Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200701 2 South Africa-Western Cape

WEDNESDAY 17 JANUARY – We call round to Rod & Ann to pick up some info on Namibia and end up chatting for ages.  Bob & Dawn are amongst the other new arrivals. We get waylaid again at Rod & Ann’s during our evening walk and stop for drinks.  A man from a nearby caravan calls round asking if we want to sell our motorhome, we tell him we are expecting to receive a deposit on it tomorrow but if he calls back then we will have more news.  Apparently everyone now wants the double axle ones like ours as the other ones are turning out to be too weak for the vanload.  We’ve never had a van like this that attracts people wanting to buy it, good job too as we are anxious to be rid!



THURSDAY 18 JANUARY – Phillip picks us up for a ride into Langebaan where I just manage to receive a part of the van deposit from Diana before a power cut closes the branch down.  Back on site we get someone else coming round wanting to look over the van and keen to buy it if for any reason our sale falls through at the last minute.  The power cut must be widespread because someone comes round the site to give us the times of 3 x 2 1\2 hour cuts due today.  Rod & Ann join us for happy hour.  Many more vans have arrived and I guess we will be meeting many of them at tomorrows get together.  One other van is identical to ours and Steve meets Vic & Trixie who have owned it from new and have the handbook for us to borrow.  



FRIDAY 19 JANUARY – Keen to have Millie working well for our Namibia adventure we make use of fellow club member Roy’s offer to check over the ignition problem.  He arrives just as we are having breakfast and suggests we move near to him where he will work on it.  It’s the usual bees round a honey pot situation and once the bonnet is opened the crowds gather and we get to meet many more people.  I keep going off doing the 1km circuits of the park in the hope it is finished when I get back.  No such luck and the problem goes from bad to worse when at one stage it won’t start at all.  A few hours later it seems to be fixed but Roy suggests we settle onto a nearby site and start it a few times a day to be sure.  Motorhomes have been piling in all day and there are now 6 “Millie’s” on site.  There are more of the Pioneers than anything else as everyone wants to keep them going.  The 6pm gathering is cancelled due to the strong winds.  Walking to the ablution block includes free sand blasting of your legs and I do it many times in the hope it removes cellulite!  We are parked next to Harry and behind Beryl and Eddie.  Also in the next block are Trevor and Jenny who previously contacted us about a motorhome exchange so no shortage of people to chat to.  In the evening we get a good view of McNaught comet.  It’s so windy that we have to put the corner steadies down to stop us being rocked out of bed.



SATURDAY 20 JANUARY – The wind has dropped and lots of people are down walking along the beach at low tide.  Steve sets out in hunter-gatherer mode and returns with a bag full of good-sized mussels.  Roy says he will cook up one of his special sauces to accompany them and we invite Roy and Ann to join us.  Someone else wanting to buy our van apprehended Steve on the beach, Andries and his wife call round for a look.  Apparently someone in the club had a nasty accident recently and overturned the smaller flimsier “prospector” model like theirs so now they and many others want our type.  They are dead keen and want to give us a deposit there and then but we say we will make a phone call just to re confirm whether Diana wants it or not, she does.  Jenny & Trevor want to visit Turkey so call round to look at our photos.  As soon as they have left we start on lunch.  The mussels are huge inside and a real delicacy with the chilli garlic cream sauce poured over and eaten with crusty garlic bread.  Ann and I settle for chips with sauce, yummy.  We drive into Langebaan in the afternoon for Steve to watch football at the pub.   Whilst waiting entertainment is provided by the Police, rounding up the local drunks.  On the back of a truck they have a small caged and windowed “cell” and they have to hoist the people in.  They lean one guy against the door and as soon as they bend down to grab his legs he collapses in a heap.  In anther instance they are loading one guy in whilst another slips out between his legs.  Back on site everyone is beginning to gather for the braai where two huge barbeques have been set up.  You take your own food to cook then sit around to eat so another chance to meet some more members.  An excellent sighting of McNaughts comet is surpassed by the spectacle of the evening star balanced on the top of the new moon.  Many people drift away after they have eaten but a fire is lit and we hang around whilst one of the members plays a ukulele with another accompanying on the mouth organ. 



SUNDAY 21 JANUARY – Club member Vic, who has the same Bedford motorhome as ours, has lent us his Haynes manual so I spend half an hour photographing the pages to store on my laptop. It’s all go again as we begin with a 10am coffee morning.  Various speeches are made including the news that this is the Western Cape’s biggest rally with 45 vans in attendance.  Steve collects more mussels at low tide and we set up the production factory again.  In the afternoon it is so hot and the sea looks very inviting so with lots of help from Steve I manage to take a dip.  The water the perfect temperature and soon cools me down without been too cold to stay in for a while.  In the evening we invite Trevor & Ros, Roy and Henry to join us for a mussel pasta meal.  Ros brings over a smoked salmon starter and once again we eat like royalty.   Throughout the day many vans have left and it’s much quieter on site.



