Where were you when the News Broke on 9/11?

(Add your story in the comments)

Late as always, I drove to work on that September morning in 2001, praying while driving as was our little morning tradition.

I ended with “Father, and please show us today as much mercy as possible.” A bit baffled, I looked at our five-year old sitting in his car seat at the back and said: “Mommy prayed a strange prayer this morning, don’t you think?”

Normally I would pray for our safety and for our family and people suffering etc. but that morning those words came out of my mouth as if it wasn’t me uttering them. I found it strange, but quickly forgot about it as the morning’s nursery school drop off and work activities chucked it into the background.

Just after four o’clock that afternoon, I was packing away my things to go home while listening to the hourly news on the radio. Just as I was about to switch the radio off, the news reader interrupted himself with breaking news from the US. I listened without believing, and quickly called my male colleague – the only one who was still left – to come and listen if I heard wrong. His shocked face confirmed that I didn’t.

That night my husband and I lay on our bed and watched the TV coverage until the next morning. The scenes of planes flying into buildings, people running away from the ashes, people jumping from the top floors, political commentators speculating and news presenters bringing the newest information, played over and over on the screen and by morning it was still difficult believing what had happened.

That was the day our world had changed forever. Nothing that we would do afterwards stayed untouched. Air travelling had become a nightmare with new security rules being implemented and a new war raged on the TV news every night. For us it was something to observe when we took the time, but for the people of Afghanistan and the US, UK and the rest who eventually got closely involved, it was much closer and cost a lot more.

And as I am writing this, twenty years later, the world is still reeling. Because in the middle of another life changing event – a pandemic starting a year or so ago and leaving us to deal with so much illness and death caused by a virus which doesn’t discriminate – we also have to get to grips with the latest in the saga of 9/11. The US (and the rest) had abruptly withdrawn from Afghanistan, leaving the country and its fragile people in the Taliban’s hands again – and even ‘arming’ them with all the equipment left behind after the withdrawal.

As a wife, mother, sister, daughter and ex-military employee, I can’t help wondering what the point of the last twenty years’ struggle after 9/11 was? Had all the husbands, wives, sons and daughters on all sides just died for nothing? We even lost a South African friend and his two children (then teens) at the hands of the Taliban in their house in Kabul. The boy was in that very same nursery school class where I dropped our son off that still-innocent September morning…

© 2021 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, and now mechanic-in-the-making, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads – A First of its Kind

Available at https://amzn.to/3lwaUPh

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads is a first writing prompts book completely dedicated to creative writing prompts about cars.

It is ideal for:
• Motoring journalists to boost thinking-out-of-the-box creativity and to get new ideas for articles.
• Teachers to add some fun to writing exercises in the classroom.
• Writers of any genre who use prompts for relaxation or for challenging creative abilities.
• Anyone who wants to boost their creativity.
• Gifts for car lovers.
The book includes information on free writing and on how to use writing prompts. 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads is available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon Kindle Books. Rev up your creativity with anything from memory-inspired nostalgic prompts to outlandishly silly ones. Search on Amazon Kindle Books by the title or use the link https://amzn.to/3lwaUPh to purchase a copy for yourself or a petrolhead in your life.

About the Authors:
Fielies De Kock and Michael De Kock is a mother-and-son team who collaborated for the first time on this book. Both are bloggers. Michael is a passionate car buff. Fielies likes blue ones.

First-of-its-kind Creative Writing Prompts Niche Book for Car Lovers

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads, is a first writing prompts book completely dedicated to creative writing prompts about cars.

It is ideal for:

  • Motoring journalists to boost thinking-out-of-the-box creativity and to get new ideas for articles.
  • Teachers to add some fun to writing exercises in the classroom.
  • Writers of any genre who use prompts for relaxation or for challenging creative abilities.
  • Anyone who wants to boost their creativity.
  • Gifts for car lovers.

The book includes information on free writing and on how to use writing prompts. 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads is available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon Kindle Books.

Rev up your creativity with anything from memory-inspired nostalgic prompts to outlandishly silly ones.

Search on Amazon Kindle Books by the title or use the link https://amzn.to/3lwaUPh to purchase a copy for yourself or a petrolhead in your life.

