Tag Archives: SA 06/07

Joburg and the Vaal Dam

Nikcy and Barry went up to JHB early, so Rachel drove up with us. We had an easy journey, but got lost at the end, and ended up in the worst, scariest part of Joburg trying to find Nicky’s house. In the end we got there, so all was well.
We slept at Nicky Tues night, then on Wednesday went to meet Steve F and kids, and drove to their lovely holiday home on the Vaal Dam. Steve has 3 kids, his eldest is a close friend of the girls and his two boys are aged either side of Ben.
They have 2 jet-skis, and so we spent a day and a half on the water, taking turns on the skis, being dragged behind on a big inflatable at high speed, water-skiing and the like. It was great fun, but quite tiring. The weather was lovely and we got lots more sun.
We came back Thursday evening and went to Aunty Vi and family for supper. It was lovely to see everyone, but we were all tired and probably not great company. Today we went to Nickys work where we had a great felafel. Then went to Sandton City, did more last minute shopping. Its off home this evening, back to the cold and grey of the Yorkshire skies

Happy New Year


Yesterday was Dads party. We had been planning it for what seems like years. It was at Durban restaurant called Spice, which recently hosted Bills Clinton and Gates. It is a lovely, laid back venue, Mom and Dad know the owners well. Music was provided by some old friends of ours, Felicity and Rainer (with guest appearances by me and the kids). There were about 50 of Dads nearest and dearest, and everyone had a great time. I think it was just as dad had hoped it would be.
Mom had been collecting written contributions from all those who know Pa, and had put together a book for him of these letters, stories, poems and reflections – along with a few drawings from some of the chilluns.
 
In general, Durban has been quite relaxing. We have been to the sea most dyas for a swim, done some shopping and sight-seeing, as well as continuing the tradition of eating out at least once a day. Roni nand Aunty Lor joined us, so we have had a nice family time just all hanging out together.
Last night after the party we came back and just chilled. Tony and Ingrid taylor joined us for the evening, we  had a nice braai with boerie rolls, and went to bed at midnight.

Tomorrow we are heading off to Joburg for the last leg of our trip.

SA Update

Hello from sunny South Africa. It is 11:40 pm, we have just been out to the revolving restaurant for a lovely meal. Ben and I have just had a dip in the pool to cool down, and are about to go to bed. I will do a full update on my trip when we get back, as there is only a dial-up connection here, so won’t put on any pics. We in Durban at the moment, having a lovely time. There is a party for Dads 70th on Sunday, and on Tuesday we head into the Transvaal for our final few days here.
We having lovely sunny days – we are all pink! It is so nice to be warm at this time of year – I can highly recommend it
Be good, and have a great new year.

Mountains

On Friday, Pa, me and the kids set out quite early to try and climb up to the top of the Drakensberg – SA’s largest mountain range. The top is about 3000m above sea level. We aimed to climb Mont-aux-Sources, set above the amphitheatre, a wall about 1000 meters high. There is a chain ladder giving access to the summit after a steep-ish path. After some political issues (teenage girls can be challenging), and a lot of climbing, we found ourselves at the foot of the chain ladder. The kids all climbed up very well, and we were on top of the world. The cloud cover was varied, and intermittently we had fabulous views. We walked to the lip of the amphitheatre, at the head of the Tugela falls, which is the worlds second highest waterfall, dropping 950 metres. We all seemed to feel a bit of altitude sickness, and after a sandwich and a swim(for some), we headed back to the chain ladder and descended to the path back down to the car. Just before the car park, we came across a large family of baboons, who were quite curious and stayed quite near to us. We got back, exhausted but happy. We went out for dinner, some place in the middle of nowhere. It seemed very nice, but were all too tired to enjoy it, and so ate quickly and headed back to bed.
Saturday morning, and the others all left before us to go into Clarens, but we met them there, did a bit of browsing and had breakfast. Mom and Dad then drove with Nicky and Barry, so we were on our own for a change, which was nice. We headed down for a drive of about 2 hours or so into the central Drakensberg, to our next destination, some self-catering cottages near Champagne Castle.
The cottages were beautiful, secluded, set in lovely gardens with great views of the berg. Best of all was a rock pool which offered sweet relief from the heat of the day – we spent hours by the pool.
Next morning Mom and Dad did an emergency dash back to Clarens as they had left their laundry there, so we went with Nicky Barry and Rachel for breakfast at a lovely waffle shop. Bar-One waffles, Horlicks Milkshakes, and about 10,000 calories per mouthful. Mmmmm.
After breakfast, we went to an adventure centre, where the kids went down a zip line, and quad bikes. Span and Rachel both fell off, Span particularly hurt her arm, so we took her back to rest. Fortunately she recovered quite quickly. Braai for supper, plenty of wine and beer.
Xmas day and we went for lunch at a restaurant in a centre called Thokozisa. The meal wasn’t a traditional one, which disappointed a bit cos we had been looking forward to Turkey and Christmas pud.

Today we packed up and headed for Durban. The drive is only about 3 hours, but we took our time, visited some nice places and Howick Falls, before we finally arrived in Durban, 10 days after landing in SA.