MONDAY 22 JANUARY – The last few motorhomers leave early and there’s just one rally van left in addition to us.  The wind has changed direction and it’s quite a cool breeze and more pleasant for sitting out.  In the afternoon we drive into town to collect another R5000 (£400) toward the van deposit leaving a final R3000 (£240) for tomorrow as they will only allow one transaction a day.  With a total of R10, 000 (£800) deposit against a sale price of R65, 000 (£5,200) we are very happy.  Diana will meet us in Pretoria before we leave and pay the balance in American dollars for us to use for our next purchase in the States.  We get another superb sighting of the comet in the evening.



TUESDAY 23 JANUARY – Millie is starting really well after Roy did more work on her.  Collect the last R3000 of the deposit then begin heading south to return to Cape Town to pick up friends next Tuesday and to visit some of the people we met at the motorhome rally.  We travel through the West Coast National Park; Wild card saves us R25 (£2) pp.  Around September time it is famous for the profusion of wild flowers but at this time of year it is just a nice scenic drive down the side of the lagoon with just a few flowers on show.  We rejoin the main road and about 60km north of Cape Town get our first sighting of Table Mountain.  With nothing but low scrub bushes in the foreground it looks rather like Ayers Rock.  There’s a lot of smoke in the air up ahead and as we get closer we realise there is a large bush fire raging just to the left of the road.  Fire tenders are lined up trying to keep it under control and a helicopter flies over dropping buckets of water.  In spite of all this there are still patches with huge flames.  We’ve just cleared the slow traffic from this when we reach another traffic jam.  When we finally crawl past we see a horrific wreck of a car from which no one could possibly have survived.   From this main road we need to turn right at the traffic lights towards Melkbosstrand to visit Rod & Ann.  We wait for the right filter and Steve puts his foot down but nothing happens.  The engine is still going but Millie won’t budge.  He tries turning the engine on and off again but still no response.  We’ve got the hazard lights on but are still causing traffic jam.  There are 3 black people near the junction and they come over to push us across the main road and on to some wasteland.  Steve and one of the black men have a look under the bonnet but can’t see anything obvious.  We call Rod and he arrives in his car just a few minutes later.  He’s brought a towrope but wants to take a look before towing us to their home.  Although we filled up with petrol 100km ago he thinks we may have a leak in the tank and run out of fuel.  After putting more petrol in we try again but with no success.  He wonders whether it may be something to do with the work that Roy did so we phone him for an opinion.  He lives about 15km away and insists on coming out to look.  It’s incredibly hot whilst we are sitting waiting, we heard on the radio this morning that they had registered a record 59C in the Western Cape yesterday.  Roy arrives in his motorhome and when he cannot find the fault he suggests towing us back to his place where he will investigate further.  We set out in convoy, Roy towing and Rod following in his car, having dropped Ann at home, using his hazard lights to warn people of our problem.  Even with two steel towropes joined together we are much too close to Roy for comfort so it’s quite nerve racking.  Another problem is the South African drivers who are quite likely to ignore the hazards and ”on tow” sign and try and nip in between us.  We’ve just crossed a major junction in a built up area when the tow snaps.  Luckily we can use Rod’s towrope in place of the broken one in order to continue.  A man appears with a walkie-talkie and notes our situation and as soon as we drive off we find a motorcyclist also with a walkie-talkie accompanies us.  He goes ahead warning traffic and blocking off junctions when we have to make a right turn or go over a 4 way stop.  The men get to work under the bonnet whilst I take up Roy’s offer of a cooling dip in the pool.  They systematically work through the system eliminating problems but to no avail.  Roy’s partner Theresa asks if I would like to go to the shops with her so I join her for a drive and a visit to shops in 4 different locations.  When we get back at 7pm a diagnosis has been make, it’s the timing belt that has gone.  Now what chance have we got of finding one to fit you may wonder but hey presto, Margot from the motorhome club is selling her van and has two belts so offers us one.  After we have eaten a Chinese take away we set out with Roy to make the 1/2-hour journey to Margot’s.  She won’t accept any payment but a bottle of wine is appreciated.  So although we have been unlucky to break down at least we were not in the middle of nowhere and with help from our new motorhome friends we have the means to get it sorted, so I reckon we are lucky people. 



