you. And Merry Christmas. I know most, if not all of you will be working tomorrow. But I know you will give your best and when you get home, I hope you enjoy your time with your families. Thank you".

Andrew grinned at them as they all started applauding and singing , and then turned a walked back to the restaurant with the words of 'For he's a jolly good fellow' ringing in his ears.
When he sat down, Ryan looked at him quizzically.

"Where did you disappear to, my love?"

"Just popped into the kitchen to pass on our compliments to James and his staff".
Ryan grinned and shook his head.

"You never miss a trick, do you? No wonder your the staff at Blue Bay love you so much. And it looks like this place is going be the same. And just one of the many reasons I love you so much. You're thoughtful and caring, but you don't allow people to take advantage of you".

"Thanks babe. I just give credit where credit is due. And let's face it, the food was amazing tonight. I just felt that James should be told".

He pick up his cup of coffee and sipped, grimacing as he put the now cold liquid, down and pushed it away. Less than thirty seconds later, a fresh cup of coffee was placed in front of him.
Andrew looked up at the waiter.

"Thank you ", he said, smiling.

"You're welcome Mr Andrew!", he replied, smiling. "Enjoy".
Ryan leaned into him.

"See what I mean! Already they will do anything to make you happy".

Just then, the lights dimmed as lighters flickered and candles were lit. Voices broke into song around them as waiters and busboys scattered through the room began singing 'Silent Night'. Then more staff, consisting mainly of house-keeping personnel appeared at the entrance to the restaurant, each one holding a lit candle. They walked slowly into the room and the restaurant staff joined them in front of the buffet, where they finished the well known carol, before singing 'O Holy Night' and 'Rudolph the red nosed reindeer" They returned to their posts amid appreciative applause as Andrew turned to Paul.

"Did you know about that?"
Paul grinned at him.

"Yes, I did. They approached me a week ago to sing tonight and tomorrow at lunch. It's the first time I've heard them and I must admit they sounded really good".

They left for home shortly after, making arrangements with the in laws to meet at the house at 10am to open gifts with Cameron and Elizabeth.

Christmas Day proceeded as expected. Andrew and Ryan had freshly brewed coffee ready with muffins, Danish pastries and fruit mince pies when the family arrived. Ryan had removed the 'security fence' around the tree and the twins were already having a ball amongst all the parcels.
They all sat and watched as Cameron and Elizabeth opened their pile of gifts, tearing the paper apart to reveal the contents. Most of the gifts were educational, but Elizabeth got a Raggedy Anne doll and her first Barbie. They each got a toy to ride on while Cameron got a sturdy red Ferrari and a battery operated tipper truck that made all the appropriate noises. And they got lots of clothing.
By sheer coincidence, Andrew and Ryan bought one another exactly the same gift. The latest I-Pod, mainly to use on 'Belle Catherine' when they were standing watch alone. Fortunately Andrew's was black and Ryan's was silver.
Once all the gifts had been opened, Andrew and Ryan went upstairs to change and when they were ready, Janice and Donna took the twins to dress them for lunch.

The Blue Bay was very busy when they arrived. They were slightly early but the parking area was almost full and when they entered the lobby after being greeted by Thomas in his usual fashion, they were met by a hum of conversation from guests gathered in the lobby, drinking their complimentary sherry and waiting for the doors of the restaurant to open. Claude and his management team moved amongst them checking their names off against the reservations sheet and advising their table numbers. When the doors opened, the guests moved through with the waiters showing them to their tables either in the room itself or on the patio. The party chatted with Claude while they sipped their sherry and waited for the remainder of their tablemates to join them. It was almost the same group as the previous night, with the ommission of Marie and Jonathan who were with Paul at The Cameron, and the addition of François and Claude.

Andrew looked around the lobby, once more observing the differences and subtle similarities between the two lodges. As proud as he was of The Cameron, Blue Bay Lodge definitely had the more genteel ambience and would always be a special place to Andrew. Blue Bay had a far more upmarket feel than The Cameron, which, while upmarket, had a more resort feel about it.

Beth and Nicky were the last to arrive and they moved into the restaurant to the usual table positioned at the windows. Claude and the Food & Beverage team had chosen to go with white and gold decor and the table was covered with a white damask cloth and a gold, tasselled runner down the length of the table. Centrepieces consisting of white or gold candles, gold tinsel and pine cones, both natural and tinged with gold spray paint rested in the centre of the table. Gold Christmas crackers and cardboard hats lay on the usual white crockery and the matching white serviettes stood in the red wine glass. The only splashes of colour came from the hats that were decorated with circles, diamonds, triangles and squares in blue, red, green and silver.

The lunch was superb, as usual, with the buffet groaning under the weight of the foods on offer. No one would be deprived of choice on this Christmas Day. The twins had their first Christmas lunch after Andrew patiently cut up a piece of turkey into tiny pieces and mashed it together with a potato, carrots, peas and gravy and fed it to them with Kerry's help which they thoroughly enjoyed, followed by some chocolate mousse. After lunch, he, Ryan and Claude circulated through the tables checking that every-one was happy. Andrew was surprised and very pleased to discover that almost 70% of the tables were return guests from the previous year and that for 50%, it was their third Christmas lunch at Blue Bay, meaning they had been every year. It just reinforced his knowledge that Blue Bay had garnered a loyal following, not only locally, but internationally as well, with many guests returning at least once a year.

As usual, Andrew requested the kitchen to arrange a platter to take home and they left in the mid afternoon to pop in at The Cameron to see how lunch had gone there.

At The Cameron, all the guests had finished their meal and some had already left when they arrived, and Paul and his management team were just about to sit down and have some lunch themselves, so Andrew and Ryan joined them at the table. Marie and Jonathan were also there, but had already eaten so Marie just had coffee, while Andrew and Ryan tucked into a slice of James' cranachan filled pavlova.

Paul reported that the lunch had been very successful and that all the guests had enjoyed themselves. Most of the lunch guests had been non residents, and many of the in house guests would be dining on a similar buffet that evening. They didn't stay long as it looked like the twins were sleepy, just ate the gateau and had some coffee, and left for home.

The twins did fall asleep on the short drive home and they gently carried the toddlers into the house, being careful not to trip over Rascal who was running around them as they walked. They put the twins on the bed in the guest bedroom and while Andrew packed the platter into containers, Ryan went upstairs to change into shorts and a t-shirt before coming back so that Andrew could do the same. They both sprawled on the couch with Andrew leaning against Ryan and before they could blink, both were asleep as well.

Andrew became dimly aware of of something soft exploring his face. He opened his eyes and was momentarily startled to find Cameron standing next to them touching his ears, mouth and nose. He sat up, trying not to wake Ryan, but failing, and swung his feet onto the floor as the toddler gazed at him with a very serious expression on his face.

"Hello my little man, how did you get here?", he said to his son, picking him up. Andrew stood up and, carrying Cam with him, walked to the guest bedroom and peered in to see Elizabeth still asleep on the bed. Ryan came up behind and wrapped his arms around them.

"What are you two up to?", he enquired as Cameron lifted his hand to touch his other dad's face.

"This little imp managed to get off the bed by himself and come to find us on the couch. I woke up with him poking his finger over my face", Andrew replied.
Ryan's eyes widened.

"You're kidding! By himself?"

"Yes my love. It seems out little boy is getting more confident. We're gonna have to keep a sharp eye on him. We don't want him getting hurt"

"You're telling me. Put him back on the bed and see what he does".

Andrew put Cameron back on the bed next to his napping sister. He looked at her and decided to let her sleep, moving instead towards the side of the bed. Ryan involuntarily stepped forward to help him, but Andrew stopped him.

"Just chill babe. Let's see what he does. If he gets into difficulties then we'll help him".

The intrepid toddler crawled to the side of the bed and peered over the edge. Then he gripped the duvet cover and squirmed over the edge allowing himself to slide slowly down until he was standing on the floor. He turned and looked up at his amazed parents with a very pleased grin on his little face as if to say "See! Easy!"
Ryan scooped him up into the air and the little boy chortled with glee.

"Such a clever boy! All by yourself. Well done ", Ryan said, hugging him and then clapping his hands.

Cameron giggled again and copied his dad, clapping his hands as well. All the activity woke Elizabeth and she too crawled to the edge of the bed before raising herself on her knees and holding up her arms to be picked up, which Andrew quickly did.

"Hello daddy's girl. Come to dad. Did you have a good nap? Come let's get you and your brother some juice to drink".

They carried the babies to the kitchen and poured apple juice into their bottles, adding a bit of water as well, then put them down on the rug with some of their new toys. The southeaster that had been just a pleasant breeze in the morning and during lunch, had picked up considerably while they napped, and was now blowing strong enough to whip up whitecaps on the water of the bay and blow spindrift off the breakers, so there would be no paddle in the pool that afternoon, so instead, when they got bored at playing with their toys, their dad's sat them in front of the TV and turned on an animated movie for them to watch while they each gnawed on a teething biscuit. The movie was 'Sing' which both toddlers loved, and when the music played, both of them would move their arms and bodies, much to Andrew and Ryan's amusement, especially when one of the characters, Ash, an aspiring porcupine rock star, stamps her foot on the stage to get the audience to start clapping to the beat. Then both the toddlers would get very excited and go and stand in front of the TV and stamp their feet and clap as well. It was very cute!

The remainder of the week between Christmas and New Year was very laid back, spent mostly at home and having family and friends pop in and out for visits.
The highlight of the week occurred on the Friday.

