My slower rate of journey continued in Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape. With Cape Town in sight I’m not sure if I’m tapering or just going slow! Either way it’s nice to see places for a while longer and Port Alfred’s a nice friendly town, quiet, not too busy and the home to a beer called Coin Ale brewed by The Little Brewery. A lovely ale, the closest I have come to a Bitter since leaving the UK over 8 months previously. Dominicue and his family whom I’d met many months ago in Malawi had given me a bottle one evening to try and I liked it a lot.
Monday, Dominicue and Helen had a PTA meeting at the school, plan to drop me off at The Little Brewery for a few jars of Coin Ale before they came back to join me for a few more. Driving down to the Brewery Helen suggested it may be closed as many business’ don’t open on a Monday evening. Horror, we arrived and they were closed. Not too much of a problem, although a little disappointed I walked around the other side of the river to a bar, Barmuda.
They sold beer by The Little Brewery but not Coin Ale, a Pilsner called Kowie Gold Pilsner. A nice beer but not quite as good as the Coin Ale but nevertheless a nice hoppy beer. Another bonus of going to Barmuda was that they were having wifi problems, not normally a bonus but for Dominicue starting up a new IT compnay, SereneIT an easy job booked for the next day.
After several nice days spent with Dominicue, Helen, Laura and Jack, time to move on. Thanks Dominicue, Helen, Laura and Jack for making me so welcome.
Prior to arriving in Port Alfred and while cycling from Cradock to Grahamstown I stopped at a farm stall for a coffee, Daggaboer Padstall, Daggaboer meaning in Afrikaans Marijuana Farm I was asked about my trip by another customer. Asking where I was going I replied Port Alfred. The gentleman Collin explaining he lived up the road in a small town called Kleinmonde and that he and his partner Fiona were going away for a couple of days they’d be back soon and invited me to stay. The door at Daggaboer Padstal stated there wasn’t any Dagga for sale, they sold normal farm shop products. I sampled the coffee and cheese cake, best cheese cake I think I have ever had! I almost bought another slice but having put on lots of weight I decided it best not to.
After Port Alfred my route after meeting Collin and Fiona was in the opposite direction to my destination Cape Town and towards Kleinmonde. The ride was easy with a slight westerly wind pushing me along with a small climb out of Port Alfred and then rolling hills for only 15 miles.
Dominicue took several photos of me adding bags to my bike, he forgot to tell me to breathe in at the right time!
The road from Port Alfred to Kleinmonde is narrow in parts with no hard shoulder to ride on. When large lorries come the other way it’s advisable to look behind to make sure another is not going to pass from the rear at the same time as there is little room for them to go around a cyclist, when two meet it’s safer to move off of the road.
The view changes and opens out as you descend into Kleinmonde which is nestled in between Kleinmonde East and West rivers. Beaches, the sea and riverside houses line the rivers.
Collin greeted me and took me to see the local Great Fish Point lighthouse. In impressive condition and still used to this day, originally installed in 1898 it’s possible to enter and climb to the top for a good view out to sea.
The original brass plaque when the lighthouse was built in Birmingham is still showing today.
That evening Collin and I went to the local Lala Lapa Lodge bar, my arrival coincided with chip night. Chip night didn’t involve any sliced potato or frying of stem tubers, the chips you bought were casino chips, each one could be cashed for a drink, beer, whiskey or whatever your choice. It reminded me of the Jizers we have back in the Devizes and District Gentlemens club, a similar chip which you only get when you can’t keep up with the number of beers or drinks being bought for you in a round.
The Lala Lapa Bar was decorated with animal skins and hunting trophies from years ago and the bar soon filled up with regulars. Chip night also meant there was a card game to be played. Each person was dealt some cards and the compère picked cards from another deck, if your card was matched you handed it back and then said a number. The compere then counted through the deck and that would be the next card to be handed back. If you were the last person with a card you received a prize.During the game there was lots of banter as each person tried to knock out the others.
While being served by Anne the landlady I was asked a typically normal question, “where are you from?”, I explained “it’s a small town in the UK, you probably won’t have heard of it, Devizes in Wiltshire”. The lady behind the bar stepped back and looked over to the other side of the bar and said to another customer “Dave, we’ve got another one in from Devizes!”. I was introduced to Dave Chilton from Devizes!
Actually when I say I am from Devizes, I am really from a small village 2 miles away in Rowde, Dave actually lived less than 300 Metres from me in a small close just up the road! Unbelievable. Dave and his wife Pam who works in the village shop spend several months in Kleinmonde at a time where they have a property. Apparently there are quite a few “swallows” as Dave explained, people who come out to Africa during the British winter.
Collin and Fiona let me stay in their cottage next door to their property, originally Collins holiday home for many years before building another property next door.
