My experiences living in Cape Town and travelling in Africa

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My failed attempt to reach the wreck of the BOS 400

BOS 400 wreck hike

I have been wanting to try this for a while now, that is hike to and photograph what remains of the BOS 400, a French derrick barge that ran aground in 1994 after it’s tow rope broke in heavy seas. I got up at 5:00am and set off towards Sandy Bay beach in the darkness with a headlamp hoping to reach the Oudeschip Peninsula at dawn and then make my way around Maori Bay to the shipwreck at sunrise to make use of the best light for photographs. Things did not go according to plan however….

BOS 400 wreck hike
I made it to Oudeschip and across the bay I could now see the wreck of the BOS 400 but where I thought the path would continue around along the coast around the bay, it didn’t. I scrambled over the rocks thinking I could find my own way until the boulders turned into sheer rock faces and I could go no further without jumping read on + see 8 more photos


Where the two oceans DO meet

Sundays are supposed to be for sleeping in which is what we did. And flapjacks, which is exactly what we found when we eventually got to the breakfast table. After the girls had finished oohing and aahing at the presentation we all tucked in and yes, they tasted as good as they look.

Rory Alexander Photography

Needing once again to walk off our overindulgence we made our way to the Southernmost Tip of Africa, the official meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Rory Alexander Photography

We were met at the newly constructed boardwalk by continue reading + 5 photos


Dias Festival Air Show 2013

A couple of weeks ago Hilton Mundy and myself went to Mossel Bay to film The Dias Festival Air Show took place over the weekend of the 2nd February in Mossel Bay. This festival was 1st established back in 1988 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the landing of Bartolomeu Dias at Mossel Bay.

The air show was organised by Sharon Malcolm & Hans Potgieter & ran like clock work from start to finish. The aircraft that partook in the display were the Eqstra flying Lions, L-39, RV-7, RV-8, Cessna 337, T-28 Trojan, Zlin 50, Pitts Special, Magni M24 & Starlite choppers. One of the highlights of the day was the 27m South African Flag hanging from skydiver Ralph Ridge.

Sit back and enjoy these four minutes of action packed highlights from the show.

 


Finally hiking Hout Bay Corner

I don’t like doing hikes that I haven’t done before, I prefer to tread paths that I know. Last year I broke with tradition and was reminded of why this is, after following a path that came to a dead-end and retracing our steps several times decided the prudent action would be to go down the way we’d come up. I look up at the Twelfth Apostle mountain every day from the garden and for the last 10 years have wanted to climb up the back to the top and come down the front. And there is a path, I just didn’t know where it was until now.

The Twelfth Apostle above Llandudno Beach

The Twelfth Apostle above Llandudno Beach

My dad saw an advert in our local community newspaper to join The Peninsula Ramblers on a guided walk up Myburgh’s Kloof, known as one of the few spots to see the Red Disa flower, continuing to the top known as Judas Peak and then down Hout Bay corner. This was exactly the hike I had wanted to do before and so I was very keen to go along and finally learn the route. continue reading + 10 more photos


Beginning 2013 on a high!

What better way to start the New Year in Cape Town then a hike with friends for a champagne breakfast on top of one of many mountains we live beneath.

Rory Alexander Photography

Cheers to that and if this view is in any way indicative of things to come it should be a great year!

Rory Alexander Photography


Looking back at Rory in South Africa during 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


Going for a quick flight over Riebeek Kasteel

I have always had a love for aviation and a few years ago I took a step towards something I had always thought I wanted to do which was getting a pilot’s license. I started flight training with a friend of mine, Hilton Mundy at a little airstrip called Delta 200 out near Melkbos, up the West Coast from Cape Town. For various reasons I stopped my training but Hilton carried on and while it was a long road he eventually got his Private Pilot’s License (PPL) about 5 months ago. Having followed his progress and sharing a love of aviation, ever since I have been looking forward to going flying with him.

