Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Road Trip Day 89. Last Stop–Orkney

We are staying in Orkney at a caravan park next to the Vaal River. It is our last stop before heading for home tomorrow. We are just relaxing before we plunge into tackling accumulated tasks at home. We have a lovely spot right next to the river and I am enjoying just watching the river and enjoying the bird life.

small darter

small plover

I fed our last half roll to the birds yesterday and enjoyed watching the interactions.

Crested Barbet. Just watching.

small crested barbet

The sparrows took the most active part in the exercise

small sparrows

with some others joining in the fun.

small bulbul grabbing

small masked weaver 2

The weavers were very good at swooping down, grabbing the bread and flying off.

small take offI even got two red bishops, who were not very good at coping with the competition.

small red bishopsmall whose breadsmall tug o warsmall victor

Last night we heard the hooting of owls and managed to see the silhouette of two large owls sitting at the very top of a poplar tree but it was too dark and they were too far away to take photos.

Birds seem to have been a theme on our long holiday, from having our supper stolen by a sea gull to being attacked by a guinea fowl. We’ve camped among ducks and geese and enjoyed a number of wild birds along our way.

This is my last post for this holiday. Thanks to all who have been following our progress.

We have certainly enjoyed our long Cubby holiday, have marveled at all we have seen and experienced, enjoyed the company of family and friends and look forward to seeing more of our beautiful country at some future time.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Adventures in Kimberley

We’ve been staying at Riverside Caravan Park about 35km from Kimberley.
small Riverside
We particularly enjoyed the pool because it has continued to be very hot although yesterday started out with a threat of rain.
We went to the Big Hole but because we’ve seen it before and time was tight, we just had a tram ride,
small tram
..and looked around the museum.
The Big Hole Museum consists of an old village with different shops and institutions. The Standard Bank,
small standard bank
Cigarette makers,
small cigarette makers
small chemist
Musical Instruments,
small music shop
including an old organ,
small organ
and many more. We saw the first house in Kimberley which was pre-fabricated in England in 1877 and conveyed from the coast to the Diamond fields by ox-wagon.small First House
By now it was time to have a Cappuccino and make for Christiana where we had arranged to meet up with an old (good) friend, Wicus Esterhuizen, who used to be in charge of Bayswater Retirement Village in Bloemfontein when Brian’s parents were there. After his Mom’s death, Brian had many dealings with Wicus and they built up a friendship. We were going to have afternoon tea with them and then go on to Bloemhof where we had not yet located a caravan park although there were two at the side of the dam, mostly for fishermen.
That’s when the adventures started. First we somehow got onto the wrong road and drove along second grade roads only to end up on a road with a signboard of two opposite places we didn’t want to go to. I had to consult my Google Maps which took us back into Kimberley a different way. Then, just as we were now leaving Kimberley on the right road (N12), a car overtook us, then slowed down in front of us and stopped with his hazard lights on. He came to tell us there was something wrong with our left back tyre. Sure enough there were two big bubbles in the inside wall. How he had been able to see we’re not sure  but he had been very observant and we were very grateful.  By now it was after 1pm. We tried Super Quick, Hi-Q and another tyre place but they were all closed.
By now it was raining and we turned into a Total Garage just as the heavens opened. We phoned the AA and they arranged for someone to come to our aid. Meanwhile I put on my rain jacket and tried to save a parking under cover near the shop for the motor-home but somebody just ignored me and I had to get out of the way or get run over.

