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Struisbaai and Share Your World Week 4

It seems a while since I’ve posted anything about Struisbaai so I thought I’d write something today and combine it with Share Your World Questions.

1. What one thing are you really glad you did yesterday?

I’m going to replace the yesterday with today!

This morning we got up later than usual. I have always been an early riser and thought during retirement that I would continue to be up with the sparrows – but not so – Sometimes I only get up after 8 o’clock!   Usually I do a bit of gym then run to the beach and have a swim before breakfast.  Today we skipped the gym part, drove to the beach and had a delicious swim just after 9 o’clock before returning to an ‘Early Breakfast’ of giant black mushrooms and fried banana, tomato, bacon and eggs.  “To die for doll!”

After breakfast we walked to the harbour to see what the boats had brought in.  I will never grow tired of Struisbaai harbour!  It must be the most picturesque and interesting little harbour in the Western Cape.  Or maybe I’m just biased.

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My Beautiful Harbour

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Commercial Fishermen rowing back from their moored boat

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Gulls ready for breakfast

I’m sorry I didn’t take photos of the huge yellowtail being off loaded from one of the ski-boats but believe me there were some beautiful fish.   I concentrated on the commercial fishermen gutting on the slipway and throwing the guts to the stingrays and gulls.

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Ready to clean the mackeral

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Chatting about the catch

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The birds know what’s coming

 

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Breakfast!

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The Stingray won’t be left out.

I am glad we did this today as afterwards we sat at Pelican’s Cafe and had a cup of coffee and met a couple from Cape Town and had a great chat with them. I overheard them talking about birds which is what started the conversation!

2. Are you generally focused on today or tomorrow?

Definitely I am focussed on today although I do make plans for tomorrow. But specially in my retired state I let things happen on a daily basis!  So far I’m having a fabulous day!

3. Would you want to have a guardian angel/mentor? What would they tell you right now?

I am convinced that my guardian angel works overtime on me!   Why else would my life be so good and full of good things happening in it.  I think she would tell me to take every opportunity that comes my way and to enjoy every minute of my life.

4. Would you rather live in a cave house or a dome house made out of glass?

I would definitely choose a cave.  One of my fondest memories is staying in cave accommodation in Kagga Kamma – a private game reserve in the Cedarberg Mountains.  Originally this area was home to the San people who lived in caves.   Caves have cleverly been recreated using artificial rock to blend in with the surrounding mountainside.  They are so cosy and it was great fun staying there.

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

On the mountainside of Fish Hoek which is near to where I lived in Cape Town there were horrific fires which threatened the homes of my sister, aunt, sister-in-law and many friends.   I am grateful that none of them lost their homes in spite of been evacuated or nearly evacuated (some refused to leave in order to fight the fires themselves).  I am grateful the the amazing fire-fighters and helicopter pilots who worked so bravely to beat the fiery monster.

Next week I am looking forward to entertaining friends and fishermen who are coming up for an angling competition.   It will be great to have a houseful again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2

The Overberg and surrounds – Tourists in our own backyard

There is nothing like having visitors to prompt you into visiting places that are all too familiar but still exciting to explore.

Now that we are residing in the picturesque, fishing village of Struisbaai at the tip of Africa and a three hour drive from our former home, Cape Town, we welcome having friends to stay.   Last week Tony and Sharon were our guests for a midweek break and what fun we had.

The weather was not perfect but at least the rain held off and it was not too cold.   On Wednesday set off to visit Elim 36 km away.   Of course we birded on the way there and back!

Blue Crane

Blue Crane

Red-billed teal

Red-billed teal

Elim was established in 1824 by German missionaries as a Moravian mission station.  The grew vines in the viticulture suitable terrain so as to produce their own wine for communion. The he missionaries taught the villagers a variety of trades and skills. Thatching was a skill they mastered and to this day Elim thatchers are recruited to from all over the world.

The village is picturesque and has changed little over the years. The thatched whitewashed cottages are typical fo their homes. All the roads in the village lead to the thatch roofed church. The community, still mainly Moravian, consists of farmers, artisans and farmers.

Elim is becoming known for the export of fynbos, and as an emerging area in the production of wine.

We visited the museum which has some fascinating exhibits.

