My Children’s Book, Yeovangya’s Quest, is now available on Amazon Kindle

Yeovangya’s Quest is now available in eBook and paperbook formats

My children’s book, Yeovangya’s Quest, is now available to purchase on Amazon Kindle Books in both eBook and paperback formats.

Yeovangya’s Quest is the true fairy tale of a princess past her ‘marriage age’ who doesn’t want to marry through arrangement, but only for true love – just like her parents did. She decides to determine the outcome of her future herself, by embarking on a journey looking for the love of her life. She concocts a plan with her father’s confidant, cuts her hair, dresses as a boy and sets off with her two closest companions – Blaffi, her brave and loyal dog, and Prr, the lazy, upstairs palace cat. Together they face many adventures and dangers, such as a dual with a man who can’t handle his beer, almost becoming lunch to a hungry lion, being attacked by three bad princes and even being shipwrecked.

Yeovangya finds more than what she looked for. She learns about her own weaknesses and about the consequences of selfishness. Above all, she learns to love in more ways than she expected to. She experiences abundant joy and the hurt of loss and having to let go – before she eventually learns to embrace what life offers.

Yeovangya’s Quest (a 10-chapter book) is good, clean reading, packed with adventure and action and even contains a few life lessons, and is perfect for young readers between the ages of 9 and 14.

Yeovangya’s Quest has enough action to keep boys’ attention captive and plentiful romance for girls of all ages.

(If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read the book for free. Kindle Unlimited is available at a monthly cost on Amazon and if subscribed, works pretty much like a library – except that the author gets paid for the amount of pages lenders read per book. This is just to tell you how it works and is not an advertisement. Unfortunately, otherwise I would have gotten paid for it. Smile.)

Purchase your copy of Yeovangya’s Quest here.

Yeovangya’s Quest is now also available in paperback.

Remember, when you purchase an eBook, it stays in your library where it can be read over and over again. So, all your children – over the span of their growing up years – can read it, just like with a book in the bookshelf of your family room.

©2021 Riëtte De Kock (Fielies De Kock)

Riëtte De Kock (Fielies De Kock) lives in a coastal village in the Overberg region, South Africa, with her husband and two dogs in an old heritage house and their freelance-writer son in the garden cottage. Fielies’ other books and eBooks are available here.

Opera in the Sea Breeze

We had ‘n few cold and rainy days, so instead of taking walks, we spend our time indoors in front of the fireplace. Yesterday we went for a late afternoon drive to buy more wood and on the way home I asked my husband spontaneously to drop me off just out of town to walk back home.

Although I believe in the Almighty God of the Bible and believe firmly that He is in control and will bring us through this time of epidemic, riots and so many other things life throws at us, I sometimes do get discouraged and a bit depressed. I’m human after all.

I love cold coastal afternoons, when the cool air touches my cheeks and makes me feel more alive. When I’m feeling a bit off, just a half hour walk by the sea makes me a new person again. But, as I was walking down the road – not having reached half an hour yet and still not feeling so renewed, I was thinking about friends having serious problems, issues in the family and just all the changes we had to make and have to live by because of the pandemic. I was wondering if we would ever have a bit of boring normality again and if there will ever be a time when I would become as excited as a child about the future again. (I’m not sure if this lack of excitement had come due to circumstances or because of age, but that’s a musing for another breezy afternoon.)

As I was thinking these thoughts, people passed me in cars and on bicycles and on foot – all enjoying the nippy, fresh air which the wind breathed in from the snowy mountains not too far away. I heard some music over the sound of a nearing car and thought it was coming from a nearby house or one of the boutique hotels. But alas, towards me walked an elderly man with his two leashed dogs and when we got close enough to each other, I heard opera music coming from the cell phone in his pocket.

I walked home smiling, way lighter in spirit and I just realised again, that it is the small things in life which causes happiness and which makes pandemics and problems bearable. The God of the Bible does burning-bush miracles, but sometimes He just sings opera in the cool sea breeze.

