Thursday, March 31, 2011

Breakfast Review - The Post House

If you ever find yourself in Greyton and you are looking for a place to have breakfast, I am sure there are more than one restaurant that would give you a proper breakfast. I've only had the privilege of trying out one of the many and this happened last Saturday with my bike ride around the Riviersonderend Mountains. As we drove through the town's main street, we ckecked out all our possibilities. My friend suggested The Post House as "there were locals sitting and you can always trust a place where the locals eat". I don't know how he figured out that they were locals, but at least the breakfast was not disappointing at all and I am pretty sure that locals would frequent the place. But with so many restaurants in one street, I am sure there are other places where more locals hang out as well.

So, the Post House "stoep" really looked cosy, but inside and at the back there are also plenty of tables to pick and choose from. I learned later that The Post House is also a guest house, and if you ever want to stay over it's quite a quaint little town and definitely worth visiting. So is the Post House worth visiting for its breakfast. Because I am on some sort of "healthier eating" diet I decided not to go for the biggest breakfast they have on the menu, so I settled for the "Little Postmaster's Breakfast" at R45. The larger version is R60 with a few extras like an extra egg, a beef sausage and both mushrooms and chips, not the choice between the two like on the smaller version. I asked if I could take the "Little" but with an extra egg. This was given to me by a very friendly staff member at no extra cost. The bread was freshly baked and really filled a few gaps in the stomach. They also have a very nice health breakfast for R45 which looked also very appealing, but I still prefered my bacon and egg choice.
 So, will I ever go back to this restaurant? For sure. With so many other choices in town however I would probably try more of them out first. I have to say, the friendly staff really made an impression on me, the location and atmosphere as well...even more than the actual meal. Definitely worth a try.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Protecting your goods

I read somewhere that if you want to protect your GPS on your bike against rain or dust, a quick solution is to cover it with a condom. I guess if you are not one of those "always-prepared" type of guys that ride around with condoms in your back pocket, it wouldn't really be a "quick" solution, but nevertheless. Knowing that I was going to ride in the dust I was going to give it a try. No rain was expected, but dust for sure. When I took the condom from the packet I wasn't sure if I wanted to roll it over my GPS, not with all that lubrication and smelly stuff all over it. I gave it a mild wash with soap and water to get rid of all that. At least I got rid of the smell. I turned it inside-out after drying it so that the "clean" side would be against the GPS. If you are not used to pulling condoms over large objects then you might find it hard to get it over your GPS without tearing it. Without any hassles I had my GPS covered and was ready for my ride.

I have to admit that after it was put on I could see the benefits of using it, but pretty soon the problems started. It was for sure going to keep water and dust out for a while, but after an hour or so condensation started inside the condom. It was creating moisture inside the condom, instead of keeping the moisture out. So much for wanting to protect it against water. The view through the latex initially was quite good as well and it was still very easy to use the touch screen, so no interference with sensitivity. I guess the biggest mistake I made was to wash off the lubrication because not long after my departure I saw the first hole appear and a hour after that the whole thing looked like it had been ripped to shreds. It needed to stay wet I guess. It totally dried out in the sun and was tearing by itself in a matter of no time. I am sure that there has to be a better way to protect your GPS, otherwise you will need a back pocket stuffed with condoms to last you as long as your ride does. I think the best way to protect your goods simply is to put it away when the ride gets too rough.

Condensation getting in the way of a good ride

Greyton or MacGregor?

I don't want to say this, but winter is slowly but surely creeping in on us. The mornings are chilly and you could feel the days getting shorter with some notable changes in the atmosphere. Not to let this get me down, I decided this weekend to invite two friends for a round trip around the Riviersonderend Mountains via Greyton and McGregor. The idea was to do as much gravel (what's new?) on this 400 km trip and to be home at around 2pm, with obviously a breakfast thrown in at McGregor for good measure.

