Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Relaxing on the West Coast

After New Year, it was time to get away from the house, tidying, fixing and bemoaning the death of the garden and escape to one of our favourite places to chill out, the West Coast, a couple of hours’ drive north of Cape Town. We hired a simple self-catering cottage at the St Helena Bay Hotel for 9 nights and took with us piles of books, quite a lot of wine and some food that didn't need much preparation. We discovered two new West Coast restaurants - see the reviews below - and came back really relaxed and ready to dive right in to the 2018 media season. Harvest has begun
The hotel was old and tired until its recent outside facelift. They are still working on the inside
We were in one of the humble cabins at the side which had a basic open plan kitchen diner lounge, a fairly comfortable bedroom and a bathroom with shower. Reasonably modern, but with quite a few plumbing and electrical problems which need to be sorted out. The South Easter wind blew almost every day usually rising to hell pitch in the late afternoon so sitting outside was not an option. But we had DSTV provided - most of its time devoted to the Test series against India - our books, our laptops and we went for beach walks and local trips. Doing nothing is sometimes rather good for one, no stress or deadlines. We braaied once on the last day, in the wind
A heron caught in flight on the coast
A Sacred Ibis pair on the beach rocks
Fishing boats in the local harbour where we found the fish and chip shop and took home hake and chips for supper. It was average, the fish was fresh, we think. Chips despite being fried twice for us, were not great and still 'slap'.
The organisation in the fish shop was hysterical. There seems to be a hierarchy of "Now you do this next" among the four pleasant, experienced local ladies serving. There is a lot of standing about talking by everyone concerned, You do get served eventually, somehow, but you can't stress about it.
In case you want to view the comic opera ....
And we opened this to celebrate ... well, just not having to cook and being on holiday. It was given to Lynne by owner/winemaker Jackie Coetzee on the day he sold the farm a seven years ago! It was magnificent, still fresh and zesty with a lovely full palate. The Bloemendal Sauvignon Blancs are recognised by many in the industry as some of the best in South Africa, especially the wines made with grapes from the Suider Terras vineyard. Proof that our best wines can age very well
We took a trip up the coast one day and stopped at Soverby where we found these fisherman having a lesson
A dead sand shark
And we found this small farm stall, Die Skooltjie Padstal on the road between Velddrif and Elandsbaai
Packed to the gunnels with home made jams, pickles and preserves. We bought some good boerewors for our braai. We were tempted by the well cured springbok pelts but could not think of anywhere to put one in our house
Shaun with his mates, gathering together by the road to Elandsbaai in the 37.5⁰C heat. They carry a heavy load, serving all the local ewes
And spotted some pale pink flamingos on the salt pans near Velddrif
This is the Berg River where it meets the sea at Velddrif. The fishermen were not having a good day
One of our favourite beaches, Golden Mile at Britannia Bay. We toyed with buying a plot, but only briefly when we learned that the monthly rates would surely outstrip any possible growth. Properly is booming there, our friends who are estate agents told us, as it seems as if most of the people of the rest of South Africa want to come and live here by the coast. Plots go from R220 000 to several million Houses like these are a bit more!
A carpet of shells after one of the recent fierce solstice tides
A relaxing kelp gull near a mussel covered rock. Gulls don’t need a permit to harvest the mussels. We do
Our braai fire in the wind
We saw many raptors and a few owls. It is very, very dry up the coast; some of the land is completely parched by the drought. We feel for the farmers, the grazing is disappearing and if we don’t get much winter rain they will not be able to plant wheat this year

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