Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200611 2 South Africa

MONDAY 20 NOVEMBER – Mignonnes returns at about 11am after taking the kids to school and going to the gym.  Shortly after she gets a surprise visit from her cousin who is down from Johannesburg.  Her husband Hilton (Weiner) runs his own fashion business and designs clothes under the “Sail Away” brand.  He has an office at home so often pops into the house.  The children get back from school early afternoon and Mignonnes suggests a boat trip.  Along with the twins we hire a boat, R80 (£6.40) hour, to chug up the Keurbooms River.  Stop at the second beach, a really attractive spot at the bottom of the gorge.  Riaan throws his line in and almost immediately catches a tiny swordfish.  I sit on the beach with my leg in a plastic bag whilst the others enjoy a swim in the pleasantly warm river.  A storm begins brewing so we pack up and get into the boat only to find the engine won’t start.  The pull cord seems to be jammed.  There’s no one else around and we have no mobile phone reception.  The tide is coming in and the water flowing upstream so it would be hard to try and paddle our way out.  We stand and shout for help in unison but to no avail.  Luckily we hear a boat coming downstream and call them over.  They soon determine the fault to be a switch in the wrong position and in no time we are chugging back to the jetty. 



TUESDAY 21 NOVEMBER – Gabriel and Frances have colds so are staying off school. They have got the Christmas tree out and want help making paper chains and other decorations so my “Grandma” skills come in handy.  In the afternoon Mignonnes, Frances, and I go up to Enrico’s restaurant whilst Steve and Riaan fish off the rocks below.  When we get back we help out by driving their gardeners and Maureen the maid back into Plettenberg.  They both live in the informal settlement in home made wooden shacks.  Maureen tells me they leak in the rain but the plastic sheets that they cover the roof with perish in the sunshine so only last about 3 months.  She has a proper house in East London but can’t get work there.  We return via Plettenberg Bay where lots of people are on the beach and in the water taking their chances with the sharks.  Steve enjoys watching sport on TV until the early hours.



WEDNESDAY 22 NOVEMBER – We planned to leave today but the children really want us to stay and we are enjoying chatting to Mignonnes so can spare another day.  Gabriel is still off sick and Maureen is also ill with an allergy that has made her lips swell.  Once Steve has got up we leave him in charge of the sick bay whilst Mignonnes and I hit the town.  We begin at the Plettenberg Bay Hotel where we sit behind the infinity pool enjoying the view whilst drinking smoothies.  It’s all very quiet and serene until we decide to stir the dozing guests by noisily sucking the last of our drinks in unison.  We then go to the shopping centre where Hilton has one of his Sail Wear stores, very similar to Benetton.  After collecting Riaan and Frances from after school gymnastics we go down to Beacon Island Hotel.  Facilities are available out of season also to day visitors who are eating or drinking there.  It’s another beautiful location with indoor and outdoor pools and lovely gardens with lots of sun loungers.  Mignonnes and I settle onto them whilst Frances swims in the indoor pool and Riaan chats to the fisherman after seeing one catch a shark.  Whilst eating our pizza both Mignonnes and I get a shock when on 2 separate occasions the large sea gulls swoop down to take a slice out of our hands.  The kids are so tired when we leave that they both fall asleep in the car.  Gabriel is feeling better and joins us for supper.  Steve stays up late watching football



THURSDAY 23 NOVEMBER – Mignonnes and Frances come down to say good-bye whilst I am still in bed.  We set off back to Knysna where we meet Gordon at the waterfront Oyster Bar.  It’s in a super location overlooking the marina and the food is also recommended so along with our drinks we enjoy a plate of nachos and a pint of prawns.  Gordon is Scottish but lived in Knysna before emigrating to Australia with Bobby & Rhinda’s daughter Melinda. He’s an interesting chap and we chat our way through lunch.  Just west of Knysna we turn off to Buffalo Bay.  At the end of the road is a delightful caravan park with waterfront stands facing in all directions.  We pick one on the sheltered side looking back into the bay and soon set up.  Sit out enjoying the sun and trying to read whilst being distracted by the view, the ocean, the surfers and whales out at sea.  Steve takes a walk into the village where there is a nice restaurant and a supermarket.  On the beach there are many shark warning signs and directions to the shark first aid kit, bit of a worry.   A motorhome just like ours pulls up.  Neil and Elize live near Cape Town, their van is a year younger than ours but the Bedford engine has been changed relieving them of some of the problems we have had.  They tell us of other nice campsites on our route.


R75 (£6) pensioners rate


FRIDAY 24 NOVEMBER – In spite of the high tide lapping at the wall a couple of metres in front of us we have a very restful night.  It’s lovely sitting out having breakfast and we both feel very relaxed.  After a walk around the site we spend the morning reading.  Enjoy a tasty dinner, at Millie’s waterside restaurant, roast garlic potatoes, juicy rump steak and cauliflower and broccoli bake washed down with a drop or two of wine.   Mid afternoon the weather takes a turn for the worse and we get some rain but it’s still pleasant cocooned in our little home watching the ocean.  



