Tuesday 11 October 2011: 5 years 1 month on … Advantage ED
The Cape of Good Hope (Portuguese: Cabo da Boa Esperança) is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.
There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
In fact, the southernmost point is Cape Agulhas, about 150 kilometres to the east-southeast. The Atlantic and Indian oceans meet at the point where the warm-water Agulhas current meets the cold water Benguela current and turns back on itself – a point that fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point, about one kilometre east of the Cape of Good Hope.
When following the western side of the African coastline from the equator, however, the Cape of Good Hope marks the point where a ship begins to travel more eastward than southward. Thus the first modern rounding of the cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was a milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East. Dias called the cape Cabo das Tormentas (“Cape of Tempests”) because of the wild storms encountered there.
John II of Portugal renamed the cape the Cape of Good Hope because of the optimism engendered by the opening of a sea route to India and the East.
As one of the great capes of the South Atlantic Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope has been of special significance to sailors for many years and is widely referred to by them simply as “the Cape.”
The term Cape of Good Hope is also used in three other ways:
- It is a section of the Table Mountain National Park, within which the cape of the same name, as well as Cape Point, falls.
- It was the name of the early Cape Colony established in 1652, in the vicinity of the Cape Peninsula.
- Just prior to the formation of the Union of South Africa, the term referred to the entire region that in 1910 was to become the Cape of Good Hope Province (usually shortened to the Cape Province). In the new South Africa (post 1994), the Cape Province was subdivided into the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape. [(1) Information from Wikipedia]
In 1580, British navigator Sir Francis Drake termed it “the fairest cape in the circumference of the whole world”!
Whatever one wishes to call it, The Cape and Cape Town are of special significance to me – it is where I was born and educated (in Stellenbosch) and bred (in The Strand). I lived in The Cape for almost thirty years of my life.
So, when the family headed for The Cape last Saturday morning (1 October), I was, in a sense, going home. Sean was at the wheel, I was seated in the front passenger’s seat (armed with a number of various pillows and a toilet seat! – to make the eight hour trip more bearable) and Pera and Phil were at the back.
The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
Saturday morning Leave PE 9am
Saturday evening Supper with Ridgways – Gordons Bay
Sunday Church Strand and then Lunch: Fairview Farm – Paarl
Monday morning MSA 1km walk – Strand beach
Monday afternoon High Tea – Mount Nelson Hotel – Cape Town
Tuesday morning Shopping – Factory shops: Cape Town
Tuesday afternoon Ice-skating – Goodwood
Tuesday evening Drinks at Costa del Sol (Strand) (HHH school mates)
Wednesday AlgoaFM from Waterkloof Farm and wine tasting
Wednesday evening Rocking Horse Show – Durbanville (Die Boer Theatre)
Thursday Trip to Robben Island
Thursday evening Drinks at Forrester’s Arms in Newlands (Old Greys)
Friday Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)
Saturday Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)
Sunday morning Return to Port Elizabeth
(Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)
I will ink in the spaces later … (in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the previous blog!)
Day 1 – Saturday 1 October 2011
We had planned to leave PE at 9am. However, for the first time in years I overslept and only woke up at 8h45! But, the boys had packed the car and had everything under control, and we got away at 9h30.
The obligatory stop took place at the Storm’s River bridge. It would appear that even if you don’t really need to stop there, you do anyway. So we did, and filled up, not with petrol, but with dried fruit, biltong and juices – the padkos for the 700km ahead of us down the Garden Route.
Plett, Knysna, George … I sms’d Kobus and Tillie Wüst and Willem and Gretel Wüst to invite them to join us for lunch in Paarl on Sunday (it being Pera’s birthday on Monday).
Jacobus phoned back to say they were at their newly finished “Little House on the Karoo Prairie” (somewhere close to Ladismith) for the weekend, and would be unable to join us.
Willem phoned to say they were with friends at Still Bay (Stilbaai) for the weekend. However, as we would be passing that way on our trip to The Cape, he invited us to join them for lunch.
So, Mossel Bay, Albertinia, and then, just before two pm, the turn off to Still Bay …
As a high school scholar, I had spent many December holidays in Still Bay. Our neighbours in The Strand, the Ds Bombaai Van Rensburg family had a holiday house in Still Bay East, and often I had been invited along. I had even had an emergency appendectomy at the closest hospital in Riversdale one year!
