Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A rocking Wildsfees in Kirkwood - in pictures

Every year on the last weekend of June, thousands of festinos make their way to the small Sundays River Valley town of Kirkwood for the annual Absa Kirkwood Wildsfees.  The Wildsfees, in it's 14th years already, brings some of the biggest names in the Afrikaans music industry to the town and combines it with a weekend of entertainment, activities, food and stalls.  Over the weekend in the region of 50 000 people attended the festival with over 20 000 people in the grounds on the Saturday evening. 
We weren't planning to go to the festival this year but I got my hands on some tickets on #99 and after a quick call to one of my contacts in town, I found a spot in the backyard of Magnolia Guesthouse to pitch our tent.  The weekend was on!  The Damselfly was picked up after work and the KidZ from aftercare, the car packed and we were off to the Wildfees.  After dropping off all our stuff at Magnolia just after sunset we headed to the festival grounds.  The plan was to grab a seat and enjoy the Friday night entertainment, leaving exploring the rest of the festival on Saturday before the main entertainment started late afternoon. 
Kirkwood be Kirkwood and late June being winter meant that everybody arrives at the festival prepared for cold.  We were no different. Jackets, beanies, blankies, the works. 

When we got there the Radio Kalahari Orkes was on stage.  I really like a couple of their songs but struggle to sit through a whole CD of theirs. Seeing them on stage though was a totally different story. Wow, pure genius and lots of energy, specially from the only female band member.  Love her on stage with her accordion. 

The main reason the Damselfly wanted to be there the Friday evening was the fact that her two favorite artists, Jay and Leanie May, were on stage right after each other.  They also did their latest song, Naweeklyfie, together which is always a hit.
Singer and actor Izak Davel kept the crowd entertained on the Saturday afternoon both during his performance as well as one of the MC's.  I'm sure a couple of ladies in the audience still remember him strutting around in his red speedo on Survivor South Africa a couple of years ago.

Some of the artists on stage over the two days that we were there (we and my wallet were all festivaled out by Saturday night so we gave Sunday a miss).  Clockwise from the top left corner - Ian Roberts of Radio Kalahari Orkes, Jay, Snotkop, Nicholas Louw, Elizma Theron and Ray Dylan.  I just realized that I never got a pic of Kurt Darren who was one of the main acts on the Saturday evening. 
Two things mentioned by the artists immediately jumps to mind while I write this.  Firstly how much they enjoyed performing in front of such a huge audience and secondly how the stage and sound must be amongst the best they have performed on in South Africa.  Both of these are huge compliments to both the organisers and the people attending the festival.

I know the artists on show would all be able to rock an audience doesn't matter if they sing on a school stage, a street corner or from the back of a truck, but the stage and sound played a huge role to make this event such an fantastic experience.  The stage with its speakers and lighting stretched over a distance of close to 50 meters and the sound was superb.  Kurt Darren even commented how this was the first time in ages that he just walked onto a stage without a sound check and everything was perfect.  Event Hire Network really deserves a lot of credit for the work they did.

Obviously the KidZ, especially Drama Princess, made use of the photo opportunities with artists.

One of the things I particularly like about the Wildsfees is that they evaluate all stall applications and don't just allow anything and everything.  It means that there aren't rows opon rows of foong kong fake goods stalls.  The focus is rather on hand made quality crafts and products.

I always think that if you want to make money at a festival then you have to have a food stall.  Do your own math.  50 000 people, three day festival, entertainment all day long.  People get hungry.  People get thirsty.  People need to eat and drink.  It's not all just printing money though.  The food stall people work long and hard hours.  The food at the festival was yummy though.  Everything from kudu burgers to fish and calamari, chip & dip to sushi, koeksisters to Chinese food and everything in between.  Two places I didn't photograph, because I didn't visit it, were the wine garden and the beer tent.  Sorry, I'm not really a drinker so I lost nothing there.  My only negative comment about a festival like this is the amount of alcohol that people consume at it.  Both these areas were packed all day long and wine bottles and beer cans were stacked up six packs deep.  Not really my kind of scene. 

The festival also had a very popular display area where, on the Saturday, we first watched how a SANParks anti poaching dog took down a baddie before the annual Boerboel dog show.  If you haven't been there you probably won't believe me, but the Boerboel show must be the most popular activity after the music on stage.  People were pushing and squeezing in to get a spot to watch these magnificent dogs being judged.  I was also very impressed by the conservation area in one of the tents where SANParks and a couple of other organisations were exhibiting.
One of the new additions to the festival this year was a Fairy Garden... with real fairies.

