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.
I might just have been more excited than the beginners at seeing all these lovely birds.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
Perhaps the bikers like the place because many of them are ancient hippies themselves.
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.
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.
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.
The Earl, Yolandi and I ordered Bobotie and Carl had Schnitzel – well he is of German descent so it was to be expected!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Watch this space for more about our weekend and a report on The Huisrivier Pass and Calizdorp.
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.
This is the last post for this year’s TOMT and what a great competition it has been.
Yesterday, I posted about the Prizegiving and somehow left out a few photographs and thank yous. I have subsequently updated that post so please take another look.
Organising a tournament takes months of preparation and all the organisers do a tremendous job. Thanks to Marinda, Dahlene and all the Suidpunt Deepsea Angling Club staff for their input.
The guys who man the radios are also indispensable in a competition of this nature. I know firsthand how much effort goes into preparing the aerials and radios and the guys involved are truly dedicated. Andrew Perrins is involved in the organisation, the running of the tournament, and the radio control. He is ably helped by Trevor Brinch (Spotter One) and my hubby, Earl Fenwick. Thanks to them for a job brilliantly done.
And now for the final anglers’ story. Dankie Piet Wessels.
I have done a rough translation below for my overseas readers.
Bayswater se Storie deur Piet Wessels
Donderdag 17 Februarie 2022
Die derde dag van visvang het ons geweet dit sal die laaste dag wees wat ons iets kan vang in die kompetisie. Ons het reeds twee visse veloor, een op dag 1 na amper ‘n uur en half 20 meter van boot af wat ons hom aangehad het en nog een op dag 2.
Ons het besluit om dieselfde Konas te sleep aangesien dit al drie visse geraise het vir ons die week sover. Ons het maar dieselfde area gewerk wat ons Dinsdag gewerk het, volgens my was dit die beste kleur water en temperatuur was goed. Die see was rof en dit het maar moelik gegaan om die Konas reg te laat swem. Ons het nog getrol toe sien Kokkie ‘n vis wat swem agter ons right long. Dit was dieselfde lure waarop ons twee ander visse gehak het vroeer die week. Die vis het ‘n hele ruk agter die lure geswem maar wou nie byt nie.
Kokkie sê, “Toe kom ons maak ‘n lang draai en bly op die area.”
Ons was so halfpad gedraai toe klap die ourigger en die vis was aan. Hy het soos ‘n mal ding agter die boot gespring. Oupa Dawie was in die stoel. Ons het die vis mooi rustig baklei met die rowwe see. Vyf-en- twintig minute later was hy langs die boot en Kokkie het hom geleader. Dis was ‘n swart marlyn van ongeveer 100-120kg. Ons het die vis se hoeke uitgehaal, hom mooi laat swem langs die boot en toe laat gaan. Dit was n voorreg om weer ‘n vis te vang in die kompetisie.
On the third fishing day of the tournament, we knew that it would be our last chance to get a marlin. We had already lost two, one on the first day after fighting it for an hour and a half then losing it within 20 metres of the boat, and on the second fishing day, we also lost one.
We decided to use the same Konas seeing that they had worked well for us thus far. We worked in the same area as on Tuesday and I believed the water was the best colour and temperature for marlin. The sea was rough and it was difficult to get the Kona to swim.
We trolled and then Kokkie saw a fish swimming behind right long. We were using the same lure that we had the previous two fish on earlier in the week. The fish followed the lure for quite a while but would not bite.
Kokkie said, “Let’s make a wide turn and stay in the area.”
We had turned halfway when the outrigger was hit and the fish was on. The fish went wild and jumped behind the boat. Oupa Dawie was in the chair. We calmly fought the fish in the rough sea. Twenty-five minutes later he was beside the boat and Kokkie leadered him. It was a Black Marlin of about 100 to 120 kilograms. We took out the hook, and let him swim away next to the boat. It was a privilege to once again catch such a fish in the competition.
Thursday 17 February 2022 was the last fishing day of the tournament. It was the anglers’ last chance to land that coveted catch – a marlin of any species or size would do!
Lines in was called at 08h00 and we on the shore listened excitedly as the reports of hook-ups came in. There were a few. Some were makos and bronzies and some were marlin hooked and lost. Only one, the last one of the day and the last one of the competition came in and it was Bayswater that finally won the day!
Lines-up was called at 16h00 and off I went to get some more pictures of the magnificent boats that took part in this years’ tournament.
Friday, 18 February 2022 – Prize Giving
Thanks to the generous sponsors there were great prizes and every boat was awarded something.
Each year TOMT has a flag which is auctioned to raise funds for the next tournament. This year last year’s flag, as well as the 2022 flag, were auctioned.
After this, the prizes were presented. I have posted photographs below and hope I have the team names right.
There are just too many sponsors to individually name here but they are listed on the banner at the top of each of the blog posts. Please support them. They have donated generously and without their support, a tournament like this would not be the same.
After the proceedings, Gareth Beaumont presented a special prize to Derek Kaplan who was quite blown away with surprise.
Once again we enjoyed an awesome meal to celebrate the end of TOMT.
What a great tournament this was. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again next year. Tight lines till then, anglers.
PS – Watch this space for Bayswater’s Story – to be published soon.