WEDNESDAY 24 JANUARY – Steve is up early having spent the night brooding.  With Roy they make a list of the things they need for the van.  Originally we were going to visit him later in the week for a service but he will now combine that with the repair.  The Haynes manual comes in handy with information on part numbers.  To fit the new timing belt the radiator has to come off so in for a penny, in for a pound and we might as well flush out the radiator and fit new hoses where required.  Rod arrives to lend a hand but even then progress is slow.  With perseverance the job is finished just before 5pm with just the service to be done tomorrow.  We celebrate with take away fish and chips.  Unfortunately I get a bad stomachache straight after so am glad that we are somewhere with a proper toilet. 



THURSDAY 25 JANUARY – The lads gets to work early before it gets very hot, they are experiencing unusually high temperatures in Cape Town at the moment.  As usual they manage to find one or two other jobs to do along the way.   It’s all finished by lunchtime and with Roy only charging R30 (£2.40) hour labour the bill is very low.  He is retired and treats it as a hobby so won’t accept any more.  Drive back to Melkbosstrand where Rod & Ann are waiting for us.  They live in a gated complex and have arranged parking for us on their neighbour’s driveway so that we can sleep in the house. We’re made very welcome and soon sitting down to a nice lunch.  It’s incredibly hot so we all try to take an afternoon siesta.  The heat continues through the night and we feel like we are on holiday with the fan swirling above us.



FRIDAY 26 JANUARY – Start the day with a very pleasant walk along the sea front.  The hot weather has broken and it’s much nicer outside.  Rod needs to do some business in Malmesbury so we join them for a ride out.  He shows us the old area of town and with business out of the way we settle on “Kontrei Spens” café for a drink and snack.  It’s decorated entirely with cats, pictures, ornaments and trinkets.  Back in Cape Town we call in to a spice wholesalers to get some South African boerworst spices to send to their son who is a chef in New Zealand.  Opposite the wholesalers is a cemetery with squatters houses erected inside it around the perimeter walls.  Our evening meal is at Orca restaurant on the seafront.  Steve enjoys a really excellent calamari steak that melts in his mouth.



SATURDAY 27 JANUARY –  Rod has to go to a meeting in the morning but Ann drives us over to Stellenbosh and beyond where we breakfast at Hillcrest berry farm.  Most of the dishes include fresh berries and it’s lovely to sit on the terrace eating fine food, with superb views and then relaxing reading the paper.  Back in Stellenbosh Ann takes us to “Oom Samie Se Winkel” trading post that sells no end of quirky things displayed in all the rooms of the old house.  Next stop Mooi Berg where we return to buy more of their bargain priced wines.  Meet up with Rod at the huge Canal shopping centre, claimed to be the biggest in the southern hemisphere.  After drinks at Mugg & Bean we walk around the upper level where there are some terrific murals.  Fit in a bit of shopping before Steve gets totally bored.  Rod cooks a braai in the evening to round off another smashing day.  Call David to wish him a happy 28th birthday and catch up on his news. 



SUNDAY 28 JANUARY – Leave around 11am when Rod & Ann are ready to go out.  Our journey takes us past the Goodwood casino and what stop off to see what it is like.  It’s split into lots of leisure areas.  A huge pirate ship sits outside a children’s funfair, there’s a shopping area with an ice skating rink in the middle. The main casino is enormous and beyond it there’s an area of artificial narrow streets where all the restaurants are located, there’s even washing hanging up to dry between the upstairs windows!  Next stop along the way is the Somerset West shopping Mall where I spend an hour wandering round until it’s time for us to visit Trevor & Jenny.  They are the couple we met at the motorhome rally but with whom we had previously corresponded about an exchange.  Their house is on a hill and Millie is parked at a 45-degree angle on the drive so it’s good news that we can sleep in the house.  Meet their Alsatian Rex, Dalmatian Angel and cat Dolce.  We settle in and spend the rest of the afternoon chatting before Jenny cooks up a tasty Thai curry for tea.  Since last Wednesday night I have had a gripe in my stomach after eating then tonight added to that I get the shivers so hop into a nice hot bath before bed.



MONDAY 29 JANUARY – Steve declines Trevor’s invitation to go walking up the mountain at 5.30am.  We all get up when he returns at 7.30am and breakfast out on the patio but I’m feeling queasy so just eat toast.  Jenny has a Doctor’s appointment in Stellenbosch and drops us in the centre to wander round.  After picking us up she takes us for a drive around the university area.  I buy something from the chemist for my stomach as it is still giving me cramps.  Once we get back I go to bed and lie down for a few hours.  I feel a bit better when I get up and summon up the energy to use Jenny’s sewing machine to adapt some old linen to make bedding for our visitors.  I begin cooking an evening meal for us all but no sooner have I started than I feel quite sick and go shivery again so return to bed with a paracetamol.  After a couple of hours I feel much better and manage to eat some dry biscuits.  Jenny & Trevor go out in the evening so I catch up on the Internet whilst Steve watches TV.



