7

Namibia and Kgalagadi Adventure – Day 7 and 8 – Waterberg Plateau

2 November 2018

We were up and about by 7, got the caravan packed and then our hostess, Anthea, cooked us a delicious English breakfast. Her freshly baked muffins are to die for!

Anthea is a perfect B&B hostess and her establishment is delightful.  Each room opens onto the bird friendly garden, the dogs are inquisitive so don’t leave your door open unless you want their company and the bathroom is lovely.   There is a kettle, a fridge and free WiFi,   A perfect place to stay if you are passing through Windhoek.

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We were on the road just after nine and the trip to the Waterberg went smoothly until the dirt road leading up to the resort which is in serious need of grading.

It was 1 o’clock when we arrived and the mercury was well in the thirties.   After checking in we found a suitable place to camp and set up fairly quickly.  It is a site with great potential and in the past has been well maintained but now the paths and roads are deeply eroded and the ablutions, though clean, need a bit of maintenance.  The washing up area is fine, as is the laundry room.  There are no washing machines – so only hand washing.  There is an enclosed courtyard with wash lines which need replacing.

We like visiting The Waterberg because of the bird life.  This time we did not see as many species as in the past but we were pleased with what turned up.

After setting up camp and having a bite to eat we set off to explore the pool and cabin area.

At the cottage area there was quite a bit to see.  Warthogs were mowing the front lawns.

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Mom and Dad dik dik with their baby nearby were also enjoying a graze.

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The bird life was interesting and among others we saw red-billed spur-fowl and a beautiful purple roller

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It was disappointing to find that the pool was not at its sparkling best but we still had a swim in the murky waters.

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We saw and heard the Go Away bird and enjoyed the ground-scraper thrush.

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Back at camp we were delighted to find rosy faced love birds pecking alongside laughing doves.

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3 November 2018

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and Pat and I did a clean up and some laundry.   We wanted to go for a game drive on the plateau but the fee of  $650 is exorbitantly high.  We took a walk to reception to negotiate a discount.  “There are four of us – all pensioners – please can you make a plan,’ we asked.  Unfortunately the manageress does not work on Saturdays and the duty staff did not have the authority to help us.  They tried to phone but told us their boss was unreachable.   We discussed it and decided that we would be seeing plenty of game in Etosha so we’d give it a miss.

In the afternoon we went for our own little game drive around the camp and then thought we might take a dip in the pool.  But there were crowds of people there, loud music playing and children splashing excitedly in the water.   We all decided to leave them to their joyful antics and went to the restaurant for a drink instead.   It was pleasant sitting there and we enjoyed watching a familiar chat, ground scraper thrush and later found a puff back in a tree. At camp we found a Green-winged Pytilia. The paradise fly catchers were around but impossible to photograph.

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Familiar Chat

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Puffback

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Green-winged pytilia – female

The baboon are both amusing and a nuisance.   One has to be very careful to make sure they cannot get into you tent or caravan.  Don’t even leave bags lying around – they will rip them apart to see if there’s food inside.

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Later we found out why there were so many people at the pool – It was a staff function for employees of a furniture company and their families.   A large group of them came to camp next to us. They all dressed up with colourful paper flower chains round their necks, played traditional music and set up their tents.   We found them quite entertaining and chatted with one or two.  Some slept under the stars but four very cute children – two boys two girls between the ages of 4 and 6 were really excited to be sharing a tent which they helped erect.   A parks board employee came round a little later and asked them to turn down the music – No problem – they did!  However, at 1:30 am we were woken by loud talking!  Those sleeping under the stars were calling to each other!

But it was all part of the adventure. They were very pleasant and friendly so we forgave them the night interruption.

Having a view like this makes it all worthwhile.  Each evening we were here the little bush babies came scampering through the trees and warthogs came to mow the lawns.  What a privilege to be able to enjoy all this beauty around us.

