Freshly Squeezed Orange
24 January 2022 | Orange River, Augrabies National Park
Our new best friend Jeremy has the right idea. As well as being a biker and a sailor, having Laser worlds etc… under his belt, or wetsuit, Jeremy is also a flyer, piloting his own light aeroplane Hither and Thither. (which are just a few hundred kilometres east of Back Of Beyond)
Unlike us getting slowly cooked under the blazing African sky in up to and over forty degrees for days on end, Jeremy has an early breakfast, takes a short drive to the airport, pulls out out his ‘plane, possibly throws a white silk scarf around his neck and whoosh……. he’s up the west coast covering in hours what’s taken us days. Once landed and parked up, he can be enjoying some Roosterkoek in a cafe for breakfast while we’re still going round in circles while Google Maps “recalculates.” But then, on the other hand, we had a leisurely drive through some more stunning scenery, both inland and by the shore. Both had mountainous properties. The former, rocky and precipitous, the latter, breaking and pounding on the beach.
We made it to the northernmost point of our present trip, about eighty five kilometres from the Namibian border. We were tempted (and some still are) to cross over but the likelihood of Covid related border issues and possibly screwing up our visa extension put us off. So, we’ve peeled off east to Augrabies to look at the waterfall where the Orange River gets squeezed through a gap in the hills.
Our drive took us across miles of seemingly endless, arid desert that’s flat as a pancake from Springbok to Augrabies with nary a beast in sight. We left at the crack of dawn to beat the thunderstorms. Our thinking is that the now daily 35c - 42c is frying every last drop of water out the land, and my armpits, building up into humongous storm clouds during the day and with a crack that makes you appreciate earplugs, announces a deluge of biblical proportions. Desert? Seriously? What don’t they know about “arid” and “desert”?
The good news is the landscape is bursting into bloom and perhaps in the few farms that are dotted here and there some livestock might venture out of the shade for a nibble at the green grass. If in fact they are there as there’s little sign of agricultural activity. What is clearly in evidence is there’s a whole bunch of folk digging really big holes looking for things link zinc, copper, gold and silver.
After about two hours riding in a dead straight line from Springbok we finally turned a corner and bingo, we’re in the lush green Orange River plain. Fruit farms rather than desert scrub as far as the eye can see. Grapes, for munching rather than drinking, and raisin production is in full swing, the grapes laid out on concrete pads the size of tennis courts are wrinkling into raisins under the sun, much like our complexions.
There’s also miles of net covered, razor wire fenced orchards of “stone fruits” such as peaches, nectarines and plums, although what they’d do if they could make a great escape through the wire is beyond me. Even better news is that some of the Cape vineyards have invested up here so there’s a good chance that later, having watched the mighty Orange river squeeze through a gap in the rocks, we might also have wee glass of the chilled stuff.
Dr Blanc I Presume…
20 January 2022
"How on Earth can you carry enough clothes on your bike for ten days? For two of you?" Asked my brother incredulously.
"You don't" I replied. You use the HRM."
"The Host Recoil Measure. You just wear the same clothes every day until the host at your next B&B opens the door and visibly recoils - while at the same time silently thanking the Covid regulations that dictate they wear a mask at all times."
We can't exactly remember whether our host at the stunning Linda se Dop guest house offered or we asked for laundry services but I'm guessing we hit a new record on the HRM scale. You see, it's got quite hot. And we've been out a few days.
Linda's place is in Nieuwoudtville, on the very top of the escarpment, a part of which includes Table Mountain. It's lofty position ensures a cool 32c, a welcome drop from the 40c of the plateau below which we just crossed and which it must be said contributed to the unprecedented HRM reading.
Our sweaty arrival in the town
marks our exit from the Western Cape and entry to the Northern Cape.......... of South Africa if you've just joined or not been paying attention.
What with the heat and my sore back we were glad to get here. A few weeks ago I knackered my back. Despite this, we'd set off for the Northern Cape and got almost 2 hours away from Cape Town before the pain got too great, even for me, someone that can really bear intense pain, without complaint.
Nonetheless, it seemed smarter to head back than press on so we turned around and headed back to Cape Town and spent another few hundred quid on a chiropractor. One whose speciality was causing more intense pain by sticking long needles in my bum. A bit "out there" for a sceptic like me but it seemed to do the trick. It certainly takes your mind off your sore back.
The good news was that the voodoo doll treatment seemed to work so a few days ago we boldly set off to retrace our steps north and restart our northern trip again from Saldanha Bay and Paternoster.
Unfortunately a dodgy back and motor cycling aren't great bedfellows and by the time we got to the luxurious Paternoster Manor I was somewhat uncomfortable and in dire need of more needling, deep-tissue massage or copious quantities of Sauvignon Blanc.
