5 Reasons why you Absolutely should Visit Hermanus

  1. It is nestled in the heart of the Overberg region

The Overberg region includes Hermanus, Gansbaai, Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay, Stanford, Greyton and many more picturesque towns which can be visited during short day trips while on holiday in Hermanus. Visit SA Places at https://www.places.co.za/html/towns_in_the_overberg.html to read more about these beauties waiting for you to visit.

2              Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Wines

Hermanus has got its own wine route in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (translation: Heaven and Earth Valley). Click here to plan your wineries visits – https://www.decanter.com/wine-travel/south-africa/hemel-en-aarde-wineries-to-visit-378182/ or make use of the wine hopper from Market Square in Hermanus. Learn more here: https://www.hermanuswinehoppers.co.za/. This is a fun and safe way to visit farms without having to drive. It is ideal for families and small groups.

3              The Fynbos

Fynbos is the generic name for a great variety of fine-leafed plants, with more than 9 000 of the 30 000 species being indigenous and unique only to the Western Cape region of South Africa. Fynbos doesn’t grow naturally anywhere else in the world. Learn more about fynbos here: http://www.percytours.com/fynbos-plants-cape-floral-kingdom.html#.X75UaGgzbDc. A long or short hike in Fernkloof and on the cliff path in Hermanus showcases thousands of species. The Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay (https://www.sanbi.org/gardens/harold-porter/) is just a stone’s throw away and offers a great morning or afternoon outing for the whole family.  

4              Everything the Village has to Offer

Hermanus has some of the best restaurants in South Africa (and we locals believe in the world). The promenade is lined with restaurants with magnificent ocean views, but there are jewels to be found in the heart of the village, offering fantastic food. Walk around to find them or look them up on the Internet. In the December holiday period, booking is essential.

Hiking on the cliff path, in the mountain in Fernkloof, cycling, kayaking and canoeing on good weather days are just a few outdoors things to do. Hermanus Sportsclub (http://www.hermanussport.co.za/) offers tennis and squash and has a restaurant too.

Hermanus has 20 art galleries and a display of outdoor art at Gearing’s Point as part of FynArts Hermanus (https://www.hermanusfynarts.co.za/).

5              The Beaches

Grotto Beach is Hermanus’ Blue Flag pride with loads of space to swim, surf, sit in the sun or having long walks. The estuary mouth is currently open, which offers canoeing, kitesurfing and swimming opportunities.

Voëlklip, Kammabaai (ideal for families with small children) and Langbaai are more intimate beaches and ideal to enjoy a sunset picnic.

Neighbouring beaches include Onrus, Sandbaai and Hawston.

And there you have it – just a few reasons why Hermanus is such an irresistible place to keep coming back to. Again and again. And again. And again. And…

Read here for more about Hermanus and things to do: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

PHOTOS: Fielies de Kock

© 2020 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.

Hermanus’ Celebrities of the Sea

Hermanus is one of the twelve best whale watching destinations in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund (although we believe it is the Whale Capital of the World). This makes the village a favourite holiday destination for both local and overseas visitors. As the whale migration season is coming to an end, tourism in Hermanus is just starting to pick up again during the current level of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and with the borders slowly opening, tourists from abroad will hopefully soon start streaming to our shores again.

Walker Bay is famous for being the breeding grounds for the Southern Right Whales, travelling all the way from their feeding grounds around Antarctica. According to marine environmentalist, Noel Ashton, the South African coastline provides an ideal playground for over half of the world’s species of whales and dolphins due to the two oceanic system supporting so many different life forms.

Although it was believed that the whales feed in the Northern hemisphere waters and only come here for birthing and (a process called feast and famine), in recent years Humpback whales had been seen feeding off Cape Columbine, near Paternoster in early summer, where food is in abundance. Read about and look at amazing aerial pictures of the 2019 migration of humpbacks at https://www.sapeople.com/2019/11/30/unbelievable-sighting-of-hundreds-of-whales-off-south-african-coast-photos-by-jean-tresfon/.

