Posts Tagged With: Swellendam

The Republic of Swellendam

Congratulations to all our winners, who will be traveling to Swellendam.

To see who won & where they’ll be staying, click HERE for details.

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Location: 535 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, on the N2 in the direction of Cape Town, just past Heidelberg.

Date Visited: 19 – 28 July 2013 (Winter)

Where we Stayed: Stonehill River Lodge

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Other Great Accommodation Options:

Wildebraam Berry Estate

Arumvale Country House

Roosje van de Kaap Herberg

Braeside Guesthouse

Barrydale Karoo Hotel

What we Drove: Chrysler Grand Voyager, complements of Maritime Motors – this is the most comfortable family vehicle the Tribe has ever traveled in, it is extremely spacious, handles easily & has all the luxuries you could dream of, including climate control, heated seats, TV-screens, DVD-player & automated doors.

What we did:  Swellendam & surrounds offer an awesome range of activities & experiences.  The Museums are beautiful.  The town is the 4th oldest town in South Africa, you can imagine how much history is nestled in this bit of world.  Here’s what we did over the few days we were there.  Every one of our experiences were amazing.  Horse Riding with Stephanie at Two Feathers Horse Trails was a stunning highlight.  Zuko loved crossing the Breede River by Ferrie at Malagas.  Pippin & Sophia fell in love with the Faerie Sanctuary.  I loved Barrydale & Warmwaterberg Hot-Springs.  We’re sure you’re going to find the perfect mix of experiences to make your visit to Swellendam exquisite.

Visited the Sulina Faerie Sanctuary in Swellendam

Went Horse Riding at Two Feathers Horse Trails in Swellendam

Crossed the Breede River by Pontoon at Malagas

Spent a day in Suurbraak & Barrydale.

Spent an afternoon at Warmwaterberg Spa on the other side of Barrydale.

Went Mountain Biking in Stonehill River Lodge‘s reserve.

Visited Cape Agulhas.

Visited the Shipwreck Museum in Bredasdorp.

Recommendation: The Swellendam area is beautiful.  Once you’ve chosen suitable accommodation you won’t struggle to find the perfect mix of activities.  There are loads of little art shops, organic food shops & restaurants to browse & enjoy.  The area has two very beautiful nature reserves in close proximity: Bontebok National Park & Marloth Nature Reserve.  Distance wise its a bit far to travel for just a 2 night weekend, but if you plan a 3-night stay, maybe leaving Thursday or only returning on Monday, it could be a perfect break.  The ten days we spent in the area was amazing, as we were able to do enough exploring without rushing anything.  The Tribe loved the experience.  We’ll definitely be back, we know we haven’t seen or tasted everything.

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Swellendam Explore Day 6

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If you know our Tribe, you’ll know we love horses.

We keep our own & ride as often as we can.

We share this gift with whomever visits us at the little wooden house on the not so little hill.

We search for the opportunity to enjoy this, wherever the opportunity exists.

We ridden at Addo.

At Koffylaagte.

And on this day we shared the exhilaration with Stephanie on the outskirts of Swellendam.

We met up with her at Swellendam Backpackers.

Here she recieves guests who are looking for something more than the standard buffet offered to people passing through.

A menu of activities is up on the wall & a tangible love for people is nestled in her words.

We drive to the Two Feathers Stables at the foot of the mountain.

The horses are beautiful.

Their temperament a mirror of Stephanie & her crew.

Kind.

Warm.

Willing to share.

Each of us is assigned a horse & as we saddle up, Stephanie speaks about each horse like you would speak about a friend.

Where the horse comes from.

How he came to live at Two Feathers.

What he enjoys.

What he does not enjoy.

By the time we’re in the saddle, we each feel as if we’ve kniwn these horses since forever.

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Then the ride.

Into the mountains.

Crossing a river.

Amongst trees.

Exquisite views.

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Stephanie has been doing this for almost two decades.

A short interval taken, somewhere in between, to travel to America, to work on a horse farm where she was part of the team who took people on a week-long ride into desolate mountains.

Then she came back.

Continued with new energy & fervour to bring happiness to the lives of whomever wanted to be part of her world.

A son was born.

Later a beautiful girl.

They share the joy of horses & nature.

Stephanie came to Swellendam to work, during a school holiday,  on one of the river boats.

She came from Upington.

She never left.

She is a beautiful person to meet.

