Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A summer break at Franskraal on the southern Cape coast

We long for the end of the year, so we can stop work and take a real break, one without deadlines and late nights, to breathe deep, sleep and rest. We live by the sea and we love to holiday by the sea. Over the last few years, we have headed up the beautiful West Coast, mainly because we found the prices better than on the South Coast. This year, Lynne went on line and searched the coast from Mossel Bay to Stanford to find us the perfect summer place. We can tell you that prices have come down a lot in the South. We have quite specific requirements; we want our own place, and it must be in sight and sound of the sea. We found a lovely apartment in Franskraal, a place we were unfamiliar with and not that far from home. It is just beyond Gansbaai. The owners reside on the top floor; the bottom floor and porch were all ours
We so enjoyed our holiday this year, it is a lovely place. We were so comfortable and so relaxed
Very spacious and well furnished, it had an open plan lounge, diner and kitchen and came with a binnebraai
(typical South African built in barbecue inside, for windy or stormy days)
Everything we could want in the kitchen
A large fridge freezer, a gas cooker and an outside area, where there was a braai under shelter
Two comfortable bedrooms, each with its own en suite bathroom
Of course, we chose the room facing the sea
One evening, sitting on the porch enjoying a cool Sauvignon blanc,
we were astounded to see thousands of cormorants streaming past in skeins
They go searching for fishing grounds and, a few days later,
we saw them fishing on a shoal just off the coast, close to our apartment
This is the area for Shark diving experiences and the boats leave from Kleinbaai, which was just five minutes away from us
No, we did not try it, just not the sort of thing we like to do
On our walks down the road, we watched the fishermen on the rocks
and found a rather inquisitive Agama
Lynne visited the local Christmas market in Gansbaai and found a couple of presents
John hates shopping, so he went for a walk with his camera
He explored the little town and went down to the harbour
It is quite windy in this area and we could enjoy sitting out under shelter, watching the wild horses capping the waves
We always take some wine from our cellar to enjoy and this one was very, very special
A 2009 Biesjies Craal Sauvignon Blanc from Durbanville Hills was still lively and fresh and was so enjoyable
Take note, all those who think white wines should be consumed when young
Watching the cormorants diving on a shoal just off the coast
We also took a pile of books and, on the one slightly miserable, rainy day we had, we could sit and read
It is what you do on holiday - especially when faced with load-shedding!
On another lovely sunny day, we took a walk to a local beach and did some beachcombing
You can see Dyer Island from the house and right down to coast to Cape Agulhas, the Southern tip of Africa
We drove down the road leading to Baardskeerdersbos and the views are lovely
There is a well filled dam on Lomond wine farm 
We stopped off for a tasting of their wine and some lunch 
Just one other couple in the tasting room
We chatted to the staff about the wines as we tasted
We wanted to see their winemaker, Hannes Meyer, whom we know from his time at Simonsig,
but we were told that he was not available; busy working in their winery on the other side of the dam
There is a trout hatchery in the dam
We plumped for the Estate range tasting
Some of the newer wines are rather fresh and need some time
We did enjoy the older whites
and the reds, which they added to our tasting
The lunch menu
We shared the Lomond platter and really enjoyed the selection of breads, meats, cheese and condiments. The smoked trout was superb. It is good value as it certainly is enough for two; we struggled to finish it
On another day, we drove to Pearly Beach and walked on its lovely sandy beach. Swimmers were braving the quite chilly weather
Looking back
What an interesting rock, shaped rather like a sea lion!
Blue, blue water
And sun shimmer as the day wears on
Our landlord feeds the local Francolin family, so they regularly appear on the lawn in front of the house
He calls them his chickens
On another day we headed off to Danger Point, which is close by
First, a visit to the lighthouse, which was closed so we could not climb it to see the view
A sad memorial
The lighthouse was built because the coast here is quite dangerous
The historic shipwreck of the troopship HMS Birkenhead in February 1852, just off the coast, is memorable for one very courageous act. The captain ordered the crew and the soldiers to let the women and children go first. All the women and children were saved while nine officers, 49 other ranks and 87 crew members died when the ship sank. The "women and children first" rule was adopted from that time on ships around the world
The memorial
A bronze plaque indicates the position and tells the story of the wreck
Looking across the bay on a clear day, you can just see the mountains near Hermanus and Cape Hangklip
We wanted fresh fish for a braai, so down to the harbour in Gansbaai is where you go
to the Fish market which, sadly, is for sale. A sign of the times?
Inside, a good display of fresh and frozen fish and sea food
We bought this Kob for R64 and it did us for two good meals. One side on the braai and, the following night,
a Thai fish with rice dish that Lynne concocted from our travelling food box, which has lots of interesting ingredients
We thought we were seeing things as these did not move a muscle, so we thought, "ah, they must be fibreglass models”
Then, suddenly, they all swished their tails! On a smallholding on the way to Gansbaai
And, of course, we had to make a visit to the Penguin sanctuary
There is a small colony of our endangered African penguins on Dyer Island
The African penguin is nicknamed the Jackass because their cry does sound rather like an ass braying
These birds have all been rescued and will be returned to the sea when they have recovered from their ordeals
The sanctuary is not attached to Sanccob but does similar work. It is sponsored by Volkswagen
The shop is full of things to buy and the profits help keep this place going. They also have a café
Two penguins viewing us through their window
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