Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gamtoos Valley mountain silhouettes

Just after sunset the mountains of the Baviaanskloof west of Patensie turn into silhouettes against the colour changing sky.  Shortly after they turn transparent in the fading light before disappearing into the night.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

So this is Christmas

Merry Christmas to all the followers of The Firefly Photo Files and Port Elizabeth Daily Photo.  Wishing you all a blessed and peaceful day.
 
 
John Lennon – So This Is Christmas
 
So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight
 
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

Ans so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

War is over over
If you want it
War is over
Now



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Clause is coming to town

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He's making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
Santa Claus is coming to town

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Montagu view

For the last two summers we spent part of our December holidays in Montagu on both occasions and the town has crept deep into my heart.  This year we're not heading that far west and I already miss this beautiful place.  On our last visit I actually said that if I could find something there in my line of work I would really consider moving there.  So as you can gather, this is a "I miss Montague" post,

The picture was taken from Kanonkop looking across Montague West.  This is the part of town the river flows through and where the caravan park where we camped is situated.  Thanks to the Leidam and irrigation canals there is a lot more water on this side of town and thus greener gardens and more trees.  I really wouldn't mind a little place somewhere around there to escape to if I could.  Unfortunately it's just a tad too far for a quick visit, but looking forward to the next opportunity to pass through and spend a little time.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ultimate Braaimaster inspired steak

To braai or not to braai? What a stupid question to ask most South African men.  Braai of cause.  South Africans' love for braai has led to a reality outdoor cooking (on coals) show called The Ultimate Braaimaster that airs on SABC 3.  Their motto is, Come rain or shine or wind or snow... we braai.  Enough said really.  Even though I haven't got the cooking skills to enter it myself the show is a source of inspiration for my own braais.  One of these inspirations came from Jacques and Nadia of team Good Better Braai who replaced cheese sauce with a melting Camembert in one of the latter rounds of the competition.  I just had to try it.  Medium t-bone, mushrooms fried in my little black pot over the coals and Camembert cheese wrapped in foil to melt before going onto the steak.  Served with oven fried potato wedges and fresh salad.  My mouth is watering all over again.  Think I should go and light a fire.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Red sky sunset in the Karoo

Aaaahhhh, a sunset.  But not just any sunset.  A Karoo sunset.  A proper African sunset.

Monday, December 9, 2013

You can't help but smile when you watch a penguin

One of the things that Libby Sharwood at the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC) in Port Elizabeth always say is, "You can help but to smile when you watch a penguin." 
 
The African Penguin is highly endangered with only just over 20 000 breeding pairs left in the world, most of these right on my doorstep on St Croix Island in Algoa Bay.  SAMREC does an amazing job both in the care and rehabilitation of birds that come to them as well as with the education side through schools and visitors (both local and international) that visit the centre.  They do need people to do so much more than smile though.  They need people to act and the easiest way to act is to visit SAMREC as every cent made through the entrance fees collected goes straight back into penguin conservation at the centre.  Even better, adopt a penguin or sponsor one of the solar panels for their Penguins go Green project.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Saluting Madiba

For years now people have wondered what will happen if Nelson Mandela had to die.  Many hoped that they would never have to see the day and that Madiba will live forever.  But he was just a man after all.  Not an ordinary man though.  A very special man.  Many white (sic) people saw him as a terrorist as he fought for the freedom of this country.  I say this country because although the fight against Apartheid was seen by many as the fight of the black people, it was a fight to free all people.  In his defence statement during the Rivonia Trail in 1964 (also repeated during the closing of his speech delivered in Cape Town on the day he was released from prison 27 years later, on 11 February 1990) Mandela said, "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."  That said it all, but he continued that ideal and led South Africa peacefully into democracy.  Face it, he could have been bitter about spending 27 years in jail and the whole thing could have turned very ugly if it wasn't for this man.  Clearly he wasn't a terrorist but a freedom fighter.  One who preached peace over violence. That is what made him so special in the eyes of the world.
 