Rory Alexander Photography

It was a couple of weeks ago that the weather was favourable and we were able to get up in the air. Taking off from Morningstar Flight Academy, where Hilton completed his license, we pulled the Ikarus aircraft out of the hangar and after a bit of trouble continue reading + 5 more photos


It’s official, Table Mountain is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature

This morning I was privileged to attend the inauguration of Table Mountain as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The one thing about nature is that we can’t control it and the weather wasn’t the best with Table Mountain shrouded in cloud this was the view from Tafelberg Road at 6:45am as we arrived for the plaque unveiling at the Cableway’s lower station.
TMOI-1

The low hanging cloud didn’t dampen the mood though as  Bernard Weber (Founder-President of New7Wonders) spoke about how the voting process had been continue reading + 4 photos


Learn to beat the burn

Yesterday I went along with my nephew and brother-in-law to the Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) Open Day at the Newlands Forest Station. This wasn’t an entirely new experience for me as I had signed on as a new recruit with the VWS back in 2009 but ended up relocating to China before I could complete my training for that season. I really enjoyed the people who make up the volunteer group and vowed I would sign up again when I returned. You too can register for the next recruitment drive which should be in March next year for the 2013 fire season.

VWS Open Day-2

For my nephew though the Open Day was all about seeing a fire engine and watching the helicopter display (which I was really excited to see too) and we weren’t disappointed. We kicked off the activities with a ride on this old fire engine with sirens blaring, then it was on to continue reading + 6 photos


Garden Route Rally 2012 – Photo Essay

A couple of weekends ago I was invited to the Garden Route Rally with stages being held over two days between George and Knysna. This was the final round of the South African Rally Championship and I was lucky enough to follow Jon Williams and the Sasol Racing Team who took 1st and 3rd in the overall for the year. The spectator points could have been better but thanks to the wonderful hospitality from the Sasol team it was still a great weekend and I did get quite close to the action on a few of the stages as you will see. Enjoy.

see 11 more photos


Waking up in Wilderness

Last weekend Guy McDonald and I travelled to the Garden Route area for the final round of the National Rally Championship. Friday’s stages were in George while Saturday’s were to be in Knysna so we decided to stay in Wilderness, right in the middle of the action. Set behind the seaside village, along the banks of the Touw River is the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park where you can either camp under the stars or stay in the log cabins like we did.

There is something about the smell of a log cabin that reminds me of continue reading + see 13 more photos


Touring Table Mountain National Park

On the third of a series of weekends away with SANParks we did a tour of Table Mountain National Park including some of the lesser known attractions of this diverse and rather spread out park. Although we all live and work at the base of Table Mountain there is a lot more to this National Park that stretches all the way from Signal Hill to Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope. Once again transport was provided by the Green Cab meaning we could sit back and enjoy the views as we made our way to our first stop Boulders Penguin Colony.

We were shown around by the Section Ranger for Boulders who told us a little more about the penguins, in particular how some of looked a little unkempt with fluffy feathers and even patches of no feathers. However this is perfectly natural when they malt and starve for 2-3 weeks while they can’t fish because of continue reading + 15 more photos


Flying over Mossel Bay

A couple of weekends ago Hilton Mundyand I drove up to Mossel Bay to cover the PetroSA Cape Regional Aerobatic Competition 2012. The weather didn’t exactly play nice for the practice day on the Friday with pilots waiting in Oudtshoorn for the clouds to lift so they could sneak over the mountains which they eventually did. On Saturday the sun rose to reveal clear skies and the competition was on!

The rest of the competitors flew in from Cape Town and Stellenbosch that morning. There may have been clear skies but there was also a strong wind blowing which made some of the pilots anxious to compete but by mid-morning the wind had changed and after a short briefing the action all started. After very little action the day before we were busy the whole day filming the aerobatic displays and all the action on the ground but I did get a chance to go up with the competition director, Hans Potgeiter, of Mossel Bay Aero Club in his Cessna 337, which is a rather unusual looking continue reading + 2 potos & a video


CHAMP is f*#^ing brilliant

Champ follows three actors, struggling to get real theatre work, behind the scenes of their current gig working in a shopping mall as entertainment for all the little kids. The premise of this play is actually very close to home for me and here’s where I’ll let you in on a little secret. click here to find out what my secret is


A Faulty dining experience

I am not a die-hard fan but I did watch several episodes of Fawlty Towers growing up and think John Cleese is hilarious, so I was excited when Guy McDonald invited me to join him for Faulty Towers The Dining Experience which forms part of the inaugural FNB Variété Festival from 6th-20th of October 2012.

