Unexpected Surprises

(This will be of special interest to anyone who has taken a picture, or anyone who is interested in the mechanics of photography.)

 Sometimes a random string of events, that are perfectly timed, can lead to something totally unexpected. Fiona & I were lucky enough to slip away for the weekend up the West coast. I  could not help putting up a post about this little moment that had us both bewildered. So simple in its form and yet so enchanting.

We had been driving around for some time in a remote area on our coastline, When the inevitable happened. Fiona needed to use a bathroom! So did I, but I was not going to admit to it at that stage.  We drove for approximately 27km to an old VOC Farm House. ( It used to supply salted fish to the Dutch East India Company Ships passing Cape Town). This farm house was built in approximately 1744, so its safe to say that it is quite old. It has not changed much in its design but now has a small eatery with bathroom. Just what we needed. Fiona was first in the door with me following in hot pursuit. I was stumped, pipped to the post because of  an old swollen, wormhole riddled door that does not really close properly. Out of respect for the door, I was not going to force it but politely held it while Fiona did the necessary (To the victor go the spoils). 

It was at this moment, just pushing the door gently enough to get it to latch that I noticed it.

Everything was just right for a very brief moment. Amongst the myriad of tiny worm holes there was just one that was all the way through the frame, at just the correct angle. Along with the perfect time of day and the ideal amount of sun. This created the perfect focal length for what was going to be the subject of our discussion for the next few hours. 

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A perfect image of the farm house projected on the door frame wall. Fiona did not know what I was going on about at first, but we both landed up staring at the image in disbelief.

No one was going to believe us on this one. It was changing fast but Fiona quickly said we should grab the camera to try take a picture. With childlike excitement I went back to the car, got the camera and tried to re create the chain of events that created the image. In this short time the sun had moved and the quality had been lost. So I went outside to see if I could get into the frame of view. The above picture is what Fiona managed to get. Mere moments had past. The farmhouse picture was blurred and stretched but we had this picture to remember the moment.

I have seen the theory of pin hole cameras before and I understand the principle, but I have never actually seen it like this. Totally natural in its origin with a celestial shutter. We both debated the randomness of the events as well as the perfect timing to witness it.

Road trips and exploring can be fascinating and exhilarating if you take the time to notice it, or in this case race to the nearest 18th century farmhouse toilet complete with worm hole projector door fame.

Great Picture Fiona. Well done I think its the best one you have taken of me to date.

Dan

 

McGregor Meander …

I love exploring the small towns within South Africa. I am making it my mission to travel and explore them as much as I can, now that I get a long weekend every 3 weeks.

With this in mind, Mom & I recently visited McGregor (with our two ‘yorkies’ in tow).  It was our first time to the town of which I have heard so much about and it certainly lives up to its name, such a peaceful & fabulous get away so close to Cape Town.

On the Friday morning when we left Cape Town we took a casual drive through stopping at all the local farm stalls, wineries  & sights en route (as I always seem to do on any road trip)! I had a terrible cold developing but certainly didn’t let that stop me from having a wonderful getaway! We stayed at a fabulous self catering house called Willow Tree Cottage located within the small town (http://www.tourismmcgregor.co.za/PearTreeandWillow). The dogs were able to explore the garden while Mom & I soaked up the Winter sun relaxing. Not many restaurants are open on a Friday evening & those that are generally require a booking in advance as they tend to get booked up on weekends. So after a bit of improvising we had scrambled egg with salad & vegetables! Perfect for a stress weekend that followed suit.

Saturday morning we awoke with cows that were grazing on the boundary of our garden, what a great alarm clock as oppose to waking up in the city with cars, hooters & in my case naval base going’s on. In the morning browsed the town with all its shops including the Saturday morning market. It has a wonderful charming atmosphere to it that I cannot put down on paper. We  then ventured out the town & had lunch in Robertson a much bigger town nearby with various facilities & amenities. There was quite a buzz & hustle among the streets, which created a wonderful atmosphere when walking around the town on a busy Saturday morning.

For any budding artist or anyone who has an appreciation of pottery & the work that is in involved with it, a must see in McGregor is Mill Stone Pottery (http://www.millstonepottery.co.za/millstone/index.php). Paul is a fascinating potter (together with his wife – make a great team) with many years of experience. He is willing to share his ideas, inspirations and works of art with you whilst you browse the calm creative space around you.  I learnt so much about the intricacies of pottery & before we knew it we had spent 2 hours here just absorbing the wonderful surrounds. Mom & I needless to say walked out with a clear mind & hands full of pottered items!

We had a fabulous dinner at Tabaldis (http://www.temenos.org.za/#!restaurant/c5lv), which is the centre of the town and is open throughout the week with menu that change according to what is in season & availability. Temenos is on the same property as Tebaldis & they have beautiful gardens,which make you feel like you are lost in an enchanted garden. It is a retreat where you can escape the race of life and make you feel as though you are a million miles away from the rest of the world. Our weekends days were filled with warm Winter sun whilst the evenings we quite chilly, so made getting into bed with a book after dinner all that much easier!

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Donkey sanctuary outside of McGregor

The Eseltjierus Donkey Sanctuary (http://www.donkeysanctuary.co.za/)is a great place to let your children or in our case our dogs out to play or walk around the farm, whilst the donkeys are kept in the paddock. Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary provides a permanent refuge for abused, neglected and elderly donkeys. They are given the opportunity to live out their lives with respect and dignity, surrounded by their own kind, in a protective and natural environment. Was a great stop and experience in conjunction with a fabulous lunch out on the deck in the sun.

