Grand Constance Di Brown

Grand Constance, a winter pairing.

It’s one of those winter’s days when your duvet is your best friend and you seriously contemplate working from your bed. All I want to say is “Really Cape Town, does it have to be this cold?”

But I have a date with food and wine and history at Groot Constantia, so I dress up and show up, shivering and muttering just a little bit.

The focus is food, but I am still at the “I don’t understand this menu” level .

The food is being paired with wine which unless served in a really small glass makes me sleepy, drunk or both very quickly.

My mood improves slightly as I enter the grounds of Groot Constantia. A weak sun is shining on the vineyards and the old buildings have a classic beauty that is admirable in any weather.

Groot Contantia perfevcting life for 300 years Di Brown

Entering the private function room at Jonkershuis Restaurant I am cheered up a bit more by the warmth of the fire, gorgeous table, warming nibbles and a glass of Grand Constance.

a warm fire paired with Grand Constance Di Brown

I am addicted to Grand Constance, so let me tell you a little bit about it.

It comes from the Cloete Cellar at Groot Constantia which is the original home of the South African wine industry dating all the way back to 1685.

Grand Constance is a sweet wine with spicy undertones and smoother than anything you will ever taste in your entire life.

It is high in sugar, totally organic and wine maker Boela Gerber has managed to come very close to replicating the recipe and methods used hundreds of years ago, when this wine was highly sought after by the who’s who of Europe.

Groot Constantia still have the original purchase order from Napoleon Bonaparte who needed thirty bottles of Groot Constantia wine a month to give him comfort during his exile on St Helena Island.

Grand Constance Di Brown

Grand Constance is made from Muscat grapes which are left on the vines until they are practically raisins. They are then picked, stomped and allowed to ferment for a few days before being pressed and put into barrels for a couple of years. That’s just the basics of the process; they are not giving away all their secrets.

Whatever they do and however they do it, the result is very palatable. In my opinion Grand Constance can be paired with everything, but Groot Constantia does have other great wines, and this is how they chose to pair them.

Grand Constance

By now I am cheerful and warmed by the fire and the generous glass of Grand Constance that has warmed and charmed me into good humour. I take a look at the four course menu and foreign words assail me.

Pafait, gnudi, emulsion, parmentier, terrine, fondant.

Help! What does it all mean?

A few English words come in to focus and reassure me, nice easy words like cauliflower, mash, kudu and chocolate cake. OK,maybe I will survive.

the table is set, Jonkershuis Di Brown

The starter and dessert were both paired with Grand Constance and did an excellent job in enhancing all the subtle flavours of the wine.

For the foodies, here are the details, foreign words and all.

Starter: Chicken liver parfait, soft creamy goat’s cheese on brioche toast served with a choice of these preserves.

Apricot and vanilla, spiced beetroot relish, apple chutney, almond and honey praline, pineapple and chilli preserve.

The dessert was a celebration of chocolate flavours and consisted of a dark chocolate and citrus terrine, a chocolate fondant with salted caramel and a gluten free chocolate cake.

We also enjoyed a Governeurs Reserve White wine with Ricotta Gnudi, butternut emulsion, sage noisette butter and spinach.

This was followed by a Governeurs  Reserve Red with Deconstructed Kudu Wellington, buttered cauliflower mash, puff pastry with porcine and red wine sauce and roasted winter root vegetables.

Despite my initial misgivings and appalling ignorance and inability to speak fluent “food and wine” this restaurant is not easy to leave.

From the creative blends of flavours to the friendliness of our hosts and the perfect private setting for a day of indulgence, GrootConstantia  delighted me.

Jonkershuis door Di Brown

Foodies will swoon and drool and to any non-foodies like me, the food might sound scary and weird but it is actually normal food with a delicious twist and when the plate is in front of you, you will recognise most of what is on it.Trust me, just dig in and enjoy it.

I finally left the venue, full, warmed, merry and with a great respect for the creative people who combine science and a passion for food with such artistic flair and make eating an adventure.

 

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CheapflightsExplorers: HoutBay, Cape Town.

The city of Cape Town is a drama queen of note, and during winter her moods are all over the place.

She charms you with beautiful sun drenched days and just when you have unpacked all your favourite T shirts she throws a tantrum. Icy winds blow in from the Arctic, and black clouds rain on your dreams of outdoor living. Mountains and views disappear into the mist, and the wind is in cahoots with the bad hair day monster.

The city becomes fifty shades of grey, but trust me, you do not want to be naked.

Hout bay beach, Di Brown

Don’t allow the weather to trap you inside as there are benefits to braving the elements and exploring Cape Town in winter, all you need is a positive attitude and warm clothing of the layered variety.

I became a #CheapflightsExplorer of Cape Town for a day and it was not sunny at all. I must admit that I would far rather be out and about as nothing makes me more miserable or cold than being inside looking out at a grey day. Depressing stuff.

Kathryn Rossiter and I were sent off from Constantia to explore Hout Bay and Chapmans Peak and this is what we found.

Hout Bay beach, windswept ,wild and awesome. This is not the calm bay of summer where boats cruise smoothly on a turquoise sea and the large block of rock called the Sentinel draws your eyes to marvel at it’s greatness.

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Today it’s a beach with grumpy birds flying like drunkards in the wind. The sea is a cold green and the waves are fighting the air and throwing seaweed onto the sand. The Sentinel is a dark blob, half obscured by a very black cloud. It’s raw nature showing who is boss and it is a beautiful sight, but you have to hear it and feel it to enjoy it.

When the feelings get too much, three steps from the beach will take you to Dunes Restaurant. It is family friendly with indoor and outdoor options and the best views in town. We warmed up with coffee on the deck upstairs as I resigned myself to a mad hair day.

the Dunes, Hout Bay. Di Brown

Leaving Hout Bay, headlights on and windscreen wipers needed we drove up Chapman’s Peak , one of the most scenic drives in the world, whatever the weather. This road was started 101 years ago and took seven years to complete. It is sometimes closed due to rock falls, causing Capetonians to freak out and the tolls brought in in 2003 caused a huge furore, but if that’s what was needed to keep “Chappies” open, so be it.

Kathrine Rossiter enjoying the views, Chapmans Peak, Di Brown

We drove, marvelled at the views, the engineering, the giant steel meshes to keep the rocks in place, paid the toll with a semi smile and stopped at various viewpoints without getting blown out to sea. We also met Clara who was selling her colourful beaded animals at one of the viewing points and she was good enough to pose for a pic.

Clara and her awesome beadwork, Chapmans Peak, Di Brown

Heading down into Noordhoek we decided that retail therapy and a comfort stop trumped a long walk on the beach. This beach is dreamland for dedicated surfers and equestrian addicts, and it’s good looking too, even on a moody, drama queen day. For more info on beach rides click here 

Noordhoek beach, Di Brown

The Farm Village in Noordhoek is a curious mix of eateries, a Hotel, a deli, coffee roastery, info centre and unique clothing and speciality shops. It was too chilly to sample the temptingly named Kirsten’s Kick Ass Ice Cream but we did enjoy the excellent coffee from The Village Roast.