The venue was The Villa at the Cape Sun Hotel, a perfect location for what was to unfold. We were having a drink and chatting when Basil Fawlty appeared. He was hard to miss, being close to 7 ft and a remarkable resemblance to John Cleese in the original TV show. Then I noticed Sybil standing by the ticket desk with an old phone wedged between her left ear and shoulder chatting away while scurrying between all the other guests, collecting empty glasses, was Manuel the waiter.

We weren’t even inside and the show had begun. Basil called for Manuel to bring out the hor d’oeuvres but Manuel’s English isn’t very good and so he replied quizzically ‘Orders?” Basil a little frustrated repeats “hor d’oeuvres” but Manuel still only manages to hear “Orders” and isn’t sure what he’s supposed to do. So Basil simplifies the request to “Nuts” and Manuel finally gets it ‘Oh, yes the nuts. I go” and disappears round the corner. A little while later he returns simply carrying a tray of nuts and weaving between the guests. Basil notices that Manuel is just carrying the nuts around and not offering them to the guests. “No, no, no. Manuel you have to serve the nuts. Serve the nuts.” Manuel nods and Basil continued greeting the guests. I then watched Manuel who proceeded to pick up a single nut, throw it into the air and (more…)


Live weapons firing at the Roodewal bombing range

You’ve seen the pictures (here) now it’s time for the video of the SAAF Air Power Capability Demonstration at Roodewal weapons range. The program consisted of various simulated exercises and saw the likes of the SANDF participating at the event. VIPs and spectators were treated a display of various scenarios ranging from mortar attacks, light artillery drops, air supplies, counter attacks by jet fighters, photo reconnaissance and fire fighting.

Roodewal Weapons Range is situated in the Northern Province, roughly halfway between Polokwane and AFB Makhado.


There is more than you’d expect at Butterfly World

Last Saturday after taking my new car for a spin in the mountains behind Paarl and taking in lunch at a wine farm we were on our way back to Cape Town on the N1 when on the spur of the moment we thought we would visit Butterfly World just off the highway.

As you enter the greenhouse you are hit by the humidity and warm temperature that the butterflies are dependent on but you soon forget about this as you are surrounded by hundreds of butterflies from very colourful ones to ones with transparent wings (see above). They flit about seemingly unperturbed by your presence and some may even land on you although you are cautioned not to touch them as they are very delicate. It’s not only about these winged insects though as through the next door is the continue reading + 7 more photos


The vibe of Geoff & Jan

Janet

Geoff

Last week two of my parent’s greatest friends were in town. They have known each other since varsity days back in the 1960’s. They were visiting as part of a holiday to Africa but also to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. My parents celebrated their 40th as well earlier this year and it’s quite remarkable that to think that such close friends have stayed in touch and committed to their partners for so many years sharing experiences around the world while nurturing friendships across continents. The occasion was marked by a dinner at the house of other great friends of theirs, the Haggies. And speeches were given by their son Ben and my brother (& Geoff’s godson), Andrew, who talked about Geoff & Jan’s vibe as being the secret to their marriage.
Here is a photo slideshow for those friends and family who couldn’t make it to see the vibe of the evening…

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SAAF Air Power Capability Demo

Last week myself and  Hilton Mundy of ShortFinalTV were sent up to Air Force Base Makhado, near Louis Trichardt, to film some footage of the squadrons based there as well as the Air Power Capability Demo (APCD) which was a live weapons and ammunition display on the Roodewal bombing range near Polokwane. Having just come back from the biggest aviation celebration that is the EAA Airventure in Oshkosh where we thought we had seen it all with a night-time airshow complete with fireworks on the wings of aerobatics planes this show was on another level. We were literally blown away and it was one of the best aviation experiences I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing.

