Archive | January, 2012

Bot Rivier

24 Jan


It would be very wrong of me to leave here without first giving you the tour. Or at least a bit of a look around.

As you approach from Cape Town on the N2, a major national road running west/east, it would be so easy to hurtle by and miss it altogether. And that would be a shame.

It’s essentially a small town, hardly a holiday destination, but not without a certain charm. It lies at the foot of the mountains and is surrounded by the most stunning landscape, which opens up as you come through  Sir Lowry’s Pass and  Houw Hoek Pass, known locally as simply “over the mountain”.

Shop - didn't know I had a business here did you?

Most of the action goes on in the square, where there is a shop, cash machine, bottle store, estate agency, hardware store, filling station and of course the Bot Rivier Hotel, the local pub. It’s also a stop for the Baz bus – a kind of hop on hop off anywhere arrangement that serves backpackers in South Africa. And of course they do the wine thing here.

Hotel stoep

From the stoep of the hotel you can watch the comings and goings, (people-watching here is second to none), banter with the regulars or simply gaze into the distant hills as you unwind with a cold beer. It’s long been a favourite haunt of the John and has become so for me too; a place to chill or catch up with the gossip – everyone knows everyone here –  amid pleasant surroundings.

There’s a huge tree that overhangs; its yellow flowers making a colourful carpet as they fall on the breeze, a water feature that acts as watering hole for the many pets that are every bit as much characters as their owners, a bird bath and, occasionally, a foot-bath for John. It’s a comfy kind of place. Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons are favourite times, the latter often bringing live music which, in my experience, is usually very good.  And the free snacks aren’t bad either.

There’s a supermarket and a Chinese cheapie shop up the way, known amusingly as The Mall, where there’s a slightly larger selection of provisions on offer. Serious shoppers though need to go further afield.

Railroad crossing

Train - what train?

John makes himself at home at the Shuntin Shed

A train line bisects the town, where you have to stop and look to make sure nothing is coming, though I’ve never once seen the train. I hear it though, several times a day, as its engines labour to carry goods to and from the coast and its sexy air horn cuts through the air. Apparently, the nearby Shuntin’ Shed, now a restaurant, shakes like hell when a train goes by. I’d love to be there then but my visits so far have proved fruitless. Still, it’s a pleasant place to be, lounging on giant sofas on the wooden deck that also has – you guessed it – magnificent views.

We also hear the ghostly whistle of a steam train in the mountain behind the bus…wooo wooo it goes. Turns out someone left the door open on the Vodacom tower on John’s top boundary and the wind whipping round this is the source. But I prefer the ghost train theory – romance over science every time.

Close-up shanty


There’s the obligatory shanty – everywhere has one, big or small. They fascinate me and I want to paint these ramshackle dwellings. I must try and get shots of the ones around Cape Town before I leave. Remarkable structures and the townships there are massive.

"Council housing"

Slightly upmarket, is what I suppose is Council housing.

Solar panels

Note the solar panels – definitely the way to go here.

Mountain View Cafe

Like the horns...

Then there’s the individual homes – some more individual than others….

Individual and Gorgeous - see the plants on the roof?

Smart - note the proud owner

Nearly home - nearly caught them

Chasing the neighbours up the dirt road

The road home from the pub, depending whether you go the dirt road or the tar road, is quite exciting or scenic respectively….

The scenic route home from the pub

Time stands still in Bot Rivier and they still talk of the Boer War. But I like it here – even though I’m on the wrong side…

This Week’s Caption Competition…

19 Jan

Hot Hot Hot

17 Jan

Do not misunderstand me. No way am I complaining. But bugger it is hot here.

Just looked at Weather SA on the old confuser, which confirms my observations – bugger it is hot here. Except they put it like this –  ” Extremely uncomfortable, extremely hot and high veldfire danger”. That translates to 30 degrees plus, humidity of 77% (that’s the killer) and strong risk of bushfire. And that is for 10am! Yesterday was the same and the forecast for tomorrow is even more so.

Bush fire just over the road from here

On the bus or off the bus – makes no odds. So I have, for now, settled on the middle ground: the front passenger seat. If there is the faintest breeze I’ll get it here and it is, at the moment, in the shade. The natural air-con should kick in this afternoon – the cooling wind that almost always comes up after noon. At which point I’ll probably switch to the hammock or perhaps the rustic bench under the tree. Maybe I’ll just stand under the shower.

But until then best policy is to do as little as possible and drink plenty. I don’t have a problem with that.

While I try to remain motionless (but am still melting) here, John is once again working on the Uno in Hermanus. CV boots and wheel bearings now. Rather him than me. A kind friend has loaned his bakkie so that John can get about if the Uno has to be left in bits in the workshop, needing more time, parts or whatever. Still, it will be like a new car when done. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but it’ll be one hell of a lot better/safer to ride in.

Think we’re off to PE next week, hence the purge on the car, calling at friends on the way and then going on to Anysberg where we plan to camp. This will be Road-trip no. 2 and just me and John this time. Looking forward to it but concerned as to who will water the plants while we’re away – they’re doing ever so well; be a shame to come back and find them all shrivelled….

You can see the little butternuts forming and there’s tomatoes, peppers and rocket – which we’ve sampled and pronounced delicious.

