Pilgrim's Rest to Cape Town (heading home from Kruger Park)
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Heading home from Kruger Park in September (It was the free entry to South Africans week - delighted to see crocodiles of wide eyed tiny kids and their hobbling grannies). Idle and Wild in Hazyview was a spacious delight. A lush green subtropical garden on a macadamia farm. Welcomed with a vase of pink azaleas from the garden. The only place to supply real fresh milk in the fridge (tea with non-dairy creamer or long life 'milk' tastes awful)
Pilgrim's Rest. Stitch in time remembering miners from Cornwall and Wales looking for their fortune in gold. We arrived early, before the coaches.
Imagine cooking over a coal stove in blistering summers. The Celtic cross for a miner from Truro reminding me of my mother learning French at high school there.
Three marble angels in the cemetery. In the doctor's house one of those quaint Victorian photos posing a dead child, with the catchlight and lace details painted in by an artist. My father and his sister were skilled photographers and aunt Nerina did that adding colour to black and white photos, but with a delicate touch. I am haunted by that still child.
At the Shangaan village in Hazyview. A bit theme park with skilled actors. Grain was stored above the kitchen, where there is always smoke from the fire to keep wildlife away from the food in the roof.
Traditional healer or sangoma with her herbal remedies. Roots and bulbs, dried herbs powdered and stored in a gourd. Solanum used in careful doses.
The young woman weaving her reed mat. She lays one reed one top, then flips alternate bobbins back and forth to lock in that reed. I have a wooden bobbin from Swiss lace makers, but plastic twine (with the same sliding knot) around a stone works just the same. That twine would originally have been sisal.
Our last night before the return train journey was Arum Place in Melville. Happy sigh. We sat on the terrace, sipping tea, watching the sun set over Johannesburg's urban forest. And a pair of loeries canoodling in the nearest tree. We had to leave very early to load the car on the train, and much appreciated a breakfast of muesli with fresh fruit for me, and freshly baked croissants for my Swiss husband.
Longyuan Mulilo wind farm at De Aar providing electricity and employment to the Northern Cape.
The Karoo landscape much enjoyed as we clickety-clicked along.
My father was involved in planning the train route through the Hex River Valley - glorious iconic Cape scenery of mountains and vineyards (- Hex was named for Eliza who died of a broken heart).
The return journey was again delayed by a locomotive which needed to be replaced mid-journey. Dawn at De Aar. Sadly we arrived in Cape Town after dark and missed that famous view of Table Mountain.
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