During our recent road trip to the Cape we chanced upon some lovely plants and birds. The images below were taken in Cape Town, Betty’S Bay and Knysna. Enjoy….
The first three images, Black Oystercatcher, Betty’s Bay
A month ago, well known story teller and historian Rob Caskie approached Fran and myself to use the Kiln to present talks. We naturally thought that this was a great idea and Rob presented his first talk on Tuesday night. The talk was on Rorkes Drift, one of the great Anglo Zulu battles and was a fantastic success. Rob’s next talk is completely different and the focus is on the great continent of Antarctica. The first quarter of the 1900’s saw great expeditions. Some successful, others not. Successful expeditions generally saw heros come home. Unsuccessful ones saw heros remain entombed in the ice. Very occationally you saw unsuccessful expeditions return home. Rob’s next talk on Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton demonstrates this very well. Scott raced Amundsen to the South Pole, Amundsen won, Scott remains there. Shackleton was caught in the ice, his ship was crushed and his story is epic. His entire crew rowed to Elephant Island afterwhich he took a small whaler and travelled to South Georgia. He returned and rescued the entire crew from Elephant Island. The trip has been recorded as a great feat of mountaineering, leadership at the highest level and the greatest exhibition of navigation skills ever. The talk is on the 17th April 2012 at the Kiln.
I am not going to go through Rob’s resume again as he is very well known. All I wish to add is that he has recently addressed the Royal Geographic Society and was flown to the continent of Antarctica to present the talk he will at the Kiln.
Future talks include the battle if Isandlwana amd other great African stories….
And now a photo or two..
Rob and Fran at the Kiln
Rob on the ice. Who on this great lump of rock would talk in shorts on the ice pack ?(except Rob C of course)
The last day at Knysna was cold and wet, a very big cold front came through and clamped down so the Thursday was spent fairly sedentary. Tracey and Lee-Anne had wanted to spend some time in Knysna proper so Mike and I took charge of the children and went to the heads (and got blown away) and then met the ladies for coffee. The next day we left early for Addo. We drove up the N2, over the Van Staadens River Bridge and then stopped off at the Storms River Bridge to take some photos. On route we noted that it had snowed on the Outeniqua peaks.
From Storms river we drove to Humansdorp, and then to Addo. This part of the trip was very depressing with the large amount of Prickly Pear (Opuntia species). Native to Mexico this plant has become a huge problem in South Africa. Leaves falling off root where they fall. Rapidly a forest grows killing a lot of the local vegetation. There were areas where there was more pear than anything else. I have seen problem areas before in the Karroo but this was very bad, by far the worst that I have ever seen. Invaders are a problem and we noted them in the Outeniquas as well where pines were very problematic on the slopes and Wattles along the rivers. Once at Addo we surprised the girls with a trip to the Daniells Cheetah Breeding Programme, a very good initiative near Kirkwood. Here they keep cats for breeding and apparently re-establish wild cats through SA. We took a tour of the place and saw Serval, Caracoul, Cheetah (the girls got to pet one) and then the best, two Lion cubs. The girls (and all of us) enjoyed petting and playing with these animals. They were the size of staffordshire terriers and playful as kittens.
From Daniells we headed to our B and B on a Kirkwood orange farm, a lovely little place, and headed to Addo for the last few hours of the day. Addo is a very different game reserve. Most people are used to viewing animals in the bushveld. This is nothing like it. Low trees, most being spekboom (Portulacaria afra) a very dense succulent. Not easy viewing place but we were lucky, within 20 minutes we came accross a herd of approximately 15 elephants right next to the road. Further along we saw loads of Kudu, a loan hyena and then a large bull eelphant. It was a very good trip into the park.
After Addo we went back to the B and B, had a light supper and then went to bed. It was cold and warm beds and tea were welcomed. The next mornignw as lovely and sunny, unlike the windy overcast day before. I found a swarm of Vanessa cardui (The Painted Lady) feeding and sunning themselves in the flower beds and took a few pictures before packing up again and heading to Hogsback.