An awesome guide to take you on horseback into the mountains.

She offers day trips as well.

Taking riders deeper into the mountains, breaking for a picnic lunch, before returning to the stables.

We do the afternoon ride.

The horses are comfortable with us.

I can see that they’re used to attention & even if you’re not used to riding, this would be an exquisite experience.

Stephanie not only attentive to each rider, but bubling with easy conversation, talking about herself & Swellendam, its people, its history, its beauty.

This is the kind of person who should be in the hospitality industry.

Late afternoon we return to the stables.

It wasn’t a hard ride.

It was relaxing.

Refreshing.

It filled each one of us with what we needed.

A sense of connectedness.

To nature.

To each other.

To this place.

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Even Forest, Theunsie’s new friend, who does not ride often, bubbles with excitement.

As we take each horse back to its stabke, Stephanie talks about the hot-springs at Barrydale.

She heard we’ll be heading that way.

She knows, few people know if the hot springs.

Like a secret, divulged only to insiders, she gives us directions, so we could find this hidden gem.

We say our goodbyes.

We’ve made new friends.

We’ve tasted a bit of Swellendam, without which our experience would’ve been bare.

The rest of the day is soent at Stonehill River Lodge.

As we drive through the reserve to our cottage we see Eland, Zebra & Blesbuck.

Over supper we talk.

We dream.

We hope with new energy.

For it is when we live & taste & experience that we are reminded that every day is precious and tomorrow is beautiful, when approached from a lived today.

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Swellendam Explore Day 5

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It was pretty early, for people on holiday anyway, as we bundled into the Chrysker Grand Voyager, on this very cold Swellendam morning.

We were making our way to the Swellendam Backpackers, from where we would proceed to ‘Two Feathers’ for some horse riding.

Riding is something we love.

Horses.

Nature.

The opportunity to ride new horses & acquaint ourselves with the mountain forest adjacent to Swellendam, enough of an incentive to get up early & face the cold.

The Chrysler Grand Voyager’s heated seats & climate control a friendly reminder this morning that we are traveling, not on our own, but supported by friends & along with you.

We’re not accustomed to the opulence of this kind of vehicle – our somewhat ageing Defender offering nothing more than the very basics which could be expected from a hardy vehicle.

Windows to roll down for ventilation.

Wheels.

An engine.

A characteristically rattling sliding back window to create the ambiance of off-roading, even on smooth city streets.

As we turn off into Swellendam, the Voyager senses the first spatterings of rain, automatically switching on its window wipers to ensure maximum visibility.

Our Defender has window wipers as well.

They keep the rain off the windscreen whenever the left indicator is not engaged.

As we park the Voyager in front of the backpackers, as if persistent, the rain comes down in abbundant sheets.

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Inside we’re greeted by Stephanie.

This morning the bearer of disappointment.

The precipitation will persist, but tomorrow is another day & perhaps it would fulfill the promise of flying on horse-back, the smell of forest leaves a trail behind us.

Stephanie has been building the Swellendam Backpackers for seventeen years.

She knows what can & cannot.

What will be pleasant & what will not.

And so we headback to Stonehill River Lodge, the sponsored Chrysler Grand Voyager’s comfort a small comfort on this cold winters day.

We light a fire in the fireplace.

We make brekafast together.

We watch a little bit of Hawaii 5-0.

We play some cards.

We make lunch together.

Read some.

Talk.

Enjoy the warmth of comfortable accomodation.

Sleep a bit.

That luxurious afternoon nap for which we never have time.

More cards are played.

More Hawaii 5-0 watched.

More wood placed on the fire.

And we are reminded that not everything is always about activity.

That sometimes our circumstances expect us to wait.

To rest.

To anticipate.

And tomorrow we try again.

Perhaps with success.

Perhaps not.

But this is life & nothing will be gained by resisting her flow.

Not even when urgency overwhelms us.

Supper is a slow affair.

Conversation connecting us.

How hurried we are to do instead of be.

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How poor we are.

For not allowing the moment to be.

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Swellendam Explore Day 4

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“However you disguise it, this thing does not change: / The perpetual struggle of Good and Evil.”

According to Dean Koontz, these are the words of T.S. Elliott.

He quotes it in relation to Odd Thoms’ latest epic adventure.

I claim it, for myself, as I consider the day’s experiences, making sense, or trying too, of the nagging feeling with which I came away from a little village on the banks of the Breede River.

