02 January 2011

A story about a weird and wonderful holiday . . .
{1} My desktop computer’s mother board failing and had to be replaced with a new mother board .... a few thousand rand later. Fortunately most of my work was backed up on an external hard drive. Since this incident I have also discovered MS Office Live onto which I have uploaded all my files as another backup. This works quite well as one can access your files from any computer anywhere in the world and even edit them.
{2} Our swimming pool pump failed after only three and a half years. We had to replace the whole pump with a new one on 14 December. The electrician doing the replacement said that it is weird for a pump to fail when its still relatively new. We have also spoken to a few friends who also confirmed this and said that a pump should last 10 to 15 years. So, this made us wonder whether its just our bad luck or whether its Eskom’s intermittent electricity supply to our estate. The last year we have been bombarded with electricity disruptions. The electricity goes off and back on after a few seconds or a few minutes and this happens repeatedly in a span of an hour and nearly twice a week. Celebrating New Years Eve, with some of our friends at home, was no different with the power going on/off repeatedly (about 30 times in a span of 2 hours, with no electrical storm) ... just another sign of SA going the same route as the rest of Africa.
{3} The alarm was effected by a lightning storm and RSI’s technicians had to come and reset it, fortunately no parts had to be replaced, but it was still a call out fee. We have replaced the transmitter twice in 3 years due to lightning.
{4} We left for our holiday in Port Alfred on Wednesday, 15 December and stopped over in Bloemfontein for the night, otherwise its about an 11 hour drive if one do it in one day. We left Johannesburg at about 2pm on Wednesday in overcast weather and stopped at the Kroonvaal Engen garage to have some lunch at the Wimpy. As we walked in, the immediate impression was that of a seriously filthy environment. The floor was littered with food and the table tops and chairs were also littered with food and dirty crockery. There was no one to usher us to our table and we had to find our own table ... after a while had to search for some menus (don’t know why we actually put up with this shocking service ... probably the hunger ... ha ha ha). A waitress reluctantly shuffled her way to our table with no notepad in hand to take our order. After repeating our order several times, we asked her to get hold of an order book and come and write our order down. After a while she returned with an order booked and started scribbling down our order, with no expression on her face at all. Needless to say she got one of the drinks wrong and we had to send it back for the correct one. My cappuccino came all spilt over in the saucer and also had to be returned. The sweet chilli chicken wraps also did not look very appetizing or well presented ... we have had this at other Wimpys and know how it should look like. At this stage Conroy was simmering under the collar and demanded to see the manager. The manager made his appearance and Conroy stated his disgust at the filthy state of the Wimpy as well as the bad attitude/service of the waiter. The manager did not look in the least concerned and it came across that he did not see it as a problem and only mumbled something in the line of that the floors should not be so dirty.
{5} We left the Kroonvaal Wimpy in pouring rain which continued all the way to Bloemfontein. Conroy said that this was probably the most difficult driving he has done. Along the way we were delayed nearly an hour by a serious accident involving several cars and fatalities. We reached Bloemfontein in the dark at about 7:30pm where we met up with our friends at Jakkalsdraai who just missed the traffic jam at the accident and were there before us. We all went to the local Longhorns Steak House for dinner and returned for a good night’s rest at Jakkalsdraai. It rained the whole night and we left in a drizzle at about 7am. It was another day of very difficult driving on roads being worked on and the driving surface being littered with potholes and gravel ... needless to say that it was mere impossible to pass trucks. We reached East London after 1pm where we had lunch and Steers and collected the keys for the holiday house in Port Alfred we were going to stay at. We got to the house in Port Alfred at about 3pm, unpacked and left for the shops to make some grocery purchases for our 8 day stay. Returning from our grocery shopping, Conroy suddenly realised that his wedding band is not on his finger and started a frantic search for it in the car and anywhere else he thought it could be. He recalled that in the morning at Jakkalsdraai in Bloemfontein where we stayed over he did took his watch from a little bowl on the dressing table in the room and put it on, but could not recall putting his wedding band on and knew for sure that he did put his watch and wedding band in the same bowl on the dressing table. I could also not recall whether he had his wedding band on whilst driving during the day ... just shows how unobservant one can be ... Carel quickly phoned the owner of Jakkalsdraai and stated our dilemma. The owner said that they would tell the cleaning staff to check the room when they clean it and that cleaning would only take place at a later date as no one else is staying over at Jakkalsdraai. Conroy was quite anxious that he did not offer to immediately go and look for himself whether the wedding band was there as he lives in Bloemfontein and it should not have been a huge effort on his side. Needless to say, we never heard anything from him again during our holiday. On our way back from our holiday we stopped over at a guest house, Bloemstantia in Bloemfontein and made a detour to Jakkalsdraai again, but came across a locked gate. We phoned the number on the board outside the gate and spoke to a lady who does all the bookings for Jakkalsdraai. She immediately knew about the ring and said that they asked the staff to look next to the bed on the side tables for the ring and did not find anything, this after we specifically stated that it would be on the dressing table ... and sending staff to look for it, just means one thing in South Africa (make your own assumption). This is very disappointing as Conroy’s wedding band was still my Mom’s 18ct gold wedding band which she gave to Conroy as a wedding gift and we had it made bigger to fit his finger. So this ring has more than a 60 year sentiment behind it.
{6} During the previous night and all day, I was battling with a severe stomach ache, something I never get as Conroy always says I have an ostrich tummy. But, whilst I and Belinda were preparing chicken curry for supper I got nauseous and could hardly stand up straight, got the cold shivers and had to lie down for short periods. Then it dawned on us that it must have been the Kroonvaal Wimpy chicken wrap I had the previous afternoon. Belinda gave me an Imodium Plus tablet to chew which miraculously took away all the discomfort and I was in tip top shape again within an hour. Now the question is, how does one prove that it must have been the filthy Wimpy’s food and take the matter further? Any suggestions?
{7} The driveway at our holiday home has a very high grass bank and on Friday morning when Carel left to organise a cleaning lady for our holiday home, he approached the grass bank at just the wrong angle and got stuck onto it. Conroy and the boys tried everything, pushing, pulling and lifting the car, but it just did not budge. So there Carel’s car was stuck on top of the grass bank. Just as we were all trying to put our heads together to get out of this predicament, a resident came driving past with his 4x4, spotted our awkward situation, stopped and immediately offered to pull Carel’s car from the bank with his 4x4. It was not even two ticks and Carel’s car was back in action again. This just shows that there are still some good souls out there, willing to put themselves aside and help total strangers.