SATURDAY 25 NOVEMBER – We are woken just after 5am; there are children in the tent on the next site. Reckons this is a wake up call as to what the caravan parks will be like after next week once the schools break up.  Sit out until mid afternoon when Steve goes off to watch South Africa beat England at rugby.  We have good television reception here so spend the evening watching a movie before being rocked to sleep by strong winds.



SUNDAY 26 NOVEMBER – For location alone his is the nicest site we have stayed on so far so another day won’t go amiss.  Steve has ordered the newspaper from the supermarket so yet another leisurely day is in order. 



MONDAY 27 NOVEMBER – We reluctantly move on to give us chance to visit a few more coastal resorts before the prices rocket and sites are fully booked.  From 1st December the school children are on holiday and caravan parks begin charging high season rate.  Effectively this means no pensioners or other discounts and the price per stand is for 4 or 6 people regardless how many use it.  Buffalo Bay goes up to R250 (£20) night, more than 3 times the price for us.  After a quick shop in Sedgefield Spar we call in to the Post Office to mail Natasha’s birthday card.  We get a shock to find that the last air mail posting date for England was 18th November, guess we won’t be sending any Christmas cards this year.  Within Wilderness National Park is the Ebb & Flow campsite.  They have a complicated pricing structure; we take an unpowered site back from the river.  Neil & Elize (in the same van as ours) are also here and we spend time with them.  Elize invites us to visit them at Gordons Bay and offers to takes us into Cape Town in her car to get our bearings.  Ebb & Flow is an attractive site with plenty of walking and canoeing opportunities, for those without an injury. 


R66 (£5.20) without electric.


TUESDAY 28 NOVEMBER – Drive a  little further west along the coast to Great Braak River and the Pine Creek Resort.  The camping area is strewn out along the riverbank and we have a nice view.  Elize & Neil arrive a bit later and offer us the use of their scooter to go up to the swimming pool.  We go up in the afternoon and I manage 50 lengths with no problem so my ankle is definitely improving.


R90 (£7.20)


WEDNESDAY 29 NOVEMBER – Again we make just a short drive along the coast to Hartenbos, which seems to be dominated by the AKTV holiday company.  The caravan park is in a number of different sections along the coast.  Once we have decided the section we like we visit the office only to find that the price quoted on the phone was for a site without a view and there is also a one off R22 administration fee. 

Check out the options in nearby Mussel Bay but our phone calls fail miserably, one site is closed, another has an Africaans only speaking receptionist and the third one is connected to a fax machine.  We are due to visit friends in Riversdale tomorrow night so phone up and ask if we can arrive tonight, no problem.  Drive around the pleasant town of Mussel Bay with lots of nice old houses.  Down at The Point we find a pleasant caravan site that would have suited us but they were the ones with the fax machine.  At the Garden Route Casino we enjoy their 65 item buffet lunch forR65 (£5.20) where Steve particularly enjoys the snails.   Arrive in Riversdale late afternoon and Corrie meets us to lead us to their home.  Their children Frederick (17) and Mariah-Anne (13) have already finished school for the holidays.  The house is full of their friends.  Corrie has an electric plate exercise machine and suggests it may do my leg some good as it stimulates circulation.  Jannie arrives home from work just after 7pm; he runs his own off licence.  They have invited their friends Ewin and Sanette to join us for a braai.  When we met Corrie and Jannie in St Lucia they were on holiday there together.  We have another stroke of luck when we find out that Ewin is a GP, Steve needs a Hepatitis A booster injection and Ewin can organise it for us.  They give us lots of suggestions for our on going trip.



THURSDAY 30 NOVEMBER – Corrie takes us out for the day along with Frederick and Mariah-Anne.  We head off down a dirt road to their beach house, actually a farmhouse split into 3 houses, in the Blombos area.  Nearby Blombos Cave is famous, as evidence has proved that people lived there 70,000 years ago.  Their house is above a superb beach and has beds for about 20 people to stay at once.  A couple of weeks ago Jannie and some men friends spent the weekend here watching the rugby, fishing and roasting a whole pig on the braai. A large old fashioned ledger is used as a visitor book and fish log that goes back over 30 years making for very interesting reading.  After a good look around and a coffee we head east to Jungensfontain, a lovely small seaside village.  The municipal caravan park has no fences and is directly behind the beach.  There is only one caravan on it.  We ask about availability and prices.  In high season it’s R160 (£12.80) but you can only stay if you made a booking before 31st March.  She admits that they are not fully booked and in fact hardly anyone is going to be using it for the next week but even explaining that we are tourists she cannot be persuaded to let us stay for a few nights – crazy.   A little further along the coast is the larger resort of Still Bay, also attractive but not as appealing to us.  We break for lunch down the near the harbour and enjoy sitting out on the terrace overlooking the water.  Driving back to Riversdale they point out the distant hill where you can see the shape of “Sleeping Beauty” after which many places in the area are named. 



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