Implements from a bygone age

Implements from a bygone age

The waterwheel

The waterwheel

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We loved this cart with a licence plate!

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Typical kitchen from long ago

Sharon showing how lowly she can be

Sharon showing how lowly she can be

On Thursday, after a delicious “Early” breakfast we set off for the historic town of Swellendam wich was declared a magisterial district in 1743.   It was the fourth oldest in South Africa, and was named after Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel who was the first South African born Governor, and his wife, Helena Ten Damme. This outlying settlement was the gateway to the interior, and was visited by many famous explorers and travellers including Francois Le Vaillant a noted ornithologist (1781).

A village was established beyond the Drostdy, where artisans including numerous wainwrights, blacksmiths, coopers and traders settled. Swellendam was the last outpost of Dutch civilisation on the eastern frontier and thus the services of the residents of the town were of utmost importance.

Our first stop after a scenic drive from Struisbaai was The Old Mill Restaurant.  We wanted to sit in the garden but it had rained and the seats were wet so we settled for an indoor table and ordered coffee and milk tart.  Inside the menu we found a touching trip report written by one of the staff. They had all been taken to The Kruger National Park and surrounds to do a training course. What an amazing experience they had flying for the first time, seeing fascinating wildlife and exploring a part of our land that they’d only dreamed of. And what a lot they learned about their trade too.   The piece was written with such warmth and appreciation of every aspect of the experience.   It’s worth going to this restaurant just to read it!

Earl and Sharon next to the lovely fireplace

Earl and Sharon next to the lovely fireplace

Feeling refreshed we went to the Drosdy Museum and really enjoyed all the exhibits and re-informed ourselves of our South African history.

Sharon emerging from the Cooper's cottage

Sharon emerging from the Cooper’s cottage

Sharon thinks I should crochet a spread like this!

Sharon thinks I should crochet a spread like this!

Tony and Sharon in the court room of the original drosdy

Tony and Sharon in the court room of the original landrost

Earl wants this for his hearse

Earl wants this for his hearse

He says I can have this one

He says I can have this one

A very old Singer Sewing Machine

A very old Singer Sewing Machine

At 'The Whipping Post' restaurant (It was the old gaol) we found this stunning patio furniture which I fancy having here in Struisbaai!

At ‘The Whipping Post’ restaurant (It was the old gaol) we found this stunning patio furniture which I fancy having here in Struisbaai!

We spent a good few hours exploring Swellendam and I can recommend it as a destination especially if you have an interest in things historical.  There is also a pottey you could visit and we popped into an art gallery too.  The exhibits were interesting and if I could choose I would have take this.IMG_8776

The weather was cooling down quite rapidly by the time we left and made our way to The Bontebok National Park.  There was not too much to see but we were thrilled that we saw its star performers plus a few other creatures.

Star of the show

Star of the show

And some of his friends

And some of his friends

The flora is stunning

The flora is stunning

Southern Black Korhaan

Southern Black Korhaan

Back in Struisbaai we popped into the harbour and took a photograph of the stingrays cruising beneath the surface.

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Such a beautiful harbour

Such a beautiful harbour

On Friday Sharon and I made the most of the most glorious morning and walked to Agulhas.

View on our walk

View on our walk

The men met just over an hour later and we did the compulsory standing on the southern tip thing, took a scenic drive to Suiderstrand and then had breakfast at Potpourri.

Our Southernmost Friends

Our Southernmost Friends

Me with the Agulhas rocks in the background

Me with the Agulhas rocks in the background

It was a lovely end to to a brilliant visit with our friends.

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A Whale of a Time in Struisbaai

There are two things my darling husband knows I don’t do.  I don’t fly in light aircrafts and I don’t go out to sea in small boats!  Yet this year found me flying not once but twice in a light aircraft and today, wait for it, I went out to sea in Kiora – his small fishing boat!’

And why was I persuaded to do this mad thing?  Well as I’ve mentioned in this Blog before, I’ve decided to retire adventurously and to do things I wouldn’t in my saner days do.  A little bit of madness in one’s old age goes a long way to make one move out of one’s comfort zone.  Megan was keen to go so I decided – oh well why not!

So up we were before 7 this morning and out to sea we went!   I was not a happy camper for the first half an hour it’s the speed and bumping over the waves that scares me silly, but then I got into the flow and decided I’d better just enjoy it.

