Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gill College

In July 1829, Dr. William Gill was appointed District Surgeon of the newly founded town and district of Somerset. Upon his death in 1863, he left the main portion of his estate to found and maintain an institution for higher education in the Eastern Cape. His will stipulated that no portion of the estate was to be spend on the purchase or erection of buildings.

Consequently, Somerset farmers and townsfolk pledged that they would erect the necessary buildings. Gill College was opened on 18 March 1869. Dr Gill’s remains were transferred to the spot where he now lies in front of the College he endowed.

I have been checking the internet to see if the building in the photo is the Gill College Chapel which I think it is. I haven't found much, so that is how I state it till proven otherwise.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Great Fish River

The Great Fish River is one of the great rivers of the Eastern Cape. It originates east of the town of Graaff-Reinet and, 644 kilometers later, flows into the Indian Ocean about 30km east of Port Alfred. Even though the river originates in the arid Karoo, it generally runs all year around. It is possible to use water from the Orange River (diverted through the Orange / Fish River Pipeline) to keep up the flow during dry periods. At the river mouth the river is tidal for a distance of approximately 20 km.

The Great Fish River is called "Great" to distinguish it from the Namibian Fish River. The bridge in the first picture is just behind the Karoo town of Middleton where both these pictures were taken. In the first picture the river is quiet and seemingly slow moving, but the second pic was taken barely 100 meters down stream.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gannet of flight past

I know this isn't the happiest of pictures, but it still fascinated me when I saw it and I couldn't help taking a picture of it. It is a dead Cape Gannet which was washed up on the rocks at high tide. I have actually posted another dead gannet photo before (macabre isn't it?) which can be seen here.

This picture was paired with a poem called Death by Benjamin Saccaggi on The Poetry Project website.


The panorama is mesmerising
And the air clear and clean
As nature stretches away forever
Into the blue horizon
Each plant and animal
A long history of survival
The struggle of life
And the anguish of death

How much of this will we destroy?
In our sad, desperate attempts
To find meaning in the world
Meaning in ourselves
How much of the world will we destroy?
With our unquenchable thirst for wealth
What will be the price?
How much life will die?
How much of ourselves will we kill?

Caught in the crossfire
Of ever warring monies
Spilling our blood perpetuating the system
And when we’re done?
When we’ve destroyed our world?
Devoured its beauty
And consumed ourselves


As the dying breath of the last man
Whispers his regret at extinguishing the fire
Leaving nothing but the cold winds of space
To blow ceaselessly over thoughtless bones


With the flickering death of the last flame
Dies what was once beauty
And life
And consciousness


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bromeliad flowers

I photographed these Bromeliad flowers, called by some pineapple flowers, in a friend's garden a little while ago. Bromeliads are members of a plant family known as Bromeliaceae (bro-meh-lee-AH-say-eye). The family contains over 3000 described species in approximately 56 genera. The most well known bromeliad is the pineapple, although the pineapple is the only edible one of the family. For more information, visit Bromeliad Society International.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Elephants Footprint Lodge

This last weekend we needed to get away, so we dropped the Rugrats at the in-laws and headed out to Addo Elephant National Park. We drove through the park and spent the night at the four star Elephants Footprint Lodge in Colchester. The thatched lodge is ideally situated just outside the park's southern gate and a super spot to spend a couple of days while exploring the park and area.
The lodge has 12 magnificent suites to relax in. The suites are so big that you won't be bumping into your partner (unless you want to) when you move from one end to the other, while the baths are big enough to have a water polo game in. There is even an (private) outside shower for those who like that kind of thing.

After a hot day in the Addo Elephant National Park there is nothing as soothing as washing off the dust and cooling down in the rock feature pool at the lodge. This we followed up with a romantic sunset walk over the historic Mackey Bridge spanning the Sundays River next door to the lodge.

We kept the best for last. The Cooking Monster, also know as owner Geoff Applewhite, runs a restaurant from the lodge with a menu that includes kudu and ostrich steak as well as a wide variety of other dishes. We both settled for Geoff's 300 gram rump steaks served with chips and salad. The Damselfly followed it up with cheesecake and I had pancakes with apple and cinnamon. The food was so good, I nearly chewed my lips off. Elephants Footprint Lodge comes highly recommended.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Harvester Termites

A couple of week ago we spent the weekend at Sleepy Hollow camp site just outside Port Elizabeth. After a night of soft rain we woke up to literally thousands of flying insects crawling out of holes in the ground and taking flight. They were non other than Harvester Termites.

