Our Knysna holiday

Last week Lené and I had our first decent holiday in 18 months. We took a four-day trip to Knysna. We asked Lené’s parents to look after Elke and predictably they were more than happy to oblige.

We stayed at the 4-star Knysna Quays hotel. I would say the Hotel is OK. The ground staff were friendly, but the receptionist wasn’t. I don’t know if it was because we spoke Afrikaans or because we’re South-African (maybe they’re more used to foreign tourists). The rooms are nice, but other 4-star hotels I stayed in had much bigger rooms. The best thing about the hotel was its proximity to the Knysna Waterfront. It really is a 2-minute walk.

Places we visited were:

Knysna Heads
Knysna Heads

The famous Knysna Heads. It is really beautiful area, but I find it depressing that the whole Eastern side is so built up. There are these ugly jutting mansions all over the stunning rocks. I wouldn’t want to live there and I probably won’t go there again. I think this demonstrates pretty well where we are going wrong with residential developments.

Leisure Island. A very pleasant place. Large properties with really classy houses and big lawns. Also very close to the water. And a nice art gallery as well.

Knysna Waterfront
Knysna Waterfront

Knysna Waterfront. Nice vibe, but surprisingly quiet. The eateries were good. The shopping was very touristy. Not the way I like to shop. I don’t think the area works as well out of season as anticipated. In season I’m sure it goes nuts.

Knysna Town Centre & Information Office. Very impressive. The centre feels alive even in the middle of week. There is much to do and to see. The shopping is excellent and the well-looked after displays make you feel as if people care about the environment. The Knysna tourism office is the benchmark. The location is excellent and the office itself has strong branding and a good layout. It works! People meander in and out as if its another shop. It makes me green with envy.

Thesen Island. I wouldn’t live here in a million years! Not a blade of grass to be seen and no swimming access to the water (even if you did want to swim in the dirty water). The flats are one on top of the other with no character. The mind boggles as to why someone would want to live there. The only good thing is the shopping and the eating. They have some impressive but expensive shops. The restaurants are the same. We ate at the famous Ile de Pain (means Bread Island). Food was awesome, but outrageously expensive.

Lake Pleasant
Lake Pleasant

Knysna Meuseum. Not that much to see, but still worth a visit. It used to be the old gaol and they have restored one of the cells. This and the plan of the original goal gives you a real sense of what it used to be like. There is also some interesting stuff about Knysna, George Rex & The Thesens. The old photographs are also worth a look.

Belvidere. Beautiful place next to the lagoon on the Western side. Not much to do, but I expect that is what the locals want. There are some stunning houses on huge properties.

Lake Brenton. A very nice campsite on the shores of the Knysna Lagoon. We might visit this again with the kids and family in future.

Brenton-on-Sea. Reminds me of Cape St. Francis, one of my favourite places. Also the signage is Afrikaans; which warms my heart right up. 🙂 Only negative is how far away from the beach you are. Because of this Cape St. Francis still wins hands down.

Attie in Millwood

Sedgefield & Lake Pleasant. A nice place with a fantastic beach. Quiet when we were there. The Lake Pleasant Bistro was recommended to us by a friend. It turned out to be a winner. The food was outstanding; the staff was friendly and the view was unbeatable. I can definitely recommend it.

George Pro Shop. A strange place for a holiday I know! But I needed some gear and well… we were in the vicinity. 😉 The staff were great – much better than Port Elizabeth’s Pro Shop – and they allowed me to test out some equipment on their driving range before I bought. I ended up buying a whole lot.

Millwood. I did the Outeniqua Hiking Trail 15 years ago so I was really keen to see if it was still the same. To me the Knysna Bush, as written about by Dalene Mathee, is one of the most beautiful parts of the world so I love it here. Millwood now has a charming coffee shop combined with a museum that is definitely worth a visit.

All in all it was a very rewarding trip. I will visit the area again, but next time I’ll give Thesen Island and the Waterfront a skip. The one disappointment was that the Knysna Choo-Choo (a scenic train troute) was out of action. Hopefully next time that will work again.

My drome kort ‘n uitleg

Gisteraand het ‘n weird en lang droom gehad. Hy’t so gegaan:

1ste scene: Daar is ‘n klomp mense wat saam in ‘n kamer slaap. Ek, ‘n dokter en ‘n swart man lê op een bed. Niks gebeur nie, maar die volgende oggend toe ek wakker word word daar op my skouer geopereer deur die dokter.

Volgende scene: Dieslefde groep mense loop rond in Riversbend se lang gras op soek na iets. Skielik bars Sven (my swaer) uit en sê “Weet julle wat? Ek het gisteraand 3-uur wakker geword en dit was baie interresant om te sien wie pomp en wie nie.”. Almal bars uit van die lag. Toe sê ek “Sven, you have just spoken the unspeakable.”. Toe lag almal nou eers.

Volgende scene: Selfde groep mense eet by ‘n restaurant in Grahamstad. Daar kom ‘n ouer ordentlike vrou in en gryp ‘n bottel tamatie sous. Sy maak asof sy opgooi en gooi die tamatie sous uit op ‘n tafel. Toe sit sy by die tafel en eet saam met die mense, wat toe haar vriende is. Maar niemand lag nie; dis doodernstig. Toe kom die vrou na ons tafel. Sy maak reg om dieselfde ding te doen. Ek gryp haar aan haar hare en pen haar vas. Die eienaar neem haar weg. Toe ons loop sien ek die vrou het my aan my vinger gebyt. Ek gaan soek die dokter.

