Flower season on the West Coast South Africa

I live here!!!  Can you believe it???  West Coast National Park in South Africa!  God’s beauty on my doorstep.

Posted in Africa, Cape Town, Langebaan, Love and Life, Nature, South Africa, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Take a tour with the Red Top Bus in Cape Town!

I took a short break with my daughter this past weekend, and booked us, using my Flexi Club timeshare point, into The Riviera Suites in Sea Point, Cape Town.  After a very wet week, the rain dissipated and Cape Town presented herself in all her glorious splendor to entertain us as we set about being tourists in our own City.

The Riviera Suites were a delight – from warm smiles and helpful porters, to pristine clean suites overlooking the ocean, huge family sized beds covered in soft pillows and duvets, to a huge balcony on which we fed sea-gulls and pigeons, I was happy that I chose them.

Friday night was pre-booked by Belinda, with us enjoying an affordable three-course meal at one of Sea Point’s many world-renowned restaurants.  We had excellent wine, the food was truly an astronomical delight, and we laughed and relaxed as we both mellowed into the weekend.

Saturday morning we woke up to a glorious winter’s day, sunshine, no clouds, and took to the Promenade for a walk, sharing the crisp winter’s air with hundreds of cyclists, runners, walkers, dog-lovers etc.  Loads of interesting sculptures, photos of some adventurers sea explorations that have been enlarged and pinned onto the break wall, as well as an oudoor gym in the park made for a leisurely stroll, filling our senses with sights, ocean smells and sounds.  At one point a tandem paraglider pair came whoozing past my head to make a grand landing a few metres from us, after taking off from Signal hill minutes before.  Looking up to see the rest follow, we were delighted to also spot a bright orange Mango aircraft gliding further above – obviously a city-proud pilot showing off our Mother city’s most iconic piece – Table Mountain.

Satruday afternoon was spent at the world famous V & A Waterfront, more good food and beer, leisurely strolls around looking at boats and yachts, and finishing it off with a good movie at Cinema Nouveau.  A quick ride home in a waiting taxi found us falling into bed that night, tired but happy.

We thought of spending Sunday at the famous Winchester Mansions Hotel in Sea Point for their “to-die-for” brunch – everything to eat from breakfast cereal to sushi to roasts and everything in between!!  Not to forget the dessert table weighing down under the selection of sweets for those who still have a small space left in their tummies, whilst all the while listening to some of the best jazz on offer on the local circuit.  But with an even more glorious sunny day than the previous one, we set our hearts on doing a true tourist trip atop the red bus for the day.  We got onto the bus almost directly opposite our hotel, after merely waiting for 10 minutes.  And the delight began.

Stopping firstly at the Waterfront, where we changed buses, we slowly started winding our way through the city, up Long Street, where I could see all the balconies of backpacker lodges and restaurants from the top deck.  Next we passed the famous Mount Nelson, and then onto De Waal Drive towards Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.  Looking out over Table Bay never ceases to fill me with wonder at the beauty of this place – the large container ships and sail masts, oil rigs and sparkling water leading to the vista of Robben Island in the distance – a world heritage site.

A winding road, almost touching the tree canopies along the way, hugging the back of Table Mountain, led us to Kirstenbosch, and breakfast at the Tea Garden.  “Tea for two” is what we ordered to fill the gap – and boy!  Did it fill the gap!  Every morsel was more delicious than the last.  We started with cucumber and cream cheese on white triangles, then a savory spinach and cheese tart to die for, then the freshest scone with double thick whipped cream and berry jam, and lastly, a piece of heavenly carrot cake – all washed down with a cuppa Earl Grey tea.  Yum-yum!  Only then did we have the strength to climb the short incline to the starting point of the “Boomslang”, or loosely translated, the “Tree snake”.  This structure was designed to allow movement below your feet, yet totally secure and safe, walking high above the gardens and drinking in the most beautiful views of the Cape Flats all the way to the Hottentot’s Holland Mountains in the far distance, and the silky green slopes of our mountain behind you.  Kirstenbosch is extremely well-kept, and many families were setting up for a glorious day of picnicking with their broods on the lush lawns.  I remembered many concerts there in summer, with the likes of Bryan Adams, Michael Buble etc entertaining us under the stars in such beautiful surrounds.  The gardens also boast life-size dinosaur statues to entertain the young ones (or the not so young).   Many walkways were laid out for specific plants, and each tree and plant is named and a short summary of the plant given.

