Walking through vineyards and fynbos part 2: Bouchard Finlayson

On our recent trip to the Cape ..

Let’s get straight to it !!!   From the top of the ridge overlooking the vineyards of Bouchard Finlayson and Hemel en Aarde Valley in Hermanus, our walking trail continued ..


I was quite surprised at the amazing colours of the fynbos (natural vegetation in the Cape region) at the top of the ridge.  Most pockets of colour didn’t come out well in the longer distance photos .. to the naked eye it was very pretty!  I didn’t expect to see so much up there.  The estate has more than 260 plant species !! Fynbos:  indigenous natural vegetation characterized by 3 plant families – Ericacea, Proteacea and Restionacea.  The Cape Floral Kingdom, or fynbos, as it is commonly known, stretches from the west coast of the Cape Province, eastwards to Port Elizabeth and is the only place in the world where these families occur together.  Fynbos needs fire, ideally at 12-15 year intervals, in order to remove the plants which have become senescent and allow seeds to germinate and restore species diversity.”

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At the point, the boundary line of the estate, is a wetland which “interrupts the water flowing from Galpin kop in the neighbouring Fernkloof Nature Reserve.  The koppie gets its name from the renowned amateur botanist Thomas Galpin which is also the name of our signature wine – Galpin Peak Pinot Noir.”

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Have brightened this photo trying to get the colours … didn’t succeed very well :(

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Patches of alien Kikuyu grass and dense colony of Sour Fig suggests this spot was at one time a sheep kraal”

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Sour Fig …

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Beehives house the Cape Bee, unique in that of the several hundreds of bee species in the world, the workers, during a queen-less period, will lay eggs that can develop into workers, or even queens …

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Next we came across a protea plantation, established about 30 years ago by the previous owner to supply cut flowers for export.  “ It is now over-mature … and should be cleared and burnt to allow re-seeding to take place“.

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By this time was very hot and bright .. we started our descent down an old jeep track which was “badly sited and has led to soil erosion which is now being repaired.  Vegetation is being allowed to recover to the edge of the trail”  Descending is made easier by thick ropes strung between wooden poles  …

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From here we spotted the cyclists again, on the Wines2Whales Mountain Bike race  (see previous post).. zoomed in for a closer look

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I then spotted hang-gliders …. zoomed in for a closer look too ;)

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Very friendly lot !!!   ..  greeted us as they passed  ” good morning … hi …. hello there … have a nice day … lovely day to be walking … enjoying the beautiful weather? … enjoy your day …  :)

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We passed an area “densely infested with aliens which has been used for the past 15 years as a research project under the management of University of Cape Town.  Various species of insects, mainly Australian in origin have been released to monitor the efficiency of biological control methods …. despite the success of these control methods, the impact of these alien trees has been such as to lead to 100% suppression of any indigenous plants”.

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On the right is a composting facility which utilizes chipped alien branch wood and residue from wine production …

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Continual stream of cyclists ..

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This is where we parted ways.   We chose to walk back through the vineyards …

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Galpin Peak (under cloud when hubby and I started our walk)  ..

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Watching the field workers working in rows I wondered what they were doing.  I discovered hooks on the poles which supporting wires are hooked into.  As the vines grow, so the wires need lifting.  I’m sure I’m correct in my assumption ;)

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Back to where we started from … the estate’s beautiful home and tasting room ..

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What a super day!!!   We didn’t do the wine tastings :(  on an empty stomach .. lunch was needed!!    We have done them, a few years ago and will return for tastings at Bouchard Finlayson Winery on our next visit to Hermanus

Posted in flowers, Cape, trees, travel, Hermanus, plants, wine estates, insects, mountains, countryside, Landscape | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Walking a trail through vineyards and fynbos : Bouchard Finlayson

On our recent trip to the Cape

What a fabulous day we had!!!!

Bouchard Finlayson Wine Estate, established in 1989 covers 125 hectares,  of which some 20ha on the lower fertile soils are under cultivation with the remaing 100ha, largely on the low-nutrient soils of the Table Mountain Group, dedicated to environmental conservation”    quote from map of trails through the vineyard

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Hubby and I chose to do the Red Route – 2 1/2 hours covering approx. 7km.  It was well marked and each marker coincided with an information paragraph on the underside of the map.  All very interesting.  They do have guided walks for a one on one walk or small groups with a fynbos fundi, Frank Woodvine.   Would love to do that sometime …. booking is essential.    It was a cloudy cool day .. looked like rain, but perfect for walking

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Pic below … trail goes alongside the vines, turn left at the end, down to the valley, through the valley and then upwards to the top of the ridge (under clouds!)  By the time we got to the top the clouds had cleared

