Tag Archives: port elizabeth

Ducks in a row…

10 Dec

Always good to get one’s ducks in a row and these guys certainly seemed to have nailed it.

On the other hand…

That’s just showing off!

More than I can say for the power company here – Eskom.

They are calling it load shedding, a term I’ve not heard since the 60’s. Back then, it made the tele picture go wobbly, but here the power goes off completely, twice a day…

But Terry is, as ever, prepared. Except when his marvellous tip-you-up chair gets stuck in the fully reclined position! But he remains cheerful as we discuss the headline: Old man trapped in electric chair..

The cuts usually last a couple of hours each and this is happening all over South Africa. Word is, years of little or no maintenance is to blame and has led to such drastic measures.

There’s also some shocking allegations being bandied about. I’ve read that over a 14 year period, production has remained flat, employment increased by 50% and the average annual salary quadrupled.

Interesting way to run a business.

All the more reason to get out and about…

Schoenmakerskop.

I think that translates to shoemaker’s town, so Northampton on sea..?

Hardly. It’s one row of houses and a café. There’s plenty of parking, strategic seating at viewpoints and good steps down to the beach. I gave them the swerve though, bearing in mind the company I am keeping.

So, I’ve been to the beach, sort of, but not felt the sand between my toes. Yet.

Another drive out…

To a wild flower reserve – sadly largely charred after the wild fires. There’s every chance this will regenerate though – see here for how – just not the best time to visit.

Great views though…

Van Stadens bridge.

We took the pass, which winds you right down to the bottom of the gorge, so you look up at this bridge (the main freeway) before climbing out the other side. Breath-taking stuff.

Closer to home…

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The sparrows are nesting.

And, as I type, it’s raining fairly hard – that’s always welcome here – thunder and lightning too. I love a good storm.

Be interesting to look at the rain gauge tomorrow and see just how much we got. Sounds significant to me.

Never seen these in flower before…

And the obligatory sunset…

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Over the estuary.

From planet John…

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Lotus bud.

And…

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Loving this.

Both from a visit to a garden somewhere near Stellenbosch.

In John’s own garden…

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A Moonflower.

If you don’t like creepy-crawlies, look away now…

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Scorpion. Found under his grandson’s cot! They do live in the desert mind at Touws River – or Toast River as I like to call it.

Puff Adder…

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Shedding its skin.

Oh so cute…

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Little stripy mice.

Cape Chameleon…

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Found at the nearby dam…

 

At a local steampunk museum…

 

I so want to go there.

Remember Zola…

mange

I promised an after shot but not quite there yet, so this is during…

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Much more like it. Now that’s attitude.

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Good work Helene.

A lovely African image…

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Louis, happy in his work. Nice half lap joint, using machete only.

This post wouldn’t be complete without…

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Pilchards. But not as we know them.

I must now get my own ducks in a row and pay some attention to that little project of mine. 

Tick-tock.

 

Moving on…

30 Nov

And we are off. Port Elizabeth, here we come..!

Pretty much a whole day’s driving at 411 miles – or 662 klicks as they say in South Africa – a good 7/8 hours on the road. But actually quite pleasant when there’s two of you to share the driving.

The scenery is stunning…

harvest-time

Along the garden route. Freeway all the way.

But it’s even more interesting when this is one’s mode of transport…

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Yep, it’s a FIAT. And we all know what that stands for.

OK – Fix It Again Tomorrow, for those of you on another planet.

John bought this from a friend, who didn’t want to sell it to him – because he was a friend. That should tell you something. Undeterred, John resurrected it from the dead and has been carefully nurturing it ever since, diligently checking over and replacing parts as and when.

He calls it the Mighty UNO. It’s way old and one has to really know how to drive to make it go, unlike the cars of today that practically drive themselves. (Some of course actually do.) It has a manual choke and a gearbox of the stick-in-a-bucket variety. Fortunately, I was brought up on this type of vehicle, back in the day, and actually enjoyed driving it. Just like old times..!

Anyway, John will offload me at his dad’s house in PE…

johns-dads-placeWhere I shall be staying until the new year. John, on the other hand, beetles back to continue working on his own place after a couple of days respite.