We left Kleinbaai near Blouberg at around 7:44 heading towards Franschoek where we were thinking of having our first cup of coffee. The problem with my bike trips nowadays is that I have to cover quite a distance on familiar roads before I can get to a point where the new undiscovered ones are waiting for me. So, my trip to Franschoek was just about "getting there", but along the way I made sure that I enjoyed the scenery and the nice weather. Well, at parts the temperature dropped to 10 degC but fortunately my wife suggested I take my new summer jacket's inner part with me. This definitely saved my me from frostbite and an ultimate slow death. In Franschoek we filled up with coffee as planned and here already I found myself checking out the freshly baked meat pies with droopy eyes. Hunger was not going to wait until McGregor but I was determined to stick it out until then.

Taking a break before Greyton
On the Franschhoek pass it was bends and curves as usual and just short of Villiersdorp we hit our first dirt road. I have done this route before, but that time I was on my way to Cape Agulhas and didn't stop the watch the daisies or to make new friends. At least we stopped every now and then to admire the scenery, but I think in the end all we wanted to do was ride the gravel until the sun sets...or for me until 2pm at least. That was of course until we entered Greyton and our stomachs demanded immediate attention. Besides, the last time I went through Greyton I didn't see many people, but on Saturday morning this place seemed to be more popular than Franschhoek. Capetonians love to come hang out here over weekends and with restaurants galore and a fresh produce market you can really find enough to keep yourself busy for a while. This is really a quaint little town where it seems time has stood still for the past 30 years. It was not a bad idea to "stand still" as well and do breakfast. We drove through the town like cowboys looking for the saloon and turned around to order our breakfasts at The Post House. And yes, I can surely recommend the Post House for breakfast.

Plenty for the eye in Greyton
Greyton's main street
After a very nice breakfast on the stoep while singing the praises of our wonderful and understanding wives who gave us the day off to go do our thing, we hit the gravel road further down to Riviersonderend. On my last trip I took the gravel just outside Greyton down to Gansbaai, so from here on I was on "new" undiscovered territory towards Riviersonderend. What I did re-discover though was that you cannot always trust a GPS. A GPS for one does not always know the difference between a public and a private road. At a farm gate with a less-than-friendly sign we turned around, but by this time (after 12.30 already) I knew that I was not going to make home at 2 and my fellow bikers already told me that their wives had given them the whole day for riding. It didn't take much to convince me and with a quick sms I extended my allowed riding time with a couple of hours. From now on high speeds would not be time driven but rather fun driven.

Filling up at McGregor's petrol station
When he got to the N2 we headed straight through Riviersonderend and about 25 kilometres past the mentioned town we turned off at Stormsvlei onto the R317. A couple of kilometres further entering the Klein Karoo and now behind the Riviersonderend Mountains we found our next gravel road leading towards McGregor. Here it was yet again racing on the gravel hoping to get that floating feeling one finds only on a gravel road at high speed. When we entered McGregor is was clear that all the activities of the morning was already completed and that most of the visitors have left the town and the residents have retreated back to their beautiful little houses. Very similar to Greyton this town could've provided us with breakfast as well, but we just needed a cooldrink and were ready to head on. Roodt filled up his bike, we made a short drive through town and then headed towards Robertson.

Another break before McGregor
Just before Robertson we turned back towards Villiersdorp in an effort to stay on gravel, but then Lubbe's visor fell off and he was exposed to insect missiles and dust. This forced us to take it slower but with sunglasses we managed to safely find our way back to Villiersdorp, Franschhoek and eventually home. The ride took us until 5 pm and over nearly 500 kilometres, with about 40% on gravel. I didn't take many pictures as I did not bring my proper camera with, but Roodt was making sure that I had plenty to show on my blog. I always say this after discovering new places and nice towns but never do, but I will definitely need to go back to Greyton for a proper visit. McGregor? Also nice, but I think I liked Greyton more.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Friday, let's go BRAAI....!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seen on Garcia Pass

Looking back over the Garcia Pass towards Riversdale. The cold clouds rolling in from the coast disappear as soon as they reach the top leaving the other side of the mountain with a much drier climate with different vegetation. Once over the mountain you are in the Klein Karoo.

This weekend hosted the annual Baffalo Rally (also knows as "the Buff") in Mossel Bay when thousands of bikers head down to the coast for a weekend of fun on their bikes..and in their tents....and in beer tents. There were a lot of bikes coming up the Ggarcia pass on their way to Route 62. I won't call something with three wheels that cannot be easily manoeuvred between slow moving traffic a motorbike, but this guy and his pillion were having fun and waved vigourously as they drove past.

