Author Archives: puppy1952

About puppy1952

I am making the most of the South African Lifestyle and hope with my blog to share some of the adventures my husband and I are having in our retirement. We live at the Southern Tip of Africa in the small coastal town of Struisbaai. Earl and I have a Gecko off-road caravan and we travel around South Africa frequently. We are bird and wild life enthusiasts so are often in game reserves.

An unexpected trip to Mountain Zebra National Park

This Easter we planned to visit the kids in Plettenberg Bay. But our grandchildren needed to get to Queenstown for a very important Twenty-First Birthday celebration. So our daughter asked if we’d be prepared to help with the logistics of getting them there and back and perhaps include a trip to Mountain Zebra National Park. Absolutely no persuasion was needed! The only negative was that there were no caravan sites available at such short notice but we could get a family cottage for Saturday and Sunday night. This was probably just as well as Lauren would not have enjoyed sleeping in a tent in the very cold temperatures that hit over the weekend!

On Thursday morning we left Struisbaai and travelled in the pouring rain to Plettenberg Bay. We stopped at a Die Skeerhok Padstal just outside Heidelberg for breakfast.

The weather was cool and overcast but the rain had not yet reached Plett. Simon had just returned from a school camp and regaled us with wonderful stories of his adventures while our son-in-law fortified us with strong coffee and snacks. Our daughter Lauren and granddaughter Shan returned from school soon after that and there were hugs and delighted greetings as we had not seen them since Christmas. Lauren teaches Grade 2 and Shan is doing a learnership in the foundation phase and loving it.

After dinner, we had an early night as Shan was eager for us to get on the road before the crack of dawn. She planned to get to the game farm in Queenstown as early as possible to surprise her boyfriend whose birthday they were going to celebrate! Indeed we were all up before the sparrows and after a warming cup of coffee hit the road at 5 am. Lauren drove all the way giving The Earl a well-earned break after the stress of driving in inclement weather the day before. It rained most of the way to Queenstown too but Lauren handled the conditions superbly.

After breakfast and refuelling we made it to the farm by midday. Jordan was hugely delighted as he was only expecting Shan to arrive on Sunday. What a wonderful welcome we had from his parents who put Lauren, The Earl and me up for the night. Jordan’s maternal grandmother and paternal grandparents were there too and miraculously there was room for us all as well as some of Jordan’s friends. Everybody was super friendly and we had enormous fun.

The kids enjoying a delicious Mac Cheese and Venison Pie for lunch
They had two pet springbok on the farm – Rage and Gracie who is still a baby
The Earl was delighted to bottle feed Gracie

Etienne (Jordan’s dad) took Earl, Lauren, Granny Denise and me on a game drive. We were delighted to see a variety of animals including Sable antelope, waterbuck, blesbok, zebra and some lovely birds.

A beautiful Sable Antelope
Some curious waterbuck and blesbok

The drive included a scary ride up a steep mountain but the views were worth it.

Before dinner, the adults all sat around the kitchen table and played sevens while the kids socialized on the enclosed verandah. It was all wonderfully entertaining.

There was some hectic competition but Granny Denise, I think, won most of the games!

The weather was chilly but the warm and friendly company more than made up for it.

The next day Lauren, Earl and I left at around 8 o’clock and made our way to Mountain Zebra Park. Our early start meant that we could have two full days in the reserve and what a great time we had. We treated ourselves to having our meals (Brunch and Dinner) at the restaurant and the catering and service were excellent.

Here are the highlights of our visit.

Soon after entering, we found this Spotted Eagle-owl
Our cousins were everywhere and gave us a huge welcome.

We have visited the park several times but have never found the lions. Imagine our joy when we could show Lauren the male! He was trying to hide in the long grass but we still got good views of him. The females were nowhere to be found.

Please look at us Your Majesty
So you found me at last!

After greeting the lion we went to check in and have brunch. After that, we took a walk around the camp.

Too chilly for a swim but Lauren agreed that the pool was lovely

We had a brief rest and then went out again. In the distance, we saw an eagle on a rock. It then took off and we saw it land again. Luckily he did not fly away and we were able to drive right up to the spot.

