6

Right Place, Right Time

The Earl and I needed to see our accountant in Stellenbosch last Friday.  Not wanting to do an overnighter we set off bright and early on the two and half hour drive that would get us our appointment on time.   As luck would have it the Rapport Holiday Show started in Stellenbosch that day too. We’re having a caravan built by Gecko in Haenertsburg and as they had a stand at the show we thought it might be a good idea to check it out and see if there was anything else we needed while there.

It was almost midday by the time we got to the show and  all we’d consumed was a good cup of coffee offered to us by the accountant.   We chatted to Keith and Alison, took some measurements, ordered an aircon and a storage bag and then headed off to look for food.  Well foolishly we’d come without cash and the food vendors didn’t have card facilities so we decided to head back home with the intention of stopping in Franschoek for lunch.

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This is what I caravan kitchen will look like

Did I mention it was a beautiful day and the drive there and back over the mountain passes was stunning.

Franschhoek is an hour’s drive from Stellenbosch and we were listening to Pippa Hudson on Cape Talk as we drove.   I was getting hungrier and hungrier and then she interviewed Pieter de Villiers – a local chocolate maker!  Pippa – please – I was drooling!   I had never heard of de Villiers chocolate and it is only available from certain Woolworths outlets or his own chocolate cafes.   Living in Struisbaai I would not have easy access to this delicious sounding chocolate – Probably just as well as I am a Banter and only occasionally eat 70% dark chocolate – But ooh I was dying for some as I listened to this mouth watering interview.

Pieter only uses UTZ certified cocoa beans grown in Africa. UTZ certified stands for sustainable farming and better opportunities for farmers, their families and our planet.

Everything is made from scratch – from sourcing and roasting their own cocoa and coffee beans, to making their own ice cream and a wide selection of confections.   His wrappers are also very special and have an African look.

We were five minutes away from Franschhoek when the interview ended and we’d discovered that there just happened to be a De Villiers Chocolate cafe in town!

I said to Earl, “I’m having lunch at De Villiers Chocolate Café.”

“You can’t!” he said  “You’re banting.”

“So what,” I said “This is serendipitous. I am meant to have chocolate today. I need chocolate today.   Why else would I hear this interview just as I’m entering a place where that cafe is calling to me.”

Well of course I didn’t exactly have lunch at the café – we first dined at MC, googled the address of the café and then went there for coffee.  My two favourite things in life – coffee and chocolate.  Preferably together.

Lunch at MC for Earl was springbok pie and Eggs Benedict for me – the Banting version.

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Franschoek is the prettiest town in South Africa and has wonderful eateries

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The cafe where you can taste before you buy

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The patio area

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Coffee for me, ice cream for The Earl, and all the ‘lekkergoed’ we bought

The coffee was excellent, the ice cream delicious and I walked away with a packet of drinking chocolate, three slabs of 70% chocolate – the cinnamon and chili is to die for – and two bars of chocolate nougat.

Yes I was certainly in exactly the right place at the right time.

De Villiers Chocolate

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1

Cape Agulhas Presents Its Best Face For Kokstad Junior School

Today it was our privilege to meet up with our grandson Simon when his school tour stopped to visit the Southern Tip of Africa.  The teacher in charge alerted our daughter to the time they would be coming through Bredasdorp, she alerted us and then we timed it just right to meet them coming through Struisbaai.

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Here they come – a very excited granny takes the photo!

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A close up and then they all pulled over so we could say hi to Simon

After an initial big hello to Simon our grandson, Aiden our great nephew and Robyn, daughter of our kids’ best friends, we followed them to Cape Agulhas

The Kokstad Junior Grade Six classes were two weeks into a three week tour takes them from Kokstad to Cape Town and back.   En route they stop at interesting places and it forms part of their Life Skills programme.   It’s epic and hats off to the teachers and helpers who take these sixty-eight lively pre-teens on such an amazing, educational tour.

The kids are exceptionally well-behaved.   On this trip they’re divided into groups and have chores and responsibilities that are character building. Many have never been away from their protective parents before and so this is a huge learning curve for them.

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There are developments afoot at the Southern Tip and road works meant a little wait before entering the car park.

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The controlled but excited group getting ready to do the touristy thing at the southern tip

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Our gorgeous Robyn Baker

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Si-Si pretending not to be embarrassed by his grandparents attention

There were some other tourists at the view point but being a Monday the kids had the place virtually to themselves.

