Out with a bang, not a whimper

April 7, 2009

26th February – 21st April
Nearly there!
Nearly there!

Obviously I’m now writing this nearly 6 weeks after the events so details are hazy, although that possibly has more to do with South African viticulture than my memory.  Once arrived in CT we were greeted by our friend Caro, who commutes between CT and Henley, ostensibly poisoning peoples foreheads.  After finding a campsite on Chapmans Peak we all headed to a great pub round the corner called Stavangers and enjoyed some local wine while we watched the sun go down over Nordhoek beach and Caro brought us up to speed on all the news (hah!) from home.  

So how come we've done about 30,000km??
This sign is at Cape Point – so how come we’ve done about 30,000km??

For the next few days we concentrated on lazing about and exploring, visiting the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point where we climbed up to the lighthouse and had to cling on with our fingernails to prevent being blown off, as it was incredibly windy.  The coastline is stunning, wild and fierce and the sea is the most beautiful aquamarine colour, but freezing cold, apparently it’s the Benguela current from Antarctica you know.

It's bracing here
It’s bracing here, never mind Bognor 

At Boulders Beach there is a very famous colony of Jackass Penguins and of course Sean braved the icy water to have a swim with them, while I just admired them on dry land.  Important penguin facts are that apparently this is one of two penguin colonies that isn’t at a pole or something, they don’t smell too good and they bite you when you try and walk past them….

Pingus, thousands of 'em
Pingus, thousands of ’em

On Sunday 8th we watched some of the 25,000 competitors in the Cape Argus cycle race whizz past our campsite at Chapmans Peak.  It was cold and windy and the race was later halted as the high winds on Chapmans Peak were judged to be a danger to the contestants.  We watched it all from the safety of the local pub with Milan and Louise, a Kiwi/Swedish couple who claimed to have nicked their Land Rover in Switzerland and were seeing how far they could get in it!

On the 9th we met up with our friends Rod and Mandy who have sensibly arranged their life to spend 6 months of the year in South Africa and the other 6 in Henley.  They took us for a lovely lunch at a winery called Somerbosch, it was great to sit in the sunshine eating really good food, and cheese!!  After a misspent afternoon we spent the night at their place and sped off in the morning to pic up Gaz, our handsome and powerful Corporate Sponsor, from the airport, but not before Sean wolfed down a gigantic full English breakfast that Rod cooked for him.  Priorities.

Gaz was staying at Hout Bay View – a gorgeous guesthouse run by our charming and ridiculously handsome friends Brian and Drew, and once he’d caught his breath we all headed off for another lunch at the tres chic ‘Paranga’ in Camps Bay, where we roasted in the sunshine and admired the beautiful people, some of whom, I’m happy to say were at our table. Surrounded by all this glam I felt desperately hideous as I was wearing some crummy emergency trousers that I’d had to buy on arrival in CT owing to all other clothes being worn out. But hey!  A few glasses of wine later I gave up caring about sartorial elegance.

View over Hout Bay, from Hout Bay View!
View over Hout Bay, from Hout Bay View!

Brian and Drew found a room for us at Hout Bay View and so we had a few days of luxury and a lot of fun and food with Gaz.  On Friday we were privileged to have a long and delicious lunch at the fabulous restaurant at Tokara winery in Stellenbosch. Our host was Colleen who works with ‘And Beyond’, the company that runs the wonderful Kitchwa Tembo camp, remember that from Kenya?  Colleen was great company, the view fantastic and the food spectacular.

Tokara Vines
Tokara Vines

At the other end of the fabulous spectrum was the entertainment provided at Dunes, a beach resto in Hout Bay on Sunday.  It basically consisted of a guy doing Karaoke all on his own, mangling the lyrics all the while.  The highpoint of which for me was his interpretation of ‘Sultans of Swing’ – I swear I heard him sing ‘Sultan Pigs Wing’.  We laughed till we cried, then got over refreshed and watched the Six Nations rugby at a boozy pub called Pirates, where the best entertainment we could find was 3 very drunk guys and a dog trying to drive off in a teeny pickup.  I have worked out that the omnipresent car guards are not there to prevent break ins, but to prevent drunks from hitting other cars on their way out of the car park.  And while we’re on the subject of car parking this caught my eye…

Well that's all right then isn't it?
Well that’s all right then isn’t it?

And then suddenly it was all over. On Monday afternoon Gary left for the airport, and we headed back to our campsite at Chapmans Peak to recover.  A couple of days later we camped out for the last time at Stellenbosch where ironically we ran out of wine, and where I nervously phoned Expedia and booked a flight home. The following morning, Friday 20th March, we presented Elsie at the shipping company where after waiting an hour for a slouchy Customs Official, the carnet de passage was stamped, Elsie was loaded into her container, tied down to protect her against damage on the high seas and sealed in.  Wham bam, thank you mam!

Elsie successfully contained
Elsie successfully contained

A few hours later we boarded SA220 and endured a hellish and completely sleepless 13 hour flight (don’t fly South African, the seat pitch was designed with persons of restricted growth in mind) and we were twanged back into Heathrow, and the ‘real world’.  We were greeted by my lovely sister and a pair of beautiful varmints and it was wonderful to see them. 

We’ve been away just over 6 months having the most amazing time, we’ve missed the entire winter, economic collapse, and not much else apparently.  How are we going to adjust to a stationary life?!

One Response to “Out with a bang, not a whimper”

  1. Ingrid said

    Have to say this has been the most superbly entertaining read… and you’ve actually lived it!

    Please think about publishing these tales and creating a film sometime, when you’ve little else to do!

    Welcome home… until the next adventure! XxX

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