{8} The next few days of our holiday was blissful, spent at the beautiful Kelly’s Blue Flag Beach and long walks along the Port Alfred {PA} coast line. This is still an unspoilt piece of coast line, its clean and no overcrowding ... only a few bathers. Kelly’s Beach having blue flag status, means that lifeguards are on duty all day long to monitor the safety of all the beach combers. The water varied from 12 to 18 degrees during our stay. Needless to say freezing, but once in, it is quite bearable.







Sunday was spent in Bathurst (10kms from PA), visiting all the art and craft shops and having a scrumptious breakfast at Bleak House. We had the most delicious omelettes here. We all decided to revisit Bathurst for another breakfast during the week ... with disastrous consequences ... more about this later on.




Monday, was another leisurely day, had lunch at the local Spur, me and Belinda making some jewellery items as I brought all my beading supplies with and playing some games.
Tuesday we were taken on a Kowie river cruise by Brian (72 years young) on his boat named Cracker Jack. The surroundings along the river were beautiful. We spotted game and numerous rare bird species, amongst other a goliath heron.










Wednesday, me and Belinda booked a mosaic class with Dorothy du Plessis, Maureen Quin the famous sculpture’s daughter, in Alexandria (50kms from PA). Conroy drove us there. The garden was stunning filled with the most exotic sculptures. We had our mosaic class with Dorothy in a beautiful studio adorned with some of her spectacular mosaic creations. Me and Belinda each made a mirror and loved the informative way Dorothy gave the class starting off telling us a bit about the history of mosaic till modern day. It was a morning spent well and our miniature mirror creations will definitely take a proud spot in our homes as a reminder of our lovely 2010 holiday in PA. Conroy and Carel came to fetch us round about lunch time and we had a delicious lunch at Tam Jazi a farm stall just 5kms outside of Alexandria.