We’re lounging on the couch, late afternoon, back at Stonehill River Lodge, after a full day.

The kids are playing outside.

Little Maddi is at our feet with a selection of pots & spoons.

I wonder if she is emulating Zuko’s prowess in the kitchen or just mindlessly clanging?

Zuko & I are enjoying a cup of Masterton’s.

Our Kindles the doorway to vivid adventures we can pause whenever we need or page over, should they be mundane.

” … and evil is not always that recognizeable, oft disguised as the good it doth despise … ”

The words echo in my being, as I digest the Odd adventures conjured by Koontz, mixed with my own.

Breakfast was a festive affair.

Everyone excited to make the journey to Malagas where we would cross the Breede River by Ferry.

Crossing a river by ferry is not so much a fireworks & orchestra playing the soundtrack of ‘ Chariots of Fire’ kind of occasion.

Although there is something stomach churning about driving a R500 000 vehicle onto a float, running the risk, even if ever so small, of having it float away into the Atlantic Ocean, or sinking to the shallow bottom of a once often traversed river.

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Malagas, it seems, was once a busy little harbour town.

A place from which farmers & traders moved goods between the Overberg and Cape Town.

‘Barry & Neefs’ making a decent living, while providing a much needed service.

Perhaps the 1800’s were a simpler time.

Perhaps not.

The Chrysler Grand Voyager,  kindly sponsored to us by Maritime Motors, impressed with its comfort & road holding on the 40 kilometre drive through yellow canola fields.

The video screens & sound system silent, as we watch a crop duster flying low, a mist at its tail.

Once across the river, we drive through the little town, now predominantly populated by holiday makers who enjoy boating & water sports.

The old stone Dutch Reformed Church & the white washed trading store the only reminders, alongside the ferry, that any kind of history is hidden here.

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The Church is locked.

The bell’s ring silent, until my children boldly call the good to come and worship to no avail.

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We lunch at the Malagas Hotel.

A pleasant enough lunch.

A kind waitress.

The owners somewhat aloof.

As we pay our bill they reluctantly divulge the little bit of information that they’ve lived here sixteen years, building the hotel from a guest house into the many roomed accomodation it now offers, with house boats for rent & green lawns for children to enjoy.

At the trading store we encounter a more talkative resident.

The ‘Tannie’ (older lady) eager to share conversation.

The businesses has been in her husband’s family for more than one hundred years.

They’ve been living here, selling goods, for almost three decades.

She speaks of how life has changed.

How businesses has slowed.

Of the young ones leaving for Cape Town.

The old ones stuck with memories & they’re own sad conversation.

Theunsie & Wilhelmina buy sweets.

Zuko gets some milk & cheese & cooldrink from the fridge, while Sophia & Forest study a display of old cameras.

When Malagas was settled a camera was a rare commodity.

Theunsie takes pictures of a display of old cigarette boxes with his mobile phone, then WhatssApss it to the group of friends he created before we left Nelsin Mandela Bay.

Replenished we point the Chrysler Grand Voyager towards Infanta.

Sophia wants to know if that is where they make Fanta.

At the end of the road we find a deserted holiday village, where the Breede River runs into the ocean.

Some homes are new & oppulent.

Some old & dilapidated.

Population 56, says the website on Zuko’s tablet.

They must all be in town for the day, I think to myself, as we pose for  picture at the entrance to this village, before we head back home.

At Malagas we cross the river by ferry again.

And now we read.

And think.

“However you disguise it, this thing does not change: / The perpetual struggle of Good and Evil” … and evil is not always that recognizeable, oft disguised as the good it doth despise . . .

Images of ‘Barry & Neefs’ loading cargo, of that old Tannie’s in-laws one hundred years ago, perfectly dressed on Sunday, to worship at the stone Church, shabby in blue overalls on Monday, to make their living, the children at the school we could not find – they play vividly in my imagination.

A ferry relentlessly moving people & cargo & carriage from one side of the Breede River to the other.

I wonder, do we even consider, as Elliot & Koontz do, the strughle of good & evil, as we make our way from one generation to the next?

Do we question our motivation?

Or is it simple?

A bit of money earned.

A bit of respite enjoyed.

A bit of bitterness in our age, before we pass it on.

So that our children may prevail.

A few old buildings.

A few stacked shelves.

A display of neatly preserved cigarette boxes our reminder.

Perhaps it is.

