Roadtrip to Stanford

Dan & I recently took a road trip to Stanford! What a great adventurous & unforgettable weekend it was for me. I managed to tick off a lot of ‘firsts’ on my adventure list! With our kayaks packed in my ‘bakkie’ we headed to Stanford, with a deal that we needed to stop in at all the farm stalls en route. Not missing one! We managed to conquer that, although I must admit whilst I loved stopping in at each & every farm stall once you have done one you have done them all. However there were a few farm stalls that definitely stood out from the rest, either by offering interesting items for sale or general decor & design. First stop was the infamous Peregrine Farm Stall on the N2 near Grabouw (http://peregrinefarmstall.co.za/) beautifully designed and a wonderful atmosphere. We decided that this would make the perfect stop for lunch. Home made pies it was!! Delicious! Fantastic home baked goods for sale, which had my mouth watering with every step I took. However we managed to resist the temptation & continued our journey.

Another great farm stall with huge character & interest was Dassiefontein along the N2 Caldeon.Crammed full of antiques, odds & ends one really does need to put aside a good hour or even two to browse around in order to find something that takes your interest. There certainly is so much to see & experience in this farm stall.  (http://www.dassies.co.za/main.php)

After plenty of exploring back roads en route, we arrived in Stanford. Absolutely peaceful, it was then I knew I was on holiday & was finally relaxing with the manic rush of the city washing away. We browsed the shops in & around Stanford, before stopping in at Birkenhead Brewery to quench our thirst with some of their beers they had on offer (http://www.walkerbayestate.com/) All the beers are very drinkable indeed & made for a relaxing summers evening whilst sitting on our ‘stoep’ in Stanford.

 

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After resting our tired bodies & sleeping like the dead, we woke up to a still & quiet morning which was a perfect day for our river cruise which we went on later in the afternoon, after wondering around the local fresh produce market.

The main aim of our river cruise was to see the layout of the river for our paddle on Sunday, which we had planned. It was lovely & can highly recommend it for a relaxing afternoon & well worth the R150 for a 2-3 hour trip! You are able to bring your own picnic, meat, drinks etc to have a ‘braai’ on board while enjoying the tranquility of the surrounding river & landscapes. The boat ‘African Queen’ (http://www.africanqueenstanford.co.za/) took us up the river till he was no longer able to go due to it being too shallow for the boat, turning around, stopping for 30 minutes to allow people to swim & braai before docking back at the starting point. Truly relaxing afternoon & well worth it.Stanford Blog

Sunday’s forecast said 0.8mm of rain. Of course Dan & I smiled with happiness as we couldn’t have asked for better weather for kayaking, cool skies meant less chance of us getting burnt to a fine crisp. However a little bit of sunshine that morning would have been great! We set out early in the morning with our picnic bag packed full of great home made salami’s, local cheeses from Klein Cheese Farm & a home grown oxheart tomato etc all from Stanford & surrounds. Definitely a feast worth paddling for! We set off down the Klein River in the direction of Hermanus. There was a fine mist rolling down the mountains bringing a refreshing breeze across the river, making the cooler conditions much easier to paddle in, instead of being scorched by the midday sun. Minutes later that all changed & we soon found ourselves paddling in the pouring rain. Once we reached the estuary, the rain had subsided so we figured that now was our best chance to stop, find a place & have lunch. We tucked our kayaks in among the reeds for protection against the chilly breeze. Dan quickly hooked out our picnic and placed everything on our kayaks & what was planned & supposed to be a very ‘romantic’ picnic turned out be a very fun, entertaining & certainly unforgettable memory, as the clouds decided to open their doors again on us. Gobbling in a few pieces of cheese & salami continuing to laugh all the while we made the decision to pack up this wet picnic feast & save it for when we get back so that we can enjoy & savor all the flavours we had so carefully chosen & put together for our picnic. Despite the rain it was a great +/- 30km paddle which I thoroughly enjoyed & didn’t think I would manage to complete & spotting 2 fish eagles later paddling home. I am really keen to go back and try another section of the river as it was my first time kayaking on a river. I had always been kayaking in the ocean prior to this experience. After a hot shower we enjoyed our picnic on the ‘stoep’ when the rain had abated.

