Driving in and out of Franschhoek on the R45 as often as I do, I’ve passed a cryptic sign and small memorial dozens of times without stopping to investigate. Eventually, the other day I pulled over to satisfy my curiosity.

The sign reads ‘Bleskop‘ which is Afrikaans for ‘baldy’. Since the memorial is to honour soldiers from the Franschhoek Valley who lost their lives in World War One, the connection to baldness isn’t clear at all. In fact it’s a complete mystery.

The memorial is small and simple with an inscription of only a few names. I’ve tried to find some more information but very little seems to be known about it. One entry on a memorial online forum claims that the soldiers died in Flanders Field and another search result was a blogger as puzzled as I am about the history. I’m also curious about the date – as far as I know WWI ended in 1918 but this memorial shows 1919.

Clearly this memorial isn’t of much current interest to anyone – aside from the lack of info to be found, there’s the sad state of the surrounds … glass, plastic, broken fence, weeds .. shame on Franschhoek for not looking after it. The gardeners at the Huguenot Memorial, which has an immaculate garden, could spend a few minutes there once a month and make a huge difference.

I emailed Franschhoek Tourism to get more information but they have nothing beyond what I found online. They gave me a lead to get more info but I’ve heard nothing from that contact.

How strange is that? Someone cared enough to build it but no-one seems to have cared enough to record it. It’s highly probable that the descendants of the men listed are not around otherwise they would surely ensure that some care is taken.


bleskop mess


UPDATE 20 February: I received a reply from the Drakenstein Heemkring, a historical archive group, who also have very little information other than the 2 online results that I had already found. They did mention, however, that since the names on the memorial are all English, the men may have been associated to the Anglo American farms in the area, i.e. the Rhodes Fruit Farm.  The mystery continues!



Too much wine, too little time

wine intellectual part of a meal

I don’t understand something and no-one has been able to explain it in a way that makes any sense. Many people have agreed with me but I don’t see anyone making an effort to pressure the industry to change this.

Here’s the thing: wine estates in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek close much too early in summer.

There are plenty of other wine regions (where establishments also close early) but I’m mainly concerned with these two because they’re the ones tourists want to see the most and they’re the ones that are all over social media begging us to bring visitors. They hire expensive PR companies, they arrange great events, but for a simple wine tasting with the potential sales that this will encourage, it’s strictly short hours. Most open at 10:00 which makes sense because who wants to taste wine any earlier, but they almost all close at 17:00 and some even earlier.

Many visitors don’t realise how vast the regions are so they only set aside one day for wine tasting. This means that if you remove the time it takes to have lunch, visit the towns themselves – which would be crazy to miss, and get around, you have at most 3 hours for wine tastings and cellar-tours. Yet, by the time most places close there are 3 to 4 hours of daylight left!

Of course there are some estates that stay open later than others but there are too few of them and they’re not always the ones that clients want to visit – many visitors arrive with a bucket list of wines to taste after having researched in advance.

I need a place with magnificent views of the sunset where my clients can have a last tasting before heading back to town. It can’t be on Hellshoogte Pass because that’s too middle-of-the-day – closer to the N2 would work. I might have to build it myself.

Fairview goats blog pic

The most photographed goats in the Cape – at Fairview where the best cheese is made. A cheese and wine pairing is the highlight of a wine tour – but the latest booking is 15:30!


Chocolate and wine tasting at Waterford. Good wines, great setting, but the last full tasting (8 wines) is done at 16:30. Oh well, have a look at the gorgeous old vine in the background.

ken forrester blog pic 2

I love the casual setting for tastings at Ken Forrester – closes at 17:00.

Ken Forester blog pic

Sneaking in another one from Ken Forrester – this tiny house in the middle of the parking lot is too cute for words.

delaire graaf

Couldn’t resist sneaking in a pic of the fabulous view on Helshoogte Pass from Delaire-Graff, where it’s more about opulence than anything else.