Species of Whales Visiting Walker Bay

Other than the Southern Right Whale, Humpbacks and Bryde’s Whales are also found visiting Walker Bay. The bay has a few residential whales which are seen infrequently right through the year.

Hermanus’ Whale Season

The best time to come to Hermanus to see whales is between June and November, with September being the ideal time. The annual Whale Festival is normally held on the last weekend of September. Other related festivals around the time is the Kalfiefees (translation: calve’s feast) in Onrus and the Flower Show (normally the weekend before the Whale Festival).

How to Watch our Celebs

Hermanus has whale watching boats which take visitors to experience the whales up close and personal. For visitors on a tighter budget or for those preferring not going on boats, the good news is that they are visible from the promenade, with Gearing’s Point, the Old Harbour (in the CBD-area) and Siever’s Punt, popular places to watch from. Hermanus’ own whale crier could be found on busy days, blowing on his kelp horn when a whale is observed.

What to pack when visiting Hermanus to do Whale Watching

Although springs shows its warmth in the rest of South Africa, 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, if you plan to visit, please remember to:

  • Make sure to pack some warm clothes for cold weather and layer when getting clothed in the morning.
  • With the cool sea breeze almost a constant, carry a jacket and beanie when going out.
  • Bringing good binoculars will ensure a great viewing experience.
  • Although cell phone cameras are incredibly good these days, bring your DSLR or a good smaller camera. If going on a boat, you will be able to take close by 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 to get good pictures.

Interesting Whale Facts

  • The Southern Right is one of three species classified as ‘baleen’ whale. They are black with brownish bonnets, with parasite crustaceans attaching themselves to the whale’s body.
  • Whales normally give birth to only one calf, although they may carry up to seven foetuses.
  • The gestation period is about 12 months.
  • Calves are born between June and September in the bay, making a visit to Hermanus and surroundings during this time quite rewarding.
  • Mother and calf stay close together in Walker Bay until the calves are strong enough to make the journey back to the North.
  • Calves are nursed for about six months.
  • They usually return to the same place to give birth, although there are exceptions.
  • Instead of teeth, they have hornlike plates consisting of bone.
  • It is believed that whales have a three-year cycle of pregnancy, providing them with enough time between calving to feed and recuperate sufficiently.
  • According to the University of Pretoria Mammal Research Institute’s Whale Unit, there were between 70 000 and 80 000 whales in the 1700’s. From then on, their numbers declined so much that they were put under international protection. It is estimated that there are around 12 000 Southern Rights now, of a third of which roam through South African waters annually.

Reading through books about Hermanus, many a story is penned about people’s experiences with whales – mostly death-defying recordings of men in fishing boats, big and small. Hermanus’ most famous dame though didn’t endanger anyone’s life as far as I have read, but she chose her favourite spot in Walker Bay and kept coming back here. Wendy, as she was called by locals, loved a spot near a cove close to town nearby Hermanus Pieters’ fountain. The cottage standing there on the rocks by itself was thus fittingly called Wendy’s Cottage. It is still standing, being awarded heritage status. Wendy stopped coming there in the early 1940’s and another whale came to inhabit her spot. Of course, she was named after her popular predecessor. Maybe she was even Wendy’s offspring…

Other Residents to Lookout for when the Whales are Shy During your Whale Watching Holiday

If you miss the superstars during ‘whale season’ or if you are here at the right time but they seem to be shy and don’t show themselves, keep an eye out for other stars on our marine stage.

