South Africa · 11 Days · 58 Moments · January 2016

Al Bates

Cricket, Cape Town & Start of our Safari

12 January 2016

A bit of Dutch drama at passport control as one of our companions had entered on a different passport. After much faffing we were on our way and joined the dirt Road through dry dry Namibian "countryside". It's so hot out here and we only have African air conditioning (opening the windows!). So our drive is a lot of hot air and dust. The roads can be very bumpy (Manda calls this the African massage) and I've literally been thrown a foot in the air several times! We're currently in the back row so think it's a little worse. On our journey we spotted ostriches, mountain zebras and kudos. Just on the side of the road.
A good night's rest with the exception of my bug paranoia. Early this morning I was contemplating holding out going for a wee as I became convinced the toilet block had an army of scorpions guarding it. I couldn't hold on so risked it. Terrifying stuff.  A bit more of a leisurely start to the day as we met for canoeing at 8am. We were amused by a fellow traveller turning up in jeans. He later stripped down to his boxer shorts.  Another bit of drama was when one of our guides had to suddenly, last minute,  get whisked away in the bus. She is apparently one of the only highly qualified paramedics in the area and was needed for an emergency. It's so remote out here and so few people. The orange river is very low at the moment so we didn't get much flow, much more of a work out. Lots of wild African birds to see, we paddled with south Africa on our left and Namibia on our right.    Splendid morning. And now... To cross the border ! Which means a new trip on Journi...! 

11 January 2016

Time for a swim in the very very warm orange river. We've been reassured there are no crocs or hippos so it was safe to swim. A good opportunity to get the gopro out. What fun! Tomorrow we go canoeing before we move off again, very excited!
Another early start (5.45 am wake up call anyone?!) and we were on the road by 7am. Our truck's route was directly north through the very barren South African countryside. Starting early meant we missed the heat of the day which was fantastic. We did drive by a terrible car crash which was a bit sobering. It'd be a while to a hospital out here. News reached us that David Bowie had died which was weird as this morning I was singing ground control to major Tom to myself. It was like I knew... Oooo. Sad times. We reached orange river right on the Namibian boarder by lunchtime. Tents up and time for lunch. It's scorchio again (as my mother would say...) Another amazing campsite, no pool but a huge river...

10 January 2016

A long and very very hot drive landed us at Highlanders in Cedarberg. In contrast to this morning, our campsite was absolutely stunning! We were taught how to put up our tents and set up camp for the night. Ours was up first, nailed it. After a briefing from our guide Manda we went up to the bar to have a wine tasting with Sparky the vineyard farmer. Not quite as sophisticated as Constantia but quite welcome on this hot day. Which, by the way, was 42 degrees in the shade. Phew! We enjoyed the company of Ben the Rhodesian Ridgeback. He's 18 months old and full of beans. Such a beautiful dog. After dinner we enjoyed the spectacular night sky from the cool pool with a glass of wine in hand. Spectacular. We are too lucky!
Lastly we had an early lunch at a local bar and butchers. We first had a tour through the kitchen and felt the unbelievable heat from the fires. We had delicious sausages and chicken flame grilled in some sort of tasty spice. It appears this spot is exceptionally popular and by 11.30 we had banging hiphop beats played by a dj and we were joined by quite a few people of all races. All come here for a Sunday afternoon party. Finally we left Cape Town via Table View. These kite surfers are enjoying the wind much more than us!
Next was to try the local home brew, Xhosa beer. The Dutch seemed quite excited by this idea. Here we are sat in the Wetherspoon equivalent. We sat with the locals who were all nursing a paint pot of frothy warm brew. Most of them were pissed and it was 10am. Still, they were happy and pleased to see us. A paint tin of this stuff costs 14 rand, near enough 75 pence. You can't buy it in the shops, funnily enough. I can't say I was thrilled to be trying home brewed beer out of a rusty tin but gave it a go...! Jon said it was nice and the Dutch lot took more than one gulp. I can vouch that it was revolting and tasted very much like the paint tin itself..! More hugs from the locals and we were off again.
We wandered in one township and saw a way of life I can barely imagine. Even the roughest parts of England would seem luxurious to these people. These townships are all echoes of the apartheid system in South Africa. Coming from working in one of the most racially diverse cities in the world the concept of racial segregation is hard to digest. Even more when you see how unfair it is. Walking around the township I've never felt more aware of my race. All of the towns people came running out to see us, to see the white rich people walk their broken streets. I am still not sure whether I liked the fact we had gone there to simply 'look' at them. But I guess by us visiting it opens our eyes to what's happening outside of the beautiful city. We were greeted with handshakes and hugs. Kids posed, popping their hips whilst making the peace sign. I did that too at that age.
Bright and early at our meeting point we said good bye to South African mum and dad! I felt quite sad! We hopped up onto our truck (not a bus, 10 rand fine from the driver if you call it a bus!). There's 14 of us on the trip all from different parts of the world. A huge variety of ages and nationalities; we all introduced ourselves to each other as companions for the next three weeks. This morning's activity was to visit some Cape Town townships. First stop was to look around one of the locals shacks. Driving around we saw extraordinarily sad ramshackled neighbourhoods. Quite a contrast from the city we had been visiting. This 'home' is one of the better ones and unbelievably can be put on the housing market! It's incredible though that they don't have running water yet have a TV and mobile phones. The children loved to speak to us and one of our Dutch companions engaged the little boys in quite the photoshoot...