© 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. 🙂

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 November. 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

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 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/

Make sure not to let down your guard while on holiday, so also read my blog entry on how to stay safe in Hermanus at https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/.

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

Partnering with House Watchers Hermanus

Hermanus is Awaiting your Visit

Hermanus is a picturesque village in the Western Cape, South Africa, nestled in Walker Bay, 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 and and also one of the more than twenty art galleries in the area. Also keep the art walk on the first Friday of every month.
  • 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 to enjoy the beautiful fynbos.
  • 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, kayaking, 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.
  • 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, sometimes 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. Gansbaai, 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. Read here how to stay safe in Hermanus during your holiday (and also to get a list of emergency numbers).

To avoid unbalance advertising regarding businesses, I don’t include links to businesses in this article. You can just search 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

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 www.fieliesdekock.com

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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.

Read 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

Read our blogs:

Hermanus is Awaiting your Visit
Hermanus’ Celebrities of the Sea
5 Reasons why you Absolutely should Visit Hermanus
Your Guide to a Safe Hermanus Holiday
5 Free Definitely have-to-do’s in Hermanus
Why Your Family Needs a Break in Hermanus this School Holiday!
Winter is Whale Time in Hermanus!

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 Part 4- The Finale

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!

Read Part 3

Cats

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

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

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles Part 1

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GemmerGat (GingerButt)

Egypt Chronicles 1/2017

One phenomenon everyone living in or visiting Egypt are guaranteed to encounter is the presence of street animals, be it dogs, cats or other animals – like horses, donkeys and camels, which are used for work and/or entertainment.

Although the work animals are looked after by their owners, most of the time they look a bit different than the well-nourished farm animals one would be used to seeing in your native country. For various reasons I won’t elaborate much further on the subject of Egypt’s work animals.

One has to learn soon that you can’t rescue every street creature you come across. In fact, you have to learn to become a bit thick-skinned in your approach to these animals – something that is very difficult for an animal lover. And there are phases to this process.

In the beginning you feel terrible for the dogs running in packs, looking for food. You feel worse when you see that almost every female bears the ‘Baywatch’ look as our son calls it – with their milk giving ‘tools’ swinging around their undernourished bodies when they run through the streets looking for something to eat and drink. What makes it even worse, is when you stumble upon a thin, dirty litter of puppies or kittens stowed away somewhere where the mom though it to be safe.

The terribleness develop into a depression of sorts when it seems that all you see are stray animals looking for food and you realise that you can’t do enough to help.

Eventually you hear about angel people – some expats, some veterinarians – who try to at least sterilise some of the dogs and cats at own cost.

The next phase is when you walk in the street in the summer heat and you get that familiar smell in your nostrils and then see the decomposing evidence and you think: Ah, thankfully you don’t have to suffer anymore.

The next phase is the most dangerous one. On a hot day when all the different smells of human sweat hangs in the air, mixed with the smell of blood freshly washed off the pavement after a Ramadan slaughter, you find yourself standing in a little shop in Road 9, checking out the cheapest available cat food. Because by now, a very nice looking black-and-white had started following your neighbours’ son back from the gym, your friend down the street had picked up an almost dead kitten and nursed it back to life and when you get home from a function one night, a ginger living in your building had shyly followed you to your front door and after you have checked each other out a few times, you have fetched a bowl of milk one night and rapport had been established.

And after a few more weeks, the once scared, shy, in-survival-mode cat, greets you at the building door and show you to your front door as if it is the bowab (doorman) and cheekily sits and waits for her treat. And when you open the door a few nights later, she only slightly rubs against your leg before pushing past you, and runs perkily ahead, through the house to the other door. And before you know it, you fill an empty butter container with the cheap cat food from that little shop in Road 9. And when you go to the ‘plastic’shop’ the next time, the butter containers get replaced by plastic bowls. And almost without you realising it, you have become a street cat carer.

You shush the male cats away from your garden because they spray and it stinks and they fight with ‘your’ ginger. You know this because you hear the unearthly cries in the middle of the night and you see the ginger fluff rolling past your bedroom window in the slight breeze in the mornings. And you feel surprisingly relieved when you open the blinds and ‘your’ ginger sits there – battle scarred, but alive.