Holidays are always too short & before we knew it we were packed & in the car en route home. We couldn’t resist a final stop at this fabulous farm stall which its great selection of pumpkin! Mom thought it was a simple procedure of choosing a pumpkin however before she knew it the shop lady was out to give her advice on just how to choose the right eating pumpkin as oppose to pumpkins which are dried out & kept as ornaments/decorations.

Finally we were on our way home with 2 humans, 2 dogs, a pumpkin & many great memories all round.

Cheers Fiona 🙂

The Best of Barrydale

Having recently returned back from a weekend away in Barrydale with my mom, (not forgetting our two Yorkshire terriers that accompanied us) I thought I would share some of Barrydale’s best stops.  Barrydale is approximately a 3 hour drive from Cape Town. Its a small farming village situated between the Overberg region and the Klein Karoo.  Its not a very big town in comparison to other “dorps” we have been too. However the scenery of the mountains certainly creates a tranquil setting. A perfect way to settle into the weekend.

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Overlooking the town of Barrydale

Mom & I took a leisurely drive through from Cape Town, exploring all the farm stalls en route, a tradition I seem to have to do whenever I do road trips. I simply can’t help myself! We went through the Tradouw Pass (which means Women’s Path in the old Khoi language) before entering Barrydale. This 17 kilometer drive through an altitude range of 219 meters meanders through some of the most beautiful & rugged mountain scenery on offer in the Langeberg. This pass is undoubtedly in the Top 20 tarred passes in the Western Cape on an overall rating. The pass joins the towns of Barrydale and Swellendam and was originally built by Thomas Bain. Shortly after exiting this beautiful pass we arrived at our accommodation for the weekend, Sandy’s Place (http://www.sandysplace.co.za/). It is pet friendly which of course was our main concern since we were traveling with our dogs Jack & Zoe. It has pleasant rooms with nice” braaiing” facilities outside as well as an adjacent garden which Zoe & Jack could wonder through. Hosts Johan & Sterna van Eeden do their utmost in making sure your stay is a great one & are very hospitable and welcoming.  It was pouring with rain upon our arrival, so our plan of having a braai quickly changed & turned into dining out at the Karoo Art Hotel, 1km away from where we were staying. It is a very quirky, modern and art filled hotel (https://karooarthotel.co.za/). Their award-winning restaurant Karoo Grill certainly proved to us why it has won so many awards over the years. Their food simply delicious. A perfect setting especially for mom as she is an avid lover of painting & art herself. The art made for great dinner conversations in the restaurant as we heard various tables chatting about the beautiful art that surrounded them.  The emphasis in this restaurant  is very much on South African traditional food, particularly on Karoo dishes. I definitely could recommend this as a great dining stop!

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A Taste of the interior of Karoo Art Hotel

On Saturday morning the clouds had cleared and the beaming sun was out. We were smiling. So we browsed around the main street, which I may add isn’t a very long street at all! All the shops were dog friendly and loved Jack & Zoe popping in. One of the interesting shops we stopped in at was Barrydale weavers. Where they make all sorts of items from hand towel, to bath towels & mats. What took my fascination was the lady pictured below who was clearly making a mat & how skilled she was at working the line of thread behind her with the turning of the weaving rack. (She worked on this piece the entire time while we were in Barrydale).

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Work in Progress

 

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Barrydale Weavery

It was a very chilled day & I think we were just enjoying the sunshine along with the fact that it wasn’t raining. Absolute bliss! Once we had browsed the shops that were open we decided to drive a little bit out of Barrydale heading toward Montagu direction. As you leave Barrydale you pass Barrydale Cellars which we stopped in at very briefly. They are very much brandy oriented, very lovely, however Mom was looking for some wines to take home & sample.

A fantastic winery with not only great clean tasting wines but it is also beautifully laid out & decorated is Joubert – Tradouw Vineyards (http://www.joubert-tradauw.com/) which in my opinion is a definite stop even if you do not buy anything, just to experience a taste of what wine making is about, seeing the barrels in dark cool rooms simply made my experience there a very personal & real one! After tasting & buying a few wine bottles at the various wineries along this route, we decided that it would be a good idea to turn around & head back before we literally end up in Montagu.

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Joubert-Tradouw Winery

Magpie Art Collection (http://magpieartcollective.com/) is another interesting stop not only if you are interested in art but if you like to see items being reused & recycled. As this is exactly what the artists at Magpie do, they take the residents trash & simply turn it into art, whether it be light fitting decorations, chandeliers, bird mobiles & chairs just to name a few. You immediately feel immersed in the huge amounts of creativity that flow through their exhibition room. It really is fantastic to see what you able to do with a little bit of creativity and flair.

The final stop on my brief Barrydale weekend with you would have to be the much talked about Diesel & Creme (http://dieselandcreme.co.za/). Boy O’ Boy was it a delicious treat for Mom & I, certainly won’t be forgotten in a hurry that is for sure. We had walked everywhere the entire day to make sure our tummies were empty for the tasty surprise that awaited us as Diesel & Creme. Mom ordered “Morning Glory” (coffee & espresso milkshake) while I ordered Peppermint Crisp for a change as being a creature of habit I generally always go for something chocolate. Surrounded by a fabulous atmosphere we were silent whilst sipping away at our milkshakes!

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Mom & I with our milkshakes!

The decor certainly keeps you entertained with a mix of old & new, it almost takes you right back to your childhood. Only happy memories at Diesel & Creme. A great way to end the weekend.

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Because every day is a great day at Diesel & Creme

 

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Funky Milkshake Bar

Bye for now ….Fiona