To the front is the Swartkops river estuary…

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estuary stitch

Glorious by day and night.

Lots of wildlife…

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A Goliath heron.

A postcard depicting the bay here…

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Bluewater Bay. The sailboat belonged to Terry – might well have been him sailing it.

Some local fishermen trespassing on the private jetty/parking…

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Not knowing they are on candid camera…

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Annoying the hell out of Terry.

Sorry, I missed a trick there. Top left shows a tray for birdseed, which attracts loads of our feathered friends and great to watch from the comfort of your armchair. Trust me to snap the tele when the tray is empty – of seed and birds!

And there’s a huge nature reserve at the back. I’ve never been here to see the aloes in bloom but am told they are quite a sight. Oh, and a beach just around the corner that I still haven’t been to – Indian ocean so the sea should be warm. Soon, soon.

So why am I here? Well it’s one of those win-win situations:

John’s father, Terry, is a spritely 92 year old who lives here alone. He is razor sharp in the brain department but, since hip replacement surgery following a fall that also mangled his shoulder, and recent trauma to his leg, he needs a little help with a few things: socks and shoes, monitoring blood pressure and medication, help with phone calls – he’s very deaf (a trait the John has inherited, though I think his is more selective). All pretty minor stuff really.

He can still get up and down the 39 steps that lead to the street…

With support – mostly moral. Can’t see them all here, but you get the picture.

There’s tortoises hiding in there too…

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Which dement the dog.

Terry makes his own bread (delicious) and here he is…

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Boxing up meals, cooked earlier, ready for the freezer. I should really take a leaf out of his book.

He has a maid/carer – Evelyn – who comes in three times a week, which is great ’cause on her days I also get served breakfast, elevensies and lunch; my bed made and washing done. I could get used to this.

There’s also a garden boy – Peter – who pitches up on Sundays to keep everything neat and tidy…

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This pic shows a fully equipped workshop and above, Terry’s late wife’s art studio that is accessed through the white gate seen in the other pics…up yet more steps.

She was a very talented lady who produced some lovely work…

Beautifully African and atmospheric. I like.

And there’s a driver – Carl – a phone call away.

Plus plenty of friends; some already having paid us a visit – curious to meet ‘the barge lady’. Hope I didn’t disappoint.

He no longer drives, because of the shoulder, so some chauffeuring is required. For instance, we went to the Armistice service at a local chapel…

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Looking smart complete with medals.

We go to his weekly Pilates session with the lovely Maria…

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Which he has been doing for the last twelve years – he started at age 80. I think it’s what keeps him so fit and enabled him to recover so well from surgery.

I am also having sessions now in the hope it will do similar for me…some hope! But Terry is quite tickled that I’m joining in.

We took the dog to be groomed…

Tiger – before and after.

And to the vet. But that’s a whole other story!

There’s also shopping and general day to day stuff. But I see my role more as that of companion, someone to chat to/watch tele/share jokes/stories with.

He has some jolly good stories too, being RAF and widely travelled. He’s lived in some exotic locations, including Malaysia (where John was born) and Libya (where John did some schooling). And he’s done some amazing road trips. I am finding it all fascinating. And, despite moving out here in the 60’s, he stills sounds like the Londoner he is. No trace of a SA accent.

Turns out, we rub along quite nicely and both enjoy a gin and tonic/glass of wine as well.

So, apart from a drinking partner, what do I get out of this little arrangement?

For starters, there’s free lodgings, which are very comfortable, and where  I have been allocated the master bedroom. This comes complete with en-suite (resplendent in 1960/70s avocado), adjacent office and private lounge with views to die for…

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I also get the run of the rest of the house and garden and the use of a car…

The Conquest: probably even more ancient than the Uno but meticulously maintained and still going strong – well, it is a Toyota!  Even if it does only have four gears.

Quite a popular model here…

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Though the later models are called Tazz.

And for my old buddies from Daewoo days…

There’s a fair smattering of these about – old and new.

It is of course summer here with temperatures in the mid to high twenties at the mo…

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In the shade

Probably going higher in December and January. And if I can miss much of the British winter, that alone is pretty much back of the net for me.