Verreaux’s Eagle
Yes, it was cold but a leg stretch was necessary. Lauren protecting me from the lions!
Different from the Blue Wildebeest are these Black Wildebeest with their attractive white-tipped tails. Their horns are also a different shape
These two were having a confrontation
The Mountain Zebra were decorating the landscape.
A baby

The best part of MZNP is that there are wonderful views.

Lauren was dying to see Eland and on our last afternoon, she was delighted to get a few.

Zebra not wanting to be left out.

Over the two days, we very much enjoyed the birds.

Helmeted Guineafowl
Swarms of Red-billed Quelea were everywhere
Ant-eating Chat
Familiar Chat
Buff-streaked Chat
Acacia Pied Barbet
Common Ostrich
African Spoonbill
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark
Female Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark

Our two-day visit was really awesome. We left on Easter Monday at 7 am, had breakfast at the farm and then drove all the way back to Plettenberg Bay. The kids had thoroughly enjoyed the Twenty-First celebrations. More relatives and friends had arrived and it was extremely festive.

Lauren and Earl shared the driving, we stopped at Colchester for lunch and arrived back at 6pm.

Earl and I left the following morning, met our sister-in-law and her kids for breakfast at Vic Bay, stopped in Bredasdorp to do a few chores and arrived home at 3 pm. What a great Easter Weekend.

Share Your World 12 April 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World guest hosted by Tena.

Do You Prefer Salty Foods or Sweet Foods?

I am addicted to salt. A habit that drives my husband crazy is shaking salt onto my hand and licking it. And I always add salt to my food. The Earl is convinced that I will get hardening of the arteries because of excessive intake of salt but according to my doctor, it will do me no harm. I have lowish blood pressure and my body needs salt for that! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

I also like sweet stuff – especially chocolate.

Would you rather be in a place where it is excessively hot or excessively cold?

I am lucky enough to live in the Western Cape with its mild Meditteranean climate so summer is usually hot and dry and winter cold and wet but temperatures seldom fall below 6 degrees C. We often travel further north in Africa where it gets very hot and I don’t mind that.

I prefer the heat to the cold. I cannot even imagine what it must be like to deal with extreme cold like in Arctic countries. Working your life around such conditions must be exhausting.

I have skied down the Alps but I’ve never built a snowman!

Favorite Mode of long-distance travel (Bus, Plane, Train, Automobile, or other).

We don’t have a good train service in South Africa so long-distance travel has to be by car or plane. It depends on how quickly I want to get somewhere. I enjoy long road trips and going nowhere slowly. We don’t do more than 500km per day before stopping to camp overnight and there are so many great places to stop at and explore.

I once did a coach trip in Europe and that was awesome. Travelling in a luxury bus is very comfortable.

Cruising is another preferred choice to high-speed dashing from place to place by plane.

A Cruise Ship I once travelled on.

What was your favorite holiday growing up? (You can also use American holidays or appropriate holidays from your country)

Christmas was a big thing in my family growing up. It was a huge affair with all the family gathering together. There were plenty of cousins around so we had the greatest fun, usually at Granny’s house. There was a huge pine tree in their garden and my grandfather would decorate it with lights. He and my grandmother made Christmas very special. It was a magical time. The week before Christmas they would take my siblings and me on an outing to the city. We would visit every department store, go to Santa’s Grotto, sit on his lap and list the gifts we wanted him to bring. I always wondered how he managed to be in six different department stores at once. At each store, we got a lucky dip filled with toys of inferior quality. Each year our grandparents complained that the quality got worse but we didn’t mind at all! The best though was having lunch at The Wimpy in OK Bazaars – a rare annual treat for us.

Another part of Christmas I loved was attending Midnight Mass. We would go to sleep early, wake at 11 pm and then go to church and sing Christmas Carrols which I loved before the service started. On our return, we would have hot chocolate and open one present each. It was such fun.

Adderly Street Cape Town in the 1960s – Ok Bazaars on the left


Gratitude Section

What gave you the most gratification this week?

I was not well this week. An attack of diverticulitis had me on antibiotic medication and drained my energy but I was still able to be up and about between regular naps. While lying about I browsed through old PowerPoint presentations of the grandkids growing up and past holidays and that made me feel good. We have had so many good years.

How the Grinch stole Christmas – Christmas Eve 2011

Share Your World – 4 April 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World from Sparks

Are you more productive at night or in the morning? Do you think it’s possible to change and get used to another schedule?

