We got invited by the Ladismith tourism for an educational to see what Ladismith had on offer. This also coincided with some festivities and the CBL Paddafees (Frog festival) a fundraiser for a NGO – wardrobe of love. We got booked into a 1912 dwelling with stunning features and comfortable beds called Towerzicht.
Ladismith reading from the concrete road marker outside the tourist office is 249 miles from Cape Town. The tourist office is in the old Otto Hager Church. According to the current maps Ladismith it is 320km away from the mother city.
Years ago I camped in the small town of Ladismith over Christmas. Remembering very hot weather and not a lot going on probably due to all being gone for the holidays. But had a great time the 3 days camping there. I did notice all the old buildings and visited the small shops etc but meant nothing to me.
But this time we had a local tour guide, Alistair Reizenberg taking us around. Like normal, most locals do not always want to pay for the services of a guide. Since being a tour guide myself I did notice we pick up interesting facts and stories about an area we can relay and make it even more interesting. So with 1 of the 2 local guides taking us around it was well worth it.
First we went to the Seweweekspoort pass and stopped at certain points. Here Al pointed out some interesting ruins, plants, streams, and formations. The water of a stream we stopped at was crystal clear cold and great to drink.
Even with some mint growing nearby to put in our water bottles too make it taste even better. Convicts build the pass for 6 km without the presence of an engineer before AG Smidt took command over them in 1861 and finished it in 1862. He was a brother in-law of the famous pass builder Thomas Bain. A well worth pass to visit and explore where you can even see a scarce protea called the Aristata. Seweweekspoort pass is also a certified Unesco World Heritage Site.
Cape Canopy Tour is outside of Elgin and about an hour’s drive from Cape Town. We at Dive Inn Cape Town decided it is time to dive into another adventure and we tried out zip lining with Cape Canopy Tour.
They are the 7th and youngest of the canopy tours branches in South Africa and which are all privately owned. Cape Canopy Tour is situated in the fynbos paradise of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve and the cost of the tour covers the entry fee to the reserve as well. You will be treated on your way there already with views of the fruit trees in full bloom and lush green valleys.
Friendly staff welcomes you on arrival and will give you a quick tour of the ‘office’ area which includes a small coffee shop where you can buy zippucchino’s.
We were called to the briefing room and were shown a video of what Cape Canopy tour is about, a bit of history and how the zip lining works. Safety is really a big thing with them and we felt safe all the way through. Lonely Planet stated they are the 2nd best new attraction in the world. Well done guys.
After briefing, signing affidavits, providing e-mail address for the certificate we were kitted out. First was to step into the harness and securing it around your body. Next were gloves (aka handbrake tool) and some helmets. This take a bit off time to ensure the harness fits comfortable and secure, from here we head of to the cruiser for the 30 minute trip up the mountain. For this trip they also renamed it from the boring 4×4 trip rather to the African massage trip as the dirt road is a bit bumpy.
Arriving on the top our 2 guides were waiting for us. A 5 minute walk got us to the first zip line and they briefed us on the process we will follow. Most of us were tentative at first especially about the idea that you have to break with your gloved hand BUT behind the slider and not in front as it will be painful. After the 2nd slide down into the valley we all got more comfortable and starting enjoying the scenery as we zipped over it. We had various lengths of lines crossing the valley down and even had a suspension bridge we needed to cross. Three quarters down we had an Elgin ice tea break with some choc chip cookies. (more…)
White Shark diving & Whale Watching with Dive Inn Cape Town plus an added extra of touring the scenic route of Clarence drive to or from Hermanus.
For these trips we have 2 options of departures. 1st one will be a very very early 4.30 am departure time out of Cape Town directly to Klein baai and the next option will be an 8am departure with a tour towards Klein baai and straight back to Cape Town afterwards.
Thus the 1st one is to get early into Kleinbaai at Marine Dynamics our preferred operator to go shark cage diving or Whale watching with their sister company Dyer Island Whale Cruises. After briefings, registering, indemnities and breakfast we get our life jackets with bright orange oilskins on and walk the short distance to the Harbour and get on the boats.
The new whale boat “Dream catcher” is stunning and this boat concentrate on the whale watching tours. On the tour you can see whales, Seals at Dyer and Geyser islands perhaps some dolphins, Penguins and of Course some Great white sharks next to Slashfin the Marine Dynamics shark boat. This unfortunately is limited to about 10 minutes just to get you hooked to do another trip on Slashfin and get into the cage. The crew, skipper and volunteers check up on you the whole time, providing information about the animals we see where to see them and ensure that all is safe. Really a well worth whale watching trip for about 3hours on Dream Catcher with Dyer Island Whale cruises.
The top of the range trip is the Cage diving on Slashfin with Marine Dynamics. Included in the price is breakfast or lunch, snacks on the boat and after the trip you get soup and bread as well. With registration we provided the sizing charts and on the boat the wetsuits, booties, mask and weight belt appears in numbered bags and fits you quite well. The water can still be a chilly 12-14 degrees so the thick one piece suits are really great. (more…)
Sea Anemones: (Pronunciation: Uh-nem-uh-nees)
Before I start about my quick view on Anemones, Wikipedia can do the more scientific explanation:
“Sea anemones are a group of water-dwelling, predatory animals of the order Actiniaria. They are named for the anemone, a terrestrial flower. Sea anemones are classified in the phylum Cnidaria, class Anthozoa, subclass Hexacorallia. Anthozoa often have large polyps that allow for digestion of larger prey and also lack a medusa stage. As cnidarians, sea anemones are related to corals, jellyfish, tube-dwelling anemones, and Hydra”.