  • Dolphins are frequently passing through the bay swimming and diving, with their shimmering bodies and bold moves making it look as if they are flying in and out of the water. They are sometimes accompanying penguins.
  • Close to Hermanus are two sanctuaries for African penguins – at Kleinbaai, (near Gansbaai towards L’Agullas), and the other at Betty’s Bay (to the other side towards Cape Town). A visit to these sanctuaries is a great family activity and a wonderful daytrip to also explore other sights in those areas.
  • In the absence of the whales, the cute dassies (rock hyrax) entertain locals and tourists with their laziness on the one hand, and their swiftness and craftiness when it comes to acquiring food throughout the year.
  • Cape Fur Seal colonies are also to be found in Walker Bay and on a walk of the cliff paths they can be seen hunting and playing in the water near to the rocks. The New Harbour, Gearing’s Point and Kwaaiwater are places to be on the lookout for these wonderful creatures.
  • Sharks are protected in the area and shark cage diving is an option for the ‘dare-devil’ visitor. Kleinbaai, near Gansbaai, is the basis of cage diving in the area.
  • Birdlife is of course aplenty in the Overberg area. Use your whale watching binoculars to spot the many species found along the coast and keep the camera ready to capture spectacular pictures of seagulls and other birds in flight.

To find more things to do in Hermanus, read my previous blog entry at https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

Sources to check out for much more interesting facts and lots more information about whales:

Book: Hermanus Whales, Wines, Fynbos, Art – by Beth Hunt (and photographs by Johann and Kobus Kruger)

Book: Whale Capital Chronicles 1, S. J. Du Toit

Read about Hermanus’ history on Robin Lee’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002247851042

Other links:

http:www.old-harbour-museum.co.za

http://www.whaletrail.co.za/southern-right-whale.html

https://xplorio.com/xplorio-headquarters/en/blog/41717/the-southern-right-whales-journey-to-walker-bay/

© 2020 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.

Read full articles at http://www.fieliesdekock.com

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

Instagram: @HERMANUS_UNLIMITED

Email: hermanusunlimited@gmail.com

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Hermanus is Awaiting your Visit

Hermanus is a picturesque village in the Western Cape, South Africa, nestled between the fynbos-dressed Overberg Mountains and the cold Atlantic Ocean. Although Hermanus is a smallish town, it has a big town feeling with a wonderful vibe and lots of events taking place.

As everywhere else, the restrictions during the Covid-19 lockdown had also left its dirty prints on the town and business owners are doing what they can to up the area’s economy and provide employment for residents and travel opportunities for tourists again.

Although the annual Flower Festival (second last weekend in September) and the Whale Festival (last weekend in September) was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, other activities are slowly starting to happen again. The monthly First Fridays Art Walk (September to April) commenced in September and although it was a bit of a subdued affair – probably due to the fact that no wine and snacks were served – it was a necessary step in normalising village life in Hermanus again.

Hermanus is a convenient one and a half hour-drive from Cape Town which provides an easy daytrip opportunity for someone on a limited time 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.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when planning your visit to our beautiful little village:

  • Book in advance to ensure your stay at one of the many guest houses or hotels.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Weekly Parkruns can be attended on Saturday mornings at the venue on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road (after lockdown).
  • Other physical activities to explore in the area are surfing, mountain biking, fat biking on the beaches, scuba diving, kite surfing, sandboarding, sea fishing  etc.
  • During the months of August through to early November travellers flock to Hermanus to see Southern Right Whales frolicking in the bay with their new-born calves. They can be watched from the shore or from one of the whale watching boats if weather permits. You can read more about this in my next blog entry at https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/16/hermanus-whale-watching/
  • 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).
  • 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.

(To avoid unbalance advertising regarding businesses, I don’t include links to activities businesses in this article. I plan to showcase individual activities in the future, so watch this space. For now, you can just search (for instance, ‘kayaking in Hermanus’ or ‘restaurants in Hermanus’) to find what you want.

So – don’t even bother wondering about where to go to for your next break away. Come and see why we are raving about our beautiful village. Hermanus is awaiting your visit.

© 2020  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.

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Home of HERMANUS UNLIMITED Travel Blog

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.

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We’re all Riding in this Corona Bus Together

 

We have become used to disasters wreaking havoc somewhere in the world at any point in time lately, looking on from afar and praying and feeling sorry for the people it happens to. Not this time. A petit, unseeable-with- the-naked-eye virus had made its way into homes all around the globe.