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The browsing took longer than anticipated as there is so much to see, a refreshing change from a collection of chain stores. Shopping for non- essentials is a highly recommended winter hobby, and this is the place to do it.

colours of Africa seen at The Village Mall, Di Brown

Colourful things that must be examined.

The Village shopping Mall  Noordhoek, Di Brown

Creative displays to make you smile.

Coffee to fuel you to explore / shop all day:)

Back in Hout Bay we followed the road until it ended and found the locals favourite fish shop, aptly named Fish on the Rocks. Something of an institution in Hout Bay they have been selling fish to the community for over 25 years.

Fish n Chips, Hout Bay, Di Brown

Being in a working fishing harbour the smell, while not my favourite aroma, certainly lends authenticity to the statement that the fish is really fresh.  Take a walk over to the cannons right next to the shop, it’s a great spot to watch the waves and imagine the drama as enemy ships tried to enter the bay. The cannons are in working order and the tourism office can provide information on when they are fired. Boom, this weather looks just right for a war movie.

canon at Hout Bay, Di Brown

Braving the light rain we walked around the area that on Friday, Saturday and Sunday is where you will find the lively Bay harbour market, an energetic celebration of tastes, cultures, music, art and bargains, offered in real, noisy Cape Town style. Being a weekday we missed it, but being a weekday, we found parking everywhere we went, and did not fight traffic, not even once, a rare thing in Cape Town.

Craft beer, Hout Bay, Di Brown

Shopping and eating is thirsty work and a good craft beer goes down well in any weather. The Urban Brewing Co is a convenient few steps from Fish on the Rocks, it would be criminal to leave the area without sinking a pint or two.

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Some interesting street art adorns the walls in this street.

street art, hout bay, Di Brown

A community project, I love that.

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Back tracking we went to the more mainstream Mariners Wharf, in their words “ a harbour front emphorium” that is bounded by the beach, the road and a dock and has a long pier that must be walked to see the fishing vessels, seals and sea birds. The seagulls will do their utmost to share your food, so look out, the calamari we had there is way too good to share.

Mariners Wharf, Hout Bay, Di Brown

Kathryn braves the elements to walk along the pier and say hi to a really fat seal.

Boats at Hout Bay Harbour, Di Brown

Look at these silly birds lining up for who knows what.Roll call?

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A last walk on the beach before heading home.

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Cape Towns moods don’t get me down, I enjoy seeing the real side of this temperamental diva.

Get yourself to Cape Town this winter, pack your warm clothes but throw in a T-shirt or two, beat the crowds, the traffic and the boring picture perfect views and experience a slightly different Cape Town to what you see in the brochures. She will still steal your heart.

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Disclosure: This post is part of a Cheapflights campaign, opinions are all my own.

 

 

 

 

Pikenierskloof views Di Brown

Zip-lining West Coast style

Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort is 170km from Cape Town on the N7, situated just after the top of the pass with the same name. The Cederberg Mountains shimmer in blues and greys in the distance and the road we arrived on continues its twists and turns for another eight kilometres to the farming town of Citrusdal, appearing as a hazy mini land at the foot of the valley.

We arrived just after nine in the morning on a perfect Cape West Coast winters day. Impossibly blue skies contradicted the chill in the air, and the bright sun lights up rocks and trees in copper tones.

Trees in winter Piekenierskloof Di Brown

Sitting on the deck overlooking the Olifant’s River Valley we dived in to welcome bowls of creamy butternut soup, warm spicy breadsticks, and steaming hot coffee. Bellies full and bodies warmed we were ready for our adventure. Zip lining !

 #ZipLineKloof

Safety trumps fashion as we gear up and listen to the briefing of the do’s and don’ts when zip lining. I don’t think the full body harnesses suits many people, but I do feel reassured that it won’t come off under any circumstances. The lovely Shammy Shamrock manages to own the look, styling in her bright colours, clips and safety gear.

Before I have time to wonder if I am nervous, I am on the first platform being clipped in and looking over the dam to my landing point some 90 meters away. Natasha, our guide is calm and reassuring and with a big smile, she sends me on my way.

 “I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky” sings R.Kelly in my head and I forget about the lines, the harness and the helmet and embrace the freedom. For a moment it is just me, traveling in the air looking up at the endless blue and down at the rocky ground, burnt trees and vivid greens of the new growth.

Yes, I am flying and it’s awesome.

The line Pikenierskloof Di Brown

This is a perfect experience for first timers or anyone who is keen to try but is a little apprehensive about the thought of zip- lining.

Some zip-line adventures involve platforms that are extremely high up and bolted to rock faces or trees and the views looking down  are knee trembling sheer drops into a wild abyss. Totally awesome if you have zip-lined before or are hooked on adrenalin rush adventures, but nerve wracking if you have even the smallest fear of heights and do not know what to expect once you take off.

The zipline platforms Pikenierskloof Di Brown

The platforms here are a manageable four to six meters above the ground making the leap of faith into fresh air an easy one.

They also have a braking method that I particularly enjoyed as I am not any good at the traditional method of braking which involves using your  gloved hand to push down on the line behind your head.

This method has you positioned with both hands in front of you, slightly above your head, holding onto two  handles that are attached to a metal runner clipped onto the line. It gives you full control of your speed as it’s as simple as “push up  to go pull down  to  stop” After the first slide, for the first time ever, I was a zip- lining pro and it felt good.

Views from the zipline Piekenierskloof Di Brown

Waiting my turn to do the second slide I got distracted by the incredible abandoned building next to the platform . Wandering through the remains of  this home with no roof and  crumbling walls, the windows reveal magnificent views and I pause to think about who might have lived here, what is their story and why did they leave such a beautiful place. Hopefully I will find out next time.

Piekenierskloof views Di Brown

On the 16th January 2016 a wild fire raged out of control and for two days the staff and every available hand fought the flames that approached from all sides. The burnt vegetation is still visible no more than twenty meters from the hotel buildings. Staff members tell me that the expertise of Jan Horn, the GM of Piekenierskloof, and an ex Firefighter for the City Of Cape Town, is what saved the resort.

The existing zip-lines that crossed the valley were all burned down or damaged and we were there to celebrate the re- opening of the first three of the seven new slides.

The Shadow Minister of Tourism toasts the success of another WestCoast adventure attraction.

James and Nadia, ready to fly Di Brown

Piekenierskloof took this opportunity to make this adventure even better than before and the new slides are longer, traversing down the valley rather than across it, making them even more exciting.

