Wednesday, 23 April 2008

South Africa 2008: Sydney - Saldanha

We flew out of Sydney on the morning of March 27th. The entire previous week had been devoted to packing, cleaning, and moving out of our rented house. I left my job just before Easter and Milord and I packed up all through the Easter weekend.

I hate packing. This is me sorting all my clothes into storage, holiday, and will-be-needed-when-we-get-back piles.

On the Tuesday after Easter all our stuff got moved into storage, and on Wednesday I cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned. My cleaner helped me for a few hours in the morning, but I was cleaning for easily 6 hours. And when I thought I was finished the agent came around and pointed out scuff marks on the walls so I cleaned for another hour. The carpet steam-cleaner turned up at 6pm (was supposed to be 3pm) so we only got away after 7pm, and at 10pm after a swift pub meal I was still carrying boxes down flights of stairs at a friend's house. Around about this point I thought I sprained my ankle and I had a complete meltdown - Milord doesn't see me burst into tears very often but he coped. He held me until I stopped crying, by which time my ankle had stopped hurting and turned out be ok thank goodness, and then I was fine.

On Thursday morning we flew to South Africa. There is a direct flight from Sydney to Johannesburg that takes about 14 hours, and as chance would have it our best man and his girlfriend were on it. Unfortunately they didn't check in with us because then we might have sat together, but they were only a handful of rows away. It was a good flight, I watched several movies (Juno is awesome!) and read a good part of the book Atonement (slow but excellent. I watched the movie on the way home and they've done an excellent adaptation). We got into Jo'burg late and missed our connection so had to hang around for a couple of hours before flying to Cape Town where we landed around 9pm.

My Dad and stepmom had come to fetch us and drove us the 2 hours back to their house in Saldanha Bay (a major port and fishing village an hour or two north of Cape Town on the west coast). Then we had nibbles and wine and stayed up chatting to 1am, when I suddenly crashed and we went to bed.

We had 4 nights at my Dad's. We went for long walks on the beach, long lunches in picturesque west coast villages, went kayaking on the bay and fiddled around in Dad's little sailboat. My jetlag slowly eased and we caught up on years of chat.

Kayaking on Saldanha Bay. What a stunning day, not a breath of wind but not too hot:

Dad's little sailboat. There wasn't enough wind to put the sail up so he motored along next to the kayaks:

Dad had made a three-pronged boomerang and we had a go at throwing it down on the beach. I was utterly useless for ages, then suddenly got the hang of it and it would circle back to me... and I'd duck! Them things are scarey when they come back at you! My arm and back hurt for days afterwards - you use unusual muscles throwing a boomerang. In his speech at our wedding Dad got a laugh when he mentioned he'd taught the Aussie to throw a boomerang!

There was this one patch of (knee deep) sinking sand on Saldanha Bay beach. What a creepy feeling:

One afternoon we visited an aunt and uncle who were caravanning in a town not far from us on the west coast. My uncle had a mussel collecting licence (30 a day) and let us use it. Milord picked mussels from the rocks for the first time ever (hard to believe as he's so into seafood) and cooked them for us that night with garlic, ginger and wine, delicious. If you do this remember to let the mussels sit in sea water for an hour or two to spit out their sand first - mussels picked from the rocks are full of sea sand. Don't put them in fresh water because they'll die.

Milord and my uncle picking mussels:

Arty shot of a drift of shells on the beach where my uncle was staying. I also have close ups of rocks and barnacles (Kat, I know you identify with this!):

Paternoster beach from a lunch spot. Many of the west coast villages have this feel, with brightly painted little fishing boats pulled up on the sand. Seriously pretty:

The weather was gorgeous, sunny and cool. We had a very relaxing few days, unwinding from all the stress of packing and moving. My Dad was around every day (he works every other month as ship's master) and my stepmom took time off to be with us too. I was very spoiled. I don't think I've spent that much time with my father in many years - luckily we get on well (hi Dad)! We admire each other and find each other's faults endearing... we moved out of the usual father-child relationship a long time ago and are close friends now. I am very lucky.


Suzanne said...

Great pictures. I get to live vicariously through your travels. Glad you got to enjoy so much time with your Dad!

Kat said...

Yes I get the shell pics!!
Sorry to hear about the cat :( Still perhaps a blessing in disguise......:)