So here we are this morning, waking up to the news of the passing of this great man.  Life goes on, but with something missing.  I should actually say someone, because the ideals of Madiba should never dissapear.  It is something this country should build on.  I salute you Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.  Our beloved Madiba.  Born, 18 July 1918. Died, 5 December 2013.  Rest in peace Madiba. I salute you.
 
The picture is the fist of the Madiba figure on the Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth, triumphantly punching in the air.  A salute of honour on this day.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Flowering Spekboom in Addo

I like pizza... and braaivleis...  and burgers... and... and... and...   Elephants like a whole bunch of things as well.  One of those things is Spekboom (Portulacaria afra).  Spekboom, also called the elephant bush, forms part of the Subtropical Thicket biome and is prevalent in the Addo Elephant National Park.  In actual fact its one of the reasons why Addo has such a good elephant carrying capacity as the Spekboom is a succulent and also supplements their water intake.  Although the Spekboom normally flowers in late Spring the flowers are specifically noticeable after good Spring rains.  Something we had lots of this year.  Right now Addo is stunning with lots of green and yellow, but its the pink Spekboom flowers that stood out for me on my last visit.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Saturday morning hike on the Flamingo Trail

I'm probably the most overweight, unfit active guy there is.  There is no hesitation to go if I get the opportunity to get out and about and because of my love for the outdoors I make an effort to explore and do as much as possible.  I've been fortunate that I've had the opportunity to do most of the day walks around Port Elizabeth with the exception of only a few.  One of those being the Flamingo Trail in the Swartkops Nature Reserve and I didn't think twice about joining the Zwartkops Conservancy on a guided walk of the trail.

The Flamingo Trail is 6 - 8 km long and best done as a guided trail with the guys from the conservancy.  The walk starts at the Motherwell storm water canal and follows the estuary in a westerly direction.  The Swartkops estuary is an important breeding ground for numerous waders and sea birds and is also home to up to a thousand flamingos, hence the name of the trail in case you wondered.  The surrounding reserve is there to protect the estuary as well as the Valley Thicket (or Valley Bushveld) on the northern slope and escarpment of the reserve.

Those joining the walk split into two groups.  One group did the longer trail which rounded the estuary and follow the banks past Redhouse.  I had more active things to do later in the day plus Chaos Boy was tagging along for the walk so opted to do the shorter one which took us along the northern bank and then up onto the escarpment.  I was in good company though with fellow Geocachers Seekoei and erenei as well as Cathy Dempsey from Dempsey's Guesthouse deciding to also do the shorter one.

Jenny Rump from the Zwartkops Conservancy kept pointing out interesting sights and told us about the threats that impacts on the Swartkops River and estuary.  The Zwartkops Conservancy is campaigning to have the estuary declared a Ramsar international wetland which will make it the first such wetland in South Africa situated within an urban area, and the first initiated by the public as opposed to government. The national Dept of Environmental Affairs is giving the application its full support though.

Walking along the river bank gave us some beautiful views of the river and fairly close up sightings of birds with my interest on that day being specifically flamingos.  You usually get to see the flamingos while driving along the Swartkops road towards Despatch and Uitenhage but it was great to get to see them while on foot.  It did help that we had a gorgeous windless Saturday morning and I was kinda glad I had my hat and some extra water on hand as shade is a bit on the spares side along the river banks.

After a short rest at the turning point, Jenny took us up onto the escarpment and although we were huffing and puffing when we got there it was truly worth it.  The view from up there across the estuary towards the city is magnificent.  The walk onto the escarpment and back down took us through the Valley Thicket where succulents like Aloes and Tree Euphorbias as well as Boer Beans and other smaller trees can be found.  Have I mentioned the stunning view?  

