Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Hermanus, cherry picking and now trout farm excitement

What an amazing few days these have been!

Gorgeous sweltering summer days filled with excitement and new experiences.

 On Sunday morning we headed out of Cape Town itself to the little town of Hermanus. The aim had been to avoid the inevitable Christmas crowds on the beaches on both the Camps Bay and Fish Hoek coastlines. Also, this particular little Hermanus beach is one of the remaining few which still permits braaing (barbequing).

Since Mo and I had raved about this little beach, resulting in my brother's family agreeing to spend the day at the beach of our choice, I was a bit nervous on Sunday morning. I felt responsible for everyone's enjoyment of the venue of our choice.

I drove Mo nuts with my paranoia on our drive through. What if it was too full? What if it was too windy? What if we had convinced them to leave behind a sunny Cape Town only to find Hermanus to be chilly or windy.

Thank goodness for his patience.

The weather in Hermanus turned out to be windy, but hot. Fortunately we managed to secure a lovely shady spot beneath a vast canopy of trees, which eliminated the need for a beach umbrella. After a breakfast of rolls (baked by Mo), spiced beef, boiled eggs, tuna salad, crackers, muffins and coffee, we headed onto to the beach (which was a few meters away).

Later, while Mo and my brother were braaing, the kids enjoyed exploring the shady area beneath the trees.

At lunch (consisting of braaied meat, sausage and chicken, accompanied by potato salad, coleslaw and noodle salad), Mo and my brother laughingly told us about the group of people sitting directly in front of us, one of whom had commented on the fact that these two bearded men were Moslems.

"Is hulle die mense wat nie vark eet nie?" (Are they the people who don't eat pork?). This was accompanied by boisterous laughter, after which someone felt it would be really funny to start singing 'Old MacDonald had a farm.....and on the farm he had a pig'.

Although it had clearly been their intention to offend, Mo and my brother had been more amused by this than anything else. Mo later said they should have showed what good sports they were by accompanying our picnic neighbours in their song. Although this he had said jokingly, he had however wanted to take over some koeksisters as a show of goodwill, but then decided against it when he realised that those people had already been celebrating since early the morning and inhibitions had already been lowered extensively, which could account for people saying things which they ordinarily would not have.

When we returned to the beach later the afternoon, it was high tide and the waves were higher and the current stronger. This, the children and my mum enjoyed immensely. My brother was fussing around my mother, completely underestimating her ability to handle the waves.

My mum building a sand castle before she hit the waves

Hermanus is a popular whale-spotting destination :)

Overall the day had been wonderful. My concerns of the morning had been groundless- the weather and water had been perfect; and had therefore ensured that everyone enjoyed themselves tremendously, with Mo vowing to return soon.

On Monday morning we were to meet Mo's sister and cousins at the Engen Service Station on the N2 Highway at 6:30 am.

Only Mo's sister, husband and three kids (aged 6 and under) had arrived punctually. The rest of the family only arrived at 7:45 am! Disgustingly, we were even later, so we met up with them about 13 kilometres from Ceres, where we all enjoyed breakfast along the side of the road.

Our breakfast picnic spot

The plan for the day was to go cherry picking at a farm called Klondyk which is is about 30 km outside Ceres. The entire journey (from home) was expected to take 2.5 hours.

After breakfast all the cars moved off toward the cherry farm. We drove through Ceres, which is such a beautiful little town. With it's immaculate tree-lined streets and dense, lush foliage; I cannot help falling in love with this place everytime I visit.

Entering Ceres

For a while we were driving directly behind Mo's sister, but since I constantly watch the speedometer and nag Mo to stay way way below the speed limit, we lost them. So we continued on until....we ran out of road (actually out of tarred road).

We had somehow managed to end up on a gravel road after the turn-off to Sutherland and Calvinia (which is nowhere near where we needed to be). We continued along the gravel road away from all civilisation, not knowing whether or not we were headed in the right direction, since we had lost cell-phone reception. There was not a car or a person in sight for kilometers. The arid land resembled the vast desert region of the Karoo.

The children were becoming nervous. Mo was becoming agitated. My mum and I, on the other hand, were enjoying the drive. I was absolutely fascinated with the region, wondering about its history, how people had first travelled there in the early days. I found being so far removed from civilisation to be really exhilarating.

After driving along the gravel road for about 10 km we turned back. By sheer luck (and with directions from a few really kind locals whom we encountered along the way)  we managed to make our way to the cherry farm, signalling the end of our desert adventure.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed cherry picking. Two-year old Aisha completely ignored the 'No eating the cherries in the orchard' rule and stuffed her face happily, though occasionally complained about the 'bones' in the cherries.

Once again we braaied for lunch and then glutted on various desserts, after which we lazed about, completely satiated.

Because of the heat and the lack of swimming facilities, Shakeel was not a happy camper. So we decided to leave the cherry farm in search of water. Although there was a river meandering below the mountain pass, the downward climb was too steep to attempt with small children in tow.

So we parted ways with my brother in law and his wife, who adventurously decided to continue their quest to locate the perfect swimming spot.
Upon our arrival back home, they sent us a message, saying that they were in fact enjoying a much-needed swim in the most exquisite waters, which they had located below the Bains Kloof pass. We fully intend to check out the tiny bit of paradise which they described to us.

Yesterday we decided to stay home and relax. Right now though we are heading off to the Trout farm just outside the Huguenot Tunnel which is about one hour's drive away.

I am really glad that we decided not to go away for the holiday period, as regular day trips in and around Cape Town are providing us with much a greater range of varied experiences.


Margot said...

What a gracious response to bullying over religious/cultural beliefs your family showed! I am so sorry some of 'my' people were so uncouth. I think it's hard being a Moslem in today's political context. Harassment seems common. I don't think, on your shoes, I would have reacted so maturely. Ps. Am also disappointed in the quality of the needling you received. I mean, I eat pork, but I simply fail to see why it is hilarious that someone else doesn't,?? Odd.

themotherblogger said...

I find it very difficult to view those people who had passed those silly comments as 'your' people- even if you happen to be from the same religious/cultural group. I don't think we should have to feel responsible or apologetic for the questionable actions of others simply by virtue of us being born into the same religion/culture as them. But I do understand- when I find myself in a mixed group, I do feel inexplicably embarrassed when the topic of 9/11 comes up, as if the perpetrators of that horrific deed somehow represent me simply by virtue of us having been born into the same religion. In any case, we should probably not be giving so much thought to the ramblings of people who had had too much to drink (especially since they might themselves be really embarrassed about their comments should they be able to remember them).
But thank you very much for your sensitivity- I really do appreciate it.

Margot said...