Monday, December 18, 2017

Drakenburg Mountains

The final day for the family from Scotland, a picnic at Midmar Dam.
When the Philip family had gone home, Peter and I went with Alison and Mike to the Drakensburg mountains for a couple of days.
We had by this time we had returned our rental car.
The cottage that we rented was on a small 90 hectare farm in the southern part of the range.
The view from the cottage is spectacular!

This mountain is called Bamboo Mountain.

Rain approaching!

The beautiful clear water river that marks the boundary of the property.

A perfect clear day with blue skies, allowed us to walk along the river towards the gorge.

The view of Castle Mountain from our cottage.
We took a wonderful drive in the afternoon through the Garden route, which took us between the two main spectacular mountains of Castle and Bamboo.

Yesterday, we took Alison and Mike to a wonderful local Italian restaurant, La Lampara. The food was delicious!
This is our last night in South Africa, sadly. Also thus my last blog for this holiday. I hope you have enjoyed the blog.
We have certainly have had a sensational holiday.


Peter and I had the cottage at Mike and Alison's farm, Rod and Janet Philip had a room in the house as did Alistair Philip. Harvey and Debra, together with Dave and Sue Harries stayed in cottages at Toad Hall, just down the road. Brittani, Gary and Roy stayed in a very large house on the property of Netherwood, where the wedding receptionhad been held.
The day after the wedding of Gary to Brittani, we all enjoyed breakfast together, the Philip Family and the Barford Family
Roy was in charge of the brai (barbeque) that evening. Meat and more meat!
The following day we all left to go to Nambiti Game Reserve. Mike and Alison had booked two nights for all of us at this private game park. The lodge itself is owned by the local Zulu community. The lodge is called Springbok Lodge.

Two very tired newly weds!

Serious glamping; inside/outside bathroom, lovely seating area and large verandah.

Lunch on the verandah, outside the reception, dining room and loungeroom of the lodge.

Here we are going out on one of our four game drives. This was the first afternoon session. Our group took up two Landcruisers. We had two brilliant ranger guides, Bronwyn and Martienliza.
We had brilliant weather on the first day and then it rained!

Inside our very palacial quarters.

The view from our tent/house.

Morning tea break! Mike and Alison with Janet and Rod.

It was very cold, so a hot cuppa was very welcome.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gary and Britani's Wedding

Early the next morning, Alison went to the reception place (Netherwood) and checked the flowers, ensuring that they had plently if water and were in the right places.
At the house, Alison then made the buttonhole flowers for the grooms and bridal families. Janet, Debra and I made the flower rings for the flowergirls and small posies for them to carry.
Gary and Britani were married at 3:00pm that afternoon by a deacon from the Catholic church. Special permission had to be sough from the bishop to perform the ceremony in the chapel belonging to the reception centre - the first time a Catholic marriage ceremony had been performed outside of a Catholic church, in local history.
The ceremony was beautiful. Britani looked radiant and Gary extremely happy.

The reception was held in the reception centre. Netherwood is set, high up in the Midland Hills on a beautiful farm.

Alison's brothers and father wore their traditional Scottish kilts as part of the Philip Clan.

If you would like to see any more photos about the wedding, go to the Facebook page that I have set up called Gary, Britani Wedding

South Africa

A long journey to South Africa. We left the hotel in Piraeus at 11:00am. The plane (4 hours) went via Frankfurt with a six hour stop over there. Then a ten hour flight to Johannesburg with another eight hour stop over, before catching the hour flight to Peitermartizberg. Here we collected our hire car and met Mike, who had driven to the airport to show us the way to the farm.
We drove in the dark and the fog with a car we didn't know, on unfamiliar roads with a very under-powered car (990cc). There were major road works on the highway where sections went from three lanes to just one. It was peak hour traffic with huge double trucks on the road.
It was quite tricky following Mike as he overtook trucks and we didn't have enough oomph to keep up at times.
We arrived at the farm at about seven that evening.

Alison's family were there, except her brother Ian as were Roy, Gary and Britani. The photo above is of us having breakfast in the morning. Alison's 93 year old father came with Deborah and Harvey (Alison's brother) and her other brother, Rod was there with his wife, Janet.
The following day was spent creating the flower arrangements for the Reception and chapel. Alison is a trained florist and directed us to create the table decorations and the posies on the end of the pews.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


The hotel in which we stayed on Milos, was called Portiani. A great place to be based as it was right in the centre of the harbour area and so close to everthing that was open.
We had a small suite with sitting area, large bedroom, bathroom and a huge balcony area over which we could view the happenings in the port.

The port town of Adamas as seen from our hotel balcony.
The weather, apart from half a day, was warm and sunny. It was important by this stage to find a laundromat. Washing everything by hand is all very well, but generally things at best get a very good rinse not a propper wash and drying heavy jeans is an impossibility in a hotel room.
Having sussed out the laundry, we decided to wait until our last day before washing everything. We priced a small hire car and borrowed it for two days so we could explore the island.

More scenes looking at the harbour from different angles. The island of Milos has a wonderful natural harbour, created by the half-moon shape of the island. The water is very deep and sheltered. So the port is really well protected and safe for all kinds of vessels. Unlike Sifnos, the ferries can land here even if the weather turns really nasty.

There are some really interesting ancient hustorical sites on Milos. These are the catacombs, dug into the teff (soft volcanic matter), where the Romans and later the Christians burried their dead. Many well preserved ancient artifacts were found here; most are currently being held in the main museum in Athens.

There is also a very beautiful ancient Roman theatre on the island. All of you will know of the very famous Venus di Milo, in the Louvre, France. Well guess where it came from? Here! I had never made the connection between the statue's name and this island before. As you probably know, Venus di Milo has its own space in the Louvre and is one of the greatest treasures of the ancient world.
The local story is that a farmer was ploughing his field one day and unearthed Venus. He fell in love with the beauty of the statue and hid it in one of his farm sheds. His wife became really jealous of the time he spent looking at and admiring the statue, so she contacted various authorities around the world. Yup, the French stole it!

The car we hired was a very small Chevrolet. It ran on the smell of an oily rag and had a very small engine. We were not allowed to drive on any dirt roads. Given the very low clearance and tiny tyre size, this was no wonder. With this small car, we travelled as far around the island as we could to discover its treasures.

Unfortunately most of the museums were closed for the season. This ruin, however was open. The ruins are Micean, but not well preserved and only one short path to follow.
There are tantilising glimpses of possible ancient civilizations at every turn with stone walls and stone terraces everywhere.

When the tourist season of seven months is over, the island returns to its fishing and mining.

Bentonite is mined here; used for the building industry, medicine and kitty litter. A general cargo ship at the bentonite terminal was filling its hold with the volcanic clay whilst we were on Milos.
Yesterday, after having returned the car we walked to the other end of the harbour. Here we found a thermal bath house, called Hippocrate's Cave. It looked really interesting, but like most other things of interest was closed for the winter.