The boys had never been to Still Bay before, and our hosts were staying in a house right on the beach in Still Bay West. Out of the front door, onto the beach – one could not ask for better.
So we lunched on the beach, and what should have been a short stop-over became two hours. As we were about to leave, two Cape Coloured hawkers managed to sell off some prawns to us, and we stayed even longer to eat the prawns directly off the fire!
The hawkers and our hosts had us in stitches of laughter – with the comment that “blue finned tuna was as scarce as rocking horse sh**t” winning the award as the best chirp of the afternoon!
Reluctantly, we left at 16h00 and headed westwards once again. Riversdale, Heidelberg, Swellendam, Riviersonderend, Caledon, Sir Lowry’s Pass and then HOME – the Hottentots-Holland basin: Gordons Bay, Somerset West and The Strand.
We checked in just after 19h00 at varsity friends Thomas and Marzeth Moolman’s holiday flat in De Beers Rd, Strand – our home for the coming week.
The luggage had just been off-loaded when we were picked up by Sebastian and Michelle for supper at Antonias in the Broadwalk Harbour Island development just outside Gordons Bay. Very similar to the Port St Francis area, this development is new and was not there in my childhood days.
It had been a long day by the time we got into bed and quickly dozed off just before midnight!
Day 2 – Sunday 2 October 2011
I was baptised in The Strand Methodist Church, went to Sunday School there, and was confirmed there in 1972.
My grandfather, Walter Charles Lunnon, was a lay preacher in that Church, my parents and my aunts and uncles attended that church and, indeed, my three sisters were baptised and confirmed in the same church. The surname Lunnon has been part of the Strand Methodist Church since the early days. Alas, no more!
There are no longer Lunnons living in The Strand.
The closest family members who are still members of that church is my sister Lyn and her husband Anton (Müller) and my Aunty Doreen (my late father’s sister) and her husband Peter (Volsteedt).
When I am in The Strand on a Sunday, I always try to attend a service at MY Church.
So, while the rest of the family were sleeping, that is where I went at 09h00. Few familiar faces remain and those that do remain now have greying hair and aging skin. (I suppose that goes for all of us!) But, I feel at home there and memories of my childhood flash through my mind in between the choruses sung from the projected words (no longer hymns from the hymn book!), the prayers and the sermon. All that remains the same, are the baskets in which the Offertory is collected.
Being the first Sunday of the month, I get to share in The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion. It is a special day for me to return to my roots. I eat the Bread, drink the Cup and I am thankful for a special life that I live and a journey that I am privileged to undertake.
… the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Then it was lunch time. We headed off to Fairview Farm at Agter-Paarl, together with sister Lyn and Anton, and the Ridgways. Driving through Stellenbosch, I sms’d Sebastian that he was taking the wrong route and should turn left towards Kayamandi. He then indicated that we should take the lead!
For the first time, I was taking the incorrect route and we headed off in the wrong direction! It is indicative of the fuzziness of my memory at the moment. Anyway, I had to eat humble pie, apologise eventually and let Sebastian take us to our destination.
Luckily, they had kept our table and we joined the hundreds of other diners who just kept coming and going. The food was great, the view over the winelands towards Cape Town and Table Mountain is exquisite, the cheese tasting something else and the boys reckoned it was the best meal ever!
Eventually leaving sometime after four, we dropped Sean on the way home at Helderberg residence in Stellenbosch , where he was going to spend the night with his mates Graeme Clarke and others.
Then cheese (ala Fairview) and wine for supper with the Ridgways, I visited friend Attie Boshoff and eventually it was dux time just before midnight.
Day 3 – Monday 3 October 2011
Somewhere in the last paragraph of Day 2 (Sunday evening) above, I should have written that I lost my cool. I do that too often nowadays. However, when I become stressed, it’s almost like a pressure valve that releases the pent-up anger.
This time it involved the arrangements for Monday. Sean was in Stellenbosch and needed to be fetched on Monday morning. Phillip wanted to watch Grey play water-polo at SACS in Newlands on Monday morning. I needed to walk The Strand beach on Monday morning and we all needed to get to the Mount Nelson Hotel in Oranjezicht (the City Bowl) for High Tea on Monday afternoon.
Distances in Cape Town are not like Port Elizabeth. A trip from Strand to Cape Town (depending where and when) could take upwards of an hour. And between us, we had one car, two drivers (Pera and Sean), one navigator (that’s me who knows Cape Town like the back of my hand) and four people going in different directions.