I never thought that I would become one of those crazy persons filling the Internet with writings about cats.

I’m a dog person, after all.

Read Part 2

Cats1

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

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

Ek bepeins dié week in Afrikaans

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Foto’s: OFM News

My Weeklikse Bepeinsing #12/2017

So, gister was die groot ‘It’s Time’ gebedsbyeenkoms in Bloemfontein en daar was ‘n mag der menigte Suid-Afrikaners wat gaan bid het vir verandering in Suid-Afrika. Hier is net drie Skrifte (van die baie) waaruit Vader ons uit die Bybel leer oor gebed.

…en (as) my volk, oor wie my Naam uitgeroep is, hulle verootmoedig en bid en my aangesig soek en hulle bekeer van hul verkeerde weë, dan sal Ék uit die hemel hoor en hulle sonde vergewe en hulle land genees. (2 Kronieke 7:14)

Waak dan en bid altyddeur, sodat julle waardig geag mag word om al hierdie dinge wat kom, te ontvlug en voor die Seun van die mens te staan. (Lukas 21:36)

…terwyl julle met alle gebed en smeking by elke geleentheid bid in die Gees, en juis daartoe waak met alle volharding en smeking vir al die heiliges… (Efesiërs 6:18)

***

So is ons land al vir baie lank al op die afdraende pad en toe hoor ‘n gewone, onvolmaakte  man (soos wat die Mosesse en Dawidde en Elias van die Bybel ook maar was) dat hy ‘n gebedsbyeenkoms moet hou waar mense van Suid-Afrika hulleself kan verootmoedig, Vader se wil vra en bid vir die omstandighede in die land. As ‘n mens die boonste Skrifte lees, sou jy dink dis heel  eenvoudig. Bid vir almal en oor alles en te alle tye is die basiese boodskap. Maar o, wee! Ons is mos (Suid-)Afrikaners en oornag was die land in rep en roer!

***

En so analiseer en kritiseer en oordeel dit te lekker vir ‘n klompie weke lank.  En dit gebeur toe gister:

Een groep gryp die geleentheid aan, ondersteun dit en gaan bid. Die wat nie Bloem toe kon of wou gaan nie, het op hulle eie gebid of byeenkomste gereël waar hulle saam met ander kon bid – selfs in die buiteland.

Sommiges het gewonder of hulle kerke darem vandag ook vol sou wees en ander het die inisiatief uitgekryt as “nie van Christus nie”, as ‘n “die mekka van satan” vanweë “die oorvloed vals profesieë” wat daar uitgespreek is en so meer. En die onvolmaakte man wat dit gereël het, was volgens baie onder andere “geldgierig”, “net agter getalle aan” en “die anti-chris”.

Dan was daar die natuurlike reaksie van die ateïs dat mense net gaan om goed te voel oor hulleself en dat niks gaan verander nie.

 ***

Ek reken in ons quick-fix wêreld sal baie die hele gebed-ding as ‘n flop sien as daar teen môre niks verander het nie. Ek wens ons kon almal saam met dieselfde energie saamstaan wat deur sommiges gebruik is om te kritiseer en verdeling te veroorsaak. Dink net! Maar ons is nog hierdie kant van perfektheid. En dis hoe dit is. As ons dit tog net kan onthou.

***

Gister se gebeure het my beide hoop gegee en hartseer gemaak, maar dis maar net nog ‘n teken dat ons in onvolmaaktheid leef. Deur Vader se genade is ek nie deur al dié dinge verwar nie, maar ek dink die optrede van baie Christene die afgelope tyd kon tot redelike verwarring by jong/nuwe gelowiges lei, wat ‘n jammerte is.

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Die Skrif uit Openbaring het weer gister telkens by my opgekom. Leef ons reeds in dié tyd?