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3

Wild Adventure – Namibia and Kgalagadi – Day 3 Springbok to Ai Ais

Wild Adventure – Namibia an Kgalagadi – Day 3 – Springbok to Ai Ais

29 October 2018

This morning we were all up at 7 getting ready for departure.  We had rusks, cereal and coffee for breakfast and The Earl and I set off ahead of The Mools as we would be travelling a tad slower.  It’s a good thing we did this because as we neared Steinskop we became aware of an awful knocking sound on the rear right of the car.   We contacted the Mools who had not yet left Springbok and told them we would turn into the Steinkopf to have it checked out.  Well, the mechanics at the local garage didn’t have a high lift so we had to head back to Ford in Springbok.  The Mools had just left but turned back saying they thought they should rather wait for us.

I phoned ahead to tell the mechanics that we needed emergency assistance and they were quite willing to see us immediately.   The Mools had a flask of boiling water and we found a shady spot, set out my cups on a chopping board, hauled out the cookies and rusks and had a little coffee party next to the forecourt!

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Preparing to picnic in front of the workshop!

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The Ford in the air

Luckily it was an easily sorted problem – the paper label had come loose from the prop shaft and was hitting against it making an unholy noise.  With that sorted were back on the road by 10:30.

We reached Vioolsdrift just before midday and the border crossing went smoothly.  It was not at all busy

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Then we were in Namibia!

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We filled up with fuel then drove through the desolate landscape of semis dessert.  The rocks are phenomenal!   Sometimes it looked like a pile of boulders had been poured onto  the side of the road by a huge dump truck.  It felt like we were driving on another moon like planet.IMG_1410IMG_1408

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Check in at Ai Ais went smoothly and we set up camp under some shady trees.   By five we were ready for our first swim in the hot pools

The wind got up in the evening so we decided not to braai and instead ate at the restaurant.  Pat had Schnitzel, I had chicken breast with cheese sauce and the men had rump steak.  The steak was a bit sinewy but very tasty.  We all enjoyed our meal but had to fetch our own wine as they had run out of the type they sold by the glass.  That saved us R40 each!

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Our first day in Namibia went well!  More of our adventure to follow.

 

 

7

Highlights of Plettenberg Bay

Yes we visited the kids in Plettenberg Bay just two weeks ago but you can’t do a trip to Knysna without popping in for a short visit to the kids who are just an hour away!

The Earl only booked till Tuesday morning at Monks, forgetting that there was still the competition prize-giving we could have gone to. We tried to get the extra night but due to school holidays and another upcoming fishing event the campsite was fully booked.  So we packed up early and made our way to Plett.  It was not the most pleasant pack up as it decided to rain.  Luckily we got done before it really poured!   It continued on and off all of Tuesday but the rest of the time we had great weather.

On Wednesday morning we were enjoying a cup of coffee on the patio when we spotted a para-glider flying over the farm.   I wanted to take a photo but by the time I stirred myself to fetch the camera, The Earl, – said – Hey – he’s coming down!

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Not my photo – but he looked like this – Thank you Google

The para-glider disappeared behind the pine trees about 4 km away but still on the farm.  “We’ve got to go and rescue him!” yelled the Earl.  Ooooh – how exciting – an adventure.  He, Lauren and I rushed to the Everest and made our way gingerly along the rough farm roads. “I know exactly where he landed,” The Earl assured us ” But keep your eyes open – he must have seen the road from the air and will make his way toward it.”

Because of the terrain it was slow going with the Everest in 4X4 mode for most of the way.   Finally we turned onto the field where we thought he’d landed. and sure enough a surprised young man with a large back pack appeared from behind the trees.

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And yes he was pleased to see us. He was trying to fly to Uniondale but the thermals let him down and he had to land.   There were two others with him but they landed many miles further away.   We took him to the launch site where his car was parked. His friends had already been to collect theirs.  Andries was most grateful that we had come to fetch him – it would have taken him a very long time to walk to the farm and then to the launch site.