So I exploded and spoiled the fun for a while.
But, by Monday morning all was sorted. It was Pera’s birthday!
Phillip got a lift with Michelle to Newlands, Pera and I walked the Melkbaai (Milk Bay) Beach with Sonja van Rhyn and some thirty other people. It was International MSA Day (Multiple Systems Atrophy) and people were asked to walk a kilometre and light candles to highlight the scourge of MSA.
Sonja was slightly ahead of me at high school and an excellent athlete. She was diagnosed with MSA (a cousin neurological disease to my CBD) a little more than a year ago and is already in a wheelchair. Her disease is moving at a far more rapid pace than my CBD.
After the walk, we lit candles at Casa del Sol, a restaurant in one of the multi-towered blocks of flats that now line The Strand’s Beach Road.
Then we went to Stellenbosch to fetch Sean, headed for SACS to collect Phillip and made our way to the Mount Nelson Hotel.
But then another logistical challenge raised its head. None of us boys were wearing clothing that could have been considered smart casual for the Hotel’s High Tea!
So we headed for the Garden’s Shopping Centre to buy some clothing. Nothing cheap there! Then we drove around the downtown City Bowl area looking for a clothing shop – nothing there! I almost lost it again!
Sebastian had said that the worst that could happen was that those who were not properly attired (smart casual with a collared shirt) would have to sit in the car and watch the rest fill their faces.
So we went on to the Hotel and guess what? No one questioned my short pants, nor the boys t-shirts, board shorts or “sloppies”!
And so we tea’d and ate, and tea’d and ate, and tea’d and ate, and champagned to celebrate the birthday, and tea’d and ate … the Facebook photo record would prove that I ate four slices of cheese cake and added on a few more kilo’s! (For a full record of a previous High Tea at the Mount Nelson please read my previous blog As Long as there’s Tea there’s Hope!)
We “rolled” out of the Hotel at five and then headed to the northern suburbs of Cape Town along the N1 to visit Century City and the Canal Walk Shopping Centre at Bothasig. Then on to Welgemoed for supper with Jacobus and Tilly Wúst.
When Tilly and Jacobus had phoned whilst we were walking along the beach in the morning to invite us to supper, I had said something light to eat would suffice (because of the High Tea). Well, it ended up as a steak braai and anything but light! But, as always, it was a great evening to catch up with great friends over great food and wine.
And it was very late when we set course back for TheStrand via the N1, the R300 and onto the N2. Another tough day in Africa!
Day 4 – Tuesday 4 October 2011
When I planned the week, I had asked the family what they wanted to do. Pera wanted time to shop (!), so Tuesday morning saw us heading off to the factory shops in Kenilworth – Access Park.
Some 50 odd shops, I would guess, all strung together selling anything and everything from clothing to carpets. It’s not my idea of fun trying on shirt after shirt and pants after pants, but I guess it has to be done! (And I didn’t lose it today!)
So, after a few hours of shopping, I was feeling pretty tired. But, we left Access Park with a few items of new clothing each, and enough of mine for Sean and Phillip to eye and to be able to use to mix and match their own outfits! It’s the joy that one has when your sons are able to wear your clothes! Pera’s the only lucky one in that she doesn’t have to share hers!
Then it was off to the other side of Cape Town – Epping Industria – to visit the Green Cross shoe factory shop. Sean and I make a pretty good driving team – he’s the driver and I’m the Garmin GPS, and we are able to drive straight there.
A large number of shoe boxes and one pair of shoes later, we left the shops behind and moved across the road to the Grand West Casino. This was the boys’ request – an afternoon of ice-skating. Despite the fact that they ice-skate once a year at most, both are managing well on the ice. It’s a pity we don’t have an ice-rink in PE anymore!
While they were skating, Pera and I slipped across to the Canal Walk Centre to do last minute IT shopping.
Then it was home to Strand, and I put in a quick nap (and overslept) before heading off for a few drinks at the Casa del Sol with old Hottentots-Holland High School mates of mine. It’s always good to see old friends! Thanks to Karin Holtshausen for organising these get-togethers!
The boys went to have sushi with friends of there’s and Pera went off to supper with Michelle and Sebastian. I joined them later, in time to watch the end of SA Idols and see David van Vuuren take over the 2011 Idols crown from Elvis Blue.
