Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Clifton Beach

The beach in Cape Town to be seen at during summer is Clifton Beach. But covered in bronzed bodies with skimpy bathing suites and designer sunglasses it wasn't when I stopped by last week on my visit to Cape Town. It was a bit too chilly for that. But summer is around the corner and I am sure there are a few out there in the mids of strict diets and gym sessions to get their "see and be seen" bodies into summer shape.
Clifton Beach consist of 4 coves and the beaches are called 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The coves are divided and littered with big boulders which make for great tanning spots out of the wind. In actual fact, when Cape Town's notorious summer south-easter blows, the Clifton beaches are usually well sheltered and over populated.

The Clifton properties overlooking Clifton Beach and the Atlantic Ocean are much sought after and way beyond the financial reach of the everyday person like me, but it stays one of the most stunning coastlines and settings in the world. The properties in the background are all against the lower slopes of Lion's Head and you will fork out anything from 5 million rand for a two bedroom apartment up to R20 - 40 million for a house. $1 = R7 and 1 British Pound = R11

Monday, August 30, 2010

Table Mountain, my mountain

I love Table Mountain in Cape Town. I have never lived in the Cape, but the mountain feels like my mountain. When I visit the Mother City the first thing I do when I approach is look for the mountain and the last thing I do when leaving is say goodbye to it. Its been a couple of years since my last visit and I got all tingly with excitement when I decided to drive down to Cape Town for the Survivor South Africa auditions last weekend. I would see my mountain again.

The mountain was hiding under its cloud blanket for most of the weekend,
but did show itself for a view across from Blouberg Strand on the Monday morning before I left.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Beach birds

A couple of kelp gulls on Kings Beach in Port Elizabeth with Shark Rock Pier and the old slipway at Humewood Beach background.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cradock attractions

Its been a year or two since my visit to Cradock here in the Eastern Cape, but I found a couple of pics of attractions in the town that I haven't posted before.

The historic NG Moederkerk (Dutch Reformed Church)
The church was completed in 1868 for the local Dutch Reformed congregation that was established in 1824, a mere 10 years after the town received it’s name. The design of the church was based on the design of "St. Martins-in-the-Field" in London's Trafalgar Square. During the Anglo-Boer War the church roof was used as a lookout post by the British soldiers who occupied the town.
Cradock Four Memorial
The four Cradock activists – Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli – were killed by policemen in 1985 on their way back to Cradock from a meeting in Port Elizabeth. Goniwe set up the Cradock Residents’ Association (Cradora) and took on the contentious issues of rent increases, which led to consumer boycotts of white businesses in the town. The murder made headlines and Goniwe and his comrades became known as the Cradock Four.
Schreiner House Museum
The museum is situated in the house where the world-renowned South African author Olive Schreiner lived from 1868 till 1870. The Schreiner House Museum houses Olive’s personal library, exhibitions depicting her life and those of her siblings, and copies of all the books she wrote. The bookshop at the Schreiner House sells a wide variety of books, including Schreiner’s most celebrated work, The Story of an African Farm, as well as other books by and about her.

The early 20th Century horse drinking trough
In the early days of most towns there were spots where the farmers would stop to water their horses and animals after a long journey. This horse drinking trough can be found in Frere Street and was commissioned by the Cradock Town Council in commemoration of King Edward VIII, in 1902.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grahamstown views

The town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape is more than a town, its actually the smallest city in the country. It is seen as a city as it has a cathedral. Grahamstown is home to Rhodes University, but also has quite a few other iconic buildings. The photo above was taken looking south towards the Settlers Monument on top of Gunfire Hill. The spire in the middle of the photo is that of the Cathedral of St Michael and St George with the tower just to the left of it belonging to the City Hall.
Looking at Church Square (which is in fact a triangle), you can see the Cathedral again on the left and the City Hall on the right. The Commem church is just out the picture to the right while the angel statue (Anglo Boer War Memorial) is right in front in the middle.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Silver ocean

We have had a fairly mild winter with lots of summery winters weather over the last few months. Heading down to the Port Elizabeth beachfront a couple of weekends ago it would have been easy to think that you were sucked into some kind of time warp and spewed out in the middle of summer. The beachfront was just about packed. The only reason you knew it was still winter was that there was nobody in the (somewhat cold) water.