The road behind the garage soon turned into a river.
small flood
However, we did manage to enlist the help of the garage staff and after a while managed to get a parking outside the shop under cover and Brian was able to access the spare wheel in anticipation of the roadside assistance.
small changing tyres
Meanwhile we tried to phone Wicus to tell him we would be delayed but were told ..“The subscriber you have dialed is not available at present. Try again later.”
Meanwhile we didn’t want to drive long distances without a spare and thought perhaps we’d have to stay in Kimberley till Monday, staying at the caravan park next to the Big Hole which we had been advised to avoid. However the friendly garage staff referred us to a place nearby where we might be able to get a tyre on a Saturday afternoon. They didn’t have the right size but referred us to another place which was closed. When we phoned the after-hours number we were referred to still another place which was able to help us. There was a weekend levy, however and it cost us R1,600 for a new spare tyre!
The adventure was not yet over. We had still been unable to contact Wicus although we tried intermittently and left two text messages.
The black storm clouds continued to hang around and we had more heavy rain as we negotiated stop/go road works delays.
small windscreen wiper
When we reached Warrenton after 5pm, we finally managed to get through to Wicus. We asked him if we could park somewhere on his property and just plug in our motor-home to an electrical outlet. Our fridge is a three way one - it works on electricity, battery and gas. Electricity is best. We have to turn it to battery when we travel but it doesn’t work nearly as well and we usually end up at the end of the day with soft butter and almost frozen meat.
Wicus and his wife, Marlene, were very happy to have us stay and offered us the choice of staying in their house but we preferred to sleep in Cubby where all our things are.
We wasted a bit of time by not having fully understood the meeting point and ended up at dusk at a  shabeen soon after the first turn off to Christiana. However a phone call later and we were following Wicus, as the sun set, to their beautiful retirement village which once was Rob Ferriera Holiday Resort, a much sought after holiday destination with hotel, hot springs, a caravan park and chalets.
small sunset 2The  Chalets have been turned into retirement cottages which are spacious and are each surrounded by plenty of open lawn. Unfortunately, because of the storm and lightning, the electricity was off.
Wicus and Marlene epitomize Afrikaner hospitality. As soon as we got in we were offered coffee and tea (heated on gas) and home-made muffins.They started the generator and we plugged in Cubby but I don’t think it helped very much because when we went to bed our battery status light was on red.
We were cooked a delicious banting supper and spent a lovely cozy evening chatting and sharing news.
This morning the electricity was still not back and the generator had sprung a petrol leak.
After a yummy breakfast we were shown around the estate and we met some of the residents. then we left with many thanks for the wonderful hospitality and lots of good wishes (and marmalade and a home-made brooch and some padkos) from Wicus and Marlene..
small Wicus and Marlene  
…..and we never got to stay in Bloemhof after all.
We believe the Lord was looking after us. Had we not got onto the wrong road, we might have been somewhere remote and had a blow out. The same would have happened had the observant motorist not told us about the tyre problem. We drove into a garage with a bit of shelter just as the first downpour hit. Then we spent a lovely evening with friends instead of setting up camp in the rain at a dam surrounded by fishermen.
Another great adventure and another memory! Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Kambro near Britstown

We have been staying at a big and small caravan park. It is called Kambro Padstal.

small Padstal

It is big because it is on a farm and the first impression you get is lots of space.

small going in

It is small because there are only six caravan sites. However, they are beautifully laid out and fairly private.

small caravan sites

Behind us we can see wide open spaces for the sheep and goats.

small farm

The Padstal itself is very interesting and we bought a gift after spending some time looking at various options. They also sell the caravan essentials, braai meat, ice cream, ice and various staples.

There is also a quaint restaurant with farm decor including white tablecloths with windmills and inspiring Afrikaans sayings printed in black. We had a small breakfast and cappuccino this morning at the start of another very hot day.

We followed the sign to “Swimming Pool, Swemdam” only to find the Afrikaans name for it was much more accurate than the English. I managed a bit of very shallow breaststroke, trying to avoid the slimy green algae underfoot.

We’ve had a nice rest, bought more data and are ready to hit the road again tomorrow.

Beaufort West

We left the nature park early to get into town to find somewhere to sort out Cubby’s noise problem. On our way out we came across some buck.


We parked at KFC (because we couldn’t get under the Drive Through entrance) only to find it was too crowded. I had seen a sign saying “Breakfast” almost next door so we left the motor home and walked to “Youngs”

20180220_090943[1]What a serendipitous decision! The place was done out in a Scottish theme with tartan upholstered chairs and matching table cloth. (Brian tells me we do have a Young Tartan). Along the walls were Scottish golfing pictures and the menu had the coat of arms as a background motif.

small Brian@youngs

Breakfast was delicious and reasonably priced.

On to the business of the day. We tried Dunlop (they don’t do exhausts anymore), Trentyre (their welder had gone out to a breakdown) and finally landed up at Swartberg Motors. They said they could hear we had an exhaust problem and the word “manifold” came up. We left Cubby with them with some trepidation because all the mechanics seemed to be from the older generation. We went exploring Beaufort West.

small beaufort w

First point of interest was Spinwiel Antiques and Museum. It was like walking back through time. We saw old petrol pumps,

small gas pumps

Juke boxes,

small juke box

a cash till,

small old cash till

gramophone and plenty more.

Next we went to visit the Chris Barnard Museum.small museum

One whole section was devoted to Chris Barnard, his achievements, awards, family life and training.

Next door was a display of how the local community had been affected by the Group Areas Act. It brought home to me once again the evils of our past history.

The third building was the Old Pastorie where Chris Barnard had grown up. His father, Adam Barnard was a missionary and later the Dominee of the Beaufort West DR Missionary Church. It was one of Chris’ great sadnesses in life that his father died shortly before he carried out his first heart transplant operation.

small pastors study

We learned so much about the famous surgeon that we didn’t know and it was all very interesting. All his gifts, awards and presentations were totally overwhelming.