Simple.

But as I sit here with my Zuko, the sound of children emerging into their own adulthood outside, little Maddi unaware,  clanging at pots & pans with mass produced utensils,  I hope it could be more.

More than just a bit of prevailing.

At least for us.

I hope our lives could spill some meaning.

Beyond a living earned or the bitterness of age.

Perhaps relationship could be our building.

Connection our trading store.

Perhaps we are constructing.

Even as we live.

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Swellendam Explore Day 3

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Every time we travel, we are reminded of how ‘loose’ life can become.

Every time we travel, we are reminded of how important it is to choose time spent together, with the people we value, to grow our connection.

In the end, after all is said & done, our relationships are all we have.

They’re the most important.

Our life partner.

Our children.

Our friends.

As our third day in the swellendam area comes to an end, I make a knot in my ear. Another in my heart.

To remember.

Balance.

As the sun sets I look at little Maddi running around, I think of our son, who was smaller than a toddler, less than a wink ago.

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Today we didn’t drive anywhere.

We rented bicycles & cycled through the Stonehill Reserve.

We played some cards.

Another game of chess on the large outdoor chess board.

We read some.

We slept some.

We walked some.

It is interesting how our concerns can consume is.

Isolate us.

Even if we re physically present.

Lost in that maze of worry & striving.

Under the bush, like a hopeless prophet.

We need to intentionally engage.

Each other.

For it is in our collectiveness that we succeed.

We need to slow down, create opportunities to talk, listen, think.

Sitting was frowned upon as I grew up.

‘Why are you doing nothing?’ the question always came s I was sitting, staring into my being, dreaming, thinking.

That is industrious too.

Now.

At 42.

I think it would be good if I could recapture that.

Think more.

Be more.

Take time to taste.

Allowing the moment to touch me.

Seep through my skin into my being.

Theunsie handles the braai while Zuko & I talk, sipping slowly from the moment.

After supper we read.

Zuko is enjoying a Steampunk Fantasy Sci-Fi Adventure.

I’m lost in the world of Odd Thomas.

Taking a breath.

That is good.

Taking a breath alongside people you love.

By whom you are loved.

That is better.

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Swellendam Explore Day 2

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Odd Thomas, my favorite character in Dean Koontz’s repertoire,  has this ‘ability’ of being ‘drawn’ to stuff he concentrates on.  I think Odd himself calls it ‘psychic magnetism’.

On our second day exploring Swellendam, we experienced this.

The sun had already set when we arrived on Friday evening.

Saturday morning we woke up to a stunning view of the Breede River & fresh Canola fields.

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We’re staying at Stonehill River Lodge, just outside Swellendam.

Or rather, perfectly positioned between Swellendam, Barrydale & Malgas.

We hope to discover all these places, but today we’d prefer not to go anywhere.  Stretching our legs & enjoying the tranquillity of Stonehill, just for a moment, before we plunge into the rest.

As we prepare breakfast, Zuko reminds us that we need to get some fruit & vegetables.   We read about a lovely organic market in Swellendam & so we pile into the Chrysler Grand Voyager for the short drive to town.

Swellendam is very beautiful.

Settled in 1745.

The 4th oldest town in South Africa with many original buildings well preserved.

You could spend a whole day walking from museum to museum, enjoying the architecture,  taking in the history, getting a feel for a South Africa of long ago.

We’re just hunting fruit & vegetables.

We find the market.

Zuko gets stunning fresh produce, including organic heritage seeds to take home & rusks & nuts & an interesting quince extract created by a Korean family who settled here many years ago.

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Satisfied that we’d be able to feed a Tribe for the next few days, we load the Voyager’s spacious boot & start heading out of town, back to Stonehill.

We turn, turn again.

Swellendam is not a large town in which you should get lost.

The next moment we’re driving past this beautiful Village’s Fearie Sanctuary.

We stop.

We go in.

We get lost in time, space, love & peace.

The Fearie Mother eventually finds us.

We listen to the story of how the sanctuary came to life over 22 years.

About children growing up.

Neighbours infected with love, as everything the sanctuary represents spills across boundaries & fences.

We drink from the fountain of people who just gave themselves to being.

Everything which was alive inside of them.

We all desire love.

Peace.

We all hope to be connected somehow.

We express ourselves differently.

Use different words & language.

Our hope is not that different.

To be loved for who we are.

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To be known.

Truly known.