I don't think it is this one specific but the Protea is South Africa's national flower. That is besides the plastic bags that are scattered all over South African and stuck on fences and trees that are also sometimes referred to as South Africa's "new" national flower. Are national cricket team is also called "The Proteas".

Just past the Garcia Pass when you reach the Klein Karoo and are heading towards Route 62, we came across this old-timer crossing the road. I don't know how old he/she is, but I am sure this tortoise has crossed this road many times before, definitely more than the times I have passed through here. What an amazing creature still able to roam around freely in South Africa and to be able to reach this size.

Snap out of it

Last year I read an interesting article in the September 2010 issue of Popular Mechanics that was written by Glen Reynolds who teaches law at the University of Tennessee. In the article called "Photo Phobia" he writes about officials wanting to arrest people for taking pictures at public places and not always knowing that taking photographs are far from being a threat to national security. He says that terrorist activities are not planned with photos taken of the targets in advance. He also mentions that photos taken by tourists sometimes provide for more clues after the attack than what the local security cameras usually do and that taking photographs by the public in general is not such a bad idea after all and should rater be encouraged.

The natives in Gabon before they saw my camera and got restless
I have always been very cautious when taking pictures when I travel, especially in Africa. For some reason people from African countries do not like to be photographed and will be very quick to move away or tell you straight to stop taking pictures of them. In Congo for instance a local once told me that Europeans come and take pictures and then take it back to show other people in what a poor state these countries and its citizens are. Or that is what they believe. In Cameroon we were stopped by a police official that appeared from out of the sky when one of the passengers took a picture of a ramshackled bridge. The police officer claimed that taking pictures of "governmental structures" were forbidden and even after the picture was deleted he still wanted either the camera or whatever cash we had on us. Obviously state security was not his major concern, rather what he could extort from us. After forking out about 60 USD we had our camera back but without ANY photos left on the memory stick after we've deleted every single picture to convince him that there was no need to let go of our camera or to be fined. On a beach in Gabon I once saw men pulling a fishing net from the water. They were working with such good timing and precision and with the beautiful backdrop I thought it would make a very nice scene for some good pictures. When they saw my camera it was like the sign for them to drop the net with the same precision they were pulling the net and attack me. I managed to get one picture before they all started shouting at me to put my camera away. I first thought that what they were doing might be illegal and that they didn't want me to have evidence, but my driver who is also a local, told me that was not the case. They just don't like to be photographed. Since then for me taking pictures in any African country accept South Africa was done with a lot of secrecy and caution.

Two days ago a passed a pumpkin stall just outside Worcester and took a picture of the pumpkins outside the stall. Only later I saw that they wanted a "donation" for taking pictures and I was wondering what gives them the right to ask for a donation? Why did I immediately feel as if they were infringing on my right to take pictures where it is not prohibited by law to do so? Are they just greedy or do they have a right to ask money for taking pictures of something you can see without having to pay for it? According to Glenn Reynolds the general rule is that "if something is in a public place, you are entitled to photograph it". All I know is that this little stall with all its pumpkins has just lost its appeal and consequently another customer. I will never stop there again or take pictures of their pumpkins, I can promise you that.

Since I started my blog I realized that showing some pictures make the content of the blog much easier to visualize and nicer to read. I have always tried to put at least one relevant picture with every post, and sometimes when I don't have a picture I even go as far as not writing anything. But last week I had a very unpleasant incident here in South Africa when I took a pictures at the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. I was standing in the queue to check in at the Premium Class desk, but two of the SAA employees were sitting behind their counters and texting messages in stead of looking up to assist passengers. After getting a bit annoyed for having to wait I took a picture and with the flash going off one of the SAA employees jumped up and nearly grabbed me by the throat for taking a picture of her. I think she was more concerned about the fact that I have proof of what she was doing than the pictures being of her, but in the end I nearly missed my flight because she not only called security, but eventually had two police officers with her who wanted to arrest me for taking a picture. Anyway, to avoid missing my flight I eventually deleted the picture. Unfortunately I did not save it in another folder otherwise you could've been the judge whether there were any infringement on her privacy or not. From the picture you could not even see her face. I merely took a picture of a SAA employee who was not doing her work and made her company appear very unprofessional in the eyes of many travelers.

