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 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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Partnering with House Watchers Hermanus

Time to Practice the ‘Need to Know’ Principle

I was in the army (and air force) long ago, where I learned a lot of helpful skills I still apply in my life today. (I will get to that in a few paragraphs.)

By now we are beyond the point where the tekkie hit the tar (South African for ‘the rubber meets the road). It’s Day 17 of the national lockdown in SA due to the Covid-19 virus and our president has already increased the proposed 21-day lockdown with at least a further two weeks.

In the beginning it was almost fun. Everyone forwarded jokes and kept Facebook diaries of their days, their improvisations, their silliness. Nobody really expected the lockdown to be lifted after only 21 days, by hey, one could hope…

The whole Corona epidemic is a rollercoaster experience for me. I didn’t particularly look forward to the lockdown, as I presume was the case with everyone else, because limitation of movement isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a free life. But nevertheless, we all went into it positively. I still am positive – one have to be (!), but like everything new, this also wore down pretty quickly.

I too, follow the news and read everything that passed my phone screen in the beginning. The jokes were hilarious and still are, the motivational video clips and spiritual songs are uplifting, beautiful and emotional and the updates from friends, families and strangers on social media makes one smile and sometimes laugh loud. All fun and games.

But. I’m also a person who, like many of you, gets bored easily. I get fatigued very, very quickly. And my Corona fatigue started already before the lockdown! Getting fatigued can be a very dangerous thing, because what can happen is that you just switch off and ignore the situation that bores you or make you tired and can miss the things you really need to keep you safe, sound and healthy.

This Covid-19 epidemic is something really puzzling. We all ‘know’ now where it originated from, we have the ’facts’ about the virus and we are getting ‘updates’ on the spread daily. I put those in quotation marks, because I’m not sure that we get the real picture. Actually, I am sure. I have so many unanswered questions about this pandemic, which probably would never be answered. We are being given information from governments’ sides, we are bombarded with ‘expert’ opinions and on top of that, our feeds are flooded with conspiracy theories. It’s very confusing and difficult to really know what goes on, where it goes on and what precisely is done about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe everything we’ve been told. Not just about Covid-19, but in life generally. That doesn’t make me a conspiracist – just a realist. I like a good conspiracy theory though, and being a creative writer, I can even think up a few myself easily – although I never go public with it. I’ll leave it for my novels one day. 😊

Our family has quite easy circumstances to being locked down in, so we really have no reason to complain. But we are still humans. And humans tend to feel human emotions when their circumstances change. On Day 8 I felt cooped in for the first time. I could hear my husband sigh when he went to the kitchen in the morning to make coffee, and I’m sure he hears mine when I go to the bathroom in the morning and the realisation of another locked in day kicked in. Day 11 was tough again. Today is easier to stay in because of the wind storming outside. The point is even though we have comfortable circumstance to do it in, any limitations take their toll on the physically and mentally and causes our emotions to go up and down by the things that enters our minds.

And this is where my remark about being in the army comes in. One of the first things you learned when entering any defence force is the very important THE NEED TO KNOW-principle. This is for your own good, you learn, because what you did not know, you could not tell and couldn’t hurt you. This meant that a great deal of discipline had to be practiced. You were to stay out of conversations where you would hear what you were not supposed to hear and out of places you didn’t belong. We all know that we are by nature curious, so it is very tempting to listen to gossiping, do things which can be harmful to us and watching things that are not good for us. After all, we now have access to almost any information we want.

In today’s circumstances this is more relevant than ever. We can listen to and believe everything we read or watch on our phones and forward it to our as-gullible family members and friends. When an overwhelming lot of information is going around as is the case at the moment, it can drive us mad.

Be honest. Can you even remember all the information, jokes, videos, songs you’ve seen during the past few weeks? Of course you can’t, because we have been bombarded with information – good and bad. We are getting overloaded by the news, social media and our friends and family. So, that overwhelming feeling you sometimes get after reading or watching another post is very normal.

Now, on Day 17 it maybe is a good time to get a bit more disciplined in an effort to keep our sanity. We are in the middle of lockdown and the toughest part is still coming. Lockdown can even be extended again, so now is a good time to start taking better care of yourself mentally. And this is where we can implement and practice the NEED TO KNOW principle. This is where you start making decisions to your advantage – and to advantage of all those you love.