To be part of something.

Something greater than the sum of our individuality.

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As we say our goodbyes, the Fearie Mother puts a spell of happiness on us.

We each receive a tiny bottle of fearie dust & the instruction to sprinkle it wherever we go.

Some sprinkle water.

Others sing songs or whisoer words.

We all express hope.

To bring happiness.

To taste what is beautiful.

When the Chrysler Grand Voyager comes to a stop at Stonehill it is afternoon already.

We walk.

We play chess.

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We talk.

As the sun sets, Theunsie lights a fire in our fireplace.

Zuko cooks the most beautiful meal.

We talk about how we were ‘drawn’ to the Fearie Sanctuary.

How we are ‘drawn’ to each other.

How we could ‘draw’ others close to us.

As love, happiness & kindness spill from us into our world.

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Swellendam Explore Day 1

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It has been a while since we’ve done publicized travels.

Its not that we’ve not traveled.

We’ve been to the beautiful Kromme Island Estate, we’ve spent time in Somerset East & we’ve visited Bloemfontein, as well as the magnificent Kingdom of Lesotho.

Beautiful journeys, shared with beautiful people.

Travel is in our DNA.  its as if we can’t help ourselves.

But we’ve not blogged about it.

There were no competitions in which you could win your own travel experience.

No pictures or video or radio interviews.

In the past few months quite a bit has happened.

Maddi has gone from a new-born baby to being a toddler who runs all over the place & vociferously expresses her every desire.

Theunsie turned thirteen.

We held his l’homme de la liberte, his coming of age, where he told us about his being, who he is & what he values.  Since he has been living in freedom, making his own decisions with us around him, guiding him, advising him, so that he can learn about life & becoming in a safe environment, making mistakes, and choosing beautifully,  for life is a magnificent combination of both.

It is good to remember that we are an ‘us’.

It is good to be reminded that love & acceptance has nothing to do with performancemor compliance.

For us this has worked well, as Theunsie (and even Wilhelmiena) emerges into adult-hood, through puberty and being teenagers,  avoiding the typical rebellion parents so often complain about.

Its a different way of doing.

Theunsie also found his first girlfriend.

The beautiful Hannah.

She calls herself Forest & we oblige.

It is pretty innocent.

Holding hands.

Sitting close.

Beautiful to see him slowly, yet confidently exploring this new world of becoming ‘us’.

It is stunning to be witnesses to this natural progression from being child into being man.

It is scary too.

As we wonder if we ‘did well’ as parents?

If we ‘gave him what he needs’ in the few years he was entrusted to us.

When they are born, we think we have many years.

But we don’t.

It is a moment since weld held him in our arms for the first time.

And now he is reaching forward.

Into life.

And we have the privilege of sharing it with him.

Hannah, or rather Forest, is joining us on our Swellendam Explore.

We tried to do this 2 years ago – not the bringing along of Forest thing – the exploring of Swellendam & surrounds.

We had just arrived, when we were told a wonderful friend had passed away & our Swellendam Explore turned into a trip to the Kalahari Thirstland, a funeral in the shade of an ancient ‘Kameel Doring Boom’ & the very surprising news that at 41 we’re expecting another child.

Now, as I write, that child has emerged as little Maddi-Boo, who is sitting on my lap, in the lounge at Stonehill River Lodge’s lounge, as I share these thoughts.

We arrived here just before 7 last night.

The drive was stunning.

The Chrysler Grand Voyager, sponsored to us for this trip, by Maritime Motors, a truly magnificent vehicle.  Spacious. Comfortable. Responsive. The interior designed to take a Tribe like ours (and all our luggage) on an unforgettable voyage.

After a bit more than 6 hours traveling we weren’t tired at all.

We unloaded.

Lit a fire.

Started relaxing.

We shared supper.

Slowly flowing into the rhythm of being on an explore.

The kids spoke about the things we’re looking forward too: going horse riding at Two Feathers, crossing the river by pontoon at Malagas, cycling through the reserve here at Stonehill River Lodge and exploring a fairy land in Swellendam.

We hope to see some old friends too.

In Gansbaai, perhaps on our way home in Knysna.

We hope to make new friends.

As we share this journey.

This moment in a journey much larger.

Maybe, along the way, we could become together.

More of who we are.

Exquisitely woven soul & matter.

Beautifully born, to taste, experience, connect & share.

We hope you will travel with us.

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