So my question now is, is taking pictures in South Africa also becoming an issue? Every person you meet nowadays have some sort of camera with him or her, will it ever be fully stopped? Is there any legislation in South Africa that prevents anyone from taking pictures, or in other countries for that matter? I will just have to be more careful I guess, but I cannot blog without pictures and I am not intending on doing that either. I have sent a letter to the SAA. Once I get a reply I will post the letter with all the details of this shocking and demeaning experience and to show what their response is to my picture taking experience at Oliver Tambo International. If there were any signs I probably would not have taken my camera out, so I have created a sign for the SAA that they can use in the meantime. So in the words of Glenn Reynolds all I can say is: "Let's have truce in the war on photography and set our sights on the real bad guys. Who, it seems, don't carry camera anyway."

Pemba, Mozambique

If you are ever fortunate enough to visit Pemba in the northern parts of Mozambique, make sure you stay for longer than what I did. You might also have to check the weather, but even with the warm tropical thunderstorms the place has a magic feel to it. The town is very small and surprizingly well-kept. As a matter of fact, one of my first observations in Mozambique on  previous trips was that people seem to have a lot of pride in their homes and surroundings. Here it is the same. All the little houses have very nice fences all made with local wood and reeds and the streets are surprisingly free from rubbish. The people are very friendly and all seems to be able to understand a fair amount of English. With not many people able to afford motor cars the streets look like a Karoo town on a Sunday.

I guess the main attraction of Pemba is the warm ocean with tropical reefs and crystal clear water. Any scuba diver's dream. The hotel where I was staying was doing boat trips to nearby islands for snorkeling and scuba diving at very reasonable prices. For me unfortunately I had to snorkel opposite the hotel as I had no time for leisure boat trips, I was there for work and less play. I did however take some time to walk on the beach and check out the water. I will definitely come back and explore a bit more.

I took some pictures with my little point-and-shoot, but it was overcast with not much sun and raining most of the time. I am sure with a better camera, better weather and more time one would be able to capture more of the beauty of this place than what I could this time. Here are some pictures to give an idea of this tropical paradise. I hope to visit this place again soon. I will be more prepared this time for all the nice things it has to offer....

I stayed at the Pemba Beach Hotel and Spa which has a very colonial atmosphere. It is the biggest hotel in Pemba and probably the nicest as well. Like in many African countries north of South Africa seafood is cheap compared to other meat and needless to say I made sure that I had a good helping. Oh, and I didn't miss my opportunity for a nice breakfast either.

The Pemba Beach Hotel

Breakfast - Bacon and Eggs

Lunch - Calamari and Chips

Dinner - King Prawns and Chips

Or you can do "Red Fish" and Chips. Lobster was not available at time of request, but apparently just as good.

And what would all the above be without the taste of a local beer, "Dois Em"?

Bom Apetite!

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's Friday, let's go BRAAI...!

Flying LAM - ten years down the line

My first ever trip across the borders of South Africa was a quick hop to Mozambique. That was about ten years ago. As I was not used to flying at that time and very excited about my first stamp I was going to get in my passport. I guess so excited that I did not pay much attention to the details of the whole trip. Besides, I was sent to deliver parts in Beira, had to stay over one night and did not know if I had enough money with me to pay the hotel. So apart from excitement I think nervousness was also interfering with the awareness senses. What I do remember very well from that trip was my flight with the Moszambique carrier LAM (Linhas Aereas de Mocambique), as well as the airport at Maputo. If I had to make a list of the nice memories from my first trip, then these two would unfortunatey not have made that list. They did however make the list of memorable events that shaped my opinion of African Airlines and African airports.

