Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Aloes in flower

Aloes of different varieties brighten up the winter landscape in the Karoo over this time of year and driving back to Port Elizabeth from Nieu-Bethesda yesterday I was just reminded of that again.  This photo wasn't from that trip though.  It was taken on the Aloe Trail just outside Port Elizabeth.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Siblings - Chaos Boy and Drama Princess

When I first started blogging I decided to give my family their own blog identities as to not use their real names online.  The mrs became Damselfly and the KidZ was hence forth known as Chaos Boy and Drama Princess.  Over the years these names have became part of them to the extent that they chose to go as that in the world of Geocaching as well.  So many people now know them by those names and always want to know how they got them. 

Chaos Boy is the oldest and is 12 years old.  When people first meet him he is quiet and subdued and it makes them think that he is the absolute opposite of what his name suggests.  What people don't always know is that even though he is an introvert, he also has ADD and this usually comes out when he is in a familiar environment.  Like home.....  He's room is, well, a boys room and a minefield for anybody trying to walk in there in the dark.  You need to tell him a thousand times to brush his teeth, throw his clothes in the wash, do his homework, and, and, and.  All typical kids stuff, just enhanced.  He prefers to watch tv and play games over going outside, but is in his element when we are out and about on our travels.  Sharp as a bread knife and highly intelligent but a struggle to get him to focus on studying.  That is why I decided on Chaos Boy.

Drama Princess is 9 years old and in many ways the opposite.  She is highly competitive, loves sport and is an outdoors gal.  She would rather go out geocaching with me than sit and watch tv.  She is also a typical girl and can over exaggerate just about anything to try and get what she wants.  If I had a rand for every time she nearly died of thirst because she wanted a cold drink while we are out...  She is truly a drama queen, just younger.  The original Drama Princess.

The two of them are also typical siblings who just love to hate each other.  They can play together in peace one moment and the next moment its the start of World War III.  But they are the perfect travel companions as they are always open to new experiences, visiting new places and doing things.  This past weekend we wanted to go away to the Tsitsikamma but Drama Princess got an invite to a hip hop party which made us decided to cancel.  Something then came up that meant I would have to do some work combined with going away and I suggested that we ask her if she would rather go to the hip hop party (in which case I would have gone alone) or if she would want to go on the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour (which I could organize).  I am happy to say her priorities are right.  She absolutely loved the canopy tour.  I'll do a post about it soon.

   I snapped the pics on a weekend Shot Left to Hankey that we did a couple of months ago

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cattle on the Wild Coast beaches

The Wild Coast was one of my last two unexplored Eastern Cape frontiers (the other one is the North Eastern Cape around Rhodes) and I got to do a trip through and explored for two days (more is needed as there is so much I need to go back to see) recently.  One of the things I hoped most to see were cows on the beach.  Yes, you heard me right.  Cows enjoying the sunshine and sand of the Wild Coast beaches.  At Mbotyi I saw some off in the distance but arriving at Second Beach in Port Alfred a small heard was chewing their cud on the sand a couple of hundred meters away.  I headed straight over with my camera in hand.  Clearly they are used to tourists taking their pictures cause they didn't seem very bothered with me playing paparazzi.

Now I can hear one or two of you ask what the cattle are doing on the beach.  Ticks and fleas apparently do not like the salty sea air. The cattle (a mixture of Nguni cattle and cross breeds) come to the beach on their own accord and sit whist the little critters remove themselves from their hosts.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Van Stadens Narrow Gauge Railway Bridge