9 January 2016

We drove fluffy into town for our meeting with our safari guys. So excited. We set off tomorrow early! WiFi will be on and off for the next three weeks. After our meeting we popped up Signal Hill to check out the views. Amazing views but very very windy and a bit of a bush fire.. Ekk. We had a last meal at Bill and Peggy's. Absolutely lovely. We're so lucky to have this family as friends. We have felt ever so welcome and really can't wait to come back in the future! We'll be up early tomorrow to leave and will miss our Cape Town hosts very much. Wendy and Joe have literally felt like family and have done so much for us. We enjoyed meeting lots of their large family and really do hope we can return the favour in the UK in the future. So... Onto the next adventure we go!
After lunch Wendy and Joe took us to Constantia Groot, the oldest wine estate in South Africa (16... Something...will check!). A wander around the historical house there took the edge off the midafternoon wine tasting 😉👍🏽and a chance to sober up! Again I've whipped out the selfie stick just to be embarrassing. We've also been very lucky to have Joe as our own personal photographer, this is why we're both in so many pics! We'll miss SA mum and dad lots!
Lunch. Ah today's lunch. I could feel my future self being jealous of my current self already. We drove just up the road from "ours" to Constantia Glen vineyard for lunch with a tasting. Truly magnificent. In the Dean household this is what we call "smug mode" and by wine number seven (we chose the premium tasting, I mean it'd be rude not to) I was in full pelt smug mode (see last photo to see smug face). The exchange rate also made this incredible value. We're so lucky. Ahhh this is the life! Could have stayed all day. As an aside, Wendy is the chairman of the wine guild (and Bill a previous chairman!). They're also members at Constantia Glen, of course. So we were in the best company for this lunch!
Panorama of our lunch spot
Ever heard the saying "you can never have enough dinosaur selfies?" No? Neither have I, but I didn't let that stop me! Swipe to the left to see Jon go from being game to his "stop this now" face.
'Up and at em' as they say, to attempt the ride to Table Mountain again... but alas, the gale force winds are still going like mad. So we decided we'd spend the morning at Kristenbosch Botanical Gardens. We borrowed 'fluffy', Bill's mini soft top, and picked up Grandma. I cracked out the selfie stick (yup I was THAT tourist today.) Views were incredible and we enjoyed the canopy walkway.

