Sunday, 26 August 2012

African Flower Chain: Link 12

In the mouth of the Great Brak River is a small island with a few holiday homes on.  It is linked to the mainland with a narrow bridge.  My husband's family own one of the houses on the island and we have many fond memories of holidays on the Island.

I could not pass through this area without leaving a flower on the bridge...

African Flower Chain: Link 11

From L'Agulhas we headed to the De Hoop Nature Reserve.  I know it gets really boring to say it was another gorgeous place, but it really was.  

Wonderful Fynbos fields and the most amazing unspoiled coastline.  We saw quite a lot of whales from the shore. No flower there though...

I saved that for the pont at Malgas.  It is the only working hand operate pontoon ferry in South Africa. The children thought this was really cool!

We headed inland to the Klein Karoo and spent the night on a farm in the Matjiesvlei area between Ladismith and Calitzdorp.  The farm lies in a valley in the foothills of the Swartberg not far away from the Gamkaskloof.

Can you see the little white house on the photo above? That's where we stayed...

From there we planned to cross over the Swartberg Pass towards Prins Albert but the pass was closed as a result of the snowfall.

  Instead we visited the Cango Caves, passed through Oudshoorn and crossed the Montagu Pass towards George.

We are back on the coast and spending the weekend with friends and family in the Mosselbay area.

Creatures big and small

One of the highlights of our trip is spotting all kinds of wild (and not so) wild life on the side of the road.  We passed through a few Nature Reserves and lots of farmland.  Everywhere teemed with life.  Obviously I couldn't photograph everything, but here are some those I managed to catch on film.

Eland in De Hoop Nature Reserve

Blesbok in the De Hoop Nature Reserve

We saw lots of Southern Right Whales all along the coast.  This time of year they come close to the coast to either mate or calf and the waters teem of them.  It is really difficult to photograph them as you never know where or when they are going to show themselves.

Cape Vulture on a power line pole next to the road.  There was two of them and they were keeping a close eye on the newborn lambs in the fields...

Sheep with lots of new (very vulnerable) lambs

A chameleon on the fence

An owl! In broad daylight.

We also saw lots of baboons, monkeys, mongoose, ground squirrels, foxes and a wide variety of birds.
We are still enjoying every minute of our road trip.  It is such a blessing to see all these beautiful things.

African Flower Chain: Link 10

We turned back to the coast to stop at L'Aghulas, the southern most tip of Africa 

and the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

What better place for the next flower?

The drive to and from L'Agulhas passed through fields and fields of canola in full bloom. 

What a sight!

African Flower Chain: Link 9

From Hermanus we turned inland towards Baardskeerdersbos.  It is one of those places you only see on a map but never go to.  But this trip is about going to places 'off' the map.  We traveled on a gravel road among the most gorgeous scenery.

Baardskeerdersbos is a quaint town of artists and interesting characters.  We stopped at Baardies Coffee Shop and Gallery where we spoke to the owner Hans Swart.  The shop/gallery is part of their house.  He allowed me to plant my flower in this cosy place.

From there we drove through Elim, a Morovian missionary town. 

As far as we went we saw life.  Birds and animals of all kinds. Above are two Spoonbill Storks and below two Blue Cranes, South Africa's national bird.

African Flower Chain: Link 8

After three wonderful days in Kleinmond visiting family, it was time to move on.  
We made a quick stop in Hermanus for a hot chocolate on the waterfront.

It was time for the next flower.  
This one is above the old harbour at the whale lookout. 
 It was cold and rainy, but beautiful. 

Hermanus is a quaint, not so little, town with some beautiful architecture.  During summer it is a madness of people and holidaymakers, but now, during winter, it is peaceful and relaxing.

It is a pity we didn't have more time to spend there.  But it was time to move on...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Flower Feedback: Augrabies 2

The second response from the Augrabies Flower!  I am so happy to see it is still there.
This one from Simone Jones.  This is what she says:

Hope and trust you are doing well! I am SimonĂ© Jones, a 22 year old woman from Barkly West in the Northern Cape.  It was August, 18th 2012 when my boyfriend and I visited the Augrabies Falls.  Our ‘1st anniversary’ was on 19 August 2012 and we decided to take a trip to the Falls.  It was my first time visiting the Augrabies Falls and I enjoyed every bit of view I could get.  The peaceful sound of the falling water took away all my worries and I allowed myself to just live in that moment.  I’ve always been very fond of the nature, especially water! I could say without a doubt that the pose with the flower was one of the highlights of the visit (I simply adore flowers).  Before I even got onto the platform where the flower is, I already saw it and thought it was really cute!  I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and can’t stop looking at all the photo’s I took.
It’s things like these that makes me a proud South African!

Thank you Simone.  Thanks for sharing my joy!

Flower Feedback: Cape Point

I received another beautiful e-mail in response to my flower at Cape Point!
This is what it says:

My name is Liana Gilb and I had the privilege of crossing paths with one of your beautiful flowers at the Cape Point Lighthouse. I am 23 years and from a small town in the countryside of Virginia in the United States. I recently returned home from New Zealand, where I was living and teaching at a primary school for a few months. (I kept a blog, too!) 