Anybody wanting more information about the Zwartkops Conservancy or interested in finding out when the next guided walk is can contact Jenny Rump at Tel – 082 853 0700 or 041 466 1815 or

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Taking a gardening break before the wind comes

It's been a beautiful day in the Bay today and with some bad weather coming I made the most of it.  Spent the morning Geocaching with the Kids and did a quick bit of gardening in the afternoon, although I did feel like this wind vane at times.  I snapped the pic at Ann's Villa recently.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Frames Reservoir - Port Elizabeth's oldest dam

Growing up I wanted to be an archaeologist.  Somebody like Indiana Jones who discovered lost cities, found ancient artefacts and went places that most can just dream of.  So now I work in tourism and love travelling with the explorer in me always waiting just below the surface.  Since I started Geocaching my explorer persona gets released on a regular basis.  I may not go in search of artefacts but looking for a cache feels like the same thing.  Don't think I can call the locations where most caches are hidden anywhere close to being a lost city, but every so often I find a new cache to search for which is somewhere out of the ordinary.  Somewhere that brings out said explorer.    

One such cache made an appearance the other day courtesy of Thecrow01.  The cache was hidden at Frames Reservoir, Port Elizabeth's oldest dam.  Immediately an expedition was planned, even if it was just a quick one during lunch time. 

In the early days of the settlement of Port Elizabeth the stream down what is now Donkin Street in Central, supplied the town with water.  As the town expanded, so more water was needed.  Frames Reservoir was completed in 1864 and can be found on the Shark River (further up the valley from Happy Valley) in Humewood.  It was built by Clement Wall Frames who leased the land from his cousin, C E Frames.  He formed the Shark River Water Company and they supplied the lower parts of town with water.  Unfortunately for Frames, due to pressure problems the higher lying areas lost out.  He went bankrupt as a result of the scheme and the municipality took it over.

We (us being friends and fellow cachers Seekoei and erenei and obviously myself) approached the dam on a track from the old Boet Erasmus Stadium side.  The coordinates then took us off the track and along a path through the bush.  The valley suddenly opened up and there was this stunning spot and the dam.  I wonder if the local boys every come fishing here cause there was a couple of big fish splashing around when we were walking across the dam wall.  It really was a great experience to discover the dam.  Something I've heard about but have never seen.  Another great expedition and discovery thanks to Geocaching.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Phillip's Tunnel in Hankey

Every little town has its interesting sites to visit, being it historic, natural or man-made.  Often visitors pass through without ever knowing about these places and in most cases they slowly become forgotten to all but a few.  One such site in my opinion is the Phillip's Tunnel in Hankey in the Gamtoos Valley.  There is a sign on the main drag through town but in most cases visitors are heading towards the Baviaanskloof and doesn't even notice it.  The road to the tunnel leads through the town's township, over the Gamtoos River and then past some farmlands.  The turnoff from the dirt road takes one up to the tunnel, a yawning mouth in the hillside.  Don't get me wrong, there isn't a huge amount to see.  But what is there is worth seeing, specially if you are into historic sites.

Hankey was started as a mission station on behalf of the London Missionary Society by Dr John Phillip.  The main purpose was to grow corn and mielies for the mission station at Bethelsdorp as well as to carry out evangelistic work in the valley.  Dr Philip's son, William Philip, came to the mission station in 1841 and during his time there the area experienced a serious water shortage.  The best way to get water from the Gamtoos River to the settlement's farmland was to dig a tunnel through the cliff that stood in-between the two.  A formidable task indeed but not one that put William off in any way.  In 1843 he started the project with the help of Khoi labourers and in just more than a year they completed the 228 meter tunnel.  William drowned in the river just after the official opening of the tunnel which was used for over a century.  These days the tunnel is no longer in use because of irrigation canals criss crossing the valley and but has been declared a national monument.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Biggest sundial in the Africa

The biggest sundial in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere can be found somewhere in South Africa.  "Where in South Africa?" I hear you ask. Cape Town? You're cold.  Johannesburg? Very cold. Durban? Still cold. Port Elizabeth? Getting warmer. Where then? Its located in the humble Gamtoos Valley town of Hankey.  The Hankey Sundial was completed by local farmer Mr Dirk Schellingerhout in 1989 to commemorate the town's 160th anniversary.  The dial is located at the entrance to the town and just below Vergaderingskop, the final resting place of Saartjie Baartman. The Hankey Sun Dial has a diameter of 34.6m and the gnomon is 18m high, and weighs one ton.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Framed African Sunset