Our next stop, after another faerie-ride through Constantia forests up to Constantia Neck, was a change-over to the wine-route bus.  This took us to Groot Constantia in the Valley and back up to the other wine farms, and although you can stop at each and hop back onto another bus, we opted to only visit Constantia Glen, where we were allocated the best table and seats in the house.  We sat right in front of a glass door (closed because of the crisp mountain air), overlooking the expanse to the far-off mountains yet again, and this time also the views to False Bay seas on our right.  We savored crispy wine, and fresh, delectable sushi.  I truly could spend a day there, and will certainly go back for that sushi.  Before we left, we had to visit the loo, and was delighted to use the “Loo with a View”!

Quite mellow, and by now mid-afternoon already, we decided that we would simply enjoy the ride to our destination, and not get off again.  The bus stopped at Mariner’s Wharf in Hout Bay, before winding up the infamous Suikerbossie Hill (here, many an ardent cyclist in the world-famous Cape Argus cycle race, has seen his or her proverbial and physical ass!!).  Gasps of delight ensued as we descended on the other side of Leeukoppie – our famous Sol Kerszner of Sun City / Atlantis in the Bahamas and many more luxury hotels world-wide, has a special hide-away here where he hosts the New Year’s eve parties many of us can only dream of, frequented by some of the world’s rich and famous.  At the bottom of hill lies Llandudno – the most picturesque and pristine beach front, especially loved by surfers, flanked by houses that makes one wonder where the people get all the wealth from!  Of course, further along that coast is our original nudist beach (I have to confess I’ve never been there) – Sandy Bay.

Driving towards Camps Bay we passed the Twelve Apostles Hotel, Oudekraal picnic resort and being overlooked by the Twelve Apostles themselves – or rather the twelve mountain peaks that line the sea at the back of Table Mountain.

Camp’s Bay was still filled with sun seekers, waiting for the spectacular sun-set hour, cocktail bars an restaurants packed to the brim.  The stretch between Camps Bay and Sea Point is lined by the rich and wealthy of this world’s pads, and necks on board our bus were almost snapped off in turning in all directions trying to see every part of the opulence.  The sun’s rays started to cast a golden glow on it all and we were in a hurry to get to our stop, so as to drink in the sunset.

Once in Sea Point, we decided to end the magnificent day with cocktails at Harveys at the Winchester Mansions.  Here we sat and got a bit tipsy – easy for me on just two cocktails, whilst we also drank in the sunset, complete with lots of catamaran sunset cruises and our very own Pirate boat coming past.

We were pooped and ready for bed when we got back to our suite that night – tired, but thoroughly fed with the beauty that is Cape Town!!

My fellow Capetonians and friends – have you not done this tour??  At R150 per head it is the best value and entertainment you will have in one day probably ever, so do it!!  Just do it.  You can book online, or just buy your ticket on the bus at R170 pp.

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South Africa – the most beautiful country in the world!!

1. South Africa

South Africa

This country sweeps international travel prizes and has travellers raving about its beauty so much that it has the highest repeat tourism of any long haul destination in the world! Considering how crazy people are about the place, it’s not surprising that South Africa takes the top spot in the beauty stakes.

Not only does the country have stupendous natural beauty, but it’s urban-amazing too. The town of Franschhoek has been named amongst the five loveliest in the world, and the metropolis of Cape Town is more often than not picked as the most beautiful city on earth by travel lists and tourists alike, because of both its unparalleled natural setting and gorgeous architecture.

This setting is on a coastline hailed as the most beautiful on earth. In fact the country has three of the world’s ten most beautiful coastal drives including Clarens Drive and Chapman’s Peak. These were number one and number two most beautiful coastal drives respectively.

South Africa also has an astonishing variety of marine life, with almost twice the number of marine species as the whole Mediterranean in a coastline only 2000 miles long. It’s the best place in the world to view whales from shore, and to swim with great white sharks. The world’s largest migration of Ocean life occurs here, and is one of the two largest migrations of any kind on earth.

With some of the finest national parks in the world, including the Kgalagadi, Isimangaliso, Hluhlue Imfolozi and Tsitsikamma, South Africa has been rated the finest wildlife destination on earth and is Africa’s most biodiverse. That’s much of where it leaps ahead of other countries in terms of beauty. What’s better than a great sunset? A great sunset with giraffes or elephants in front! The Greater Kruger National Park and Limpopo Transfrontier Park has more species of large mammal than anywhere else in the world. Surrounding Cape Town is the world’s densest plant kingdom by species count. The King Protea flower is a gorgeous bloom the size of a dinner plate!