Throughout my adult working life, I was a morning person. I had no trouble going to sleep early and waking up early. I was that irritating person that greeted her less enthusiastic colleagues chirpily while pouring a cup of coffee before the morning staff meeting. (Coffee is an essential food for teachers, chirpy or not!)

On holiday in game reserves, it is essential to be out at dawn. No problem – I would rally my sleepy travelling companions and make sure we were out there bright and early.

Now that I am retired, things are a little different! I can still rise early if I have to but these days I go to sleep later and rise later too. I am still more productive in the morning but I can certainly do stuff at night too.

Can people change from early birds to night owls? – Yes, I think so. Can night owls change into early birds? I can’t see any of the night owls of my acquaintance ever changing into early birds. If they couldn’t during their working lives, why should they try now?

What’s the biggest vehicle you’ve driven?  If you don’t drive, what’s the biggest vehicle you’ve ridden in? 

The biggest motorcar I ever drove was a Volkswagen Caravelle and I loved it. We sold it when we moved to Struisbaai in 2015. Now I hardly drive at all. The Earl drives a Ford Everest and I do drive it on occasion but it is not as easy to drive as the Caravelle.

What wonderful memories we made during the ten years we owned that amazing vehicle. I used it to transport kids to school outings and sports matches etc. We could pile kids, dogs and luggage in and still travel in comfort and above all it was a superb safari vehicle. However, there was many a time that I was mistaken for a minibus taxi! It was sad to see the disappointed faces of potential passengers trying to climb aboard while I explained that I was not able to transport them to their destination.

2005 – Me at the wheel of our brand new Volkswagen Caravelle – On our way to Kgalagadi

What songs would be played on a loop in hell?  (Suspend disbelief for this one, it’s cool not to believe in Hell, but let’s use our imaginations to answer.  Of course one can always skip the questions they find odd too.  And yes, I took into account that individual tastes will influence individual choices.)

Chris de Burgh’s Spanish Train comes to mind.

(Deep and chewy philosophical question):     What does it mean to be a person?  What constitutes “personhood?” (there may be some diverse opinions, but we’re all mature adults in here, so be respectful of others please).

To be a person you have to have self-awareness, reason, morality and a sense of responsibility toward others. You need to know the difference between good and evil. There is good and evil in us all but some of us are human and others are monsters.

A human will have a conscience, feel remorse and work to improve him or herself.

The problem with people is that they are also “sheeple.” Monsters will take advantage of them.

A monster has no morals, no conscience and feels no regret for doing harm to others. Monsters in History are Hitler, Idi Amin, Sadham Hussein and the like. Rapists and sadists are monsters. Anybody who needs to have power over others is a monster and does not deserve to be called nor treated like a person. Something in their DNA is wrong so they are therefore not to be considered a person.

How evil was this guy and what does it say about gullible people?


How were your spirits (mood) over the past week? 

I have been in good spirits. These are the small things that made me happy.

Our gardener did a wonderful job dividing and transplanting the clivias that were crowding other plants in one of our beds. He even created a lovely brick border without being asked. We are just so blessed.

The Earl’s protégé, Sam, who is spending a few days at Breede River surprised us by popping over for the afternoon. It’s an hour and a half drive! We had a lovely lunch together.

I got new linen for two bedrooms and some new towels too – this is because we now have our house with a holiday letting agent and we needed to upgrade a bit. Good news – we have tenants for Easter!

The bananas were going off so I made banana bread with almond flour and it was delicious!

Friends from Cape Town are moving permanently to Struisbaai and were here getting their new home ready for the final move. It was so good to see them.

I could go on as it is the small things that make me happy.

Cape Bird Club Beginners’ Outing

Last month I presented a Beginners’ Course on Zoom for the Cape Bird Club. This culminated in an outing to Strandfontein Nature Reserve on 27 March 2022. Click here to find out more about this reserve which an Important Birding Area

Members of the Bird Club assisted with leading and about 14 beginners were taken around the park in five vehicles. It was a beautiful sunny day with little wind so conditions were perfect for bird watching. Thanks to Priscilla Beeton, Johan Schlebusch, Joy Fish, Heather Howell and Earl Fenwick.

The two-part course prepared the beginners with basic birding skills and for what they were likely to find in the park. Each of them had a specially compiled checklist of birds they might see and there was great excitement when they were able to identify the birds they had learned about.