About the Authors

Fielies De Kock and Michael De Kock is a mother-and-son team who collaborated for the first time on this book. Both are bloggers. Michael is a passionate car buff. Fielies likes blue ones.

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads now Available on Amazon Kindle

Purchace your copy at https://amzn.to/3lwaUPh

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads, my latest eBook, and the first collaboration with my son, is now available on Amazon Kindle Books. (Available in paperback and as an ebook.)

It will provide you, or a petrolhead in your life, with hours of fun.

Search on Amazon Kindle by title or use the link 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads, my latest book, and the first collaboration with my son, is now available on Amazon Kindle Books.

It will provide you, or a petrolhead in your life, with hours of fun. (Available in paperback and ebook.)

Search on Amazon Kindle by the title or use the link https://amzn.to/3lwaUPh to purchase your copy.

My New eBook is Available!

My latest eBook – now available on Amazon Kindle eBooks

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads, my latest eBook, and the first collaboration with my son (michaeldekock.com), is now available on Amazon Kindle Books.

It will provide you, or a petrolhead in your life, with hours of fun.  (Also available in paperback.)

Search on Amazon Kindle by title or use the link https://www.amazon.com/s?k=125+creative+writing+prompts+for+petrolheads&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss to purchase your copy.

125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads is a book (the first of a niche-inspired series) for the word lover who is also car crazy. Accelerate your writing with some out-of-the (gear)box scribbling – if you are just writing for fun or if you are an experienced ‘old’ hand, thinking that you have already written it all.

Get your creativity revved up with anything from memory-inspired nostalgic prompts to outlandishly silly ones. Whether it is for yourself or a gift to your dad, petrolhead girlfriend or bro, it will put some vroom in your writing life.

Winter is Whale Time in Hermanus!

Hermanus is in the privileged position to not only be a great summer destination, but also have more than enough to lure holidaymakers to its shores during wintertime. The reason? The annual return of the Southern Right Whales, of course!

With 2020 and 2019 not being the best whale seasons with regard to the number of whales returning, we hope that the three-year cycle will not disappoint and that there will be more to see this year. If the local Bryde’s Whales’ generous presence during the last few months in the bay is something to go by, we might just be in luck this year.

Hermanus is one of the twelve best whale watching destinations in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Walker Bay (the bay area between Hermanus and Gansbaai) is famous for being the breeding grounds for the Southern Right Whales, travelling all the way from their feeding grounds around Antarctica. The whales normally arrive from the end of May and entertain locals and holidaymakers until the middle of October.

When to Come

The best time to see whale moms and calves frolicking in the bay, is from end of June to September. The climax of the season was normally the Whale Festival on the last weekend of September, but unfortunately, the festival is postponed until 2022. Fortunately though, Hermanus and surrounding areas have more than enough other charms, such as wineries, fantastic restaurants with delicious food, adventure sports, lots of walking opportunities etc. for a memorable holiday.

How and Where to Watch the Whales

Hermanus has whale watching boats which take visitors to experience the whales up close and personal. Book in advance (online or at the offices in the new harbour) and keep in mind that all boat trips are weather permitting.

For visitors on a tighter budget or for those preferring not going on boats, the good news is that the whales are visible from the promenade – with Gearing’s Point, the Old Harbour (in the CBD-area) and further alongside the coast, with Die Gang and Siever’s Punt, popular places to watch from. Hermanus’ own whale crier could be found on busy days, blowing on his kelp horn in town when a whale is observed.

What to pack when visiting Hermanus to do Whale Watching

From May to August we can have anything from wonderful sunny beach days to days when the wind tries to blow one away to heavy stormy weather! Although spring starts showing its warmth in the rest of South Africa from August, Hermanus can see some of the coldest days during September and October, with rainy and windy days sandwiched in between beautiful wind-still days. So, when packing, keep the following in mind:

  • Bring a raincoat/jacket and an umbrella.
  • Pack a wind breaking jacket and warm clothes for cold weather and layer when getting clothed in the morning.
  • With the cool sea breeze almost a constant, carry a jacket, scarf and beanie when going out.
  • Bringing good binoculars will ensure a great viewing experience.
  • Although cell phone cameras are incredibly good these days, bring a DSLR or small camera if you have one. If going on a boat, you might be able to take close-up photos of whales, but from the shore you will need a camera with a good zoom ability.
  • Good walking shoes is a must for going ‘whale hunting’ from spot to spot in the village to get good pictures.