Surrounded by Cape Town is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain. When viewed from across Table Bay this world wonder provides one of the greatest views on Earth, and has been named one of the world’s greatest mountains. Incredibly, two of the eleven mountains chosen for this honour are located entirely within South Africa, more than is claimed by any other country. The other is the Amphitheatre, a gigantic cliff regarded as one of the most impressive in the world. Its cliff face is around ten times the size of the main South Western face of Yosemite’s El Capitan and six times the size of the North Face of Switzerland’s Matterhorn!

The Amphitheatre is found in the Drakensberg, one of the world’s most beautiful and utterly distinctive mountain ranges. It has been named the third in the list of must see mountain ranges you’ve probably never heard of. Falling off its face is possibly the tallest waterfall on earth, though officially the second tallest, which is arout twenty times the height of Niagara! ‘The Tugela Falls’ plunge over 3000 feet in 5 abrupt steps! This, together with the Augrabies falls, is one of two South African falls named in the Top 10 waterfalls in the world. In the North of the Drakensberg is one of the greatest and most beautiful canyons in the world, the subtropical Blyde River.

Other mountain ranges in the country include the best-exposed fold mountains in the world, The Swartberg or ‘Black Mountains’. Unlike their name suggests, these mountains display astonishing technicolor sandstone cliffs folded in all directions through what geologists call anticlines and synclines. They house one of the most beautiful cave systems in the world, the Kango. Four of the ten oldest mountain ranges in the world are found in South Africa, including the breathtaking Waterberg and the stunning Makhonjwa range, the oldest in the world. This is a country of astounding age, and is the place where both the oldest fossils and the oldest gold have been found.

Even the deserts in this country are astonishingly beautiful, from the powdered red sands of the Kalahari to the Karoo and Namaqualand. The latter is an incredible arid area larger than California that turns into the world’s largest garden each Spring in a floral display unrivalled anywhere on earth. Thousands of species of flowers bloom and transform the landscape unimaginably. It, together with Technicolor city suburbs like the Bokaap, is part of why the country has been called the world’s most colorful.

Unsurpassed wildlife and mountains, whales and waterfalls, architecture and antiquity, the world’s most beautiful city, and the world’s most stunning Spring, plus a host of natural treasures make South Africa “The Most Beautiful Country In The World”, and a must-see traveller’s dream.

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I am now a published author – hallelujah!!! My Love Affair with Nora!!!

I have been extremely quiet over the past few months, but for a reason!  I have fine-tuned and re-read and edited, and proof-read again my novella / autobiography / travelog on my mid-life adventure of joining 5 strangers, all Norwegians who live on the opposite side of the globe to me, on the Cape to Rio sailing race in January 2011.

The book explains my soul searching after two failed relationships straight after each other, following a 25 year marriage that ended in divorce.  At age 49, already starting to experience menopause, I took the bull by the horns, got my skipper’s ticket, and advertised to be crew on board a vessel  in the race.  A month later, I got my response from Norway!  And so started a story that simply has to be told.

Sharing such a confined space for weeks on end with 5 strangers included some love, some pain, anger, frustrations, joy and the ultimate prize was to rediscover who I actually am.

I trust you all go and read the book – it is short, sweet and concise. I have tried to tell it without writing with rose-tinted glasses on, and if I can encourage just one woman to go out and grab whatever life offers, I will be happy.  Thanks to all who encouraged me by telling me I CAN write!!!  So much appreciated!

Enjoy, the book is available on Amazon.com in 5 days’ time, or as per pic hereunder:


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Shall we Dance??

You know that scene in this movie with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez?  The one where they have mental sex whilst dancing to the most sensual music, and you see the sweat beads on the small hairs in his neck, her lips moist and parted most of the time until she closes them after a gasp of air, their hands all over each other’s backs, and her famous derriere doing its talking!  Well, I’ve just watched it for the hundredth time in my life, and it still enchants and mesmerises me……  And I am blessed cause my man still stirs all that chemistry in me.

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Gnawing the skin around your fingers until it bleeds!

We all do it – we bite the skin around our nails and then pull a piece, and then when it bleeds and we know it is going to be sore like hell the next morning, and especially when we put it in water, we want to kick ourselves, wondering why we did it in the first place.

Is life not like that all too often, we push and prod at a problem, or rather a perceived problem, until it bleeds, and then, at that point, it is too late – the hurt afterwards is inevitable!!

So why do we do it?  Cause we get carried away in the heat of the moment – that moment when pulling the piece of skin feels so creepily good, the saltiness of the bit of blood that seeps through tastes divine, and at all costs we want the offending piece of skin that irritated to be gone with forever.  And then the pain afterwards.