The rest of the day was spent on the beach or at the famous red bridge with Mikes sons (Nick and Chris and fiend Nick2) and daughter (Robyn Anne) bailing off the bridge. The two elder Nicks are climbers and do a lot of slack lining. A bit of time was also spent discussing Physic 101 and the forces involved in slack lining. Day two started wet and miserable and Tracey took us up to Diepwalle, on the way to Uniondale. The plan was to ride the logging roads as far as the Garden of Eden and then ride back to Knysna along the N2. The ride started wet, it gradually dried out and we had a superb ride, I stayed on the bike and got home in one piece. Attached is a photo (stitch of three) taken with Mikes Blackberry.The Santa Cruz blur on the right is his.
Day one, the trip from Howick to Smithfield started well. Three girls and their kit, Tracey and hers and then me (complete with Bike and photography gear) set off in the Colt. An early start saw us getting up the Oliviershoek Pass and to the approach to Golden Gate early. Despite a few (banned) articulated truck crashes on the winding road to Golden Gate it was uneventful. We drove through the beautiful area that Tracey, Isabelle and I had last visited 10 years ago. We lunched in Clarens, a beautiful little town in the Eastern Free State that has grown incredibly fast and then headed off to Smithfield. This was to prove a little more difficult than expected the first 100 or so kms to the Maseru turn off were great but the rest of the drive was sump crushing potholes and road works. We got to Smithfield late and booked into our bed and breakfast, the Bomakierie owned and run by local artist Peter Retief and his wife. The sons both went to Grey Bloem High School so we had lots of rugby to chat about. It always amazes me that all of the people who have been to the likes of Queens, Grey, Hilton etc, no matter the generation, have so much in common that there never is a quiet moment. We went to a local eatery, rather inappropriately name Pigout. The food was fantastic but horrendously priced. I was told that the prices were similar to the cities but unfortunately have to add that the portions were small and similar food in Cape Town or Durban would cost 60 to 70% of what we were charged.
Next day we headed to Knysna. I was familiar with the countryside up to Smithfield and Colesberg but had not travelled the Kamdeboo and Outeniqua areas for years. On the way to Colesberg we stopped off at the Gariep Dam (old H F Vervoerd). The largest dam south of Kariba it is very impressive. I took the girls over the wall stopped at the lookout and then headed to Colesberg and eventually Graaf Reinet through Karroo rain storms. After all the rather grubby, sad little towns Graaf Reinet was a pleasure. Well groomed gardens, lovely houses and the most beautiful well kept churches around. Anyone visiting the area should over night and the photographic potential of the area and town is incredible. I was particularly excited to drive through the area as I had just read Eve Palmers “The Plains of the Camdeboo” and wanted to see the area again.
The last part of the trip via Aberdeen and Uniondale was awesome. Long stretches of flat country followed by the Outeniquas. We were warned that the Prince Albert Pass was slow but having travelled through the Swartberg a number of times I suspected it would be spectacular. We got to Uniondale, approximately 80kms from Knysna and headed into the hills. The pass, built by mater road builder Thomas Baines well over 100 years ago is a masterpiece of engineering through massive hills and valleys. At times there was no space for cars to pass and a drop of 50m next to you. The Ericas and Proteas were in flower and I saw a number of Dira clytus flying (at this point I must add that, as driver, I was advised to spend a little less time watching the fauna and flora and more time keeping the car on the road). The Poort was spectacular, massive folded sandstone buttresses, narrow roads, cliffs, setting sun……beautiful. We found a little hamlet in a secluded valley about half way through and have attached a few shots below. I have no idea what people do here but I am sure it is a very peaceful place to live (by the look of some of the locals it was extremely peaceful and assisted with some local floral produce).
The final drive to Knysna was down the dirt roads from the Buffels forestry to Diepvalle, past the big tree parking, all through indigenous bush and very beautiful. At this point though it was getting dark, the girls were getting tired and we were very happy to get to Knysna. We met our friends, Mike and Lee-Anne Hyslop and their children and guests at their house on Leasure Isle unpacked and settled down to a braai and a few cold beers. Plans for the next day started with a Harkerville bike ride. Something that I have looked forward to for a long time.