Cape to Clarens

In Clarens, in the Eastern Free State, after a few long days of driving through some lovely and ever changing parts of SA.
We left Cape Town on Tuesday late morning, and had a lovely drive. Sir Lowry’s pass gave us some stunning views, and the scenery changed slowly as we headed up the coast. Stopped here and there for drinks, wees and biltong, and then visited Mossel Bay for tea and scones. Found our BnB in Wilderness, which was a beautiful 7 room house right on top of the dunes overlooking the sea. Went for  late afternoon swim in the sea, but after finding several large jelly-fish, we decided to exercise caution and leave the swimming to another day.
Had a fabulous meal in a quaint little restaurant nearby. Jexi tried an oyster, which came straight back out again, but she had some nice prawns to make up for it. Ben had ribs (in fact he always has either ribs or a steak now), and Span had a veg special.
On Wednesday morning we headed inland towards Oudtshoorn, and into the Karoo. We stopped at an Ostrich farm, where they had some game too. There was a tame Zebra there, called Kwagga (Afrikaans for Zebra), and a very sweet little girl who lived there who entertained us beautifully. After a drink and some breakfast for Span, we decided to go on a game drive, and although it was near mid-day and quite hot, we saw some game, including Wildebeest and Springbok. After this, we head north again through the endless semi-desert, towards Colesberg, where we stopped again at a BnB for the night. A basic but comfortable BnB, we were quite tired so after a meal at a nearby pub, we had quite an early night.
From Colesburg we headed up toward Bloemfontein, then toward Lesotho, and skirted the border around to Clarens. Our BnB here is a lovely old house called St Fort, which is very comfy, quite big and spacious, and is set in beautiful grounds. Nicky, Rachel, Barry (Nickys boyfriend) arrived shortly after us – it is nice to see them. Once again (you may spot a recurring theme here),we went into town for a lovely evening meal at a Restaurant called Clementines, which was recommended by a Dutch friend of mine.Clarens is an unusual little town, which has a large number of galleries and artists, interesting shops and eateries. It is quite pretty, and gets a lot of visitors.

Cape Town

Left this morning for the Wilderness after a few lovely days in Cape Town.

On Sunday, we were going to climb Table Mountain, but even though the weather was great, the tablecloth was set, so we couldn’t go up. The top of table mountain has its own weather system, and a lovely hot day in Cape Town can still bring a thick, cool mist down on top of the mountain which severely limits visibility and makes it dangerous to be up there.
We decided to try go to Robben Island, so went to the waterfront, with Amy. We couldn’t get onto the ferry for days, so decided to spend the day at the waterfront instead. It is a major area with lots of shops, craft markets and entertainments, as well as many restaurants. Me and he girls went to the Nike shop for trainers, the kids did bungee bouncing, and we did a nice trip in a boat round the harbour. There were some very lazy seals to look at in the harbour, and we got wet from the spray while near the harbour mouth.
There is a square called Nobel Square, dedicated to South Africas’  Nobel Laureates – and took some pics there. After lunch we went back to the hotel, had a swim, and then went to fetch Mom and Dad from the airport. They had flown down to Cape Town to join us, and we plan to spend the next couple of weeks travelling together and hanging out.
After we picked  the folks up, we drove through to Camps Bay, and met Roni and family at a restaurant there. We had a lovely evening with them, getting to know Adam and Tessa better. As an additional surprise, cousin Janice (Wilensky) joined us for a quick visit – probably 25 years since I saw her last.
On Monday we decided to go for a swim, and so headed over to Muizenberg, which is on the Indian ocean side of the Cape (the water is warmer on that side – the Atlantic side is bloody freezing). We got to Muizenberg, applied our sun lotions in sweltering heat, and then as soon as we went near the sea it got cool and windy. We swam anyway, and then went over to a pool where the kids swam some more.
After our swim, we drove over Boyes Drive to Kalk Bay, and stopped to eat by a little, ramshackle place called the Money Tree. We were a bit wary of the place as it didn’t look too auspicious, but in fact it was absolutely lovely, with very friendly owners and really great food. The best prawns I have had for ages. Afterwards we walked down to an ice cream shop, and visited a few more shops in the quaint little harbour town.
Drove Back to Cape Town, had a go at getting the cable car up table Mountain but the queues were a couple of hours long at least. Went to Steves flat for a drink and a chill-out, then took the folks back to Roni, where they were sleeping.
Now heading out of Cape Town on the start of a journey of thousands of Kilometres.

SAA take us to Cape Town

(The pictures for our whole trip are going to be here)
Flew yesterday from Manchester Airport to Heathrow. Karen gave us a lift to the airport, and we flew to London. We had to wait about 4 hours at Heathrow, so we had a meal, did a bit of window shopping, tried out the massage chairs, then went and waited in a lounge. The flight was pretty horrendous really. We took off at ten-ish, and they gave us a meal which no one liked. We were sat right by the toilets on the upper deck. Every time that anyone went to the loo, the lights came on and disturbed us. Also, the flush isn’t quiet, so that didn’t help, either. The flight seemed interminable, none of us were comfortable and none of us really got any sleep.
We landed in Cape Town, and got our bags, then went to hire our car. We got a very comfortable 8 seater Mercedes Vito, which coped admirably with our whole holiday. even with a full car there was plenty of space for luggage. We drove into Cape Town, which was warm and lovely. I rang Steve Flowers who was there with his kids, and were staying very near to our hotel. Amy came down to join us for a meal in the hotel, and then we went to do a bit of shopping for summer clothes and swimming costumes.
Met up with rest of the Flowers, and afetr a swim in the pool went to the waterfront for a bit more shopping and a meal. We were vey tired, so went back early-ish to the hotel to go to sleep.