Here are some of the birds that obliged us.

Yellow-billed ducks were enjoying themselves
Showing off her beauty
The red-billed teal turned his back on us
Cape Teal and Red-knobbed Coot greeting each other
Reflective mood
The ponds were calm and the pelicans were enjoying the sunshine
This is the life
Greater Flamingos – not quite in their adult plumage,
Pied Avocets contentedly swimming
This bird sports a recurved bill
A Black-necked grebe was a real treat to see
The Little Grebe is more common
Fulvous Ducks – Not often seen at Strandfontein – A real treat
Cape Shoveler
The Glossy Ibis has a decurved bill
Reed Cormorant
We saw an African swamphen but I didn’t get a good photo so I’m cheating with this one taken a while ago.
Black-headed Heron and Sacred Ibis

I might just have been more excited than the beginners at seeing all these lovely birds.

Here is a list of what we saw.

  • Yellow-billed Duck
  • Cape Teal
  • Red-billed Teal
  • Cape Shoveler
  • South African Shelduck
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Spur-winged Goose
  • Western Cattle Egret
  • Little Egret
  • Great Egret
  • Grey Heron
  • Black-headed Heron
  • Kelp Gull
  • Hartlaub’s Gull
  • Reed Cormorant
  • White-breasted Cormorant
  • Sacred Ibis
  • Hadeda Ibis
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Lesser Flamingo
  • Great White Pelican
  • Little Grebe
  • Great-crested Grebe
  • Red-knobbed Coot
  • Common Moorhen
  • African swamphen
  • Blacksmith Lapwing
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Pied Avocet
  • Common starling
  • Red-winged Starling
  • Little Rush Warbler
  • Cape Bulbul
  • Black-shouldered Kite
  • Jackal Buzzard
  • Three-banded plover
  • White-throated Swallow
  • Greater-striped Swallow
  • Cape Weaver
  • Common waxbill
  • Lesser Double-collared Sunbird
  • Cape Spurfowl
  • Spotted Thick-knee
  • Blacksmith Lapwing
  • Common Tern
  • Whiskered Tern
  • Levaillant’s Cisticola
  • Cape White-Eye
  • Little stint

Struisbaai Ramblings

When I am not off caravanning, cruising the oceans or helping out at Fishing Tournaments, I enjoy a fairly quiet life here in Struisbaai. I am often asked, “What do you do all day?” Isn’t that just the most difficult question to answer! I do everything I used to do when I worked only at a slower pace and how wonderful it is not to rush from one activity to the next. I now have time to read more, potter in the garden, learn Italian and blog. And every day I enjoy a long leisurely walk. The creatures I see in my garden and on my walks bring a great deal of pleasure too.

Orange-breasted Sunbirds enjoying the sprinkler
Witogies joined them
While the Cape Robin decided the bathtub was a better option
Tortoises are frequent visitors
And just the other night this young Spotted Eagle Owl and three of his siblings called from the roof and the lampost outside our house

Struisbaai boasts the most beautiful harbour and I visit it almost every day. There is always something interesting to see – the fishing boats coming back from a day at sea, the stingrays swimming in the shallows looking for titbits from the chukkie crew members as they clean their fish. The cormorants and gulls don’t miss a chance at a free meal either.

From the harbour I usually go along the boardwalk to our lovely long beach which is stunning at low tide. Sometimes I might be lucky enough to see something out of the ordinary.

Always lovely to see a Cape Bulbul
And a handsome crowned lapwing
Many people paint and then hide rocks for others to find – I found this one but decided to leave it for someone else. It looked so pretty there.
This Rock Kestrel eyed me but did not fly away
A Little Egret decided on seafood for breakfast on this particular morning
Sammy Seal was tired of swimming so came ashore for some R&R
And a bit of grooming
The beach is wonderful for long walks, swimming, fishing, windsurfing and kitesurfing
A favourite South African pastime – This is the first time we are using our new braai with its new chimney – No more smoke in our eyes!
The colour of the sky at sunset is just stunning

Share Your World 21 March 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s questions from Sparks

What very common thing have you never done?  (this one probably is a recycle, but I don’t think it’s terribly recent?)

I have never taken recreational drugs yet I am a child of the sixties!

Are we morally obligated to be charitable, if we have the means to?

