Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Homeward Bound...

Shortly after arriving in Laingsburg, I discovered that I had left my wallet 200 km behind at our plot. I agonised over the dilemma. Should we return via the plot on our return to Cape Town, which meant spending 6 to 7 hours on the road instead of 4, or should we leave it until we returned to the plot in six weeks time, in the meantime, coping without credit card, bank card and drivers lisence. In the end, prudence triumphed over lethargy and we decided to return via the Anysberg road, which we have used on two previous occasions to travel to Laingsburg. 

We set off early because temperatures of over 30 degrees were 
predicted for the day.


It is 30 km shorter than the Seweweekspoort route.

  At the beginning of the gravel road, we noticed that we could see the Seweweekspoort Peak from about 50 km distant. It is visibly the highest peak of the Swartberg range and pinpoints Ladismith from far and wide.

After the gravel road, which requires some degree of concentration and caution as it turns unexpectedly into corners, which drop away on the sides, we greeted the R62 with a feeling of Déjà vu.

The approach to Barrydale from this direction was very pretty.

As we crossed to the other side of the Tradouw Pass, 
we were within sight of our destination.


 Suurbraak also presented a lovely picture that day. 

To avoid the poor gravel road to our plot, we approached it from a different direction which meant a ten minute walk across the fields to fetch my wallet.

 The heat was unbearable.

My intrepid hero...who, you will notice, does not feel the heat!

Soon we were humming along the N2.

A coffee break at the spring just 10 km before Caledon provided a welcome break to stretch the legs and cool off from the heat of the car.

 Just after Caledon, something interesting is being built. Perhaps a wind turbine?

The Steenbras dam was looking good.

As we whizzed along the False Bay coastal road, I tried my best to capture the blooming fields of Arum lilies on camera.

At home at last, Midge immediately threw herself into a wiggling roll on the lawn....aaaaaah!

Its good to touch the green, green grass of home!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Karoo Kuier

After the drive through the Seweweekspoort, we settled into Laingsburg for the next two days. 

My friend's garden was humming with the birds and (bumble) bees.


The following day we drove out to her nephew's farm in the direction of Sutherland. 

The spring flowers were like jewels scattered across the veld of the farm.

We walked out to the fields of onions and artichokes. 

Apart from the usual sheep-farming, our farmer grows these crops for the overseas seed market.

The first year of growing artichokes is tedious and meticulous, which involves protecting the baby plants from frost. When the plants mature, the female plants have to be hand pollinated with pollen from the male plants. Whew, sounds like a big project to me!


On the return to the farmhouse, we were treated to the most delicious meal of a rare venison stew.

Before we left, we had to explore the wreck of an ancient Chev in a nearby field.

On our way back to Laingsburg, we stopped in at Matjiesfontein. 

We were last there about four years ago and we were astounded at the gardens that have been developed behind the hotel since then.


It seemed unbelievable to think that we were in the middle of the Karoo as we walked through the gentle vegetation.

Friday, October 18, 2013


We set off for Laingsburg at about 10:30 in the morning , and first drove through the Tradouw Pass to join up with the R62. 

"Twas a misty, moisty morning, cloudy was the weather" but the radiance of the mountainside blooms was not dimmed.

This peak hovering over Ladismith is the highest peak in the Swartberg Mountain Range and, a few days later, we were able to see it from about 40km away, as we traveled back via Anysberg, to retrieve a forgotten item.


As we drove through Ladismith I caught sight of this Coral Tree 
in front of a guesthouse. 
(I have become quite adept at snapping photos from a  moving car because neither Englishman nor Mad Dogs enjoy stopping for photo moments too often)

We reached the turn off to Seweweekspoort and approached the mountains
 with anticipation. 

We were well rewarded with the  most amazing rock formations and colours. 


The Pass is only about 18 km long and we felt that it came to an end far too soon. We will have to do this trip again.

The other side of the Swartberg Mountains

A puffadder was somewhat annoyed when we turned around to take this photo as it transversed the road. ( safely from the inside of our car, I might add.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spring at last!

We visited the plot in the middle of July after my return from England and the time was spent restfully reconnecting with nature.

Basking in the winter sun was such a treat after all the rain and cold in Cape Town.

Imagine our surprise when we saw that one of our Wild Olive trees is in fact an Olive tree and was bearing small fruit profusely! We harvested most of the  fruit  for processing, mainly to demonstrate our appreciation of the effort put out by the tree. The fruit was really small!

We returned to the plot in the last week of September, after first visiting friends in Pringle Bay and Stanford. We spent time pruning trees and removing fruit that was draining energy from trees; fruit which we would not  be around to harvest ourselves. 

We could smell the Jasmine from about 30 metres away!

The Acacia Robusta had just started sending out new leaves.

The vicious thorns serve a purpose for the resident Shrikes

 Shrike's pantry

We noticed that many birds were out and about, preparing for the new season. 

 Blue Cranes

I am so glad that we planted lavender, wild sage and some succulent bushes at the base of most of the trees. The Sunbirds do love them.

Can you see him?

Some typical Renosterveld vegetation is starting to return at last. We pull the Renosterbos out wherever we find it, otherwise nothing else gets a chance to grow. In it's natural situation, Renosterbos is not so overwhelming but on disturbed land, the Renosterbos just takes over in an unnatural way. 

 Wild Lavender (Eriocephalus africanus)

Anthospermum aethiopicum

I noticed that some of the Sand Olives were laden with seed 
while others were still naked. 

We took a few walks to make the most of the good weather before it turned unpleasant.

At the end of our stay, the rain and a heavy wind set in and we were quite glad to be moving on. Our next stop was Laingsburg and this time we had determined to drive via the Seweweekspoort, a route neither of us had ever transversed. 

Little did we know then that we would have to return to Cape Town via the plot because of my absentmindedness on the morning of our departure.