The Most Splendid Walk
When you look at the coastline around the lighthouse at Maanskynbaai (Moonlight Bay) on Google Maps (-34.3868,18.8277), it is instantly clear why this is such a rewarding walk. The coastline is fragmented into a myriad of little nooks and crannies. On one side of the peninsula you have Table Mountain in the far distance as a backdrop. On the other, the wild, wide open ocean. The water is usually crystal clear, and the birdlife is abundant.
The Most Unsettling Walk
But there is another side to this walk. It draws a reasonable amount of foot traffic, not least because of the excellent fishing. In season the little slipway is a mile deep in boats waiting to launch. And where people go, trash is not far behind. The problem is that this stretch of land falls outside the municipal boundaries and nobody seems to clean up after the hordes. So the litter just continues to accumulate. It may be a slight exaggeration to say that on our last outing, you could stop at any point on the 2km walk and spot at least one piece of garbage. But only a slight exaggeration. Isn’t it a crying shame?
Camdeboo Storm, Graaff Reinet (oil) by Malcolm Dewey www.malcolmdeweyfineart.com
The Karoo can also look green after good rains. This scene is near Graaff-Reinet after a storm had passed.
You can see more of Malcolm’s work on his site. If you want to contribute some of your own work, drop us a mail here:
South African Painting Journeys
As a young artist I was fascinated with the stories of Nieu Bethesda and the Owl House. Many years passed before I could visit this Karoo village. I was captivated by this oasis in the uncompromising Karoo. Many paintings followed, recording my impressions of Nieu Bethesda as well as the Camdeboo district. There is something about the big sky, peaceful silence, Karoo scrub and of course the people who live there, that compels me to paint these landscapes. Then, once complete, I have to make another journey to the Karoo for new inspiration. A happy cycle of creativity.
This is one of the many interesting scenes I found in and around this Karoo village. A painter's haven!
Village Pathway, Nieu Bethesda (oil) by Malcolm Dewey www.malcolmdeweyfineart.com
Hou maar verby Dappat se Gat, strandloper, en mik liefs na Viljoen s’n. Oppad langs die wit klippe verby kry jy dan skerp mosselskerfies om die vrot stuk haaivleis mee kleiner te krap vir die meeu wat al ‘n paar keer radeloos probeer het om die stuk afval in te sluk. Jyself drafstap maar aan om die ou lyf weer dun te skommel. Al gaan jy nooit weer jou fietse jonge lyf terugwen nie, en al eet jy nie Dappat se mossels of oesters nie, jy kan darem nog droom van dae toe daar nog oorvloed was. Vandag lê jy maar die prentjie in jou geheue vas en probeer die geur van vars vis en die hang van die poffertjies aan jou kleinkinders veduidelik. Nuwe legendes bou. (Dappad se Gat deel van die marine reservaat in Bettiesbaai en word gereeld deur stropers bygekom.)
– Mama Nightjar
Van stormskade hoor ons baie. Oorsee en tuis. Strate en tuine. Wendyhuisies wat verbydryf. Net so erg getref ons pikkewyne. Meer as 160 reeds dood. ‘n Ramp. Veral aangesien Bettiesbaai straks as die grootste kuskolonie in die Kaap bekend staan. En dis maar ‘n skamele paar honderd of so.
Die nuutste gier is blykbaar om pikkewyneiers te steel. Ek sal graag wil weet wie eet dit? Watter restaurant raak so avant-garde? Of voer ons dit uit onder die leeu se stert? Waarskynlik om TIK gewoontes te onderhou. Skande!
– Mama Nightjar
The small town of Prince Albert is buzzing these days with the recent opening of a brand new world-class theatre in Church Street, The Showroom, which is offering a feast of entertainment for the holiday season.
Upcoming events include De Rust classical pianist Neels Coetzee performing a piano recital on 8th December, The Bacchus Nel band performing part of their end-of-year tour on 13th December, Anna Davel performing her blend of cabaret and jazz on 14th December, and Gys De Villiers' one man show 'Wit Manne met Wapens' on 20th and 21st December. The final performance for the year will be Cape Town based band, Manouche, who will wow the audience with their unique Gypsy Jazz.