Well I think Sea anemones are slightly easier to say and here in Cape Town we give them even easier names. But for the clever ones out there I will put the proper names in brackets. I have learned local names can differ from region to region so in a way it’s good to learn the tongue twister names.
They are all over the world and old “Nemo” loves them.
One of our biggest species is the False Plum Anemone (Pseudactinia flagellifera). They can devour almost anything they can fit into their mouths. I have seen west coast rock lobster, redbait, and even shy sharks sticking out of them. Spider crabs love to hind behind them as well.
Walking sock anemones ( Preactis millardae) are exceptional feeders and they can strip multi-coloured seafan (Acabaria rubra) polyps that only bare stalks are left. They are not stationary and move around more. Saying this some of the other anemones does have the ability to move as well. Juveniles can be sometimes incorrectly be mistaken as a type of nudibranch.
Most of the sea anemones have prime land and do not allow others to get close by. There are of course the exceptions like strawberry Anemones (Corynactis annulata) who can cover a rock or wall in a pink carpet. In other places in the world a similar specie is called Jewelled Anemones. The close -up of their tentacles are really stunning. A close up of the cup coral (Balanophyllia bonaespei) tentacle ends looks great as well. The Cup coral I always thought was an anemone but writing this blog I read it is not as it even has a skeleton thus it falls under the coral family.
The other carpet forming ones who are also a bit bigger than the strawberries are the striped anemones (halianthella annularis). Size them up and then the Sandy Anemones (Aulactinia reynaudi) come into play with a wide array of colours and we normally see them in the Atlantic side.
We can found sea anemones at depth, on rocks, kelp, crabs, shells and in the sand. Low tide anemones can be seen in rock pools and in tidal pools as well so everyone can have an opportunity to check them out. I can remember as a child tentatively putting my finger in a rock pool touching an anemone and pull back quickly when it feels like it is grabbing your finger with its tentacles.
On safety stops in Cape Town I prefer to get to a pinnacle at 5 meters thus the last 3 minutes of the dive I can still explore and take pics and normally between the redbait heads you find the best blue and red & yellow spotted Knobbly anemones(Bunodosama capensis).
In Summary Sea Anemones are a very well adapted organism who as a basic organism can survive almost everywhere.
Upon deciding to treat ourselves one Saturday morning I had to phone 12 of the top rated establishments in Cape Town before I could get a booking for 2. Truly were impressed that the high tea’s were so high in demand here in Cape Town.
What is the High Tea about then you may ask?
As per Wikipdedia: “Afternoon tea is a light meal typically eaten between 4 pm and 6 pm. Observance of the custom originated amongst the wealthy classes in England in the 1840s. Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, is widely credited as transforming afternoon tea in England into a late-afternoon meal whilst visiting Belvoir Castle, though Charles II of England‘s wife Catherine of Braganza is often credited with introducing tea to the court upon her arrival in 1662. By the end of the nineteenth century, afternoon tea developed to its current form and was observed by both the upper and middle classes: “the table was laid… there were the best things with a fat pink rose on the side of each cup; hearts of lettuce, thin bread and butter, and the crisp little cakes that had been baked in readiness that morning.”
Traditionally, loose tea is brewed in a teapot and served with milk and sugar. The sugar and caffeine of the concoction provided fortification against afternoon doldrums for the working poor of 19th and early 20th century England, who had a significantly lower calorie count and more physically demanding occupation than most Westerners today. For labourers, the tea was sometimes accompanied by a small sandwich or baked snack (such as scones) that had been packed for them in the morning. For the more privileged, afternoon tea was accompanied by luxury ingredient sandwiches (customarily cucumber, egg and cress, fish paste, ham, and smoked salmon), scones and usually cakes and. In hotels and tea shops, food is often served on a tiered stand; there may be no sandwiches, but bread or scones with butter or margarine and optional jam or other spread, or toast, muffins or crumpets. It was the emergence of afternoon tea that saw Britain regard biscuits as something dunked in tea; a British custom that was later exported around the globe.”
We got a booking at the “Taj Hotel” in Cape Town. Upon arriving we were shown to plush lounge chairs with a small table which has been set-up for tea already. Our table booking confirmed with a printed card with my surname on it.
The venue is set in the atrium/lounge of the Taj hotel and small to big groups of people(mostly women;-) ) were seated on big sofa couches from an array of colours and designs.
The waitron was quick to take our drink (tea) order. The bagged tea was really easy to choose from. An English breakfast tea to start off, then followed by an Earl Grey. This gave us time to get a view and taste of the treats on offer from a buffet table. Some of the other establishments would provide 2 people with a 3 tiered tray with selection of savoury and sweets on them.
We were munching on square, triangle and rectangular shaped Egg, chicken & mustard and basil pesto, tomato and cheese sandwiches, small dainty wraps and mini quiche. After a plate was emptied the waitron would swop it with a clean one, the same happened with the tea cups. As who would like to mess up the aromas of the new tea with the old one. Ghmf.
From the bag teas we upgraded to the loose teas and looking through the tea menu which also included the different history of the blends, decided on a black tea. This tea came in a small cast iron pot which I adored. The loose tea is fresh and flavoursome.
The sweet treats like Lemon curd tartlets, cream filled eclairs, pecan tartlets, scones of course with cream, cheese and jam, lemon macaroons and small nutty and chocolate dipped biscuits were all beautifully decorated.
What a feast and if you are keen to try al the buffet table got to offer get a partner who does not mind sharing otherwise you are going to feel unwell the rest of the evening.
The last tea we had was the red chai tea, rooibos grown in the mountains of the Cedarberg infused with marigold some chai spice and orange. Truly a relaxing 2 hours spend over cups of tea and delicious snacks.
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