Planning your Stay

Most places of accommodation have Covid specials which might surprise you, so even if your budget is tight, don’t shy away of staying long enough. A weekend in Hermanus is a nice break away, but to enjoy more of the village and the surrounding areas, you need at least four days. A week would be better!

Other related links:

About whales:

Security tips:

More things to do in and around Hermanus:

© 2021 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hermanus-Unlimited-118490463355941

Instagram: @hermanus_unlimited

Email: hermanusunlimited@gmail.com

Partnering with House Watchers Hermanus

Why Your Family Needs a Break in Hermanus this School Holiday!

2021 had just gone on where 2020 left off, with the year beginning with a stricter level of lockdown, forcing schools to start later – meaning that the holiday didn’t coincide with Easter weekend this year. Every dark cloud has a silver lining though. In this case it means not two in one, but two separate holidays to provide that little bit of relief from all the stress the pandemic had brought upon us all. It also means that we have time to relax and get away from working at home. For local businesses it means that the seasonal window for business is open a bit wider for longer.

With travelling abroad not an easy option right now, towns like Hermanus are reaping advantages as South Africans opt for local holidays. It was really wonderful to experience a bit more vibrancy to our coastal villages during the twee long weekends recently, with people flocking back slowly to come and relax in this most pleasant of seasons in the Overberg. Flowers are blooming, days are sunny and lazing on the beach or walking the cliff path are a wonderful activities for both individuals and family.

Here and there we will have a bit of wind and rain of course, but hey, that is what our magnificent restaurants and coffee shops are for! For all the latest events going on, Google ‘hermanus restaurants’ and then visit their Facebook and Instagram pages. The Burgundy Restaurant, for instance has regular Friday night live music evenings with well-known performers and Dal Italia Deli and Romantiques combine to entertain small groups of 20 on dining and a movie. Follow the restaurants on social media to see what is on while you are visiting.

Why Hermanus?

  • Hermanus is a convenient one and a half hour-drive from Cape Town which provides an easy daytrip opportunity for someone on a limited budget. Be warned though – a day in the village will not even cover the basics, while a visit of four days or so will give one at least an idea of what the town has to offer.
  • Make sure to include a Saturday in your trip planning to visit one or more of the markets in the area. Also keep the art walk on the first Friday of every month in mind (only between September and April). There is now also an art market every first Sunday where the Saturday market is held.
  • Start your visit in Hermanus with a trip up the Rotary Way to the top of the mountain to enjoy the view of the whole of Walker Bay.
  • The town offers quite a few walking options. There are various routes into the mountain from the Fernkloof Nature Reserve as well as a cliff path walk along Hermanus’ 7.5km coastline from the new harbour to Grotto Beach (or the other way around). One of the local taxi services can be used for transport to the beginning and from the end point. You can also walk shorter distances on the cliff path from anywhere you stay in town.
  • For nature lovers there are plenty to see. The area is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom with plenty unique fynbos species to be observed.
  • Unfortunately our weekly Parkruns (on Saturday mornings at the venue on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road) is still not being held due to Covid-regulations.
  • Other physical activities (weather permitting) to explore in the area are surfing, mountain biking, fat biking on the beaches, scuba diving, kite surfing, sandboarding, sea fishing etc.
  • Although ‘whale season’ is mostly during the months of August through to early November when the Southern Right Whales visit the bay, our local residential whales, the Bryde’s whales are currently entertaining residents on a daily basis. Colonies of seals, pods of dolphins and even waddles of penguin are seen regularly, along with schools of fish and always lots of different species of birds.
  • On wind-quiet, sunny days, kayaking is a wonderful way to get exercise as well as do some on-water sightseeing between the two harbours.
  • The town has no shortage of beaches with the main beach, Grotto, being the largest. On windy days, the estuary is a favourite playground for kite surfers. Alongside the cliff path lies Voëlklip (famous for surfing), Langbaai, which is small and intimate; and Kammabaai – a favourite for parents with small children and also suitable for surfing. Mosselrivier and Kwaaiwater beaches are also well-liked, with Kwaaiwater’s beach being a popular picnic area to lazy away summer evenings when the sun only sets after eight o’clock.
  • Hermanus’ restaurants are world-class and the road alongside the marine is lined with many options offering delicious food and the most beautiful views.
  • For art lovers there are 20 art galleries to visit around town as well as outdoor sculptures to adore as part of the annual FynArts Festival (in June). If you are here on the first Friday of a month, make sure not to miss the art walk, where you can stroll from gallery to gallery in town between 17:00 and 20:00.
  • The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is Hermanus’ contribution to South Africa’s wine industry and offer fourteen wineries to visit for wine tasting and other activities. Tours are available from the Market Square to ensure that tourists do not drive under the influence.
  • Hermanus is a favourite extreme sports destination, featuring a leg of the Cape Epic. Other activities include hang gliding, zip lining etc. (on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road).
  • Other places to visit are the old and new harbours, the many sites alongside the cliff path from where one can appreciate the view from a wooden bench on the rocks, Hoy’s koppie in the middle of the town and the surrounding suburbs of Onrus, Sandbaai and Vermont. Stanford (and De Kelders are also close by which provides more entertainment opportunities such as river cruising, fishing and much more.
  • Hermanus is a photographer’s paradise, so bring your camera and tripod or test your cell phone’s picture taking abilities. You will not be disappointed!