I know everyone is jumping on the wagon with jokes and tips and advice and to be honest, I’m one of those people who gets bored very easily and I already Covid-19 fatigued a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, ignoring this one isn’t a luxury we don’t have. We are all forced to deal with it.

Two thirds of the world live under restrictions already. Many countries are in lockdown mode. Tonight at 00:00 South Africa will go into lockdown too. Our little family leads quite an active lifestyle now and I will miss our walks on the cliff path alongside the sea very, very much. No running, cycling or walking dogs will be allowed during this time. We may only leave the house to get medical help and buy food, but then it is restricted to one person per family at a time as far as possible. My mind struggles to comprehend the situation, because it is unprecedented. To think we can not go out is… well, unthinkable!

We used the last opportunity today to go out to the beach where others were sitting in their cars or taking last strolls along the cliff path with their four-legged friends. (Don’t worry, it is a small town, so the social distancing was well implemented!) Restaurants in our town are closed already. Apart from the petrol stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and medical institutions everything else will not open tomorrow morning.

This is not just a bus passing by. We are already on it and we will stay on it and only get off when it is time to get off. So, we should do it together and make the best of it by helping where we can and praying for the vulnerable, the needy and for the economy. And who knows how many good things can come from it also! We already see the positive influence that people staying home has on pollution in places like China and Venice. And how people are singing together on balconies in Italy. And how people reach out and help each other everywhere else. Maybe this little scary thing will teach us to be human again.

If you aren’t working for an essential service such as medical assistance, policing, crime prevention and food transportation or working in a supermarket, a petrol station or keeping us informed on radio and TV or doing something else that is important and needed, you WILL be stuck at home for the next twenty one plus days.

So, consider using the time you have productively to rest and do the things that you never have time for or start working on that dream you have, but don’t chase.

To all our heroes who have to go out every day to work to keep us all safe, happy and sound, we salute you and we pray for your health and safety.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make His face shine upon you,

and be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,

and give you peace.”

(Numbers 6:24-26- NKJV)

Stay healthy and safe. Until tomorrow, when I will have a few ideas for you on how to spend your time in such a manner that you get enough rest, but do things to keep you not only physically healthy – but most importantly – also mentally sound.

Enjoy your walk or run tonight. And sleep well knowing that “He has the whole world in His hand…”

Until tomorrow when I will have a few ideas for you on how to spend some time in a creative way during the lockdown here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/27/in-the-beginning-we-were-created-to-be-creative/.

 

© 2020 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. 🙂🙂🙂

What Happens Between “Enchanté” and “Auf Wiedersehen”

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A longish note to everyone we met during our almost four and a half years stay in Egypt.

 

When we Afrikaners meet someone for the first time, we like to greet them with the words “Bly te kenne”. These words literally translate to ‘may we keep knowing each other’.

At that point, the person you meet is just another stranger about whom you know nothing, except his or her name – if you manage to catch, pronounce and remember it! But as time goes by and you meet again and again you learn to pronounce their names correctly, meet their families – either in person or by hearing about them. You eventually learn about the person’s passions, talents, joys and heartbreaks. And then suddenly they are unfamiliar no more.

During our five summers in Cairo we met quite a few people, who by sharing similar experiences, challenges, difficulties and fun, had transformed from strangers into dear friends. Fortunately, living in an ever-changing international community for a while, there are plenty of opportunities to say “Bly te kenne” or “Nice to meet you” or “Enchanté”. Unfortunately during this temporary expat life, another phrase is being used way too often too, because coming and going is a given in this type of lifestyle.

Saying goodbye is never easy and when you have to do it that often, it really “sucks”, to quote our American friends. At first there are goodbyes to family and friends when you first leave to go live in a foreign country in a foreign culture between foreign people. And then there are all the in-between goodbyes when you go home on holiday and return – just to leave your loved ones behind again. And again.  And again. And again…

But then, all of a sudden the day arrives when you have to say goodbye to the foreigners – the strangers whom you met at a reception or a coffee morning or a welcoming party or in the street or at work, and who, in a short period of time, became friends. People who made your stay in a foreign place less foreign. Who helped turn uncomfortable into comfortable. Whose unknown faces had become so familiar and loved that you can’t imagine saying goodbye to them to probably never see them ever again! And that thought is just unthinkable!