The display involved several aircraft from transport planes like the CASA and C-130 to the Hawk Mk120 and Gripen fighter jets. Troop carrying helicopters like the BK and Oryx to the Rooivalk attack helicopters. While the footage is all busy being cut and edited here are a few continue reading + 14 more photos


Walk before you run the Table Mountain Challenge

This morning I joined Nicole Biondi for a hike on Table Mountain. In two weeks time she is participating in the Table Mountain Challenge, a 37km trail run around the iconic Table Mountain. She will be part of a relay team, running the second of three legs which is said to be +/- 12kms from the block house above Rhodes Memorial to Constantia Nek. As part of the preparation she wanted to walk the route and have an idea of what was in store and so that’s what we did. After leaving a car at Constantia Nek we drove to Rhodes Memorial and started the uphill climb to the block house at 7:00am just before the sun rose.

Sunrise from just above Rhodes Memorial at 7:10am

The climb up to the block house, on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, is continue reading + 8 more photos


I will miss you Cape Town

It is days like these during the winter months that make you feel like there is no greater place to live. The reason I’m going to miss Cape Town is that tomorrow I am heading overseas (more about that in my next post) but I will be back and hopefully by then the weather will have improved and everyday will be like today.


Above the clouds at 1000ft

The other day I was driving to work. I had to go in early and there was thick fog but as I climbed out of Hout Bay over Constantia Nek it cleared and you could see that it was only in the low-lying areas. Being winter the sun wasn’t up yet but 15 minutes later when I was making my way over Ou Kaapse Weg there was this beautiful scene as the sky was lightening and the air was clear while this thick blanket of fog lying over Cape Town. I always have my camera on me nowadays and I had to stop and take this picture.

Taken from the top of Ou Kaapse Weg just before sunrise


Touring the Bontebok National Park

 Once again I was up early. I opened up the curtains to see clear skies and quickly got ready to explore one of the hiking trails while the others slept late. Although the grass lining the path was wet from the overnight rain and my pant legs were soon soaked it was too nice a morning to turn back early. The path soon opened up and I managed to make it to the viewing deck, on the Bushbuck trail, where I took some time to just sit in the stillness of the morning watching the fish feeding in the shallows while the rising sun bathed the opposite bank in light – a peace that you can’t find in the city.

I would have stayed longer but our tour was due to start at 9am and I still had to get back to the chalets. While it might not have the big five, one of the attractions of the Bontebok National Park is that you can walk freely without having to worry about dangerous wild animals as well as being able to get up close to some of the fynbos. It is also one of the last remaining ‘renosterveld islands’ with several endemic plant species.

Back at the chalet, while I was packing the last of my things, this opportunistic little bird was hovering around on the balcony waiting to be invited in for tea. Quickly reaching for my camera, I caught this interesting shot as he continue reading + 5 more photos


Exploring the greater Swellendam area

I was up early the next morning and while there was still a thick blanket of cloud across the sky it had at least stopped raining. I had a quick cup of tea and ventured out with my camera, eager to get some photos after the terrible weather the day before. Although there was no sunrise to speak of I really enjoy shooting in the soft morning light and had some fun experimenting with depth of field on these thorny specimens. Before long the others started emerging from their chalets and we climbed into the bus to begin our tour.

First stop was Rolandale Restaurant and Farmstall, on the side of the N2 highway, for a full breakfast and you know you’re in farm country when the bacon is twice as thick as the stuff you get in the supermarket. Ready to tackle the day it was back on the bus and through the village of Suurbraak. This village is nestled among streams of running water and sheltered by giant oaks with history dating back to the ancient trade routes of the Quena (Hottentot) people of Southern Africa. From here we made our way up and over the Tradouw Pass. It is hard to capture the scale and beauty of the Tradauw Pass, even more so when the weather isn’t ideal, but it is definitely worth doing if you are in the area.

At the northern end, just over the pass, is the small town of Barrydale and we had the privilege of continue reading + 7 more photos