So last Monday, ten years later, I was yet again on my way to Mozambique, only the second time on LAM via Maputa. I did a trip in between to Vilanculos, but that was straight with SAA and back. This time it was to Pemba further up north, and also with LAM. On my last trip I was flying in a plane called "Smokey Joe", aptly named that way because of smoke that was coming out of the engine all the time. I was not a frequent flyer at that time, so I could not really judge the competency of the pilots, but I remember that I was doubting their ability very much for various reasons. When you fly a lot you get the feel of the plane's movements and sounds to such an extent that you can actually tell if something is going wrong long before the flight attendants reveal anything on their taut faces. Unless of course when they are so used to a particular pilot's way of flying and continue serving coffee and tea like nothing is wrong despite what might be happening in the cockpit. Usually when the descent starts it feels as if you are literally gliding down towards the runway. Quite a heavenly feeling when a pilot knows what he is doing, like a butterfly coming down to softly land on the petals of a lily flower. The LAM pilots are definitely not appreciative of the beauty of a butterfly's flying abilities. You get the impression that they have started the descent way too early and consequently have to throttle up from time to time to keep altitude, making your heavenly feeling dispappear very quickly. It is like they have completely misjudged their altitude, their time to landing, the distance to the runway, their speed, everything. The anouncement "Cabin crew, ten minutes to landing" sometimes only comes 10 seconds before the plane hits the runway like a ton of bricks. The approach is everything but a steady glide and gentle landing like the butterfly does. You as a passenger keeps wondering whether you are actually descending or not. Anyway, this has not changed, despite the fact that my flight to Pemba happened on brand new Embraer 190 aircraft. The aircrafts might be new, but the pilots however were never "updated". It was also the first time where I have seen that the little white towel on the head rests preventing people's heads from smearing hair oil all over the upholstery are being used for commercial advertizing instead. As if this was not enough, even on the tray tables they had these horrendous ads displayed. Don't we see enough of that on TV? Not really adding to the beauty of the interior design at all. My return flight from Pemba however was on an Airbus A319, probably one of the first 18 build in 1996. I did not see smoke coming from the engines so I cannot confirm if it was Smokey Joe or not. It looked a bit old and dilapidated inside, with only enough room space for a pair of feet sans the legs. Well, after the flight it felt like I was without legs.

I was quite surprized though when we entered the airport building at Maputo. It was clear that it was brand new, and I learned later that it has opened only very recently. I was however brought back to my first trip when we walked from the International Arrivals to the Domestic Departures only to arrive in the same little departure hall I found myself in ten years ago. It was like a dejavu. It even had the same red chairs from that time. I even remembered the scene playing off in front of me outside the departure hall where one aircraft's front wheel was changed right before departure and right in front of the passengers who were already a bit annoyed for being delayed for more than two hours already.  The plane that was initially supposed to take us to Johannesburg was pulled away by a tractor at the last minute before departure only to be replaced with one that had a flat wheel. Changing a wheel in front of the waiting passengers was like removing a fly from the soup in front of the patron who ordered the soup. The problem was fixed but their still remains some uncertainty on the effectiveness of the exercise. Anyway, in Johannesburg we landed hard like usual with that new wheel taking all the strain and all seemed well afterwards. I have to say that I expected the same chaos at the airport like ten years ago. I remember a couple of small kids running towards me shouting "Airport tax, airport tax! Follow me, follow me!" There was nothing of the sorts this time. As a matter of fact, I don't even need a visa for Mozambique. I wish that Angola could wake up and do away with visas. Anyway, this is Mozambique and there is clearly a huge difference between the two countries, despite the fact that they were both Portuguese colonies that went through a civil war. As a matter of fact, the people are actually astonishly different too, but that is for another post. So, the airport was much more organized and relaxed than ten years ago. Just don't buy anything to drink, I paid R30 for a small Cuppicino that tasted more like an Espresso. Before the second sip we were told to board again and I had to leave behind the most expensive and bad tasting coffee I've ever had in a foreign country.

New International Departure hall
Old Departure hall
I have to admit that after an absence of ten years there has definitely been some improvement in Mozambique. The people are very friendly in general and the food on LAM was ten times better than what you get on TAAG. The flight attendants were all beautiful and friendly and if I ever had to choose between Mozambique and Angola, I would definitely settle for the first. The pilots still need a bit of practicing though, but in general it was a pleasant experience this time. I would have no problem visiting Mozambique again, but would still prefer to do it with SAA's pilots.

