Day Trip to Robertson and Barrydale

The Autumn weather has been awesome in our neck of the woods.   We’re desperate for rain so it’s with a smidgen of guilt that we’re enjoying the sunshine.   May it not last too long!

They were upgrading the electrical services in our section of Struisbaai on Wednesday so the electricity was cut from 8 until 5.   We used this as an excuse to go out of the day.   After all we couldn’t use the internet for banking and other online chores.

Such trips just bring home to us how privileged we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country.  In spite of the lack of rain the scenery is still stunning.  All the farmlands looked like they’d survived the dry spell and the sheep and cows were all in good health.

At midday we stopped at Stormsvlei Restaurant and Farmstall.  It’s on the R317 half way between Riviersonderend and Swellendam.  You have to go a little way down a dirt drive until you come upon it.  They also have self catering cottages next to the river.   The last time we passed this way it was closed so it was great to find it open for lunch on Wednesday.   What a picturesque little place it is.   We could choose a table either inside or out.  As it was such a beautiful day we sat on the patio and enjoyed the gorgeous garden.   The Earl had a chicken wrap and I the chicken salad.   No complaints from either of us.


The gorgeous garden


Interesting table decor in the form of a very pretty white and ginger tipped cat!

Our next stop was Springfield Wine Estate in Robertson.   I am rather partial to their Sauvignon Blanc – Life from Stone – so we had to pick up some supplies.   It is my only vice.  And it’s a very pretty estate to visit.


One drives along an avenue of autumn colour to get to the wine shop


So peaceful to sit and enjoy the dam in the shade of the trees


An Egyptian goose enjoyed the peace too

We continued our drive enjoyed more scenery and then  stopped at Barrydale.


The quaint little town of Barrydale is on the border of the Karoo and the Overberg and is named after Dr Jame Barry who has an interesting history.

Dr Barry (1789 to 1865) was a surgeon in the British Army, served in Cape Town and did much to make the lives of wounded soldiers better. Dr Barry also improved the conditions of the native inhabitants.  This dedicated doctor also performed the first caesarian section in Africa in which both the mother and child survived the operation.   However, it was only after his/her death that it was discovered that Dr Barry was a woman.  He/she’d lived his/her whole adult life pretending to be a man so that he/she would be taken seriously in the medical profession.   How awful that a woman of her generation had to go to such lengths to live her dream.   More interesting facts about James Barry here

Barrydale, like the person after whom she is named, is a unique little town.   It is culturally mixed having both English and Afrikaans residents and a number of people from Europe have also settled here.  I would describe it as a colourful town filled with arty restaurants and shops.


How cute is this bright yellow house with its hot pink window frames!


Why not have a purple pizzeria


I’m loving the Orange Pots with Karoo type designs


We bought some Karoo lamb from the cheerful butchery


I just love the windpomp!

The most intriguing restaurant is the very rustic Diesel and Creme.   It was getting towards afternoon tea time when we got there and I was craving a bit of sweetness.   Nothing nicer than their granadilla cheesecake for me and lemon meringue for The Earl.  He also indulged in a double thick chocolate shake.


The coffee was good too


It’s a place that is calling back the past


Now that’s a cool caravan


A bike and car collector’s dream



Don’t you just love it!


House sparrow looking for crumbs

It was certainly an interesting visit – always fun to go to Barrydale.



Taking the Waters of Warmwaterberg

It was chilly in Struisbaai on Monday and we knew our friends Tom and Meg were at The Warmwaterberg Hot Springs enjoying the warmth of the sunny Karoo days.  They were due to stop over and visit us on Wednesday.  “Let’s drive up there and surprise them,”  suggested The Earl.  “My bones could do with some warming up.”

This is the beauty of retirement.  You can just decide spur of the moment to do something and work just doesn’t get in the way.   We’ve caravanned at Warmwaterberg before but this time we decided to take a luxury bath house.

The two hour drive is super picturesque especially over the Tradouw Pass.


We stopped in Barrydale for a bite to eat.   Diesel and Creme were closed for renovations so we tried the Country Pumpkin instead.  It was a quaint place and it was pleasant sitting in the sunshine but service was slow.  A tourist bus arrived at the same time as we did so the staff were extra busy.  I didn’t think I’d get lucky requesting making a Banting issue so we just ordered toasted egg and bacon.  The waitress thought I was a bit odd leaving the bread on the plate!IMG_7273


The Pale Chanting Goshawk is a common bird in the area and one obligingly posed for us as we approached Warmwaterberg.