To be honest it is beautiful out at that time of the morning which is actually late for most fishermen.

Heading out to sea

In the middle of the ocean

This trawler is from Cape Town

This trawler is from Cape Town and on her way to Gaansbaai

Earl spotted some whales

Earl spotted some whales

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My super zoom camera did not let me down

My super zoom camera did not let me down

I even caught a fish - red stump

I even caught a fish – red stump

We changed Kiora's name to Love Boat

We changed Kiora’s name to Love Boat

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Megan’s Blue Hottentot

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Earl was thrilled to get a beautiful cob

The pyjama shark had to be released

The pyjama shark had to be released

The red roman was released too

The red roman was released too

Phoning and Fishing - After all we girls can multi-task

Phoning and Fishing – After all we girls can multi-task

We moved from reefs to wrecks looking for the best fishing grounds but there was not really much happening today. The scarcity of birds told us that we could try but our luck would be limited so at 11:00 we headed back to shore.

Nice to take photos from the other side

Nice to take photos from the other side

Our beautiful harbour

Our beautiful harbour

Happy Fishers

Happy Fishers

Everybody was pretty tired after all the fresh sea air so after cleaning fish we all had an afternoon nap.   Tonight we are going to Tommy and Megan’s friend’s farm for a braai.

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Struisbaai – finally settling into our retirement home

We were supposed to move semi-permanently to Struisbaai in March this year but Life happened and we found ourselves on several adventures before we could take the first step.

So this is a catch up of what has been happening since we returned from our Namibian Trip.

On 25 July we came up for our first stint to Struisbaai, dropped in at Toyota Bredasdorp where we traded in my beloved Volkswagen Caravelle and took ownership of a brand new Toyota Avanza.

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I shall miss my bus which has transported family and friends, school-kids and grandkids on many amazing trips in the utmost comfort.  But after 10 years and a Land Rover to take her place we decided to get a smaller run around for Struisbaai and surrounds and leave the Landy for towing boat and caravan.

We’ve learned to cook for two, to not worry about what the rest of the family were doing and to simply enjoy each other’s company. Because we both had kids when we met we’ve never lived alone together and we have not had the luxury of empty nest syndrome either!   It has been blissfully peaceful.

So what do we do all day?  Well – the house needs maintenance and Earl is busy with that.  He is also drawing plans for our extension and once the building begins he will be busy supervising that.

For years I have been up before 6 every morning and thought I would never get out of the habit but now we sleep in until 8 most days and what luxury that is!

My day begins with a 45 minute workout – I have a mini gym in the lounge – amazing what you can do in a small space.  Earl has set up my TRX   I have kettle bells, a skipping rope and a pilates ball and I use the passage for shuttles.   Then after my shower we have a leisurely breakfast.  There is of course the housework, laundry and shopping to do and we can take as long as we like over that.

Many years ago I used to knit, sew and crochet and do crafty things and I am slowly taking it up again.  So I listen to the radio of podcasts and knit!  It doesn’t make for interesting blogging but it’s what I do for many hours!

Struisbaai is a lovely little place and there is the beach and lovely birding drives and walks too too.  We are not bored.

The harbour

The harbour

A gull on the beach

A gull on the beach

A dog made friends with Earl

A dog made friends with Earl

The Pelican Harbour Cafe serves a good breakfast and sitting outside in the winter sun is sooo pleasant

The Pelican Harbour Cafe serves a good breakfast and sitting outside in the winter sun is sooo pleasant

Earl chatting to a local fisherman

Earl chatting to a local fisherman

We have been back to Cape Town a couple of times for a funeral and business appointments but we are now here till  November.

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Visiting the Kids in Kokstad – Getting There

Yes – another trip!  We certainly are enjoying our adventurous retirement. We saw our rural kids in Struisbaai and Cape Town in  December/January. Our last visit to them in Kokstad was a year ago so really another visit was due.  We also had the excuse of our brother-in-law, Andrew’s 80th coming up in May so after less than two weeks at home after our Kgalagadi trip we departed Cape Town yet again.

Our new home is going to be Struisbaai but we haven’t had time to move there yet!  Therefore we decided to stop there for two nights to see that everything was still in order at the house and to check what needed to be done there.   Earl sorted out the garden, I checked the inventory and we decided that a new Convection Oven should be added to the kitchen equipment.