There was a cold front on its way and normally when high winds are forecasted the fishing boats sail into the bay to anchor just off shore to ride out the storm. The bright winters sun shining on the slightly choppy water with the boats gently rocking along made for a great photo opportunity.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beach stroll

The weather was so stunning the other day that I couldn't resist going down to Kings Beach
at lunchtime for a walk and a couple of pics. This person was coming down the beach towards me with the Port Elizabeth harbour wall in the background and I couldn't help but to snap one to see what it would come out like.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mountain flowers

Little dry flowers on top of the Swartberg Pass outside Oudtshoorn. I am always amazed at the resilience of plants growing in an area where in summer the temperature can top 40 degrees Celsius and in winter is often covered in snow.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rhodes University Clocktower

Rhodes University in Grahamstown was founded in 1904. Rhodes has over 7,000 students, about 3,000 whom live on campus in the various residences while the remaining students (known as oppidans) take residence in diggs or in their own homes in town. When the holidays start the average age of the population of Grahamstown inceases drastically and a hush decends on the town. But without the university the town's economy would also be just about non-existant.

One of the main entrance points to the campus is the historic Drostdy Gate. It used to lead up to the town's original Drostdy building which was demolished to make way for the university's administration block and clocktower.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bridge flower

I have no idea what type of flower this is. I think it may be some kind of storm lily, but what ever it is, it made a nice focus point with the blurred out bridge in the background.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Prince Alfred Guard soldier

The figure of a ready-to-charge PAG Sargent-major on top of the Prince Alfred Guard Memorial in Port Elizabeth. PAG Memorial in St Georges Park was erected in remembrance of men from the regiment that died in four different wars, one of them the Anglo Boer War.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Strangers always give one funny looks when you crawl around looking for the best angle or shot for a photograph, but those who know you knows that they just have to deal with it. On a work outing the other day I picked up a guinea fowl feather and as we passed a fountain I dropped it in and started taking photos of it. My colleagues just kept on walking, shaking their heads and mumbling something about me and my camera always taking photos.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hottentot Golden Mole

For the last year or two I have had something digging up the lawn behind the house. It didn't push mole hills like I am used to, but rather tunnels just below the surface which you can actually see in the grass. But up to now the bugger as evaded me. Till the other day when I pulled up the driveway and found a figure lying motionless on the paving. Don't know how this little guy came to his end, but it probably wasn't a cat, otherwise there would not have been a body to inspect (and photograph).

I may be wrong, but from what I can gather, it is a Hottentot Golden Mole (Amblysomus hottentotus). The Hottentot Golden Mole survives with a skill for tunneling unsurpassed in the animal world. It never breaks the earth's surface and may have burrow systems extending in length to over 200 m. This mole is blind with no visible and has a smooth leathery pad on the nose helps the mole to penetrate through soft soil and four clawed toes on each forepaw which is used for digging.

So I thought the digging would be done now, but it seems that his son is following in his father's footstep, or digging borrows in this case, and the digging and tunneling has continues.

Monday, August 16, 2010

St Mary's Cemetery revisited

I've been exploring the old cemeteries around Port Elizabeth lately and revisited the St Mary's Cemetery for a proper look around. I think my interest in grave yards come from that part of me who wants to be a Indiana Jones type of archaeologist exploring jungles and discovering artifacts in long lost cities My friends were slightly confused when my Facebook status read "... is going for a haunt in St Mary's Cemetery" the other day. Always good to be slightly mysterious, isn't it?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Baby Lizard

We have quite a few lizards (mostly Tropical House Geckos) who live around the house and although the Damselfly isn't always too comfortable with them coming in the house, we know that they catch unwelcome insects like mozzies. I found this baby gecko the other day and unlike his adult relatives, he sat still for me to get a photo.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Umhlanga Lighthouse

The popular seaside resort area of Umhlanga Rocks is situated just north of Durban. Standing proudly on Umhlanga beach is the Umhlanga Lighthouse which has been subject of numerous paintings and memorabilia over the years. Completed in 1954, the lighthouse was built to replace the Bluff lighthouse, which was commissioned in 1869 but had to be abandoned due to its rapid deterioration.