For some people a sunset is a sunset is a sunset.  Just something to end the day with.  Then there are others which include photographers and travel writers (and I say writers because that goes for both print media and bloggers).  Those who grab their cameras when the sun starts to dip towards the horizon, the clouds start to colour and the most ordinary things become objects to silhouette against the changing sky.  Some photographers go on recces to find the best spot to set up their camera long before the day even thinks of ending while other do it in the spur of the moment.  But it doesn't matter which one of these you are, there is few things that get close to photographing a beautiful African sunset.  Spending the weekend at Willows Resort outside Port Elizabeth I had taken a couple of pictures of the coastline framed through the chalet's veranda window earlier in the day.  Sitting by the braai as the sun started to dip I suddenly had the perfect framed sunset.  Luckily the camera is never far away and I caught it just before the sun disappeared.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wilgewandel - something for the whole family

 
In all the years working as a tourist guide I drove past Wilgewandel near the Cango Caves countless times and never stopped.  It wasn't that I didn't want to, but there was just never time on a busy itinerary.  I often just referred to it as the place with the camel rides.  That was until a visit to the Cango Caves with the family while on holiday.  Drama Princess really wanted to ride a camel and the nagging started when we passed Wilgewandel on our way to the caves already.  Leaving the caves the tone of nagging became more consistent and there was no way I could drive past without having a major meltdown on the back seat.  And   that I stopped is quite evident in the fact that Drama Princess is sitting on the first camel in the top picture. Camel ride ticked off her very young bucket list.
 
What I did find out from my visit was that Wilgewandel is so much more than just the camel ride place between Oudtshoorn and the Cango Caves.  They have a host activities suitable for both big and small and all at very reasonable rates.  When we arrived I was afraid what the stop may end up costing me but I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have to sacrifice an arm and a leg for the KidZ's pleasure.  The one thing I tried myself was the little paddle boats where you use your arms and not your legs to propel yourself.  Even the Damselfly ventured onto the water for this one.

Chaos Boy wasn't interested in the camel ride and rather preferred to do the foofy slide across the dam.  I was kinda worried that he may end up in the dam but then I remembered that he is half monkey anyway.  The foofy slide is just one of many other activities that the kids can do while their parents sit down for a bite to eat or something to drink.  There are also go-carts, an obstacle course, donkey cart rides and, for the littlies, a touch farm where you can feed bunnies and other farm animals. 

After the KidZ had their fill of activities we sat down to have our fill of hamburgers on the outside veranda overlooking the dam.  I would show you what our yummy burgers looked like but I was so focused on it that I forgot to take a pic.  It was good, to say the least. Very good.  As for Wilgewandel, I now get it.  Its a great family attractions and well worth the stop if you have kids or if you don't, just stop for the burgers.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kings Protea in Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve

The Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve west of Port Elizabeth is one of the best and easiest accessible areas around to see proteas and other species in the Cape Floral Kingdom.  Flowers like the King Protea, South Africa's national flower, and the Pin Cushion Protea is found in abundance and when in flower is a real treat to see along one of the reserve's two trails.  I try to visit the reserve at least once or twice a year, even if its just for a quick stop while driving past on the N2, and there is always something to be seen and photographed.  Even better when I found this King Protea in such a position that I could show the Van Stadens Bridge in the background. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Donkin mosaic

Route 67 around the Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth has brought a new angle and attraction to urban tourism in the city.  The numbers 67 relate to the 67 years that Nelson Mandela spent in public and the whole project consists of 67 art pieces.  Most of these are public art pieces centred around the Donkin Reserve in the hearty of the city and forms an important part of urban renewal in the city.  One of the art pieces is a 470 square meter mosaic next to the Donkin Pyramid which celebrates the city and province's many cumtures, heritages, diverse histories and abundant fauna and flora.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Antelope skull