Check in went efficiently and we were assigned Bath House 3.   Tom and Meg were in Number 4.


The enormous bath in the room is the main feature of this accommodation.


The accommodation is on two levels – The Earl is standing in front of the bath above.

The public pool area had three pools – two hot and one cold.  They are fed with untreated water from the artesian spring where it is 44ºC at the source.   The water is rich in iron and pleasant to drink too.


We made friends with another couple in the pool and after a relaxing afternoon of languishing in the warm water we went to have a cup of coffee with Sandy and Shirley at their caravan.


Bonding with new friends

Our  accommodation overlooked a beautiful valley and the mountains were beautiful in the setting sun.



We no longer have furbabies so the feral cats that roam the estate found themselves welcome at our cottage.  They are all really pretty and healthy; clearly because the visitors feed them well.


On of the friendly feral cats or rule the slaves that visit the spa

Peacocks also graced the grounds and came scrounging for scraps.  There are lots of shady trees and we enjoyed watching the Cape Weavers and Cape Sparrows were busy building a nest in our eaves.


Mr Peacock trying to woo Ms Peahen


Mrs Cape Sparrow inspecting a new nest


I’m sure this is good for lining, my love, said Mr Cape Sparrow


Meggy enjoying a rest in the shade of an acacia tree

We enjoyed the outdoor pools but having our own bath to luxuriate in, in the privacy of our own room was also fun


The water is hot, soothing, relaxing and drains your energy – so is perfect just before bedtime

The two nights spent at Warmwaterberg were perfect.  We had fantastic weather and even the evenings were warm.  If ever you pass this way, do not give Warmwaterberg and Barrydale a miss.

More on Barrydale and Struisbaai to follow.





Delightful Weekend with Good Friends

We love having our Cape Town friends to visit us in Struisbaai from time to time and last weekend Tony and Sharon came up to spend Saturday and Sunday night with us.  The weather couldn’t have been nicer.

During our many years of friendship, Sharon and I have waked many miles together so it was great to have her company on my daily strolls.   Of course we did the mall, the harbour and the beach but on Sunday we headed toward Cape Agulhas where we planned to meet the guys for coffee at Potpourri.


It’s compulsory to visit the harbour

We didn’t make it to Potpourri as we bumped into our mutual friend Sheryl who was working in the garden in front of her B&B.  She was delighted to see Sharon and invited us in for coffee. So we rang the guys to join us and spent a few hours with Sheryl and Alan instead


Sheryl showed us round her beautiful B&B, Agulhas Ocean House


Each room has stunning sea views


The en suites are so luxurious

On Monday we drove to Arniston and looked for birds and wildlife on the way.


We saw a few birds including blue crane, bokmakierie, pied starlings, sparrows and canaries but I’m always delighted to find the Denham’s Bustard


Also a little bokkie resting in the veld.


This rock kestrel at the car park overlooking Otter Beach


View of Otter Beach


Tony and Sharon enjoying the view


It was an amazing day


View from the deck of The Arniston Hotel


The cake and coffee was to die for


Not the Banting Diet!

Sadly our friends had to leave when we got back to Struisbaai but it was so good to spend those two days with them.





Cee’s Share your world Week 49

Here are my answers to Cee’s Share your world week 49

What do you value most in a friendship

That depends on who the friend is. Each person is valued in a different way. Some friends are new, some are old, some stay and some go but even those from the past have contributed something to my life and I value them still.  I believe people come into our lives at different times for different reasons and if they move on, that’s okay – life happens, circumstances change and often when we meet up with that person again we pick right up from where we left off – that’s friendship.

I also tend not to expect anything – ask not what your friend can do for you but what you can do for your friend.  Having said this all these are the things I do value in a friendship.

  • Having fun together – chatting, laughing, sharing
  • Common interests
  • Travelling companions in some
  • Unconditional love

Do you prefer eating the frosting of the cake or the cupcake first?  Do you prefer a specific flavor?

I will make sure there is frosting left at the end to eat with the last of the cupcake.  Chocolate is an absolute favourite.

Have you ever been in a submarine?  If you haven’t, would you want to?

I have – but not when it went under the sea.   No – I wouldn’t want to go on a submarine trip – but if the opportunity came up I probably would – just to say I had that particular adventure!