Geocaching is about so much more than using multi billion dollar spy satellite technology to find hidden Tupperware.  Its also about exploration, going to and discovering places you may not otherwise have gone to.  One of these is the highest narrow gauge railway bridge in the world spanning the Van Stadens Gorge outside Port Elizabeth.  Years ago when the Apple Express was still running it used to stop before the bridge and passengers could walk across and get a photograph of the train crossing with smoke billowing and steam blowing.  This time around I walked in from the closest road to find two containers placed on each side of the bridge.
This narrow gauge line from Port Elizabeth was authorised in 1899 and construction commenced in 1902, reaching the town of Avontuur in the Langkloof late in 1906. The line was built to connect the scenic Langkloof with its fruit growing industry to the port of Port Elizabeth. The official opening of the line was in 1907, with a main line track length of 284km (177 miles) from Port Elizabeth to Avontuur.  The 30km branch line from Gamtoos Junction to Patensie was completed in 1914 to serve this citrus producing area.  The establishment of the deciduous fruit industry in the Langkloof, and the use of the Narrow Gauge to transport fruit to the cooling sheds in the Port Elizabeth harbour for export, led to the popular name for the narrow gauge, namely the Apple Express.  It was also the name of the little tourist train that we so badly would like to have back running again.  

The Van Staden’s rail bridge is the second highest railway bridge in South Africa, and the highest narrow gauge bridge in the world.  Construction on the bridge was completed in 1905 with it being 156m long, 77m high and containing 1 112 cubic metres of concrete and 574 tons of steel.  I peeked through a gap down to the bottom of the gorge and snapped this last picture. Hectic to think what it must have been like building this.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Farmland island

I spotted this scene from the Sir Percy Fitzpatrick Lookout near Sunland between Addo and Kirkwood.  While taking in the magnificent view I spotted a green patch in the middle of a couple of ploughed fields.  On closer inspection I noticed that there was a farm worker's house and a couple of trees on it.  Very peculiar to find a green island like this in the middle of a ploughed field.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Kloof Nek cannons

Over the years the Cape has been occupied by different countries and there was always a threat of an invasion because of the Cape's strategic location.  Because of this a big number of defensive positions have been set up all around the Cape Peninsula from the time that the first European's colonised the area.  One of these can be seen at the top of Kloof Nek.  Two 12 Pounder Guns were placed on Kloof Nek in 1782 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to defend the settlement near the Castle from attack by a force which could land on the beach at Camps Bay.  The cannons would have been able to control the wagon track which led from Camps Bay to the Castle via Kloof Nek.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Food and wine paring presented by Shefetswe

So they say that wine is the "Nectar of the Gods".  Personally I prefer fruit juice or a Crème Soda, but I'm not totally anti wine.  I just never learned to drink it and even though I won't touch a red I wouldn't say no to a nice sweet Rose or late harvest.  Even in saying all that I really enjoy wine tastings - see, trying to teach myself to appreciate wine as one probably should.  A week or two ago I received a call from my very good friend Geoff Applewhite, also known in the Geocache and cooking world as Shefetswe.  Geoff manages the popular Gardenview Guesthouse in Port Elizabeth and along with well known radio personality and foodie Charl Leslie - Charl's Cooking - they host a monthly food and wine paring event at the guesthouse.  The first event featured bubbly from the House of JC le Roux while the second one involved Durbanville Hills wine.  This time around it was the turn of Paul Cluver Estate from the Elgin region in the Western Cape.

50 odd guests rocked up on the night in anticipation of good food, great wine and exceptional company.  Nobody left disappointed.  Charl's cooking has never let anybody down and once again his pairings were spot on.  The wine flowed and even though I struggled to get the red, down the people around me had their glasses filled not just a second but also a third time.  Company was excellent.  Geoff's witty remarks and the informal way he hosts and interacts with his guests is exactly what a function like this needs.  Everybody sits along long tables and your partner is across from you so you could have two strangers flanking you which helps to get to know everybody around you.  Have I mentioned the food and wine?  Yes I did, but its worth mentioning again.  The first wine we received on arrival, the second with the soup starter (my favorite dish of the evening), the third with tangy chicken and salad including litchi and winter melon (my second favorite dish of the evening), a palate cleanser, the next wine along with the main meal and a noble late harvest along with the very yummy dessert (with my diet I shouldn't have but I just couldn't help myself) followed by coffee.  A most remarkable evening and great to see the PE folk supporting such events.  Keep an eye on the Charl's Cooking Facebook page and make sure you don't miss the next one if you are in town.