I traveled to Cape Town on holiday with my family to visit my brother who is currently a student at the University of Cape Town. We ventured down to the Cape of Good Hope on Saturday, August 18th to celebrate his 21st birthday. The day yielded glorious blue skies and sweet sunshine; we could not have asked for a more perfect day to see the tip of Africa. I found your flower right before my brothers and I left the lighthouse to go explore the trails out to the cliffs. What a lovely place.

Your story is beautiful. I, too, have a deep appreciation for both travel and creativity and I am so encouraged by the way that you are using your talents to weave a story! Your words have blessed me and I look forward to seeing how your splashes of color continue to make an impression on others.

With love,

Every response is a blessing.  Please keep them coming.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

African Flower Chain: Link 7

We spent two days in Cape Town visiting friends and family. The Cape saved it's most glorious days for us.  Blue skies and sunshine. No wind.  It was beautiful.

From there we followed the coastal road past Gordon's Bay, Pringle Bay and Betty's Bay into Kleinmond. This morning we visited the fisherman's harbour just as the fishing boats were coming in.

"Die snoek loop!" How could we resist? 

Snoek braai 'valie' style

My seventh flower is at the top of the stairs above the harbour in Kleinmond.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Flower Feedback: Augrabies

 I am absolutely thrilled!  I just received the first feedback on one of my flowers!

Val Marsh and her twin sister Marion Neethling from Great Brak River sent me these photos from Augrabies.

They passed through there on the 14th of August on their way back home from the Khalagadi Park.

This is great.  I am so happy to see the flowers are still there, and that people are reacting to it.  Have you seen a flower?  Please send me a pic. And a story.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

African Flower Chain: Link 6

And then we reached Cape Town. 
It is still one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
And it was a glorious day.

We drove along the coast from the Fishoek side past Simons Town down to Cape Point.

From Cape Point we headed up the west coast towards Hout Bay. 

Just passed Llundudno we saw the sun set over the Atlantic for the first time in many years.

Flower No 6 is at the lighthouse on Cape Point.

African Flower Chain: Link 5

I planted Flower No 5 on the same day as Flower No 4.  I was trying to make up for lost time.

In Franschoek we stopped at the La Motte Wine Cellars.  We tasted and bought some excellent wine, but what impressed us most was the farm and Cellar buildings.  The original buildings are more than 300 years old. The new cellar, taste room, restaurant, etc was added more recently and in such good taste and style.  It is modern but very sympathetic to the original Cape Dutch style.

 But what blew us away was the art. The cellar buildings are decorated with Pierneef lino prints.  The estate also houses a Pierneef museum containing all the Pierneef paintings from his own collection.  What a sight! 
If you even remotely like Pierneef's work, do not drive past the La Motte estate.

From Franschoek we traveled to Stellenbosch where I planted my fifth flower.  It is at the entrance of "Oom Samie se Winkel" in Dorp Street.

African Flower Chain: Link 4

So, we've had snow and ice. Then we got rain.  Lots of rain.

From Augrabies we went to Pella.  Pella is a very small town on the banks of the Orange River.  It started as a Mission Station many years ago. The Catholic Church in the center of town is still very much the hub of the village. We stayed over on the Klein-Pella Date Farm not far from the village.  We camped right on the banks of the river, with no-one else around. (Except for a troop of baboons in the nearby bushes)

From Pella we traveled through Namaqualand.  I hiked through there last year this time and I was expecting carpets of flowers. We got buckets of rain.  And cold.  The flowers that were there were hiding their faces from us. 

We camped in a very wet Springbok and then traveled on to the Ceres mountains where we stayed over in Citrusdal. Wet again. We could see the snow on the mountains.

The next morning the rain looked like it was lifting.  We chose the scenic mountain road from Citrusdal to Ceres, passing over and through the Ceder Mountains.  An absolutely gorgeous part of the world.  There was water everywhere.  It ran down the mountain and formed waterfalls and cascades where ever we looked.

That night we stayed over on a beautiful farm called Fynbos Guest Farm between Ceres and Tulbagh.  It is a beautiful place with lots of animals to entertain the travel weary kids.  Geese, chickens, pigs, sheep, donkeys, goats, horses.  Name it and it was there, and ready to be pampered.  For the first time in many days the clouds cleared and we could see the stars. It looked promising.

We woke up to clear blue skies.  What a gorgeous sight. 
Snow-capped mountains in bright blue sunlight.

Again we took the scenic route through the Boland, traveling through Worcester, over the Franschoek Pass into the Franschoek valley.  Another breathtaking sight.

Franschoek is where the French Huguenots settled after their arrival in the Dutch Colony in the late 1600's. Today it is prime wine country with many vineyards and world class Cellars

I placed my fourth flower at the Huguenot Monument.  It is on a bench behind the statue.  The monument is such an impressive structure that I tried to put it in an unobtrusive place.

We loved these few days.  After eight years in the desert we marveled at all the rain. We loved wearing thick warm clothes and our eyes drank in all the wet scenery.