But there’s another thing. I have the opportunity to spend time turning an idea for a novel into the first draft of a book. So I have work to do. That’s the plan anyway. Starts with a vengeance this week. Really.

Crikey…it’s Thursday already! And I’ve been here a whole month.

To date, I have become a little embroiled in the daily life and ways of South Africa, which is largely the same…only different.

This is a yield sign…

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A stop street

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And they call these robots

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Their cell phone towers get disguised…

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This one masquerading as a lighthouse. I’ve seen ones up country done up like fir trees. Gets my vote.

The ‘lighthouse’, and sea beyond, is the view from the local shopping centre where you find these…

They are called trolley porters (says so on the back of his overall, but BB not quite getting that in shot) and are most helpful. When they’ve loaded you up, they take away the trolley too. No coins in the slot malarkey here..!

I’ve not yet managed to master this method of transporting goods…

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A fine example of head carrying.

This is still called a bridge…

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I just like it.

And it seems their policeman also take naps in the road…

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And I’ve already said about the brand names…

A couple more I spotted.

Oh, and the laid back cat at the hardware store…

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I could go on (and on and on…) but won’t. Expect I’ll be back before too long with loads more to tell you though.

But I must get busy with that book…

BFN xx

Things can only get better..

6 Nov

While I do my time – three days and nights – at the Plett Mediclinic, John continues with a much-modified plan and sees our friends onto their aeroplane bound for Blighty. He then returns as far as Knysna (about a half hour away from the hospital at Plett) and stays over at friend Rudi’s place, just outside the town on the road to Rheenendal.

I’m due to be discharged the following day around noon so John duly pitches up to collect me. John settles the bills I’ve racked up (because I’ve managed to get my cards frozen due to consistently entering the wrong pin no – I really wasn’t well) and then I’m free to go. Free is not the best word to use here mind; my stay was actually extremely expensive. But of course I am worth it and, not wishing to critisize our wonderful NHS, I wonder if they could have cared for me so well and in such a timely manner. Besides, I am hoping the insurance will cough up (how very fitting) once I get the claim in.

So, I’m out, feeling much, much better, though perhaps a little more mortal than normal. Final diagnosis was a chest infection and not pneumonia so am thankful for small mercies.

We head once again for Rudi’s, via a pharmacy at nearby Sedgefield to collect my mega amounts of muti, which should keep me going.

Rudi is a very talented chap. He made these…100_2779100_2781

Such workmanship. Stunning.

It’s all in the detail…

As these insets show. Love ’em.

But his first love is sculpting and he’s really churning it out now. His current favourite subject being his Great Dane Ziggy…

Incredible. As ever, click on image to enlarge.

And here’s the real thing…100_2886

Ziggy, in the flesh, more a small horse than a dog.

We overnight and spend the next morning here, a great visit, then it’s off again to PE.

The ever-so-special Evelyn takes it upon herself to look after me…img_20160923_093734431_hdr

All part of the recovery programme. Also making my breakfast, coffee and biscuits and anything else I need. I want to take her home with me.

John reads about solar powered cars that are travelling from Jo’berg to Cape Town via Port Elizabeth so this we have to see. We assemble ourselves at the beachfront car park where they’re due to pitch and wait. It’s blowing an absolute hooley (typical of PE – AKA windy city) so our walk on the beach was a little worrying – I’m well wrapped up but afraid I might be blown away!

We’ve no idea what to expect but are truly blown away when they start arriving…100_2808100_2806

They’re quick!

And on display in the ‘paddock’…

100_2813This one was our favourite…100_2810

More practical, with space for two seats and panels inside…100_2812

A Polish entry.

You got to love this one though…

An old Beetle with a random solar panel strapped onto a roof rack..hee hee.

Some team action…100_2799

Re-charging…

And the innards…100_2805

Not sure about the driving position…100_2804

And these things travel on the road!

Hell of an entourage though – horns, hooters, flashy lights – real African style.

Speaking of African style…100_2785

This epitomises Africa really.

We saw this on the way to Sundays River mouth, which turned out to be very special indeed. We were charged a nominal entry fee – enough to keep out the riff-raff – and after a bit of a drive…100_2829

There was this…100_2832100_2833100_2834

100_2825Almost otherworldly.

