Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200701 1 South Africa-Western Cape

200701

 

MONDAY 1 JANUARY 2007 – I leave Steve in bed and join Sheila to help washing up after last night.  It’s no good us trying to leave early, as Steve will probably still be over the alcohol limit.  Finally get away around 11am and find lots of traffic on the road and the beaches packed with people.  It’s an easy drive up the M5 to the coast north of Cape Town where we get superb views of Table Mountain.  It takes us just over 3 hours to get to Laaiplek where we easily find Lionel at his holiday cottage.  (We first met Lionel on a campsite just outside Kruger then again by chance in Mozambique).  “Serendipity” is right on the banks of the Bergriver and his catamaran is moored at the end of his jetty.  It’s a stunning location with views along the river in both directions and a distant view of the ocean as we are near the river mouth.  He offers us the spare bedroom and makes us very welcome.  At the moment his wife Elmara is away in Antarctica so he is glad to have company.  There’s lots of activity on the river, commercial and recreational fishermen and leisure boats.  We sit out in the evening watching the birds all follow the river upstream to their nightly lodgings, seals play in the river and it’s great entertainment just sitting observing nature. The sunset is spectacular and we stay out until dark (now around 8.30pm) before having an early night.

LAAIPLEK 1

 

TUESDAY 2 JANUARY – Lionel suggests a morning sail so once the tide is high enough we head out into the bay.  There are miles of beautiful unspoilt beaches and it’s very pleasant on the ocean although Lionel would have preferred the challenge of a rougher sea to sail on.  There are lots of birds around and the local ducks wander up onto the patio late afternoon.  Rounds off the day with a braai (sausages, not duck).

LAAIPLEK 2

 

WEDNESDAY 3 JANUARY – The early morning mist soon clears and it becomes a hot sunny day.  Steve helps Lionel with a few jobs on the boat but unfortunately Lionel loses his glasses overboard. 

LAAIPLEK 3

 

THURSDAY 4 JANUARY – We get the reverse of yesterday and wake to a clear day but with a chilly sea mist rolling in mid morning.  We drive to the post office at the adjoining town of Velddrif and explore what little there is, just a couple of shops.  Velddrif runs into Port Owen, a rapidly developing up market marina complex with luxury homes having their own moorings and this adjoins the estate where Lionel lives.  In the afternoon a man knocks on the door wanting to know about our motorhome.  He has bought an almost identical one and wants to know if we have changed the engine over as he is planning to do so – good move.  Tomorrow Lionel is sailing down to Langebaan and his friend Andries is going with him.  He calls round in the afternoon to finalise details and ends up inviting us back to his place for supper.  His home is just around the corner where he lives with his wife Anna and her mentally handicapped grandson Vickross.  Anna’s daughters husband left her shortly after Vickross was born and she tried to bring him up alone but died of a heart attack soon after.  Anna and her husband adopted Vickross but after Anna’s husband died she was virtually forced off her farm.  As a lone woman she was pray to theft and could not make a living.  Andries befriended her and suggested they married and moved down to Laaiplek.  Andries is a welder and a fisherman and today caught some crayfish and perlemoen (paua or abalone).  After boiling the crayfish he cuts them in half down the spine and then fill the gaps with garlic and sprinkles grated cheese over them before baking in the oven. The perlemoen he roasts with garlic and serves it all with rice and an assortment of dips – Steve is in seventh heaven.

LAAIPLEK 4

 

FRIDAY 5 JANUARY – Andries arrives at 4am and he and Lionel leave around 5am on the high tide.  We go back to sleep until much later.  Walk into Laaiplek, which is a reasonable town with a couple of supermarkets and a number of other stores.  I’m now finding the main restriction on my walking is the discomfort from the boot so tomorrow I will try a walk out wearing my trainers whilst hanging on to Steve for additional support.  For the last couple of weeks I’ve been pottering round the flat without my boot so maybe now is the time to try a little more.  Return for lunch and do lots of reading in the afternoon. 