Of course we also checked out the birdlife in the area.

Cape bulbul

Cape bulbul

Common Waxbill

Common Waxbill

Common Fiscal

Common Fiscal

African Pipit

African Pipit

Female Southern Black Korhaan

Female Southern Black Korhaan

A visit to the harbour is compulsory and on the Sunday the day was clear and beautiful and the stingrays were having the time of their lives

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On Monday 13 April we made our way to Great Brak to visit Diane and Carey.  What a piece of paradise they have found.   Carey was just out of hospital after a back operation but he was up and about and keen to show us everything.  On Tuesday Diane and I took a very steep walk to the river planning to get a ride back with Earl but the pet calf followed us so we had to walk her back!   It was a steep climb but I certainly needed the exercise.

First bird we saw - swee waxbill

First bird we saw – swee waxbill

Diane's fishpond is a source of delight to the cat

Diane’s fishpond is a source of delight to the cat

He fell in trying to get a catch then swam to the edge without suffering too much trauma

He fell in trying to get a catch then swam to the edge without suffering too much trauma

Very pretty walk

Very pretty walk

Even the calf enjoyed it

Even the calf enjoyed it

But, boy was it steep to get back

But, boy was it steep to get back

Although it was only a day and a night with Carey and Diane we had an amazing time and are so impressed with what they have done with their place.   Carey custom builds campervans and has set up an amazing workshop on the plot.  Diane has taken to the country life like she was born to it. Next time we will stay for longer.

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Struisbaai Gathering of Three Generations – A relatively quiet day

Lauren brought coffee in bright and early this morning. “We’re still on farm time,” she said.  It will take a while to get into holiday mode. With everyone sharing sleeping quarters it is difficult to sleep in and soon the entire menagerie of grandchildren were gathered in our room.

What time is it?

What time is it?

I love you Grandpa!

I love you Grandpa!

Before the hijinks began we rallied the troops and headed for the beach.  It was overcast but there was not a breath of wind and the sea was as calm as a millpond.

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The harbour – I never tire of it

The beach in the early morning

The beach in the early morning

Lauren and Shan braving going in for a swim

Lauren and Shan braving going in for a swim

I was the first to plunge into the deliciously calm and clear water – there were no waves; just some gentle swells.  It was chilly at first but we all stayed in for ages as it was just so pleasant.  Grandpa who is more of a fisherman than a bather came in too but was ever watchful and overprotective, admonishing us for drifting away from the group.  Of course this just set the young ones off on an ever increasing mission to scare him silly!

We headed home eventually and Lauren whipped up a wonderful champagne breakfast (scrambled eggs, bacon, kidneys and toast) for 11 just in time for  niece/cousin Peta-Ann and her hubby’s arrival from Gansbaai.

She is a chip off her Cheffing father's block

She is a chip off her Cheffing father’s block

Cousin Reunion

Cousin Reunion

After breakfast I checked FaceBook and felt a twinge of jealousy to see my friend, Julian’s post about birds he was seeing in Robertson! Earl was impressed with the bass caught too!

Earl and me drooling over Julian's Face Book photographs - birding and fishing in Pat Busch Nature Reserve Robertson - So jealous

Earl and me drooling over Julian’s photographs – birding and fishing in Pat Busch Nature Reserve Robertson – So jealous

Peta Ann has not been too Struisbaai in more than five years and barely recognised the house and the town!   We took her on a little shopping excursion to show her how it had all changed since its earlier days of one co-0p grocery store, a shell shop and a fish shop!

Shopping in the metropolis of Struisbaai!

Shopping in the metropolis of Struisbaai!

The girls and me testing out the quality of the coffee in The Nursery Coffee Shop - It passed with flying colours

The girls and me tested the quality of the coffee in The Nursery Coffee Shop – It passed with flying colours

Peta Ann and Eugene left at 2:30 and Earl, Lauren, the boys and I went to a talk – Close Encounters of the Marine Kind with at the Sanparks boardroom in Agulhas.