So, for that purpose we have another wonderful phrase in Afrikaans and in some other languages with which we try to ease the pain of saying goodbye. We say “Tot weersiens”, which means ‘until we see each other’ – much like the Hebrew l’hitra’ot or the French a bientôt or the German ‘auf wiedesehen’.

If we say “Until we meet again”, we all know that – even if the goodbye part is inevitable for the now – we keep the hope afloat to meet again, because who knows? It just might happen! It already happened when we went on holiday to Greece and met up with old Cairo friends there and when some of our American friends visited us at home while on holiday! So, anything is possible!

Saying goodbye is too final. It means it’s over and done with. Finished. It shuts the door on hope. Goodbyes are no good. They are hope killers and killing hope is not good for one’s soul.

So, after this long account, I’ll come to the point. This note is not a hope killer. This is not our goodbye to you. This is just to say thanks to you for all the laughs and cries we shared. For the many, many, many glasses of wine we had together – and for lamenting together over all those almost-full glasses we lost to over-eager Egyptian waiters! And for all the caipirinhas (“por favor” wink-wink) and all the times we danced to C’est La Vie at functions we were supposed to and at functions we were not supposed to!

Thank you for caring for Deon when Michael and I were not here and making him feel less alone in Cairo. Thank you for helping him when he was dean. And thank you for always asking about ‘our Michael’ and conversing with him and treating him as part of our community and giving him the experience of a lifetime! Thank you for every “How are you?” and every smile and every hug and every kiss and every “I will miss you” towards the end.

We will miss every one of you – those to whom we have already said goodbye to four, three and two years ago and last year and this year, and you who we leave behind now. Every one of you and your families had touched our hearts in one way or another. From now on when we hear English in a foreign accent it will be your voices and your accents we hear it and then we will miss you even more. We will miss your smiles. We will miss dancing with you. We will miss laughing will you. We will miss everything about you.

We wish that you and your families will be blessed in whatever you do wherever you go. Our family’s prayer for you comes from the Bible:

God bless you and guard you.

God make His face shine upon you and show favour to you.

God lift up His face upon you and give you peace.

 

We will always remember you, because between “Enchanté” and “Auf wiedersehen” we have made too many memories together to forget each other.

 

Until we meet again, our friends.

 

With love from Deon, Fielies & Michael De Kock

June 2018 – Cairo, Egypt

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Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 3

More Egypt Chronicles

GemmerGat
GemmerGat – Die kat kom weer!
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Cat#1 & Cat#2

And yet more cat stories.  Ja, wragtig!

So, I should probably give you an update on our cat family here in Cairo. The last time I wrote about them l was really sad about the ginger, Gemmergat, vanishing from our lives. Although we became used to him not being here, I kept wondering what had happened to him – especially after little Swartgat was hit by a car. Yep, we came back after travelling and was relieved and happy to see that the rest of the building fed the cats and that the cute little black cat survived. I was even starting to wonder what the procedure would be to take a cat back to South Africa. The very day after we arrived back, our son and I walked to the shops and was away for about an hour. When we came back, we saw the lifeless little body of ‘our’ black kitten lying in front of the church across the street from our home. He was hit by a car. So, that was the end of little SwartGat.

There was still no sign of ‘our’ ginger, so I was wondering if that was what had happened to GemmerGat too, but then I thought that Gemmergat was too smart a cat to be run over by a car. Did she die from injuries after a fight? Hm-hm, I thought, couldn’t be either, because although from the few fights l witnessed, I learned that that she didn’t like to fight, but she knew how to defend herself. So, I kept wondering.