Yes, I believe with great privilege comes great responsibility. To be charitable is to help people in need. Anybody can do this. It’s not about donating large sums of money. The world is a tough place for many and if we could all be just a tad more charitable we could help a great many more people. How much does it hurt to give an old shirt to a homeless person or help out a friend who needs a favour? It’s the small things we do for each other that make the world a better place.

What is the most amazing fact you know?

That on Earth life springs up in the most desolate places but the grass won’t grow in my garden in spite of lots of TLC!

Is the universe trying to tell me something? Like, don’t plant grass let stuff just grow where it wants to?

A tree growing out of a rock – Go Figure!

What’s your favorite sandwich and why?

May I substitute a croissant for the bread? Smoked salmon, green fig preserve and camembert cheese go beautifully inside a croissant. Ham and cream cheese will also do.

GRATITUDE SECTION   (As always optional)   

Please feel free to share something you find inspires you.

People who put their fears and doubts out of the way and go for new experiences and adventures inspire me. I have just read an awesome blog all about that. May I share the link here?

Share Your World 7 March 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s questions from Sparks

What’s The Strangest Thing In Your Refrigerator?

In my refrigerator, you will be surprised to find the sugar. You would not believe the ant problem we have. You never see them when all the food is put away. But leave one tiny crumb on the counter and they suddenly materialise from nowhere and you won’t see an ant trail. Leave a bowl of sugar out of the fridge and in no time the inside of the bowl will be black with tiny ants while there will none on the outside. Go figure! For this reason, I make sure that all ant-friendly products are kept in the fridge and I wipe every crumb from the countertops several times a day. It works!

Strange things in Company Refrigerator

Would You Rather Hear The Music Of Johann Sebastian Bach Played By A Barbershop Quartet, Or A Heavy Metal Band?

I’m not too fond of Heavy Metal but perhaps even they could sound good playing Bach. However, I think I’ll go for the Barbershop Quartet. Perhaps they would put words to the music too?

If You Could Erase One Event From History, Which One Would You Erase?

I am sure everyone will agree that the Holocaust should never have happened. There were certainly dozens of attempts to assassinate Hitler and they all failed which makes one wonder – perhaps you simply cannot change the course of history.

If Your Food Is Bad At A Restaurant, Do You Say Something?

If I order something and it does not have the ingredients promised on the menu then, yes, I will complain. If it is something that I ordered and turns out not to be what I expected because I misinterpreted the menu then I won’t complain. If it is inedible because the ingredients are off, then certainly I will complain and refuse to pay for it.

I know many people are quite intolerant of slow or inadequate service. I am less fussy about that. If I’m eating out, it’s to enjoy the company of those I am with and to have a break from home-cooked food. I’m happy to chill and enjoy some conversation while I wait for my dinner.

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional):

On one side of the earth we’re facing upcoming Spring, and on the other Autumn.   What positive or uplifting thought do these changes bring to you?

Thanks for using the word Autumn instead of Fall, Melanie.

Autumn/Fall is my favourite season. The weather is perfect – not too hot and not too cold, the colours are amazing and it reminds me that change is good.

A Little Breakaway to Warmwaterberg – Part Two – What fun we had.

Friday 25 February 2022

On Friday morning we awoke to a little bit of rain but it did not last long. We went for an early morning swim in both the hot and cold pools and then enjoyed an “Early Breakfast”. I am indeed lucky to have a man who loves to cook. He particularly enjoys using our nifty little Snappy Chef cooker and Smart Space pan.

Delicious scrambled eggs with bacon, tomato, banana, feta and mushrooms

After breakfast, we spent some more time in the pools. The hot waters of the spring are very relaxing and certainly help to ease any aches and pains you may have. The mineral-rich water once cooled is also very healthy to drink. Perhaps it even has some healing powers?

After swimming the Earl took a short nap while I sat in the shade of the canopy and read my book. All of a sudden I became aware of something moving near my feet. I looked down and got quite a fright at the giant that I saw. Was he aiming to chew my toes?

The angulate tortoise is common in The Karoo and is quite unafraid of human beings. No, being a vegetarian, he did not chew my toes but gobbled up the lettuce I gave him.

At midday, we decided to take a drive to Barrydale where we stopped in at Diesel and Creme for a Very Berry Smoothy. It sounds healthy but is actually quite decadent!

