14

Wine, Whales and Music at De Hoop Nature Reserve

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Our friends Perci and Ray invited us to help celebrate their five years of wedded bliss at  De Hoop Nature Reserve.  There was a Wine, Whale and Music special on so we accepted with alacrity.

The weather was beautiful for this time of the year and it was great to get away for this special weekend.

On Saturday morning we arrived just in time to join a cruise on the vlei.

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The Happy Couple

Our guide was excellent. What a great surprise to see hundreds of black-crowned night herons roosting on the bank with other herons and egrets.   We would never have seen them from the shore.  It was a fabulous start to our cruise.

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Black-crowned night heron

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Sacred Ibis and Little Egrets

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Hundreds of flying ibis, herons and egrets

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Adult and juvenile black-crowned night herons

The rest of the cruise did not disappoint.  We kept seeing more and more species but the moving boat made photography difficult.  Highlights were greater crested grebes,  lesser and greater flamingos, Caspian Terns, yellow-billed ducks, Cape Teal and black-winged stilts.

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A tree full of African Darters

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African Darter

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Greater Flamingos

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Rock Dassie (hyrax)

It was really a most enjoyable trip and it ended with another super surprise – spoonbills waiting to greet us at the jetty.

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Beautiful spoonbills with a little egret

From there  we went to the restaurant and  did some wine tasting, bought some specialty cheeses and then enjoyed a mussel chowder for lunch.

As we were leaving the restaurant somebody came and threw her arms around me.  It was my ex-colleague Taryn who was there with her hubby, Craig and daughter Ella.   What an amazing surprise.  We keep up on Facebook but I haven’t seen Taryn for many years!

After checking into our chalet, Earl had a nap, I read my book and Perci and Ray took a walk to the restaurant to enjoy the high tea.   Later in the afternoon we went for a short game drive.

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Bontebok

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Blacksmith Lapwing taking a bath

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Rhebok

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Male Ostrich

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Scrub Hare

The evening dinner was fantastic.  A quintet of a flutist, three violinists and a cellist entertained us with their beautiful music.  For dinner we had courgette soup for starters then Pork belly with mash and veggies for mains and a tiramisu for dessert.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

This morning we were up early and at breakfast by 8.   There was a lovely selection of continental goodies and then scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon.

Our morning activity involved a drive to Koppie Alleen where we would meet Lauren de Vos for a whale-watching and rock pool activities

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Black-winged stilt seen on our drive

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Grass bird at Koppie Alleen

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Southern Right Whales in the bay – on the left is an albino calf.

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Life in the rock pools

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Star fish

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Cape Robin

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Whale Tail

What a great weekend.   We are so impressed with everything that De Hoop has to offer.   The accommodation is well maintained, the restaurant serves excellent food, the guides are exceptional and there is a lot to see and do in the park.

Check out their website

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4

Hermanus Weekend

Friday, 08 June 2018

The Earl drove me to Hermanus this morning.  The plan was for me to spend a girls’ weekend with Meghan while he and Tommy would have a boys’ weekend in Struisbaai.  Tom and Earl are old friends who need to catch up from time to time!

Once I was settled into the lovely holiday home we girls had for the weekend, the guys hit the road back to Struisbaai.   After they left, Meg and I went to have her car washed, do a bit of shopping and have a coffee at The Running Rabbit.

A little later another of Meg’s friend’s Sandy arrived with two German exchange students, Lici and Lina. Meg is hosting Lici and she’d brought her friend along with her.

Lici is 15 and is in Grade 10 at Bergvliet High School. Lina is 17 and in Grade 11. Lina is from Berlin and Lici from Munich.   It was so interesting chatting to them about their impressions of a South African High School.

Lina is the product of a Montessori school and has a happy relationship with her teachers.  The approach to learning is more relaxed there than it is here. The emphasis is on teaching the child rather than the curriculum. There is a close relationship between learner and teacher and they are allowed to progress at their own pace.  Lici on the other hand finds school here less strict than the private school she attends back home. They both find it really strange and annoying to have to wear a school uniform! Back home they can wear make-up and any clothing they like to school.  But in spite of the differences they are both very happy at Bergvliet.

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Meg’s Holiday Home in Hermanus

Before dinner Meg and I went with Sandy to walk her beautiful black lab. We laughed when he poohed on command.

 

We went as far as a lookout place where we could see the sea then walked back.

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Meg had a goulash ready for heating and we served it with pasta, spinach that I’d made and green beans.

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Lici, Lina, Meg and Sandy

Saturday, 09 June 2018

The girls were up early and went for a walk. Sandy went to Stanton to meet an old friend. Meg and I had brekkie together and shared our superior wisdom of how to solve the problems of all our friends and family – LOL

Later the girls made the most delicious carrot cake muffins which Meg iced with cream cheese frosting.

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The muffins in the foreground – Sandy cooking chicken curry for dinner while Meg cheers her on

It rained hard in the afternoon so after indulging in my spinach quiche for lunch we all sat in front of the fire and played Rummikub. The girls were Ace at it but we soon caught on.  It was great fun.