A game drive through a reserve with predators are all about watching live game but more often than not one would encounter the remains of not so live game.  During our sundowner stop on a game drive at Kuzuko Lodge I found this lone skull out in the open very interesting.  Probably a kudu skull as there was a kudu horn lying close by, I can only imagine how he came about his end.  Must have been quite a sight out in the open like this.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Riding PE's miniature trains

Ketik ketik... ketik ketik... ketik ketik... The sound of the train's wheels on the tracks.  A sound which so many kids these days have never heard before.  Everybody loves to ride on a train doesn't matter if its a luxurious tourist train, a cross country train, a day trip tourist train, a commuter train or, in the case of this post, little miniature trains.  

On the first Sunday of the month Port Elizabeth parents gather their kids, pack picnic baskets and head down to Fernglen to ride the city's little trains.  The Port Elizabeth Model Locomotive Society was established in 1963 and offers young and old the opportunity to experience the golden age of train travel, even if its only a couple of loops around the park.  The route includes a dinkum tunnel and crosses over the Great Grass River Bridge before the engines steam back into the station.

There are both diesels and steam locomotives although most adults prefer to wait for the latter.  Kids really don't care much about this and will hop onto the first one available.  Rides were R6 a go the last time I was there and at that price people can afford to go again and again and again which means there is about a 10 minute wait to get on when it gets busy.  Not much so the wait is no excuse not to go.  Actually, if you even just remotely like trains this is something you just can't miss.  And believe me, once people get on those trains, everybody becomes a kid again.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Succulent flowers at Kuzuko

Succulents always surprise me with the beautiful flowers that they produce specially when they grow in dry and arid areas.  The flowering succulent in the picture was growing next to the path to our room at Kuzuko Lodge in the northern part of the Addo Elephant National Park.

After reading the post, Alan Fogarty of Alan Tours helped me out a bit with the name:  Crassula ovata or Kerky bush, Beestebul, iPhewula also commonly known as the "Botterboom"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Orchard rainbow

An afternoon shower washed off the dust of a day exploring the Gamtoos Valley along some dirt back roads.  As the sun came out we went for a walk through the citrus orchard at Nikalandershoek where we were staying and a rainbow appeared over the trees.  The perfect end to the day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Approaching with confidence

When this boytjie matures a bit more he will be a really impressive bull. 
Not that he isn't already.  He's only problem is that he is an Addo bull so
he will never have the huge tusks that the Kruger bulls have. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Valley Thicket

South Africa boasts seven biomes or plant kingdoms and Port Elizabeth is fortunate that five of the seven occurs within the Nelson Mandela Bay metro boundary.  One of the biomes which is found largely in the Eastern Cape is the Valley Thicket Biome, previously called Valley Bushveld.  The biome is found mostly in river valleys and is characterised by dense evergreen shrub vegetation.  Closer to the coast the thicket is most dense with thorny shrubs and an undergrowth of creepers and succulent plants. Further inland where the climate is drier the vegetation becomes less intense while in mountain valleys you will find predominantly succulent vegetation.  The majority of vegetation in the Addo Elephant National Park consists of Valley Thicket with Spekboom being prevalent.  The big advantage of Valley Thicket is that it has an exceptionally high carbon dioxide storage ability and is seen as an important area to buffer the effects of climate change. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Patensie Plaasbasaar - the epitome of church bazaars

Most people have been to their local church or school bazaar where the old tannies man tables with vetkoek, curry and rice and pancakes and kids run around while their parents buy food and chat to their neighbours who they never get to see due to the 6 foot wall separating their homes.  Last weekend I got to go to the Patensie Plaasbasaar, the NG Kerk Gamtoosvallei-Oos annual bazaar and I have to be honest here.  It was the mother of all church bazaars and makes our little city church bazaars look like a Micky Mouse tea party. 
 