TUESDAY 30 JANUARY – Jenny is having a women’s meeting at home so Trevor suggests we leave her and go out for breakfast at the nearby shopping centre.  There’s a great menu so I enviously watch them eat a cooked breakfast whilst I nibble my toast.  We’ve just starting shopping for grocery’s when we get the phone call to say our friends Judy & Stan have arrived and are waiting to be picked up a the airport.  It’s only 10.30am and they weren’t even due to land until 10.20pm so Trevor was convinced we wouldn’t need to be there for another hour.  Luckily we are only about ½ hour from the airport so head straight there.  We easily locate them at the drop off point and after a quick greeting they are in the van and we are off heading north.  They’ve been to South Africa before and did the Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg leg.  This time they are joining us to travel through Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.  Stan is 68 and Judy 63 but they are both very young minded. Fellow motorhomers, naturists and back packers we have heaps in common.   We feel almost like locals as we make our way through the suburbs then out on the main highway where traffic is light.  It’s a hot day and we have the windows wide open.  After couple of hours we pull up for fuel and lunch.  Having used the toilets and put the petrol in we find Millie refuses to start.  Steve checks the obvious things that Roy showed him but to no avail.  A nearby truck tries us with jump cables and although there’s a bit more life in the ignition it is not enough to start us.  There’s a garage at the end of the service station and Stan has gone over to see if they can help.  The forecourt attendants, and Judy begin to push us over there.  (I can neither drive nor push because of my ankle).  We begin going down a hill at which point Steve manages to jump-start the van.  We are heading for a campsite to join Roy so opt to continue our journey and let him look at the van.  In the town of Citrusdal, so called because of all the citrus fruit grown in the area, we turn off to “The Baths”.  Roy is pleased to see us and Alex & Ria from the motorhome club remember us   It’s a shady site with a stream running through it and Judy & Stan are booked into a cabin to give them a good sleep on their first night.  Roy immediately gets to work on the van and true to form a crowd soon gather round offering advice.  I join Judy & Stan up at the pools where the cool one is good for swimming and the hot one the same sort of temperature as a hot bath at home and good for a brief wallow.  Roy finds a few possible faults, slack fan belt, dodgy connection and low battery voltage.  Someone lends us a charger and they deal with the other things.  Take food up to the cabin to cook up spaghetti bolognaise washed down with red wine and I manage to eat a small portion with no ill effect.  We have a planning meeting regarding the trip and agree on a provisional tour plan with the only handicap being the fact they leave in less than 6 weeks and want to fly out from Livingstone so we will have to travel faster than we normally would.


R90 (£7.20) camping

R270 (£22) cabin 


WEDNESDAY 31 JANUARY – Neither Steve nor I can sleep for thinking about the van.  I get up in the early hours to go back over the diary to see if there is anything I can pin point.   I realise that on the 3 occasions we have used the jump cables they have never worked so deduce they may be faulty.  I also notice that the ignition problem became worse after we had the fridge 12v connection fixed.  Roy is up at first light and joins Steve under the bonnet.  He to has been giving things some thought and thinks the fridge should not be connected directly to the engine battery as it is causing a drain on it before the ignition kicks in.  By 8am we have been joined by Stan & Judy and are ready to roll, dare I say feeling a bit more optimistic about the van.  The N7 takes us up and down many hills revealing different views.  We are in an irrigated area and there are lots of vineyards so we stop at “Klawer” for some wine tasting. The girl is very friendly and almost keeps pushing samples on us.  Stan says Judy has definitely had enough when her left ear goes red but by the time the girl has taken us through the dessert wine and port she has two red ears and feels quite merry.  Their wines are very reasonable with 5 litre casks for R40 (£3.20).  Turn off to take the scenic drive through the vineyards to Vredendal but I haven’t prepped Stan properly and his navigation has us going along a different road.  It’s difficult to find the caravan park in town and it’s not great but it’s lunchtime and we re ready to stop.  Stan & Judy go for an afternoon walk and manage to get a lift into town and return with a new dress for Judy.  Enjoy a steak meal sat between the tent and the van.  Stan and Judy seem very cosy in their little house for the night.

VREDENDALR75 (£6) + R25 (£2) for 2 extra people. 


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