In October or November last year, the serial mother of our neighbourhood, Camo, surprised us with yet another few bundles of joy. She always have three, it seems, but somehow only one or two make it upstairs to our garden. The other one stays downstairs in the underground parking garage or die or something. We still see one of her previous kittens – a beautiful light grey male – from time to time. He even visits our garden. This time the two kittens she brought upstairs for us to help feed, was a beautiful, strong black one – just like little SwartGat was – and another, much smaller ginger one. We didn’t even bothered with names anymore and they just became Cat#1 and Cat#2 .  We feed them and watch them grow and of course I take a lot of photos of them.

In December we went home to South Africa on holiday and when we came back, the most wonderful surprise awaited us, because in front of our door, as if she had never been away, GemmerGat was bathing in what Egypt has to offer as a winter sun! Never in my life would I had believed that I would be so ecstatic to see a stray cat!

Yep, it was just as in a well-known Afrikaans song’s words: Die kat kom weer (the Cat comes again)!

 

Read my previous cat chronicles here:

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 2 https://fieliesdekock.com/2017/04/30/egyptian-street-cat-chronicles-part-2/

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 1 https://fieliesdekock.com/2017/04/30/egyptian-street-cat-chronicles-part-1/

 

2018 ©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

 Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

What I’ve learned from my Own NaNoWriMo Alternative – NaFFWriMo

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Please NaNoWriMo, don’t sue me for the spin-off. It was just my way of not doing nothing writing wise for a month.

I have no time in November – not this past November or any other as in our yearly routine it might just be the busiest time. For that reason I don’t even think of signing up for NaNoWriMo yearly, because although I might write my daily dose of 1333 words on the first day an maybe the second and even a third, I know that I will be disappointed down the line, because it will end. But, I still wanted to dedicate at least a bit of time to regular writing during the month of November just to feel part of something bigger, so I decided on my own personal alternative – National Flash Fiction Writing Month or NaFFWriMo. I decided to write a short story every day of the month. I wasn’t a 100% successful, as the last few days I got busy and I stopped a few short. Nevertheless, I have 26 stories more than I had on 31 October, so I’m at least a bit satisfied by my effort.

The Rules of the Game

At first my thinking was to write 100-word stories, but the first one was shorter and I felt that if I forced it to be longer it would lose its effect, so although I managed a few precise 100-word stories after that, I decided earlier on that I was not going to put any restrictions on myself other than that all the stories would probably be under 500 words.

Statistics

  • I wrote 26 stories in 30 days. That makes my ‘pass rate’ 86,666%.
  • My longest story is 324 words long.
  • My shortest story is 6 words short.
  • I actually wrote two stories which was precisely 100 words before any editing, (which makes me wonder if you can train your brain to write an exact amount of words on a regular basis?).
  • 11 stories is/eventually will be 100-word stories after editing.
  • A whopping 73% (19/26) of the stories was inspired by everyday events – either something that happened around me or by news events or articles in the media.

A few things I’ve learned during my NaFFWriMo

  • It’s not that easy to come up with something new every day.
  • Lots of ideas for fiction comes from everyday life non-fiction, be it one’s own experiences or things happening in the news. So, we just have to be alert to find ideas. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction and we don’t even need to wish for a muse or to dream up the ideas ourselves. We live in a crazy world full of people doing weird, crazy, wonderful and terrible things. Use it to create your own fiction.
  • Restrictions inhibit creativity. That’s not really an earthmoving or new fact, I know. 100 words can be too much. 100 words can also be too little. Writing a 6-word story is better than writing no story at all.
  • Sometime less is really more. I wrote one particular story which wasn’t bad in 276 words, but it also works extremely effectively as 100-word one. I will keep both for future use. Don’t just discard the longer or shorter versions of your stories.
  • I had to discipline myself to come up with something every day. It was a good feeling to produce on demand, although it wasn’t always easy.
  • One idea is sometimes – most of the times – followed by another. So, if I had decided not to write anything on some days, I would not only have missed out on one story, but on two!
  • Ideas don’t keep ‘working hours’. Some ideas came at night, just before I went to sleep, so I made myself a WhatsApp writing group with both my phone and tablet and typed out the story or at least the idea quickly to store and work on later.
  • I was a little bit disappointed that I didn’t write 30 flash fiction stories in 30 days (or even more, because it sounds so easy, doesn’t it?), but our current lifestyle is hectic and I was still satisfied that I managed to get 26 stories down. At least I didn’t do nothing. 3430 words for the month isn’t close to a 50 000-word novel, but it is still more than I would have written if I just decided to let the month pass without any goals.