The Gamtoos Valley is a major citrus and vegetable growing area and is often referred to as the food basket of the Eastern Cape.  Knowing that the first question people asked me when I came back was if there was fruit and vegetables on sale. Seriously?  Is the sea wet?  There was lots of fruit and particularly vegetables on sale.  So much so and at such low prices that people bought wheel barrows full with the farm workers assisting going flat out all day, wheeling people's purchases to their cars (or bakkies as is the case in most of the people from the valley who came).  And making some seriously good tips along the way.  
 
Coming into the Endulini Citrus packhouse where the bazaar was held the first thing you saw was the tea garden and all its cakes, and tarts, and cakes and... did I mention tarts?
 
  
 


I don't just mean any cakes and tarts, but cakes and tarts that would make most bakeries and coffee shops green with envy.  Green I say. Lime green with some frog in a blender green thrown in for good measure.  These cakes weren't just thrown together, they were made with exceptional skill and effort by people living in a farming community.  For the sake of the tea garden the cakes were cut up and in plates already, selling at R15 a piece.  The only problem was deciding which one to choose.  Not quite a piece of cake.    
 
One of my favourite things at the bazaar was watching these ladies making rooterkoek.  Roosterkoek, for those who don't know it, is bread rolls made over the coals and normally prepared along with a braai.  The roosterkoek table was where I bought my lunch of warm roosterkoek with farm butter melting and running over my fingers, topped off with whole fig jam and cheese.


It truly was a treat watching these experts at work.  They were churning out dozens of roosterkoek and as fast as they were making them, people were buying them.  During the auction later on they stopped making roosterkoek because they thought people were done buying and suddenly found themselves out of stock.  Didn't take long for the next batch to be rolled, cut and made though.
 
Other tables at the bazaar was heavily laden with all kinds of traditional bazaar goods. 
Bottled onions, bottled beetroot, jams, lemon syrup...


 ... breads, cakes, rusks, koeksisters...
 



 ... pancakes (and what is a church bazaar without pancakes?), jaffles, salamis, cheeses and biltong.

The most popular part of the bazaar was their farm breakfast which was served all day, buffet style.  Bacon, mince, sausage, patties, baked beans, egg, breads with farm butter, jams and cheese served with juice, all for just R40.  This was well topped off with a dessert from the pudding table selling at R10 and R15 per container. Baked puddings, jellies, instant puddings, more baked puddings and custard.  Like Oom Oubaas of 7de Laan on television would say.  "I had to stop myself before I chewed my lips off." 
 
 

 




 
 
 During the day the stage was used for a proper farmers auction with sheep, goats and chickens, kudu hunts, wire cars and several other items up for grabs.  I couldn't really compete with some of the farmers' wallets but did enjoy the banter going on between some of the guys on the floor.  The auction was followed by a boere-orkes. Uhm, ja.  Not sure how to translate that into English.  Its a traditional Afrikaner band led by a concertina player.  Not really something that is popular with the younger crowd these days, but still very special to hear live. 




Outside the kids did the standard jumping castle thing with a sweets and kiddies table nearby to keep them all sugared up.  One of the local farmers did tractor rides into the orchards which clearly was supported more by the city kids than the farm kids who get to ride on tractors whenever they want. 
 
I wouldn't have know of the bazaar if it wasn't for Nichola Uys of Nikalandershoek.  Nichola is the driving force behind the Gamtoos Tourism Association and invited us out to the valley for the weekend.  While we were there we stayed in her cottage on the citrus farm Nikalandershoek.  The cottage is self catering and the ideal spot to base yourself to explore the valley or just chill away from the city rush.  Breakfast at Tolbos in town, lunch at Padlangs just outside of Patensie and late afternoon strolls through the orchards with outings to the Baviaanskloof, Kouga Dam, Queen Victoria profile and Hankey in between.  Truly a plattelandse experience with a good farming flavour in the mix.  Next year we'll definitively be returning for the Plaasbasaar with heaps of our friends in tow.  They didn't want to believe me before hand that its going to be a great experience and now they have to wait a year for the next one.