We have just returned from two weeks in South Africa. We both had work commitments there – Doug in Cape Town, and me in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. It was meant to be a mix of work and holiday, with a few days just for us at the end, but as often happens with us, the work spilled over on the holiday time. Nonetheless, the important thing to know is that IT IS WARM AND SUNNY DOWN THERE!!!!
We left the UK on a cold, grey, windy day and arrived in Cape Town to a glorious, sunny day. The first thing we did when we arrived was to pick up a rental car and drive to the beach. Here we are, straight from the plane:
See those would-be surfers on the glass-smooth ocean behind Doug? What you can’t see is the film crew on the beach, and the film producer walking back and forth while shouting into his phone “I have the film crew! I have the surfers! I have a fantastic bloody day! What do I not have? Surf!”
These photos were taken on the beach in Llandudno. I think this is funny because last year I wrote a post called “In which I get whisked off to Llandudno and have a wooly adventure.” Now I can claim to have blogged about Llandudno, Wales and Llandudno, South Africa!
After this lovely morning spent on the beach, we spent the next nine days working. In fact, things got pretty intense for a while (my new job is very demanding), so I spent a lot of that time burning the candle at both ends. I also flew back and forth to Johannesburg, where I was teaching and holding meetings.
At the end of the trip, we tried to put the work aside and have a few days of relaxation. We spent two of those days at the Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch. Spier is acclaimed for its sustainability efforts – it is one of 29 WWF Conservation Champions, is organically certified, and is renowned for its eco-tourism. It is also fantastic in every single way! I loved it! I want to go back tomorrow!
I can’t say enough about how great it was, but I will show you a few little glimpses. They have a 5km and a 10km trail, designed for runners and walkers (guess which we did?), which take you right out into the spectacular countryside. Here is the start of one of the trails:
The light is so beautiful there, and the air is fresh. We walked for 5km, in the early evening, and didn’t pass a single soul for most of the walk. It was so gorgeous and peaceful. Doug took this shot of a protea flower against the backdrop of the mountains:
Everything at Spier is beautiful and the landscaping is lovely. I like this shot:
The thing I enjoyed most at Spier is the artwork. They have art everywhere, representing many contemporary African artists: sculpture, ceramics, painting, textile arts, beading and mosaics. I loved their mosaic garden, a very contemplative space which contains some beautiful mosaics commissioned by Spier from African artists.
One of the things you will find in South Africa, is that the sun is very strong. After our first day on the beach in Llandudno, I insisted that Doug buy a hat. In fact, I made him buy a baseball hat, despite his comment that wearing a baseball hat lowers your IQ by ten points. Not so, I said!
This owl clearly liked Doug’s baseball hat. However, perhaps wearing it had some effect on Doug’s IQ after all; I present the following exhibit into evidence:
After two lovely, peaceful days at Spier, we drove down to Kalk Bay, where we once again stayed at the fantastic Chartfield Guest House. We stayed here once before, and I was determined to go back. If you are ever in Kalk Bay, this is the place to stay; it is funky, has great staff, a fabulous view, and has the best breakfasts ever! Here is the lovely terrace where you eat breakfast:
I would love to show you lots of charming photos of Kalk Bay. It is a charming place. However, work interfered while we were there, and I was up all night sending off emails and fretting about things. We did have fun there poking around in the shops and galleries, but it was not as care-free as I would have liked.
So that explains the “a lot of work, a little fun” from the title of this post; what about the knitting? I took only one project with me – the Falkenberg jacket I am knitting. I hardly had it out at all, although I did manage a bit of knitting now and then. Here is a progress photo I took there. I knit up to where I separated for the arm holes, and then I finished knitting the right front. There is still LOADS of knitting to do on this one.
I will end this post with a photo I took from the car while driving back to the airport yesterday morning. We took a long, twisty route back from Kalk Bay, driving along some fantastic beaches. This beach had a number of wind surfers seemingly flying through the air.
Now I am back in the cold, grey, UK winter. It got dark today just after 4pm. But, I am happy to have spent some more time in the beautiful Western Cape.