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's Friday, let's go BRAAI...!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Feeling "Unrest" at Onrus

I am at that point of my life that if I do not get some sort of adrenalin rush over the weekend, then I feel that another two days of my life have been wasted. This weekend I didn't really know what to do for my weekly rush, but I decided that it would be a family weekend for me if nothing else. On Friday evening our family was having our regular Friday night braai, but by Saturday morning my family dispersed into all directions. My son went to go play at friends and my wife went to compete in a mountain bike race near Stellenbosch. But like any good shephard I regrouped my flock and soon afterwards we were heading towards Hermanus for a camping/paragliding weekend. Hermanus is probably more famous for whale watching than paragliding or camping, but near Onrus just outside of Hermanus there is a very nice camping site. For paragliders Hermanus is a very popular spot that has a long ridge which is shaped like a breaking wave and provides for very consistent flying conditions. It also has the most spectacular view any pilot could ask for. In summer one could even see whales from the air and with the right conditions you can actually fly all the way towards the sea and across the water to see these huge floating gentle giants straight from above. So, I was not only trying to keep the family together, I was hoping of getting at least one good flight in during our stay.

While my wife was doing her stuff at the mountain bike race and my son was playing up a storm with his friends, I was preparing our kombi for the camping trip. Fortunately I have a camping list and with the one or two utensils that I need to tick off that is not already in the kombi, this is fortunately a quick and simple task. I have to admit that our frequency of camping trips has been reduced considerably over the last couple of years, but with all the other weekend interests we have, one can expect that to happen. Even my paragliding was taking a back seat for a while now and it was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Or three if I could keep my family together as well. So at around 12 we were all packed and ready to go.

Overlooking False Bay
We took the scenic route to Hermanus via the Strand and Gordon's Bay, but strangely enough I only stopped twice to take pictures. It was yet again a beautiful day and I was already concerned that there would not be enough wind for paragliding. One cannot complain when the wind is not blowing in this area, despite the fact that your whole weekend might not turn out the way you want it to. A windless day in Cape Town is a godsend. It is quite a beautiful road that runs along the coast from Gordons Bay to Kleinmond, and opposite False Bay one could see the Peninsula stretching further south with Cape Point far in the distance. When I look over False Bay I unfortunately only think of one thing...sharks! Anyway, I was not there to surf but did see a couple of guys riding crystal clear waves at Kogel Bay. I didn't even know that Kogel Bay had a camping site (or waves) and was very tempted to shorten my trip seeing that my prospects of flying was getting dimmer by the minute. There was not even a breeze to keep a chick's feather up in the air, let a lone a full grown man dangling from a piece of cloth. If I had my surfboard with me, well, I might've decided to end my journey there and then and take on the sharks of False Bay.
Kogel Bay
When we arrived at Onrus it was around 2.30 pm. I drove past Onrus towards Hermanus to have a look at the take off site still very optimistic that I might get a flight in later that afternoon. I drove to the landing area in Hermanus to set my GPS for my wife who would be the obvious choice to come and collect me after I've landed. Paragliding is a team sport...a pilot doing the flying and a driver doing the pickup. Probably the only time I will ever get picked up by a woman not expecting some sort of payment afterwards for "services rendered" . The road layout in Hermanus is a bit tricky, so getting the GPS coordinates for her was not a bad idea to start with. There was no-one at the take-off or landing site so we headed to Onrus to see if there were any stands available at the campig site. We have entered the "out-of-season" period in South Africa so I was pretty sure that we would get a nice spot where we could spend the night.

"This time we are sure!" was my wife's words to a very patient security guard after the third time we went back to the gate to negotiate for a "better" spot. When we arrived we were given 7 options to choose from, and they were the last seven stands available. After deciding that the ones we initially chose was not good at all, we enventually got a site with grass that was not on the list and insisted on squatting there. By the size of it the site was probably for caravans and not tents. We pitched our little blue tent in a space big enough for a Jurgens Exclusive Range Caravan complete with accompanied 4x4. Oh, and don't forget the other kitchen appliances to  make any camper's life ten times easier than back home; dishwashers, tumbledriers, microwave ovens.... I see some campers nowadays even have mobile satelite dishes. I mean why would anyone miss an episode of his boring soapie in exchange for the most stunning sunset he might ever see in his life?  Camping is definitey not what it used to be and if your caravan does not have more luxuries than the average household in Sandton, then you might as well watch your boring soapies at home, I guess?

