Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean

 South Africa.  Places to go, things to do, people to meet, activities to do, food to eat and to top it off, memorable sunsets.  Like this one over the Atlantic Ocean seen from Signal Hill.  Makes you want to pour a sundowner and salute the day as well as what waits for you tomorrow.  Happy exploring.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Citrus orchids in the Gamtoos Valley

The Gamtoos Valley in the Eastern Cape is prime citrus growing country and for city folk the rows and rows of citrus trees are always a sight to behold.  This picture was taken outside of Hankey in the valley.

The citrus range from different types of oranges and easy peelers to naartjies and, in this case, lemons

Friday, September 19, 2014

Karoo Heartland Churches

Looking through everything I have that still needs to be posted I decided to take three Karoo churches and make up one Random... Karoo churches post.  Just about every small town in the Karoo Heartland of the Eastern Cape has a remarkable church of some sort.
 
Cradock must have one of the most memorable Karoo Heartland churches there are.  It stands at the top of Church Street and is known as the ``Mother" Church.  The church was completed in 1868 on the same site as the first Dutch Reformed church in the town.  This church community was also the first in Cradock and was established in 1824, 10 years after the town received it's name.  The design of the church was based on the ``St Martins-in-the-Fields" church in Trafalgar Square in London. and the great South African statesman and first President, Paul Kruger, was christened here in 1826.  During the Anglo-Boer War, the roof of the church was used as a look-out post by the British soldiers who occupied the town.

On the other end of the spectrum you will also find churches that is a lot less imposing yet still has historical value to the area its located in.  In the village if Middleton you will find a Methodist church that is probably smaller than most houses.  The church was built in 1903 and only has 5 rows of seats.  It has services in it every Sunday for the residents of the village which is run by the Noupoort Christian Care Centre who owns the village and uses it as part of their rehabilitation process for drug and alcohol addicts.
 
A little further to the north west is the village of Nieu-Bethesda.  Built in 1905, the Dutch Reformed Church is the grandest edifice in the village, with its long gothic spire reaching to the sky.  A decline in the town resulted in a dwindling of the numbers of the congregation and the church has not had a permanent minister since 1961 with the Sunday service being performed by a minister from Graaff-Reinet.  There is some fine wooden carvings on the old church pews and the original chandeliers are quite unique. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tsitsikamma National Park

This is a view that everybody who has been to the Tsitsikamma National Park would know.  If you haven't been there, this is the view from just below the restaurant building at the rest camp looking across the bay towards Storms River Mouth in the distance on the left.  If you look carefully you would be able to see the end of the suspension bridge across the river mouth.
 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Feeding Koi at the Barrydale "water front"

Barrydale on Route 62 in the Klein Karoo is a pretty little town known for the beautiful surrounding mountains offering various walks, the Tradouw Pass, quint gardens, interesting shops and farm stalls, restaurants popular with passing tour groups and the very famous Ronnie's SEX Shop down the road.  Everything but an ocean.  So I was very intrigued when I saw a Geocache description refer to a spot as the Barrydale "water front".  One or two turns off the main road and we discovered The Blue Cow restaurant situated on the edge of a farm and... you guessed it... a farm dam.  The best seats are on the deck overlooking the farm and the owner quickly brought Erenei and I two slices of bread to feed the koi fish that live in the dam while she chatted away to us.  True country hospitality.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Farm worker fishermen in the Gamtoos Valley

Spending time in a place is more than just staying in accommodation establishments, eating in restaurants, visiting attractions end enjoying beautiful scenery.  The buzz word these days are experiences and an experience doesn't necessarily have to be an formal one.  Sometimes you see something interesting and making a quick stop can turn into a whole experience on its own.  Spending a weekend Shot Left in Hankey in the Gamtoos Valley while staying at The Milk House we ventured out on the Saturday morning to climb up to the berg window at Vensterhoek.  That was a whole experience on its own, but it was on the return journey while crossing a low water bridge over the Gamtoos River that we spotted something interesting and decided to stop. 

A number of fishermen, all farm workers from the area, were fishing in the river with throw nets and I wanted to investigate some more.  The KidZ immediately perceived it as something boring and wanted to stay in the car, but a stern warning from the Damselfly telling them they can't stay behind alone made them drag themselves after us.  After good rains the previous few days the level of the river was slowly rising and for some reason (I'm no fisherman so don't ask me said reason) brought some bigger fish.  The throw nets were all home made using net, rope and chain and whatever got caught was destined for the pot or braai that evening.

Although not every throw (perhaps not even every 10 throws) yielded a big fish, every one did bring out tiny little silver fish that were shaken out on the road.  The children would then quickly move in and throw them back in the river.  Drama Princess didn't let grass grow under her feet and quickly joined in, picking up and throwing fish back with gusto.  I don't know what the farm kids thought at first about this blond girl in pink suddenly moving in on their space but she didn't let that deter her and it quickly became a game to see who got the most fish to throw back.  Most visitors probably would never have stopped but to Drama Princess it was one of the highlights of the weekend.  Something she would never be able to do back home in the city.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Koffiebus and Teebus

 The Karoo has a beauty that some admire in awe while others tend to just want to pass through as quickly as possible.  I love the Karoo landscape with its big skies, Karoo koppies, windpumps, sheep, karoo vegetation and its interesting people.  Returning home after a trip to Johannesburg I decided to drive via the Gariep Dam, Steysnburg and Hofmeyer before the last stretch from Cradock.  Outside Steysnburg are two very well know Karoo landmarks.  Teebus and Koffiebus, two Karoo koppies (flat Karoo mountains) that got their names from the fact that people say they look like a big coffee pot and a thinner tea pot next to each others.  I just couldn't help but to stop to snap a picture to post here and on Instagram.