Onrus, Western Cape, South Africa

Hermanus, South Africa

On Friday we drove through some spectacular scenery to Onrus (near Hermanus) to visit an old friend, Glynn, who was staying with his cousins, Sandra and Neels. After a very welcome lunch, Neels drove us high up into the mountains above Hemanus to watch the whales in the bay. Then we drove down towards the sea, stopping at different view points until we were directly above the beach. We saw lots of whales once our eyes had become accustomed to spotting them (with lots of help from Neels and Sandra). The weather had been glorious the day before, but a cold front came across and I was especially glad that Clare had loaned me her three-way anorak - it has a detachable fleece that can be worn separately.

In the evening we had an excellent dinner in a local restaurant, with good wine and lots of bonhomie. Sandra and Neels were very entertaining as they are widely travelled and are amusing raconteurs. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Glynn's cousins, and it was especially good to catch up with Glynn after three years. We will be staying with Glynn in Thailand, so more of him later!

We returned to the farm on Saturday to find that the cold front had penetrated into the valley. It is beginning to clear now and fine weather has been forcast. Tomorrow, David leaves for his trek into the Cedarberg Mountains with our old friends the Clulows. I have decided to stay with Kathy - I really feel I am past mountaineering - and anyway, there isn't anywhere to plug my hairdryer in!

Baden, Near Montagu, South Africa

Baden Valley, Montagu, South Africa

When we arrived in Cape Town we hired a car and drove north for 194 km to the Baden Valley, just past Montagu. The Knipe family arrived here from Northern England in 1854 and have lived in this valley ever since. John and Louise's son, Richard, is the sixth generation of this family to live on the farm. The Knipes grow grapes for wine and apricots; they also run a resort club as the farm has a natural hot spring. The photo is the view from Kathy's stoep.

After breakfast on the first day, David and I went for a walk around the complex and met up with Martin and Eric who were building a new ablution block ready for the up-and-coming holiday weekend to celebrate Heritage Day. Then we went with Kathy, Louise and baby Richard to the Mooi Valley Suiwel (Cheese Factory) where Louise works. We had lunch there at their newly opened restaurant with the most amazing views over the mountains.

Later that evening, David, Eric and I lazed in the hot pool, fed directly from the hot spring, whilst watching buck leaping from rock to rock on the surrounding mountains - bliss! We finished up with drinks at Martin and Carine's house before dinner at Kathy's - a perfect end to a perfect day!


Mea Culpa!

I must correct an error of omission. John is rightly distressed that I failed to mention his exceptionally succulent Honey Roast Chicken that he made for us in his slow-cooker (also called a crock pot by the way - the slow-cooker that is, not John) when we were in England. But, however wonderful his mastery of the slow-cooker, he has a very selective memory when it comes to who wins at scrabble - and we are now basking in glorious sunshine so the curse has lifted! See John's comment on my previous blog!

Don't forget that tomorrow is Jane's thirtieth birthday. Please leave congratulatory messages on her blog (link to the right under Interesting Sites).


Quite relaxed in spite of the weather!

Enjoying a night-time braai in South Africa

When we left Jo'burg the sun was shining and everyone thought that summer had arrived at last in the southern hemisphere. Oh, no it hasn't! Since we have been in Natal, the weather has been wet and gloomy - apart from one day, Saturday. Jane says that her sister Clare warned her that we would bring the rain because when we first arrived in Norfolk the weather changed for the worst and never really recovered. On Wednesday we plan to fly to Cape Town - I hope the pattern doesn't repeat itself!

On Saturday the weather was glorious. David and I were left in charge of Shannon while Sean and Jane went to a seminar on Water Births and Pregnancy Health and Well Being at Crompton Hospital in Pinetown. During the morning we had a visit from Sean's parents who are here from Spain for their annual holiday to escape the worst of the Spanish holiday season. It was good to see them again after so long. In the evening we went for sundowners at the dam and then had a braai (barbecue to the uninitiated). Jane and Sean's complex has its own dam, a beautiful oasis in a gorge with a river running through it. We had planned to go fishing in the dam on Sunday, but the threatening clouds returned so we scrubbed that idea, but my time was not wasted as I spent the afternoon looking up slow-cooker recipes on the internet for Jane to use. Today, Monday, she is cooking honey-mustard chicken. I love slow cookers - throw everything in first thing in the morning and, 'Hey Presto! Dinner is served'! (How is yours going, Gabriela?)

On Wednesday, Jane will be thirty, so tomorrow evening we are going out for a steak dinner to celebrate. On Saturday she is planning a wild party to which she hopes Suzi will join her from Australia. Suzi is arriving in Jo'burg that morning and being met by an old school friend (and Facebook buddy) Rowan, who has offered to drive her straight to Natal so that she will be in time to help Jane celebrate.

While I have been typing this a troop of monkeys has appeared outside, come to scavenge for whatever they can find. Before anyone says, 'Ah, sweet!' let me tell you that they are anything but! Read Jane's blog of Wednesday July 4 - 'Mangy Monkey's are at it again!' You can find Jane's link to the right of this blog under 'Interesting Sites'.


Arrival in South Africa

Flying high

What is it with BA? The space between the seats is so narrow that it is impossible to stand upright when getting in and out. David had an especially hard time as the seat in front of his was broken and he spent the entire trip with the man in front practically sitting on his lap! He pointed this out to the stewardess and she promised to get back to him - we are still waiting! Unfortunately we hit a lot of turbulence during the flight which made it impossible to sleep (not BAs fault I hasten to add) so we were rather tired when we landed.

Once in Jo'burg everything ran smoothly. David's brother, Paddy, picked us up from the airport and we spent two very happy days with family. The great thing about our family is that, no matter how long we are apart, the minute we are back together it seems as if we have never been away! David was in heaven, he watched the three Twenty20 games, a world cup rugby match and the England versus Russia football match; but best of all these was when he watched Zimbabwe beating the world champions, Australia. I, meanwhile, was co-opted into Beddie's business empire and spent a happy time working with Irene.

Today we flew to Durban to spend time with our daughter, Jane. The flight was just over am hour, but they served us the most deliciously fresh, stuffed pitta bread (eat your heart out those who suffer the dreaded boxes on short-haul flights on KLM or Alitalia). We have just had a very pleasant dinner with Jane and Sean (Shannon is tucked up safely in bed).


Preparing for Stage Two

This week Suzi arrived from Spain and we took her to see David’s mother before we all left for foreign parts. David’s sister Margie and his mother met us half way between Norwich and New Walton for a pub lunch. I couldn’t resist the Steak and Ale Pie with mashed potatoes and peas (as you can see, the diet isn’t going too well!).

More blackberry picking today! Clare, Suzi, Jessica and I went walking along the hedgerows filling our basket with the biggest juiciest blackberries we could find – most of them nestling among the nettles. No danger of arthritis in the hands then!
Tomorrow, Monday, David and I are flying off to SA and Suzi is returning to Australia for ten days to pack up her house before she joins us. I usually enjoy airports and flying, but I am not looking forward to Heathrow, or flying BA for that matter. We have always had bad experiences flying with BA – one can only hope they have improved their service!

Press Centre

Press Centre
I couldn't resist this one!