The glamorous upmarket 140-seat theatre with its curved bar in the entrance lobby and art deco exterior was designed by co-owner Johnny Breedt in collaboration with Prince Albert architect John Whitton and 3D graphic designer Graeme Cowie. It was created in six months, using both local labour and contractors from as far afield as Johannesburg and Cape Town, but at least half of the total budget of 10 million Rand was injected into the local economy.
As a multi-purpose venue, The Showroom will host musical performances, seminars, festivals, movie screenings, art exhibitions and theatrical drama. Co-owner Charon Landmann says that an episode of the new Kokkedoor television series for Kyknet was recently filmed here - not surprising, given the stunning custom-made Swarovski crystal chandeliers, plush red carpeting, raked seating, and highest quality state-of-the-art lighting, acoustics and sound equipment.
Johnny plans to offer film courses and the first Prince Albert Film Festival is already in the pipeline for 2014. So make a note in your diary, load up the car, and head off to Prince Albert - the place where it's all happening!
The Nata Bird Sanctuary is a community-managed reserve on the Sowa pan and forms a part of the vast Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana. These pans were once the location of the largest inland lake in Southern Africa. The sanctuary attracts thousands of migrating birds, and 165 different birds call the reserve home at some point during the year. It is also one of the biggest breeding sites for lesser and greater flamingos worldwide. Be careful when driving the sanctuary roads, they can get sticky. Be prepared for a stuck-in-the-mud situation and always be nice to the locals, as they will inevitably be your saving grace, as we found out.
– Megan Pilditch
Gong Rocks and Petroglyphs of Nelspoort
I picked up a fairly recent issue of Country Life and read an incredible article titled "Songs from the Ironstone" by Julienne du Toit. The engravings, etching and Gong Rocks are found on the koppies around Nelspoort, about 40km north of Beaufort West, not far from Three Sisters on the N1.
They were only discovered in 2001 and theres a fantastic story behind their discovery. Laurence Rathenham, the principal of Nelspoorts Restvale Primary agreed to take in and educate 25 street kids from Beaufort West. Of course when the school holidays rolled in, the other kids and teachers all left and he found himself stranded with the mob of feisty youngsters. To keep them busy he sent them out for a long walk on the surrounding koppies. On this outing a youngster noticed an engraving of a buck on a dark rock…then another engraving…. and another… and… In great excitement the group spent the rest of their vac scouring the hills and discovered literally hundreds of incredible rock engravings ranging from buck, tortoise, to elephants and even extinct buffalo. They also discovered that if they cupped their hands and struck some of the large dolerite boulders (also known as ‘ironstone’) they’d ring like massive bells and resonate across the valleys - gong rocks, often associated with bushman rock engravings.
There are 11 different sites, some open to the public but only by appointment, so call in advance to arrange a time Then follow the signs to the Restvale Primary School to meet school head and current curator Laurence Rathenham. +27 23 416 1648
– Shaen Adey
Image copyright: Shaen Adey
A hop and a skip from Nottingham Road you’ll find Rawdons Hotel in the heart of the Midlands Meander. Its one of the older hotels in the area and home to The Nottingham Road Brewery who produce a range of delicious boutique beers. The names of their brews are the best: “Pig-eyed Possum Pilsner”, “Tiddly Toad Larger”, and if you buy a case of thirst aid, as they call it, a portion of the profits from their “Pickled Pig Porter” lands in the Project Rhino’s piggy bank. They’ve donated a sweet fortune so far … so drink more beer.
The Nottingham Road Brewery www.nottsbrewery.co.za
+27 33 266 6728
– Shaen Adey
Image copyright: Shaen Adey
Na ek die ondersoek na ronde klippies en pampoentjies afgelas het omdat ek begin dors word het, by my geliefde Dawidskraalriviertjie, het ek vanoggend met my derde beste vriend, mnr Jacobs begin gesels. Ons sien mekaar gereeld daar op die rotse tydens laagwater. Hy beaam dat ‘global warming’ die temperatuur van die see verander het. Daar vloei warmer water nader aan ons kus en bring die tuna nader aan die kelp. Roofvis vernietig ons babavissies. Ons geelsterte en geelbek verminder kwaai. Maar nou vir die sonbrand wat mr Moses my laat kry het. Ek sien twee mannetjies sit laaank op een rots en toe mr Moses na hulle toe stap vang my oog die wegsteek van een witterige sak onder ‘n klip. En toe die drie met kale hande terug is bakkie toe, gaat soek ek die sakkie. Maar die boggers is briljant. Hulle moes die perlemoen elders weggesteek het. My jagtersinstink gefnuik, al wat ek oorhet is net een helse sonbrand! (NS. Davidskraal is deel van Bettiesbaai se marine reservaat en ‘n gewilde plek vir stropers om perlemoen te kom dief.)