Beach bar
Onrus beach
After pitching our 2-man tent in 5 minutes flat, we went down to Onrus beach. There's not much at Onrus beach to be honest. I think the last time I've been on this beach was about 6 years ago. They have a little restaurant and something that looked like a beach bar which wasn't there at that time. That is if I remember correctly. We skipped the beach bar and headed straight for the sand. I wasn't really prepared for a beach outing, but if my son is happy then I am happy. I think my wife was happy too, she didn't say much or complain much. She was just "chilling". For the second time today I wish I had my surfboard with me, it would've kept me busy for a while. Not that the waves were any good, but being in the water is still better than sitting on the beach watching two uninformed fools posing with bigger-than-life smiles for their wedding pictures. Funny how some photographers literally dig themselves into the sand to get the best angle while an unexpected beach-goer scratches his bum in the background. Thank god for Photoshop.  After killing some time on the beach and silently wishing the two good luck "for better or for worse" as they paraded past like two show horses, we headed back to the camp and started our second braai for the weekend. That was probably my first opportunity for my own bigger-then-life smile for the day. It was confirmed by now that paragliding was not going to give me that pleasure today.

Our caravan/tent site was a bit far from the ablusion facilities. Fortunately the road leading to the ablusion blocks was tarred. At least I had my skateboard there and taking a trip down to the ablusion was actually fun. I could see the envy on the faces of the people walking past trying to hide their toilet rolls in their hands while I wooshed passed to get there first. For some reason I was not really impressed with the camp site anymore. I remember camping here quite often years ago, but I think there was just too many people this weekend and the spot where we were wasn't really hidden away and secluded enough. I didn't get that "in-sync-with-nature" feeling that I want when "sleeping under the stars". I couldn't even see the bloody stars and there was not even a single cloud in the sky. Behind us was a huge house and it felt more like I was camping in someone's back yard. Opposite the road I could hear the television and that is not exactly why I went there in the first place. When I took out my guitar I realized that I might get thrown out for disturbing the peace with the only "unplugged" piece of equipment in the camp, so even that pleasure back-fired. Mind you, with my voice singing isn't safe in the privacy of my own house either. Maybe the fact that I missed out on the paragliding just dampened my mood completely. At least I was with my family and they seemed to be having lots of fun.

Prime spot in someone's "back yard"
The "basics" of camping

Now here's the proof that I wasn't my usual self. I never thought this would happen to me on a camping trip. I skipped the opportunity to make breakfast the next morning. I think making breakfast is what's making camping worth the effort. If watching the stars and bonding with nature does not really do it, then making your own breakfast on  a gas stove usually does. I cannot wait to get up the next morning to make breakfast. Unfortunately by the time we were all up and awake, even my wife agreed that we should go have breakfast somewhere else. Maybe she was "chilling" too much and was thinking about the washing up afterwards without a dishwasher.  A luxury most of the other caravan owners seemed to have. We packed up and left the camp at 8am. I think most of our fellow campers were still sleeping, but we were ready to go home. It was yet another windless day and I wasn't going to hang around Hermanus with the hope of the wind picking up. My second smile of the weekend came when the guy at reception charged us less for the stand than what we were expecting to pay. Somehow he must've sensed that my stay wasn't as good as I was hoping for or charging us for a caravan site while we were suffering in a tent wasn't "ethically justifiable". We took the road back home via the N2 and stopped at The Orchard near Grabouw for breakfast. I didn't even do a breakfast review, I just wasn't in the mood. Definitely NOT one of my best weekends. When we got home I changed clothes and went straight for the garden. At least there I got some satisfaction pulling out weeds and sweeping the driveway. It was really nice having my family around me, but the activities for the weekend just didn't take me where I wanted to go. This coming weekend my wife is doing the Argus Cycle Tour again and this year I am going to try and get a good glimpse of her along the road. This time I am going prepared with a GPS, map and cell phone. Not like last year when I totally got lost and never saw her once. I already feel more excited about this coming weekend than what I felt for the previous one. At least I had my family with me which convinced me that it wasn't really "two days of my life wasted". It was quality time that an adrenalin rush cannot substitute.
This was my first flight at Hermanus with my new Gradient glider. I was stoked!