Andrew received a call from Claude to advise that the Kinleys were checking in that day and had confirmed an arrival time of around lunch. Ryan suggested they go to Blue Bay for lunch and be on hand to meet them when they arrived. They invited David, Janice, Donna and Craig to join them and Friday found the family sitting on the patio, in perfect weather, at Blue Bay Lodge. Andrew had selected a table where he could keep an eye on the lobby.

Shortly after their plates had been cleared off the table, he observed a flurry of activity at the main entrance to the lobby, and Thomas appeared, pushing the wheeled luggage cart, piled high with pieces of luggage, followed by Joan, and behind her the remainder of the Kinley family.
Andrew touched Ryan's hand and stood up.

"They're here babe. Let's go".
Ryan glanced at his parents.

"Will you guys excuse us for a few minutes", and they moved to the patio door to the lobby.

The Kinleys were all gathered close to the reception desk and Andrew was pleased to see that Claude was already shmoozing his VIP guests. He saw them approaching, smiled and said something to Dan and Joan, who turned around, both beaming in pleasure when they saw them. Joan hurried toward them, her arms open to envelope them in a hug.

"There you are my darlings. How kind of you to be here to meet us. It is so good to be back."
She air kissed them on both cheeks, continental style and looked up at them as Dan joined his wife.

"Hello Joan, hi Dan. Welcome back. It's good to see you too. Have you had a good vacation so far?", Andrew enquired.
Dan shook their hands in greeting.

"Hi guys. Yeah, it's been really good. We flew into Lanseria Airport to clear customs and immigration, and then flew to Pietermaritzburg and helicoptered to a resort in the Drakensberg for a week. Just relaxed and played golf every alternate day", Dan informed them, before Joan added,

"And then we flew up to a private nature reserve for a week. Absolutely mindblowing. Our rooms were the most amazing tents I have ever seen. Absolutely beautiful with every mod-con you could think of. Except TV and air conditioning because they only work on solar power. But at night, you could hear the animals moving around between the tents. And the game drives...... We saw the big five every day we were there. We even had breakfast out in the bush, with rhinos grazing just 100 metres away. The kids were so excited. And now we're here until the 4th when we go cruising with you, which we are all looking forward to."
Ryan grinned at her.

" Well, we're going have to pull out all the stops to top what you've already done. But we're looking forward to it too."

"Okay, lets get you guys into your rooms and settled", Andrew suggested.

"Talking of rooms, we hear you guys have been busy . How's the new lodge doing?", Dan asked them.

"It's going really well, thanks Dan", Andrew replied. " The Cameron is almost fully booked until the end of February, and forward reservations after that are looking good. The guests all seem to be happy and we are thrilled with the outcome. Actually, what are your plans for dinner tonight?, watching as the rest of the family headed for their rooms with the porter.

"Well, we were just going to have dinner here and chill out. Why?", Joan asked.

"At the risk of being shot by my general manager here, would you care to join us at The Cameron for dinner? Our treat!"
Joan held up her hand.

"We cannot expect you to stump up for all of us. You cover Dan and I, and we'll pay for the family", she suggested.
Andrew shook his head.

"If you insist, but then we split the bill 50/50. What time would be convenient for you?"

"Not too late. We have an early cable car up the mountain in the morning. How about 7pm? It gives us time to unpack and relax a little before dinner", Joan said.

"7pm it is then. How are you fixed for transport? Can we pick you up?", Ryan asked them

"We have rentals. So we can make our own way. Where is The Cameron?", Dan enquired.

"You actually drove past it on the way here. Drive back on Beach Boulevard and take the second slip onto the side road above the boulevard. The Cameron is on the left heading towards the city", Ryan explained.

"Great, see you at 7. Time to get sorted out, Daniel. Let's go"
Andrew and Ryan watched them walk up the stairs to their suite.

"They really are special, aren't they? ", Ryan said.

"That they are, my love. That they are"

Andrew and Ryan arrived at The Cameron early and were standing in the lobby with Cameron and Elizabeth when the Kinleys two vehicles rolled to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. Dan and Joan led the group through the doors into the lobby and Joan beamed as she spotted them.

"Darlings, there you are! This is amazing. It's beautiful!"

"Hi Joan, Dan. Thank you. And welcome to The Cameron"
Joan studied the lobby, pivoting in place as she did so.

"It's so different from Blue Bay. I feel like I'm in a grand mansion in the Highlands of Scotland", she commented.

"When I saw the building for the first time, it reminded me of a castle we saw in Scotland. That was the inspiration", Andrew told her. "Would you like to go straight through to dinner or take a quick tour? Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, because we are so full at the moment, the only room we can show you is the penthouse suite."

"I would like a quick walk through please." Joan replied. "Oh shucks, I'm being rude. Can I introduce you to the rest of the family", she said, turning towards the people behind her.

"Kinley family, this is Andrew and Ryan Devlin-Major, dad and my very good friends and the owners of this establishment, the lodge we are staying at and the yacht we are going cruising on next week. The little ones are their twins Cameron and Elizabeth.
She indicated as she spoke.

"Andrew, Ryan. This as our family. Our eldest son Robert and his wife Amanda. Next to them is Tanner, his wife Julia and their son Tanner Jr, or TK as we call him. He's 4 hrs old. And finally our daughter Tessa, her husband Brandon and their daughter, Cassandra. Cassie is 3 years old"
Andrew and Ryan greeted each one with a handshake and welcomed them and Ryan asked,

"Okay, who is joining us for the walk through".
They all nodded and Andrew turned back towards the lobby and described the thought process behind the room and it's decor before leading them back past the turret vestibule to the elevator to go to the top floor. They stepped out of the elevator and he swiped his key card to open the penthouse door.

"This is our largest room. Three double bedrooms, all en-suite, lounge, separate dining room, kitchen and outdoor patio. All our rooms are actually apartments ranging in size from bedsitters to this one. Feel free to have a look around", Andrew told them, stepping to one side and opening the electrically operated curtains and blinds at the same time.
The group split up wandering around the large space and while they were looking at the bedrooms, he opened the sliding doors to the rooftop patio.
Dan and Joan reappeared from the bedrooms with Joan smiling widely and pointing at the boys.

"Now I feel like I'm back on 'Texas Lass'. It definitely has the feel of a superyacht, especially the bed plinth in the main bedroom. And these doors onto the patio. It could almost be the aft main deck. Did you plan the decor as well?", Joan remarked.
Andrew grinned and nodded.

"You did really well", Joan said. "I don't think a professional interior designer could have done any better. You've carried your tartan theme through from the downstairs areas, but it's far more subdued and restrained. I think it's very successful".

Andrew blushed at her genuine praise.

"Thanks Joan. That means a lot coming from you. We're very happy with how it all turned out".

When everyone had had a good look around, Andrew closed everything up again and they returned downstairs via the turret staircase with everyone ooohing and aaahing as the descended to the lobby level and turned right towards the guest lounge/bar and the restaurant.

They all had the buffet after having a good look at what was on offer. James had once again not disappointed with a mix of local, Scottish and international dishes and their guests all raved about the food and service. The evening passed by quickly and before anyone realised it, it was 10pm, the restaurant was almost empty, the kids were fighting to keep their eyes open, and the Kinleys were preparing to head back to Blue Bay and their beds.
Andrew and Ryan walked them to the vehicles to see them off.
Joan hugged them both.

"Thank you my darlings. That was lovely. I wish you all the best for your new venture. Now I have one request".
They looked at her questioningly.

"What might that be?", Ryan asked.

"Well, I want to stay here for the one night we are in Cape Town after the cruise, instead of at Blue Bay. Would that be possible? "
Andrew nodded.

"It's no problem. I'll just have to check if we have rooms available. I know the penthouse is vacant for you and Dan. Can I confirm with you tomorrow?"

"You got it. No problem. I know it's short notice and you're in your peak season"

"We'll see what we can organise ", Andrew told her and they departed for Blue Bay while Andrew, Ryan and the twins returned home.

Andrew contacted Paul first thing in the morning to check on availability for the Kinleys and all they had available was the penthouse and one other executive suite. He called Dan's mobile and he caught them on the top of the mountain enjoying tea and cream scones. After exchanging pleasantries with Dan, he handed the phone to Joan.

"Good morning Andrew darling, what have got for us?"

"We only have the penthouse and an executive suite available. Would you be prepared to share the penthouse?"

"Yes, no problem. We will sort it out between ourselves. Reserve the two rooms for us please?"

"Will do. You can take that as confirmed. I will get reservations to send you a formal confirmation."

"Thank you darling. I knew we could rely on you. Will we see you before we sail?"

"I was thinking about that. If you have nothing planned for New Years Day you can come here to the house for lunch. Make it 12.30 for 1pm. We can have a proper South African braai. Bring your bathing suits and anyone who wants to swim can use the pool. The long range weather forecast is predicting a perfect day. If anyone has had a rough night before, they can crash in one of the bedrooms"
There was a pause and the heard Joan consulting with the family.

"Okay, it's on for New Years Day. Will you send me your home address?"

"I'll send it as soon as we finish our call. Have a good day. See you on New Year"

"Thank you dear. See you soon".

When the call ended, he immediately Whatsapped the address and directions on how to get there.
Ryan came downstairs from the bedroom having just finished showering and getting dressed. He grinned as he saw the twins playing with some decorations from the Christmas tree.

"Hi babe, who were you talking to?", he asked Andrew.

"That was Dan and Joan. I was just letting them know rooms are arranged at The Cameron. I've also invited them very on New Years Day for a lunch. I thought we could braai. We should invite mom and dad, and Donna and Craig as well.

Ryan grinned at his husband.