Volgende scene: Nadat ek by die dokter was soek ek my groep, maar nou skielik is ons Londen in Shaftesbury Ave (daar waar Tiger Tiger is). My groep maats is nêrens te sien nie. Ek loop verby iemand wat Cockney praat, maar ek weet sy is Afrikaans. Ek vra haar toe of sy my vriende gesien het. Sy sê toe – sonder dat ek enige name noem – dat sy Mike Tours se groepie gesien het en hulle was oppad Piccadilly Circus toe.

Volgende (ergste) scene: Ek lê op ‘n bed op grasperk op ‘n hoëerige gebou. Skielik sien ek ‘n moerse kern-missiel verby ons vlieg. Ek weet dis ‘n kern-missiel want ek sien baie duidelik sy plofkop. Ek sien hoe hy ontplof net bo ‘n gebou aan die ander kant van die stad en ek sien Die Sampioen. Ek voel hierdie oorweldigende gevoel van magteloogsheid – dis so erg dit druk my plat. Ek weet dis verby. Ek weet dit help nie eers om te probeer ontsnap nie. Ek maak my oë toe en dink aan die mense wat ek ken en wag vir die inevitable.

Volgende scene: Ek vlieg, maar al wat ek sien is 1000e van daai 2de Wêreldoorlog bommers. Toe is dit weer 1000e vegvliegtuie. Toe net een groot gewapende helikopter in die verte. Die helikopter kom al hoe nader, maar hy word niks groter nie. Op die ou end is die vreesjaande helikopter ‘n speelding. Ek pluk die helikopter uit die lig uit. Toe pyl ek af – teen ‘n helse spoed – op ‘n groot vuilerige geel muur. Met die trefslag word ek wakker.

Weird hê! Toe ek wakker word was ek papnat gesweet. Maar ek moet sê ek was ongelooflik bly om wakker te wees!! Nou wens ek ek kon weet wat dit alles kan beteken. 😉

PE Oceanarium

On Sunday morning we took the kids to the PE Oceanarium. The kids loved it. I can recommend it if you have kids, but otherwise its a bit thin. I don’t know who runs it, but one definitely gets an “African feeling”; to the place. It just isn’t as tidy and well maintained as it can be.

The show is pretty much the same as it has been for years and even decades (I remember going there as a kid). And then there is the “Animals in a zoo” issue that also dampens the experience.

The column that got Bullard sacked

Here, word for word, is the column that got respected journalist David Bullard sacked. It is available at its original location at The Sunday Times, but since he has already been sacked I’m not sure how long this column will still be available online.

I think Bullard just got fed up with the “blame the white man” line that every black politician now uses whenever they have messed up. Love it or hate it, you have to agree that Bullard makes some interesting points. What I love is that Bullard had the kahunas to say it. He also has a stab at China (along the same line as an earlier post of mine).

Uncolonised Africa wouldn’t know what it was missing

Imagine for a moment what life would be like in South Africa if the evil white man hadn’t come to disturb the rustic idyll of the early black settlers.

Ignored by the Portuguese and Dutch, except as a convenient resting point en route to India. Shunned by the British, who had decided that their empire was already large enough and didn’t need to include bits of Africa.

The vast mineral wealth lying undisturbed below the Highveld soil as simple tribesmen graze their cattle blissfully unaware that beneath them lies one of the richest gold seams in the world. But what would they want with gold?

There are no roads because no roads are needed because there are no cars. It’s 2008 and no one has taken the slightest interest in South Africa, apart from a handful of botanists and zoologists who reckon that the country’s flora and fauna rank as one of the largest unspoilt areas in a polluted world.

Because they have never been exposed to the sinful ways of the West, the various tribes of South Africa live healthy and peaceful lives, only occasionally indulging in a bit of ethnic cleansing.

Their children don’t watch television because there is no television to watch. Instead they listen to their grandparents telling stories around a fire. They live in single-storey huts arranged to catch most of the day’s sunshine and their animals are kept nearby.

Nobody has any more animals than his family needs and nobody grows more crops than he requires to feed his family and swap for other crops. Ostentation is unknown because what is the point of trying to impress your fellow citizens when they are not impressible?

The dreaded Internet doesn’t exist in South Africa and cellphone companies have laughed off any hope of interesting the inhabitants in talking expensively into a piece of black plastic. There are no unsightly shopping malls selling expensive goods made by Asian slave workers and consequently there are no newspapers or magazines carrying articles comparing the relative merits of ladies’ handbags.

Whisky, the curse of the white man, isn’t known in this undeveloped land and neither are cigars. The locals brew a sort of beer out of vegetables and drink it out of shallow wooden bowls. Five-litre paint cans have yet to arrive in South Africa.

Every so often a child goes missing from the village, eaten either by a hungry lion or a crocodile. The family mourn for a week or so and then have another child. Life is, on the whole, pretty good but there is something vital missing. Being unaware of the temptations of the outside world, nobody knows what it is. Fire has been discovered and the development of the wheel is coming on nicely but the tribal elders are still aware of some essential happiness ingredient they still need to discover. Praying to the ancestors is no help because they are just as clueless.

Then something happens that will change this undisturbed South Africa forever. Huge metal ships land on the coast and big metal flying birds are sent to explore the sparsely populated hinterland. They are full of men from a place called China and they are looking for coal, metal, oil, platinum, farmland, fresh water and cheap labour and lots of it. Suddenly the indigenous population realise what they have been missing all along: someone to blame. At last their prayers have been answered.

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