Easy to think you were at the seaside…

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But no, it’s a river mouth…100_2860Special eh?

It’s a huge site with walking trails, picnic/BBQ areas, pool, kids area, holiday cottages, fishing and so much more. Probably best to let the pictures do the talking for a while…

And I adore the Prickly Pear…100_2869

Look like big flat feet with lots of toes…100_2851

Toes that burst into flower…100_2876

Wish we’d been a bit later, when in full bloom.

But needed to be earlier for the Aloes…

Just past their best before date.

A heron before John drove at it…100_2835

And after…100_2836

And this is Kudu dung..100_2875

Apparently.

Sundays River…100_2874

A great place.

This has been our transport…100_2840

An ancient Toyota Venture.

And this…100_2879

Is where I want to live.

When in PE..

5 Nov

So  why were we in South Africa at the end of their winter/start of spring and before the sun has properly got its hat on? Or indeed why did we leave a delightful, warm autumn in the UK when another couple of months would have ensured we missed a gloomy, cold winter at home and pretty much guaranteed long lazy days, much hotness and suntans?

Why oh why..?

Back in July, John’s dad, Terry, had a fall and broke his hip. Bugger. A subsequent hip replacement operation had reportedly gone well…oh, and he turned 90! John’s sister flew out there in July to put some help in place, re-jig the living arrangements and generally organise whatever was necessary .

So our visit to PE was all about seeing how he was doing a month down the line, spending some time with the old feller and doing whatever was necessary to make his life easier.

Pleased to report that he is doing just fine and came to meet us when we pitched – walking without a stick, let alone crutches, zimmer frame or any device we’d assumed he’d be needing. I think the twice weekly pilates – that he started aged 80 – has stood him in good stead and, probably, already being very fit and active, considerably aided his recovery.

To the point where he can, with care, still manage the 39 steps to the street…100_2795

Well done sir!

John did a few little practical fixes as required and desired but otherwise Terry, with the help of the lovely Evelyn who called in most days, was still fairly independent.

All of which meant that we could go and do what one does when in PE…

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Addo Elephant Park.

And…

Bay World.

We did the beach, ate out and showed our friends around the area, doing the tourist bit. The two Johns work in aviation, so a trip to the SAAF Museum was not negotiable.

And this particular John jumping into this old war bird was inevitable…100_2773

An Oxford. Go here if you  are also an aviation nut interested to read more about this and/or other historic aircraft they have there.

We spotted this at N2 City,  the local shopping centre…

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Crowd control? Mobile dentist? Inflated ego?

What do you reckon?

Since we were last there, the flamingos have moved in opposite…

John wanted to sling bricks at them to make them take to the air but I wouldn’t let him in case of injury/arrest. Would have made a brilliant photo though…flying flamingos that is, not the John being hauled off to jail.

All too soon, it is time for friends John and Jake to head back to Cape Town for their flight home, their ten day break almost over and we decide to drive back with them, along the garden route, and  put them on the plane.

The plan was to make this journey over a couple of days, with the odd detour thrown in for sightseeing, visiting friends and generally letting them soak up some more of South Africa.

And we could go see the bus on the way back. Great.

But we all know about the best laid plans..

Despite much cough medicine,  hot water bottles, early nights, paracetamol and talk of witch doctors, my chestiness was getting worse and, on the morning we set off, Boatbird was seriously struggling for breath, feeling dire and actually turning blue.

Involuntary euthanasia was considered but it was (thankfully) decided that  a doctor be found en route…

The doctors at Kareedouw – a waiting room, but not as we know it.

By now I’m panicking like crazy clearly distressed at being blue, breathless and a bloody big burden to my travelling companions.

As is John…

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Not.

Long story short, I was seen by a very nice lady doc who stuck me on the nebuliser and, suspecting pneumonia, told us to go to the nearby hospital in Plettenberg Bay where she’d organised x-rays.

Very scared now, I paid the doctor’s fee and off we popped to Plett.

I was X-rayed, admitted, put to bed and stuck on a drip before you could say intravenous antibiotics; tubes delivering oxygen were poked up my nose, temperature and blood pressure measured, blood taken and  examination/interrogation performed by an eminent physician.

