Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The historic Glen Avon Watermill

A week or two three ago I got to spend an evening on the historic Glen Avon Farm at the foot of the Bosberg Mountains outside Somerset East.  A stay at Glen Avon consist of true farm hospitality like you can only get in the Karoo and the B&B's surroundings is just what you need to get away from the city and take in farm life.  The highlight of my stay though, which was way too short, was a visit to the historic Glen Avon Watermill.
The history of Glen Avon is closely intertwined with that of Robert Hart.  Hart first came to the Cape in 1795 as an 18 year old private.  He returned there a second time as an officer (and a married man) in 1807 and was stationed in Grahamstown under Colonel John Graham.  Robert Hart was put in charge of the experimental farm which provided supplies to the army.  In 1825 the farm was closed down and the town of Somerset East was laid out on the land.  Hart was given land next to the town where he built a homestead.  The farm was called Glen Avon and it was here where Hart pioneered Marino sheep farming and also grew citrus fruit and grain.  The grain production in the area became so successful that he decided to build a commercial mill to be used for all the neighbouring farms.  

The equipment and machinery for the mill was imported from Leeds in England, brought by ship to Algoa Bay and carted by ox wagon across the Zuurberg Pass to the farm.  Although the mill hasn't worked since the mid 1990's most of it is still in working condition. 
The one part of the mill that is in visible need of repair is the chute that funnels the water to the wheel itself.  Unfortunately the floor wasn't replaced properly by the contractor when it was last renovated and have rusted holes throughout the length of it.  How I would have loved to see that old wheel turn. 
During our tour around and through the mill I photographed a couple of interesting signs, but I have to say the one that drew the most attention was the one that said "No smoking or spitting".  I imagine it was to make sure nothing unwanted landed in the flour.

The mill has three levels inside and Bill Brown, a sixth generation descendent of Robert Hart, explained the whole process that was followed when the mill was in use.  On the last leg of the visit he took us up rickety steps to the top level and you won't believe what we discovered there.  The Bat Cave.  No Batman though.  Needless to so a couple of ladies in the group high tailed back down the steps to get outside at this stage.  Anyhow, Batman or no Batman, the mill was so worth visiting.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Crags Sunset

There is nothing like a beautiful sunset to end off a perfect day.  
Sunset over the distant mountains during our recent weekend in The Crags near Plettenberg Bay

Monday, August 24, 2015

Oudebosch - the perfect stop in the Tsitsikamma

It was a cold and somewhat wet winters afternoon and were heading back to Port Elizabeth after a very enjoyable pre-cold front weekend in The Crags.  Driving along the N2, most people make their comfort and coffee / food stop at Storms River Bridge.  I haven't done that for a  number of years now  Not since discovering the Oudebosch Farmstall about 30 km east of the bridge.  We took the Kareedouw / Eersterivier offramp from the N2 and turned right towards the coastline.  Oudebosch lies about 400 meters down the road and Ginger the cat welcomed us along with a crackling fire and the aroma of coffee hanging in the restaurant.   
We opted to grab a table close to the small fireplace in the restaurant, but not before long the built in braai was lit as well.  Darn, suddenly I was sorry we didn't grab the couches on that side.
There is no way I was going to get away with only ordering coffee for the Damselfly and I and as soon as we walked in Drama Princess uttered the wallet dreaded "I'm hungry".  It was lunch time after all.  What was on the menu?  Roosterkoek with mince for me; bacon, egg and cheese roosterkoek for the Damselfly; burger and chips for Chaos Boy and a jam and cheese roosterkoek with a milkshake for Drama Princess.  Do you get the roosterkoek pattern?  It wasn't just because we like roosterkoek.  Oudebosch is famous for it's roosterkoek.  That's why. 

Oudebosch is more than just a coffee shop and restaurant.  It also has a curio shop as well as a small supermarket.  The curio shop carries everything from beaded animals and wooden figurines to jams, jewelry and jolly ol' South African wines so there are no excuse to go home from your holiday empty handed without a gift for grandma or the neighbours who's always asking what you're going to bring her.  The supermarket doesn't just cater for the surrounding farming community but also the holiday makers staying in nearby Eersterivier.  Plus it's ideal to stock up on eats and drinks for the drive ahead. 

More and more people are starting to discover Oudebosch and it's not just thanks to their great offering but also the fact that owner Dewald Niemann is always busy marketing or networking somewhere when he's not sweating over paperwork in the office.  Proof of this is the extensive addition being put onto the back of the farmstall at the moment allowing them to cater for bus groups looking for a authentic place to stop while on tour.  I got him to stop long enough though for a quick chat and to take the picture of us (and Ginger) at the Oudebosch selfie frame outside.  So next time you head through the Tsitsikamma, why do you even want to stop at a franchise store to get a coffee and something to eat?  Oudebosch and Ginger is calling your name instead.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A quick stop at Supertubes in Jbay

A week or so ago I attended the Kouga Baviaans Surf and Safari Marketing Association's AGM in Jeffreys Bay.  It was a perfect winters day and I decided to make a stop at Supertubes before heading back to Port Elizabeth.

A deserted beach that was packed during the Jbay Open just a few weeks ago

Enjoying one of the best right hand point breaks in the world

Aloes on the coastline at Lower Point

Monday, August 17, 2015

Wild Coast coastline

One of the trademarks of the coastline along the Wild Coast is rolling grassy hills that suddenly turn into vertical cliffs falling away to the ocean below. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The church in Salem

A quick detour from the N2 between Nanaga and Grahamstown to Kenton-on-Sea took me through the village of Salem for the first time in ages last week.  I didn't have time to explore much but I did stop for a quick photo of the front of the church while parked next to the cricket field.
Salem was founded by the Sephton party who formed part of the 1820 British Settlers who settled in this district.  The name comes from the bible and means "peace" with the local application referring to a reconciliation between sects.
The original church was built with mud blocks and thatch and was consecrated in 1824.  This was replaced by a stone structure in 1832 and it was this building that served as refuge for women and children during the Frontier Wars. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A perfect moring on the Wild Coast

You know when you've experienced something that you just want to share over and over again?  My Wild Coast trip was like that (heck, sometimes I feel every trip I go on is like that) and I wish I could transport you all to the day I spend at Wavecrest Hotel and getting up to a perfect windless morning.  Getting up just before sunset with not a ripple on the lagoon. Ahhh, absolute bliss.