Saturday, December 27, 2014

Schoenmakers Kop

Another beautiful sunny day in Port Elizabeth.   We decided to swim at Schoenmakers Kop and then meet the family for brunch at the Sacramento restaurant overlooking the beach.   The beauty started even before we got to the parking area.


Perhaps we spent too long admiring the view


before going down to the beach which seemed to be not sand but shells and pebbles.


The water was lovely and I could actually swim rather then just jump in the waves.


Time ran out too soon and we had to dress and meet the family.


After a very nice (and indulgent) brunch we mad our way back to the beach exploring the rocks.   I was fascinated by their formation.   They looked so much like driftwood.


I think they should be marketed as “The Driftwood Rocks” and made into a tourist attraction – something like “The Pancake Rocks “ in New Zealand.

In among the rocks were rockpools with fish and marine life.


Altogether a quiet place of great beauty and I’d love to visit again.


On the Train

Here I am on the train from Port Elizabeth back home to Johannesburg.   The train down was eight and a half hours late in arriving, causing us to miss a day of our holiday.   The train I am on now is already running an hour late.   We have pulled out of the Kroonstadt station and about 5 minutes later the train just stopped.   No station, no explanation.    I remember from the journey down this sort of thing happened a lot.   People got uptight, phoned friends, yelled at the train manager and swore.    I listen to the sounds from outside our coupe.

“Would you mind if I used your compartment window for a minute?   There is a Red Bishop building a nest and I’d like to get a photo.”  

It is a white lady speaking to a black family and they respond with friendship.   Soon they are chatting.   It seems she is travelling to Jo’burg because her father had a by-pass.

I look out the window and spot the bird concealed among the leaves of the bamboo-type plant growing outside my window.

Jesus said, “Behold the lilies of the field…”   I think He is saying to me, “Look outside your compartment”.   Look outside the present circumstances.   When circumstances interrupt your planned schedule, don’t get irritable or impatient.   Explore the treasure without.”

I tried to get a photo of the Red Bishop but it was very obscured by leaves.   As the wind blew them aside I sometimes caught glimpses of him.   From the other window in the passage I could see our train as it was stopped on a curve with the red signal for all to see.   A little boy begged his mother “Please can I see if the signal has changed green yet?”

A train journey, like life, is not just getting to your destination.   It is the richness of life along the way.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Fountains and Kings


The plan was to get takeaways for supper and then to take them to watch the musical fountains at the Boardwalk.   When we got there we saw the perfect seats outside the Wimpy.   Well, I thought, Wimpy is just about like takeaway.   So some of us procured the table and ordered cappuccinos for 5 while the others went to get their meals from other places.

The sun was just setting and we settled down to enjoy our cappuccinos.


We can’t claim that they didn’t warn us.   On the railings near our table were signs saying that the area could get wet when the fountains are playing.   Well, we have fountains in Randburg – at the Brightwater Commons - and a little bit of spray never bothered me.   It would, in fact, cool us all down because we were having a lovely spate of ideal holiday weather, sunny and hot and sometimes windy. 

Our food was arriving just as the fountains were introduced and we were advised to get our wellies, raincoats and umbrellas and enjoy the show.    Well, this was not a bit of spray!   More like a torrential downpour.   I was wearing an all weather jacket so I put up my hood and zipped up.   Brian evacuated immediately with the tray of food but some of us die-hards stayed put.   And the spectacle was magnificent.


However, when my denims were getting wet and there were so many drops on my camera lens that they interfered with my photography, even the die-hards caved.


We went inside to eat our supper.


The next day we were in the beach area again.   We decided to spend a short while at Kings beach and to investigate the possibility of hiring bicycles to cycle along the beach front.   The beach was much more crowded than Sardina Bay!


After spending about half an hour enjoying the waves and trying to avoid other people enjoying the waves, we made our way along the beach towards the MacArthur Pools.


It turned out that bike hire was R100 per day and we didn’t want to spend a whole day cycling.   We lingered at the flea market and wondered at the chair set in a pool of shallow water.   Some kind of art perhaps?   We thought of sitting in the chair and taking a photo but wondered if it was a tourist trap and somebody would jump out and ask for R20 or R50 for the privilege.


Another sunny day in Port Elizabeth.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas cheer and Sardinia Bay

We stayed in a spacious studio at the Old Cash Store in Sardinia Bay.  In nearby Mount Pleasant somebody had taken a lot of trouble to bring Christmas cheer to the community.


We read about it in the local newspaper and went to have a look.   They had even organised a security firm to hang around in one of their patrol cars.   This reminded me so much of the Christmas we spent in Napier, New Zealand.   There an estate agent had organised a Christmas light competition.   To enter, one  posted the address onto a web site and the rest of the community could go onto the website and plan a tour around the town looking at Christmas lights and voting for the best.   Apparently the competitive element had got out of hand and when we visited, it was just an opportunity to visit the houses that had registered on the website.