"Oh, yeah, no problem. So much for not wanting to entertain this season. Are we going shopping today or on Monday"

"I'd like to go today, there is no way I want to be running around the mall on New Years Eve. I think we must get some boerewors and I want to get some sosaties. And maybe some king prawns that I can put on skewers as well. The side dishes, I think, we must keep to cold salads, but I want to keep them as local as possible. Maybe a potato salad, a garden salad, sousboontjes and corn on the cob. A small pot of stiff mealiepap with tomato and onion sauce. For dessert, I'll just pop in to the home industry and get some koeksusters, milk tarts and herzoggies. And I might make a small malva pudding that we can serve with ice cream or fresh cream".

Andrew giggled at Ryan's astounded face.
"I know it's a lot, but it is New Year and it's time to celebrate. And it's actually not that much work, if you think about it".
Ryan just grinned at his husband.

"If you say so, my love. Okay, let's have some breakfast and while we're doing that, I can contact mom and dad about New Years Day. Then we need to hit the supermarket. I want to relax this afternoon and watch the Liverpool- Manchester United game. So we'll need some snacks as well".

While Andrew got busy with preparing breakfast, Ryan contacted his parents who accepted the invitation to lunch, as did Donna and Craig and after giving the twins some of the scrambled egg with some finely chopped ham that Andrew had made for his and Ryan's breakfast they got them into the Andrew's SUV and went shopping.

They arrived home just before lunch with everything they needed plus, at Ryan's insistence, several flavours of ice cream, a box of sugar cones, and the prerequisite snacks for the football on TV later in the afternoon. While Ryan got the toddlers organised, Andrew quickly grilled some chicken breasts which he would use in a salad for dinner, but cut some up in small pieces for Cameron and Elizabeth for their lunch. Ryan sat with them while they ate, keeping an eye that the food went into their stomachs and not into Rascal's. The twins had recently started showing that they wanted to feed themselves, but either Andrew or Ryan were always on hand to prevent accidents or if one of them should choke. Andrew, meanwhile, was rustling up man sized sandwiches of hot pastrami on rye with mustard and pickles which they ate while sitting on the couch The twins guzzled down the chicken, and concerned that they may still be hungry, Andrew cut up some cheese into small blocks with some baby tomatoes which they also seemed to
enjoy. When they were no longer interested in the food, Ryan used the face cloth from the guest bedroom to clean their faces and hands and they let them play with their toys for a while, before taking them for a splash in the pool.

Instead of just sitting on the step with them, their dad's took them into the main body of the pool, slowly pulling them through the water. They were turning into two little water babies and squealed with happiness which, of course, led to bouts of coughing when they swallowed some water. But they loved it nevertheless and were a bit unhappy when they returned to the house, but it wasn't long before both were fast asleep on the mattress in the playpen, which allowed their dad's to relax and enjoy the much anticipated Premier League match. Ryan sprawled on the couch, Andrew reclining against him with bowls of crisps, popcorn and finely sliced biltong close at hand.

The relaxing Sunday afternoon was exactly what they both needed, what with a hectic New Years Eve and New Years Day ahead of them and the weekend after they would both be on charter with the Kinleys. Ryan unfortunately woke the toddlers up when he got excited about a last minute goal that robbed Liverpool of a win and they had to spend some time pacifying Elizabeth who was very indignant at being woken so rudely.

Ryan took them upstairs to get them bathed and dressed for the night, while Andrew prepared their dinner and formula bottles. Andrew made his and Ryan's salad at the same time and popped it into the refrigerator and when his family came back downstairs, he was able to spend some more quality time with them while they fed themselves. When the little ones had eaten, they got settled on the couch and Ryan put on their latest favourite video, Despicable Me, while they drank their formula. Less than halfway through the movie, their little heads started dropping to their chests, so they were put into the playpen to fall asleep, which didn't take long at all.

The following day, New Years Eve, Ryan helped Andrew with the food prep for New Years Day, and while they were busy, the doorbell chimed. Ryan went down to the front door, returning a few minutes later with two large boxes. Andrew stared at him quizzically and asked,

"What the hell is that? We're not expecting anything are we?
Ryan grinned and Andrew's eyes widened in surprise when he replied,

"We are actually. I don't think we thought it would arrive in time. It's from Donald. Our new Cameron kilts."
Andrew beamed.

"Oh wow, thank you Donald! Just in time. We can wear it tonight", he said, moving to take one of the boxes from Ryan and starting to open it, while Ryan started on the other. As it turned out, they had one another's boxes so after changing them they expectantly peeled back the tissue paper that covered the contents.
Andrew gazed down at the box in awe.

Donald had not only sent them kilts, the boxes contained the complete Cameron formal regalia!
A black Barathea Prince Charlie jacket lay folded on top with a silver sgian dubh and kilt pin nestled on top.
He reverently lifted the jacket out of the box and revealed the white wingtip collar dress shirt, black bowtie , sporran, flask, kilt hose and tartan flashes on top of the 16 oz worsted wool Cameron kilt. In another box was a pair of Ghillie brogues and in a small black box, a pair of silver cufflinks with the Cameron crest nestled on black velvet.

Andrew pulled out his mobile, flicked through his contact list until he found Donald's number, and called him. The Lochiels broad Scottish brogue resounded through the speaker.

"Andrew, me laddie. How are you? I take it you received your parcels?"

"Hello Donald. We are all well. Compliments of the season to you!. Yes, they were just delivered. You've outdone yourself. The regalia is beautiful.. We're attending the Hogmanay celebration at The Cameron tonight and guess what we'll be wearing. Thank you so much!"

"It is my pleasure laddie. You and Ryan are going to bowl them over tonight. How are my wee bairns?"

"They are well, Donald. Growing up far too quickly. What are you doing tonight?"

"We are celebrating Hogmanay here at Achnacarry Castle. The clan traditionally meet here on New Years Eve if they are able".

"Well have a great time and thank you once again. From myself and Ryan. It's much appreciated".

"Don't mention it laddie. And you and your family have a good time tonight as well"

"We will, I'm sure of it. Keep well and goodbye"
He put his mobile down and looked at Ryan.

"We really have special people in our lives. That man is such a gentleman".
Ryan nodded

"Yes , he is. Maybe next year we must think about going to Achnacarry for New Year. It would be great to be with the rest of the clan".

"Good idea. We can definitely think about it. We better check if this stuff all fits.".

Preparations temporarily abandoned, they gathered up the twins and the boxes and went upstairs to try on the clothing. Amazingly, everything fitted perfectly with only the shirts needing to be pressed.

They fed the twins at their usual time and got them bathed and dressed, then showered and got dressed themselves. The doorbell chimed shortly after, announcing the arrival of David, Janice, Donna and Craig.
David let them in with the key he and Janice had and were waiting in the lounge when the boys descended the stairs in all their finery. Donna's face was a picture as she gaped at her brother and his husband. Janice pulled out her camera and snapped a few pictures as the came down the stairs, both smiling broadly.

"Oh my god", Donna exclaimed, lifting her hands to her face. "You guys look amazing. Where on earth did you get those outfits?"

Andrew air kissed her on both cheeks and shook Craig's hand saying,

"This is the Clan Cameron official formal regalia. It arrived from Scotland this morning".
Andrew greeted David and Janice while Donna replied,

"Well it's certainly impressive. Are you two following tradition?, she enquired, wiggling her eyebrows.
Ryan grinned at her after greeting her.

"That my darling sister is for us to know and you to find out", wiggling his eyebrows back at her.

"You boys are going to cause quite a stir tonight. Donna is absolutely spot on. You both look incredible. The outfits suit you.", Janice added, taking Elizabeth from Ryan while Cameron held out his arms for David to take him. They turned as voices were heard at the bottom of the stairs and Nicky, Beth, Darren andKerry appeared. Kerry stopped in her tracks when she saw Andrew and Ryan, her jaw dropping.

"Wow", she breathed, staring at them. "You guys certainly know how to get into the spirit of something. You both look very sexy, if you don't mind me saying so. You're going to have half the women and more than a few guys swooning over you tonight"
Andrew chortled.

"The only person I am interested in is the man standing right next to me, thank you very much".

Beth grinned at them.

"Donna is absolutely spot on. You both look very dashing".

They greeted the new arrivals and then prepared to leave for the event, making sure they had everything they needed for the twins. They all piled back into the vehicles and drove the few blocks to the lodge. When Ryan turned into the driveway off the boulevard, Andrew gasped at the scene before him, his chest swelling with pride.

The garden lights had all been turned off and instead, the driveway and garden were illuminated with dozens of flaming torches, giving off almost the same amount of light as the electric lights would have, the only difference being the flickering of the light on the garden and the building. Every window of the building was lit with light, some bright, as in those from the bedrooms, and others more muted, like those in the lobby and restaurant.

A platoon of Scots guardsmen playing pipes and drums marched on the lawn beside the driveway and roundabout at the main entrance, the skirl of the bagpipes clearly heard. They emerged from the vehicles as Abel, who had in the interim been appointed Head Porter, and his team descended on the cars to drive them round to the parking garage.
Andrew and Ryan stood on the deck outside the main doors and took in the atmosphere, listening to the bagpipes and drums. The rest of the party moved into the lobby with Cameron and Elizabeth as Paul came out to meet them. He grinned when he saw them.

"Good grief! Talk about the lords of the manor surveying all they see. You two certainly look the part."

"Hi Paul", Ryan replied, shaking his hand. "We feel the part too. What's the saying about clothes maketh the man? "

"Hi Paulie", added Andrew. "We were not expecting our kilts to arrive so fortuitously, let alone formal regalia. But it certainly looks impressive"

"That's for sure. You do realise you two cannot win the best dressed competition tonight. Even though you deserve it"
Andrew threw back his head and laughed.

"No, that certainly will not do. Who is judging the competition anyway?"