Its easy Piekenierskloof zipline Di Brown

The remaining four lines will be open to the public around the end of August 2016 and promise to provide thrills to all who dare to #ZipLineKloof. I can’t wait.

Ziplining at Pikenierskloof Di BrownZipline Piekenierskloof Di Brown

The cost for zip-lining is extremely affordable at ZAR150 per person for three slides or ZAR250 per person for all seven slides.

Other activities worth looking at are target shooting, MTB routes, hikes and walks.

For the less active give your taste buds some excitement with pure West Coast flavours that involve chocolate and other tasty treats paired with local wines and / or Carmien Teas. This is Rooibos and citrus country where you get the very best, very fresh.

For after action relaxation the Piekenierskloof Wellness Centre can soothe and pamper you, or you can refresh in the heated indoor pool or swim outdoors where the views are truly magnificent.

Pknsklf pool Di Brown

Piekenierskloof is part of the WestCoastWay Berg Route. This route offers a variety of tastes, culture, adventure and nature and is a comprehensive way to discover and explore the area.

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How to book and all the details.

For zip-line bookings in the pre-scheduled time slots (and with at least a day’s notice to ensure availability) contact Natasha on 022 9213574. Guests must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to complete an indemnity form at Reception and bookings are weather permitting.
For more information on Piekenierskloof and the West Coast Way Berg Route, as well as the list of 101 Things to Do on the West Coast visit www.westcoastway.co.zaor call West Coast Way on 0861 321 777. Connect with West Coast Way on Facebook and Twitter at WestCoastWaySA.

Facilities available at Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort

  • Accommodation • Child Friendly • Bar • Restaurant (Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner) • Outdoor Pool • Indoor Heated Pool • Wheelchair Accessibility (Chalets 9 & 16, Hotel Room 217) • 4 Star Tourism Grading • Trip Advisor • Conference Facilities • Wedding and Function Venue • Tuck Shop • Un-Guided Nature Walks • Online Booking Facilities

Contact: Reservations +27 (0)22 921 3574  | pkloof@dreamresorts.co.za

Pikenierskloof dam Di Brown

 

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Rooibos Tea is the new coffee

Food and drink have become such an integral part of tourism that our travel is dictated by our taste buds, and no holiday is complete without some sort of pairing.

When coffee beans took over the world a few years ago, a whole new language and culture was created, as were billions of new caffeine addicts.

Now many people are becoming concerned about their caffeine addiction, but really, who would want to give up coffee?

The good news is you don’t have to, just buy a teapot. It’s that easy.

Then experiment until you find your favourite rooibos tea flavours and add them to your daily liquid intake, reducing your coffee consumption proportionately.

You don’t even have to abandon your coffee culture habits as you can buy capsules for your Nespresso and make a Red Cappuccino, Rooibos Espresso or Rooibos Chai all made by Carmien Tea.

Rooibos teas are organic, totally caffeine free, naturally sweet and have no kilojoules at all.

Whatever your taste, you will find a natural, green or herbal infused tea to suit your palate

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Rooibos tea is a national treasure, unique to South Africa. The only place in the world where it can be successfully grown is 60 000 hectare belt within the Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor,  in the West Coast  region of the Cape Province.

The Farm Tour.

On a bitterly cold morning we arrived at Bergendal and Ilze Bruwer from Carmien took us straight to one of the rooibos fields. The icy wind froze our faces as we sheltered under umbrellas from the light rain that started to fall.

We walked a little, stopping to sniff the unremarkable, slightly scruffy looking plants growing in this beautiful valley while Ilze spoke with pride and passion about this miracle bush called Rooibos.

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The weather deteriorated fast and we took a short drive to the hub of the business where the harvested plants begin the transformation to delicious tea. Most of the rooibos branches are cut to lengths varying from 1,5 to 5 mm before being bruised to aid natural reactions which develop the colour and flavour of the tea. At this point the green rooibos is crushed and fermented before the drying process.

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The rooibos is now left in heaps to ferment for 10 -14 hours before being spread out on the massive yards to dry naturally in the sun. It is then graded according to size, flavour, colour and taste before being sterilized by steam pasteurisation.

The fine dust from the tea created orange and red puddles on the rain drenched courtyard and we splashed through them as we made our way to thaw out with a tea tasting.

 

We warmed up in the tasting room with Rooibos Chai, followed by a delicious Green rooibos, ginger and chilli tea and finished with a surprisingly good flower infused brew called Vintage Romance.

Wine, tea and food pairing. 

Follow up your farm tour with a tasting at Hebron situated just up the road on the way back to the pass. The entrance is opposite the Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort. For the not so hungry you can do  four pairings with various teas, wines and lovely snacks like Lindt dark chocolate, Turkish Delight, goats cheese and dried sausage or you can go all out and have a four course meal with wines and teas to compliment each serving.

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Due to the cold outside and the cozy atmosphere in the Hebron room we did it all, led by the food wizard Arnel Pellegrom.

I must confess that not being much of a foodie I can find pairings  boring, pretentious and baffling at times but Arnel will entertain and enlighten any sceptic. Her enthusiastic descriptions of why she selected a specific tea and Groot Constantia Wine to compliment each course was  backed by quite a lot of scientific facts which I found very interesting.

I also loved her ability to admit that sometimes what she dreams up does not work as she thought it would, and then she grins and says the only way to really know is to taste it.

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Just to tempt you, here are the tasty details of my two favourite courses at Hebron.

Grilled loin of Springbok with pearl barley risotto and quince jelly paired with Carmien Vanilla Mocha and Groot Constantia Shiraz.

Phyllo mille feuille with blood orange sabayon paired with Carmien Cherry and Orange and my favourite drink in the whole wide world, Groot Constantia Grand Constance.

Do this, it is different, it is exciting for your mouth and it is good for you.

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While we sipped Ilze talked us through the multitude of herbs, flowers, spices, fruits and nuts that Carmien are continuously experimenting with and adding to their teas to provide exciting new tastes and added health benefits.

Natural Rooibos is high in anti-oxidants, contains no kilojoules and is very low in tannin.

It also replaces essential minerals like iron, zinc, sodium and potassium, alleviates allergies, and is soothing to the nervous system. These are just a few of the health benefits of rooibos tea.

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What’s the big deal about anti- oxidants?

Anti- oxidants and free radicals occur naturally in the human body. The problem occurs when the balance between free radicals and anti- oxidants is off. Our modern lifestyle filled with environmental toxins, stress, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, cigarette smoking and UV rays increases the amount of free radicals in our bodies and this is not a good thing. Free radicals are blamed for all sorts of badness, from compromised immune systems to cell mutation, heart problems, cancer and other life threatening diseases.

The best and most natural way to control free radicals is to make sure we have a healthy intake of anti-oxidants and all Rooibos products have this is abundance.  So now you know.

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About the company called Carmien Tea.