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Lici gets a massage from Lina before we start the game

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Rummikub in front of the fire

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Lina has a good hand

 

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Meg made her delicious fruity oats for breakfast, Sandy supplied croissants and we all sat down to enjoy it.    The men arrived around 11 and had some too.

Meg had to go off to meet a friend for lunch so the rest of us piled into the Everest and went exploring Hermanus.

Our first stop was Hoy’s Koppie. It is an isolated hill rising approximately 75 metres above sea-level. In the mid-19th century, the early inhabitants of the town called it Klip Kop (stone hill).

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The steep steps up to the top of Hoy Koppie

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Tom and The Earl 

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The View

Tom had researched the story of Hoy Koppie and shared his knowledge with us.

Sir William Hoy, who was born in Scotland, was head of the Cape and SA Railways in the early 1900s. He spent frequent holidays in Hermanus and loved the relaxed lifestyle. He frequently climbed the koppie to admire the views across Walker’s Bay.

In 1912, he vetoed the building of a rail line to Hermanus. Sir Hoy died at the age of 62 in 1930. It was his wish to be buried at the summit of his favourite hill. A contour path was constructed and his fishermen friends carried his coffin up for burial in a hollow that was blasted out of the rock for this purpose.

Five years later Lady Gertrude Hoy died in England.  Her body was placed in a lead coffin and shipped back to South Africa.  Twenty fisherman carried the heavy coffin up the koppie and buried her beside her husband.  The Hermanus Historical Society takes care of the graves today.

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After climbing the koppie we went down to the waterfront.   There were dolphins in the bay and the girls also enjoyed watching the dassies.

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There were interesting sculptures to be seen too.

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Sitting on the Whale Tail Bench

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The old harbour is also fascinating. As part of the art festival there was a display of sculptures made of the plastic, hooks, fishing line and netting  from our polluted ocean. Hermien welcomed us into the tiny museum.  She is passionate about saving the Sea.   We were given a glass of water and told to drink a toast to the sea.  We were then invited to take a sprig of fynbos and place it on the sea’s coffin.   She then gave a brief explanation of what was happening to our oceans and how it was up to humankind to change their habits to protect them.  It was a very moving experience.

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A Wreath made from sea polution

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An old whaling harpoon

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The Coffin

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Sculptures from sea polution

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The Old Harbour was proclaimed ‘a Museum’ in 1972. Old fishing boats were collected and repaired for outdoor display.

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We then went to have a drink at one of the local restaurants before making our way back to the house.  We stopped at the new harbour and spotted a whale in the bay.

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You can see a barnacle on this Southern Right Whale

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We saw him quite well – but photography was difficult

Earl and I left at 4:15.  We took Lina with us to Cape Town as she has an exam tomorrow.   The others stayed another night.

Monday 11 June 2018

We were in Cape Town to celebrate The Earl’s sister’s 75th birthday.  We took her and her hubby to The Black Marlin for dinner.  It was really lovely.

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Just after Sunset – view across the bay from Carrol and Vere’s home at Castle Rock

 

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Happy Birthday, Carrol.

 

 

1

Struisbaai Easter Weekend

Struisbaai at Easter time becomes a hub of activity.  Our normally quiet little fishing village is suddenly alive with tourists and events.  On a normal weekend it’s busy enough for the peace-loving locals but at Easter the town explodes and there’s traffic on the normally car-empty roads.   The beach, which goes on for miles, is often empty of people on a normal day, but at on this weekend it’s the first place the visitors head to.

On Easter Saturday this is exactly what happened as it dawned bright and sunshiny after two days of cloud and rain.

The Earl, our grandson, Jay and friend, Ray were off to sea by 6:00 am.  They should have gone yesterday so we could have fish for Good Friday but the rain prevented that so we had to have our Good Friday on Saturday.

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Jay loves sharks!  He cuddled this dogfish and gave it a kiss before releasing it back into the sea.

The rest of the household rose from their slumbers a lot later and we headed to The Shed for the Food Market.   There were lots of goodies to eat but all we bought were some fresh veggies from the farmer’s stall.  We decided it best to go for a proper brekkie at Shipwreck Coffee Shop instead.

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My gorgeous girls at The Shed’s Food Market

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Me buying fresh produce for the weekend

Traffic on the main road was bumper to bumper.  The NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) were encouraging folk to part with R 10,00 to boost their coffers.  In return you got a marshmallow egg and a chance to photograph them and their vehicles.

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I gave them R10,00 – after all my men were out at sea!

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Rescue Boat

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On Standby

Josh and I walked to the area where the Land Rover Rally was happening.  We spent some time admiring the landies both ancient and new.  There were time trials too which were fun to watch.

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Land Rover Rally

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Registration Office

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A very old land rover

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Land Rover Passion starting young

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This one is 71 years old – I was told.

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Track Trial

After taking some interesting photographs we went for a long walk on the beach – well, I walked and took photographs and Josh ran on for about 3km.  I thought I’d missed his return but soon after I turned around he caught up with me.