Wie onreg doen, laat hom nog meer onreg doen; en wie vuil is, laat hom nog vuiler word; en laat die regverdige nog regverdiger word, en laat die heilige nog heiliger word. (Openbaring  22:11)

***

As jy ‘n gelowige is, besluit maar self volgens die Skrif oor gister se gebeure. Te veel ‘geloof’ word in ons dae op opinie gebou.

 

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

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

The Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan and Times Forever Gone

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My Weekly Musings #11/2017

As a lot of authors and would-be writers, I am fascinated by the writers from the past. I read up on them and read some of their works to try to learn from them. I have great respect for the way they wrote and how prolific they had been in a time before the technology we have today to make writing and publishing easier, was available. (Although I haven’t personally experienced this ‘easiness’ of getting published in the mainstream yet.)

I am a huge, huge, huge fan of Agatha Christie. She wrote wonderful stories that are still enticing today. I have read many of her books and watched more of her stories onscreen and just when I think that I’ve read or seen everything, something ‘new’ pops up. Here, where we are currently living in Egypt, bookstores stock her books and I indulge. She wrote so many stories, that one day if I manage to get through them all, I can just start over and read them again if I want, because they will be as good as new to me.

Another fascination of mine is Ernest Hemingway. (I’m currently contemplating naming our next dog Hemingway. Or Blue. Or something totally different.) I love his writing – some more that others, because let’s face it – in the times that he wrote, not too much happened in most works of fiction and it took a long time to happen.

Although a fan, I’m not blind to these old writers’ weaknesses. There was a lot of drinking and substance abuse involved in the lives of some of these authors and though I don’t condone it, I also don’t judge them. (Today it’s well known that writers and other artists are prone to mental illness and substance abuse.) And in Ernie and his friends’ case I suppose they were pretty much products of the war they survived.

So, even though Ernest and the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein and the likes lived their lives as if there was no tomorrow, I can’t help to romanticise the period and circumstances they lived in just a little bit. Although conditions were still volatile during and after the war, things got simpler after that. There was class and style and ambience and boredom about the way they did their day by day routines.

A few weeks back while on a Nile Cruise, we visited the old Cataract Hotel in Aswan, Egypt, for the third time since we live here. Being there, walking through the big corridors, riding the old, slow wooden lift and sitting in the stylish library, makes one daydream about a time and innocence gone forever. In my mind I can see Aggie sitting in her suite, with her desk moved to in front of the open double doors, feeling the desert heat breezing into the room, stroking her cheeks and causing tiny drops of perspiration on her forehead underneath her neatly waved hair, while she is tapping along passionately on her typewriter – creating the circumstances for Hercule Poirot to solve the four murders in Death on the Nile.

In my mind’s eye, I can see Mister Hemingway standing alongside the chest of drawers, hammering the keys, thinking of rather having a cold beer down in the garden, whilst the current woman in his life is still in bed, nursing a hangover and moaning about him not attending to her immediate needs – to his utter dismay.

I can imagine the buzz in the dining room when the famous well-dressed Who’s Who whom chose to cavort in Egypt at the same time appears one by one or couple by couple in their evening best. They would look way different than our group of whom only some had bothered to follow the smart/casual dress code.

I hear Aggie and her hubby converse about the newest archaeological finding at a site nearby, contemplating from which dynasty it might originate. Over dessert, she wonders if she shouldn’t have stuck to only one murder in Death on the Nile, instead of the four, because “you know, Darling, I don’t want to contribute to the world becoming a more violent place”.

With war clouds still hanging over Europe, Winston Churchill decides that he has to come up with a strategy for the coming Armageddon.

And in another few years, Mrs Fitz frowned upon her husband’s alcohol intake, wondering aloud if it was Ernie’s bad influence on him or the other way around, while she remarks how she can’t grasp why she came to feel so lightheaded so swiftly.