The HQ and farm is situated on the Bergendal Estate near the top of the Piekenierskloof Pass in the heart of Rooibos country. Here they grow rooibos and do all the producing and packaging of the organic rooibos they grow and from the farms they source from  in Piekenierskloof, Nieuwoudville, Wupperthal and Gifberg.

 

 

The Feel Good Factors.

Their motto is Growing Goodness and this sums up exactly what they do.

They grow goodness in the way that they and the affiliate estates farm. By letting nature do her job they produce healthy, organic tea.

They grow goodness in the way they look after the farm workers and their children, providing crèches, kindergarten and after school facilities that are all well equipped with everything young people need to successfully thrive and learn. They provide bursaries and walk the talk when they state the children are the future.

They grow goodness in the way they support the community and the future of the business by making the workers on Bergendal shareholders in the rooibos industry.

They grow goodness by their commitment to FairTrade principles and practices and to the nine certification bodies they are regularly audited by.

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There is a Carmien tea for every occasion

The best way to prepare rooibos is to allow it to draw for 3 minutes. For the maximum benefit and best taste drink it without milk, sugar or honey. The best temperature is about 60 degrees but it can be enjoyed as an iced tea too.

It’s a tea for the whole family.Special blends are available for expectant and nursing mums and an organic kiddies and babies tea is available at the affordable price of R17 for 40 teabags.Start your kids in  infancy and set them on a healthy path for life.

Get creative and pair it with food and wine or food and beer, you will be surprised at the results.

Try this for a few days and then tell me how great you feel.

  • Start your day with a cup of Carmien Rooibos vanilla mocha if you are missing your coffee flavours.
  • Before a meal sip on the Carmien Green Honeybush, Rooibos and Mint tea as it is a palate cleanser, have another cup after your meal as it helps to digest your food and the anti-oxidants break down the any fats you have consumed. Great for detoxing and cleansing.
  • If you suffer from allergies, circulation problems, high cholesterol, headaches, stomach cramps, indigestion or stress there is a tea that will aid the alleviation of your symptoms.
  • For pure enjoyment Carmien Rooibos Chai contains cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves and black pepper. Chai spices are said to naturally heal the body and promote heart health.
  • Before going to sleep a cup of Carmien Rooibos and Camomile for a good night’s rest.

 

To browse the Carmien Range and order online click here

Book a tasting at Hebron, Citrusdal, South Africa
admin@hebron.co.za
+27 (0)22 921 2595 / +27 (0)22 921 2581

Book a farm tour at Bergendal  ideally two days in advance by calling 022 921 8900

Carmien and Hebron are on the WestCoastWaySA Berg Route.

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World Land Speed Record Attempt. South Africa 2017

It has just been announced that the date for the record attempt has finally been set by Bloodhound.

After a few false starts that had us anticipating this event in 2015 we now have a firm date and the whole world will get to know our very own Northern Cape.

 

Save the date.

   15th October 2017.

 

In a round world, South Africa’s Northern Cape is home to the flattest place on earth and it is called Hakskeenpan.  Find it at  26°46’15.71″S   20°13’35.15″E  on Google Earth.

In September 2014 I spent 12 hours at the pan for Kalahari Speedweek, as part of South African World Tourism Day mega celebration.

That was long enough to hook me.

On first sighting the pan, my brain gasped. Only two colours registered, and my world comprised of blue sky and yellow sand. That’s it.

A 360 degree turn revealed a slight ridge of dunes, and on the opposite side of hint of a few reeds, trying to be green. Sound is non existent until you concentrate and the sand emits a combination of a whistle and a roar. Tune in a bit more and you might hear a bird, but nothing man made.

It made me want to whisper.

Black took on a whole new meaning when night fell, and as I could not see my feet walking was tricky so I lay on my back and looked at the stars. Where did all these “extra stars” come from, it is dizzying trying to take it all in.

The main event

This geographical phenomenon is going to put the Northern Cape in the spotlight of the world in the in 2017, when the Bloodhound Team aim to break the World Land Speed record by attempting to travel at over 1 600 km/ph over a 20km track.

So how fast is that? A Boeing 747 flies at an average speed of 920km/ph. That is 600km/ph slower than what the Bloodhound will attempt on land!

For the ladies, the Bloodhound will reach a speed of 800km/ph in the time it takes to you to apply your lipstick. At full speed the Bloodhound will travel faster than a bullet fired from a 357 Magnum.

Speed Freaks

It all started in the United Kingdom in 2008 when the Bloodhound Project was officially announced.This project is the result of adventurous dreamers, engineers, scientists, speed freaks, communication experts and technical wizards working together to build an eco-friendly, seriously sexy vehicle to set new land speed records, and in doing so, to share the technology and information with the whole world.

In their words “The Bloodhound Project is a global Engineering Adventure, using a 1 000 mph World Land Speed Record attempt to inspire the next generation about science, technology, engineering and mathematics” and it will all be happening right here in South Africa

Read more about the World Record attempt here

When travelling at over 1 000km/ph a tiny bump can be the equivalent of hitting a boulder, so an extremely flat area with no vegetation, and longer than 10miles had to be found to carry out the record attempt.  A world wide search spanning a few years resulted in the finding, testing and accepting of Hakskeenpan as the best site in the world for this adventure.

 

 

Keep an eye on the package deals to be announced by Northern Cape Tourism.

If all this talk of speed excites you, you can get involved via Speedweek Kalahari.

This is an annual event held at the pan that enables petrol heads and speed addicts to play with their toys without complaints from the neighbours. This is a great way to experience the magic of the pan, push your own vehicle to the max or just enjoy the spectacle.

Now that you have decided that you need to be there, here is all the information you need to persuade your family and friends to join you on an epic Northern Cape adventure.

Upington is the urban hub of the area and the Orange River flows right through the middle of the town. The weather is great and the wine is outstanding, as many of the best wines of South Africa are produced on the Orange River Wine Route, located between Augrabies and Upington.

The Augrabies National Park is 110 km West of Upington. Obviously, this is where you can view the Augrabies Falls, but also consider a Hot Air Balloon trip, 4 x 4 trails , bird watching and game drives.

(www.jabedimapping.com)

Sandboarding at Kakamas, or paragliding in Kuruman, recommended before you start the wine tasting. Take a look at the Quiver Tree Route for the best way to explore this region.

Hakskeenpan is 250km North of Upington and from the pan to Kalaghadi Transfrontier Nation Park is a piddly 116km.

(www.jabedimapping.com)

To survive the desert, make a  pit stop at Molopo Lodge  for the best lunch and a swim.

Just up the road in Northern Cape terms you will find Kalahari Trails, home of  Prof Anna and the meerkats, those little cuties who inspired the TV show.

The Kalagadi Transfrontier park is the coldest I have ever been in a desert, but seeing a lion, birds, hyena and Bambi in the first 15 minutes of the game drive distracted me from my frozen state.