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The Launch Site

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This is what you launch yourself into

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Awesome

He was very interesting to talk to and offered us all a free tandem flight whenever we wanted to have such an adventure.  Not me thanks, Andries – but perhaps my four grandkids will do it during the Christmas Holidays!

On Thursday Lauren’s old high school friend, Saskia came to visit.   She and her family were camping at Keurboom’s.   She brought her 10-year-old with her while her hubby and older son were playing golf.   Simon and Josh hit it off straight away and went off to fish in one of the dams while Lauren, Saskia and I went for a walk on the farm.

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If you look carefully you will see the fishing boys – Grandpa was not far away – Boys of all ages love to fish!

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The Road less travelled – downhill to the dam – uphill back to the farm!

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Saskia and Lauren

 

It was an awesome visit but home was calling and on Friday morning we headed back to our Struisbaai.  We are now preparing for The Great Trek to Namibia at the end of this month!

 

3

Mother and Daughter Trip – A Stunning Day in Stiges

28 August 2018

We were up and showered fairly early this morning. Lolz had some hand cream and I had a lipstick so we did our best to cleanse, tone and moisturize and use the lippie for a bit of colour before heading out to shop for a few essentials. Then we got on the train to Stiges and had a wonderful visit with my niece Martine who lives there with her hubby and kids.

Martine and Olivia met us at the train station and before going to the house we went shopping for shoes for Lolz and me. Olivia helped me choose but was a little disappointed that I didn’t take the more expensive Havana’s! She agreed though that the ones I chose were just fine,

The gifts I’d bought the boys were in the lost luggage but I still needed to get something for Olivia. I told her she could choose two toys for herself and 1 for each of her brothers as they would eventually get the awol ones, She immediately lead me to the the toy shop and we sent Lolz and Martine to the supermarket while we took our time browsing. And time was limited as it was almost Siesta time when everything closes during the hottest part of the day. In Rome I’d wanted to get a cute Plush stuffed animal with big googly eyes but Lolz wasn’t sure that Olivia would be into them. Well she was and after careful deliberation chose the two she wanted.

It was lovely to see Martine and Craig’s home and to spend time with them and their delightful children, We were served a superb Spanish lunch and then we frolicked in the pool.

Lovely views from every room

Lunch on the shady patio

Fun in the pool

Martine and Thomas

Sebastian taking a leap

Thomas insisted that Lolz wear his hat

But it suits him best

Stiges beach

All too soon it was time to get the train back. Martine drove us around Stiges and then dropped us at the station. What a great day! Looking forward to seeing them all in SA for Christmas.

Later that night Lolz’s suitcase was delivered to the hotel. Mine, however, didn’t seem to want to reunite with me😳

To be continued……

2

Mother and Daughter Trip – Expat Explore Eastern Europe Adventure – Day 11 – Rome and The Vatican

23 August Rome and The Vatican

We are staying in a hotel called Club Roma which is situated in a suburb called Cornelia. It is close to the Metro so getting to the centre of Rome is quite easy. This morning Lolz and I took the train to Spagna and started exploring from The Spanish Steps.

The steps were built in order to link the the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the king of France, with the Spanish square below. The long, triangular Spanish square is named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See.

The church still has French priests and the Mass is said in French.

It was very hot in the city so after trying to sort out a SIM card for me to use on Lolz’s old phone and/or my IPad we tried to get into the Pantheon but the queues were ridiculous and I’d seen it on the orientation walk so we gave it a miss. Will post photos after we do it on another day.

We had a salad lunch at a restaurant and then I went to meet the Expats doing the Vatican and Lolz went to the Colosseum

Our guide Danielle was excellent – full of fun as she shared her knowledge with us.

Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro constructed the huge golden orb that stands as the centerpiece of the Courtyard of the Pinecone at the Vatican Museum. The structure is a sphere within a sphere. It is bronze but appears golden as the sun shines down on it. It represents the form of the earth. It gives the impression that it is reflecting the complexity of our world and how easily it can be torn apart.

