Roadtrip – Route 62 Mountains


The gentle farmlands of the Breede River Valley.

Last year I did a 10-day road trip, alone, from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and back. I drove up along Route 62 all the way to where it joins the N2 just before Port Elizabeth and then drove back to Cape Town on the N2, through the Garden Route, veered inland again near Swellendam to region Route62 at Barrydale.

I had only vague plans for where I would stop over each night. The freedom to do as I wished was marvelous because that way I discovered unexpected new roads and places, and met some lovely people. Nothing beats the scenery along this route and I think it was the mountains that really got to me – they are unbelievably beautiful.  From the Breede River valley with its pink hues to the magnificent Seweweekspoort and then the thrill of a 4×4 drive to the top of Swartberg Pass at sunset and down again into Prince Albert and back to Oudtshoorn via Meiringspoort, it was a never-ending treat for the senses. P1020769


As you drive into the Seweekspoort you get the impression the road is heading straight into a mountainside but it twists and turns and meanders through the most magnificent towering peaks.



Red stone hills


At the foot of Swartberg Pass


The view from the top of Swartberg Pass is something to behold.



On the way back again I took this pass back to Barrydale from the Garden Route. The road from the N2 to reach the pass was not a good one and it was at that point that I realised I had just travelled 2000 kms without having first checked my spare wheel. I can’t describe the anxiety I started feeling … there was no-one on the road, no cell signal, no houses, nothing … and I kept going over very sharp stones. Luckily I made it, and it was worth it as this pass is stunning!

P1030092 P1030094

Roadtrip – Overberg!

Dunes at Witsands

Sunset at the mouth of the Breede River, Witsand

One day, when I win the lottery, I’m going to leave the city and spend the rest of my life road-tripping – a fabulous vehicle, the open road, funky hotels and luxury guesthouses, beautiful scenery and quirky little towns … ahh man, I could spend my life like that.

In the meantime I’ll happily go on roadtrips with clients  – tiring, less freedom, less time, but better than sitting behind a desk. Next week I’m off to the Overberg – alone, no clients – to check out specific places because I want to develop a new 2 or 3 day tour instead of doing day trips to see whales in Hermanus.  I am madly excited about one of the places where I’ll be spending a night – it’s the most wonderful private reserve in the Overberg – Grootbos. I can’t wait because I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Their website alone has me mesmerised. You can expect photos and a report.  And tweets if you’re there. Or Facebook.

It’s whale season so it reminds me of a particular trip I took a few years ago looking for whales in the Witsand area which is further up the coast than I’ll be going next week. We spent hours and hours watching them frolic but the photos I took with a no-zoom-happy snappy were so bad – we came to the conclusion that they are the least photogenic creatures on earth.  The sunsets certainly made up for that and we had lots of fun.

Tomorrow I’ll write about road-tripping in the Karoo because that’s where I plan to be based after I win the lottery – it’s the perfect place from which to explore South Africa and it doesn’t rain much.

Arniston cave

High tide so we couldn’t go into the cave, Arniston

me in cave

But I was talked into climbing in and out of a small cave via the tiny hole at the top.


Another sunset

Wreck Cape Infanta

I loved Cape Infanta – it’s so isolated that it’s very unspoilt. There are wrecks all over the place, strange sand caves, and these stones were an absolute bitch to walk on.

Gaetan at agulhas

Gaetan was very happy to be at the southern-most tip of Africa.

sunset home

And the trip ended with yet another magnificent sunset as we drove over the pass towards Cape Town. It kept changing from pink to orange and I have about 70 photos of it. But I chose this one.

This is why I hate food shopping

A few of my friends don’t understand my hatred of grocery shopping. I usually wait until there’s nothing left to eat before I stock up again. Running out of toilet paper is usually a sign that I need to venture to a supermarket. Or running out of wine, which is as essential to civilised living as is toilet paper.

Supermarkets are horrible places. Mainly because of other shoppers who don’t behave nicely and bring their screaming brats.

The thing is, the older I get the more grumpy I am getting at being ripped off by food manufacturers. My pocket is tighter than ever these days so I am very aware of what they, the manufacturers who are also feeling the pinch but are greedier than I am, are doing to squeeze more and more profits.

Lately, I’ve taken to complaining on consumer websites and/or directly to manufacturers and retailers because whinging about it but doing nothing is a waste of time and just gives them permission to continue. I can also vent here.

Today’s irritation is a packet of biscuits that seem quite well-priced when you see the size of the box but when you open it (at home, with a cup of tea, like me, now) you realise you’ve been duped because the contents are half the size of the box. HALF!! Obviously, I should have looked at the weight but very few people do that. And that’s why they get away with it.

So here’s the pic and I wish you could see how grumpily and hard I am typing. This biscuit company will hear from me.  Along with the pasta company whose linguine breaks into a million tiny pieces once cooked – I’ll spare you a photo of that.

I feel better now, thanks for listening.

Look, it's not even half the packaging, it's LESS!

Look, it’s not even half the packaging, it’s LESS!

Goblins to the beach

I took the goblins to the beach today. I chose Mouille Point because there’s very little chance of them being able to swim and get wet and sandy and salty – I can deal with one dirty wet dog but not 2, especially when the visiting goblin has bigger hair than a ’70s model. I also spurned the Promenade because visiting goblin has a tendency to attack tiny dogs. Being under 7kg himself, this is a bit of a cheek and I wasn’t prepared to deal with the wrath of the Sea Point blue-haired handbag-dog owners elite on such a lovely winter’s day.