If 100 people your age were chosen at random, how many do you think you’d find leading a more satisfying life than yours?

I should imagine that there would be some who led very interesting lives but I’m not sure if I could compare their satisfaction to mine.  I love my life, it has been full of events – both difficult and wonderful and I’m sure most people my age could say the same. I have just returned from a college reunion where we ranged in age from 61 to 96  and everyone had a story.



Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

The college I attended closed its doors at the end of 1975. The buildings were sold to Rhodes University and so it still stands although somewhat altered.  I went to a reunion there last weekend and once again felt enormously grateful that I had the ato attend when it was the best teachers’ training college in the country.


GTC Old Girls from the 1970s  Me seated on left of second row from front

I am also grateful for the many happy years in our Cape Town home which we finally helped our children vacate last week.   We cleared an enormous amount of junk, sold and donated some treasures and kept several boxes of “should we chuck or shouldn’t we” Next week I look forward to sorting those last treasure/junk boxes and deciding what to chuck and what will be useful in my Struisbaai home.


My forlorn family on Moving Day




It Happened in Italy – Physiotherapy in Italian

Before the Italian Doctors would discharge The Earl, they insisted that he should spend some time in their rehab facility.  This would, of course, all happen in Italian.  So down to Piano Zero he went. He still had a private ward separated from his neighbour by a curtain so not quite so luxurious.  And the view was not as good either.   Each day he would have at least three sessions of physio with qualified and student therapists. There was very little English spoken or understood so Lady Helen brushed up on the names of body parts and words for instructions she thought The Earl would need to understand.  Stand up, sit down, bend your arm, breathe in, breathe out etc.   She was then equipped to serve as interpreter during all his sessions.  The therapy was excellent.   His pulse was checked every few minutes and he was asked if he was dizzy or had any pain.  L.H. was glad she’d been diligent in her study of all the terminology as most of the time she was able to help her husband answer the questions. Of course Itranslate helped too.  The trouble with this app though, is that it is slow and if one mis-types a word it won’t give an accurate translation!  Lady Helen’s accent and pronunciation were not perfect and there were some confusing and funny moments.  On one occasion the nurses needed to help The Earl into a chair. Lady Helen saw that he was in pain and  called out – Mela, Mela thinking she’d said pain, pain.  But when they stared at her with a question mark on their faces she realised her mistake and said – No I don’t want an apple – Male, male.   The nurses burst into fits of laughter.


This gorgeous girl was the only nurse who could speak English – and she was Polish!

The word for cough was learnt very quickly as it formed a large part of the therapy. “Aspirare, espirare, tosse” Breathe in, breathe out, cough.”


See the look of concentration (and fear for the coming cough) on the Earl’s face

Oooh and it was so sore!   But The Earl was cooperative and worked hard with his therapists – he wanted to get well sooner rather than later!


Perhaps he should take up ballet now.


The amazing staff – Nurse, Duty Doctor and Physiotherapist


Student Therapists doing their thing


Student doctors


Anything to keep a pretty girl happy


Expressing his appreciation!


The teacher – “Ha fatto bene”  (He did well)

The Earl made good progress and while he was in rehab the days were busy. All the therapy exhausted him though so he slept a lot between sessions.   Lady Helen was sure to take breaks and would take long walks around Arechi or take the train to Salerno to buy airtime or do some sight seeing.

On one such trip she’d returned to the apartment to pack up all their belongings in preparation for the time when they would have to move out.  On her way back to the station she stopped at a coffee shop and sat down to enjoy a croissant and Americano. The tables were all taken when two Italian signoras and a bambino came looking for a place to sit.  L.H. invited them to share her table.   How lovely to discover that one of them could speak English! Not the bambino. She couldn’t even speak Italian. No, it was the friend of the mama. She was an English teacher and interpreter! She asked L.H. where she was from and how she was enjoying Italy.     “Wonderful of course except that my poor husband is in San Leonardo recovering from heart surgery.” She told her new friend.


Lady Helen still keeps in touch with Svetlana (centre)

She was very kind, gave her ladyship her card and said if she could help in any way she was to call her.  Lady Helen doubted she would need to but it  was heart warming to know that she cared!   The friendly company,  excellent caffѐ and wonderful English conversation improved Lady Helen’s mood a hundredfold. She returned to San Leonardo fortified and ready to face the language struggle again.
NaBloPoMo November 2016



Share your World #Week 46

Here are my answers to Share Your World #Week 46

Are you a traveler or a homebody? 

