23 June 2017

Swartberg Pass

In October 2015 we took a short trip to Prince Albert.  We ended our trip by driving back home using the Swartberg Pass.

The Swartberg pass was the final pass built by Thomas Bain and was opened on 10 January 1888.  The pass is a gravel road of about 27 km from Prince Albert to Oudshoorn over the Swartberg Mountains.

The pass has many with lots of switchbacks with beautiful views.  The road is supported by an amazing stone retaining walls. It declared a National Monument in 1988.

The pass was very busy on the Sunday morning as we made our way home.  At some places the road is very narrow and one of the vehicles has to stop for the other to pass.  I was very glad that I was not in the driver seat but my husband did a great job.  It is not necessary for a 4x4 vehicle to do this drive. We used our in our Ford Figo and saw even smaller cars also driving along. 


We first stopped at my parents house in George.  I was very glad to see our son (It was the first time that we left him alone at his grandparents for the night).  It was also my birthday and we had a quick birthday celebration before driving home.


Unfortunately the pass was closed on 10 April 2017 after a huge rain shower severely damaged sections of the road.  I hope it can be fixed soon because it is a great experience to drive on this pass. 

09 June 2017

Old Water Mill, Prince Albert

Our last stop in Prince Albert was the Alberts Mill. 

Driving out of town it can be found on the left side of the road.  This water mill was built in 1850 by HJ Botes.   It is the last of 7 mills that used to operate in Prince Albert. 

From 1842 grain was milled at the site but the current building is from 1850.  After being operated as a flour mill for more than 100 years it was sold in 1977.  The mill slowly deteriorated but in 2000 it was restored and can once again ground flour.

It was declared a National monument in 1965.

For more information visit "Prince Albert Friend"

Prince Albert

Prince Albert

Prince Albert

Prince Albert

Prince Albert

Prince Albert

Prince Albert

Prince Albert

27 May 2017

Oom Botha

One year ago, we lost two important members of our family. …one lost we expected…the other came so suddenly that it shocked us.  And we are still struggling to find our feet and trying to learn how to live without him. On 19 May 2016 my grandmother, Ouma Trudie, passed away.

One year ago on 27 May 2016 we lost my uncle, Oom Botha.

Oom Botha was my mothers’ youngest brother.  He grew up on the family farm “Groenfontein” in the Eastern Cape.  From a young age he was interested in farming and took over the family farm.  He was very successful with his farming but it took hard work. My Uncle was married and he had three children.

Growing up we saw Oom Botha and his family regularly.  We visited the farm at least once a year.  I have so many memories from this time:
  • ·         Swimming in the cement dam and later the pool
  • ·         Riding horses while sitting with Oom Botha
  • ·         Waking up on the hard floor after Oom Botha deflated our air mattress
  • ·         Handing out the presents from under the Christmas tree
  • ·         Jumping on the trampoline
  • ·         Watching Wimbledon tennis while matches sitting in front of the fire place
  • ·         Waking to loud music playing in the house because one should get up early on a farm
  • ·         Playing table tennis
  • ·         Watching the grown-ups play canasta
  • ·         Going for drives in the field on the back of the bakkie
  • ·         Being called “Dolla” (Oom Botha’s nickname for me)
When I reached high school the visits to the farm were less often.  We still saw my uncle regularly when he visited my grandmother in Hartenbos.  Oom Botha loved swimming in the ocean.  In 2011 or 2012 or around that time my uncle decided to hand over the farming to my cousin and to travel more.  He loved camping and spent a lot of time in different national parks around South Africa and Namibia. 

While searching for photo’s for this post I realised I have very little photo’s of Oom Botha.  I then realised that even in my childhood memories I remember Oom Botha taking photos or filming us with his video camera.  He was always busy taking photos and was almost never on the photos.

More recent memories included:
  • ·         Oom Botha busy taking photos or videos
  • ·         Looking for a bargain for camping equipment/something
  •        A phone call early on the first mothers' day after my son was born 
  • ·         Learning how to use a computer after getting a digital camera
  • ·         Regular phone calls to us after my husband was diagnosed with cancer
  • ·         Spending lots of time caring for my grandmother when she got ill
  • ·         Making new friends wherever he went
On 26 May 2016 the family was gathered in Hartenbos for my grandmother's funeral.  Then on 27 May 2016 Oom Botha came to eat lunch with us at my parents’ house.  He went to say goodbye to my cousin and then he and my aunt drove home to the farm. Near Willowmore they were in a car accident.  My aunt survived the accident with only minor injuries but Oom Botha passed away at the accident scene.

Only one day after my grandmother’s funeral we lost another special person in our family.

It is strange how life works.  Earlier in the year my uncle discussed how he wanted to be buried with my cousin.  He wanted to be buried on the farm and on 3 June 2016 we drove to the farm for the funeral. 

On 4 June 2016 we said goodbye to Oom Botha with a service in the NG Kerk Tarkastad and then the burial at the farm.  His coffin was taken to the family grave yard on the back of his red bakkie “Vlam” while “Wheels” by Billy Vaughn played.  After a prayer by the minister we my mom and other uncle placed my grandmothers ashes on top of Oom Botha’s coffin. Mother and son were together again.

As my cousin and other family started to cover the coffin with the sand and one by one friends and family reluctantly walked back to the farm house.