They loved  it – it’s doggie heaven with masses of stinky stuff to roll in and bits of crayfish all over the place and tramps eating cheap snoek. They ran the place ragged, frightened off a smooching couple (how anyone can be scared of such small dogs is beyond me), scampered over the mountains of kelp, paddled in rock pools and just generally sniffed themselves silly. As if being together for such a long period of time (3 days now!)  hasn’t exhausted them already, they are now completely knackered and, as I type this, are passed out next to me.


Let sleeping dogs lie next to me. Mine is the black minx, the other is the visiting goblin and he’s all shiny because I’ve just brushed him. I call them goblins because that’s how they behave when together but their names are Vida (mine) and Bijou (visiting).

Mouille Point is the beach of my youth, I wrote about it here. I’ve mentioned it’s not a glam beach and gets a bit yucky but it has a special place in my heart and I was horrified to see the mess today. It is particularly full of large items of litter; not the usual bottle caps and minor stuff but big stuff like broken cooler-box lids, empty cardboard boxes, streams of plastic bags – in other words, not your usual beach picnic detritus that may have been dropped by accident or blown in, but blatant dumping. And chunks of cement no doubt left over from the recent repairs to the sea-wall. Most of this litter has clearly been there for a very long time.

I have lodged a formal complaint, in 140 characters – we’ll see what response I get. I’m hoping a general clean-up is in order soon because the seaweed also needs removing. It could be a lovely beach, it doesn’t have to be a forgotten poor cousin – there are some very expensive apartment blocks over the road and the rock pools make it a fun beach for children. And dogs.

My photos don’t show the full extent of the litter but here they are anyway – you get the picture.

mouille point beach 2 mouillepoint beach 1

UPDATE: I’ve already had a response to my Tweet to Bev Schafer, the Ward Councillor for the Atlantic Seaboard. Apparently that beach is under some sort of protection, being a non-nodal beach, and kelp cannot be removed. She will attend to the litter but the job of removing items entangled in the kelp is another story as it’s more difficult. Watch this space because I am thinking of maybe organising some sort of citizens’ clean-up. I’ll look into that, and find out what a non-nodal beach is.

Noon Gun Tearoom is no more

Not only are the views from Bo-Kaap more interesting than from anywhere else in the city bowl, but the sun shines for a little longer than it does in fancy-schmancy Higgovale!

Not only are the views from Bo-Kaap more interesting than from anywhere else in the city bowl, but the sun shines for a little longer than it does in fancy-schmancy Higgovale!

I haven’t blogged in over a month so when I received an email this morning telling me I had a new follower I felt so bad I decided to pull finger – thanks, Mary! In the time since my last post WordPress has changed the dashboard so I have new buttons and functions to play with and might even use some of them.

A few weeks ago I forced myself out of my usual Saturday morning sloth and went to visit the Oranjezicht City Farm – you can read about it here. I also strongly suggest you follow their Facebook page because they update it all the time and it’s great to see the progress. Seeing as I was up and about I decided to make the most of the day and persuaded Phil, my driver, to take in a few other places in the area. A cup of tea at the Noon Gun tea room was in order because I hadn’t been there for years and wanted to check it out. Sadly, it shut down a few months ago. The owners still live in the house above where the restaurant was and they told me they’re now too old to run a restaurant. It’s a pity because it could be an integral part of a visit to Bo-Kaap and a walk to the gun itself but I suspect they also don’t have the urge to market the tea-shop properly, as could be seen by the fact that nothing has been modernised in many years.

Bo-Kaap has become very popular with tourists – there are always camera laden visitors taking photos of the houses, and a couple of restaurants offer authentic Cape food but the prohibition of alcohol might deter some. The museum, cemeteries and kramats are worth visiting but there is a somewhat unkempt air about many of the streets, and the city views, although fabulous, require walking or just standing in areas above the quarry that are dangerous as they are not fenced in. Of course, attending to all of this would destroy much of the authenticity of the area. It irritates me to know that people are simply driving in to take a few bog-standard photos and dashing off again without spending any money!


This may not be a ‘pretty’ view but you’d never get bored with it.


Aloes just above the old quarry. Easy to fall into the quarry if you don’t watch your step, lots of homeless and dodge types sleeping there, but I find it fascinating.


It doesn’t matter where you are in Bo-Kaap, the mountain views are stunning.
I was intrigued by this unusual memorial to one of the founders of Umkhonto Wesizwe.


The Noon Gun restaurant sign is still there despite the closure.


This is where the restaurant was. There’s construction going on so it’s probably being turned back into a residence.

So, what is the noon gun after which a restaurant was named? Read all about it here and while you’re at it you can browse through the website to see the houses everyone takes photos of and what the Bo-Kaap is all about. Know this, though, the noon gun is also a measure of determining who’s a local and who isn’t. When the boom is heard at exactly noon every day locals check and set their watches and carry on what they were doing, visitors look around, startled, wondering why everyone is not panicking!

New function used in this post: the location button, except I can’t see the effect.

I think I’ll duplicate most of this blog entry on my Tours du Cap website, because it’s tourism related, and because I’ve been told I should write that blog in this style… sighh.


A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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