Take a look at the Red Dune Route from Upington to the Kgalagadi for a complete list of activities and accommodations http://experiencenortherncape.com/visitor/explore-the-northern-cape/routes/kalahari-red-dune-route

For comprehensive information on the Northern Cape Province click here.

 

I have updated this post of mine that was originally published by Traveller 24 in 2014. 

 

 

 

TABLE MOUNTAIN NAC DI BROWN

Eye level with Table Mountain | NAC Helicopters

Cape Town has an intimate relationship with Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. Most people think Capetonians are a little obsessed with the mountains, and they are correct, we are. They dictate our weather, our traffic and our appreciation of beauty as well as serving as magnificent natural landmarks and a backdrop to our little place in the world.

It is only when you see these mountains from the air that you truly appreciate how much the mountains dominate and shape our city and our lives.

NAC HELICOPTERS CAPE TOWN Di Brown

 

If you want to understand Cape Town, take a scenic helicopter flight with NAC Helicopters Cape Town, it will blow your mind.

5 standard tours are offered starting at under R1000 per person for the 15 minute Hopper Tour.

Longer flights cover a bigger area and include Robben Island and Cape Point.

Click here for detailed information on the tours on offer.

12 APOSTLES NAC DI BROWN

My Experience on the Hopper Scenic Flight.

Sadly my camera is in for repairs and my cell phone pics do not do justice to the views that await you. 

I arrived at NAC as requested half an hour before my flight time, feeling a little disappointed as the weather was overcast and cloudy and I did not have high expectations of seeing much. Not that it would stop me, for the thrill of a flying in a helicopter I would have gone even if visibility was rated zero.

The excitement starts from the minute you walk through the doors and are ushered to seats on the deck overlooking the sea. Sipping coffee and watching the helicopters take off and land while you complete the paperwork and get weighed before the safety briefing is all part of the experience. The sounds of the helicopters starting up and the rhythmic tuk tuk of the rotors as the speed increases before they rise up and you watch as the helicopter becomes a small speck in the sky. Knowing it will soon be you heading for the clouds.

NAC VIEW FROM THE DECK DI BROWN

flew in a Robinson 44, just big for 3 passengers and the pilot, Abri Le Roux. From the moment we hovered a centimetre off the ground until a few hours after we landed, I had a stupid grin plastered all over my face.

Head phones on, strapped in and off we go. The gods must have been smiling on me that day because the mist rolled away, the clouds moved and Cape Town was showing off in a big way.

NAC HELICOPTERS TAKE OFF DI BROWN

Abri made me feel completely at ease, talking about the workings of the helicopter, the altitude we were at and pointing out landmarks along the way. He also reassured me that I would be able to get photos on the way back and should relax and enjoy the views.

Being eye level with Table Mountain, looking down and seeing how a city had to develop around all these mountains and observing the contrast of rugged, untamed nature right next to high density urban landscapes is incredible.

It felt like for the first time I could say “I see you, Cape Town, and you are even more spectacular than I imagined.”

After we landed I went back to the deck, had another coffee, and watched a few more take offs and landings while I mentally came back down to earth. Sitting there, the mist came back in and the clouds rolled over the mountains, and I said thanks to the weather gods .

I would rate this as the best experience I have ever had. Ever !

About NAC Helicopters Cape Town

NAC stands for the NATIONAL AIRWAYS CORPORATION, a company with a solid 70 years of experience in the aviation industry. Started in 1946, NAC has grown into the largest general aviation company in Africa and one of the largest of its kind in the world.

NAC Helicopters Cape Town are based at the V&A Waterfront and are considered market leaders for coastal sight-seeing helicopter tours.

 LIONS HEAD CLOSE UP NAC  DI BROWN

The Feel Good Factor.

NAC Helicopters Cape Town supports the Forever Wild Elephant Conservation Initiative, a programme started by The Wilderness Foundation in 2011 to highlight and support the rhino poaching crisis. It has been expanded to include elephants, as well as other endangered species.

For every walk-in client, NAC Helicopters Cape Town donates R90 to the programme.

Tips. 

Take a camera, and if you have one add a polariser or ND filter to reduce the glare and reflections off the windows.

Take a jacket as the higher you go the cooler it gets.

Take your time. Enjoy the views without your camera, those scenes will be etched in your brain forever.

Ask the staff for advice if the weather conditions look overcast.

Sit on the deck after your flight, look for the Black Oyster Catchers, see the silly Hadedah birds sitting unperturbed in between 2 noisy helicopters, and ask Frankie to tell you about the seal who wanted to sleep on the helipad.

SIGNAL HILL NAC DI BROWN

Nothing beats flying in a helicopter, and doing it over a city as spectacular as Cape Town is mind blowing.

Disclosure . Thank you to NAC HELICOPTERS CAPE TOWN for hosting me on the Hopper Scenic Flight. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

First glimpse of the sea, and glorious details in the vegetation Di Brown

Walk the Cape West Coast Biosphere Trail

The Cape West Coast Biosphere Trails

Say the word Biosphere and my mind conjures up images of science nerds, serious folks in lab coats carrying clipboards, and fervent chaps in conservation khaki tying themselves to trees to save the lesser spotted puddle newt.

The Cape West Coast Biosphere is a little different, and while serious work is being done by them, they have found a way to make Biospheres an everyday, normal word by embracing the tourism industry. Book Cape West Coast Biosphere Trails of your choice and see the West Coast like never before!

 

bundu bashing Di Brown Darling stagger

What is a Biosphere?

Biosphere reserves are areas of natural beauty rich in fauna and flora. They aim to find a balance between development in the area and the preservation of the cultural diversity and indigenous treasures. Biospheres seek ways to grow sustainably, create employment and work within a dynamic framework that ensures better lifestyles in an earth friendly manner.

Where exactly is the Cape West Coast Biosphere?

It starts in greater Cape Town a mere 14km from the city centre at the Diep River in Milnerton and extends 140km north to the Berg River at Laaiplek. It encompasses numerous small towns and coastal villages as well as vast areas of Renosterveld, Sandveld and coastal dunes and beaches. The West Coast National Park is the heart of the Biosphere Reserve, and attractions like the West Coast Fossil Park and quirky town of Darling are in the buffer zones.

There are 598 biospheres is the world, 74 of them in Africa and 6 in South Africa.

Q: What can I do for fun in this Biosphere? A: Go on the Cape West Coast Biosphere Trails!

Di Brown Darling Stagger. over the hill

You can start with any or all of the five trails that have been created by the Biosphere. The Cape West Coast Biosphere Trails cater for walkers, hikers, cyclists, paddlers and anyone in need of a break from the city.

These trails are a little different to most. While slack packing is nothing new, wine and olive tasting on a walk is certainly unusual, as are breaks for huge West Coast meals, mid walk swims or being halted by the guide to allow a tortoise to cross the path.