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Looking back from where we started

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old mature fynbos which was last burned 18 years ago which needs a fire to rejuvenate the eco system.   Constant effort is needed to keep the land free of invasive alien woody species such as wattle, pines, myrtle and eucalyptus (blue gum) which spread from the neighbouring property ” …

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We didn’t realise that the Wines2Whales mountain bike race was in progress and in its last stage – part of which was through Bouchard Finlayson …

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The race is a course of 3 days covering approx. 230km of the Cape Winelands, starting in Somerset West and ” traverses 13 wineries, 26 private farms, 6 mountains, some beautiful historic roads and passes, as well as exquisite nature conservation areas”   … ending in Hermanus

We came across many, many cyclists on our walk, or should I say many, many cyclists came across us !!!!

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Above photo:  On the left of cyclists crossing the small wooden bridge is an area cleared of alien wattles as part of a Working for Water initiative.  The branch wood is being chipped for turning into compost and also for mulching in the vineyards

Below:  New vines being planted on open land which has been prime habitat for a pair of Blue Cranes, our national bird.  The pair successfully raised their typically single chick of the last few years …

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The trail goes down to Galpin Stream where the vegetation is typical of dense riverine bush …

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The trail began to rise, still following the stream which flows strongly in winter months  (the Cape has a Mediterranean climate)  ..

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Crossing the wooden foot bridge one sees a few Palmiet plants, Prionium serratum, which plays a vital role in reducing the force of water flow after heavy rains, so reducing the risk of soil erosion.  Long long ago, the long narrow leaves were used by slaves in Cape town for weaving their hats

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Rising further upwards and around the corner between the rocky ridges we came across a weir ..   “the impounded water is used to irrigate the vineyards.”   There is also a notice inviting walkers to ‘enjoy a paddle’

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From this spot, looking up to the summit of the ridge is a framework of poles which forms part of a cableway built to carry cement and stone to construct the weir  (we didn’t realise the trail changed to a steep incline after this to reach those poles!)

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Still quite a way to go to those poles!!   Tiny dots of people – centre of pic – is a group from the Botanical Society who were walking with Frank, the fynbos fundi.   They were walking in the opposite direction …

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Looking back down to the valley and vineyards …

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There go the Botanical Society :)   We chatted with them when our paths crossed again.   Great excitement!!    Frank, the fynbos fundi,  had recently discovered a new species of fynbos on the property and they were so excited to be privileged to be shown it.   Quite a find!!   Imagine scouring every inch of ground searching for new plants, especially fynbos which is usually short and fine like heather

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A well wooded kloof – (steep-sided ravine or valley) - “supports the only patch of Afro-Montane forest on the estate.  A series of tumbling waterfalls give rise to pools surrounded by some fine specimens of trees ie Rooiels, Cape Beech, Cape Holly and Hard-pear.  Consideration is being given to extending the trail to the foot of the kloof”    .. that would be lovely !

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Nearly at the top ..

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We made it !!

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Part two next … walking the ridge, back down again, cyclists pass us one by one and back through the vineyards


Posted in bridges, Cape, countryside, flowers, Hermanus, holiday, mountains, Peter, photography, plants, travel, wine estates | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hemel en Aarde Valley

 On our recent trip to the Cape ….

… hubby and I spent a few days with his sister Cheryl, and Bob in Hermanus.  For many years we have visited them in their home a stone’s throw away from the magnificent cliff paths lining Walker Bay which is well-known for Southern Right Whale watching, especially in ‘Whale Season’ which is Oct/Nov.   Whales come into the warmer, calmer waters of the bay for calving and it’s such a privilege to watch them frolicking in the water close to the shore.  I have blogged about our trips to Hermanus, with many photographs of the town, cliff paths, the bay and whales.

This visit was entirely different.  They have recently moved into a really lovely retirement village, still in Hermanus, but further inland.  From various vantage points you can still see the sea :)    So .. this time around there are no photos of the sea, whales or cliff paths.    I will do a post with photos of a walk-about in the retirement village (mainly to show our children as we are putting our names down there for the future, near or far, who knows !!!!!!! )

Hemel en aarde means heaven and earth.  The valley certainly is!   We have done wine tastings on the various wine farms over the years but this year we decided to do something different … we went walking through the vineyards and conservancy of Bouchard Finlayson.   Firstly we went for a drive as far as Newton Johnson on the R320 mainly to buy a wine opener which I was convinced I had bought my existing one from there and I needed to get another.  As it turns out, it was from Raka wines, further up the coast in Stanford .. oooops! my mistake)    A drive through the valley is not wasted.  How can you not have a little taste or two of magnificent wines !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  ;)