It took a long time to get to complete the tour. There was so much to see and so much to take in. The history was fascinating and to think we still have the amazing creations and genius works of Michelangelo is mind blowing. I love that Michelangelo would only paint his frescos if The Pope would let him paint what he wanted to paint. And, wow, how well those pictures tell the biblical stories. No photography is allowed in the Sistine Chapel, you have to be appropriately dressed – no knees or shoulders showing – and no noise allowed. The officials called for silence every time the noise level rose.

Photos do not do justice to what we experience so I am posting just a few of the amazing sculptures, tapestries, mosaics and paintings that we saw.

Hercules in bronze

One of the stunning tapestries

We were all quite blown away by the superbness and extravagance of the exhibits. It was worth enduring the heat, the crowds and all the walking. It was then back on the Metro to the hotel. Later in the evening sixteen of us met at the hotel bar for drinks which we enjoyed outside and then we walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Don’t you just love the decor?

The Millennials of the group

Eating The Italian Way

Fab food, wonderful company, a great time was had by all

4

Mother and Daughter Trip – Expat Eastern Europe Adventure Day 4 Berlin

Thursday 16 August 2018

After breakfast the bus took us to the Brandenburg Gate where we met our guide, Jared, for a walking tour of Berlin.

Lolz and me in front of The Brandenburg Gate

Jared, our young American guide was very knowledgeable about the history of Berlin, World War Two and The Holocaust. He gave us a fresh insight as to how it all happened. It is frightening that even the nicest people can be brainwashed to do the most horrific things.

Most of the Berlin Wall has been torn down but bits of it remain.

The course of history could have changed had Georg Elster succeeded in his attempt to blow up Hitler during one of his beer hall speeches. Below is the bent column memorial to him.

We were shown the site of Hitlers bunker which is now a car park with only an information board to mark it. The Germans do not want it to become a shrine to a man who caused such devastation in his lifetime.

An unusual memorial to all those who died in the Holocaust is on a site covering 19000 square meters. The blocks are of varying heights and the space seems to bring home the reality of what happened not only to the six million Jews but others like the handicapped and homosexuals who were similarly persecuted.

After our walk Lolz and I negotiated the U-bahn and got a train to Alexanderplatz where we met up with Lolz’s friend Melissa. Another friend, Sasha who was visiting from London also joined us. I popped into CCC bag and shoe shop who were having a sale and was delighted to find a suitable pair of sandals for €15

We did a short walk with Melissa before lunch, saw the Berliner Dom and visited the University where Einstein studied and worked.

It as hot and we were hungry and thirsty so were delighted to find a lovely pavement cafe with lots of shade. Yes I know we should have gone for German but my companions wanted pizza – I had pork, veggies and potato bake so it was almost local🤪 And our charming waitron was Greek which gave us something in common😉 We thanked him in Greek and he was impressed that I could at least count in Greek😄. We have been bothered by bees and wasps in the heat but today our waiter lit some coffee beans in a tinfoil holder and the smoke helped chase them away.

Thanks Sasha for treating me to a glass of wine❤️

After lunch we wondered around the market place – much like our Green Market Square in Cape Town and then Mel had to get home to kids and hubs while Lolz, Sasha and I caught a tram to the latter’s hotel. Lolz used his laptop to (successfully) sort out a banking issue that for some reason didn’t work on her tablet.

My princess waiting for the tram

Sasha then took us for drinks and walked us home to our hotel. Thanks again Sasha – you are a friend and a gentleman. ⭐️❤️⭐️

Lolz and I had a quiet evening watching BBC News the only English Channel on TV. We were amused to see Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey speaking German on Friends😂

So what did I think of Berlin? I have read so much on the Holocaust and can remember watching Escape From East Berlin in 1962 although the details are blurry so being in the city was certainly a moving experience. I would like to return one day but so far Amsterdam remains my favourite.

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