Fast forward to a time the world became enchanted by the people’s princes, who, while smiling her shy smile to the world, is crying within her heart over her broken dreams and recent divorce and wonders what the future will bring as she listens to her Arab lover’s plans for their next holiday together…

Sitting on the lawn, having coffee at sunset with a group of people from all over the world – some of whom we know and more that we don’t know – it is so easy to being translated into another era filled with well-clad creatives looking at the same sun setting where cataracts form down under in the river. Watching the falloukas with their majestic sails on Egypt’s Nile of the Bible passing by, I sat back and dreamed that one day my name will be mentioned as a famous writer who loved visiting the old Cataract Hotel and that a book of mine will sit there on the library shelf next to my fellow South African, Andre P. Brink’s book. Wink-wink.

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PS: Google the Cataract Hotel to read about its history and about the famous ones who frequented there. It is an interesting place and if your travels ever bring you to Egypt, make sure to put Aswan on your itinerary as a must-visit place. There is a lot to see, including the Aswan Dam/Lake Nasr, the Nubian Village, the botanical garden Lord Kitchener planted from trees soldiers brought from all over the world and the Philae Temple – the youngest building from old Egypt’s history. It is also a four-hour drive/50 minute flight to the temple at Abu Simbel.

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© Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

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

Daydreaming

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My Weekly Musings #10/2010

 

I had a Writing Club for Children for years before we moved to Egypt. A few of you reading here had children attending, or may even have attended yourself. (I hope at least some of my old students read my blog.) I enjoyed it immensely and plan to revive the clubs when we are back home. Not only did I enjoy teaching writing to the children who were in my groups, but I enjoyed learning from them.

One of a series of workshops we did in in The Writing Club, was journal writing. These workshops were preceded by a lesson on daydreaming. My first two writing clubbers were home schoolers* who grew up on a smallholding and whose mom raised them to question things and gave them playtime. They made the lesson fun and easy and it became my favourite workshop of all.

With the next generation of clubbers it was a different ball game. They were only a bit younger than my first club members, but these days behaviour can change very quickly. The main difference between the two groups was that technology became more advanced and more easily available – and was quickly becoming popular toys for children rather than only work tools for adults.

I found this workshop to become more of a challenge every year. My first group simply listened to what I taught them and followed my guidelines to go home and spend some time deliberately doing nothing, while daydreaming a bit. But with the next groups, l suddenly found myself looking into pairs of eyes looking at me in confusion and perplexity. I got reactions like “How do you daydream?” and “l don’t have time to do nothing, because I have too many schoolwork and activities.” It saddened me that these words came out of the mouths of ten and eleven year olds.

Initially, when these children from the second ‘wave’ started writing stories, l could identify their story lines from the movies they watched. They couldn’t dream up their own stories. Thankfully that changed with time, practice and skill development.

I was shocked at these little person’s reaction, because as a child, daydreaming came as second nature (or in my case – first nature) to me (and all of my friends), but of course times and circumstances have changed and I can’t help to feel a bit sorry for our privileged children today. It is not all their fault. Technology is fantastic. I love it. I love gadgets and apps. And I have to admit that I too am addicted to my phone. Even if I try to spend less time using it and more time doing ‘real life’ stuff, I struggle to get out of my virtual reality. Because these days, one’s whole life is in your phone. My books are on there and so is a lot of my entertainment. And there’s a camera and some memories and – because we live abroad – my family and friends are in there too. It is difficult not to lose oneself in the virtual world. And with that, l realised that I struggle to be creative if it is not on an electronic device. My hands had become impractical. My imagination had become useless as a pencil with a broken point. Maybe that is why I reverted to writing weekly blogs instead of finishing my novel.

I sometimes wonder if people still daydream? Through daydreaming we learn a lot about ourselves. When I look around and see young people (and older ones) hovering over phones, worsening their bad posture, I can’t help wondering if this wonderful technology we have, will not do more bad than good. If one reads statuses and comments on social media, you have to wonder where common sense had gone. The more knowledge we have available, the less knowledgably we seem to get.

