Beynac chapel wallpaper

Just to the side of Beynac Castle, on the top of a (very steep!) hill, there is a chapel. In this chapel’s wall, there is a door, with a keyhole. Through this keyhole is a beautiful stained-glass window through which sunlight streams.

So here is a background image that shows this set of views. I’m probably going to print the actual photos and arrange them somewhat similarly on my wall. In the interim, I can at least see them on my computer monitors. The first of the two images is 1680×1050 (16:10 ratio), and the second is 1680×1260 (4:3 ratio).

SA Trip: Part two

As I write this, I’m sitting on the aeroplane somewhere east of Madagascar, on my way back to Australia. My voyage to South Africa is complete – all that now remains is the (lengthy) flight home.

Tulbagh

We spent the second half of the holiday based around Tulbagh, a small country town near Ceres, north of Cape Town; my grandfather lives just outside the town. Tulbagh is a very small, and quite pleasant little town, with only one (albeit sizeable) apparent problem: hayfever.

I have never had hayfever quite so bad as that I experienced in Tulbagh. I ended up using both pills, nasal sprays, and even a surgical mask to attempt to alleviate the symptoms. And I’m not alone – not only did both of my parents also succumb to it, but a sizeable proportion of the local population also suffer from it.

Apart from the hayfever, however, I really enjoyed it. I got the chance to essentially meet my grandfather and his wife for the first time. He has quite severe cancer, and the chemotherapy has rather unpleasant side-effects, for all its efficacy. Surprisingly, however, he was in much better shape than I had anticipated – he spends his days doing quite hard manual labour on his small-holding, growing lots of fresh produce and tending to seven dogs.

My grandfather’s wife, Esti, is a fantastic cook, and, fortunately for us, insisted that we take most of our meals with her. It was great. 🙂

Coffee in South Africa

Tulbagh, and the various country towns around Tulbagh, are very quiet, sleepy places – a far cry from the cosmopolitan Stellenbosch, where, incidentally, I discovered the only café that I think worthy of that appelation in South Africa. In Australia, where there is a strong Mediterranean influence, the coffee culture is quite vibrant, and there are a multitude of cafés that actually only concern themselves with coffee. By contrast, the “cafés” in South Africa were essentially miniature restaurants, nearly all with pretty terrible coffee. As I say, I could only find one café that actually was about coffee: Vida e Café (or something similar) in Stellenbosch. Check it out if you get a chance.

Ariel and I also went to drop a few things off for a friend at their parents’ house, and, wonder of wonders, they had an espresso machine. With decent beans. I had two cups – I really had been starved of good coffee, and their house was like a desert oasis. It actually made the three hour round trip to Piketberg to deliver chocolate biscuits, shampoo, and lollies worthwhile. (But seriously – chocolate biscuits, shampoo, and lollies. Sigh.)

Photos

I’m going to start culling and processing the photos we took on the trip when I get back to my desktop computer at home, and then I’ll put them up here. I might even put one or two up on Facebook for the very lazy, who I can safely insult, as they will never read this. It should all be up in a day or two.

And hey, if you’re lucky, I might even include more of my rambling ruminations with the photos.

Read part one

[Posted a day after writing]

SA Trip: Part one

Well, the first half of our South African sojourn has been pretty good. We spent the first week with my paternal uncle and aunt in Cape Town, or, to be more accurate, alternating between two points on either side of the city — Gordon’s Bay and Bloubergstrand.

We also spent a night at Lanzerac Manor, which was absolutely stunning — fantastic food, accommodation, and service. We both indulged in a massage at the Lanzerac Spa, which was great. That’s the beauty of the RSA-Aus exchange rate — five star hotels and spas suddenly become affordable.

[Pictures coming when we’re back in Australia]

South Africa is a strange country — everywhere you look there is a stark contrast between rich and poor. There’s an awful lot of wealth, but there’s far more poverty — real poverty — than there is wealth. At nearly every traffic light in town, groups of people hawk goods — from phone chargers to rubbish collection. The slums, or “informal housing” areas stretch for miles — there’s one particularly large area just outside the Cape Town airport, which you see both from the air and driving down the motorway.

At the same time, though, there’s an awful lot of good going on — the country town of Paarl has built brick houses to replace the vast majority of tin shacks in the “informal housing” areas, and many country towns have a similar “scheme”. Also, because of the World Cup Soccer soon to be played out in South Africa, you can see that there is a concerted effort to “clean the place up” — there’s very little rubbish on the sides of the streets, and large infrastructure works and repairs are under way. This means more jobs, less poverty, and more traffic jams, so on balance it’s a good thing.

We’re now in the small country town of Tulbagh, near Ceres, roughly 200km inland from Cape Town. It’s nice, but unfortunately has an exceptionally high pollen count, which has pretty much left me debilitated, although it’s left Ariel unfazed.

As I pointed out earlier, we’ll be uploading photos when we get back to Australia — for now, the internet connection we’re using here, in a small internet cafe, is too abominably slow to do anything much.

South African Holiday

Well, tomorrow my wife and I, together with my parents, leave for South Africa for two weeks. It should be good — catching up with family, visiting various lion parks, and so on.

I fully intend to post photos, notes, and whatever here during the trip, but I also fully anticipate that this won’t happen. 🙂 Nevertheless, I will endeavour to put something up about the holiday, even if it’s after the fact.