Truly beautiful !!   Breathtaking!!!!   that’s the view from Newton Johnson … looking across to a smidgen of Walker Bay and the mountains around which we drove the day before

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Newton Johnson, a family run boutique winery established in 1995 is ‘dedicated to the making of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc of outstanding quality’

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We bought wines on a previous visit and only have one left – 2007 Syrah Mourvèdre – so naturally we had to buy some more :)  .. as we are actually not sure where to buy their wines here.  We need to make a concerted effort to look for them here.   We came away with a couple of Pinot Noir and a couple of bottles of Full Stop Rock (Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre blend) for dinner that evening.  Sadly we didn’t think to get a couple to bring home :(

On our way back to the car, the owners very boisterous puppy was running around like a mad thing with a sponge in his mouth!!   He loved the game we played with him and ran around and around that large stone, scooting off over pond, path and anything else he came across :)

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We then stopped at Bouchard Finlayson Winery to get info on the walks …

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Next post :   walking through the vineyards and conservancy of Bouchard Finlayson

Posted in Cape, dogs, Hermanus, holiday, Landscape, mountains, travel, wine, wine estates | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursdays : Highlights of 1986

I notice I didn’t take one single photograph from January to August !!!!!!  Quite astonishing !!!!

August.  A big month for our little family.   Quite by accident, surprise, surprise,  I fell pregnant 9 months prior to August 11th when we were blessed with a baby girl … Elaine :)   Major changes in the household, the biggest of which I gave up work … forever !!!    It was very tough to begin with .. back to one income and now three children.  We managed.  We survived!!

… and here she is .. Elaine Bridget : born 11 Aug at 12:15 : 2.570kg : at Park Lane Clinic in Johannesburg

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In those days, after a Caesar, Mom and baby stayed in hospital for a week.  In those days too, children weren’t allowed in maternity hospitals!!!   Introducing our new one week old baby girl (we had a camera with adjustable light metre and distance, and no flash .. getting the perfect shot was very difficult !!!)   My Dad’s camera was very basic.  He took this one …

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Elaine’s christening : Sept (5 weeks old)

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Family heirloom Christening robe worn by Hubby’s Dad, Hubby, Jeanette, Carl and now Elaine ….

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.. with grandparents …

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Our family …

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Godparents Ian and Kathy with their two boys ..

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Siblings and cousins ..

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7 weeks old …

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8 weeks old …

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10 weeks old.  Who remembers those precarious plastic baby chairs?!!!

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4 months old – Dec 1986

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Our family is complete :)

Posted in babies, Carl, celebrations, children, cousins, Dad, Elaine, family, grandchildren, Grandparents, home, Ian, Jeanette, Kathy, memory lane, P and me, special occasion, Throwback Thursdays | Tagged | 1 Comment

Breathtaking and scenic Clarence Drive (R44) from Gordon’s Bay to Kleinmond

On our recent trip to the Cape …

… and leaving Cape Town behind, hubby and I popped in to see my very frail Mum in Somerset West for the last time during this trip.  Saying my goodbyes is always so hard as I never know if I will ever see her again :(   She was asleep .. still and calm.  I didn’t want to wake her but I had to touch her, stroke her hair and hold her face gently in my hands.  She would open her eyes and look at me with glazed eyes and fall asleep again.  This happened several times before I said goodbye and waited for her to fall into a deep sleep.  I gently laid her head on her pillow and kissed her forehead.  She was still and calm.

We then met up with Kathy and Cassie, Ian and Kathy’s  son’s Canadian girlfriend – a really lovely girl .. great catch Kevin!!!   Hope to meet her again one day soon :)

There are two routes to Hermanus, our next destination.  One is the normal route over Sir Lowry’s on the N2 national road.  The other is the R44 Clarence Drive which hugs the coastline from Gordon’s Bay to Kleinmond.  It’s a little further in kilometres but breathtaking!!!   I haven’t taken many photographs when we’ve travelled along it but enjoyed the views as we wind between the sea and mountains.  Forgive me though, most of my photos are taken at the spot where we scattered my Dad’s ashes in 2001.  My brothers and I decided to give him the best view possible :)   We climbed halfway up a mountain to scatter them … vastness of beautiful False Bay in front with a mountain backdrop as a tombstone

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Quote from http://samountainpasses.co.za :

“It is one of the most scenic routes the Cape Peninsula has to offer.  It follows the False Bay coastline, squashed between the sea and the foothills of the Southern extension of the Hottentots Holland Mountains.  The route undulates along the mountainside, at times almost down to the level of the waves and at others rising above the waters edge, allowing one the opportunity to stop at any of the numerous viewing sites to enjoy the beautiful view of False Bay.  Between July and Oct, one could enjoy the company of Southern Right Whales as they frolic in the Bay during their calving season.