Baby butternut

Then there’s all the other cuttings, which without exception have taken, and have the makings of a fine garden. One day.

My mission today is to progress the brick paving that we have started under the tree. It’s easy enough to do and looking good so far. I’d like to extend it by way of a pathway to the shower too – nicer to walk on than sand when feet are just cleaned but still wet. But it’s going to have to cool down some before I can contemplate carrying the bricks to where they need to be – the wheelbarrow has a flat tyre.

I think it will be an evening job. Anyway, photo of completed work hopefully coming soon.

I feel my time here slipping away – only four weeks left now. So once we are back from PE, my thoughts will be of packing and the return journey. I look forward to being re-united with Hobo but will be sad to leave here – my sunshine home. All those half finished bus projects will have to be shelved until the next time and the boat ones resurrected.

The fires of the braai will change to those of the wood stove, (in front of which I shall still swelter), the shorts exchanged for longs and the flip-flops traded for Ugg boots.

Sunsets, Mountains and Moody Skies

10 Jan

Some Fruits of John’s Labour

10 Jan

Grenadilla or Passion Fruit

Nasturtium - first bloom

Dirt Roads take Toll on Uno…

7 Jan

New steering rack and wishbone being fitted. Took about ten hours – everything that could go wrong did – so that took care of Friday.

TJ has the patience of a saint. Well done him. Have to get the alignment done next, then the alternator needs fixing.

Apart from that it’s fine.

Cool Cars…words not necessary

7 Jan

The cat's whiskers

Front of a one-off...

…bonkers car

Love the bonnet straps...

...and spots

It's a Toyota- but not as we know it

Nearly missed this one as in camo - will be gone next year anyway

Cute truck


Fly-Drive Adventure to the Southern-most Tip of Africa

6 Jan

Early Tuesday morning John flew off in the Hawk to Andrew’s Field, an airfield near Struisbaai that he knows of old and speaks very highly of. T.J. and I played ground-crew in the Benzie, its enormous boot easily swallowing all the camping gear and petrol for re-fuelling the aeroplane.


As John had promised, it is a fabulous facility with toilet, shower, shady spot to pitch the tent

Our shady camp

and lovely sheltered area for a braai.

TJ in charge of the fire

It was all set up by the owner, Andrew – a very nice man,  for the use of visiting flyers. There was no charge, no-one else there and just a walk through the sand dunes away from the most spectacular stretch of beach I’ve seen. Ever.

Shifting sands

Totally unspoilt


Unspoilt white sand, beautiful aqua sea, the most unusual and brightly coloured shells. And bones. No people. Perfect.

Surreal and spectacular

We flew each morning, early so as to avoid the high winds that always arrive later on, me and T.J. taking turns as John’s passenger. I’m not sure the pictures tell the whole story but, believe me, flying low over the shore is breathtaking. Surreal.

Fact: It’s the longest sandy beach in the Southern hemisphere.

Stress express indeed

It’s fire season here and, a real treat for the boys, there was a Huey  and a huge Russian plane there – both on stand-by for fire bombing duties.

John and bomber no. 9

Fire bomber


The Hawk mixing it with the big boys

We got to see the Huey in flight, coincidentally flying above us on one of our drives, and again back at camp on its return. The sound is unmistakable. Think Vietnam chopper.


Southern-most John

We poked around the harbour at Struisbaai and drove to Cape Agulhas, the southern-most tip of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet . Many, many shipwrecks in these waters. We dipped our toes, went up the lighthouse (not for the faint-hearted), the whole tourist bit. We also motored to Arniston, another gorgeous location, and took a spin around the fishermen’s cottages – lovely old buildings. We had planned to see the cave but it is only open at low tide and of course it wasn’t when we were there. No matter.

It’s a superb part of the world and largely affluent so sadly few examples of trashed motor cars that so amuse me. This is white 4×4 city with a fair smattering of beach buggies.

We did, however, see some delightfully eccentric vehicles and manage to spot the odd wrecker… see Cool Cars – coming soon.


On the way to Heidehof

Coastwise to Heidehof

I flew with John to Heidehof, halfway back; more endless beaches – even one with buried houses. We could just see the roofs above the sand. Quite strange.

T.J. met us there, more re-fuelling and then I transferred to the Benzie for the home stretch. We arrived back at the bus Thursday afternoon ready for a snooze – these 5am starts are killing me.

Cape Agulhas, Struisbaai and Arniston

Click on the map and look at all the shipwrecks.

Those three days were special.

All Aboard the New Year

1 Jan

Let’s hope it’s a good one.

But you never really know what’s in store, do you? We bowl along, making our plans; maybe hoping for new beginnings/ better times or expecting more of the same old, same old. Either way, I don’t believe we have a hell of a lot to do with the outcome.

2012 for me?

I look forward to seeing Hobo and being on the water again, more adventures with John and spending time with friends. I hope to stay (or perhaps I should say become) healthy this year. I’m planning on getting a part time job – maybe a little cleaning number – to bring in some cash before the savings evaporate completely, leaving me unable to live the way I choose. In the meantime I shall write my socks off in the hope that it will make me a living. Heaven forbid I should have to get a proper job.

That’s all I need – how about you?

In any event, I hope you stay well and happy and have a lekker new year.