8 January 2016

Wendy cooked us a lovely meal (again!) and we were joined by Catherine (eldest daughter), Bill, Peggy and Grandma followed by a tasting of African Koeksusters. Which is basically deep fried yummy things that are sweet. Delicious! We also had a little bit of Jackson history and the painting of Bill's father came out for us to see. Quite incredible!
All this sight seeing wears you out (hard life) so a stop at beerhouse called. Over 99 beers they say. We just had the one each and looked cool on the balcony in the evening sun until we got blown inside. Splendid. Turned my phone on to contact Wendy and Joe to see a "I'm worried" text from Grandma. Very sweet but I did wonder how she's coped for the past nine years 😉
Slipping back down into town we jumped off the bus to walk down Long St. We walked down into the company gardens which was very pretty. I enjoyed the weird swing and Hardy Dar birds! Cecil Rhodes makes another appearance, my mimic pose turned out a little more third reich than expected. Maybe that's the issue people have with him?...! Long St was buzzing and has many cool bars and shops. Of course, our scene. We were approached numerous times by beggars and at one stage we had one follow us for some minutes. It's a bit scary in a city you don't know well. Something for us to get used to and work out how to not look so English and touristy... And presumably easy targets?! The blustery winds pushed us along or backwards and the hair had to go up! Could resist snapping the Royal cab too. Homage to the cheer team 😊
Time to go up Table Mountain. We mastered the bus routes and made our way over to... a closed cable car! The gale force winds in Cape Town forced Table Mountain to shut. We could see why but a bit of a shame. Still, good views from the cable car loading place!
We picked up our malaria tablets (which fyi were HALF the cost of the ones in the UK that didn't turn up...!) and decided to spend the rest of the day exploring cape town. We popped onto a my citibus down the water front for a wander. It is absolutely stunning! And a perfect place for lunch.
This morning we had much kuffufling with trying to arrange an appointment with a travel doctor to pick up malaria tablets. Luckily our South African parents sorted it all and drove us into town (we're so lucky!). On the way Joe pulled into Rhodes memorial which is a sight to be seen. Cecil Rhodes has been questioned heavily by students over the past years, his statue at the university has been removed. His college in Oxford has also had the same calls for removal. His memorial has seen vandals take off his nose and splashed red. An interesting debate this one, can you erase history? And should you? Nevertheless the memorial provides stunning views of the cape flats and is impressive to look at.

7 January 2016

We were dropped home in the evening whilst the seniors showered and changed at Bill and Peggy's. We enjoyed the evening sun in the garden until we were collected once again. Tonight we went to Bill and Peggy's long time friend's Sally and Etienne's home for dinner. Quite the characters, we were treated to tales of old. The old boy banter was amusing and it made me realise how you never change who you really are even in your senior years. Jon was appointed barman and bread cutter. Grandma, kitchen roll distributor. I didn't seem to have a job...! For dinner we had smoked angel fish followed by snoek and an ice lolly. Quite a colourful evening!
Obviously a very tiring day, Grandma went for a siesta on the way home. She'll be delighted when she sees this post but it'll be a few weeks before she does and we'll be long gone by then! Ha! 😂😉.
Onto the penguin colony down the road. Hundreds of the things! Ever so cute. We thought of sister in law Ellen, sorry we couldn't bring you one back! These are African penguins but Bill tells us they also call them jackass penguins. They're quite comical. This is a taster of hundreds of pictures I took!
We stopped for lunch at Simon's Town which is a beautiful colonial fishing town. Stunning sunshine but rather breezy. Great stop for a Castle Lite and a cheeky selfie.
Up into Cape Point to see the views of the Atlantic and Indian ocean meeting. We rode up the little railway to almost the top and walked the rest of the way up. Jon and I also adventured around the other side which was blowing a mighty gale but gave amazing views of the old lighthouse. I may now have dreadlocks! We also found a little lizard sunning himself. First wildlife entry for the blog - Cat, take note!!
Just a tad windy...!
En route we stopped off at this amazing little market selling these incredible sculptures. Unbelievable detail achieved in such large pieces and heavy rock. They're all sculpted in Zimbabwe and transported to Cape Town. Such a shame we don't have the space to put them!
Today the first post without any cricket! You'll be most relieved to hear 😊 A wonderful day exploring today with Bill playing our very own tour guide. Here we are at Chapmans Peak looking down into Hout Bay, what a view!

6 January 2016

Poor little sheila isn't very well. Wendy and Joe made an animal hospital in the front room! 🐔🐓🐥
On Monday night we met Joe's cheerleading nephew Andrew so HAD to out up a prep in the garden!
Braai snaps from Joe's phone on the first night!
Much wining and dining on Monday! Some snaps from Joe's phone.
Saskia wasn't impressed by the cricket score.
An amazing evening at a foodie festival! Yum! Celebrating the draw with South Africa!
At lunch we took time to walk on the pitch and see the commentators. With the angry clouds rolling in the match was abandoned for a draw. Thank goodness, as we're staying with lovely South Africans we'd hate to beat them ... Honestly! 😉
Last day of the cricket today. Cracking seats and so some good shots around Newlands.

