Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Carlisle Bridge and the Fish River

Road tripping means discovering new places, often places you will never see otherwise.  This was once again the case when I had to drive to Bedford for a meeting and decided to take the scenic route via Grahamstown.  About halfway between the two towns I passed over the mighty Fish River and pulled over to have a closer look.

This spot really is in the middle of nowhere with not much to see yet beautiful in it's own way.

The original bridge was built in 1863 but washed away soon after in 1874.  Two years later a steel bridge was built on the same spot and this one stuck around a little longer but was once again destroyed in a flood in 1932.  The current bridge was built in 1933.  The plaque doesn't say who the bridge was named after, but according to the South Africa Heritage Online website it was probably named after John Carlisle who, in 1822, led a party of thirteen settlers from Staffordshire to settle in the area.
Just something I left out in the intro.  Discovering places like this isn't just about road tripping.  It's stopping along the way and not just rushing to your destination.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The lonely house

I just loved this scene of a lonely house - close to being a ruin although at least it still has its roof - in the Gamtoos Valley.  It's located on a dirt track a few kilometers off the main road through the valley, so not something many people get to see but well worth the stop to photograph.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Blue cranes in the Overberg

Road trip stories.  I have many. Why?  Because it's a lot more exciting than just flying to your domestic destination.  So except for speed, what is the most exciting thing that could happen on an average flight? Chicken or Beef?

Road tripping to Cape Town with Shefetswe and Erenei, we were driving somewhere between Caledon and Bot River in the Overberg when my eye caught something in a field next to the road.  As I spotted it Shefetswe remarked, "Wow! Check the Blue Cranes." Well, I don't know which came first but I slammed on the brakes and shouted hold on... or shouted hold on and slammed on the breaks.  Shefetswe did remark afterwards that he just saw the gravel next to the road approach quickly.  I don't know what he was on about.  There was no skidding wheels and I had everything under control.   

The slight whiplash was well worth the sighting though.  About 100 Blue Cranes together in the field. Not something you get to see every day from where we come from.   

Why was this sighting to special for us?  The Blue Crane is South Africa's National Bird and is a threatened specie that is classified as Vulnerable.  This took place in September which is normally a time when flocks have broken up and breeding pairs dominate the choice areas.  This means that in Spring and Summer you normally see pairs or pairs with youngsters in open fields.  The flocks that remain together move to the fringes of the breeding areas and it must have been a flock like that which we saw..

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Overberg landscape

The Overberg landscape changes with the seasons with the best time to travel through the area being August and September.  That is when you will find green grain fields with wheat, oats and barley, interspersed by yellow canola fields, in splendorous full bloom.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Purple and green lines in the Overberg

Road tripping often allows you to see the most interesting and unusual sights.  Something you don't get wizzing overhead to your destination in a plane.  The Overberg is famous for it's canola fields covered in yellow flowers in spring, otherwise green fields in spring and and brown ploughed fields ion late summer going into autumn and winter.  Or that was until I saw this. Mmmm, very unusual. I don't know why but it reminded me of a couple of pictures of somewhere in Europe I've seen before.  If it wasn't for the sheep it could have been.  Whatever it is, it shouted out for me to pull over and grab my camera.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Blue and yellow on the Knysna Lagoon

It was a late afternoon on a gloomy day, our only day, in Knysna and I was taking a walk around Leisure Isle with a couple of friends.  The mission was actually one of a Geocaching kind, but two of us had our cameras with us as well and once the cache was found it became a photography trip.  With not a lot of sunshine around it meant that there would be no spectacular lagoon sunset so we found ourselves a couple of subjects in these two row boats moored a few meters away from the island.  It wasn't long and we were both flat on our tummies to try and get a low angle and a nearby fisherman was so interested in what we were doing that he nearly missed the slight tug on his line.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Table Mountain - Pulling the table cloth over

Table Mountain.  Probably the most iconic attraction in South Africa.  Something every visitor to the country wants to visit.  Being in the tourism industry I often get asked about Table Mountain by visitors and one piece of advise I always give is to go to the mountain at the first opportunity you get.  I was guided a tour down the Garden Route to Cape Town and on arrival in Cape Town we noticed the mountain was open.  There was bad weather forecasted and both the driver and I urged the tour leader to change the itinerary so that we could go straight to the mountain.  He didn't want to as we had four days in Cape Town before they flew out and there would be more than enough time.  Needless to say, the left without being able to go up.

The main reason for somebody not being able to visit the mountain is wind and often with the wind comes the table cloth.  There is a legend about the table cloth going back to the early days of the Cape.  It goes that the devil challenged a local called Van Hunks to a smoking contest on the mountain and after days of continuous smoking lost.  It is said that the table cloth appears every time Van Hunks and the devil decide to have a rematch up on Devil's Peak.  On my last visit they had a little puff, but not a full on competition.  Perhaps next time again.  Although it would mean I wouldn't be able to see my mountain.