Monday, January 09, 2006

Have we had this one already Patsy, darling?

The elders
Originally uploaded by CharlesFred.
Ummm…. We started on the Chardonnay, moved quickly over to the reds, in ascending order of fullness before finally attacking the ports, eventually the vintage ports… mmmmm….. very good. De Krans is the namely of the winery and they export all over Europe except France and Italy and mostly to UK and Germany. Well recommended.

And so we ended our afternoon, walking distance from Die Dorpshuis, where we took a plunge in the pool on arrival, to refresh us from the blistering heat (how things changed).

During the day, we took the car on an amazing journey, up the Groenfontein valley, where we stopped to identify countless numbers of birds, as we passed through a green oasis, with the odd ostrich farms, very quaint farmhand’s cottages, all with beautifully coloured gardens, past by a very very old and large tortoise on the road (fortunately on the side) and with views up to the Swartberg (Black Mountain). Then along another wider river valley before finally ascending the pass, some 2,200 metres high, with fabulous views in all directions, before descending toward the Seven Week Pass, one of the most spectacular natural formations I have ever seen. Layers of red sandstone sediments, compressed and pushed upwards and squeezed across and then snapped open to provide a very narrow winding gorge through the mountains, the light throwing shadows of the jutting out rocks. Fate was playing a cruel joke by first breaking my camera before showing us this wonderful place. Oh well!

At the bottom, we found the quaint town of Prince Albert, with its many white Cape Dutch houses, many housing cottage industries such as cheese-making, mohair wool production (beautiful multicoloured rugs available), artists galleries and good cafes. We decided on a picnic and left with some bread, cheese and soft drinks for a return journey, this time through the Meiringspoort, a smaller version of the Seven Weeks Pass. Again the colours were amazing, today in the sun, the black mountains (there was also a bit of cloud cover), the black of the burnt tree trunks, the black of the male ostrich, set against his snowy white plumes, the pink soil, the yellow flowers of the acacia trees and the lush green of the trees in the valleys, as well as all the colours we had seen yesterday. As we have noticed before in dry areas, a slight change in the water conditions can lead very quickly to the big change in the vegetation, and so it was here too.

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