However, John, the manager and a top level kayaker is a convert to the art of "rolling" and while that's appropriate for a kayaker, in this context it's rolling around your sore bits on a rubber covered plastic tube until your eyes water. Again, it seemed to help so after two days of rolling recovery we boldly set off northwards into the wild. Or perhaps, the veld.
Nothing but miles and miles of scrubby desert and a rock and gravel road shaking our fillings loose. It was a shortcut to our lunch stop at Vredendal. A shortcut that was half the distance but three times as slow.
Sustained by lunch at the first air conditioned wine cellar we could find, murder isn't it, we set off into the desert for the last leg over the blistering hot plateau and up the escarpment to Linda's.
So, while the washing gets done, it's time for some R&R beside the pool and in the absence of needles or a masseuse, Doctor Sauvignon Blanc is on the case.
15 January 2022
This is the second episode of our biking exploits in South Africa. At the rate we're going we'll have covered about ten thousand kilometres, eaten as many calories and may soon have to trade the bike for a wheelbarrow.
31 December 2021
We've spent part of the last year in the company of SV Florence. They're very popular! Nearly 60,000 followers on YouTube. We've nearly 60.
Nonetheless, Jeremy and Yvette have been following US from their Cape Town base and it turns out they're also bikers.
So here we are, flying along on their coat tails, getting a guided tour through the Beede River valley, to Snake Corner and up the Hottentots (as Frankie Howard might have said) to Franschhoek; all through amazing scenery and alpine passes that plummet to the depths just a metre or two away.
Two hundred and eighty kilometres later we’re back on the boat and just a minute or two away from our bed.
Happy New Year everyone.
WOT?? No Wildebeest?
28 December 2021
From a very young age and right up to the present day, my mental images of Africa are largely as portrayed on the tele by Attenborough and his like.
They tend to show the country to be one of endless, dry savannah, a few sketchy trees and some low scrub amongst which the hyena, lions and assorted antelope work out how to get a meal, without becoming one themselves.
And so, trading two hulls for two wheels we set off to explore South Africa - and what a surprise. We found mountains, vertiginous passes, miles and miles of fruit farms and some roads that even benefited from extensive use of tar.
If you'd like a look, click on the link.....
25 December 2021
As you've maybe read, Christmas or even its commercial sister, "The Holidays" are pretty much a non event here in South Africa.
On board Time Bandit and every other cruisers' boat however, thankfully, it's a different story.
We've mini Christmas trees, tinsel, sparkly lights, Santa hats and of course, Noddy Holder screaming, "It's Christmas".
Thanks for reading through the year. We've enjoyed your company.
Happy Christmas, or indeed, "Holiday" from Anne and I.
Do They Know It’s Christmas!
20 December 2021
So sang the superstar pop heroes of 1984, most of whom faded into well deserved obscurity soon after. Thank goodness.
Well, here in South Africa, we don't think they know it's Christmas either. Unlike most other places we've been, including Muslim Malaysia, where Christmas gets rolled out shortly after Easter, in South Africa, it's hardly noticeable. I mean, it's been "the season" for at least four weeks now and I've yet to hear Noddy Holder screaming "It's Christmas."
The guest houses might make a nod to "the holidays" with a group of rather sad looking Wise Men making their way across the top of grandma's old dresser. The coffee stops string a few Chinese LED's around some old spray painted plastic twigs but that's about it.
Consequently, we're riding around the back, gravel roads of the West Cape, way out in the sticks in the absolute middle of nowhere, (wishing we had a puncture repair kit), just us, the birds an occasional few beasts but with our Christmas Mix playing in our headphones as we jingle our way back to Cape Town.
Let's hope Santa knows we're on AP05, V&A Marina, Cape Town, South Africa.
Who’d Have Thought?
14 December 2021 | Assegaibosch Hotel
It seems like along time ago we landed in Richard's Bay ....... and having listened to the locals, started worrying if Ginger's Bright Idea of buying a motorcycle to go touring back country South Africa was really that smart after all.
Well here we are, eight days into our first outing and, wow, what a country; at least, the fraction we've seen so far. If you watched the Time Bandit Does Iceland and Scotland YouTubes you might remember we were ooohing and aaahhing at the scenery. In South Africa, we're going to have to increase our lexicon. The scenery is just awesome. We've only been out just over a week and not really covered that much ground, yet at every turn, there's an amazing new vista. Mountains, beaches, waterfalls, empty roads winding through stunning, vertical walled canyons, coffee stops, sunshine and, other than last night, ooops, accommodations that are just lovely. Even more lovely as B&B is less than £45.
Unbeknown to the world's population, less about the nine hundred thousand who follow Itchy Boots on YouTube, South Africa has much to offer the motorcyclist, and we're delighted to report, much to offer that doesn't include scary bits. Beautifully curved, smooth tarmac. Hard packed gravel back roads (for us off road novices). Mountain passes that would be at home in the Alps.
They also have speed cameras. Hope I was smiling.