PS: And just for the record – I know that NaNoWriMo is an American invention, but I think the name should change to IntNoWriMo to include the rest of us. Just sayin’. J

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles Part 2

 

Egypt Chronicles 2/2017

It was quite something to experience our ginger building cat’s transformation from that shy, scared, in-survival-mode creature to an animal that would lovingly come and rub her back against your leg and even allow my husband to pick her up and hold her. It took a long time, but she learned to trust us and to feel save around us. The more we learned about her, we realised that she was a reluctant, but fierce fighter with a soft heart. We named her. Sort of. That’s even more dangerous than to start feeding them! We called her GemmerGat (in English literally Ginger Butt). She became happy and quite relaxed when she realised that she could rule our yard.

So, on a not-so-cold winter January day in Cairo, GemmerGat brought a camouflage coloured kitten (which we saw since that December in the flower pots in front of the building) into our yard to be fed. We weren’t very impressed, but we couldn’t refuse GemmerGat’s generosity to reach out to the little street cat and thought that maybe it was her way of ‘paying it forward’.

The kitten wasn’t very pretty and yet it was. We called her Camo. We soon realised that she doesn’t have the same likable personality as GemmerGat. In fact, i think that she’s a bit off mentally. She was only eight months old when our son, Michael, heard some faint crying sounds outside his window one afternoon and found Camo with three little ones! We were terrified! We didn’t want more cats in our yard!

Camo was a terrible mother! She slapped her babies through their little faces if they wanted to eat and bit them. We came to like her even less. We were away on a trip and when we came back the two kittens that were left (the third vanished earlier) were gone too. I am ashamed to say that we were relieved. So we kept feeding GemmerGat and Camo and kept chasing away the male cats. A few times we thought Camo looked pregnant again, but fortunately no more kittens appeared. Then one day, two months ago, Michael heard a noise outside again and there, from behind the big bag of charcoal, the two pairs of little blue eyes of Camo’s latest offspring peeked at us.

We weren’t happy with another addition to our yard, but as it goes with baby animals – they steal your heart. This time around though, Camo is a model mommy! Instead of slapping and biting her baby (she brought up only one to be fed), I was the one who got clapped when feeding her! Talk about haughtiness! (I don’t like that cat!) But she looks well after her baby, feeds him well and even shows affection. So, I have to commend her for that. She got so protective that she started scaring away GemmerGat – to our dismay! What a rotten attitude! GemmerGat brought her to our yard to be fed and she chased her away! I am so angry at her! And I’m even more disappointed in GemmerGat to let her do that without even fighting for her territory! We saw GemmerGat in the vicinity for a while, but then she disappeared. I’m still trying to come to terms with my feelings about that.

I can’t believe I miss an animal that doesn’t even belong to us! It’s just a building cat after all! I’ve even cried a bit over her. OK, I was actually crying over a situation friends of ours are having, and then I thought about GemmerGat and then I found that I had one more reason to cry and I let go! Now, I’m just really worried about her and quite sad too, that she just abandoned us like that.

Maybe she is still around and just eating elsewhere, because we are not the only ones feeding them. The bowabs (doormen), policemen and other tenants also put out food. But what worries me is that while we still saw her in front of the building before, we haven’t seen her for weeks now. And that worries me more than I am willing to admit.

In the meanwhile, we have grown quite fond of Camo’s black baby, SwartGat (literally Black Butt). He is lovable and playful and thinks our garden is his home.

I can’t believe I’m writing about cats! Again!

I can’t believe that I miss a bloody street cat!

Cats

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.