All in all the ABSA Kirkwood Wildsfees was a huge success this year.  The weather was perfect.  The artists and entertainment superb.  People were (mostly) well behaved.  Service was brisk.  I have to give a big up to the organisers on running a very sleek ship from a festival goer's point of view.  A well deserved feather in the cap of Jennifer Honsbein and her team.  I'm already looking forward to see how they are planning to top this year when the 2016 ABSA Kirkwood Wildsfees comes around.
Disclosure: We received tickets to attend the ABSA Kirkwood Wildsfees from the organisares.  All additional costs, food, petrol and accommodation was for our own cost.  The tickets were for normal entrance and didn't allow for additional media or back stage access.  I received no further remuneration, wasn't asked to write a positive post and keep full editorial control.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Burning a candle during load shedding

As much as people are complaining about load shedding, we aren't allowing it to get us down.  It does mean that we aren't always getting to do everything that we need to and one of those that's been neglected because of it has been my blogging.  I can't only blame Eishkom though.  It doesn't help that my laptop at home has a busted battery otherwise I could have spent a whole two hours at a time editing photos while everything else is out in the evenings.  Anyhow,  I though I'll post a quick picture and heaven behold, the only picture that I have uploaded was this candle.  Need to upload a few more tonight and hoping that the lights will stay on.  Enjoy the candle in the meantime *wink*

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

J Bay Wind Farm from a dirt road

Love them or hate them, the wind farms around Jeffrey's Bay, Humansdorp and St Francis has become part of the Kouga region's landscape.  After a meeting in Humansdorp recently I did a detour to Paradise Beach along the road that leads through Lombardini Game Farm and stopped to snap this pic back on the road. 
What's your feeling about the wind farms becoming such prominent landmarks on the landscape?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cradock's Tuishuise and Victoria Hotel

Driving through the Karoo from the interior to the Eastern or Southern Cape coast (or the other way around) and looking for a spot to sleep over?  The Karoo Heartland has some excellent overnighting spots in towns like Cradock, Graaff-Reinet, Nieu-Bethesda and Somerset East.  If Cradock is your overnight destination of choice then you really don't need to look any further than the iconic Tuishuise and Victoria Manor Hotel.

Die Tuishuise  on Market Street in Cradock is made up of 30 beautifully restored Karoo style cottages.  These cottages date back to the 1840's and are all furnished with antique furniture yet also includes all the modern amenities travelers require.  The Victoria Manor Hotel at the top of the street is one of the oldest hotels in South Africa and was built in 1848. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Camping at Sitrusoewer

We are so fortunate that there are so many excellent camp sites all over South Africa where one can go and pitch a tent (or park your caravan) for a couple of days.  Not just are there many in numbers but also many destinations.  On the coast, in the mountains, in game reserves, along rivers, in small towns, next to dams and in desert areas just to name a few.  Our last camping trip was at Sitrusoewer just outside Kirkwood in the Sundays River Valley.  The campsite is situated on the banks of the Sundays River with campers fishing, swimming and canoeing all day long.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bigger, better, louder and more awesome. Imax comes to Port Elizabeth

I have never been to an Imax movie so big was my excitement when I received an invitation from Ster-Kinekor to the grand opening of their brand new cinema complex at Baywest in Port Elizabeth.  The complex is made up of 5 regular cinemas, two Cine Prestige luxury cinemas (kitted out with reclining chairs and the works) and, the cherry on top, an Imax cinema.  Only the fourth one in South Africa.  Did I mention that Joburg hasn't got an Imax yet.  Cool, hey! 
Last night Chaos Boy and I headed over to Baywest Mall for some blue carpet treatment and joined celebs, business people, media and a dinosaur for some cocktails (Appletizer for Chaos Boy), snacks, one or two speeches, lots of photos and a screening of Jurassic World. 

Ja ja, ok, se we were basically there to see Jurassic World.  But it wasn't sommer maar net watching another movie.  This one was in the 330 seater Imax theatre, on a screen three story high, perfect surround sound and, wait for it.... in 3D. BOOOM!  What an amazing experience!  Imax in 3D may possibly have spoiled every other cinema out there for me.  I may even have to go and throw out my old box tv and get a plasma just to increase screen size. 
The theatre complex officially opens today (Thursday 18 June) and those who have never had an Imax 3D experience before is truly in for a treat.  In the last week or so I have seen a lot of people ask on Facebook what the cost of tickets are.  The cost is R110 for adults and R75 for kids.  Ster-Kinekor club members will pay R55 on Tuesdays while Discovery Vitality members with a Ster-Kinekor movie card will pay R66 any day.  Edgars Club members pay R71.50.  I already hear people moan about the cost of the tickets, but I'm sure those moaning are the same ones who always moan that there is nothing to do in Port Elizabeth and that nothing ever comes to the city.  It's probably also people who have at some stage or another paid R750 to see an international act and traveled to Cape Town to go and watch them, paid R450 to watch a rugby test, thinks nothing to pay R130 for a bottle of brandy or go and sit in the Spur at least once a month forking out R500 or R600.  Yes, it may be a little steep in a lot of people's language, but it's a treat like all of the above examples so there is no excuse to moan about the price.  So now that we have that out the way, treat yourself and go and experience movies like they should be experienced.  In 3D on an Imax screen.  
Disclosure: We attended the Imax grand opening as guests of Ster-Kinekor.  I received no further remuneration, wasn't asked to write a positive post and keep full editorial control.     

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Langkloof protea

The Langkloof may be a "less desirable" tourism destination than the adjacent Garden Route, but it doesn't mean that its less beautiful.  It may not have the breathtaking coastline or inspiring indigenous forests of the Garden Route, but it doesn't have to stand back one step when it comes to scenic beauty.  Framed by mountains in the north and south, the predominant vegetation is Fynbos, interspersed by farmland and summer fruit orchards.  A little detour on my last trip up the Langkloof to get a photo from a higher vantage point led me to this...