On Sunday afternoon we took a relaxing & easy drive down to Gaans Bay via Die Kelders & Danger Point lighthouse, doing a bit of a 4×4 trail along the coast which not only took us off the tar roads, it allowed us to see places & scenery we would have otherwise missed. We treated ourselves (thanks to my persuasion) to a chocolate brownie (shared I should add) & coffees at The Great White House in Gaans Bay a really relaxing venue.

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Monday brought about a very exciting day for me & something I have been wanting to do for ages, was horse riding. So we set off early & headed to Farm 215 where our horse riding was going to take place, through African Horse Company (http://www.africanhorseco.com/). We walked down to meet our horses & guide, very nervously I got onto my horse with no issues or hassles I think I even surprised myself with how effortlessly I got on. And we were off! As simple as that. We left the farm dirt roads & slowly made our way onto the mountains, so lovely, free & wild. Very strange at first to get used to the feeling of bumping up & down on a horse but I slowly got into the swing of things. When we were comfortable we trotted for a bit and eventually by the end of the 2 hour trail we were able to gallop, much easier on the body than trotting that’s for sure! I must have been out of rhythm as usual ( if you know me well you will know I don’t have much rhythm ability when it comes to music, dancing or even horse riding it seems!) As when we were trotting all I could hear was Dan laughing behind me in absolute hysterics. His horse quickly over took me & soon I was able to laugh behind him watching him trotting on his horse. Funny site to see both of us on horses, I am sure!! I am definitely motivated to try the beach trail next time we in the area, as I loved my horse riding experience & so happy I am finally after many years able to tick that one off my bucket list! Great way to end off our wonderful weekend away.Horse Riding Farm

We never sat still not knowing what to do next on this holiday. We made every minute count. Whether it was walking around the town in the evenings eating ice-cream, running from stop street to stop street for a good laugh & exercise, or to simply taking a drive to Die Kelders, Danger Point & Gaans Bay. It was a great first road trip for 2016 and certainly lots more in the pipeline. I am looking forward to exploring our country and the beautiful surrounds it has to offer.

Till our next road trip cheers for now

Fi 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bull Fighting

 

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Bull Fighting, The mechanics behind the show.

When the average person thinks of bullfighting it conjures up images of a single man against the beast.
A dance of regal nature between the bravest of the brave locked in mortal combat with a dim witted animal bent on destruction.
A fanfare of bright colours steeped in rich tradition, the likes of which we expect to see glimpses of in some old exsotic James Bond movie.
The reality is unfortunately not the case, not at all, not even close. It is a show, a circus if you will, laden with slight of hand and deception.
The machanics of this show hide a much darker and sinister side.

A bull that has been especially bred for this event is let into the areana, it is soon taunted by a team of guys to rev it up. This is to get the crowd excited as well as to encourage the bull to complete its charges, not just mock charge a few paces.( I will explain why shortly).
Soon as the bull has been “sweated up” and has been teased to the point that it blindly charges any movement,the Picadors are led in for the next stage.

Picadors are men on horses that will handicap and “bleed” the bull. This is achieved by placing a horse and the rider side on, then letting the bull charge.The horse will hold its position as the bull makes full contact often lifting most their combined weight in the air.
As this happens colorful ornate spears are driven into the back of the bull and twisted,cutting the muscles rendering it partially lame.
The bright coulours are to distact you as well as disguise  the sight of blood pumping out the bull.
The bull is not aware that it is in fact the rider hurting him and not the horse, thus the horse gets the full brunt of his anger and pain.

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DSCF7318One would be massively impressed how tough these horses are just standing there taking blow after punishing blow, untill you realise the following.
The horses are blind folded and it is commonly believed that the ears are stuffed with cotton wool as well as the vocal cords have been cut so that the horse cant cry out when the bull charges.
(Look closly at the picture below it is clear to see the horses ears have been packed)
They are now drapped in protective padding to protect the soft belly and flank,however it also does a great job in hiding terrible scars from prevoius encounters.
(It was not unusual in times past for a horse to trip over its own entrails after being gourde before the padding was introduced)
More often than not the horses that are badly ingured will be led off, only to later be put down away from prying eyes.