Secret Garden

Enjoyed a hoity-toity little outing to the beautiful valley of Franschhoek (the French Corner, also often referred to as the gastronomic capital of South Africa) with Caroline this week. We donned our pearls, buffed our nails and left the city behind. The whole point  was a cocktail invitation to which I added a dinner. I then decided we may as well leave town earlier and pop in to a boutique winery I’ve been meaning to visit. That little side-trip will be the subject of a blog post all of its own but suffice to say we had great fun and got more than we bargained for. I can’t wait to add this gem to my wine tours.

Even though we’d lingered at the winery and were a tad late for the cocktail party (not to mention slightly tipsy and ravenous!) we still made a quick trip to the Secret Garden I’d promised to show her. This best-kept secret is next to the Huguenot Museum and a very old cemetery where many of the town’s original settlers are buried. I first saw this garden over a year ago when it was still new – yesterday’s flying visit bowled me over with the beauty of what has grown since. It helps that this time of year is the best time for our indigenous fynbos.


Our magnificent national flower, the King Protea. Franschhoek is full of them!


Caroline insisted I pose like this.









Side view of the museum.
This entire building used to be a private residence near the centre of Cape Town – Saasveld House. Faced with the threat of demolition, some forward thinking person suggested it be moved to Franschhoek. Every brick was labelled and numbered, carefully stored, transported to Franschhoek and rebuilt as the Huguenot Museum.


The front facade.


A King Protea in bud.


Then we hit the cocktail circuit and this beautiful horse was waiting for us on the lawn of Grande Provence. Can anyone guess what it’s made of?

Art galleries


I find art galleries a bit intimidating because I have plebeian tastes and no money. Unlike my friend Caroline, who also has no money but knows art and has no fear of playing the serious buyer (together, we’ve pretended to be serious buyers of all sorts of things from precious art to luxury homes, but that’s another story).

Recently the painting above caught my client’s eye. I screeched to a stop on the main drag in Franschhoek and the haggling began.  I suggested the gallery pass my commission on to the client (I’m nice that way) but the snooty gallery assistant with a fake poncy accent was having none of that because apparently I need to register with the gallery in advance, which I hadn’t done since I don’t generally plan on shopping with clients. Regardless of my client’s obvious wealth, the snooty one managed to talk down to everyone as if we were a bunch of bergies asking for a hand-out. He was eating cold pizza but the gallery is just opposite a restaurant that’s just  been voted the best in Africa. Just saying.

Once my client had concluded the deal (R36k including shipping) we were then told to stop trying to take photos of the painting. My client pointed out that the painting was now HERS and she could do what she wanted with it. While they were arguing I took the photo – cell phones are sneakier than fancy cameras with foot-long lenses.

My client then tasked me with ensuring the painting arrives in New York. Yikes. I did and it did.

The photo below, however, is of a pencil drawing I fell in love with at an art exhibition, also in Franschhoek, at the lovely Grande Provence Estate. Weeks later I was in Stellenbosch and spotted the gallery where this artist’s work is displayed. My heart stopped and I entered. This time it was a vastly different experience. The artist’s son, whose lovely jewellery is also displayed there, was manning the gallery and a nicer man you couldn’t hope to meet.  I didn’t get his name, shame on me; there was a time I would have got his phone number, too.

The artist is Greg Lourens and you can see his work here.

This one sells for a bit more than the top one but they have prints of the art, so I bought one for a whole R30.


Disclaimer: my photo of the above pencil drawing has too many reflections to do it justice so I’ve used this one from the website.


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.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 83 other followers


my new life in france

The Best Ticher

EFL advice, tricks and tips for newbie teachers...

Morsels of Gratitude

Trying to find the positive in a world where negative has become too comfortable

Tales from the African Bush

Brian Connell - Author News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

Trekking Across Gondwanaland

My long journey to Australia and back

A pic a day from the Cape

Snippets of my life, my city, and beyond