In the cement dam on the farm in 1984 with Oom Botha hiding behind me

Oom Botha with his mom, brother and sister (my mom)

Visiting the farm in 2006

With Oom Botha at my wedding in 2012

Visiting the farm in August 2012
Oom Botha and his red bakkie "Vlam"

Behind the camera making a video at my sons Christening in 2014

We were lucky to have Oom Botha with us for his last Christmas in 2015
Unfortunately this is the only photo of him from that day

Last family photo with Oom Botha
Taken at my grandmother's funeral the day before he died.

19 May 2017

Ouma Trudie

One year ago, we lost two important members of our family. …one lost we expected…the other came so suddenly that it shocked us.  And we are still struggling to find our feet and trying to learn how to live without them.

One year ago on 19 May 2016 we lost my grandmother, Ouma Trudie.

My grandmother was born on 6 October 1923.  She lived with her parents, brother and sister in Calitzdorp.  From the stories she told us it seemed she had a great childhood.  She went to study for a gym teacher and once again she had great stories. Unfortunately I never wrote them down and now I cannot remember the details.  She got married to my grandfather and they lived in Summerset East and later moved to the family farm “Groenfontein.  Soon they had a son but at about 18 months old he passed away.  They then had three more children… my mother and her two brothers.  In October 1979 her husband, my grandfather, passed away.

1. My first photo with Ouma Trudie in 1980
2. At my brother's christening in 1982
3. With her 2nd husband in 1984
4. At home in 2005
Family photo, Christmas 2000
On 4 October 1980, almost exactly one year after my grandfather’s death, I was born.  Ouma Trudie and I always shared a special bond because of this.

After a few years my grandmother married again and she and Oupa Boet lived in Tarkastad.  I loved visiting Ouma Trudie in Tarkastad.  I remember playing on the stoep…Swimming in the street after a cloud burst left streams of water…Ouma dressed as Santa and driving through the town waving at all the kids... Fresh “koekies” (cookies) and “beskuit” (rusks)... Visiting the retirement home across the street from her house…and walking in the street with arms linked singing.

1. Playing canasta...and winning
2. On the quad bike with her son, my uncle
3. Swimming at age 82
4. Playing scrabble with my mom
Me, Ouma Trudie, my mom and my sistes in 2008 at my cousins wedding
After Oupa Boet passed away she married a third time and moved to Hartenbos. I was very excited because this was a lot closer to our home and we could visit more.  But yet again after a few years she lost her husband.  For years she lived alone in Hartenbos.  She had lots of friends and made extra money by baking for the local shop.  Her best seller was her “hertzoggies”.  She helped me get a vacation job in Hartenbos and for four years I stayed with her during the summer holiday while working.

With my mom and Ouma Trudie at my wedding in 2012
Ouma Trudie meeting my son JW in 2014
He was her 7th great grandchild
The last few years she lived in the retirement home in Hartenbos and she struggled with dementia.

She loved reading…playing canasta and scrabble… swimming in the ocean…music…going for walks. She loved people and trusted so easily.

She loved God and the church.

And chocolate.  Ouma Trudie loved chocolate.

Ouma Trudie passed away on 19 May 2016 at the age of 92 after a full live.  And, although we expected this (she was sick and in hospital), it was hard to say goodbye.  On 26 May 2016 the family (her 3 children, 8 grand children and 9 great grand children) gathered in Hartenbos to say goodbye.

Family photo at Ouma Trudie's funeral

I can still remember walking in the streets of Tarkastad, arms linked, singing:

“We all went to the shop
To shelter from the rain
We all took a lick
From a raspberry stick
And we all went on again”

Ek is lief vir Ouma en mis Ouma.

12 May 2017

Hartenbos Waterpark

Autumn is here.  In the early morning and late evenings the air is cool. The sun is lazy to get started in the morning and goes to bed earlier.  With swim weather gone for a while it is nice to look back at some photos of a day in the sun at the Hartenbos Water Park.

We went to visit the park early one Saturday morning in January after the rush of the summer holiday was over.  After paying the entrance fee (I think it was R20 per adult and my 2-year old son could enter for free) we walk to the pool.  The park was still empty as we passed the miniature golf and stopped at the huge jungle gym. 
Minuture golf

Jungle gym

After climbing for a while we walked to the swimming pool. The water was smooth, clean and clear and inviting us for a swim.  We quickly went so change in the restrooms.  (I was not impressed with the restrooms.  There was lots of space to change but no privacy.  No doors or curtains and even the showers were open.  Also, for a new building the paint inside look old and neglected)

Swimming pool

Soon we were in the water.  It was ice cold but after a while we started to enjoy it.  We started to play in the shallow kiddie’s pool with my 2 year old son JW. Then I took him for a swim in the big pool.  A few other people arrived. 

I was a bit nervous to take my son on the waterslide but he was so excited. We bought a few rubber bands.  Each rubber band gets you one slide but since I was sliding with my son we could use 1 band for both of us. We went on the small slide I could not see JW’s face while we were on the slide but as soon as we stood up at the bottom he ran to do it again.  We went a few more times on the small slide and once he went with his granddad.  With the last rubber bands we tried the big slide.  My heart was beating fast with nerves while waiting our turn.  I used my feet to slow us down a bit but he was never scared.

Water slide

Water slide

It was a fun day and we will definitely visit again next summer.

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