The Harvester Termite doesn't build mounds, but nests completely underground. They collect grass and plant materials by night and on cool days which then gets transported underground into the nests. Winged "imagoes" (flying ants), which were what we were seeing that morning, emerges after rain. They fly short distances, shed wings and digs a chamber 25mm below the surface. The female would then attract males through pheromones and become the new queen of new colony.

She will eventually become too big to move and lay 20 000 eggs per day for the rest of her life. Majority of eggs develop into workers while others will turn into soldiers and imagoes. It was amazing seeing these flying termites pouring out the holes and flying away. The kids were all commenting that they looked like fairies.
Interestingly, termites are distributed world wide but Africa has widest diversity of termite species.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm an uncle again

My Sister gave birth to her second child (see my announcement for Little L's birth here) two weeks ago. Baby Tiaan was born on Saturday 8 May 2010, the day before Mother's Day.

I was away when he was born so didn't get to visit them in the hospital. We did pop by last Sunday to meet the newest member of the family.

He was sleeping for most of our visit, so I didn't get too many photos of him. I'm sure though that I will get the little hands and feet photography opportunity very soon.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Houseboat sunset

Sunset over the Knysna Lagoon on the Garden Route.
For more sunset and other sky pictures, visit Skywatch

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Durban Stadium

Last week on my trip to Durban I got to visit and tour the new Moses Mabhida Stadium. The 70,000 seater (54,000 seater after the World Cup) stadium’s iconic design has made it one of the most admired of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadia and has created an unmistakable silhouette on the Durban skyline.

The stadium's most unique feature is its 106m high grand arch. It represented the unity of a sport-loving nation and was inspired by the South African flag. The two legs of the arch on the southern side of the stadium, come together to form a single footing on the northern side, symbolizing the uniting of a once-divided nation. The arch isn't just feature. It has a cable car which takes visitors up to its highest point from where they can get out and enjoy breathtaking, panoramic views of the city and ocean. Unfortunately on our visit there wasn't time to do the trip as the bus was waiting for us.

The roof is made of 46,000m2 of Teflon-coated glass fibre membranes, which produces a translucent glow when the stadium is lit. The roof is attached to the arch by 95mm-diameter steel cables. The seats at the bottom of the stadium are shades of blue representing the ocean while those at the top are shades of orange to represent an African sunset. The reason for the seats all being different colours is for the stadium to always have an illusion of being full, even when its not.

For me the best view of the stadium was from its southern end. The perfectly symmetrical shape made for an awesome photo. I did see the stadium at night as I drove past, but it would have been awesome seeing it fully lit.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Church gate

Looking in the gate at the old church in Middleton. I didn't want to post this pic along with the original post as I thought it could stand nicely on its own.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I have had a second picture selected to be paired with a poem on The Poetry Project website (and hopefully the book that will follow). Its a site run by a cyber friend of mine who takes poems from relatively unknown poets and pair them up with pictures from local photographers. The first one was used with a poem called At God's Gate. This time around my picture below was paired with a poem called Autumn by Aboo Hansa.


High but not so strong was the morning sun
A later rise and earlier set, has all of nature adjusting their clocks
Dew glistens on the knife like blades of grass
Birds chirp to the beat of the concrete jungle, oblivious to the depravity of space
A sigh of relief breathed from the overture of heat
Trees begin to shed their green garments opting for a rather rusty look with hues of browns, yellows and reds
A crisp Autumnal breeze hits my face
The smell of a new beginning, the smell of Autumn

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Middleton Church

On our recent visit to Somerset East we stopped at Middleton between Port Elizabeth and Cradock. While the Damselfly and Rugrats were browsing through the farm stall, I had a closer look of the historic Methodist church that stands at the entrance to the village. The guy working in the shop asked me if I would like to see the inside of the church and unlocked it for me.

The church, built in 1903, is what you would call quaint. It only has 5 rows of seats and has services in it every Sunday for the residents of the village. The services are 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.

The church has two stunning stained glass windows in the front which the guy was quite proud of as he asked me a couple of times if I got a picture of them.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Barrelling along the N10 between Port Elizabeth and Cradock, most people don't even notice the little historic one horse Karoo town of Middleton. Situated about 20 km before reaching Cookhouse, Middleton is a charming little village steeped in history dating back to 1879. The village is situated next to the Great Fish River and includes the Middleton Manor hotel, a restaurant, pub, general dealer, bottle store, post office and camping site.