Lots of ice cream and berries

Diesel and Creme is a fascinating place to stop if just to stare at the interesting ancient memorabilia on display. It is deliberately shabby with very little chic. You can look back on my previous Warmwaterberg posts for more photos if you wish.

As I’ve mentioned before Route 62 is popular with motorcyclists and they frequently stop at Diesel and Creme for refreshment – old bikes in the foreground, new, visiting ones behind.

Perhaps the bikers like the place because many of them are ancient hippies themselves.

Part of the establishment is the Karoo Moon Motel

You can stay over in this hotel which was built in 1896 but has now been converted into two self-catering units. We have never had the pleasure of staying there but you can check it out here.

One wonders how those ladies’ legs got into the flower garden!

Later that afternoon our friends Carl and Yolandi arrived. Originally they were going to bring their tent but we were surprised and delighted to see they had borrowed a friend’s trailer. It didn’t take long to get perfectly set up.

Yolandi making the bed
All set up in a shady spot
Very excited to escape for a weekend.
After setting up we all went for a swim
Carl brought seed for the peacocks

It was Carl’s birthday last week so this evening we went to the restaurant for a celebratory dinner. We have always found Warmwaterberg’s restaurant to be awesome, not only because of the wonderful view but also for their excellent food.

Carl and Uncle enjoying a chat

The Earl, Yolandi and I ordered Bobotie and Carl had Schnitzel – well he is of German descent so it was to be expected!

Yolandi could not believe what was put before her
View across the valley from the restaurant
The colours are awesome

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening and after the relaxing warm waters, beautiful surroundings, good company and fantastic food we all slept beautifully.

Saturday 26 February 2022

What awesome weather we woke up to this morning. The sun was shining, the skies were clear and it was hot! I emerged from the Gecko at 07:15 and found Carl and Yolandi in the process of rising too. Before long we were all in the pool and found that many of the other guests had the same idea of getting in early.

When we returned to camp we found a kill in progress!

A Gecko of another kind finds some juicy prey

The Earl then cooked us one of his famous breakfasts and then we all piled into our car with Carl in the driver’s seat. Our mission – to visit Calitzdorp, 100km away. The Earl just didn’t feel like driving but was happy to be a passenger with his pal who calls him “Uncle” taking the wheel.

The mountain passes on Route 62 are legendary. The one we are featuring here today runs between Ladismith and Calizdorp and is just as picturesque as Tradouw Pass which I wrote about in the previous post.

The Huisrivier pass runs between Ladismith and Calizdorp and is 13.4 km long. It is quite a twisty drive and you need to be alert while negotiating the bends. However, the scenery is just stunning. There are three river crossings during the course of the pass. As the geology of this pass is unstable, several pioneering engineering techniques were applied during its construction to ensure it would survive all weathers safely. The steepest gradient is 1:12. Rockfalls can occur but the catch walls are taking care of most of them.

Huisrivier Pass Scenery
Entering Calizdorp

Calitzdorp is a small town on the western side of The Little Karoo. It is built on the site of the farm Buffelsvallei. This farm was granted to Jacobus Johannes and Matthys Christiaan Calitz in 1831. In 1853 they donated some of their land to The Dutch Reformed Church so that a church could be built. The church then, in 1858 began to sell plots to members of their congregation.

In 1924 a railway line was opened and in 1937 electricity came to the town. A new cement road linking Calitzdorp to Oudschoorn was also built.

Calitzdorp experiences extreme weather from very hot in the summer months to very cold during winter. Often the mountaintops are covered in snow. The town is also susceptible to droughts and floods.

Typical Calizdorp Street

We went to do some gin and wine tasting at Boplaas Tasting Rooms. You can read about their history here.

Before we went in we noticed some standing rocks arranged in a circle and went to investigate.

This is the story behind the rocks
Earl and Yolandi look into the circle of stones.
Yolandi trying to decide
There was a lot to tempt us

After tasting a bit of this and a bit of that we each bought a bottle of citrus flavoured gin and Carl and Yolandi also got a bottle of red wine

By this time we were all getting a bit peckish so at the recommendation of one of the Boplaas staff we went to Cafe @ The Rose. What a good choice. Their cheesecake was delicious as were the iced coffees and the Americano which I chose. There were many delicious things on display and I ended up buying olive tapenade, olive and sundried tomato tapenade and two bags of Maria’s Camdeboo coffee. On the package, you can read Maria’s story which I quote here below.