The end of a long Day 4 – weary from all the shopping – saw us all crash into bed.
Day 5 – Wednesday 5 October 2011
We had been so fortunate with the weather – it just kept on getting better and better. And so our early rise on Wednesday presented yet another beautiful warm windless day,
Sean had arranged to get a lift to Cape Town on Wednesday morning with friends of his. He was off to see the Coldplay concert at the new Cape Town Stadium (built for last years FIFA World Cup) and was scheduled to meet up with us again on Thursday morning.
We were off to the Waterkloof Wine Farm – just behind Somerset West on the slopes of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, and we had to be there before 10h30 in order for me to do my AlgoaFM chat show via telephone to host Lance du Plessis.
Waterkloof is a modern newly-built wine farm, and they say “every picture tells a story” and “a picture is worth a thousand words”! So please look at the photos accompanying this blog and at the previous photo blog and admire the beauty of the Hottentots Holland basin, the HH mountains, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Gordons Bay, Strand, Somerset West, False Bay and the Cape Peninsula in the distance. My words can certainly do no justice to such magnificence!
After my interview (which was minimal as a result of a discussion about the dangers of fracking – listen to the podcast), we did our first wine tasting of the week: the Waterkloof wines. Then we headed off for lunch on the other side of Somerset West, behind the Helderberg, on the way to Stellenbosch. This time we were visiting the farm Avontuur, the owner of which is now married to Jake White, the ex Springbok rugby coach.
A splendid meal was had on the terrace, with a view of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak in the southern distance and the Helderberg as the northern vista.
We got home late afternoon, and barely had time for a short snooze, before we were picked up by Sebastian and his father and friend Kallie van Heerden. This time we were heading off to Durbanville and to the Die Boer Theatre – sort of restaurant come theatre come pub all rolled into one.
It’s owned by Jurgen Human, who studied electrical engineering with me at Stellenbosch and once courted my sister. He went on to work at the SABC, married Afrikaans theatre doyen Dowwe Dolle and is now involved in this theatre venture. It’s quaint, it’s fun, it’s enjoyable. You eat and you drink and you listen to the music. And tonight it’s Country and Western!
The band playing is Rocking Horse, and two of the members of the band of three are Ridgways, cousins of Sebastian and sons of Sebastian’s father’s late brother. So it’s all in the family tonight, except for Sean, who by now was rocking away at the Coldplay concert in Green Point.
So, today had been one of wine, food and song. Another great day which was serving as the prelude for our much-anticipated trip to Robben Island on Thursday. And the weather was forecast to be an even better day – warm and windless.
Our eyes started closing on the half-hour trip back to The Strand from Durbanville …
Day 6 – Thursday 6 October 2011
In June 2010, when we last visited Cape Town together as a family, we booked to visit that icon of the South African apartheid era, Robben Island and its infamous prison where Nelson Mandela and many others were imprisoned – our South African version of San Francisco’s Alcatraz! (Robben, by the way, comes from the Dutch word robben meaning seal, of which there are many on the Island.)
I have visited Alacatraz (in January 1988) when Grant Lloyd and I toured the USA, and I have visited Robben Island before. In my student years at Stellenbosch, the prison authorities organised dinner dances in the prison hall, and it was a novel evening’s entertainment. We would drive from Stellies to Cape Town harbour, cross the open Table Bay waters by ferry to the Robben Island harbour, disembark there, and then be transported by bus to the Prison Hall.
Music was provided by the prisoners’ band and the prisoners also acted as waiters, serving the best of seafood that the cold waters around the island could provide. (I sometimes have wondered if we were ever served by Madiba himself, seeing of course that no-one knew what he looked like at that time. It was against the law of the land to publish pictures of that terrorist!)
Drinks could only be bought in large measure – a six-pack of beer, a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of brandy, a litre of Coke or whatever … need less to say, the trip back to Cape Town harbour on the last ferry at 02h00 was not a pleasant experience. Much alcohol and heavy seas do not make for good bed-fellows!
One evening, on the way back to res from The Island, I had an accident with Mom’s blue Renault 16TS at the entrance of the Cloetesville Road into Stellenbosch. That was the end of her Renault and the beginning of her brand new orange Toyata Corolla 1300!
That all is history now.
The Island is presently one of the country’s premier tourist attractions. However, the family and I have never visited the Island in its current museum form. Hence, our early booking last year at the time of the SA FIFA World Cup.