I am a traveler and use my home in Struisbaai as a base although I love it there too!  Most of my travelling is done within South Africa and mainly to places where the game roam free.

What kind of TV commercial would you like to make? Describe it.

I would like to make a TV commercial encouraging parents to make reading to their children a bedtime ritual – there are so many benefits to this – special bonding time, improving vocabulary, creating a love for reading. Too any parents thing having children read to them for homework is what creates a good reader.  They are wrong – it’s the other way round.

Describe yourself in a word that starts with the first letter of your name.

Here are a few –   Happy, hopeful, hilarious, hip, honest, hungry for adventure.

List some fun things for a rainy day.

Definitely not playing board games.  Snuggling up with a good book, blogging, reading blogs or watching a good movie.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

We have sold our family home in Cape Town and were there to pack up last week.  I am grateful that most of the junk has been sorted and moved off to places where it will be put to good use.   Our much loved and very old piano has gone to a little girl who is beginning lessons next year and this really makes me happy.

I am also grateful that we have found somebody to landscape our garden in Struisbaai – The rockery is done and I just love it!


The Cape Francolin also likes the new rockery

Next week will require another trip to Cape Town – I am sure I’ll be grateful for what is achieved there but I am not looking forward to going back so soon!




A Wild Adventure – Chapter 1 Off to the Kgalagadi

A wild adventure with  Lord and Lady Grum-Peigh and Mr and Mrs Frend-Leigh is based on a true story. Names have been changed to poorly disguise the true identities of the guilty.

Chapter 1-

“When are the children coming to stay,” asked the First Earl of Struisbaai of his wife after a particularly busy few months of organising building plans and other business matters.

“In just over a fortnight,”said Lady Grum -Peigh.

“Well I feel like getting away somewhere,”said the Lord – “Try and book something.”

So she tried but nothing seemed to work out quite right.  Addo was booked up and the only camping available at Kgalagadi was at Twee Rivieren.  So she tentatively suggested – “We did have a loose arrangement to join the Frend-Leighs at Kgalagadi if we got the chance – If we leave straight away we could fit in  10 days or so and share their campsites. The only problem is we can’t contact them as there are no internet or cell coms where they are at present.”

“Good idea,” said The Lord  ” If they can’t have us we’ll just spend a few days at Twee Rivieren then come home.”   And two days later the caravan was packed and sorted for a long trip to the semi-desert.   The first night was spent at Molopo Lodge and then the next day (3 March) they were able to enter the park by 8:00 am.  They booked two nights at Twee Rivieren where they set up camp and then set off to find their friends.

Luckily Lady Grump-Leigh had their itinerary.  They would be making their way from Mata Mata to Rooiputs that day.  The latter is just 30 km from Twee Rivieren and so getting there would not take long.   “I predict that they will be there around 11ish,” said her Ladyship who knew that Mr Frend-Leigh would make no unnecessary stops along the way.   And sure enough they were just about to pin a note to a tree on their allotted campsite when along they came.

“We thought you wouldn’t come!” cried Mrs Frend-Leigh in surprise.

“Sorry we didn’t let you know but we decided at the last minute that we could fit and few days in!  We’ll stay at Twee for two nights then come and join you here.”

Rooiputs is rustic, unfenced camp the Botswana side of the park and booking in had to take place at Twee Rivieren.  Lady Grum-Peigh duly went to book in but the official on teh Botswana side said they would have to get Mrs Frend-Leigh to check them in personally so it was just as well that they’d booked two nights at Twee Rivieren.

The Grum-Peighs were delighted to be back in the wild and spent the rest of the day enjoying the park.


Wattled Starlings at Samevloeing


The beautiful Namaqua dove eyeing them from a thorny tree


It’s called the Green Kalahari for although there’s little rain when it comes the grass grows and the flowers bloom – Here is a Red Hartebeest enjoying the bounty


The Grum-Peighs were pleased to see large herds of healthy Springbok. Fodder for the lions!  It was hot and they wisely found a shady spot to escape the burning sun


Why when there are plenty of waterholes do the creatures drink from puddles in the road?  It must contains salts that they crave.  Those white specks are butterflies!


The Grum-Peighs found them all over the park in huge numbers


So delicate and pretty


A southern black korhaan had a lot to say!