Prof Gavin Maneveldt (Department of Biodiversity & Conservation Biology,University of the Western Cape) was amazing.  We were the only people there and seeing that we had our grandchildren he geared his talk to their level.  He allowed the boys to ask questions and engaged with them beautifully.  It was a fascinating presentation and will culminate with a guided outing to the rock pools tomorrow morning.   What a pity that more people did not respond to this invitation.  We didn’t expect it to be so immensely informative. More on this tomorrow after our field trip.

 

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Struisbaai Gathering of Three Generations – Swimming, Shopping and Fishing

A perfect fishing day dawned again.  Earl, Allan and Lauren got up at a very rude hour and quietly slunk off to sea, the latter two having dosed on sea-sick medication the night before!

My rising time, though not as bad mannered as theirs, might have seemed a little extreme to some.  The young ones groaned when I cheerfully encouraged them to join me on the beach for a walk and swim.  “Meet me there,” I called and left them to dawdle over bowls of Otees and debate as to whether or not it was worth the effort.

Once again it was a blissful morning made better that the masses had not yet arrived.   I left my camera behind and regretted it when I spotted a rock kestrel on top of a “Christmas Tree” and then an oystercatcher on the shore line.  By the time I was on my return lap down the beach, Simon and Josh appeared to look after my towel and glasses while I went in for a dip. Heavenly – the sea was calm and clear with hardly a ripple.  A mom and daughter started chatting to me and asked if I were local.  It was their first visit and they were delighted that they’d decided to camp here this year.

Struisbaai is indeed an idyllic place for a holiday. It’s off the beaten track and still a fairly well-kept secret although it’s grown tremendously since my introduction to it in 1982.

It was about quarter past nine when the boys and I returned home with croissants from OK Grocer’s bakery for breakfast(This has got to stop before I gain a ton!)  An hour later the fisherfolk pulled in. Lauren had the biggest and best fish!

Lauren's Fish

Lauren’s Fish

The females of the family decided to bond before lunch and how better to do that than to go shopping!  Yes in Struisbaai!   A new clothing store, Beach Bliss, opened just a week ago and is superbly stocked for men, women and children.

Beach Bliss

Beach Bliss

Wanien is the owner and there is something for everybody

Wanien is the owner and there is something for everybody

What do you think, Gran?

What do you think, Gran?

This one .....

This one …..

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Or this?

We got quite a few items for Shannon – Christmas presents –  so she’ll have to wait to wear them!   Lisa and Lauren also got one or two things and I bought a beach bag.

We were almost done when Earl phoned to find out where we were. Not to be outdone we got him some new stuff too – from another lovely shop in the mall.

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Earl in his new shorts and shirt

All that shopping is thirsty work so we stopped at Cafe dul Sud for coffee/milkshakes.

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Two Strawberry milkshakes, one chocolate a Cappuccino and black for me please!

The girls headed home while Earl and I went to chat to our friends Lynn and Glyn who have a gift shop, Due South, in the mall. We also popped into the nursery coffee shop to get a Christmas loaf for tea.

Friendly Girl in the coffee shop

Friendly Girl in the nursery/coffee shop

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Nursery

Coffee shop

Coffee shop

South Bound

South Bound – a wonderful place to browse

We’ve been looking for a suitable bird feeder and found one a quaint little craft shop which sells all kinds of locally made stuff.

We love it's name and the notice outside

We love it’s name and the notice outside – Not made in China – Buy from your own people.

What a surprise to arrive home to the smell of fresh fish frying in the pan.  Lauren has taken on the mantle from her dad!  It was delicious – the young ones had the nerve to say – Even better than yours, Grandpa! Well equally as good anyway!

What a super star

What a super star – She caught it – She cooked it

The beach was our next port of call – after 3:30 to avoid the harmful UV rays.   And wow – the water was divine – I usually don’t stay in for more than 10 minutes but I just didn’t want to get out this afternoon and the kids were even worse.

The sea was extra blue today

The sea was extra blue today

Kites were flying

Kites were flying

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It’s amazing, Gran!

Shannon got busy with my bird stickers when we got back and they are a-ma-zing.  Thanks you Leah for a wonderful gift.

Difficult to photograph but this one came out quite well!

Difficult to photograph but this one came out quite well!

So ended another lousy day in Africa!   Tomorrow Earl and I are making an early start to go bird watching with a local expert.  Watch this space!