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Aiden

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Robyn with her group

The kids were given relative freedom to explore after the compulsory photographs had been taken.

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Robin and her group at the Southern Tip of Africa

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Simon waiting his turn

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Simon and Aiden’s Group

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Michele’s group

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Simon playing a stone kicking game with his friend – BOYS!

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A lot of fun was had throwing pebbles into the rock pools

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Collecting rocks and exporing the rock pools was also fun

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Where’s your rod Simon?

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Not today, Gran – I want to see how far I can skim this stone!

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That’s a good bowling arm he has there!

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Robyn rock hopping with her friends

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Smiling for Mom and Dad

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Hand away from face please Rob – Nice one of your friend though!

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Thank you, that’s better

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Aiden and his gang of rock exploring friends

The kids have been to Robben Island, The Science Museum, Cape Point and other wonderful places.  I asked Simon what his favourite part has been so far – first he said that he liked the movies at Somerset Mall!  Then his friend, Liam, said The Science Museum and his eyes lit up and he said – Yes definitely that!   One lad said he liked Robben Island but – Too much history!  I think it was all too confusing for him.

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The whistle blew – time to go

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Liam (I think) and Simon

What a great morning – the weather cooperated, the kids were delightful and we enjoyed our interaction with them all.   Bon Voyage for the next week, Kokstad Junior – Grade 6 and Teachers!  Thank you for letting us join you for the morning.

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The Famous Agulhas Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

6

Fun Photo Challenge 27 June 2017

This week’s fun photo challenge calls for all kinds of furniture.  Here is my take on it – Shabby Chic at Diesel and Creme, Barrydale, Western Cape, South Africa

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I love the cushions.

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Relaxing in the winter sun, waiting for coffee

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Fabulous outdoor decor!

12

Share your World 26 June 2017

Here are my answers to this week’s share your world questions

What goal are you working on now? Your goal can be something fun or extremely serious.  Have fun with this question.

Ah goals!   Since I can remember I’ve always had goals – or dreams – or lists of things to do before I die.   And I’m proud to say that I have achieved most of them. It started with:- get an education, find a career, get married,  raise a family.  Then the goals changed to – get fit, lose weight, give yourself me-time, be more organised, get promoted, spend more time with kids, pay attention to your husband, get kids through school, sort out the junk in house, see the world etc. etc.

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I worked hard to achieve and do what I should have done to reach those goals. I’m happy with the old person I have become. I’m neither too fat or too thin, I’m reasonably fit and I enjoy good health. So now I spend time with my nearest and dearest and go on wonderful vacations.    Life is good.

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What is one thing you’re glad you tried but would never do again?

The thing I tried only once and would have loved to do again but didn’t and never will was snow skiing.  That’s because we have a shortage of ski slopes in South Africa and getting to Switzerland is a bit tricky!  I can get to ski slopes now but I’m too old for skiing.

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Did you choose your profession or did it choose you?

Well according to an aptitude test I did in high school, Teaching was what I was born to.  So I chose it and it chose me too.  I can’t imagine entering any other profession. They say it’s a calling and I usually heard the call through a telephone line when a principal phoned to see if I could fill a position.  If after we die we are reincarnated I’m pretty sure I’ll find myself back in the teaching profession!

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Have you ever gotten lost?

Oh please!  Plenty of times.  I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever.  I have to set the GPS to Home after driving to the local supermarket!

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

At the moment I am going through a sad time. My Australian aunt is dying and I am so grateful for the many beautiful times we’ve had together, for the love she’s poured into our family and the fabulous memories we will always have of her. I am grateful to her sons for the wonderful care they are giving her in her last days and for them keeping my siblings and me informed.   I am just so sad that it’s been impossible for us to go over to say goodbye but grateful for modern technology that enables us to send daily messages.

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My aunt right with my mom, her sister taken in Australia

 

2

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.

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The gorgeous garden

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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.

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

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

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An Egyptian goose enjoyed the peace too

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

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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.

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

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Why not have a purple pizzeria

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I’m loving the Orange Pots with Karoo type designs

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We bought some Karoo lamb from the cheerful butchery

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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.

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The coffee was good too

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It’s a place that is calling back the past

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Now that’s a cool caravan

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A bike and car collector’s dream

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Don’t you just love it!

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House sparrow looking for crumbs

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

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4

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.

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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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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Bonding with new friends

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

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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.

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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.

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Mr Peacock trying to woo Ms Peahen

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Mrs Cape Sparrow inspecting a new nest

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

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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

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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.