“When I imagine the perfect cup of coffee, I think back to sitting our stoep with my dad enjoying a fresh cup lovingly prepared by my late mother, Maria. This treasured memory inspired ‘Maria’s’, a place where my family’s passion for coffee has been realised.”

Maria’s is a coffee shop in Graaff-Reinett, where we have been and had the most amazing meals as well as wonderful coffee. This little restaurant, Cafe @ The Rose, only serves Maria’s Coffee.

Cafe @ The Rose
Cafe @ The Rose
Cafe @ The Rose
Cafe @ The Rose
Some more vineyards
The Church
Calizdorp Side of Huisrivier Pass
Carl taking the selfie

Back at camp, we enjoyed the pools then took a nap. When we woke up we took to the waters again after which The Earl started the braai.

The Braai Master
Almost ready

On Sunday after swimming, we packed up and made our way to Diesl and Creme where we met up with Yolandi’s cousin. Desmond is working in Tulbach for a few months and rode up on his motorbike especially to see Yolandi.

Waiting for breakfast at Diesel and Creme. Lovely to meet Desmond
Gecko #81heading home after another awesome adventure

A Little Breakaway to Warmwaterberg Spa Part One – First Day and All the information

It was another of our spur-of-the-moment decisions to pack up the caravan and head to Warmwaterberg Spa for a few days. We mentioned our plans to our friends Carl and Yolandi just before we booked and they decided that they would join us.

The Earl and I left on Thursday 24 February and they joined us the following Friday leaving after Yolandi finished school for the weekend.


Warmwaterberg is on the Cape Tourist Route 62 which starts in Cape Town and includes Oudtshoorn, the Langkloof and Port Elizabeth. It would be the scenic route that tourists would take instead of following the N2 Highway. It is also very popular with motorcyclists.

Our route took us from Struisbaai, through Bredasdorp and Swellendam and then onto the R62 to Barrydale and Warmwaterberg Spa. The scenery along the way was amazing with its magnificent mountains and ravines through the Tradouw Pass which then contrasted with the arid landscape of The Little Karoo.

We left just Struisbaai just after 08h00 and after dropping off a parcel for our young friend at Bredasdorp Primary School we went to fill up at Caltex Petrol Station. There, a couple approached us and said, “We saw you passing our house with your Gecko caravan and we’re interested in buying one. We followed you here. Please can you show us yours!”

I can just picture the scene – “Darling – look there goes a Gecko – quick jump in the car – let’s follow them.” And without even stopping to lock their front door they hop in the car and race after the disappearing caravan, fortunately finding it stopped at the petrol station so they didn’t have to overtake and wave it down.

Of course, we were only too delighted to oblige. The Gecko Offroad Caravan is the best in the country and the waiting list to get one is getting longer! The couple will probably be putting their order in very soon.

At 10 o’clock we stopped at Rolandale for breakfast. This is a delightful farmstall/restaurant that not only serves wholesome meals but sells crafts, homemade preserves and confectionery too. It is really worth a stop even if it’s just for a cup of their excellent coffee.


Before turning off towards the Tradouw Pass we went through Suurbraak a settlement that was established in 1812 when the London Missionary Society started a mission station to serve the Attaqua Khoikhoi. It is such a picturesque little village and I always enjoy travelling through it. Some of the residents grow vegetables on small plots and they still use horse-drawn ploughs to till the soil. They sell their harvest to an organic restaurant or at the Swellendam markets.

On our way to Suurbraak
Lovely old houses
Beautifully decorated

The Tradouw Pass was built by a gang of prisoners under the guidance of Thomas Bain. It was completed in 1873. It is a magnificent drive that follows the course of the Tradouw River in the gorge below. At times the sandstone precipices loom very close to your car window and towing a caravan can be a tad scary around those sharp bends.

Popular with motorcyclists
Tradouw RIver below
Some twisty bends

As you leave the pass you turn toward Barrydale whose history goes back to the early eighteenth century. Farmers moved into the area in search of fertile arable land and water. The town finally came into being in 1878. In 1940 the Barrydale Kooperatiewe Wynkelder was formed and a distillery was established. Joseph Barry Brandy was produced locally and in 2003 was voted the best brandy in the world.