But it was not to be. The weather turned foul, the rain poured down and the westerly wind howled, all trips were cancelled and we were left disappointed.
So, this year we booked again for the Thursday. And the long-term weather forecast for the week assured us that Thursday would be a peach of a day – in fact, the best day of the week: no wind and warm temperatures. Nothing would stop us this time and the excitement was palpable.
Sean, who had gone to the Coldplay concert in Green Point on Wednesday evening and had stayed over in Cape Town, was given strict instructions of ensuring that he would meet up with us before our scheduled trip at 13h00. Either he would stay in Cape Town where we would collect him, or he would get a lift to The Strand early enough to join up with us.
Well, at 09h00, we received an sms from the Robben Island Tourist Authority advising us that, due to technical difficulties, all boat trips to The island had been cancelled! Disappointment once again! One could hardly believe that a premier tourist attraction in Cape Town, and in the middle of the school holidays, could be cancelled at such short notice (and that there were no contingency plans to hire another boat or whatever!)
(We have subsequently heard that, like so many other things in this country, the running of this business has also deteriorated rapidly and is subject to bribery, corruption and maladministration!)
Anyway, we had to replan the day, and decided to go to Hout Bay instead. But, we had to wait for Sean, and his return got later and later. The expectation of 10h00 became midday (thanks to no fault of his own) and my next explosion resulted. So, when we eventually left for Hout Bay, the tension in the car could be felt, and it took quite a while to recover.
But the beauty of lunch at Marriner’s Wharf, the walk on the harbour wall, the drinks at the restaurant and the trip on the boat out to Seal island thawed out my anger. What started out as a day of great expectation, was almost ruined by me, but luckily, we managed to salvage it.
The Peninsula remains the Cape of Good Hope (even for me)!
My next appointment was “Forries” in Newlands. So we returned to Cape Town around 17h00 via Llandudno, Bakoven, Clifton, Bantry Bay, Camps Bay, Sea Point and green Point. But not as quickly as you have just taken to read through the list of names. In fact, it took us an hour to travel that short distance from Hout Bay to Newlands.
It was rush-hour traffic in the Mother City and being a beautiful day, the beaches and Beach Rd cafés were crowded (despite being a Thursday afternoon!) All Cape Town’s beautiful people were out in full force – tanning, sipping, solving the world’s problems and gossiping (no doubt); but no swimming – the Atlantic Ocean and the Benquela current make the water too cold for that!
It would have been quicker to go to Newlands over Kloof Nek ( the pass between Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. But the reason we took the coastal road was to find Phill a new pair of slops (beach shoes). His had broken after having been worn out by Charlie, our new Jack Russell.
So, somewhere, in High Level Road, Sea Point, waiting for the traffic to move, Phill rushed in to the shoe shop and bought new ones, and I rushed into the ATM and drew money … and the traffic just moved on slowly! (We are so spoiled in Port Elizabeth when it comes to traffic or, should I say, lack thereof!)
Forresters’ Arms is a pub and restaurant in Newlands. We frequented it as students and it serves as a meeting place for many groups of people. No visit to Cape Town is complete without a visit to Forries!
Adrian van Westenbrugge, an Old Grey and ex-pupil of mine had organised for a few friends to meet there. It was great catching up over a cold Guiness with him and his girlfriend, Johnny Hill, Belinda Walton and her partner Neil, and Pera’s brother, Bruce, also joined us.
All this time, as kids do today, Sean (who thanks to modern technology in the form of Face Book and BBM) had been in contact with his mates. So, just when it was home-time, Sean asked if we could stay a little longer as friends of his from UCT were about to arrive, too.
So we ordered pizza’s for supper (really good ones!) and visited a while longer with, amongst others, Hugh van Niekerk (from Grey and Middleton fame) and Trilby Brown – Wayne and Janet’s daughter.
Then, it was home-time! We headed back to The Strand for the last time on this trip, and to packing up, before we dropped into bed. Friday morning early would see us starting the trip home via the Breede River valley.
Day 7 – Friday 7 October 2011
Our trip back to Port Elizabeth was scheduled to commence on Friday. However, we planned to take a leisurely drive and to stop over in Montagu for the weekend. The Ridgways were to accompany us and to act as our tour guide. Unfortunately, it was “month-end” in the accounts department at the Mount Nelson Hotel and Michelle could not go. So Sebastian and almost one-year old Hannah did. (It was amazing to see Sebastian look after Hannah – I never was such a good father!)
