Saturday, 26 November 2011

Life's good.

I had to go to the dentist the other day.  Seems to be my favourite destination lately.  But since I have depleted my self-payment gap and medical aid is paying for everything, I thought it an opportune time to have a few lifelong niggles fixed.

As I drove there (at speed, as I lost track of time and realised in the nick of time I should have left 10 minutes ago), I reflected a bit on our time here.  When we arrived the orchards were still full of leaves.  Very soon afterwards it started to turn the most beautiful autumny golden hues of red, orange and yellow.  By the time we returned from Namibia in mid-winter, the branches were a stark black and looked dead, in contrast to the lush green grass growing between the rows.  Some places there were even flowers in between.  Amazing how nature balances itself out.  Then about a month ago you could see a few small green leaves appearing on the stalks.  And today the orchards are bright green and full of life, but the flowers have all disappeared.  All the Karoo bushes has started to fade from the million colours of green to a washed-out khaki and brown colour.

There is probably no place in the world where you would find such a proliferation of road signage “warning” against turtles.  No, it is not man-eating turtles.  The signs are to warn you that the turtle has an in-borne desire to cross a road, and you best be driving carefully to avoid making turtle soup.  Not sure what’s going on in their minds.  I think that is all they do the whole day.  Cross the road.  Eat a shoot of grass.  Cross the road to the other side.  Eat a shoot of grass.  Cross the road…You got the picture?  Apparently they are called “Karoo padlopers” or something to that effect.  A very appropriate name.  But they always cross at a 90 degree angle, and you never catch any of them idly walking along the solid line of even on the shoulder.

Today is the most glorious day outside.  It is about 21 degrees, which is hot compared to the average day time maximum of 15 or 16 degrees.  The sun is beating down, but the heat is broken by a light, chilly breeze.  I am sitting on the veranda looking out over the sea, which is a weird shade of blue and green, almost teal.  The waves break in the crispest of white.  I can see all the way up the coast to the mouth of the Olifants River.  The beach is full of people, and the mouth-watering aroma of the braai fires on the beach wafts up to the house.  In my hand I have a chilled glass of white wine, with beads of condensation running down on the outside of the glass.  Can life get better than this?

This actually brings me to the topic of emigration.  I think everyone in South Africa has asked themselves the question, will I stay or will I go?  And the answer is not easy.  People leave for different reasons.  To a large extent it felt like we emigrated when we moved here.  It is a different world to Gauteng.  For one, the main reason people want to leave the country is crime, and down here crime is not that prevalent (yet?).  I know I am not yet ready to leave.  I love this country and this continent with all my heart and I don’t have kids to think about.  Yes, I know there are elements in our government that could really rock this boat, and crime is a big concern.  I found it difficult to explain to people how the love of this country can outweigh all the risks, until I came upon this in a book written by Joanne Fedler, a women’s rights advocate, “When hungry, eat”.  (After moving to Australia with her partner and two children, she realised that she had picked up plenty of baggage along the way, and a spiritual spring-clean was well overdue.  She couldn’t take a year off to meditate in an Ashram. Who was going to make the lunch boxes? So instead, Joanne opted for doing something about the fatty deposits on her rear end before they fossilised.  While on a strict new eating plan in which she radically changed her relationship with food, Joanne began to see it wasn't only kilos she needed to lose, but the weight of the fear, guilt and anxiety she was lugging around in her heart).

 With the understanding that distance has given me, I could see that Australia is like the well-dressed, well-mannered kid who comes from a nice family, who won’t embarrass you in public.  Ask how it’s feeling and you’ll hear, “It’s all good, mate”, though you won’t always get the truth. 

South Africa is like that crazy kid from the wrong side of the tracks you’re always hoping is going to win the Nobel Prize of the Oscar.  It’s troubled and self-destructive and you pray someday it’s just going to settle down with a nice girl.  It wears its heart, poverty and lost generations on its sleeve.”
It just depends which kid you like best…

Friday, 18 November 2011


A few weekends ago we decided to go on a short break-away to Jacobsbaai.  It was time for me to feel how it feels to walk in a mall again, and have coffee in a coffee shop.  We stayed at a delightful bed-and-breakfast place, right on the water's edge.  On the Saterday we took a long stroll around the bay, to where the rich people live!
My husband then immediately went to the estate agents websites to look for a property, but we soon realised it was way out of our leage.  R1,7m for a 300m2 empty stand.  No typos.  Not sure what kind of shack you erect on 300m2?
But the place remains beautiful, and tranquil.  May not be like that forever though, as there seems to be quite a lot of expansion going on.

The guest house we stayed at

Monday, 7 November 2011

Why the West Coast Wins

Yesterday we returned from a good weekend in Cape Town.  Would have liked to say fantastic, but due to not-so-good weather and some other occurrences (more about it in a next post) we had to scratch the majority of our items from our planned to-do list.  But I digress.

