A super holiday weekend!

This weekend, Tom and I decided to take Monday off work and have a long weekend holiday.

Setting off straight after work on Friday, we were soon down at Boulders Beach at Simon’s Town. Home of the African penguin.

After a walk to spot some penguins (unusually – most of them were hiding), we sat out on the deck with our free bottle of welcome wine, and watched the sun going down over the bay, before heading into Simon’s Town to Cafe Pescado.

Not an obvious choice as it’s not very glam, this little cafe has the best food and a cheerful atmosphere.  Plenty of seafood later, we could barely roll ourselves out into the night to be taken home.

Next morning we were up early to go and play golf at the mashie course.  100 terrible balls at the driving range later, I was ready to give up golf, but just then our turn on the course came up… so there was nothing for it but to give it a go.  

As it was, the mashie course was a barrel of laughs, and we were nowhere near the worst on the course!

From golf, to beer, it was a race to the Cape Town beer festival, where our friends were waiting for us – already well oiled 😉

I was happy to see plenty of Belgian Kriek among the many many many craft beers available, and we sat on the grass in the sun, listening to the bands playing and sipping a few too many yummy beers.

No rest for the wicked, we were up the next morning to go off on the second leg of our mini holiday, to Paarl.  Paarl is one part of the wine region that we hadn’t visited yet, and we were off to stay a luxury spa hotel for the night.

Arriving just in time for lunch, we stopped off at a wine farm for smoked salmon starters and rabbit ravioli for lunch… and of course it would be rude not to taste the local wines…

Full up and boiled thanks to the baking heat, we checked into our glorious room (bigger than our house), and made straight for the lovely pools to swim and sun ourselves for the afternoon.

After dinner, we sat up late outdoors, listening to the crickets and frogs singing in the complete silence, and enjoying cups of yummy red wine.  

As it turns out, Paarl is a miles from anywhere, silent, and an incredibly beautiful spot.

Monday morning came, and after a few hours more swimming and sun, it was off to play more golf, at Clovelly golf club.  Predictably, I battered Tom into defeat until he picked up his golf ball and threw his clubs into the water hazard.  Well, kindof.  Almost.  I could see the fear in his eyes. I swear.

And with that, our holiday weekend was done… back to work, for a few days at least 😉

Whale watching in Hermanus

After long weeks of organising and waiting, Tom’s mum and sister finally arrived for a holiday in South Africa, and Tom and I took off a couple of days from work.

Typically, the first two days saw grotty weather and rain throughout our wine tours around Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.  But on the third day we drove away from the rain to Hermanus, the regular home of the southern right whale.

Southern right whales usually live in the cold waters around the South Pole, feeding for the majority of the year.  However, once a year they swim to the western Cape, looking for the shallow “warmer” waters (warm only in whale world) in which they mate and give birth.

We set off early on Saturday morning to find the launching dock of the boat trip we were to take, and sat in the sun waiting for our boat to arrive.  However, as people started to disembark, we saw one lady carried off the boat… seasickness, apparently, is no joke.

A little apprehensive, we boarded the catamaran and set off into the southern Atlantic ocean to look for whales. 20 minutes into the trip, rocking about on 3 metre waves, we saw our first spot – a mummy whale with its albino baby.

Queue much excitement aboard the ship, but nothing prepared us for the experience of mum and baby coming to give us a bit of an investigation.  The whales swam straight up to the boat, and came to the surface, quite obviously checking out this strange big “fish” in the water.  They were at an arm’s length from me.

And from that point onwards, we were treated to whales left, right, and centre.  Some adult, some baby.  Some just sunbathing on the surface, others playing and splashing around – to much cooing from the assembled whale watchers on our boat.

On the way back to shore following our 2 hour trip, half the boat was vomiting all over themselves and I have to commend the ship crew who were stoic in their paper bag provisions.

None of our little group were hit by the sickness, though, thank goodness, now granting us eternal bragging rights about our unshakeable sea legs.

Hermanus is not known for its whale watching for no reason.  The beautiful mountain scenery serves as the perfect backdrop to watching these incredible, peaceful creatures in their natural habitat.

It is wonderful to hear that having been on the brink of extinction only a few years ago, the southern right whale is fighting back and is multiplying in numbers at a rapid rate.

I really hope we keep it like that, and keep these animals safe… so plenty more like me can have such an amazing life experience.