Beautiful Barrydale Farmlands

The town now has about 4000 permanent residents and is a great tourist attraction because of the interesting arts and crafts shops which have amazing textiles, jewelry and African souvenirs. The restaurants are also novel and serve good food. It is certainly a town with a difference.

One of the many interesting shops in Barrydale

The Earl and I visit Warmwaterberg Spar three or four times a year, sometimes as a stopover to more distant places and sometimes just to take the waters and to have a few days of relaxation. My regular readers will have read about our previous visits to this blog site.

Warmwaterberg is between Barrydale and Ladismith. It has both self-catering accommodation and caravan and camping sites. Some of the accommodation is very basic and the ablution facilities could do with an upgrade. Bath House 3 and 4 are awesome. They are new and have their own enormous bath, big enough for two, a lovely kitchen area and a separate loo and shower just outside the room.

We prefer to camp. Our favourite caravan site is 17 C next to the pool. Site 17 A and B are also good. The rest of the caravan/camping sites are further away but are in a shady environment and quite acceptable if you don’t mind a bit of a walk to the pools. They are also near the ablution block and the wash-up facility. If you camp on sites 17 A, B and C you need to use the pool showers and loos. We don’t need the wash-up facility as we have our own with the caravan.

Campsite 17C

The hot water spring is 44 degrees C at its source and has a very high iron content making the water brown in colour. The water in the pool comes from the artesian spring and is untreated and each hot pool is emptied and cleaned on alternate days. There is also a cold pool.

The Cold Pool in the foreground and the two Hot Pools beyond

We arrived at midday and set up in the shadiest part of the site. It gets hot in The Karoo, especially in summer. Rain was predicted but we only got a spit and a spot the following morning. For the rest of the weekend, it was clear skies and sunshine. The Peacocks were there to greet us.

Mom with her chicks who are quite big already
Dad left her pretty much to do the child-rearing on her own
This ‘familiar’ bird came for a ‘chat’ (A Familiar Chat)
The Earl made us a lovely braai for dinner.

Watch this space for more about our weekend and a report on The Huisrivier Pass and Calizdorp.

Share Your World 21 February 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World from Sparks.

  • What’s the most useful thing you know?

The most important thing I ever learned was how to read. The second thing I learned was how to type. Okay first I had to learn how to write and I am glad I learned that first but typing has been more useful to me. Learning to type was not considered an important skill at school and only if you intended on going into a secretarial career were you encouraged to learn it. Well, I did not ever work in an office but my typing skills have been extremely useful to me as I used them throughout my teaching career. And the ability to touch type turned out to be extremely useful when personal computers became an essential tool in our modern world.

Knowing how to read and type are the two things I am extremely grateful to know how to do.

  • What impact do you think it would have on the world if bananas were illegal?

Bananas are a nutritious fruit and as I eat at least one every day I consider them pretty important to the world. I cannot imagine why they would be made illegal but of course, this is in SYW land. Perhaps it would be because they contained too march starch and starch makes you fat. So in order to get the world back in shape, bananas would be banned as would other foods that contained too much carbohydrate. The result would be a world of super skinny people!

(This is all tongue in cheek – of course, we need carbs as well as other food groups to have a healthy, balanced diet!)

  • What social stigma does society need to just get over?

A lot of things that were socially unacceptable and stigmatised are no longer so now. Society can get over stigmas but too much acceptance of things that are not socially acceptable can become a problem too. I think society should shun men or women who don’t pay maintenance and neglect the care of their children. It is incredible how many people just get away with it and society tends not to stigmatise them!

  • Do you prefer the moral viewpoint of consequentialism*, which focuses on the consequences of actions, or deontology,*  which focuses on the innate rightness or wrongness of the actions themselves?  

This is a complicated question but there is a fine line between what is innately right or wrong depending on the circumstances so I tend to lean toward consequentialism. Choosing to do the right thing usually causes good to come of that action. If one has a good sense of right and wrong then considering what to do in certain circumstances rather than following a set of rules for their own sake would cause one to make the right decision.

GRATITUDE SECTION (As always optional)

Please feel free to share something good that happened to you in the past week.

I received a box of my favourite wine because I took a few photographs and blogged about a fishing tournament.