After packing and saying goodbye to our flat and The Strand, we left, as scheduled, at 08h30 and headed through Stellenbosch, Paarl, the N1 north through the Hugeneot Tunnel and on to our first stop in the Slanghoek Valley outside Rawsonville.
The farm OPSTAL is owned by Stanley and Ria Louw. Stanley was at Stellenbosch University with me when I was an undergraduate student. He was also in Helshoogte and served on the House Committee. He is married to Thomas Moolman’s sister Ria (we had been staying in Thomas’s flat in The Strand.)
Rawsonville has special memories for me. I visited the Moolmans often there (and at their caravan in Gordons Bay when they camped during the summer holidays). I also spoke at Thomas and Marzeth’s wedding in the church hall in 1983 and it was the town where my very first brand new car was written off on a trip back home from Infantry School in Oudtshoorn when I was doing my military service.
But I had not yet visited Opstal.
So we stopped over for breakfast – a big farm one! – and our first wine tasting of the day. Unfortunately, Stanley was in Worcester and we did not get to see him. However, in the midst of preparing for a weekend Slanghoek Valley Wine Festival, we were graciously hosted by Ria.
It set the tone for the rest of the day (as can be seen from the photographs accompanying these blogs!)
Our next stop was the Klipdrift Brandy distillers in Robertson – “met ys!”- and then on to the wine farms along the Breede River valley between Robertson and Bonnivale.
Farm after farm, wine after wine, sip after sip and taste after taste, we moved through the valley and through the wines – the dry and the semi-sweet whites through the rosés and the red Cabernets and Pinotages, and all the other special wines and the cheeses, too, where available!
We visited Bon Courage, Van Loeveren, Excelsior. I’m not sure if it’s the wine or the CBD that makes the names fade into oblivion now.
Each farm has something special – that little extra thing to make it unique – whether it be a cheese platter, a snack, a river cruise, or a donkey cart.
Sean, Phill and I especially enjoyed the opportunity at Excelsior to blend and bottle our own wine – Excelsior Our Own Creation! The challenge now is do we keep it or drink it!
Bacchus would have been proud of us. The day moved into a haze of splendour and by late afternoon, it was time to head off to the Spar in Montagu and stock up on provisions for our braai at our overnight weekend guest house in the Koo Valley, north of Montagu.
What a spectacular valley that has escaped me, and I guess many others, all these years.
Most of us, I would imagine, are familiar with the name Koo and Langeberg – being the brand name of canned fruit and vegetables that have graced our kitchens over the years and that we all have eaten somewhere along the line.
Langeberg, of course, means “long mountain”. It’s the range that runs parallel to the Indian Ocean coast all the way from Robertson to Swellendam and beyond. The Koo (Khoisan for “cold”) is a valley between these mountains and the next range that forms the border with the Great Karoo. The road that runs through it links the R62 at Montagu with the N1 at Touws River. It is in this valley that we find the fruit and vegetables that go into those cans!
The scenery is magnificent, and would become even more apparent to us on the following day when we ascended the mountain.
In the meantime, in the quietness of the setting sun and the darkening sky, we braaied in front of our cottage at Oak Guest Cottages, and called it an early evening! Saturday belonged to Protea Farm.
Day 8 – Saturday 8 October 2011
Planning to do “The Mountain Trip” this morning, we were scheduled to arrive at Protea Farm at 09h00.
We could not get accommodation at Protea Farm as they were full. So we were booked in right next door at Oak Tree Cottages for the weekend.
It was a short trip to Protea Farm. Upon arrival, we checked in and took our places on the back of the trailer. Some 40 other people took up the remaining seats on our trailer and tractor, and another combination of tractor and trailer was filled with another forty plus people.
All of us were headed for the top of the Langeberg Mountain. At a height of some 1500m above sea-level, we would eventually be at an elevation one and a half times that of Cape Town’s world-famous Table Mountain.
And we would get there towed up on a man-made road (in parts double concrete tracks) by a tractor.
We had been warned by sms on Friday that we should bring warm clothing. However, it was a picture-perfect day and the temperature was warm, even at the top.
As we slowly ascended, and stopped every now and then to take in the views and eat the apples, the Koo Valley slowly receded into the distance way down below us. And, as we went up, the vista became wider and wider.