"Well, I had asked the captain of the guardsmen to do the honours. They will be our guests tonight and will be staying on until after midnight. But maybe you guys should join him, seeing as you are not eligible".

"Yeah, okay. No problem. Just fill us in on the details later"

Andrew and Ryan moved through the main doors into the lobby, to be met by a barrage of camera flashlights. It seemed the local press were taking a huge interest in the happenings at The Cameron.

As they had done on the opening night, the main lights in the lobby had been dimmed to a mere glow, with illumination once again being provided by the standing candelabra with their fat white candles. The musak had been turned off and replaced by the sounds of the pipes and drums in the garden, which could be clearly heard through the open windows and sliding doors.
The restaurant lights were also dimmed and each table had candlelamps providing light with the tables for two and four having one each, the tables seating six having two and the tables of eight and ten having four. Their long table of twelve, close to the windows had six candlelamps. Dinner would be a buffet and dancing would take place on the outside deck where a dance floor had been placed and a DJ had set up under an open sided marquee. Looking around the room, they noticed that the vast majority of the guests had done as requested and worn tartan of some sort with many of the men in kilts and the women with sashes across their bodies or around their waists. There were, however, none who were as opulently decked out as Andrew and Ryan, who both drew many admiring, and in some cases, envious glances. The only other people coming close to their formality were the guardsmen in the band.

Just before dinner was announced, Paul indicated that Andrew and Ryan join him and the guards captain in the lobby where he introduced them to what they considered to be the stereotypical Scotsman. Tall, broad - shouldered with red hair and a huge handlebar moustache.

"Guys, this is John McLean, the captain of the guardsmen. John, may I introduce Andrew and Ryan Devlin-Major, the owners of the lodge and the other judges for tonight"

John grinned down at them from his lofty 6ft5in, reaching out with a huge paw of a hand.

"A pleasure to meet you laddies. May I compliment you on a beautiful hotel and your superb dress. That is the Clan Cameron formal tartan if I am not mistaken".
They both shook his hand and Ryan answered.

"Pleased to meet you too John. And thank you for all you are doing tonight. Yeah, we are wearing the Cameron tartan. We are very fortunate. It arrived from Scotland only this morning, sent to us by the Lochiel".
John's eyes widened at the mention of Donald's title.

"You gentlemen move in exalted circles. Tis indeed an honour to receive a tartan from the head of the clan. Let alone full formal regalia".

"The Lochiel is great uncle to our twin babies. Their mother, who is here tonight, is his niece. He was in the country two weeks ago to officially open the lodge for us"

"I had heard a rumour that he paid a quick visit. I had no idea it was to be here. Right, Paul here has some instructions for us I think", he said, turning to Paul.

"Yeah, okay. The best dressed competition. We have best dressed man, woman and couple. The prizes are two nights, subject to availability, here at The Cameron with breakfast and dinner and the runners up win dinner for two.
We'll announce the winners at about 11.30, so if I can have your results by 11 it would be great. It also gives you enough time, John, to get your guys together in time for midnight"

"Perfect, no problem. How do we identify the candidates?, Andrew asked.

"Just give me a table number and a general description and I will do the rest", Paul explained. "That's what I need that half an hour for between 11 and 11.30".

The buffet opened at 8pm when, led by two pipers playing 'Scotland the Brave", James and his assistant entered the restaurant, each bearing a platter with two haggis on them and placed them on the carvery station, for anyone brave or interested enough to try. Also on carvery was a huge haunch of beef, roast chicken and gammon with all the usual starches and vegetables. There was also a lamb curry, and several vegetarian dishes including a lentil and butternut bobotie. For fish lovers, there was whole baked Scottish salmon. There was also a range of starters and salads and a large dessert buffet.

Dinner was a very leisurely affair with everyone taking their time which helped Andrew and Ryan when it came to judging the best dressed competition as they could clearly observe everyone going to the buffet or returning from it. They had the added advantage of having Beth to consult with which made the selection process a lot easier.
The dinner was superb as usual and, surprisingly, there seemed to be many takers for the haggis including everyone at their table. While Andrew and Ryan enjoyed it, they decided that it was definitely an acquired taste, which was the general opinion of the other guests at their table, including Beth.

The DJ was playing soft background music during dinner with two pipers replacing him when he took his break for dinner, but as soon as he had eaten, he began playing more upbeat tempo music and guests began gravitating towards the dance floor and by 10.30 the celebrations were in full swing.

Paul came to fetch their best dressed choices just before 11pm, having already received the list from John and were pleased to see that they were very much in agreement.

At 11.30 there was a drum roll and Paul announced that it was time for the winners of the best dressed competition to be revealed and then came a surprise.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I want to request that Andrew and Ryan Devlin-Major join me up here at the podium to hand out the prizes". As Andrew and Ryan rose from their seats, Paul continued. "For those of you who may not know , Andrew and Ryan are my bosses and the owners of The Cameron. So I guess they are your hosts tonight."

The room broke out in applause as they walked across the dance floor to were Paul was standing. Andrew took the microphone from Paul.

"Ladies and gentlemen. We weren't planning on being up here tonight, but as we are, I need to just thank you all for being here tonight and for entering into the spirit of the occasion. I hope you have all enjoyed the evening so far and will continue to do so as we approach midnight and beyond. If I know our General Manager, he still has some surprises in store for us. Thank you".

Paul then called up the candidates for the three categories and the two couples, two men and two woman
walked up and stood on the dance floor. He then announced the winners in each category and Andrew and Ryan congratulated the winners and runners-up, handing them the vouchers for their prizes.
The music resumed, a pumping upbeat number leading up to midnight and the dance floor was packed with gyrating bodies.

A spotlight came on, pointed at the big clock on the wall and everyone counted down to midnight. As theclock stuck 12, amid the shouts of 'Happy New Year', there was a skirl of bagpipes as four pipers standing in the corners of the room began playing 'Auld Lang Syne' and everyone on the dance floor crossed their arms and linked hands to sing the traditional farewell to the old year. Simultaneously, roman candles on the edge of the deck erupted in fire, spewing red and white sparks out over the garden. When the song ended, there was another crackle out in the garden as a huge fireworks display began, sending skyrockets soaring into the sky, while waiters circulated with trays of sparkling wine or grape juice. Andrew was slightly misty eyed as he and Ryan observed the elation and excitement around them, their bodies pressed close with their arms around their waists. Sensing his emotion, Ryan squeezed his waist, holding him even closer and when Andrew looked at him, he gently wiped away the moisture at the sides of Andrew's eyes before kissing him deeply.

"Happy New Year, Drew. I already love you more than I did last year", Ryan whispered

"Happy New Year to you too my love. I so lucky to have you and our babies in my life. I really hope that this year will be as happy and as fulfilling for us as what last year was".

Ryan smiled lovingly at the love of his life and traced a finger gently down the side of his face.

"Can we just try to have a quiet, peaceful year this year? We've had a big project every year since before we were married"
Andrew buried his face into Ryan's chest and laughed. He looked up at him and grinned.

"I won't promise anything, but I'll try my best. You can't deny it hasn't been fun".

"True dat. But a quiet, boring year would be nice for a change. Then we can just concentrate on ourselves, our babies and our family and friends".

"Okay, we'll make a concerted effort. Cam and Elizabeth are going to need more of our time as well with them growing so quickly".

A hand rested on Andrew's shoulder and he turned his head to find Beth and Nicky smiling at them.

"What are you two looking so serious about. You're supposed to be happy. It's a new year!", Beth asked.
Andrew turned so that he was facing them, still standing close to Ryan who replied.

"Just talking about expectations for the year ahead. Happy new year you two. I hope it will be a good one. For us all!", and he leaned forward and kissed them both on the cheek.
Andrew wished and kissed them as well and Beth grinned at them again.

"Oh, I'm sure it will be. Especially as Nicky and I are getting married!", she announced, flashing an engagement ring on her finger.
Andrew enveloped her in a hug as Ryan did the same for Nicky.

"Wow, ladies, congratulations. When did this happen? Have you decided on a date yet?, Andrew gushed and moved across Ryan to hug Nicky while he congratulated Beth, who giggled happily.

"A few minutes ago, while the fireworks were on. You guys are the first to know. And no, we haven't set a date yet. But it will probably be sometime after June".

"Well, congratulations again. We wish you both lots of happiness", Ryan added.
Nicky held Beth's hand and gazed at her happily.

"If we can get half the happiness you guys have, we'll be content. You two have set a very high bar and if we can get some of what you have, then we know we'll be happy".

"I'm sure you will be", Andrew told them. "If we can assist with anything, we're a phone call away"

"Thanks guys, you're both absolute stars", Nicky said. "You're both very special and mean a lot to us. Now, my wife-to- be and I are going home to celebrate. Thank you for a wonderful evening. It was superb as usual".

"Thanks Nicky, it was our pleasure. What have you got planned for tomorrow, or rather today?", Andrew enquired.

"Nothing really", Beth replied. "For once, Nicky is pulling rank and has taken some time off. She is on call for emergencies though."

"Would you like to join us for lunch. We're going to braai. We've got the Kinleys, the couple who we were in the Mediterranean with, coming over as well".Andrew asked them.
Beth and Nicky looked at one another and Beth replied.

"Are they the charter guests you've got coming up? We don't want to impose"

"They are, but you really won't be imposing. We'd love to have you join us", Ryan told them.

"Okay, thank you. We'll be there. 12.30ish?"

"Yeah perfect. See you later"

They said their good byes and after returning to the table to greet everyone else, they left for home. Andrew and Ryan didn't linger either, gathering up the twins and leaving soon after, along with David and Janice. Donna and Craig stayed on with Darren and Kerry who offered to drop them at the house later.