The Umhlanga Lighthouse was built in front of the Oyster Box Hotel and has never had a keeper as the hotel had been the official warden.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lagoon sunset

Sunset over the Knysna Lagoon on the Garden Route

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mackay Bridge

I have always known of the old Mackay Bridge in Colchester just outside Port Elizabeth, but I have never actually gone to it to have a look. A little while ago we had the absolute pleasure to spend a night at the awesome Elephants Footprint Lodge right next to the bridge, and took a walk to it just before sunset to have a look (and obviously take a couple of pics).

The Colchester area was a very busy spot the mid 1800s and early 1900s, as it had the only pont over the Sundays River on the main road between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown. The original pont was washed away in 1874 and a second one in 1875. A bridge was commissioned in 1884 and opened on 5th March 1895. It was called the Mackay Bridge, in honour of John Mackay who's efforts resulted in its construction.
This bridge was constructed entirely of steel and iron brought all the way from Sheffield in England. Due to the elements taking its toll on it, the road across the bridge was closed to traffic a couple of years ago although it can still be accessed on foot.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Golden orb-webbed spider

About a year or so ago I encountered a Black-legged Golden Orb-Web Spider for the first time in the Zuurberg north of Port Elizabeth. These guys are real spiders. Not those thin legged little things that hide in your broom cupboard or under the sink, but things with the kind of look that scare little kids. Unfortunately you couldn't see the golden colour of the web in any of the pictures.

On our last camping trip at Sleepy Hollow just outside Port Elizabeth I discovered this one sitting in his very clearly gold threaded web next to the river. Talk about striking gold.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Queen Victoria Statue

Today (9 August) is National Women's Day here in South Africa. I checked my photos for something relevant and decided to feature the Queen Victoria Statue in front of the Public Library in Port Elizabeth. It kinda links in with the post I did the other day on the Queen Victoria Profile in the Gamtoos Valley.
Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was the Queen regnant of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. At 63 years and 7 months, her reign as the Queen lasted longer than that of any other British monarch, and is the longest of any female monarch in history. Her reign is known as the Victorian era and as South Africa, known in those days as the Cape Colony, was a British colony, a lot of its development took place under her reign.

The Queen Victoria Statue was erected and unveiled in 1903 to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee which took place in 1897. The statue is made of Sicilian marble and takes pride of place in front of the historic Public Library building next to Market Square. The spot was chosen as she would look down what used to be Jetty Street towards the landing beach and welcome people into the town.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Drostdy Hotel

Last weekend I did a post on Graaff Reinet Museums. Graaff Reinet has another prominent Cape Dutch style building which used to be the old Drostdy and is now the Drostdy Hotel. The building was constructed in 1806 as the Drostdy of the district. The Drostdy was normally the official residence and seat of the magistrate. The hotel is a real gem and contains original yellow wood floors, Persian Carpets and antique furniture.

The hotel's accommodation is situated behind the Drostdy building in Stretch's Court. This is where the artisans used to live and is a collection of white buildings on a cobblestone street, lined with colourful shutters and bougainvillea.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ink Cap Mushroom

The other day after some rain a lone Ink Cap Mushroom popped up in the backyard. It's named such because the blackened mushrooms were boiled in water with cloves to produce ink in the early days. The mushroom has a white skin with tan coloring across its shaggy looking outer flesh. Just after it appears, the cap is still closed and has an oval shape like a closed umbrella.

As the oval grows and spreads out, the mushroom begins to form an umbrella-shaped cap. As the mushroom ages, the gills beneath the cap darken and become blackened with an inky coloring that actually begins to drip dark black fluid as it deteriorates. Unfortunately the lawnmower guys were there that day so by the evening the mushroom was gone and I couldn't get a shot of it open.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sacramento Trail sunset

Sunset over the Sacramento Trail at Schoenmakerskop in Port Elizabeth
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010