So it is with marriage and all too often we do this kind of damage in the heat of the  moment, only to find that irretrievable damage afterwards – a raw wound that takes days, and of course in the real world of damage caused in our lives, months or years to heal.

No, I am not in any danger of losing my man, but it has been a challenging few months, with us in each other’s hair too often, arguing about all and nothing – certainly nothing important enough to lose what we have.  Yet, we pull and tear away, knowing it may be sore afterwards.  We have lived apart for too long now – him on the farm and I on the West Coast.  Lots of plans for our future have been playing themselves off in our life, and as per normal, no matter how well we plan and think that our plans are set in stone, life happens.  So, in our case, influence from outside, i.e. a tenant ruining my rented house down here, which I had to fix first, the pursuit of comfort which unfortunately involves the root of all evil, money, or the lack of it (I am sure many very wealthy people also feel life play with them at times), etc have all made for me having to spend some prolonged time down here, with Kobus up there.  And then, as per normal human hearts / brains, whatever rules us, the devil comes and plays havoc in our minds.  For me, it simply is that I love it here, and I am therefore so sad to even spend a day up there, but there also means I can sleep behind my beloved’s back, wake up seeing his lovely face and love and laugh with him!!

So, it is off I go for a few weeks, and bye-bye to the beautiful Langebaan for a while.  To go and put some ointment on the sore where I tugged and gnawed on a piece of skin, and hope the sore is over soon if I treat it with loving care.



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Death, you ugly, loathsome beast!

If you read the Bible, you’ll know that death is a beast, a two-headed, ugly beast that is so powerful, that only God has beaten the beast when He resurrected His Son.

My ex-brother in law died a few hours ago. I knew that today was the day when I woke up this morning. My daughter says I scare her, as I know when death is coming to knock on a door close to me. I dreamt that my dad died a week before his death, I knew that an acquaintance was nearing death a few weeks ago, and quite a few more of this has happened in my life. I spent a long time with him, alone, just the two of us, two evenings ago and obviously knew it was not going to be days or weeks anymore. His eyes were misted over, his finger tips cold, where once was a fleshy male body lay a bundle of bones, with thinly stretched skin covering twitching sinews and weakly pulsating veins.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (a la Patrick Swayze) just more than a year ago, and fought a brave battle. Initially, after the first shock and operation, followed by debilitating chemo, he tried to do the whole green barley, no smoking / drinking routine, but once it was clear that the battle was slowly swinging in imminent death’s favour, he started enjoying his glass of wine and his cigarettes again. And no-one begrudged him as we saw how death was tightening its grip on his life force, by eating away at his flesh, his heart, his soul, leaving despair in his eyes, trembling hands, and weak legs.

He was lucky – his normally sunny disposition enchanted many people to love him during his lifetime, and thus, today, his last day on this earth, his previous wife, my beloved sister, and his last loved girlfriend spent precious time with him, until he was ready to let go of life and he asked them to leave him alone – clearly to die in privacy and peace.

When I drove through to Cape Town on Tuesday, I was startled when an oncoming car veered onto my side of the road, only to realise that the driver was swerving to avoid a wheat squirrel whose mate had just been hit by a previous vehicle. This little animal was dashing in from the side of the road to smell and touch the warm little body of its friend / partner as it lay freshly dead on the tarmac, and my fear was that it too was going to get killed by the next car. And then I wondered – would it not be better for it to die as well? Do they mate for life, and the one left behind is now alone until that monster called death also comes for it? More thoughts were that some people simply disregard the fact that animals have hearts and souls – if so, why was this little bereft animal darting in and out of passing traffic to be by its dead partner’s side?  Why if it did not have a soul according to some people?  And I think of lonely widows / widowers all over this globe – where this monster has come in and wreaked havoc without anyone having a fighting chance to ward it off.

What do these two things have in common? Nothing other than death – no animal, no plant, no person can be spared death. I asked Johan two nights ago if he is ready to face whatever the next part of his journey would bring, and with grey eyes staring at me, he shrugged his shoulders. Cause we have no choice. Death will get us – each one of us, and we better wake up and realise that this life is not to be the death of our souls whilst our hearts are still beating. Let’s live!  Let’s love.  If only I could spread this message into the hearts and souls of those who right at this moment are embroiled in warfare, killing, maiming others.  Let us, the ones that are reading this and who care, pay this message forward.

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I fell off the Banting wagon

I am not going to say much more than I fell off the Banting wagon. All this eating as much as you like, fatty and creamy foods, butter et al, has made me more fat than ever!!