5 January 2016

Chilling in constantia on Tuesday evening! Bill and Peggy's house, very lovely meal in their retirement village.
This morning was considerably more boring so I tested out all the random settings on the SLR. Disappointed it didn't have sepia so I couldn't do my uncle Bryn impression.
A few action shots from day 4. Heading for a draw, bummer.
On day 2&4 I've sat opposite the EY box. No hiding from building a better working world 😉 However, they do need to update their logo that's coming up three years out of date ...!

4 January 2016

Jon doing his Alistair Cook impression
Great seats today and much chanting at Moeen Ali
England team warming up on day three. So close we could smell them. Jokes.

3 January 2016

Jb's wearing a south African hat just to throw people off!
Taken on our new fancy camera with dad's long lense ooooh ! Moeen Ali comes into bowl.
The atmosphere on day two was insane. Anyone who was watching on TV, we were sat next to the bearded south African supporters. Much much louder than the barmy army. It turns out the official barmy army is now predominantly made up of middle aged blokes in socks and sandals. Having sold out to Tui it's apparently very expensive to travel with them! The unofficial barmy army, was quite a bit more barmy. Chanting "we get 23 rand to the pound " was a particular highlight.
This lovely old Yorkshire couple came up to us after England declared on the second day to chat. Halfway through the conversation the bloke -in a thick Yorkshire accent - said to Jon "aye up ai thought you were cookie. I was gonna shake yer hand!" I had wondered why he came running over so quickly! Hilarious. To the non cricketing world, he's referring to England cricketer Alistair Cook. Jb's been told he's a lookie likey before but not by random members of the public. Picture of Alistair Cook attached. I think he's quite fit...
Errr what a day at the cricket!! I'll let jb post a write up soon. We're a little red this evening...!
Our lift to the cricket in Bill's soft top mini. Complete with watermelon and tartan hat!

2 January 2016

Didn't strain myself today...
I was lucky enough last night to try at least four different south African wines which meant I slept wonderfully! I decided today it would be best to chill by the pool. So I gave my cricket ticket to Bill who has gone with Grandma and Jon. He'll appreciate the ticket much more than me and I expect Grandma will be glad of his company. So this is my view today. Not bad! Wendy and Joe's home is beautiful and extremely comfortable. I have also discovered this morning Joe has a nephew who is a cheerleader. It's always exciting when someone understands our sport so I have spent most of the morning rambling on about Royals.
We have three tame chickens at the house who sqwarked like mad at the crack of dawn. The noise reminded me of our cheer team playing the infamous chicken goggles game! This one is Sheila, she's an Australian breed, and she laid an egg this morning so was extra loud. I mean, I'd be that loud too if I'd laid an egg!

1 January 2016

I'm delighted that Wendy and Joe have two gorgeous jack Russels. I do love my doggies!
Whilst sat around the fire the sprinkler system for the lawn came on. With a little yelp up jumped Grandma. It appears the sprinklers had swung a little farther than normal. She was completely soaked and not too impressed about it. Have to say I was in hysterics. Sorry Grandma! Ha! A little stand by the fire she dried off...Sort of.
Peggy and Bill have been friends with Grandma Bates since '94 when they met touring in Canada (when Jon's Grandad Allan was alive). They've visited each other since but it has been 6 years since Grandma's last visit. At the age of 81 it isn't so easy but she does incredibly well. We're staying with Peggy and Bill's daughter and son-in-law Wendy and Joe. Both greeted us as if we too were old friends and we instantly felt at home. This evening we were cooked a traditional south African braai . An absolutely delicious feast. We were joined by 3/4 of Wendy and Joe's "children" (all in their twenties & early thirties of course !). They're all beautiful, I think it must be the effects of the sun. 😊
We touched down in cape town at the civilised time of 4.25pm local time. Being at the back of the plane meant a long wait before we could disembark which irritated Grandma. She hates queuing and likes to let everyone aware she does! 😂 Into the terminal building, quite a contrast from the shiny polished dubai airport. This is Africa! As we walked through we went through a viewing point of arrivals where our hosts were waving at us like mad. Grandma waved back and ten minutes later (once in another queue for immigration) asked "were we just generally waving or could you see Peggy and Bill?" She must wear her glasses more!..