Unfortunately, not even beautiful Hermanus is excluded from crime, so always be alert, especially when walking. Preferably, always walk in pairs at least. For safety tips as well as emergency numbers, click this link: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/

(To avoid unbalance advertising regarding businesses. Just search (‘kayaking in Hermanus’ or ‘restaurants in Hermanus’) to find what you want.

So – don’t bother Googling for your next break away. Come and see why we are raving about our beautiful village.

Hermanus is ready for you!

© 2021  Fielies De Kock ž HERMANUS UNLIMITED ž

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

Read more full articles at www.fieliesdekock.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hermanus-Unlimited-118490463355941

Instagram: @HERMANUS_UNLIMITED

Email: hermanusunlimited@gmail.com

Partnering with House Watchers Hermanus: https://www.facebook.com/housewatchershermanus

The Cat is out of the Hat – History is Repeating Itself

I normally write blog entries about things that I love and find interesting and almost never rant here. I have decided today though, to speak a bit of my mind, because I am worried about where ‘we’ are going with freedom in this world of ours.

By now every reader had probably heard about certain Dr Seuss books being withdrawn from the market. You can find out about it here: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-56250658

I don’t know why we always have to be seen left or right when we raise an opinion. What happened to be decent, having common sense, choosing the midway? Sometimes things are not just black or white, but actually grey or yellow or purple or blue or orange with green dots. This is after all something liberal thinkers fought for throughout the centuries! Many even died for it!

(Maybe it is because we are mostly exposed to/dependant on American commentary and entertainment and they – the biggest democracy in the world – has only two political choices available – either Democrat or Republican! You guessed it – left or right. The in-between parties are for all practical purposes non-existent. And maybe this – their political choice – had spiralled downwards into every other inch of society. But, that’s just my [in-between] opinion.)

I look at events these days and think that modern liberal thinkers had lost the plot, because one see more and more Nazi-like censorship from liberal (!) sources everywhere. It makes me sad, and frankly, quite scared. Like the SS did in the 1930s, we are being told what to believe, what to discard, what is right, what is wrong etc. and this is all done under the flag of political (and social) correctness. And by doing so, they kill those fighters for freedom of speech all over again!

What happened to common sense? What happened to reading literature in context and then have discussions over it instead of just banning authors. Isn’t that one of the reasons why we read? How will our children learn to think critically if they don’t have access to read (even politically incorrect) literature and ask questions about it? Do ‘we’ want little obedient, non-thinking, political-correct robot people? It seems more and more that it is coming to this.

Are ‘we’ back to burning books again? Yes, ‘we’ are. ‘We’ have just burned Dr Seuss books.

History is repeating itself.

This Dr Seuss-like story is a reply to the sad affair by author Laura Ainsworth: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8N6RiNuMAX8. Quite sharp I thought.

(WARNING: This is not socially or politically correct reading.)

Load Shedding Memories

We all loath load shedding. Of course. But secretly I enjoy it when it is scheduled late in the evenings. We have a few useful lights we use, but in our bathroom we light candles, which transform the room into a place that takes me way back into time. With every flickering of a candle and in every dancing shadow, I am transported back to a simple and innocent time before there was Eskom power on farms.