What makes the village unique is that its privately owned. It was bought by the Noupoort Christian Care Centre (NCCC) some years ago. NCCC is a drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation centre. They place those who have rehabilitated and those still rehabilitating in Middleton as part of their second fase of rehabilitation. The residents are entrusted with everything from finances, to purchasing, stock taking, cashing up and the general running of the projects available. This trust given to those rehabilitating builds self confidence, self esteem and a sense of achievement which is paramount in completing recovery.
From the road passing motorists can't see much of the village other than the bright pink farm stall and the historic little Methodist church, which I will post about tomorrow. So if you do slow down on your way to the coast, do pull over and go have a look at this extraordinary little village.

Friday, May 14, 2010

National Monument Plaque

In South Africa buildings, places and things of historical and cultural importance were declared National Monuments by what used to be the National Monuments Council. Each place was then given a brass plaque which was mounted somewhere prominent. Unfortunately a lot of these plaques have been stolen over the years and sold as scrap metal. The National Monuments Council has now been replaced by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). What used to be known as National Monuments are now termed as Provincial Heritage Sites and will in future receive a provisional heritage site badge. The next step is going to be identifying places with qualities so exceptional that they are of special national significance and to declared them national heritage sites.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Reflextion of blue

I have posted a lot of sunrise and sunset pictures for Skywatch Friday lately, so today I decided to look down to look up. I got this reflection in one of the river pools at Sleepy Hollow just outside Port Elizabeth on our last camping trip. The water was perfectly still and gave me the opportunity to get the perfect sky reflection.
For more looking up (or down) sky pictures, visit Skywatch.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ironman swimmers

The competitors in Ironmann South Africa setting off on the 3,8km swimming leg at Hobie Beach in Port Elizabeth. In the background is the the boat of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). For more of my pictures of Ironman SA, go here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ouma Dora Jacobs

An interesting site I found next to the Somerset East Museum was the grave of Ouma (Grandma) Dora Dotyi Jacobs. Ouma Dora was born in May 1880 and was 122 years old when she died in January 2003. At the time she was the oldest living person in the world.

She was laid to rest in a special place under the trees next to the museum. To get to her grave one has to walk down a path between the trees and the grave is in shaded clearing. Standing there looking at the grave one realises how a peaceful spot and perfect last resting place it made.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Edible Bracket

I stumbled on this bracket fungus growing on a tree stump in Somerset East. Back home I found the following information about it. Edible bracket fungus is normally found on dead hardwood trees in summer and autumn. It normally grows up to 350 millimeters wide and 5 millimeters thick either singly or in clusters. The cap is normally smooth but leathery or woody in texture. The colours range from white to creamy while they can have a fragrant spicy smell.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tidal pool sunrise

The sunrise reflecting in the tidal pool at the Point in Mossel Bay
For more sunrises, sunsets and other pictures featuring the sky, visit Skywatch

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Boet's wedding

I never really thought that my brother (my Boet) would ever tie himself down in marriage. He is too much of a free spirit for that. Or so I thought. Last weekend my Boet got married. I, of cause, was his Best man and like I said in my speech, "I may be the Best man, but I'm not the best man at the wedding. He was. So I just referred to myself as an awesome guy." Here are a couple of pics I snapped in between my "awesome guy" duties. (You should have heard the rest of my speech)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Slachters' Nek Rebellion

Just outside the Karoo town of Cookhouse stands a monument in remembrance of the Slachters' Nek Rebellion. The Slachter's Nek Rebellion was a Boer uprising against the British colonial power believed by them to be hostile towards the Afrikaner farmers. The rebellion came to an end on 9 March 1816 when five rebels were hanged in public at Van Aardtspos close to where the monument stands.
Four of the nooses broke during the procedure, as the hangman who came to perform the execution had not realised that there were five to be hung, and old rope had to be used.  The four whose ropes broke, and the public, pleaded for their lives, but Col Culyer ordered that they be hanged a second time and more ropes were obtained. The picture above is part of the Slachter's Nek exhibit at the Somerset East Museum.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Somerset East NG Kerk

One of the main landmarks in Somerset East in the Karoo is the Dutch Reformed Church (NG Kerk) in the main street (Nojoli Street). The proposal of the local Heemraden to erect a Dutch Reformed Church in 1825, was accompanied by the submission of a design in which Cape Dutch and Gothic architecture were cheerfully blended. The Eastern facade had a Dutch Renaissance tower rising from an impressive thatched nave.
The foundation stone was laid in 1830, but the building was not ready for consecration until 1833. It was enlarged in the 1870’s and was modified in the 1950’s. The building was again restored in the early 1970’s. The first minister was the Rev. George Morgan. He was followed by the Rev. John Pears and the Rev. Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr, who's statue stands in front of the church's main entrance.
Ref Hofmeyr's statue, like the church, overlooks the main street, part of the town as well as the
Boschberg mountain behind the town.