LAAIPLEK 5

 

SATURDAY 6 JANUARY – Set out for a walk around the block and my foot is feeling good so we continue along the riverbank to Port Owen marina and back. I do have a bit of a limp but at least I don’t get everyone staring at me and saying “shame”!   Steve heads off to the Hotel for his football fix late afternoon. 

LAAIPLEK 6

 

SUNDAY 7 JANUARY – I manage the walk into Laaiplek quite easily.  My ankle holds up well without the boot and if anything my bunion and toe are the parts that ache!  

LAAIPLEK 7

 

MONDAY 8 JANUARY – Today we walk back to Port Owen and round the far side of the marina to the shopping area.  It’s all a bit half hearted, as is the whole resort and if you didn’t know it was a developing area you could be forgiven for thinking it was a has been on the decline.  In the afternoon we notice lots of people gathered on the jetty where the commercial fishing boat has moored.  Many of them are walking away with loaded carrier bags so Steve goes over with an empty bag and R20 (£1.40).  He returns with 20 small “harder” fish.  We have no sharp knife and are not sure exactly what to do with them so Steve chats to fishermen on the jetty in front of us.  Etienne is here on holiday with his family and happy to help us out by gutting them in exchange for keeping some himself.  We’ve already eaten our main meal at lunchtime so pop the fish in the fridge for tomorrow.

LAAIPLEK 8

 

TUESDAY 9 JANUARY – Inspired by my successful walks we set out to go beyond Laaiplek town and to the beach.  It’s very pleasant but the Atlantic waters are too cold to be in for more than a quick paddle.  Return via the Laaiplek Hotel where Steve has discovered a special offer of 2-x double brandy and coke for R20 (£1.40).  We sit in the garden looking over the water and it feels much like a Mediterranean spot.  A couple of guests are just leaving and loaded down with 2 x 5 litre wine casks and backpacks.  Steve comments on their priorities and we get chatting.  Olivier and Charmain have just returned from Taiwan.  They seem very interesting so we invite them back to join us for a fish lunch.  Beers are passed round whilst the wood burns down to coals.  The harder fish cook up well on the braai and once opened out the central bone pops out easily leaving lots of tasty meat with just a few bones on the outside.  Served up with jacket potatoes and veg and washed down with copious amounts of red wine it all goes down very well.  Follow this up with coffee and whisky.  Receive news that my Auntie Barbara (Mums best school friend) from Blackpool died this morning.  Luckily Mum only returned from visiting her on Sunday.  Steve’s reaction to the upsetting news is to begin drinking again and coercing the others to join him.  Once the red wine has gone they switch to white (I gave up drinking after the early brandy).  It’s a really hot afternoon and Steve and Olivier bolstered by the alcohol they pluck up courage to brave the cold water for a dip.  It’s low tide and Olivier finds Lionel’s glasses underfoot.  They also wade ashore with armfuls of mussels gathered from the jetty poles.  I cook them up along with a pan full of chips so we eat and drink again, although Charmain and I stick to just chips.  Throughout the course of the afternoon we learn that Charmain was out in Taiwan for 7 years teaching English whilst Olivier, an attorney by profession, went over to teach English for a year but met Charmain and stayed on for 3 years.  They are in their late 30’s and having just returned to South Africa they need to find work before their savings run out.  It’s late in the day and they have been drinking the whole time so I phone Lionel up to get approval for them to crash out in the lounge.  Once this is in order I begin to cook up supper. So our walk to the beach turned into an unexpectedly interesting and enjoyable day.