I know the diet is supposed to be 100% strictly no sugar, low (or no) carbs and it comes with a warning that if you still eat these PLUS the banting food, you’ll get fat, and that is exactly where I am. At first I thought this was the next best thing to sliced bread, and that I can do it – loving the fact that I could eat the skin on chicken, and the fat on my braai chops, but then I learned another thing: I am an addict. O dear, my daughter called me an addict a long time ago, and of course, as per all addicts, I denied, and lied.

But, when I sat down on Monday afternoon this week, with the cuppa tea in the one hand and the other hand holding the most delicious chocolate muffin covered in Mint Crisp ganache, I recognized that I am an addict to sugar. One muffin followed another down my throat, until all six were devoured – no, I am not kidding you! The six pack was done – and not a crumb left for my beloved either, and another layer added to hide my long-ago six pack on my tummy.

So I asked my cousin for her advice. She was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago, to the point where she had to inject herself every day. And she took the challenge, changed her diet, her way of life, and shed more than 20kg’s by now – and looking hot baby! Her advice, believe it or not, is what we all know deep down inside: everything in moderation. Sure, she had to cut out sugar, and she bears testimony that at some point you do not miss it anymore. But she eats more healthy, and 6 small meals a day – low fat, low carb, but balanced.

So its back to the drawing board for me. Anyone want to buy the almost new book – The Real Meal Revolution from me?

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Flies on a windscreen

So here I leave a client at the local retirement village and at the intersection to hit the highway home, I look left and right, right? And I notice two flies mating on my passenger side window. She is large – a real fat mama, and he is small, but happily settled into the act, riding on her back. And of course, being a highway, I need to give gas, and laughed so hard I nearly overturned my car!! She is holding on for dear life, he is still stuck, his wings start to flap uncontrollably, and the next moment his whole body bends over backwards, wings and all flapping upside down now! And he is still stuck! Shame!!!….. I was so relieved for their sake when they finally blew off, still stuck together, hoping they will not just land on the tarmac in front of the oncoming traffic and at least have some time to enjoy and do “conscious uncoupling” — o no wait, that’s Gwynneth Paltrow’s line….. At least they were still alive when they finally flapped off together – the poor guinea fowl that did a death run into my car was worse off yesterday. As I did not see him behind the car after he ran straight into it, I feared he was stuck somewhere in front, and indeed, when I got home – there he was – firmly stuck between bonnet and registration plate, which was hanging onto one screw. My swak hart! At least my garden boy, who had to take care of it for me as I simply could not, had a stunning supper (bad enough already to pick up small dead mice courtesy my cats in the house every morning, or step on a snake in the dark on the way to the loo). Check the wings in the first photo still straight, and the next one he just bent right over!! Poor thing.

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Week two of this low carb, high fat eating plan.

I don’t own a scale, so I cannot tell if I have lost any weight at all, but I do know I have had some of the side effect they talk about!  Bloating, headaches, etc.  BUT!  I do feel more healthy, no doubt, and my clothes feel more comfortable.

For the first time in my life the thought of a diet is really not daunting, and as I’ve mentioned previously, it must be because there are not restriction on how much you may eat.  (Must say, stuffed myself with nice loin chops – fat ‘n all!, and roast chicken the other day and felt positively pigged-out).

For lunch today I made a tuna pie:  fried onion in a dollop of butter, added the tuna and some paprika, herbs and spices and CREAM.  Whipped this into an egg and milk mixture, topped with grated cheese and baked till brown and crispy.  I served it with a lovely side salad with added fresh mint leaves from the garden, and there we had our banting meal.

Tonight I will try and delight hubby with some nice chicken curry in coconut milk, with veggies to match.  Must say, becoming quite the cook these days.  My friends are probably laughing out loud now, as they know this is a newby for me.

I spent some more time poring over the contents of the book – The Real Meal Revolution, and I must say, it really makes sense to me.  Think back on how we older folk grew up:  fatty meat, real butter, cream, full-fat milk, eggs etc.  I can vividly remember my granny’s meat dishes – swimming in the fat!  And then ponder on the cancer stats then and now – a huge increase in cancer cases worldwide since the food pyramid that the USA got us all to believe, with carbs / grains etc making up the biggest chunk of it, was told as gospel since the late 70’s.

I for one, am happy to give this a good try – but as my dear fellow blogger, Dannie Hill said, everything in moderation.  So I had a small glass of sherry last night………

Happy banting to everyone else who is doing it out there – and that, I believe is now almost half of South Africans.  So much so that some potato farmer wants to sue the author of this book, Tim Noakes.


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