Arriving home to an excited Rascal, happy to have his favourite humans back home, they put the twins to bed and Ryan opened the bedroom patio door so that Rascal could go out into the garden, then, once he was back in, undressed and fell into bed, falling asleep almost immediately, but not before finding their usual positions spooning against one another.

They slept late, only being woken up by their protesting offspring, which resulted in the morning being quite hectic. Fortunately, most of the preparation for lunch had been done the day before, but while Andrew did the last minute things, Ryan wizzed through the living area with the vacuum cleaner and mopped the tiles. When Andrew was done, he made sure all the bathrooms were clean and tidy and properly equipped and then started arranging the crockery, cutlery and glassware for lunch. Ryan added the extensions to the pool patio table so that they could accommodate sixteen people and two toddlers and then Andrew set the table while Ryan started the fire.

The Majors arrived just after 12 with Donna and Craig, and Beth and Nicky arrived about five minutes before the Kinleys who arrived just after 12.30. After everyone had been introduced, Andrew and Ryan, with the assistance of David and Craig, made sure everyone had a drink before all the men moved out to the fire, while the ladies settled down in the lounge.

On spotting the swimming pool, the two Kinley children, Tanner Jnr and Cassandra wanted to swim and eventually pestered their dad's to join them. Andrew showed them to the guest bedroom and one of the bedrooms upstairs to change. The shouts and shrieks from the pool soon drew the ladies out onto the patio and they settled themselves around the lunch table.
Of course, Rascal was in his element, excitedly running around the pool, yapping and wagging his tail. The kids loved him and Tanner Jnr picked him up and took him into the water to paddle around after asking permission to do so. The twins were determined to get into the action as well, getting dangerously close to the pool edge, although everyone was keeping a close watch on them. Ryan finally relented and took them for a paddle on the step. The two older children who both seemed quite comfortable in the water paddled up to the step and played with them as well, much to their delight. After a while, Beth and Nicky came out as well and took over from Ryan while he went back to tend to the fire.

Andrew was in the kitchen when Joan came in and put an arm around his waist.

"Is there anything I can do to help, Andrew darling?"

"Actually, you can Joan. If you could move the bowls on the breakfast counter to the dining room table, that would be a great help. I'm just getting the maizemeal porridge and the sauce into bowls and then we're about ready to eat. I'm told the meats are almost ready. Then if you can get everyone out of the pool that would be great".

She did as requested and while she was busy, Andrew moved the porridge and sauce to the food warmers on the sideboard and took some platters out for Ryan to plate the meats and the corn.

When everything was ready and everyone was dried off they all stood around the dining room table, linked hands and David said grace before they all began dishing up. Julia and Tessa helped Tanner Jnr and Cassandra, with the adults following after them and Andrew giving any explanations that were necessary.

Andrew had opened a selection of wines from his Greek collection, wanting to give his South African wines a bit of a break, and most of the adults topped up their glasses on the way back to the patio. A brief period of quiet descended as they all took their first few mouthfuls of food, before the conversation chatter started up again. Andrew and Ryan had the twins seated between them on booster seats and had carefully cut up some meat into small pieces for the twins along with some baby tomatoes and potato salad which they tucked into using their little fingers.

The American guests were effusive in their compliments and most of them went back for seconds. When they had all had their fill, Janice, Donna, Beth and Nicky cleared the table and packed the dishwasher, leaving the leftovers covered on the breakfast counter should anyone get peckish later. Andrew arranged the koeksusters, milk tartlets and herzoggies on two tiered cake stands and the ladies helped him carry them to the table along with the still warm malva pudding, a jug of softly whipped cream and the ice cream and sugar cones.
The kids were helped first, both going for chocolate ice cream cones, of course, and the twins each got a small bowl of chocolate ice cream.

"Oh boy, I recognise all this from our first trip", gushed Joan. She indicated the malva pudding to her family.

"That is malva pudding. Just divine. You've never tasted anything like it. And those are milk tarts. Similar to our custard tarts but softer and creamier. With cinnamon on top. Those are koeksusters", she said, pronouncing it perfectly. "A bit like a very crispy donut, but not as cakey. It's dipped in ice cold syrup as soon as it comes out of the oil to soak up the syrup. Sweet as sin but utterly moreish. And those are with apricot jelly and a coconut topping. I hope we're going to see more of these on board 'Belle Catherine'?.

Andrew grinned at her and replied,

"Well done, you remembered everything I told you last year. And yes, you will be seeing more of them"

They all helped themselves to the pastry items while Ryan just had malva and ice cream. He and Andrew had to keep a wary eye on the twins who were fighting with their teaspoons, getting more ice cream on their faces, clothes and the tablecloth than in their mouths. Rascal, naturally, was in close attendance, lapping up any ice cream that found its way to the tiles under the table, which was actually quite a bit.
Andrew grinned at Ryan.

"We're either going to have to take these two back into the pool after lunch or bath them. They're covered in ice cream".

"Let them enjoy it, Andrew", Joan advised. "A quick dip in the pool will do the trick and it's hot enough that they can just run around in their diapers until bath time. I still can't believe how they've progressed in just six months since you were with us in the Mediterranean"

The two proud dad's beamed down at their chocolate covered toddlers. The table erupted with laughter when Cameron picked up his, thankfully empty, bowl and started licking it out. Beth's comment didn't help either.

"Hmmm, we can definitely see whose child Cam is. A man after his father's heart."
Ryan glared at her on the other side of the table.

"Quiet you. He's half you anyway", he retorted, followed by more laughter.
Joan looked puzzled at them for a moment and then the light came on.

"Wait, you are the twins mother", she asked pointing at Beth.
Beth grinned and nodded

"Yes I am".

"Oh my word, I didn't make the connection. I mean, the boys just introduced you as Beth and Nicky. May I say, you produce beautiful babies, my dear. And they are so well behaved".

"That's all Andrew and Ryan's influence. Although we see quite a lot of them, I have absolutely nothing to do with how they are brought up. Drew and Ryan are fantastic fathers and it's thanks to them that they seem to be so well adjusted", Beth explained.

"And you don't feel like you're missing out on seeing them develop. If you don't mind me asking?", Joan asked.
Beth glanced quickly at Nicky, who nodded.

"No I don't mind at all. The agreement with Andrew and Ryan was that I provide breastmilk until the end of December of last year and then step back completely. To their credit, they have chosen to keep me far more involved than what I thought or hoped, and I thank them for that. But Nicky and I got engaged last night and after we get married, our time will come. Both Andrew and Ryan have stored sperm in the sperm bank and we have an agreement that when the time is right, we will be able to make use of their sperm to have babies of our own. I don't think it will be twins, but you never know until the time actually comes and we make that decision. But Cam and Elizabeth will eventually have a brother or sister, hopefully both".
Joan shook her head.

"Wow, the four of you are so young, but you're making amazingly adult decisions. We've had total admiration for the boys since we first met them. And now I know why they chose you to be the mother of their children. You're kindred spirits".

"It was thanks to Nicky that we were introduced to Beth", Ryan added. "I was involved in a rather unfortunate incident where I was badly beaten up a few months after we were married. Nicky was the doctor who treated me and returned me to perfect health. It was a few months after, that we met her in a coffee shop again and we mentioned the possibility of having children. And it all started from there. And we have never had any regrets".

"Ryan is absolutely right", Andrew added. "Look, let's face facts. It hasn't been easy. What social life we had has been massively curtailed, not that I'm complaining. I wouldn't change what we have for anything in the world. Ryan and their faces are the first things I look forward to seeing in the morning. I know it sounds crazy, but there nothing like walking into the nursery in the mornings and seeing the utter delight on their little faces. As tiny as they are, the utter devotion and trust that they have is mindblowing and incredibly humbling, quite frankly".

He nodded to Beth and Nicky as he continued,
"You will see what I mean when you have your own to love and cherish and care for. We want to have them christened soon. It would have made my own mom and dad happy, and I know it will make mom and dad Major happy. But it will make Ry and I happy too, because it will be our public commitment to love and to care for these two little mites"
Andrew looked around the table and stood up.

"Okay, this conversation has got waaayyyy too serious. Coffee or tea for anyone?. And then you guys can all congratulate Nicky and Beth on their engagement."

After getting the hot beverage order, Andrew disappeared into the kitchen to fire up his fancy coffee maker. Joan followed him and offered her assistance. She kissed him on the cheek and held his face between her soft hands, gazing at him.

"You, young man, have no idea just how special you are. You are wise beyond your years. And your capacity for love, and life, is enormous. Life gave you lemons when your parents were killed. But you made lemonade. And great lemonade at that too".

She kissed his cheek again and grinned at him.

"Right, my big serious moments are over. Show me how to operate this contraption".

The remainder of the afternoon was spent just relaxing. The pool got more use than it had ever had. Craig and Tanner Sr found an old, but perfectly serviceable volley ball net in the garage and managed to rig it up over the pool so that they could play water volleyball, which kept everyone entertained for a while, but soon there were prone bodies laying on the grass on towels or on the sunbeds, all soaking up the warm sun with many of them napping as well. The twins had also succumbed to all the excitement and their batteries had finally run down and they had fallen asleep in their dad's arms and were now resting in the playpen with Rascal napping with them.

Andrew, Ryan, Joan, Beth, Nicky and Tessa remained sitting at the table and chatted the afternoon away while sipping at glasses of wine and nibbling at what was left of the dessert. It was a thoroughly enjoyable start to the year.