The Cape West Coast has always known how to live slowly. Life is to be enjoyed and savoured at a comfortable pace, not rushed through with our eyes fixed firmly on the future, rendering us incapable of enjoying the moment we are in. This is the ethos of the trails. Designed for fun, relaxation and perhaps a little education if you so desire. You will eat well, drink well and be transported to comfortable or luxury accommodation.

Even better is the flexibility allowed. You can book a standard trail or you can mix it up, add activities, skip others or custom design your personal dream West Coast experience.

The standard Cape West Coast Biosphere Trails are as follows:

EVE’S TRAIL is a 2 day, 30km wilderness hike in the West Coast National Park. Little creatures and sandy beaches, wild flowers and ancient memories, this walk is about getting back to the basics of life and finding harmony with the earth. Pure soul food.

THE 5 BAY TRAIL is a scenic, 2 day, 38km coast hugging hike between the coastal villages of Paternoster and Jacobsbaai. There is always time to stop for a swim, paddle or bodysurf on this route.

THE WHEELS OF TIME TRAIL

This ride is about 100km over two days and is aimed at recreational cyclists and those who enjoy the back roads and byways rather than super smooth tar and high speeds. No need for those odd lycra outfits here.

As it is all about the enjoyment, a support vehicle offers not only food and drink, but also a break should you decide to rest in the car for a couple of k’s.

THE DARLING STAGGER

Here is a little taste of my experience.

We had a leisurely breakfast at The Granary in Darling before being transported to !KhwaTtu to start our adventure.

breakfast at the Granary Di Brown

Walking in single file on the hard shoulder of the R27, a major road linking Cape Town and St Helena Bay, drew a few hoots and a couple of curious looks from passing motorists and a noisy tractor. We soon moved off the road and bundu bashed for about a kilometre until we reached a rich red gravel road. It was perfect walking weather, fresh, cloudy, but not actually raining yet.

We covered about ten km on this gravel road, pausing to inspect unusual fynbos plants, spider’s nests and a killing field full of dead tortoises. A variety of antelope made brief appearances in the distance and our guide told us of the leopards that live here but are rarely seen. We might have quickened our pace a little at this point.

Di Brown. Our guides on the Darling Stagger

Finally the path brought us to the sand dunes and the beach. Walking in soft sand is heavy going. A gale force wind had us bent double and covering all but our eyes with scarves to avoid being sand blasted beyond recognition.

The sea was the most peculiar soupy green, and the waves left vivid patterns of lime coloured foam on the beach. This was apparently a phenomenon known as an algal bloom.

The crazy green, the wild wind and the remoteness of this beach made me a little mad and I decided to take off my shoes and paddle a little for a close up photo of this peculiar sea.

Di Brown Darling stagger Yzerfontein beach, the green is called an Algal Bloom

Top tip.

Never turn your back on a wave.

Of course I got drenched and obviously it started raining.

But guess what? I was having a great time.

We were collected a few kilometres on and driven back to Darling where we feasted at The Flying Pig before going back to our hotel to thaw out and change and off for another feast at Bistro 7.

The following morning we really did stagger around the interesting town of Darling, taking in the museum, the Darling Sweet, Evita se Perron and other quirky shops before heading to Darling Brew for some serious beer tasting, food feasting and a brewery tour. A return visit is on the cards as Darling alone is worth staggering about in for a whole weekend. There are great wineries to be discovered and tasted and of course there is the beer.

Darling is just one of the towns on these trails, so if you love to relax, eat, drink, cycle, walk, explore and throw in a bit of nature, go to Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve and start browsing, planning and booking your next country break.

First glimpse of the sea, and glorious details in the vegetation Di Brown

Fast Facts about the Biosphere.

  • It is the only biosphere that has a nuclear power station, an oil refinery and a toxic dump site.
  • It is the only biosphere that encompasses a city boundary.
  • It is an excellent venue for shore-based whale watching, and is not overcrowded like most other spots.
  • It includes a RAMSAR site (Langebaanlagoon) with a deep-sea harbour to accommodate ore carriers.
  • It includes Dassen Island, one of only two breeding sites in the country for Pelicans, as well as the largest penguin colony.
  • It has the largest colony of gannets, based at Lamberts Bay.
  • It has a Fossil park: West Coast Fossil Park, a National Heritage Site.
  • Groote Post vineyard produces Chardonnay of choice for SAA business class and has won many awards.
  • Darling Cellars, the largest local producer of a fine selection of wines is based in the Biosphere.
  • Most large industries in the area are currently BEE compliant.
  • The Swartland wheat fields described as the “Breadbasket of South Africa” are part of the Biosphere.
  • Langebaanhosts the largest hobie cat sailing regatta in the country every Easter weekend.
  • The World championship sailboard competition is annually held at Big Bay.
  • Blouberg is one of the top five kite surfing venues in the world.
  • The Berg River estuary is one of the largest salt producers in country (Cerebos).
  • It is the home of the dried fish industry (Bokkems).
  • It has an excellent climate, lower rainfall and warmer winters than Cape Town; and cooler summers owing to the cold Atlantic
  • It still has large open spaces and a BIG blue unpolluted sky.

For more information or to book visit: www.capebiosphere.co.za/trails

Contact them on trails@capebiosphere.co.za or 0861 872 457

Follow them on Facebook Cape West Coast Biosphere Trails and Twitter: @CWCBioRes

candelabra brightens up the renosterveld Di Brown

For more information on West Coast Way Routes and the list of 101+ Things To See And Do in the Cape West Coast, visit their events page. Choose to go on a self-guided adventure drive by following the routes, or book an air-conditioned trip to top West Coast attractions in South Africa.

 

 

Twitter Tips for newbies

Twitter is all about getting to know new people and creating a community of friends with similar interests.

In the last few months I have noticed that a lot of my recent followers are new to Twitter.

Many are “eggs” with no profile picture or bio and they have not put out one Tweet. Many had no followers but were following between 50 -80 people.

I then cast my mind back to a few years ago when I was brand new to Twitter and how confusing and overwhelming it could be, and the fear I had of putting out a Tweet.  I remember following numerous accounts and being on Twitter involved just reading, and sometimes bravely liking a Tweet.

As my confidence grew I started tentatively retweeting and after many months plucked up the courage to Tweet to some of the people I followed.Here are a few things I have learned along the way, hopefully they will be helpful in growing your Twitter community.

TWITTER TIPS to get you started.

Twitter is all about engagement, and getting to know people, so make it easy for people to know you.

How do you do this?