The men and the boys had booked a game drive for the afternoon and as there were no more seats available for us, Conroy felt sorry for me and Belinda and bought us each a slice of Tam Jazi’s death by chocolate cake which we could enjoy back at home the afternoon, whilst the men were at the game farm. It was definitely death by chocolate, a seriously decadent cake and the richness just stopped short of popping off me and Belinda’s toe nails. It was naughty, but nice and we enjoyed it with a cup of coffee whilst we grouted our mosaic mirrors. The men booked us a table at the local Ocean Basket in PA for dinner. We were all looking forward to some yumminous from the sea, but were very disappointed with our Ocean Basket experience. First of all, on our arrival our table was not ready. After 5 minutes we were seated just to be told after another 10 minutes that we had to move to another table ... this was only an early warning sign of things to come. After being seated at another table a waiter (with a dodgy attitude) came and took our drinks order. We waited quite a while for our drinks to arrive. We placed our orders at about 7:40pm. At 8:10pm we have only had some bread rolls, but no sign of real food. We started looking around us and noticed that no one else has got food on their tables apart from drinks. 8:20pm came and past. 8:30pm came and the waiter gave us a weird explanation of there’s only one order before ours to be done and then we will get our order. 8:45pm arrived and still no sign of food ... the manager came to our table informing us that they had run out of supplies and that his chefs are busy off-loading food from the truck ... he apologised and thanked us for our patience and said that our order will be served in 5 minutes. 9pm came and gone and still no food after which Conroy went to the manager and told him that we are considering leaving. Conroy returned to our table and we all got up and left without paying for our drinks. The manager watched us walked out and did not say a word ... he was probably relieved to get rid of six people. It was past 9pm and we have not had any supper and all the fast food outlets in PA were closed. We stopped at a garage whose little shop was open and bought some ham and bread and set off home to make ourselves ham, cheese and tomatoe sandwiches. Conroy read in the local paper the next day that Ocean Basket had new management, which explained it all.


{9} Thursday and we all decided to go for our second last breakfast in PA, back to the Bleak House in Bathurst. We always travelled in two cars as it was a tight squeeze for six in one car. Carel drove in front and about 3kms from Bathurst we Carel them parked next to the road with all of them outside the car. At first we thought they perhaps hit an animal of sorts. We stopped and to our amazement Carel’s car (a Lexus) had a blow out of both the tyres on the left hand side. Carel said it felt like he drove over something small in the road, but yet there was nothing in the road. It was later discovered that he had hit a long pot hole on the edge of the road without knowing that there was a pothole. The aluminium rims of both wheels were cracked and warped. Conroy took all of us through to Bleakhouse in Bathurst to have something to drink in the meantime, whilst he drove back to Carel next to the road. Fortunately Conroy and Carel has worked for Toyota for many years and knew the local Toyota dealer in PA, which was Brian who took us on the river cruise a few days ago. Brian quickly got hold of a towing service to tow Carel’s car back to the local Tiger Wheels and Tyre in PA. Conroy came and fetch us again at the Bleak House where we had some drinks. We told the owner of Bleak House what has happened and she immediately knew where the incident happened and said that, that specific pothole has caused lots of tyre bursts, etc over the past few months. This was another sign of how SA’s roads are deteriorating with no maintenance being done. PA’s roads are all just one big patch-up and would probably be reverting to dust roads in the not too distant future. Fortunately, we all had another car and we could all squeeze into it. We had lunch at the Spur in PA again whilst we were waiting for news on the car. Never could we have guessed that fixing the Lexus’s rims would be a major issue. PA does not have a Lexus dealer and thus no rims. New rims had to be driven in from East London. The rims arrived late the Thursday afternoon and PA. But, when the rims were being fitted it was noted that the wrong size nuts were sent with the rims. So we were back to square one. It was a huge operation to determine the correct size nuts and get hold of them. We were due to leave PA at 5am the next day Friday and of course realised that this will never materialise.
We also had another bad service experience at the Big Apple Coffee Shop in the new Rosehill Mall, just outside of PA, Thursday afternoon, where the grown ups went for coffee and cake whilst the boys made the most of the beach.
We went for our last dinner in PA at the Highlander, which was such a fantastic experience, after all the bad service we received in PA during our holiday. We were so impressed with the service here, that we booked Friday morning’s breakfast just here and then.