Their guests began leaving in the late afternoon, with Beth and Nicky leaving first when Nicky was called into the hospital for an emergency. The Kinleys left a half an hour later, some of them slightly sunburnt and would suffer the next day. Andrew told Tanner Snr where to find the emergency pharmacy to get something to soothe the sunburn and they headed off to the small mall close to The Cameron. They were planning on visiting the winelands the following day and on the Thursday they wanted to do the drive to Cape Point , driving along Chapmans Peak Drive to the point before returning to the Blue Bay via Muizemberg, Fish Hoek and Simonstown. Then they would board 'Belle Catherine" on Friday morning for the cruise along the southern coast.

For Andrew and Ryan, the couple of days before departure were spent at the marina preparing the yacht for the trip. With Darren and Kerry's help, 'Belle Catherine' was given a thorough clean inside and out until she gleamed like new. They opened every hatch, porthole and door to air the interior and laid all the mattresses on the deck to air as well, before remaking all the beds. On the Thursday morning, armed with an impressive shopping list, Andrew and Kerry went to get all the remainder of the supplies that had not been delivered and then spent the better part of the after-noon, packing it all away and in the evening, Andrew and Ryan went to dinner at the Cape Grace Hotel to celebrate their 3rd wedding anniversary, taking the twins with them.

After a great deal of discussion, it was decided that Darren and Kerry would be on board as well to assist Andrew and Ryan with the large group. Kerry would help Andrew on the hotel side of things while Darren would help Ryan with the actual sailing duties He was also the designated dinghy driver. There was unfortunately no cabin for them, but were quite willing to bed down on the cockpit bed, formed when the table was lowered and covered with cushions. With the weather predicted as being perfect summer sailing weather, they were even willing to sleep under the stars on the foredeck. They would use the bathroom in the master cabin for their ablutions.

At 10.30am in Friday morning, the four crew members all stood on deck in their blue knee length cargo shorts, white golf shirts and deck shoes, when the two Kinley vehicles drew to a stop on the dockside. Ryan and Darren stepped off onto the dock to assist their guests on board and to collect all the luggage.
The passerelle from the deck gate to the dock was almost level and in a surprise move, Andrew had produced a thick navy blue rug with 'Belle Catherine' woven into it, which he laid at the foot of the passerelle. With the slight downward angle on the passerelle, Andrew stood on the deck next to the gate to help from there as well.

Joan came aboard first followed by the two children. Knowing the drill, she immediately moved into the aft cockpit to keep the side deck clear and the rest of the group came aboard in short order. They were, however, missing two family members - Robert and Amanda had not arrived with the family. Kerry was in the cockpit offering welcome cocktails of sparkling wine and/ or fresh fruit juice and Andrew followed Dan, who had boarded last into the cockpit where Joan turned to him.

"I'm afraid Robert and Amanda will not be joining us. There's been a fire at one of the plants back home and he is needed there. They are flying out on the jet as we speak", she informed Andrew.

"Oh what a pity! I'm sorry to hear about the fire. How serious was it? Do you know?"

"Not too serious, fortunately", Dan said, "But as CEO, he needs to be there. Goes with the territory I'm afraid. He told Amanda to stay, but she was determined to fly back with him to support him, which I admire her for. So until Robert gets there we won't know the full details. And that will only be tomorrow afternoon SA time. In the meantime, we continue as planned".

Ryan and Darren had returned on board, having loaded all the luggage and parked the vehicles, and stood listening as Dan was talking.

"Good morning everyone, welcome on board and welcome back on board, Dan and Joan", Ryan said "Sorry to hear about your hassle back home. I hope everything turns out okay. Was anyone hurt?"

"There were apparently some casualties but we don't know the details. We're just praying no one was killed", replied Dan.

"Yeah, I hope so too. If you need to use the satellite phone, please feel free to do so. It's in the small locker next to the helm if you need it", Ryan told him.

"Thank you, my boy. I'll let you know if I need it"

"Okay, let's get everyone organised", Andrew suggested. "With Robert and Amanda not here, we have an open cabin. Can we put Tanner Jnr and Cassandra in a cabin on their own? As you can see, we're not 'Texas Lass', so it would give you more room in your cabins. Or would you prefer to have them with you?", Andrew asked, looking at the children's parents.

"We'll keep them with us in our cabins, thank you", they replied.

"Okay, no problem". Andrew turned to Dan and Joan.

"With your permission, I would like to request that we use the free cabin for Darren and Kerry then. We decided to keep them on board and were going to bed them down in the cockpit. We will refund you a portion of the charter fee, of course"

Dan shook his head.

"I won't even entertain the thought of a refund. Of course they can use the cabin. We didn't pay for cabins, we paid for the use of your lovely boat, which is exactly what we are getting".

"Thank you Dan, we appreciate it. Right, now that we settled that, let's get you to your cabins and then we can set sail. I'll do the safety briefing when we cast off." He looked at Ryan and Darren.

"Ry, Dan and Joan are in the port aft cabin again, Tanner, Julia and TK are in the port midships cabin and Brandon, Tessa and Cassandra are in the port forward cabin".

Ryan and Darren proceeded to take the luggage to the cabins and when they returned, Andrew and Kerry led the family to their cabins, showing them all the features, in particular, the escape hatches in the bathrooms, then returned to the saloon to start preparing lunch. Andrew nipped down into the starboard hull to check on the twins and Rascal who were still napping peacefully and took the baby monitor with him when he returned to the galley.

He felt the engines rumble into life as Ryan and Darren prepared to set sail and he saw Darren walk past to the bows to release the lines, then hurry back to do the same at the stern as Ryan kept them on station with the engines. Ryan kept them where they were for a short time while checking that everything was operating as it should.

Their guests began appearing from below, gathering in the saloon and when they were all there Andrew allowed Kerry to run though the safety briefing. When she was done, the ladies all made themselves comfortable in the aft cockpit, while Dan took Tanner and Brandon onto the foredeck with Tanner Jnr and Cassandra following them. Dan turned to his son and son-in-law.

"I want you guys to see this. She may not be 'Texas Lass', but damm if she hasn't got all the gizmos! Watch this!", he told them and leaned over the starboard bow as the water boiled and the bow pivoted away from the dockside using the bow thruster. Dan grinned at them.

"Can you believe it? She even has bow thrusters! And wait till you see them launch the dinghy", he told them excitedly.
They stayed on the foredeck as Ryan advanced the throttles and spun them around to head towards the bascule bridge to exit the marina into the harbour proper. Tanner Jnr and Cassie made themselves comfortable on the dolphin seats on the tip of either bow. They quickly sailed into the harbour basin and turned to starboard to motor towards the entrance, having to slow down to allow an arriving container ship to clear the entrance so that they could proceed. With a southeasterly wind blowing, it meant that the wind would be almost dead on the bows, so the engines would have to be used for the initial part of the cruise. The wind was predicted to become southwesterly overnight, which would enable them to hoist the sails and really enjoy was sailing was all about. Other than that, the weather was a typical Cape summers day - clear blue skies, hot sun beating down and just a few wisps of cloud on top of the mountain.

Ryan left Darren at the helm as the sailed up past Sea Point, moved onto the foredeck and started taking the sunbeds out of their storage locker and setting them up. When Tessa and Julia saw what he was doing,they quickly nipped back to their cabins to change and emerged a few minutes later wearing bikinis with sarongs tied around their hips and, mindful of the safety briefing, carefully headed to the foredeck holding on to the safety railing on the saloon roof. They chatted to Ryan, Dan and their husbands for a while and there was a sudden flurry of excitement as a pod of dolphins were spotted just ahead of the bows. Within seconds they were all prone on the trampolines, and Joan had also hurried forward, peering over the edge down into the water as the dolphins proceeded to jump out of the water and give them a show. The children were ecstatic, squealing in amazement with each appearance of the beautiful mammals. Brandon had his video camera handy and quickly began filming them and the kids reactions. The dolphins provided an escort all the way to the city end of Chapmans Peak Drive, where they disappeared into the deeper water, much to the disappointment of all.

At the other end of the yacht, Kerry had taken the opportunity to lay the cockpit table for lunch which Andrew was finishing off in the galley.
Lunch was just a simple cold meal consisting of a trio of smoked snoek. A terrine, a traditional blend of flaked snoek with spring onions, sweet peppers and a touch of chilli, and a small tranche of the fish, the bones laboriously removed, with an apricot jam and mustard glaze. To accompany the meal, there was
a fresh green salad with his favourite ingredient, avocado, and fresh seed loaf he had picked up the bakery earlier in the morning. He had white and rose wine to go with for those who wanted wine.

They ate lunch as they motored along the steep cliffs below Chapmans Peak, now on one motor onlywith Ryan and Andrew joining them at the table and Kerry joining Darren at the helm while Tessa and Julia took their plates and wine to the sunbeds on the foredeck to eat and get a tan at the same time.
When Andrew heard sounds emanating from the master cabin on the baby monitor, he hurried down to see to the twins who needed changing, and then brought them upstairs. Brandon was amazed when he sawthem.

"Good grief, I had no idea you had the babies on board with you. I thought you may have left them with Ryan's parents", he exclaimed.

"There is no way Andrew and Ryan would leave them behind", Joan told him. "When we were here last year, they were only three months old, and they cruised with us. Never heard them. Not once"

"Joan is right", Andrew added. "We could never envision leaving them, even with mom and dad. They are very unhappy if Ryan or myself are away on a charter. They definitely know that one of us is not around. Lord only knows how they would react if both of us were suddenly not around. And quite honestly, they seem far more chilled when we're on 'Belle Catherine'. Like today. It's been a while since they napped this long in the morning. I think it has something to do with the motion and the sea air. They definitelysleep longer on board than at home".