LAAIPLEK 9

 

WEDNESDAY 10 JANUARY – We are all up by 7.30am and sit out drinking coffee whilst watching the birds return down river.  Olivier and Charmain want to get going early, they are doing a recce on the area as he has an interview for a job in a nearby town.  Do a bit of tidying up before settling down to eat more fish for lunch.  Lionel phones up, he has to get back to Cape Town urgently for business.  He’s on his way back in a taxi and expects to arrive in about ½ hour.  We need to be packed up and ready to leave when he arrives so it’s action stations, lucky I did a lot of cleaning and tidying up this morning.  We contact Hospitality Club host Peter near Saldanha and confirm that it is OK for us to visit this afternoon.  It’s almost 3-hours later when Lionel arrives.  He was sitting in one of the taxi mini buses used by blacks when he phoned.  What he hadn’t anticipated was that it would be a further 2 hours before the taxi was full enough to depart.   After a quick chat we set off for Vredenburg where we shop at the extremely busy Pick N Pay centre.  This is the main town for the whole of this peninsula and being the main holiday season it is much busier than usual.  Peter lives on a block of land on a dirt road out towards Trekoskraal Beach.  It’s a newly developing area so the houses don’t have numbers so it’s a bit of a hunt to find him.  He’s a Dutch guy who lives with his partner Mica who is a world champion wind surfer.  They have bought a second hand wooden house and they are having it extended to create a home and base for their filming business.  It’s still in the early stages and they don’t have a bathroom and use a chemical toilet.  As soon as we are parked up Peter warns us of the snakes in the area, 4 different types.  His land is covered in mole holes so its no surprise to learn that one of them is the completely harmless mole snake.  Unfortunately the others are all dangerous, the boomslang (green tree snake), puff adder and cape cobra.  He says they have put their house on stilts to try and stop them entering at which point I quickly retreat to close the van door.  It’s after 9pm when they have finished cooking up meat on the braai so we have plenty of time to chat and learn about their travels, sailing around the world and doing overland expeditions.  Most of their work is now in media, writing books or articles or filming short documentary style movies.  It’s a very windy evening so we are rocked to sleep in the van.

NR VREDENBURG

 

THURSDAY 11 JANUARY – The wind dies down during the night but we wake to a misty drizzly cool morning.  Head down to the fishing village of Paternoster where the original cottages have now been commandeered as holiday homes and others built in that style.  There’s a small market area behind the beach where crafts are sold and the catch of the day served at the fish shop.  Snoek and chips is R20 (£1.40), it has quite a few big bones but tastes delicious.  The mist clears and the day improves and by mid afternoon there are one or two hardy souls in the ocean.  Steve says it is absolutely freezing and doesn’t even go knee deep.  It’s Cray fishing season and we are repeated offered them for around R30 (£2.40) each but having already eaten our lunch we decline.  Return just before 6pm and stay in the van as it is very windy and Peter and Mica are busy.

NR VREDENBURG 2

 

FRIDAY 12 JANUARY – Drive back into Vredenburg to do a few jobs.   I spot a dress I like in a shop and plan to return to buy it after doing the grocery shopping.  When I go back 15 minutes later the store is closed, the owners are Muslims and have gone off to the mosque.  We decide to hang around and I explore the town where there are numerous cheap clothing shops selling brands from the UK including “George” at much lower prices.  I return to buy the dress and have just got to the till when there is a power cut and darkness descends.  Having adjusted my eyes to the light and with no sign of the electricity coming back on I decide that I don’t want to hang around or come back later so give them the correct money and leave without a receipt.  We’re expecting to receive a deposit having agreed the sale of Millie for when we leave.  I turn up at the First National Bank around 3.15pm.  Diana who is buying it will do a simple money transfer from her branch in Tzaneen and text me a reference number so I can draw the cash.  Hit a problem at her end when the computer won’t accept my passport number in place of a South African ID number.  Numerous phone calls later the matter is still not resolved and she has got locked out of the bank when she went outside to try and do the transfer on the ATM.  The administrator at Vredenburg despairs as the ID info is optional anyway and he is ashamed at the fiasco that has ensued.  Return to Peter & Mica’s where they are doing a braai for their workers Pardon and Charles.  We chat to the lads who are down from Limpopo where they cannot get work.  Steve is not well in the night with an upset stomach and unhappy that he has to use the porta potty in the van. 