This was not the only similarity we notice with Port Elizabeth and New Zealand.   The beauty of the scenery and the drives along the coast were another.

3km from where we stayed is Sardinia bay Beach.   We went early because for all it is the Friendly City, Port Elizabeth is also the windiest city in South Africa so if you don’t get to the beach early, the wind picks up later in the morning making beach activities less pleasant.

From the parking lot there is first a high sand dune to negotiate before going downhill to the beach.   The view, of course, was stunning.


Although it is the height of the holiday season, the beach is not overly crowded as some of the more popular beaches are.





DSCN1712We had brought a portable shelter and spent a lovely couple of hours.   We were about 500m from the official swimming area but when some other people started swimming in the waves I did too.   I was very impressed with the lifeguard.   While I went back to the shelter to fetch my inflatable pillow to more seriously ride the waves, he came all the way across from the swimming area to tell the 3 remaining swimmers to move to the designated area if they wanted to swim.   He obviously took his job seriously.

The journey back to the car was daunting.   The sand dune was much higher from the beach side.



However, after we had successfully completed the challenge, we treated ourselves to an ice cream.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Van Staden’s River Mouth Wild Flower Reserve

It was an on-again-off-again type of day  - bright sunshine alternating with threats of rain.   Our relatives in Port Elizabeth undertook to take us to van Staden”s River Mouth flower reserve.   First we went to look at the resort where cars were lining up to pay R50 per person to gain entry.   It looked like fun with a quiet lagoon to paddle in or to boat in and then the usual beach activities but, as we were not planning to stay long, we went on our way (cutting through the queue to turn around)


The flower sanctuary was just the opposite of crowded!  When we got there we thought it was deserted but it was well maintained and the toilets were clean.   Later more cars arrived but never more than about 5.

After  some coffee and an apple we set off for the River Walk.


Proteas there were!


We set off for our hike but unfortunately made a wrong turn fairly close to the beginning.


When it was obvious we had reached a dead end, we turned back the way we came and probably still managed to cover our 3.6km.   Altogether a lovely morning and I would recommend it to anybody wishing to avoid the crush of people on a public holiday.

Release of the Penguins

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We are Holidaying in Port Elizabeth again.   We both have family here so we come often.
On Saturday we went to SAMREC (South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre) to witness the release of the penguins.
First we got to see penguins (and a gannet and a cormorant) interacting in a natural way in an unnatural habitat that had been built for them.DSCN1617DSCN1626
Then the carers and volunteers fetched the young penguins due to be released one at a time from the enclosure,   They told us about the birds, their names, how they got to be there and the arrival and departure weights.   They clipped of the identity tags and sprayed each one on the tummy with a blue dye that lasts a week so if the penguin arrived back at the centre they will know it was one of the released birds.   They were put in crates and taken down to the beach in a bakkie with all of us ambling after them in untidy groups.
A temporary barrier was made to clear a path to the sea and then the crates were opened and the long walk to freedom began.

One little straggler didn’t seem to want to go,   His name was “Valiant” but he wasn’t.
Finally he was taken into the sea by one of the volunteers and he soon joined another of the bunch who was a bit timid and the two of them swam off into the sea together.
The beach at Cape Receif looked interesting like it might be a source of hidden treasure.   In particular I wondered if I could find 8 shells big enough to serve a fish starter for the Murder Mystery Dinner I was planning for New Year’s Eve.   So Brian and I collected shells.   The beach was pretty unspoiled so much bigger and nicer shells could be collected.
In our hunting we cam across 2 eggs just lying on the sand in a kind of circle of stones. 
We found out afterwards that they were red oyster catcher eggs.   Most likely somebody had come across them and made the circle of stones in an effort to protect them.
By now we were quite far along the beach so Brian suggested that, instead of walking back along the beach and then in the opposite direction along the road to the car,  we cut across the bushy sand dune to the road.   This turned out to be much more adventurous than anticipated with the direct route being very heavily bushed and impassable so we had to do a kind of zig zag best option approach.   Naturally it was also a lot further than we had estimated.   Nevertheless we found treasure!  In a slight hollow about 2 metres in diameter we found lots of intact, undamaged shells.   I have always thought of them as ashtray shells because when I was a little girl people used them as ashtrays.   They are often sold at beach shops with other shells inside them as a pack.   I managed to get 10  (in case we had extra guests to our party) and even then we could be picky and rejected some because they were too sandy.   We did finally get to the road and very pleased with ourselves we were too.