  1. Add a picture to your Twitter profile. If you are shy and do not want to add a picture of yourself, then add a picture of something you love, think is beautiful or represents an interest of yours.
  2. Add a bio. Tell potential followers something about yourself. Where you live, what you do and what your interests are. If you are not sure what to write, look at the biographies of the accounts you follow to get the idea.
  3. Be brave and Tweet. Even if it is a Tweet to me  @DiBrown5 to say                              “look, I added a profile pic and a bio,” this is exactly how we start a conversation.
  4. Spend a little time with Twitter finding and following accounts that represent your interests. If they are big accounts like a national newspaper, don’t be concerned if they do not follow back or engage. You can still follow them and share what they Tweet with your Twitter followers.
  5.  If you can, when you Tweet, add a photo or a link to something that interests you, you will get more engagement that way. That is what Twitter is all about, getting to know new people and creating a community of friends with similar interests.
  6. Make sure your Twitter timeline is not all about you. As a general rule, for every Tweet about yourself, share at least 3 Tweets from other accounts you follow.
  7. When you read a Tweet you like, share it by using the “quote” option and add a comment of your own before Tweeting it.
  8. Twitter is generally a polite and friendly place so be nice, thank people when they share your Tweets, but please don’t do it via an automated app as this is just annoying.

By the way, my Twitter is my happy place so I tend to not engage much with negative folks and moaners.

Happy Tweeting.

 

 

NAC HELICOPTERS CAPE TOWN Di Brown

48 hours in Cape Town in winter

Well hello  Cape Town.

NAC HELICOPTERS CAPE TOWN TABLE MOUNTAIN Di Brown

There is a fairly good chance that your 48 hours in Cape Town in winter will be on the cold side and could include a fair amount of rain. Pack a fold up umbrella and some colourful wellies, a warm jacket and something waterproof. Layered outfits work here in winter as we are known for having four seasons in one day. During June, July and August the average temperature is 18 degrees C and 12 to 14 days of each month will have some rain.

The best way to see a city is to walk it. Walking is also a good way to warm up, so dress up and get moving and take to the streets.  Voice Map audio tours are self guided tours that are location specific. Simply download the app onto your smart phone or tablet, and select the tour you want. A map displays your route and the audio gives directions and tells the story at the relevant landmark. Text can be viewed as well.

The Bo-Kaap is the most popular tour, so why not absorb a little history, lots of stories and take some colourful pics. The walk will warm you and unless we are have one of our Cape of Storms moments, an umbrella will protect you from a little rain. The duration of this walk is 20 minutes and the distance covered is 1.3 km. Voice Map offer a wide variety of tours including Woodstock Street Art, eating and entertainment in Kloof Street, Secret Tunnels in Cape Town, a Newlands Brewery tour and the Seapoint Promenade. Click  here for all the options. Each tour displays the duration and number of km at the top making it easy to choose a tour that fits in with the time you have available.

The Cape Wheel  is a fun way to orientate yourself to the Waterfront and parts of the city. At the top you are 40 meters above the ground and the sights you miss on the first revolution you will see on one of the next three turns. The ride takes around 20 minutes and the Wheel still operates when it is raining but shuts down if the wind is too strong.

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If the Cape Wheel is not high enough for you then take to the skies in a helicopter with NAC Helicopters Cape Town. The staff will advise you regarding the weather conditions as safety is paramount, but your enjoyment is also important to them so do ask them for advice if it looks overcast or is very cloudy. Allow an hour for the 15 minute flight. You need to be there half an hour in advance to enjoy a coffee on the deck next to the water, get weighed and listen to the safety briefing.

I needed a little extra time after we landed to gaze at the views and to allow myself time to mentally come back down to earth.

NAC HELICOPTERS CAPE TOWN Di Brown

Our helicopter was a Robinson 44, just big for 3 passengers and the pilot. From the moment we hovered a centimetre off the ground until a few hours after we landed, I had a stupid grin plastered all over my face. Nothing beats flying in a helicopter, and doing it over a city as spectacular as Cape Town is mind-blowing.

 NAC HELICOPTERS CAPE TOWN LIONS HEAD SIGNAL HILL Di Brown

Take to the waves without getting wet on the Mirage 760, a 76 foot luxury catamaran docked at the V& A Waterfront. Rain does not stop this baby as the lower level is fully enclosed on three sides and you can sit on soft white couches sipping a cocktail or stand up top with the spray in your face and the best views in the world. Marvel as you look back at Table Mountain and forward towards Robben Island or Clifton Beach, this really is the life.

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The Mirage 760 is like a floating dream world, complete with grills for making snacks, a full kitchen and a bar. Regardless of the weather, you will be comfortable. Big enough to accommodate 120 people the Mirage is available for day or sunset cruises from 2 hours or longer. Click here for all the options and details and please note that you must book in advance. It is certainly worth it.

Grand Constance Di Brown

Raise your glass as you can’t visit Cape Town without experiencing a wine farm and the closest one to the city is the oldest and most historic, Groot Constantia. Just 18 km from the city centre, Groot Constantia offers a museum, wine tasting, great food at Jonkershuis or Simon’s , walks under the oaks and views to die for from the slopes of Table Mountain. The newly opened info centre on the premises can give you information on the other wine estates that make up the Constantia Wine Route.

I highly recommend  Jonkershuis for lunch or an early supper, it closes at 9pm on weekends, and 7pm during the week. You can’t leave without sampling the award-winning Grand Constance, favourite tipple of Napoleon Bonaparte. I am not much of a wine drinker but I finished off a bottle of this in a week. Smooth, golden, slightly spicy and ideal to take the chill out of a winter’s day. Well, that was my excuse.

I travel

If the rain looks like it’s here to stay then get to the Grandwest Casino and Entertainment Centre. You don’t have to enjoy gambling to have fun at GrandWest, it has so much to offer under one roof.

Snow World, now on until the 31st July at GrandWest. Find your inner child and just laugh and scream a bit for an hour or so. The Ice Box is a chilly – 3 degrees so dress warmly. This is where you will race down the ice slides in a round tube and learn to snow board under the expert guidance of Mark. Booking online for the snow boarding is recommended as this is a very popular activity, and not as easy as it looks.

After snow boarding and an ice slide or two, you need to pop off for a Jaegermeister in the Ice Bar before heading back into the normal temperatures of the rest of the area.

Walk past the Woolley mammoths, dinosaurs and other ice age animals, climb to the top of the large ice slide and hurtle down in a blow up boat, or just make a snowman with the little people in the snow pit.

Go ice skating, or bowling, if you can bear the noise of shrieking kids and a million electronic games beeping and exploding,  or check in advance for the live shows and book your tickets to The Manhattans, Disney on Ice, or even Dora the Explorer if that’s your thing. All show details are available here.

Make a night of it at GrandWest . After dining at one of the 12 restaurants, (I love Bukhara and the Cape Town Fish Market) head over to Hanover Street for live music or to the Jackson Hall if you are a Blues and Jazz fan. All are located in the city street themed area called The District in the GrandWest complex.