We parked on the empty stand next to the house, as the neighbour's guests were blocking our driveway.   The neighbour to the back of the empty stand called Hennie over.  We have never met him.  Hennie came back and told me he has been invited for a glass of wine (and lunch/dinner).  He was not keen, but the guy threatened to deflate the car's tyres if Hennie does not come, as the empty stand belongs to him.  Hennie lied and said we already had lunch, as he did not want to stay long.  He was tyred after driving the four hours back from Cape Town, and it was clear the neighbour (Boetie), already had a glass or two of wine (maybe a bottle). 

Hennie reluctantly went over, and by that time another man has joined the party.  In the end they started telling funny stories, specifically about Strandfontein.  Apparently in the olden days the farmers from the region would come and spend their Christmas holidays here.  There were not that many houses, and the farmers brought a cow and some chickens with.  The cow would produce the milk, and the hens the eggs, and Christmas Chicken!  I can just imagine that sight.  By the time Hennie came to fetch me, he has convinced the guy to cook us some crayfish, even though the guy had already taken out steaks. 
He cooked about 8 crayfish.  As it is not crayfish season, these were not fresh but frozen crayfish.  But for someone that has only eaten crayfish about 5 times in my life, it was absolutely delicious.  We did not have plates, or anything.  They just threw some newspapers on the table.  By the time we started eating, it became clear Boetie does not even eat crayfish!  He loves catching it, but not eating it.  So here we are eating with him looking on (even cleaning my crayfish), with his uncooked meat still in the bowl next to him.  He also just kept on opening wine for us.  He is drinking a sweet white, but has opened a few bottles Chenin Blanc specifically for us!  Wow, we stayed until almost 22h00 that evening. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Laws and Inlaws

An event that had the potential of turning out very bad, in the end was a lot of fun.  The event, of course, was the simultaneous visit of both my parents and my in-laws!
My in-laws drove up from George, and my parents flew down from Johannesburg.  We realised how privelaged we are to having both parent still living, and doing well.
I spent most days just showing them around, driving up the coast, and taking them to our shopping metropolis - Vredendal!  I think a saw a glint of sympathy in my mother's eyes.

There will still a few stray flowers left for viewing. 

And we did the obligatory visit of overindulgence at the Muisbosskerm...

And Steve's place at Jacobsbaai...

Fish and chips at Paternoster...

Contrary to photographic evidence above, we did more than just eat.  On the final day of their visit we drove through the Weskus National Park.  It is turtle season, so the driver had to keep her eyes on the road.  And snakes...


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Hantam vleisfees

Drum majorettes.  Sheep shearing.  Old tractors.  Afrikaans music.  Some of the things you could find at the Hantam vleisfees this weekend.  Even though I do not consider ourselves to be big red meat eaters, we were advised that this is a festival worth attending.  So early on Saturday morning we hopped into the car to go to Calvinia.  Calvinia is just less than 200km from us, inland.  After VanRhynsdorp you climb the VanRhyns pass over the Hantam berge to get to Nieuwoudtville, an about 70km further on you will find the sleepy town of Calvinia.  Veld flowers are still in full bloom, and most of the gardens at the edge of town were turned bright orange.

The festival was a lot of fun.  It reminded me of my childhood when we attended some of these shows.  This one did not disappoint.  It was a bit of a chilly morning, and it did not warm up during most of the day.  This however was not a surprise for the townfolk, and even at the handwork stalls scarves, mittens and balaclavas were for sale.  We watched a bit of the sheep shearing and were amazed to see the skills of hand shearing has not totally disappeared with the advent of electrical alternatives.  There was also a sheep counting competition, but the poor sheep were so intimidated by the crowd they struggled to get them to run to the other pen. 

We started early with a pancake each.  Later on we feasted on lamb sosaties, wors and roosterkoek.  Lucky for us they have run out of sheepshead by the time we got there, as I was not looking forward to join a table with some extra eyes staring at me. 

Just before lunch a coloured crowd from Loeriesfontein performed a “riel dans”.  I know the word from an afrikaans nursery rhyme, but had no idea what it looked like.  Still not sure either, but is resulted in a lot of fun for the spectators.  The group were apparently winners in that area, so it is obviously not something that has gone extinct (yet).  And another group showed their skill at rope jumping whilst performing various other tricks like hand stands etc.  Quite spectacular.  And of course the petit little drum majorettes from the local primary school performed in gale force wind.  All these performances were rounded off by a speech by the local mayor, and an exhibition drive of old vehicles and tractors around the truck.  There were fantastic old cars.

On the way home the sun has created enough heat and light for the veld flowers to open, and the day changed to a flower watching spectacular.  Hennie had to stop about every kilometer for me to take pictures, but pictures just cannot do justice.  We also drove through the Nieuwoudtville veld flower reserve and bought some roosterkoek from local entrepreneurs at the entrance. 

What a lovely day!