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The bull is now slowing down,confused and hurting it is further teased to keep the heart rate up.
All the while a group of men take turns running up from all sides to drive spears into his back.
These spears are infact barbed hollow tubes with break away shafts that are desighned to make the bull bleed out.
As these spears flop down they give the impression the bull has just been tagged, the truth is these tubes are lodged deep in his back piercing viens and arteries thus weakening him further.
At this stage the bull is bleeding to death and its fate is seald.
For the bull it is a desperate struggle for survival,spinning around and charging.
Dazed,confused and panic ridden with fear.

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Enter the matador, the epitome of so called Macho. For the amusement of the crowd and his own ego, he plays with the bull. Struts his stuff ,showing all who will watch how impressive his evasion skills are.
When the excitment in the crowd starts to wain he reveals a previousely hidden sword with a red handle.
This sword is now driven down between the shoulder blades, however it will miss the heart and the spine.
The target is the lungs,tendins, ligaments and connective tissue in the back.
Once the sword is placed between the shoulder blades down into the gut the bull is taunted into moving around.
The Matador will often stand directly infront of the bull, waving his cape in a figure 8.
Most people think this is all part of the dance,he is infact trying to get the bull to lurch from side to side.
This movement will ensure that the sword is systematically cutting up the insides.
With each painfull step the bull is cutting himself apart.

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Sometimes the bull just cant or wont move. Fiona unfortunatly witnessed a matador stabbing and slashing at the face of a bull whilst provoking him to move.
This resulted in nasty cuts to the face as well as a popped eye.
It is deamed as weak for the bull to give up at this stage and little respect or mercy is shown towards a weak bull.
After all its about the crowd, the show and the cheers for bravery.

This will continue until thick red sometimes foamy blood and other liquids run out the nose and mouth.
This is a clear sign the lungs, through and gut have been severed.

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Acting fast now not to loose the crowd the Matidor aproches the bull face on.
Drowning in its own blood with darkness closing in the bull takes its final step,the sword that is logged in its back now cuts the last muscle. The front legs give way and he collapses face first. Exhausted and in pain twitching, the rear legs still trying to drive forward make for a desperate scene.

 

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With bravado and pride the Matador aproches after administering the coup-de-gras.
Whether this is infact true or not depends on age and skill, as shotly after a man all in white runs out and severs the spinel cord with a small knife. If the bull twiches and rolls about legs outstreached it was infact not the case.
The bull is quickly dragged away by mules and the floor is swept while the Men of the slaughter bask in glory.

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Organizers of these shows rely on the following to continue:

That people somehow still cling to the fact that animals dont feel pain.
(Even though everyone has seen horses and cows twitch to dislodge something as simple as a fly)
People in high concentration or a mob seem to lust after Blood and violence.
We seem to turn a blind eye to just about anything when drunk on adrenaline.

Because its a tradishion or part of a culture and its been done for years it somehow makes it ok.
It has often been said “its a part of my culture therfore its ok”
As long as we are entertained with showmanship,lights and music we seem to be able to able to accept cruelty.
We belive that we are somehow special and we can do anything to animals for entertainment. A blind eye will be turned due to the promise of revenue.

 

It is estimated that 35 000 to 50 000 bulls a year have been killed this way in Europe alone.
The preperation of the and treatment of the bulls before the fight is truly hard to believe.
I could not find any reliable numbers with regards to Piscadors horses.

This is a account of Fiona’s personal experiance on a specific day (one show had six fights) but if you research other peoples accounts on the net I am sure you will have trouble sleeping. As hard as it may have been to read this it was unbelievably hard for Fiona to watch. This is a blood sport that is contrived and designed to be as inhumane as possible with no regard for any animal well being. As modern humans we can not possibly let this practice continue.
For this reason we decided to share this story so that we can all be enlightened with regards to this barbaric pass time.

Dan