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Perth to Cape Town

...via Singapore and then on to Paarl, Malmesbury, Franschoek and Hermanus

sunny 28 °C
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After a sad farewell to Perth we had an unmemorable flight with Singapore Airlines to Singapore and then on to Cape Town where my brother, Dave, was patiently waiting (we had been slightly delayed). Dave drove us out to his lovely house in Paarl where later on we were joined by his wife, Pat, and her sister, Mary. Paarl, by the way, is named for the huge dome behind Dave's house which glistens after rainfall and evidently the Afrikaners who settled the area felt that it then resembled a pearl.

After a bit of bird watching in Dave's garden, we headed out to near Malmesbury, north of Cape Town, where we left Mary with my eldest nephew, Pete and his wife Pam. They have a gorgeous property from which they run their business, helped by their daughter who also keeps her horses on the property. Malmesbury was named after the Earl of Malmesbury the father-in-law of Sir Lowry Cole, a Governor of the Cape Colony.

Cape Robin Chat enjoying the bird bath

Cape Robin Chat enjoying the bird bath

Cape Sparrow - unfortunately, the birds chose to perch on a thick cable!

Cape Sparrow - unfortunately, the birds chose to perch on a thick cable!

Panoramic view over Pete and Pam's place

Panoramic view over Pete and Pam's place

After leaving them we stopped for lunch at a lovely, quirky, restaurant De Malle Meul (meaning The Crazy Mill but is also a play on words from the owners' previous business De Malle Madonna and the word mallemeule, meaning a merry-go-round) in the village of Philadelphia (thanks to the Cape Country Calls for the information). The restaurant was indeed part of an old flour mill which operated from the 1920s to 1976 and is well worth a visit. Philadelphia itself is about 150 years old and is built on a portion of land which was donated by a landowner to the local brethren to build a church. It is believed that this may be how it gained its name which means 'love of brothers'. It is only 30km north of Cape Town so if you have wheels, it is in easy reach and would make a rewarding day out.

At this time, the Cape had been without any significant rain for a very long time and the landscape was fairly well parched, so no green hills but rather yellowy brown mountains. Back at Dave's we also had to observe water restrictions which had been in place for some time and even months afterwards have only been slightly relaxed.

De Malle Meul restaurant

De Malle Meul restaurant

Steve, Dave and Pat enjoying lunch

Steve, Dave and Pat enjoying lunch

A Speckled Pigeon

A Speckled Pigeon

Panoramic view over Paarl and the mountains from the verandah at Dave and Pat's place

Panoramic view over Paarl and the mountains from the verandah at Dave and Pat's place

Over the next couple of days the family gathered, Martin & Margaret (my sister and her husband) and David & Tara (their eldest son and his wife) from England and Dave & Pat's youngest son, Richard, from Johannesburg. We all gathered in a Paarl restaurant to celebrate the 16th birthday of Richard's son, Adam - my great nephew- makes me feel really old! Dave & Pat's other son Phil, just managed to make the date between overseas work assignments although, unfortunately, his sons couldn't make it in time.

On a fine Saturday, everybody made their way out to Freedom Hill Winery to celebrate Dave's 80th birthday (how can I have an 80 year old brother?!). The winery had a beautiful outlook over the mountains and was situated near what used to be the Victor Verster Prison from where Nelson Mandela began his long Walk to Freedom in 1990, hence the name of the winery, one of the newer wineries in the area.

The Party venue

The Party venue

Before the masses descend

Before the masses descend

View from the winery

View from the winery

Some of the goodies on offer

Some of the goodies on offer

From the left, Pat, Dave and Margaret

From the left, Pat, Dave and Margaret

We all trooped out to Pete & Pam's place for another family get together the following day, followed by a couple of days sight-seeing.
The family at Pete and Pam's

The family at Pete and Pam's

Dave, Margaret and Steve

Dave, Margaret and Steve

Double-collared Sunbird in Pete and Pam's garden

Double-collared Sunbird in Pete and Pam's garden

Dave first took us all over the pass above Franschoek to Hermanus. On the way we passed the Theeswaterkloof Dam ('tea waters gully' being the literal translation from Afrikaans - clearly the water, when flowing, is brown in colour). The dam was almost completely dry, emphasising the severe water problem experienced in the Cape.

Dust blowing off the Theewaterskloof Dam

Dust blowing off the Theewaterskloof Dam

On the way to Hermanus, we stopped for lunch at a delightful little spot in the mountains, Houw Hoek. A very small place but with good food and an interesting and colourful shop. Its name has alternative origins; Hoek means 'corner' but Hou(w) means 'hold' (Afrikaans) or 'cattle' (Khoi) and so means either Hold Corner or Cattle Corner. The reason for 'Hold' is that it was a good place to hold or stop on the way over the mountains.
In the days of the Dutch East India Company, there was a toll gate here so the meaning of 'hold' gains some weight.

Deep in discussion at lunchtime

Deep in discussion at lunchtime

Hats for sale

Hats for sale

The lower shop area

The lower shop area

Hermanus is a delightful small but smart town on the south coast. We had visited before when the whales were cruising close to shore but it was the wrong time of year for them so we contented ourselves with birds, dassies and shopping and eating! We returned along the beautiful coast road before striking back inland to Stellenbosch and Paarl.

Hermanus owes its origins to Hermanus Pieters who grazed his sheep near a spring there and also fished while waiting. In due course the settlement became known as Hermanuspietersfontein. Not too surprisingly the postal service felt this was a bit too long and in 1902, it was shortened to Hermanus.

Cape and White-breasted Cormorants

Cape and White-breasted Cormorants

View along the coastline in front of the town

View along the coastline in front of the town

Old Coastguard Hut

Old Coastguard Hut

Dassie sunbathing

Dassie sunbathing

Fishing boats in a row

Fishing boats in a row

The following day, we were taken out to Franschoek (French Corner) , the blokes all going to an unbelievable motor museum owned by the billionaire Johann Rupert. The collection covers around 100 years of motoring history and is a 'must see' for any motoring enthusiast visiting the area. The ladies meanwhile had been on a shopping spree in the lovely but expensive shopping centre in the village. We joined them for lunch at Reuben's, a fabulous restaurant there and then visited La Motte winery (owned by another member of the Rupert family). La Motte takes its name from the Provencal village of La Motte d'Aigues, presumably the home of some early settlers who were French Huguenots.

Unusually, we did not visit for the wines or food but rather to see the art gallery and in particular the exhibition of art by Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef. He painted mainly landscapes, very identifiably South African but with a very individual style which I certainly enjoyed. Part of the gallery is devoted to a seasonal exhibition which comprised some wonderful flower paintings and a sculpture which was being worked on during the season. The area around Franschoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch has enough of interest to keep any traveller busy and interested, as well as being very well fed and watered too!

Statue at the entrance to the winery

Statue at the entrance to the winery

Walking up to the first museum buildings

Walking up to the first museum buildings

1904 Oldsmobile and 1904 Mars 'carette'

1904 Oldsmobile and 1904 Mars 'carette'

Horn on 1911 Lorraine Dietrich

Horn on 1911 Lorraine Dietrich

Nelson Mandela's 2004 BMW 760

Nelson Mandela's 2004 BMW 760

1982 Delorean - "Back to the Future"

1982 Delorean - "Back to the Future"

1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT

1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT

[]La Motte Winery building

La Motte Winery building

Sculpture work-in-progress

Sculpture work-in-progress

Posted by SteveJD 09:19 Archived in South Africa Tagged animals birds wine south_africa hermanus paarl malmesbury franschoek

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