We were just enjoying a yummy milkshake at Karuchi, when the phone call came through to say Cubby was ready. For all our misgivings, we were very happy with the service they gave us (perhaps age and experience counts for more than youth and strength). Apparently the problem was a flange gasket and the cost was less than we had been anticipating. On with the road Trip

Karoo National Park

About fifty kilometers before Beaufort West we started noticing Cubby was making a louder noise than usual. We stopped and checked that nothing was loose or flapping in the engine and that nothing was caught dragging on the ground. As we got closer to the Karoo National Park, we both started thinking “exhaust.” Cubby has a history of exhaust problems.

We were about to set up our gazebo when it started raining. We were both quite stressed, so sat down and had some coffee with rain pelting down around us. It didn’t last that long, however, and we were able to set up our gazebo in the corner of the site. The sky after the rain, around sunset, was spectacular.


We had seen ostriches on our ride towards the rest camp and there were tortoises resident in the camp.


There was also a Cape Eagle Owl but he flew away before I could get his photo.

The next day started off raining and quite cool so we didn’t take our costumes when we went to pay and register (because the system had been down when we arrived). We pushed our bikes up the long hill to get to reception. The pool was up a further hill at the top of the very last cabin.


The journey back was lovely though!

Later we braved the hill again, but only for a short distance to investigate the fossil trail. We left our bikes at the sign for the hyena trap.


These traps (or Wolwehokke) were made by early stock farmers in the area. Bait was attached to a rawhide rope rubbed with fat. The rope ran over wooden bars and was attached to a stone trapdoor. Any tightening of the rope resulted in the trap door sliding down, entrapping the animal. At the top was an opening, usually covered by a stone that allowed an assegai or rifle to be used to kill the animal.

The fossil trail was very interesting with evidence of creatures I can’t even pronounce.



We packed up in the evening so we could get an early start to take Cubby to be checked and fixed.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Road Trip: Laingsburg

Laingsburg is more than just a small country town to hurry through on your way to somewhere else. It is the smallest municipality in South Africa. Most people of my generation will immediately think of floods when they think of Laingsburg. On 25 January, 1981, when our oldest child was only a baby, a flood wiped out three quarters of the town.



We took a bike ride this morning to look at the Flood Museum.



Professor Dereck, of the Civil Engineering Department of UCT, calculated that 8,000 tons of water a second flowed through the town at the height of the flood.

Rain since the Friday had saturated the catchment area and both the Wilgehout and the Baviaans rivers had come down in flood, bringing debris which blocked the narrow area of the bridge. When the Buffels river also flooded as a result of another cloudburst, there was nowhere for the water to go and it flooded back into the town, virtually making it a dam. 104 people died and 72 bodies have never been found.

The story that affected me the most was about a local family, the Koens.  Pieter, the Postmaster, and Lina had five children. The four oldest girls worked in Cape Town. Marinda was going to be married in less than a month and her sister, Liana was due to be married in June.

The flood swept away Pieter, Lina, their youngest daughter, Jeanette and their adopted son of 10 months. Only the baby’s body was ever found.

“Now my father won’t be able to give away the bride when my sisters get married,” said Lisinda. “Instead we will all have to buy mourning dresses.”

There were other exhibits in the museum. I was fascinated by the old switchboard,


 and saddened by the soggy school suitcase.


After visiting the museum we went to a quaint coffee shop where we ate triangular cheesecake.


On the way back we passed the NG church which survived the flood.


The top of the signboard shows the level of the flood.

Laingsburg church

The pastor at the time was Dominee Malan Jacobs, a well-loved man who lost his life while aiding the elderly in the old age home. The sermon he preached that morning was remarkably preserved in his notebook in his flooded study. In it he speaks of death and ends with the verse, “I am the resurrection and the life…I give you life eternal.”

Friday, February 16, 2018

Road Trip. Goudini Spa

Our first stop on the long way home was Goudini Spa. The name means The Place of the Bitter Honey.

In 1719 Fran├žois du Toit obtained a license to  pasture his cattle in the area “Laauw Watersfontein”. His son, Pieter, stayed in the area to look after the cattle for six months and discovered the hot spring, naturally bubbling out of the ground. After the Boland earthquake of 1969 the spring dried up. Several bore holes were sunk and two provide the resort with hot water for the pools and a third provides cold drinking water.

We’ve been here once before when a Gideon's annual convention was held here but that was a very long time ago.

We relaxed in the warm pools,…..



…..enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery,….


admired the beautiful springbuck in an enclosure near us…20180215_222421[1]

and ate lots of ice cream. This morning, relaxed and refreshed, we pulled up pegs again and made our way to Laingsburg where we are now settled.