Way back, every evening offered a candle lit dinner and weekend nights were filled with all the people I loved back then, around a table – either in our kitchen or in a kitchen of my parents’ friends. Those were happy, happy days.

There were no phones intruding in a dinner conversation and no social media to capture an aunt’s embarrassment if she had one glass too many. Children sat with adults around the table, listening to adult conversation, but were mostly only heard when laughing at a joke or an anecdote.

I’m not naïve enough to say “those were the good old days”, because there are many better things available to us nowadays and many bad things were going on in those days, but our parents knew how to live good lives above their circumstances.

Those nights by the candle light were wonderful and memorable and every flickering of every candle I light, will always remind me of those moments and of the people whose faces the shadows gently caressed around those tables – most of which are now gone.

So now load shedding gives us the opportunity to light candles to make new (non-virtual/digital/electronic) memories with our families. I’m almost sure that our children would one day look back and not talk about 2020/21 as ‘simple’ or ‘innocent’ times, but with a bit of living-in-the-moment-on-purpose and less absent-minded time spent on our phones, we just might create memorable nights for our children and grandchildren to remember one day.

#loadsheddingmemories

© 2021 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂

5 Free Definitely have-to-do’s in Hermanus

Walk the Cliff Path

Walk the cliff path from Grotto Beach to the new harbour (or vice versa). Pack a day pack and stop to have something to eat along the way. The walk can take anything from four to six hours, depending on your pace, how many times you stop, etc. Don’t be in a hurry. Take a swim along the way and stop to smell the fynbos. Reward yourself with a liquid refreshment at Dutchies Restaurant at the end at Grotto beach. This is a nice family activity. There are very few steps along the way, so it is possible to do with a child in a stroller if there are a pair of hands on deck to help carry it up and down. Find out more about the cliff path here: https://www.fernkloof.org.za/index.php/fernkloof-nature-reserve/hermanus-cliff-path.

Walking in Fernkloof

There are three dams in Fernkloof. The first is easy enough to reach for healthy persons. There are steps with uphills and downhills involved, but nothing serious. It is an activity that can be done with young children. Small children must be always accompanied by a parent. This route is not stroller friendly, so keep that in mind. To reach the second and third dams is much more difficult and is definitely not suitable for children younger than 12. You also need to know the route to these two dams, because the footpath is not always visible everywhere. Rather go in groups than alone for your safety.

Fernkloof also offers hiking and cycling trails which start from the entrance at the foot of the mountain. Find out more here: https://www.fernkloof.org.za/.

Walking on Grotto Beach

The beach from Grotto Beach stretches for kilo’s along Walker Bay and one can walk all the way to De Kelders (about 20km) and even further. With a day pack on the back, good shoes and food and water, this is a great walk if you want to have a hike along the ocean. If you do not want to go that far, do shorter walks (like an hour out and an hour back). Take a dip in the sea when it gets too hot. It is also safer to go in a group.

Cycling on the beach is another alternative if you want a bit more adventure and have your own fat bike. (Bikes are for hire, but this is a free activities article.)

Watch the Sunset on the Mountain Top

Sunsets are just fabulous from the viewing points on the mountain. When driving out of town towards Cape Town, turn right on the Rotary Way (https://www.hermanus.co.za/rotary-way) and follow the road to the viewing point. Have a nice non-alcoholic sundowner up there while watching the sun vanish behind the water horizon. (Again, go in a small group or as family. Keep car doors shut and no valuables openly visible in your vehicle.)

Picnicking on the Beach

With the long never-ending summer days, a picnic on the beach is a wonderful end to a magnificent day in the sun. Take along a picnic basket, an umbrella if needed, a picnic blanket and welcome the evening while watching the sun set with the people you love.

!Remember!

  • Wear sunblock
  • Be alert towards you and your family’s safety. If possible, do these activities in groups or as a whole family.
  • Respect all animals on your adventures and do not feed them.
  • Put emergency numbers in your cell phone contact list. Click here to find the list of numbers: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/.
  • Please leave only your shoe or wheel prints behind. For everything else, use the bins provided.

For more safety tips, click here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/

For more to do in and around Hermanus, read here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

Enjoy your stay!

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.