Joan took the twins and made a fuss of them, while Andrew went to prepare some food for them and when he came back, Joan and Julia, who had come back from the foredeck, were happy to watch over them while they ate to make sure there were no accidents, finishing their own lunch at the same time.
Rascal also got his fair share of attention. Tanner Jnr and Cassandra were delighted to see him, and he them as he seemed to remember them from all the fun they had on New Years Day.Dessert was a large caramel and peppermint tart and there was coffee or tea for those who wanted a cup.

After lunch, Dan and Joan went and lay down in their cabin, while Julia and Tessa were on the sunbeds forward. Brandon and Tanner Snr sprawled on the seats in the cockpit chatting to Ryan and Darren and observing the operation of the yacht.
In the mid afternoon, they rounded Cape Point and turned on an easterly heading to cross the wide mouthof False Bay, heading for Cape Hangklip at the far end. With the bay being so deep, in both depth and size, they were essentially well at sea, so strict safety protocol was put into effect. Ryan took two life vests and harnesses to Tessa and Julia and requested that they wear them when the returned to the cockpit and everyone was advised that the protocol was in place. Ryan and Andrew were fully aware that some guests were irked by the safety protocol, but felt the irritation was worth for the sake of safety.

Just after the turn off Cape Point, the wind started backing to the south and Ryan decided to hoist the mainsail and the spinnaker. The electric winch whirred as the mainsail rose in its tracks to the top of he mast and then with the engine throttled back slightly and 'Belle' on autopilot, he and Darren went forward and hauled the spinnaker out of its locker and let it fly, with Tanner and Brandon interested observers. The spinnaker billowed out over the port bow, filling with wind and looking impressive. Darren returned to the cockpit and killed the engine, and serene quietness surrounded them, with just the sigh of the wind and the hiss and bubble of the water against the hull and at the bottom of the scoops.
Tessa looked up from the book she was reading, pushed her sunglasses up onto her head and squinted up at Ryan.

"Now I know what the allure of sailing is. It's so quiet. Even on 'Texas Lass', as well sound and vibration proofed as she is, you are still aware that you are under power".

Dan appeared on the side deck heading towards them, examining the mainsail and spinnaker. He heard what Tessa had said and stopped next to her.

"There is nothing like being under sail on a sailing yacht. To me, it's one of the most peaceful things on earth."

Due to the direction from which the wind was blowing, their speed was not fantastic,, but as the afternoon progressed and the wind backed more to the southwest, their speed through the water increased and by sunset they were approaching Cape Hangklip. The plan was to spend the night at Hermanus before pushing on to Mossel Bay the next day, but they would only arrive after dark. They wanted to try and get as far as Plettenberg Bay before turning around and hopping back along the coast.
Ryan went to see Andrew who was in the galley with Kerry preparing dinner. All the guests were in their cabins getting refreshed except for Dan and Joan who were enjoying sundowners on the foredeck, having showered after their nap.

"Drew babe, we're still about two hours from Hermanus. I was thinking of just pushing on through the night to get to Plettenberg Bay as early as possible. Darren and I can spell one another at the helm so it shouldn't be too much of a problem and the sooner we get to Plett the better"

"That's cool with me. Let's have a chat with Dan and Joan. When do you think we can be at Plett?"

"The wind is supposed to pick up a bit during the night. So we will more than likely arrive off Plett tomorrow afternoon".

They walked out to the foredeck and approached their clients.

"Dan, Joan can we have a quick word?" Ryan asked.
They looked at Ryan and Dan replied.

"Not a problem, I hope? You sound serious"
Andrew and Ryan grinned at them.

"No not really a problem. Maybe just a bit of a dilemma", said Andrew. "We had planned to spend the night in Hermanus, which is still about two hours away. That was before we decided to have Darren and Kerry with us. Ryan wants to push on through the night to get to our turnaround point at Plettenberg Bay as quickly as possible. Then we play hopscotch down the coast back to Cape Town. It will give us more time to do things at the stops"

"When is our expected arrival at, what was the place, Plettenberg Bay?", Dan queried.

"We fully expect to be off Plett by tomorrow afternoon", Ryan told him. "We just don't want you guys getting bored. We can stop off on the way, Witsand or Still Bay, and give you some time on shore or using the water toys. We were thinking of spending at least one full day off Plett for you to go ashore and have some fun on the water. Plett is well known as the millionaires playground in summer. There are a large number of very luxurious holiday homes located there. There is also a superb hotel that we want to take you to dinner at".

"Okay, here's my decision. We push on to Plettenberg Bay for our first stop. And we take it from there.
We're in no particular hurry. We have a few days to spare anyway", Dan told them.

"Fantastic, thanks Dan. We didn't want to arbitrarily take the decision without consulting you" Ryan said. "Darren and I will push her as hard as we can during the night to get us there as early as possible. If the wind co-operates we should be good to go".

"Thanks guys. We appreciate you keeping us in the loop. As captain and owners, you have every right to make a decision, so the fact that you came to speak to us is appreciated. I might come keep you company during the night if you don't mind. Which watch are you taking?, he asked looking at Ryan.

"Well now that we've cleared things with you, I'm going to have a short nap and take over from Darren at 23h00 until 03h00 then relieve him at 07h00 again in the morning"

Dan nodded. "Great. I'll see how it goes. Like your little ones, I tend to sleep very well on board 'Belle Catherine'. It seems she's a very peaceful boat. Not sure what it is".
Andrew grinned at him.

"I know what you mean", Andrew said. "And I've come to the conclusion it's my mother watching over the boat. She feels with it being named after her, she must protect it and all on board"

"Well, you may well be right. All I know is that when I'm here with you guys, I'm more chilled than any where else except my home in Miami.. Now you go off and take a rest. You've got a long night ahead of you. And thank you again. Both of you".

"It's our pleasure", Andrew said. "And I better be getting back to the galley or dinners not going to be ready on time. Dinner will be at 19h30. Will that be okay, or do you want it earlier for the children".

"No 7.30 will be fine. TK and Cassie are used to dining later", Joan replied.

"Great. If they do get hungry, let me know and we can organise something for them".

They left Dan and Joan on the foredeck and returned to the cockpit where Ryan updated Darren on the plan for the night, then taking the twins from the playpen in the saloon, went down to the master cabin to bath and dress them for the night and then bring the back to the saloon for Andrew to feed them while he went for his nap.

Andrew and Kerry managed to get dinner done with time to spare, so while he fed the twins, she popped down to their cabin in the starboard hull to shower and change into her evening uniform of navy blue skirt and pale blue buttoned shirt. When she came back, Andrew left the twins in the playpen while he went to shower and change as well and while he was away, she set the table in the cockpit for dinner. When he returned, he grinned when he saw the table and came to stand next to her.
"The table looks beautiful. Thank you. There's just one small problem".

Bewildered, Kerry looked at him. "What haven't I done?"

"You've done absolutely nothing wrong. So relax. You just need to set another two places. Dan and Joan will insist that we dine with them. I did the same thing the first time they cruised with us and I was told very firmly that we would all dine together. So I don't expect this cruise to be any different. Darren will obviously have to eat at the helm, and Ryan is resting. But you and I will have to join them. It will probably only be for breakfast and dinner. But we'll be play it by ear and see".

"Oh, okay. No problem.", and a few minutes later it was all done..

Andrew gave the twins their bottles of formula and they lay on the mattress in the playpen to drink them.
He went out to chat to Darren and noted that he had dropped the bug screens on the port side and behind the table to make the area cosier, but still allowed the soft balmy sea breeze to circulate through the cockpit. Kerry had added the table extension and the table could now comfortably seat twelve, but it was set for ten. The overhead lights had been dimmed and the soft warm glow lit the table beautifully.

It was covered with a white damask cloth and set with the yachts good white china, silver plated cutlery and matching damask serviettes. A crystal wine glass and water or juice glass stood above each place setting and three candlelamps were arranged down the centre of the table with two low glass bowls each containing three floating red carnations and white pebbles on the bottom. Andrew gave a small pleased grin. The table setting looked just as good as the one on 'Texas Lass', if not better. He returned to the saloon and turned on the music system to play some soft background piano music, and was both surprised and pleased to see the twins, having finished their bottles, had fallen asleep.

Dan and Joan appeared from below first and Andrew offered them a pre dinner drink, which they declined, preferring to go directly to the table and have wine. The rest of the family followed soon after and joined them, and dinner commenced.

Andrew had considered giving them a choice, but due to his space constraints, that was not possible.
The hors d'oeuvres consisted of James' whisky cured Scottish salmon, rolled in finely chopped dill and parsley and thinly sliced with horseradish cream, paper thin onion rings and capers and served with brown bread. It was garnished with micro herbs . A pepper grinder was on hand for those who wanted it.

The entrée was a rolled and roasted loin of lamb with red wine jus, crispy roast potatoes, butternut puree and green beans. There was both mint jelly and mint sauce to go with it..

Dessert was a sublime blend of dark and white chocolate mousses separated by a layer of crushed shortbread and a raspberry coulis.

There had been murmurs of approval through the meal, but when it was over, Julie slumped back against the cushions of the backrest.

"Oh my god, that was soooo good. I'm completely stuffed. You're gonna have to carry me to the cabin. How the heck do you produce that sort of meal in the space you have. I was impressed with what Mark does from his galley on 'Texas Lass', but, wow, you sure give him a run for his money"

There was laughter all round and Andrew smiled at her as he replied.

"Thank you. We're pleased you enjoyed it. It all boils down to good planning and organisation. It would have been far more difficult if Kerry hadn't been here. But we try our best with what we have.".
Joan huffed next to him.

"Don't let him fool you Julia, darling. This young man is an amazing chef. He may not have the qualification that Mark has, but he has natural talent. Wait till we have some of the more exotic local dishes like the curries or bobotie. Simple, but so full of flavour. But Julia is right. It was delicious Andrew. Your South African lamb tastes completely different to our lamb".