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Somebody scrawled the date in the sand

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And declared her love for Daddy and family

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Abandoned Sandcastles

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Busy Beach

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Fishermen’s Paradise

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Watch out for the jellyfish!

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Most Beautiful Beach in the Country

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Josh running in bottom right corner

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Josh returning

We continued our walk along the boardwalk and as we approached the harbour, Lisa and Laurie waved to show they were there with the former’s friends, Margaret and Frans.   Their kids were having fun on the beach.  Spencer invited Josh to go out with him on the paddle skis.  He dashed home to change into his costume while the adults went to Pelicans for a drink.

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My girls and Margaret sharing a bottle of Pink

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Josh on paddle ski

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Josh and Spencer

While we were there we heard the whirring of a helicopter and observed it doing a practice rescue.  That was fun too.

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It was after three when we finally got back home and I started preparing for the fish supper.   I baked a lemon meringue for the first time in my life – and this was a Banting version that I got from a recipe book written by a local of the Overberg,  Madelè Burger.   Her book is called “Hier’s Die Toortsie Weer”  You can see her blog Here   Her posts are mainly in Afrikaans but there are some in English too.   I am pleased to report that it turned out pretty well.  Not a crumb was left after our dinner. I also used her recipes to make a creamy eggplant dish and a butternut salad.

Baking

Busy in the kitchen

lemon meringue

And it’s done!

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Creamy Eggplant Dish

The fishermen returned at 5 pm, sunburned, tired but happy after catching enough fish to feed eight of us for dinner.   There is nothing to beat eating fish fresh from the sea.

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The Earl cleaning fish

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Josh helping the Earl wrap potatoes for the Weber

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Fish cooked and ready to serve

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Rewards of a day at sea and on the beach –  Weber cooked fish for eight!

 

0

Share Your World 30 October 2017

Here is my contribution to this week’s Share Your World from Cee

Where do you eat breakfast?

Funny you should ask, because this is my favourite meal of the day and it is usually quite an elaborate affair.  I seldom eat breakfast in bed.  I like to be up and dressed and seated at the table.  Usually my darling husband cooks it for me, at least twice weekly we go to our favourite coffee shop where they don’t even ask what we want as the just know, and on rare occasions I am the chef.   Properly brewed coffee is essential and no matter where I am the quality of the breakfast is greatly influenced by the quality of the coffee! If the weather is good I like it al fresco, if it’s in a cold place a roaring fire helps otherwise a lovely ambience indoors will do.

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Typical Shipwreck Coffee Shop Breakfast – Fried eggs, bacon, cheese grillers tomato and coffee

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Scrambled Eggs Al Fresco at my garden picnic table

 

 

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want have a evening with?

My ideal evening is in the bush with friends who enjoy it as much as I do.  There is nothing to beat, sitting outside your caravan, watching the flaming sun sink beneath the horizon,  listening the sounds of the wild, glass of wine in hand exchanging stories about the day’s adventures.  Priceless!

094 Polentswa at the table

My fantasy companion would be Sir David Attenborough because I would love to chat to him about his lifetime of doing wildlife documentaries.  What a fascinating life he has had.  How lucky we are to be able to spend any number of evenings watching said documentaries!

If you could be a tree or plant, what would you be? 

I would choose to be a Baobab Tree.  She is the queen of trees. You cannot miss her standing proud on the African Savannah demanding to be admired.   Not only would I be a wonderful sight to behold I would also be permanently among the wildlife that I love so much and I would be a great asset to their lives. Because the baobab has many useful properties, it is widely known as the Tree of Life.  How wonderful to be a Life-giving Tree.

Baobab products are useful to mankind as among other stuff soap, rubber, glue, traditional medicine and cream of tartar are made from their products.  But best of all it creates it’s own ecosystem and provides food and shelter for animals, birds and insects.

It is a deciduous tree so during the dry winters it has no leaves and its bare branches look like roots  hence it’s nickname – the upside down tree.

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In Winter it is The Upside Down Tree

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In Summer It dons it’s leafy finery

 

 

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

The Earl and I left Struisbaai at 6 am this morning and considering the state of his health one year ago I appreciate how fit and well his is now.   He coped well with the driving and we made sure to stop frequently.  We are overnighting in Middelburg in the Eastern Cape and will do another day’s drive to Kokstad tomorrow.  This is the start of a three month trip away and I will be blogging about our adventures as often as I can during this time.

story teller

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

 

 

 

 

10

Photo of the Week 15 June 2017

This week’s challenge for Photo of the Week is Ships and Boats

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Tall Ship in Sydney Harbour

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Meisho Maru – Japanese fishing boat wrecked near Cape Agulhas, Western Cape South Africa

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My husband’s ski-boat, Kiora – Struisbaai Harbour, Western Cape South Africa

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Rowboats on the hard at Struisbaai Harbour

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Narrow Boat on a waterway in Hertfordshire, England

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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