Friday morning and we set off for breakfast at the Highlander which was a pleasant experience. After breakfast we finished packing and sat waiting from 10am to 3pm in the garage of our home with all our belongings lined up to be packed, whilst waiting for Carel’s car to be sorted out by Tiger Wheel and Tyre in PA. In the end a technician from Toyota in East London had to drive through to PA to sort out the problem with the nuts on behalf of Tiger Wheel and Tyre ... can you believe it.
{10} We all set off at 3pm on Friday with Carel making their way to Johannesburg where they reached home at midnight, Xmas Day. We took a leisurely drive to Uitenhage where we were surprising Conroy’s family on Xmas Day, stopping at a farm stall for a very late afternoon lunch. We reached Micasa guest house in Uitenhage just before 6pm, very tired and decided to only phone the in-laws on Xmas Day. Conroy went to buy us some Nando’s for our Xmas eve supper. We started enjoying our Nando’s wraps and Conroy came and sat on the bed next to me and the whole bed gave way from under him. Its one of those ‘hemel’ beads, don’t know what you call this in English, which has got the four posts and the cross bars between the posts at the top. The cross bars came tumbling down from the top onto us. This is seriously dangerous. We phoned the owner and explained to him the situation. He could not believe it, but did ask me whether it was the left hand side of the bed next to the bathroom that broke (so he must have had a problem with it in the past). He said that he would send someone to fix it in half an hour’s time. During this time, we decided that we rather wanted another room and just had to repack our stuff and move. Fortunately they had another nice room for us, apart from being quite busy. Apparently, the man did came and fix the bed.
We spent Xmas day with my SIL and Conroy’s parents. We had a delicious lunch consisting of cold meats and salads. Needless to say they were all surprised when we phoned them early Xmas morning inviting ourselves to join them for the day. The joke of the day were me breaking beds as Conroy told them that we brought along some left over groceries from our stay in Port Alfred and amongst it was a bottle of gin which we brought into our room at the guest house .... note it was not with the intention to drink, but just to get the car empty as we were going to take Conroy’s Mom and Dad for a drive around the coast, the day after Xmas.
{11} We got a call from Carel the afternoon on Xmas Day that Belinda’s Mom has passed away on Xmas choking on some food. This was so unbelievable and we really felt for Belinda. Her Mom was only 66 years of age.
I managed to take some photos of Conroy’s brother and his family. Can’t believe the twins are in grade 12 this year and their little sister is in grade 8 this year ... where does the time go?











{12} We left Uitenhage on 27 December for Bloemfontein and stopped over at a lovely farm stall/cafe in the small rural town of Hofmeyr named Karoobos Farm Stall. We had some yummy traditional ‘roosterkoek’ with mince and a chocolate milkshake for lunch. We also bought some fruit preserves here.




We also stopped over at the Gariep Dam. It was a very hot day with a beautiful blue sky scattered with white clouds.








We made our way from the Gariep Dam to our guest house, Bloemstantia in Bloemfontein. It rained all night in Bloemfontein. From about 8pm our car’s alarm kept on going off and every time it went off, Conroy had to go out in the rain and check what the problem was. Our car alarm has never ever gone off before. So after a few trips back and forth in the rain, he noticed there were a moth in the car and killed it. After this the alarm behaved itself.
{13} We left Bloemfontein after breakfast on 28 December and arrived home about lunch time. On our way a truck flipped up a stone which resulted in a small chip in our windscreen, which we have had fixed in the meantime.
{14} On arrival we noticed that some water is seeping through our driveway paving from where our water meter is. So we have phoned Johannesburg Water and are still awaiting their arrival. {14} We attending Belinda’s Mom’s funeral on Friday, 31 December 2010. So all in all its quite evident from the above, that there lots of lows, but some highs as well during our holiday.
Wishing you all a 2011 filled with tons of love, happiness and success ... Albert Einstein said, “Life is like a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving”, so ride into 2011 with gusto.


  1. Sounds like you all had an awesome time, sorry about the ring.

  2. It was wonderful to catch up with your life. Your photos could pass as postcards...so very beautiful.

    Wishing you the very best for 2011.


  3. So sorry to hear about Belinda's mom, that is very tragic. Also very sad about Conroy's ring ... That picture of Conroy standing with Gariep dam in the background is particularly stunning. All you pictures are stunning and you certainly had a very eventful, but memorable holiday. Looking forward to seeing the scrapped layouts. Wishing you both an awesome 2011.

  4. What a wonderful time you all had, wonderful part of the country. Your photos are magnificent, glad you are back safely. You also ride your bike safely into 2011. God Bless xxx

  5. Oh my goodness, what a weird and wonderful holiday that was indeed!

    Your photography is so stunning and the story so interesting, thanks so much for sharing xx

    All the best for 2011.

    Love Libs

  6. Een ding is seker - dit was 'n onvergeetlike vakansie - julle sal dit vir laaaank onthou! Soveel probleme. My ouma sou gesê het "It never rains but it pours." Hoop julle volgende vakansie verloop seepglad sonder verlies, maar dan gaan julle dit nie so goed onthou nie! :)! N.S. Regtig uitsonderlik pragtige fotos!

  7. happy new year chickie! i'm so looking forward to seeing your creations and getting updated on your life's journey this year....wow what fabulous pictures..they tell a great story in and off itself! you take such fabulous photos

  8. En die eerste kwart van die nuwe jaar is verby voor ek uiteindelik die amazing inskrywing lees Desire. Dis baie goed dat jy alles neergeskryf het want later jare sal jy dit nie meer alles so kan onthou nie. Praat van oppe en awwe.. !!! maar jou fotos is AWESOME en die mense op jou fotos altyd mooi. Wat maak jy met hulle? :-)


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