"That's because its Karoo lamb. They are bred in the semi desert part of the country called the Karoo. It's the bushes and grasses they feed on that give the meat it's distinctive flavour", he explained. "Later on in the trip, we'll be going into the Klein Karoo, or Little Karoo, on one of the excursions we have planned, which it the most southerly part of the area. Right, who wants coffee?"

Andrew and Kerry cleared the table and took everything back to the galley and while Kerry packed the dishwasher, Andrew brewed the coffee and dished up a plate of food for Ryan which he left in the microwave with a note saying "Because I love you", and a dessert in the refrigerator He also made up a couple of meaty sandwiches and two flasks of coffee for Ryan and Darren to snack on through the night along with some choc-chip cookies. Kerry started to tidy up the galley when Andrew took the coffee to the table.

He also took out a bottle of Amarula liqueur and some glasses which Joan immediately pounced on. Kerry excused herself and retired for the night, as she would be up early to start the breakfast preparation so that Andrew could deal with the twins morning ritual. They sat around the table chatting until just after 10.30 when every one except Dan headed for their beds. Dan elected to stay up and keep Ryan company for a while, while he was on watch and went to sit with Darren at the helm.

While waiting for Ryan to relieve Darren, Andrew pulled out the linen for the breakfast and placed it on the galley counter for Kerry in the morning. He also took out a half dozen croissants and a dozen Danish
pastries and popped them into the still warm oven to prove overnight, leaving a note for Kerry to bake them off in the morning. He also took out from the freezer, bacon and pork sausages and left them on a tray to thaw.
When Ryan came up, hair still damp from his shower, he bent down to kiss the twins softly on their foreheads and then kissed Andrew.

"Hi my love. How did you sleep?", Andrew asked him.

"Quite well actually. I was initially only vaguely aware of voices and movement above my head in the cockpit, but once I fell asleep, I heard nothing".

"Good. There's a plate of food in the microwave for you. And mousse in the refrigerator. There's also sandwiches, coffee and some biscuits. Don't eat it all. Leave some for Darren when he relieves you. Dan is still up. He's going to keep you company for a bit. He's with Darren now. And Kerry will be up early to make more coffee and get breakfast started. Will you just help me get Cam and Elizabeth to the cabin before you take over?"

Andrew went to say good night to Dan and Darren, before turning off most of the lights in the saloon and he and Ryan gently picked up the twins and took them to bed in the master cabin. Ryan lingered briefly to hold Andrew in his arms and kiss him goodnight before going up to the helm and sending Darren to join Kerry for a few hours.

Andrew had a quick shower and was asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow. He was dimly aware of Ryan getting into the bed with him during the night and spooning against his back, but woke up when Ryan rose just after 6am to get ready to relieve Darren again. When Ryan opened the cabin door to go up into the saloon, he heard Kerry's voice and the sounds of activity in the galley. The twins were also showing signs of waking up, so he donned a robe and went to the galley to prepare bottles for them and mix up some cereal. When he got back, they were both awake, sitting quietly in their cribs and when he saw him broke into radiant smiles and holding out their arms for him to pick them up.

He sat them on the bed and fed them and then gave them their bottles to drink, turning on the TV for them to watch a cartoon while he had another quick shower, before dressing himself and them and then scooping them up and carrying them up to the saloon with Rascal following on his heels. He put them in the playpen to play and turned on the saloon TV to show the animated movie 'Sing' and then greeted Kerry and helped her with breakfast.

The pastries were still baking in the oven, filling the saloon with wonderful aromas, which were soon joined by frying bacon and sausages. Andrew moved the warmers onto the counter in the cockpit and plugged them in and as food was cooked, it was put on platters or into bowls and placed on the warmer.

When the pastries came out of the oven, the halved tomatoes went in to grill along with some large black mushrooms drizzled with melted butter, salt, pepper and fresh oregano. The was also sweetcorn fritters.
When the family began showing up, they all grabbed a mug of coffee before going into the cockpit or on to the foredeck. Tanner Jr and Cassie sat on the seats at the saloon table and watched the movie with the twins. Dan and Joan came up last, Dan having slept in after his late night, Andrew took the last items out to the counter and Kerry started making toast. Andrew got two pans onto the burners with a tray of eggs close by and announced breakfast.

While the family helped themselves to fruit juice, cereals and yogurt, Kerry took orders for their eggs and told Andrew who proceeded to do the eggs to order. As the eggs were cooked, Andrew plated them and Kerry took them out to the table where they then helped themselves to the other hot items. It all went quite smoothly and, in very short order, everyone was once again feeding their faces. Ryan ate at the helm, and Darren grabbed a plate of food and took it to their cabin to eat and to freshen up before having a nap after his watch. Andrew and Kerry just grabbed something in the galley as they worked, but eventually managed to sit down at the table for coffee and pastries.

The morning was beautiful with a cloudless sky, calm seas and a good following wind, which gave some relief from the sun, which was already quite hot. Dan leaned back against the cushions with his arm on top of them and looked up at Ryan.

"How are we progressing, Ryan", he queried.
Ryan swiveled the helm chair to reply to him.

"Very well actually. We're closer to Plett and I thought we would be. The wind last night was great. We should be off the beach just after lunch, with a bit of luck. We should be able to deploy the water toys this afternoon and you guys can have some fun".
Brandon rubbed his hands.

"Good to hear. Mom and dad told us about your supertube. I cannot wait to try it out."

After breakfast, Andrew and Kerry tidied up and started on lunch while their guests scattered around the yacht with a warning from Andrew to use lots of sunblock and to cover their heads, as it was not only getting very hot, but the reflection off the water was quite bad as well. The younger members of the family and the children were all on the foredeck, either on the sunbeds, on towels on the trampolines or sitting in the dolphin seats. Dan and Joan stayed in the shaded cockpit, relaxing and chatting to Ryan. Andrew or Kerry made several trips onto the foredeck with sodas, beers and water to ensure that everyone stayed hydrated. He also left a basket in the cockpit with packets of crisps, popcorn, pretzels, peanuts, raisins, biltong and a few chocolate bars for those who may be peckish.

Lunch was wraps with a choice of sliced grilled chicken with a light curry mayo dressing, or seared beef strips with a sticky BBQ sauce. Everyone was encouraged to make their own wrap and there was crisp fresh lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, cucumber, peppers, red onion, avocado and sweet juicy mango to go with it. Dessert was simply vanilla ice cream with either chocolate or butterscotch sauce.

About an hour after lunch, the rounded Robberg Point and the sparkling white edifice of the iconic Beacon Island Hotel came into view. They had arrived at the turnaround point, the beach resort of Plettenberg Bay.

Copyright © 2020 Andre Delport; All Rights Reserved.
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Another very enjoyable chapter @Andre Delport with my favourite cheeky little character, Rascal, making a few appearances and "stealing the show" each time he does. 

I must say all the "cast" seem to eat an enormous amount of food. I like the fact that you include a significant amount of local cuisine in the story too; it makes for interesting reading and, encourages me to do a little research on South African cuisine. Although I am vegetarian, I do like some of the exotic names for the various meat/fish featured. I was glad to see the inclusion of some vegetarian cuisine at the New Year's Eve banquet at The Cameron. I researched the lentil and butternut bootie online, and apart from the eggs, it sounds absolutely delicious. 

I agree with @drsawzall, Joan and Dan appear to be delightful and very down-to-earth for a couple who must have more money than they know what to do with. I was particularly impressed with Dan's concern for the welfare of his employees in the factory fire.

Edited by Summerabbacat
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On 2/11/2021 at 6:20 AM, Summerabbacat said:

Another very enjoyable chapter @Andre Delport with my favourite cheeky little character, Rascal, making a few appearances and "stealing the show" each time he does. 

I must say all the "cast" seem to eat an enormous amount of food. I like the fact that you include a significant amount of local cuisine in the story too; it makes for interesting reading and, encourages me to do a little research on South African cuisine. Although I am vegetarian, I do like some of the exotic names for the various meat/fish featured. I was glad to see the inclusion of some vegetarian cuisine at the New Year's Eve banquet at The Cameron. I researched the lentil and butternut bootie online, and apart from the eggs, it sounds absolutely delicious. 

I agree with @drsawzall, Joan and Dan appear to be delightful and very down-to-earth for a couple who must have more money than they know what to do with. I was particularly impressed with Dan's concern for the welfare of his employees in the factory fire.

Dan and Joan are enormously wealthy, US dollar wealthy, as opposed to Andrew and Ryan's ZAR wealth,  but both couples  are nevertheless very humble people, and therein lies their bond. The fact that Dan and Andrew's dad were close business associates plays a role as well.

As for the food, I guess they do eat a lot. But food is one of my great passions, as I have mentioned in previous comments. My background was the hospitality industry. So It plays a big part in the tale.

Edited by Andre Delport
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On 2/11/2021 at 8:21 PM, mikedup said:

Great chapter, very descriptive about places in South Africa along with local foods and desserts

Thank you.  I will admit I thought seriously about setting the story in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean, both of which I know quite well, but ultimately decided that, being a less 'well travelled' destination, South Africa would be more interesting  (I hope).  Andrew likes to keep his ingredients as local as possible, but as you have read, his meals themselves have a fair sprinkling of international dishes as well. I have concentrated on local cuisine though, again, because it is not well known and felt the readers would find it informative.

Edited by Andre Delport
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Fantastic chapter I enjoyed it very much.when reading l’m so relaxed.

The stress l am momentarily in is floating away when reading this story.thanks.😥😢


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