We could see more and more of the Overberg around us, the blue mountains that surrounded us, the green valleys way below us, the myriad of farm dams – some with brown muddy water and others with crystal-clear clear blue water – and the green fynbos and bright orange and red proteas carpeting the entire area.
It was yet another picture from God’s collection of postcards of Planet Earth.
Eventually, from the very top, we could see from Worcester in the west through McGregor in the south to Montagu in the east, and Robertson right at our feet 1500m way down below us.
Fresh mountain water on tap right at the summit quenched our thirst. And we went on to the stone hiking hut, where we were given a glass of Montagu muscadel and some dried fruit.
Then the trip down – at about one o’clock we arrived at the bottom at the beautiful lunch area in the woods.
Juice and wine with stokbrood, roosterbrood, fresh bread, farm butter, home-made jams, lamb, potjiekos, curry, baked vegetables, rice, ice-cream, baked pudding, fruit salad, and seconds and more seconds, and thirds … whatever gaps their may have been in our tummies were quickly filled with the most delicious of South African home cuisine – lekker boerekos! (nice farm food).
We headed for home at the Cottage filled with food and the wonders of Nature in all her glory.
But we were on a roll, and the holiday was fast coming to an end – we couldn’t sit still; so off we headed back to Montagu’s thermal springs and the warm water baths. (The waters spew out of the earth at a temperature of 44 degrees C.)
I don’t think any of us were prepared for the masses of people that we encountered there. Barely a square centimetre was available for us to squeeze in to lie on the lawn or to get into the warm water of the pools.
But once in the water, it was difficult to get out. I must say that even on a balmy spring day, I really enjoyed being in that warm water (with being being the correct verb. There was no doing word, because it was almost impossible to do anything more, or even move). There was definitely no room to swim in this Inn.
Our holiday had ended on a warm note.
We returned to the Cottage and prepared packing so as to get off to an early start on Sunday morning. It was a case of “Early to bed, early to rise … “
Port Elizabeth beckoned.
Day 9 – Sunday 9 October 2011
It was the time …
… For the holiday to end
… to pack up for oulaas (the last time)
… to return to Port Elizabeth
… to return to work and school and home
… for the Springboks to play Australia in the quarter-final of the World Cup
There was no TV set in our cottage, and hence we would not see the big game for which South Africa had been preparing for weeks now, and which would be watched by almost everyone in the country.
It was even scheduled on our itinerary … watch rugby over breakfast and then head home!
Such is the nature and hospitality of the people of the Koo that when I asked the lady who had prepared our lunch on Saturday where we could watch the game, she immediately invited us (total strangers) to come and watch at their home.
However, Pera felt that we would be intruding, and would not go. I lost it again – both the opportunity to watch the game and my volatile temper.
But, it was not to be. And so we packed the car, left the Cottage at 07h30 and headed east: the R62 to Barrydale, then the Tradouw Pass through the Langeberg to Heidelberg where we would join the N2 and then straight on to Port Elizabeth. We would be back by about 14h00.
We listened to the game on Radio 2000 in the car. I enjoyed the passion and enthusiasm of the commentators who, unlike their TV counterparts, have to put in the dots, join the dots, colour it in and paint the whole picture in order for the listener to know just what is happening.
But this is mountainous terrain and I did not enjoy losing the signal every so often … and it always seemed to happen just at the wrong time!
So we went into the Tradouw Pass in the excited winning situation of 9 – 8! It’s a beautiful pass and one that meanders along the course of the river through the towering mountains on either side. I’m not sure we really noticed much.
And then we were
… out of our skins
… out of the Pass
… out of the signal-less Radio 2000 area
… and out of the World Cup!
Australia had scored a penalty whilst we had no signal.
It was 9 – 11 all over again – and, this time, not in New York, but in Wellington.
Who was to blame for this atrocity? – we could only earmark the referee!
The car became quiet. The world had ended and our holiday had ended.
(But not before we stopped for lunch in Plettenberg Bay. Why there? Because it was lunch time, as usual we were all hungry, and it’s a Lunnon tradition to stop for whatever meal at the Rod and Reel.)
However, tomorrow, the world would revert to normal and all would be the same again.
(Go back to GO. Go straight to GO. Do not collect R200. And just when you needed it most because, in fact, you spent it all on the holiday!)