My Kind of Easter

A rambling Cape farmhouse turned restaurant in the fynbos on the way to Cape Point, a balmy Autumn afternoon relaxing with good friends, dogs running around doing what dogs do best and listening to live world class rock music from Robin Auld, one of  Fish Hoek’s greatest success stories – now that’s my kind of Easter :-)

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Thanks also to another veteran of the Cape Town music scene, Andy Lund and his band The Mission Men.

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Wellington Farmlands

Another agricultural gem in the Cape Winelands crown is Wellington.  The region around this growing dorpie contributes to the Cape’s fruit basket with an economy centered mostly around wine, table grapes, deciduous fruit and brandy.

It’s home to the Boland Rugby Union and many an aspiring Springbok player, while its’ other claim to fame is its’ location at the base of the scenic Bain’s Kloof Pass, one of South Africa’s oldest mountain passes.

Only 45 minutes from Cape Town, the drive through the surrounding farmlands is an experience in itself.

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We’re Two!

WordPress tells me the blog is two years old today.  Thanks everyone, it’s been an amazing journey meeting such incredible and diverse people from all over the planet both online and on my travels.

What better way to celebrate this milestone than share some pics that showcase life on the tip of Africa?

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 Dog walker – Fish Hoek Beach

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Panoramic Cape Point Vineyards.

Remembering Sue Townsend

Who can ever forget ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole’, the best-selling new British fiction book of the 1980s?  And then the follow ups - from the hilarious Weapons of Mass Destruction to The Prostrate Years?  There’s still is a little bit of Adrian in every one of us, so it came as no surprise that even the tiny eclectic seaside hamlet of Kalk Bay mourned the passing of Sue Townsend earlier this month.

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Tipsy Butterfly

Okay so maybe I’ve had too many Easter eggs and I’m imagining things, but I swear this butterfly is tipsy as it’s been gorging itself for days on a rotting pear on one of our birdfeeders.  It comes back several times a day to feed, occasionally with friends, and at times it looks like it’s battling to stand up straight.  I’ll admit the wind was blowing a little the last time I checked, but it did look rather intoxicated. And full.  If anyone knows what kind of butterfly it is, please let me know.

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Vredenheim Estate

Vredenheim is another Stellenbosch Winery where you can lose yourself in spectacular scenery and absorb country life only a short distance from Cape Town.

Apart from wine, the Estate is famous for its’ wildlife and it’s Big Cat Park in particular.  An assortment of antelope and Birchell’s zebra graze lazily on the approach to the main buildings while a lone male ostrich keeps vigil, but the estate’s best asset by far has to be the magnificent gardens surrounding a beautiful lake.  You’ll learn later too why I chose to focus on the garden.

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Approved by Cape Nature, the Cat Park is educational, allowing one to see an assortment of Africa’s famed big cats at arm’s length (sic) – think brown and white lions, caracal (Rooikat in Afrikaans), cheetah and leopard – along with two Bengal tigers.  I was taken by how knowledgeable the staff are and their affection for the cats is almost contagious, but I left feeling uneasy and saddened that these magnificent creatures are contained in a small space on a continent as vast as Africa.

Don’t get me wrong, the park is a sanctuary for many of the inhabitants, particularly the caracal who have long been outlawed by farmers in the Western Cape and even more so following a horrific and astounding 2011 legal sanctioning to cull 900 000 caraculs and jackals in the name of controlling livestock loss.  (See also http://mg.co.za/article/2012-03-16-zille-attacked-over-predator-cull)  Still, I’d love to see bigger enclosures that emulate their natural habitat.

Photographic opportunities are always limited when animals are kept in cages, but the tigers were by far the most entertaining, particularly at feeding time.  And when one decided to chew on a car tyre to either pass the time or relieve a dental niggle.  Even then the mesh spoils the moment though.

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Close Encounters

There are several arguments for and against keeping animals in captivity, and this includes wildlife rehabilitation centres.  It’s not something I want to debate here because that’s not what this blog is about.  It’s about living on the tip of Africa, one of the most spectacular places on the planet, and being touched by abundant and diverse wildlife.

Spier wine farm on the outskirts of Stellenbosch is one of many to have embraced wildlife rehabilitation and incorporated it into the farms over the years, from their cheetah outreach programme to the newer Eagle Encounters raptor rehabilitation and education centre, where you can get up close and personal with a number of wildlife species and birds of prey in particular.

The (amateur) photographer in me will argue that being able to shoot semi-tame wildlife so close up isn’t a challenge and there is a lot of truth in that.  Canadian wildlife photographer and blogger Lyle Krahn recently likened it to shooting fish in a barrel and he’s right, but what I will say is that nothing can take away the thrill I felt interacting with a Bengal Eagle Owl and Wahlberg’s Eagle.  But I left the boa constrictor to my son :-)

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The best of many worlds ….

Another of the blessings that comes with living in the Noordhoek Valley is the country living.  Along with the ocean, the windswept world class beaches and the mountains, life doesn’t get much better than this.

Several times a year the Noordhoek Common bursts with activity, from the Country Fair to equestrian events, like this weekend’s Noordhoek Farm Village Horse Trials where my friend Carol’s horse was competing with a young rider.  It’s easy to kick your shoes off here, relax and soak it all up.

25-IMG_056507-IMG_0473 20-IMG_0519 22-IMG_0541 And then there was the horse that actually smiled for the camera :-)

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This is the spirit of the tip of Africa!

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Freshlyground, Kirstenbosch and 36 Degrees

A sweltering Cape Town pulsed with Afro-fusion when Freshlyground returned to Kirstenbosch again this year, notching up ten years of playing at this landmark venue.

The heat was an incredible 36 degrees C when the gates opened at 4pm.  People rushed to claim the seating in the shade and the entire 5000-strong crowd collectively sighed in relief when the sun slipped behind the mountains offering some respite.

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Sundays don’t get much better than this in the Mother City, where we are uber proud of the world class talent this city is home to.

Cuties at the Cape Town Tens

I spent yesterday watching my son playing in the annual Cape Town Tens rugby tournament, but instead of posting rugby photos I thought I’d share some snaps of a couple of toddlers who were having the time of their life on the sideline.

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The setting is unbelievable from Hamiltons Rugby Club in Greenpoint – with the stadium built for the 2010 Soccer World Cup looming on one side and the Mother City’s iconic Table Mountain on the other.

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I say this at least once a day:  I am SO blessed to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!