I sat behind a family at a wedding in The Netherlands last year. The seven or so year old boy was glued to a phone, playing a game during the service, his neck eerily bent in a very unnatural way. I could imagine him at 19, walking like an old man. While waiting at an optometrist’s room in New Zealand a few weeks ago, a boy younger than two years was playing games on an iPad, so engrossed in the little device that he almost fell off the chair he was sitting on. Whenever one sits in a restaurant, you see people having coffee with one another, while in conversation with other people elsewhere through their phones. What is the point of going out with someone if you are conversing with someone else the whole time?

We are certainly living in a strange world that is getting stranger every day. It is a world where the real makes room for the virtual increasingly. It is becoming a place where I can testify first-hand how I am becoming less and less social, while spending more and more time ‘engaging with’ a little device that doesn’t love me, can’t talk to me or listen to my feeling and cannot hug me. And it quite scares me, because even if I try, I fall back into the bad habit of spending hours per day on it every time. I keep telling myself it will be better when we are back home again and closer to everyone and everything we miss. I really hope so. In the meantime, I will try my best to spend less time in the virtual and more in the real. I miss my daydreaming and my creativity. I want my hands to become usable again.

Do you still daydream? Do you take time to just sit and do nothing? Or are you also a victim of your busy schedule and the little thing in your hand that keeps you awake at night and can’t hug you back? Tell me if you feel you want to. And in the meantime, read a book printed on real paper, plant a herb (and don’t forget to water it regularly), talk to your spouse while having a glass of something special over a home-cooked candlelight dinner, look in your child’s eyes when he or she talks to you and go lie on the grass somewhere and stare at the clouds and dream…

* In case you thought that those first home schoolers were idlers: They moved to England with their parents for a while. The boy joined the British Air Force teen cadets. They moved back to South Africa, went to public schools and the girl went to work and travel abroad and is now back and studying in Stellenbosch. The boy had become an engineer, got married and builds and flies those little drones (or quad copters I presume they are called.) The little sister who later joined the club with our son, was a good daydreamer too and is finishing her public school education this year.

You can like and/or follow The Writing Club/Die Skryfklub on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thewritingclubdieskryfklub/

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I’m not sure if it really was his words, but if it was, he was a true prophet 😉

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

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

 

My children’s’ book, Yeovangya – a Princess’ Quest for True Love, and short stories are available at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=riette+de+kock&rh=n%3A154606011%2Ck%3Ariette+de+kock

Uprooting

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My Weekly Musings # 9/2017

Recently, we have been visiting our friends who now live in New Zealand. They might or might not stay there forever. They live in an area to where a lot of Asians emigrate to. And a lot of South Africans also. (I think for the South Africans, the choice has to do with the weather, because the north island’s weather is much warmer than the south island’s.) They live in the Auckland area which looks quite a bit like a mix between the Western Cape and Mpumalanga. That might have something to do with it too. In recent decades a lot of South Africans have immigrated to especially countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada. Very few had returned to their ancestral countries of origin, which were mostly The Netherlands, France and Germany.

The reasons for South Africans emigrating is mostly the unacceptable crime wave which are causing people to look for safer places to calm their nerves and also because of work opportunities, due to many people being laid off after becoming BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) victims. It is not only white people who emigrate though. The world is full of young black South Africans making their mark elsewhere in the world too.

We South Africans had become used to ‘losing’ friends to emigration. It is a touch phenomenon to get used to, because parents have to let their children go, adult siblings get separated and, with young children and new-borns growing up in a foreign country, young South Africans become estranged with their families back home. It is indeed a challenging situation. But, thinking about it, I also realise that migrating is sort of a ‘natural’ thing throughout history. It was after all how we got to South Africa. Our ancestors from The Netherlands sought new trade opportunities and the Christian French Huguenots fled from religious persecution, just as some South Africans now leave the country’s shores in fear of their lives and/or looking for jobs.