One of the towns notable features are the two rivers the Kleinmonde East and West. The rivers unlike most rivers in the UK, these do not flow out into the sea for much of the time. Sand builds up at the mouth of which makes the river look like a lake until either a very high tide or lots of rain washes away the sand to open them again. This happens a couple of times a year and some fish species use these areas as nurseries, laying eggs while the river is open to the sea and the hatched returning to the sea when it opens again.
Collin had a small boat for going up and down the river and it’s much easier to use to get to the beach and nice to use to go along the river looking at wildlife.
We had a nice cruise down the river, seeing several birds, Herons, Kingfishers and lots of weaver bird nests along the banks.
The following evening we were invited to a braai. I’m getting used to braais now. Barbecues in the UK are something we tend to do occasionally, in South Africa braais are very much part of the culinary delights of travelling through South Africa. We were invited to Celeste and her husbands home on the edge of the Fish River Mouth. Fuel for many of the braais is cut wood, not charcoal. Lighting the wood and letting it burn until well alight and what remains are lots of red embers. This takes slightly longer to get the braai going but is relaxing watching the logs burn and time to have a drink.
It’s amazing how much heat is generated by wood fired braais, whereas some charcoal burns out relatively quickly, in some cases the fire is too hot and beer is put onto the fire to cool it down slightly, this also gives the food a bit of a beery taste I am told.
Celeste put some music on later in the evening and it was more like a party.
Going for a walk along the beach, in Kleinmonde I begin to realise how far I have come, seeing reports of snow at home and bad weather in the UK. The weather by the beach is perfect, warm to hot and beautiful beaches to walk along.
A downside being the wind, at times very strong. The patterns in the sand and the dunes with hard layers more like a sandstone rock are pretty and watching sand blowing over the dunes with a crazy wild sideways movement reminding me of riding in Mauritania where sand blew across the roads creating patterns.
It’s easy to see why people like Dave and Pam fly to South Africa during the UK winter.
There are signs of life everywhere, from shellfish, fish and lots of birds, cormorants resting on the rocks with their wings out drying before diving back in to hunt for more food.
Some sea creature had died and been washed ashore, I watched with interest as shellfish race up the beach for a munch. Hurriedly trying to move up the beach before the next wave came in and washed them back down the beach again.
Cool warm evenings with views over the river, good company and good food.
Fiona is a wonderful cook, staying with her and Collin I was treated to restaurant quality food while I stayed.
After a few nights it was time to get going again, thank you Collin and Fiona. The wind was favourable, pushing hard from East now and giving me a tailwind to my next destination, Kenton-On-Sea.
Just before Kenton-on-Sea a lorry pulled over in front of me, the driver wanted to chat. Cornelius asked me where all the British had gone from South Africa, he had worked at GM and Firestone with many British colleagues; he explained that many had returned to the UK and he missed them. Cornelius said “you must tell them (British people) when you get home to come out to South Africa, it’s a wonderful country”. I have to agree.
Being pushed along on the flat by the wind I wheeled into Kenton-on-Sea which is between the two tidal rivers of the Kariega and the Bushmans Rivers with only a couple of hours riding. Through the Warm Showers website I was introduced to Miguel and Shona who had put me in touch with Seneo in Gaborone, Botswana earlier in the trip.
Shona and Miguel have two rescue dogs, Tasha and Anjo, Tasha a Pit Bull and, Tasha’s daughter Anjo a cross. I was surprised to see a Pit Bull eating a gem squash.
I had a relaxing time at Kenton On Sea again in no rush, drinking coffees at Café Krema, walking along the beach… having another braai and catching up with writing my notes and working on the website etc.
Each beach I see seems to be better than the next, Kenton on Sea being no exception.
Along the Kenton on Sea coast is a small secluded beach, Shelleys Beach, you know the sort you see in those expensive holiday brochures. The sound of the waves coming over the rocks, birds feeding below and being bathed by the sun makes a great walk, my camera being used more than it had been in a while on such a short walk.
Tragically amongst all of this beauty there’s some sadness, although the beach had been named Shelleys beach a very long time ago, a young girl Marcella Marinelli also known as Shelley had lost her life there several years previous, hard to imagine in such a place. A reminder of how wild the coastline can be and that it should be respected. Although the memorial doesn’t say how Shelley died, I believe it was in a light aircraft that had crashed.
Lizards scamper about in the rocks and foliage in the midday sun. When they stand still they are can be difficult to see. As you approach they stop, motionless unless they are right in your path. They become almost invisible if they chose to.
If it wasn’t for the power of the sun and its ability to burn my heliophobic British skin to a crisp I could easily spend all day walking along the beaches. Even with factor 50 sun cream I resemble a grilled prawn within a short while. Afrikaans used to call British people Rooineks during the Anglo-Boer which means redneck. Not in the same way the phrase is used in the USA, but because the British skin burnt so easily and we all had a red neck until we got some better hats sent out. I look like a Rooinek.. most of the time.
Leaving Shona and Miguel I pedalled away to head further west toward Cape Town, Thank you for the hospitality and the Macchiato’s. Photo below courtesy of Shona, taken by Daryl.