Clarence Drive was named after Jack Clarence who was responsible for replacing the footpath between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els with a proper road.  It was built with the help of Italian POWs during WWII and stretches all the way from Gordon’s Bay into Kleinmond and the heart of the Kogel Biosphere. “

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I know my Dad’s mountain well … took the ‘Nov 2014′ pics from the moving car

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Cape Point in the distance across False Bay ..


Quote from http://www.viewoverberg.com :

The Kogel Biosphere is the first and only Biosphere in South Africa to be proclaimed by UNESCO :  a testament to the stunning diversity and large number of its flowering plants, many of which are found nowhere else in the fynbos biome.  The whole Hangklip-Kleinmond area (Rooiels, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond) is to be managed according to international principles, which aim to combine conservation, sustainable use of natural resources and wise development.”

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On our holiday down the Garden Route (from Port Alfred to Cape Town) in May 2011, we drove along Clarence Drive the opposite way .. from Hermanus to Somerset West

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Next stop …. Hermanus

Posted in Cape, Cape Town, Dad, holiday, memory lane, mountains, photography, sea, sky, travel, Uncategorized, whales | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A short’esh’ drive up the West Coast of South Africa

In the limited time between power cuts, putting together a blog post is challenging!!!

On our recent trip to the Cape ….

Driving up the West Coast from Cape Town is something hubby and I have never done and something I’ve always wanted to do, especially when the spring flowers are in full bloom.   A spectacular sight I believe.  Will definitely have to make a trip at that time.  Driving up there this time, with Ray and Carol, we went as far as Yzerfontein, a small harbour town with about 1200 inhabitants, about 90 kms north of Cape Town.

“The Cape West coast is famous as much for its rugged terrain as it is for its rustic seaside villages.”

What is still an almost undiscovered treasure trove of unspoilt beaches, incredible mountain ranges, rich geographical diversity, and the most astounding carpet of wild flowers in spring, has evolved into a major holiday route out of Cape Town along Route 27.”  

We stopped for a lovely breakfast in Bloubergstrand at Petit Fours, a restaurant and deli in an old coastal house tastefully renovated without losing it’s bygone charm …

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We drove along the coastal road until the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and then followed Route 27.   You definitely need more than a few hours to do this drive (we had to be back at Ray and Carol’s in the early afternoon as they were expecting guests for an early evening braai/bbq)   There are many fishing spots along the way.  I would have loved to have stopped at at least one to take some photographs ;)

We drove as far as Yzerfontein …

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This delightful old fisherman’s cottage is an Information Centre …

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We had a browse through the West Coast Farm Stall – quite a unique place !  Apart from the shop, there is a restaurant, indigenous nursery  and an amazing collection of parrots !  (and another Tourist Information office)

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Carvings in huge logs and tree trunks are quite intriguing ..

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The aviaries  have a sprinkler system which seemingly sprays the birds in the midday heat.  Having had their ‘baths’  it was now siesta time and most of them were snoozing !!

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I like the use of old wine barrels ..

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Cool drinks under shady trees at lovely old wooden tables with painted cutlery and beautifully hand-painted placemats (those were loose but nailed on!) …

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Interior of the restaurant has an amazing mural …

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The shop is jammed packed with all sorts of everything !!!! …

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Next time, we shall definitely leave in the early morning, giving us time to stop at some of those fishing spots along the way, not to fish, but to take photographs ;) and would love to go as far as Paternoster, one of the oldest fishing villages on the West Coast of SA, 145 km north of Cape Town.  It’s known for lobster mainly, white-washed fishermen’s cottages, jagged cliffs and white boulders.

Next time … …

Posted in art, birds, Cape, Cape Town, friends, holiday, odd stuff, restaurants, sea, travel | Tagged | 1 Comment

Family and flowers

We, as a family, haven’t had a get-together for a while, even though we all live in the same city.  Everyone is always so busy !!!!!!  Yesterday, they didn’t all come for a lunch braai but all gathered for afternoon tea (except Bryan, who was busy)  Having our power turned off seemingly on a daily basis for the time being – 2:00 to 6:30 – makes cooking and baking difficult.  Being given a time for the outages helps so you can plan ahead.  Sometimes however we get caught off-guard and boom .. nothing!! :(

Yesterday I posted photos of Elaine and Bryan’s cutie pie puppy, Hardy.  Today, a few pics of our family gathering and some flowers in the garden taken a few days ago.  I am still endeavouring to get a post together of the next chapter of our recent Cape holiday but in the meantime … …. …


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