By now, I’m more comfortable and just happy to be being looked after. I’m in a private room, that costs £200 a night (and that’s before doctor’s fees, meds, pathology services and so on) with top class en suite facilities, regular meals, radio, TV, slaves on demand and Loads of Attention.

I  surrender myself to the expertise of the experts and the nurse’s tender ministrations. I may as well make the most, relax and accept my fate.

It is what it is and there’s precious little I can do about it.

                                                                                                                        to be continued…

Boatbird flies south..

26 Sep

It’s been a while, as faithful followers will know, since I last darkened the doorstep of sunny South Africa. Five years to be precise. So I was well ready for some sunshine and looking forward to meeting up with old friends, seeing familiar sights and generally being back here.

We (that’s me and Boatbloke, his friend/co-worker, John, and his son, Jake)  flew into Cape Town on the 9th – minus our luggage and, in my case, plus a stinking, snotty cold. So a good start..

The briefest of re-unions at the Bot River Hotel…100_2733

Not a great picture but, trust me, some terrific honky-tonk piano by the barman going on here.

And a great headline when the hotel changed hands…100_2732

Also a rubbish shot but reads: Next generation takes over the reins in one-horse town. Brilliant!

Hopefully will get back this way and spend some time, check out the bus etc).

Anyway, long story short; picked up cases the next day and headed off in our hire car to **Touws River, where John’s youngest son, Geoffrey, was busy training the latest influx of wannabe anti-poaching rangers. This is a gruelling process, involving much PE and running to the top of the mountain and back, managing their supplies (to be carried on their back through the bush) and generally following instructions.

It’s quite a facility  here and we were given the full guided tour in this…100_2735

Saw this and thought of you Graham Harris!

It was used in Bosnia by the paras, and just the job for the terrain here…

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There’s a wild animal cleverly hiding behind the rear view mirror…honest.

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But in safe hands with Geoffrey at the wheel.

Our friends, John and Jake, were even allowed to have a go on the shooting range with both shotgun and pistol – both proving very useful with both. I could have had a go but didn’t want to damage my reputation of being a useless female by out-shooting them, so declined.

Geoffrey gave us a demonstration of making fire…100_2739100_2741100_2742100_2743100_2744And I swear the braai tasted all the better for it.

Geoffrey and girlfriend, Minerva, have a lovely home here , designed by her father (and Geoffrey’s boss) Marcus. It’s a round house, is perfect, and comes complete with a herd of dogs…100_2738

Two of which are captured here.

We stayed over at the house of Marcus and Hilary; Minerva’s parents – another superb house, also designed by Marcus.

Next day we head for Port Elizabeth and John’s father, deciding to take in the odd dirt road to break the monotony of the N2…100_2748100_2747100_2746100_2745

All good fun.

One of Boatbloke’s shortcuts, even if it did add several hundred ‘klicks’ to an already long journey.

By now, I am wheezing and hacking away like a good ‘un. Anybody think I was a heavy smoker or something…

We wend our way towards PE…100_2731100_2730Spotting the obligatory baboons.

And Arriving at PE in time for a sun-downer or two…100_2765100_2764

With that glorious backdrop of the Swartkops river estuary, as viewed from John’s dad Terry’s house.

The beach is a short walk away and it’s Indian Ocean here in the Eastern Cape, so chances are it might be warm. Or not…

Spring has only just sprung so temperatures are not those of mid summer, which it has always been on my previous visits, but more like 20 something. The sea hasn’t had a chance to warm up and feels bloody cold to me. That said, the spring flowers are delightful…100_2790100_2791100_2792

Even more so the roadside blooms, which I hope to be able to feature soon. A shame we missed the aloes – looks like they are just going over.

Fires still burn in the living rooms at night, when temperatures drop into the low teens, and I’ve not had a lot of use for the shorts and flip-flops that I optimistically packed. Yet.

But I have made good use of the electric blanket. Well, I’m a sick bunny don’t you know.

**It wasn’t until I saw the road sign that I realised this was the spelling. It will be forever known to me as Toast River.