- Mama Nightjar
South African adventurer, Riaan Manser is a man who needs little introduction. The adventurer has cycled through 34 African countries, paddled 5 000km around Madagascar in 2009 and in 2011 completed a 2 300km paddle around Iceland. Last week, Riaan announced his latest adventure, Take Me 2 New York, at the Table Bay Hotel, with a slight twist!
Whilst we waited with baited breath, Riaan and partner Vasti rowed across the Waterfront Harbour in their purpose-built TM2NY craft, and then hopped out and informed us that they'd be rowing to New York together.
The couple are scheduled to depart from Morocco on Wednesday 4th December and embark on a journey across the Atlantic that they estimate will take them roughly 127 days to complete.
With only each other for company as well as long, gruelling days of rowing ahead, and only freeze dried food (and the odd seagull, as Riaan joked) to sustain them, Take Me 2 New York is an adventure that's truly going to put the couple to the test.
This is Vasti’s first adventure, and on completion of the voyage she will become the first woman to row across the Atlantic.
Good luck Vasti and Riaan - all the best on your incredible adventure!
- Robyn Hobson
For more see www.riaanmanser.com
Painting with light
One of the best things about travelling is seeing familiar landscapes with new eyes. As every photographer knows, the best time to capture landscapes is in the golden hour (which is actually often only minutes) at dawn and again late in the afternoon. But it’s not fail-safe. Sometimes you get lucky. I was passing Caledon on the N2 just as the last rays of the day brushed over the dry canola fields. A fire, way in the distance, gave the shot a sort of mystical water colour feel. I quickly pulled over and got the shot but it was soon game over as the sun dipped and the landscape turned into a washed out grey image.
– Shaen Adey
Image copyright: Shaen Adey
I came across this gorgeous specimen on a recent trip to Worcester. Its scientific name is Brunsvigia orientalis but its common names are way more evocative and easier to remember. “Candelabra flower”, “Rolbossie”, (rolling bush) and “Perdespookbossie” - named for the fact that the dry flower heads spook horses as they tumble - are its most popular nicknames, and apparently, if you stare at the brightly coloured flowers long enough you’ll want to call them “Seeroogblom” (sore eyes), probably because of the pollen irritating you. No matter what you call it, this is an incredible plant. The bulbs lie dormant through summer and just when most other flowers have wilted they come into bloom. What makes it even more surprising is that they seem to pop straight up out of bare ground, not even a leaf in sight! As the seeds develop, the stalks elongate, the flower head dries and the stalks snap off. Now it’s up to the wind to do its thing, tumbling the flowerhead along and spreading the seeds as it rolls. And so the cycle continues. The flowers, which vary in colour from scarlet reds to various shades of pink, are found on sandy lowland coastal areas stretching from the southern Namaqualand to the Cape Peninsula and Plettenberg Bay. So if you’re on the road in the next couple of weeks, keep your eyes peeled for rolling bushes.
– Shaen Adey
Image copyright: Shaen Adey
iSimangaliso Wetland Park – South Africa’s newest Big Five destination
Yesterday I happened to be in the right place at the right time. The place was uMkhuze, a section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The time was the release of four lion that had been relocated from Tembe Elephant Park. Now witnessing animals take their first steps in a new home is always exciting. But this wasn’t any old release; it was the moment when the park, South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, achieved Big Five destination status - an enormous step towards realising its vision of creating one open ecological area that allows re-introduced game species to follow the historic migratory paths from the Lebombo mountains in uMkhuze to the sea.
It was a poignant moment, all the more so for being unexpected. To be honest, despite being a keen scuba diver who makes almost an annual pilgrimage to Sodwana Bay, before my recent visit I knew little about the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Other than Sodwana, Cape Vidal, St Lucia and Kosi Bay I couldn’t even name any of the other sections that comprise the park’s ten jewels. Can you?! Best you check out South Africa’s newest Big Five Destination at www.iSimangaliso.com
– Fiona McIntosh