And of course the uprooting of families is not unique to South Africa. South Africans are at least still doing it by choice (although I blame no one who emigrates due to the fact that they had been high jacked in their own drive-way three times, or whose parents were brutally murdered on a farm or in a city house or whose daughter were raped and murdered when she went for a jog.) Our TV screens are filled daily with displaced people who flee for their lives from places where the blood hungry murderous make it impossible for them to live. One of the drivers we use when we go to Jordan told us that he is Libyan. He spent a few years working in South Africa (nogal!) and then ended up in Jordan. His brother lived in a few other places and currently stays in Israel. Across from our house in Cairo is a small Catholic church. The congregation is made up of expats working here, Egyptians – I presume and Sudanese and various other refugees. The international working force of Egypt is from all over the world. We lived in a displaced world full of displaced people.

So back to my pondering this week after a very long start. While we were in New Zealand, we saw lots of Afrikaans speaking South Africans in the streets, malls and on the beaches. Within ten minutes’ drive there are three shops selling South African products. We had wonderful boerewors (sausages) and biltong (dried meat – like jerky, but better)! The South African numbers are so many there that Browns Bay is referred to as ‘De Bruynsbaai’. And all the time we were there, I tried imagining how it feels to uproot yourself – knowing that it is going to be forever – and go and live in a strange place, building a new life so totally different than the one you had, away from your family and your friends.

We are only temporary living abroad. We are now here in Egypt for three out of a four year period. It had been wonderful and crazy and difficult and frustrating and emotional and a lot of other things too. I really miss our pets, our country, our food, our language, our culture, our ways and especially our people. Whenever we go through passport control at OR Tambo, I want just want to hug and kiss the person behind the counter, but I know I would probably be arrested for it, so I refrain from doing it.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone deciding to emigrate to New Zealand – just because it was the country many South Africans choose and we were visiting it. It is a wonderful, first-world, effective, beautiful place with nice, warm, down-to-earth people. It is also a very, very, very expensive country where some of the products are just plainly over-priced. I think it must be difficult in the beginning especially. I wondered if you ever stop missing the rugby fights, the fact that there is a joke minutes after any bad thing happening, the Nando ads, the excellent and the poor Afrikaans songs, the biltong, the South coast beaches, the clean, unique smell of Cape sea air in your nostrils, the shenanigans of politicians (okay, not really that, because now the rest of the world had caught up with us too) or the smell of fresh beskuit and bread of your aunt’s house. I wondered.

We met a young South African girl our son’s age who worked at the supermarket we went to. She heard us speaking Afrikaans with each other and immediately started a conversation. While ringing up our things, she told us that she was living  there with her parents for twelve years now. I commented that she must be full blown Kiwi by now, seeing that she was so young when the moved and probably didn’t remember ‘home’.  Her smile vanished and in a soft voice she said:

“I dream of Cape Town all the time.”

We met with quite a few emigrants from different countries. They told us that the divorce rate under uprooters is quite high. Listening to them a few things came out for people to consider before they make the decision to emigrate. These are:

  • Don’t emigrate to run away from your personal problems. If your husband has a wandering eye, it will be going with him. If he is an alcoholic, he will still be one on the other side. If your wife has a money spending problem in South Africa, you’ll have bigger problems living in a country where the currency is ten times (yep!) stronger.
  • Sort all medical stuff out before you leave. A lot of medical issues can get your visa delayed or even cancelled.
  • Don’t lie about anything on applications.
  • Plan. Plan. For everything.
  • You need a lot of initial capital to move to and settle in another country. (Hundreds-of-thousands-a lot.)
  • Moving countries causes immense stress – for every member or the family. Don’t underestimate that factor. Prepare for it. Change is never easy. Uprooting is up-there on the stress list. This counts even for ‘short’ stays abroad like ours.

My hope is that we will always have the choice to live in South Africa. I love my country. I miss my beautiful country with all its ups and downs. I hate the violence and the corruption. I hate it to be scared at night. (I sleep like a baby in Egypt – and everywhere else we go.) So, I know I will have to face my fears again. I will worry about Michael driving alone at night. I also realise that he might be forced to seek greener international pastures and leave us behind.  I’m not blind for all the challenges. But I miss the good of South Africa. The good things as well as the good people. And for that I hope to stay.

We will just cling to our Protector and remember that ‘Elohim has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of self-control’. I hope our faith and love and self-control will be enough in the end.

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

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