NR VREDENBURG 3

 

SATURDAY 13 JANUARY – Peter and Mica set out early as they have a sailing charter.  We leave a bit later and head out to Jacobs Baai where there is a huge development of fishermen’s cottage style holiday homes.  We’ve been misinformed about the road connecting to Saldanha and rather than do the bump gravel we double back.  Saldanha is where the main harbour is but we don’t find it terribly impressive.  On the road out of town the landscape is stained pink for miles where the iron ore trains have passed through on the way to the ships.  Near the town of Langebaan is the Municipal Leentjiesklip Caravan Park.  It’s still the school holidays and packed with families.  It’s a stunning location directly behind the lagoon beach although the ablutions are a bit old and basic.  We soon settle onto a grassy stand with fine views and steps down to the beach.  Steve stretches out on the bed and soon drops off.  I take a walk around the site and see another motorhome like ours parked up.  Phillip lives in his van full time having been made redundant from his job at SA airlines.  He chats to me and calls down to meet Steve later.  It’s lovely to be able to watch the sun set out beyond the lagoon.  We have a disturbed evening; the people in the tent next to us are singing and playing a guitar until late.  At midnight we politely ask them to quieten down only the guitarist stops, the other two carry on talking quietly, but with occasional raised voices, until 4am. 

LANGEBAAN, LEENTJIESKLIP CARAVAN PARK

R82 (£6.40) site for up to 6 people (high season price)

R63 (£5) site for up to 6 people (low season price from 15th Jan.

 

SUNDAY 14 JANUARY – Another nice sunny but windy day.  The lagoon is a haven for yachts, surfers and kite surfers and it’s interesting to watch them.  Steve walks to the town for the papers, a good 2km each way. Throughout the day the majority of the people pack up and leave the site, luckily including those in the tent next to us.  .  The children go back to school next Wednesday having been on holiday since the beginning of December.  By lunchtime I have inadvertently got burnt in spite of covering in sunscreen, guess the wind has given a false impression of the intensity of the sun.  Spend the afternoon inside the van, as the sun is so high in the sky that there is little shade.

LANGEBAAN 2, LEENTJIESKLIP CARAVAN PARK

 

MONDAY 15 JANUARY – Steve walks in the opposite direction to the purpose built resort of Mykonos.    It’s even further than Langebaan but he returns to tell me of a quirky resort built in Greek style up a hillside and with a Boston buffet in the casino restaurant.  For exercise I am doing circuits of the caravan park and today discover that 2 motorhomes have arrived ready for the weekend rally.  Mohammed & Nona, Dennis & Cynthia are all from Cape Town but Dennis & Cynthia stay on after the rally and in fact spend about 9 months of the year here. 

LANGEBAAN 3

 

TUESDAY 16 JANUARY – Phillip arrives to give us a lift in his car to Langebaan to use the launderette.  For R25 (£2) they will wash, dry and fold my two pillowcases full of washing but it won’t be ready until this afternoon.  Phillip suggests a drive out and first takes us around Langebaan area where we get good views from the hill above the town.  He insists that we should go to Darling even though it is about 50km back towards Cape Town.  Local actor Pieter-Dirk Uys is a female impressionist in the style of Dame Edna Everidge.  He bought and converted the local railway station into an art deco theatre called “Evita Se Perron” a play on words as his character is called Evita and Perron is Africaans for station platform.  His comical show is mainly digs at politicians and there are lots of photos of him posing with them.  The area also has “Boerassic Park” with satirical sculptures and a museum of political kitsch.  Well worth the trip in our opinion.  Return via Yzerfontein, another coastal resort but the caravan park is not directly behind the beach and much more expensive.  After shopping in Langebaan we collect the washing and return for a siesta.  Another three motorhomes have arrived and people wander over to introduce themselves and Rod (& Ann) offer help with our onward trip planning.  Kobus tells us that from now until Sunday they have negotiated a special rate of only R45 (£3.60) night.  Phillip arrives in the evening as we have offered to take him out to the buffet at Mykonos. Monday to Thursday its R65 (£5.20) for the buffet but for an extra R20 (£1.60) you get unlimited beer and wine and Steve takes this option.  They don’t have steak on the buffet but there are some very tasty fish and 12 delicious puddings for me to work my way through. 

LANGEBAAN 4

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