 

We have culture and it’s easy to find and a great way to get out of the rain and cold weather.  Musical extravaganzas, ballet, opera, theatre and comedy, you can find it all right here in the city. After all we don’t want you driving in our crazy traffic in the rain.  Dress up or go comfortable to the wonderful  Artscape, I have my ticket to My Fair Lady and I can’t wait.

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If an intimate setting for theatre is more your style the Fugard has a great line up over the next few months including “The Voice I cannot Silence” and “Clybourne Park”.

The Labia Theatre is the oldest Indie theatre in South Africa and screens art, classic and independent movies. With four theatres each showing 4 to 5 movies a day you are sure to find something you just have to see.

Top Tips.

If it’s not raining, it is often cloudy and this means great sunrises and sunsets.

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Sunrise is at a reasonable hour of around 7:30 to 8am at the moment and sunset happens between 5:30 and 6pm. It is worth getting up early for sunrise, and definitely consider a City Sightseeing Sunset drive to the top of Signal Hill, the views are spectacular.  The bus departs from the Waterfront.

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If you are dead set on seeing the Cape Town Icons, check out Cape Town Big 7 and good luck. I really don’t think you can do them all properly in 48 hours but if you do want to try then definitely check the Table Mountain Cable Aerial Cable Way for weather updates and queuing times.

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Cape Town traffic is horrible so plan to always be going against the traffic during the week. If you need to come in to the city do it before 7am or after 9:30 am and don’t even think of trying to leave the city between 4 and 6pm.

Come and say #HelloCapeTown

 

Disclaimer. This post is part of the Blogathon  Cape Town 2016 Campaign with Travel Concept Solution, Cape Town Tourism and the Hello Weekend initiative and CheapFlights.

For more information about the Blogathon please contact Travel Concept Solution

 

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Hermanus Fynarts Festival.

I like art, although I am not a frequent visitor of galleries, nor do I have a cheque book that can cope with the price tags attached to what I like. That said, art can be enjoyed and appreciated just by looking and I have just spent two days doing exactly that at the Hermanus Fynarts Festival.

Now in its fourth year, this festival is really coming into its own and getting bigger and better all the time. This year the festival theme is A French Connection, and considering South Africa’s passion and excellence in all things related to food, wine and the performing arts, coupled with our French Hugenot heritage, it’s a very good connection all round.

During his performance at “Last night at the Proms” our very own maestro Richard Cock dismissed politicians, statesmen and business leaders and boldly stated…

“ We ,the creatives are the future of this country, because creatives talk to our souls.”

I tend to agree with him. I have spent two days viewing beautiful and thought provoking art, listened to exquisite music, eaten food made with passion and flair and spent time on the beach with my camera. My world is in perfect harmony. I have been rejuvenated.

Richard also noted that the arts had a very difficult job as the natural beauty of the area is a tough competitor. I say that while nature and art might have been competing, they complimented and inspired one another, and they both won. After all, we are in South Africa, the most talented and beautiful country in the world.

So whatever talks to your soul, inspires and delights you, you will find it in Hermanus this week until the final day of the festival on Sunday 19th June.

Spread out over Hermanus and the surrounding area the festival is a celebration of sculpture, paintings, food, wine, music and poetry. You can wander around and look, you can taste, listen and learn. There are talks, workshops, cooking demos and wine tastings with lots of mixing and matching at a variety of venues. Visit wine estates, hotels, galleries, churches and municipal halls, just look for the Hermanus Fynarts posters and signs that are dotted all around.

To view the complete program of events, talks and workshops click here to view and book if necessary.

 

All the galleries and venues displaying artworks are free and a handy map showing the location is readily available as Hermanus now boasts a First Fridays Artwalk through the village.

As I am neither a foodie nor a wine lover, I focussed on the art and this is what I found and loved. It represents a tiny fraction of what is on display.

My photographs do not do justice to the artwork, they serve only to give an idea of the feast that awaits your eyes.

The featured artist of the festival is Louis Jansen van Vuuren, a home grown talent who now spends his time in France and South Africa. His exhibition titled “Heaven and Earth” can be seen at the Rossouw Modern SPACE Gallery.

 

I met Terry Kobus  of Originals Art Gallery and was very moved by his works inspired by the child refugees of Syria.

 

I also loved his African scenes.

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Terry Kobus

I was intrigued by the sculptures by Jaco Sieberhagen, all the ones on display at the Rossouw Modern as well as the large piece on the cliffs at Gearing’s Point. Jaco depicts individuals and the components that make us who we are.

 

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Jaco Sieberhagen’s beautiful installation overlooking Walker Bay in Hermanus

At the entrance the the Rossouw Modern the Wild Dogs by Frans Mulder seem to run of of the painting at you. I spent ages at this painting.

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Wild Dogs by Frans Mulder

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Frans Mulder, up close of wild dog

 

I was lucky enough to find Malcolm of Malcolm Bowling Art Gallery at work. His love and understanding of animals is reflected in all his paintings and drawings.

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Malcolm Bowling, a masterpiece in my eyes. 

 

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Malcolm bowling drawing

 

The natural beauty that is in your face as you walk between galleries is art in itself. Sunrise and sunset in the Overberg can be spectacular, so do remember to keep an eye on the sky.

 

At Birkenhead House in Voelklip, a suburb of Hermanus, the abstract sculpture panels by Dylan Lewis are very interesting.  Animal spoor in relief, moulded, and painted using the unique technique developed by him.

 

Sculptures on the Cliffs at Gearing’s Point. 

This year traditional artists were asked to nominate a sculptor to exhibit with them.  My favourites pieces were Stairway to Heaven by Strijdom van der Merwe, Love Alone by George Holloway, Traveller by Jaco Sieberhagen and Assemble by  Lionel Smit.

African stories are told on beautiful tapestries by the artists of The Keiskamma Art Project. 

 

 

I could go on and on with pictures and stories, there is so much talent in our creative country. Below are the last few artists I just have to mention. Go and feast on art in Hermanus, it is so inspiring.

Sculpture by Bruce Little and Etching by Titia Ballot

 

Oil paintings by Solly Smook

 

 

Arabian Heart Throb by Florian Junge seen at the Walker Bay Gallery.

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Arabian Heartthrob by Florian Junge

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Close up of Florian Junge’s Arabian Heart throb

Don’t miss the ceramic displays at the Windsor Hotel and the beautiful jewellery at the Marine Hotel.

Hermanus is a one and a half hour drive from Cape Town so a day trip visit to the festival is easy. There is so much to see and do that overnighting is recommended and there is plenty of accommodation available. With the public holiday on Thursday, why not take Friday off and head for Hermanus.

 

Thank you to the amazing Mary Faure and the organisers of the FynArts Festival for hosting me in Hermanus. To Auberge Burgundy for the comfortable accommodation right at the beach, Burgundy Restaurant for breakfasts to fuel me for the day and Frieda Lloyd for her time, coffee and passion for her area. All opinions are my own.