  • It is a time to start reading selectively. Read and watch only what you need to know to stay safe and healthy.
  • Laugh about and share the funny jokes.
  • Listen to good messages with sound spiritual input.
  • Don’t forward fake news and conspiracy theories. Check facts before forwarding and overwhelming others with info that they DON’T NEED TO KNOW!
  • Put down your phone. You don’t need to be on it the 24/7/365. Read something printed on paper. Like a good book. And The Good Book!
  • Keep a routine, but also do something out of the ordinary every day.
  • Exercise – even if you have to run in one place while watching a TV program. Everyone can exercise, no matter how small their place is.
  • Be creative. Build something, draw something, write something, bake something, sew something, plant something… We are people made to create, not to just duplicate (or forwarding in this context).
  • Don’t read or watch Covid-19 any other news just before going to bed.
  • Most of all – keep spiritually strong. Read the Word of God, meditate upon it and pray for all.
  • And lastly – give thanks for what you have and for your circumstances.

The virus and its effects are still with us and it will be with us for quite a while longer. We must stay strong from the inside. There was an old WWII poster stating ‘Loose lips may sink ships’. Listening to and believing everything we hear and forwarding it to everyone we know, isn’t something responsible people who love their friends and family do. Discipline yourself. It starts with me and you.

Keep your ship afloat. It still has places to go after this.

© 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. 🙂🙂🙂

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/26/were-all-riding-in-this-corona-bus-together/

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/27/in-the-beginning-we-were-created-to-be-creative/

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/31/family-traditions-creates-unbreakable-bonds-and-awesome-memories/

Family Traditions Creates Unbreakable Bonds and Awesome Memories

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What do the Sunday night movie, playing Monopoly on holidays and eating dinner at the table have in common? They are the glue that bonds a family together.

According to https://www.childhelp.org/ family traditions are handed down from generation to generation and add to the rhythm and seasonality of life.

What are Family Traditions?

They are those things we tend to repeat doing when we are together, like the things mentioned above. Family traditions differ from family to family and are normally just simple things we do that we as a family love, like having rowdy conversations around the dinner table as the Italians and Greeks tend to have. Or it is taking that annual holiday to the same place every year. So many of my husband’s childhood memories derive from their seaside family holidays, so much so that we live in the town they had their holidays in! My family didn’t have seaside holidays, but we had a big mass of water nearby where we lived and we went camping there over the Christmas season when I was little. It was also my birthday this time of year and to me it felt as if I had my birthday every day during those holidays, as different family members arrived daily with gifts for me!

Family Traditions look Different and can Literally be Anything!

Times have changed and so have the activities we do. But we still participate in traditions – even though we don’t even think of them as ‘traditions’. Mom and the girls going to the mall on a Saturday morning, Dad playing cricket with the boys in the garden on Sunday afternoons, visiting the grandparents for Saturday braai or watching the rugby together, are all good examples of South African family traditions.

The Advantages of Family Traditions

Other than helping the family to bond, it also builds children’s confidence, because their parents are spending some real time with them. That makes them feel grounded and safe and help them to be more outgoing and courageous. You can read up more on the advantages of family traditions on your own.

Family Traditions in the Time of the Corona Virus

Yep, we are locked in and can’t even take our dogs for a walk in the streets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still do things together. We are after all, cooped up together like never, ever before in our lifetimes! So, this makes it a perfect time to bring back some old family traditions or establish new ones.

If you have stopped or never eaten together at a table as a family, start doing that – even if it is for only one meal a day. Here are a few pointers for this:

  • Ban cell phones from the table and keep a few conversation starters handy to get your family talking to each other again.
  • Research a few good conversation topics which are fitting for your family’s age.
  • Allow difference of opinion, but make sure to establish rules so that it is still done respectfully and things don’t get ugly. If we teach our children to have an opinion and speak their minds at home, educators don’t have to teach them what they want to teach them.
  • Start debates about different topics. Divide everyone present into two groups and let them debate two sides of a topic. When things get heated, change it around. It is fun to see everyone suddenly out of their comfort zones when having to defend the other side! And it normally ends fights immediately.

Play together, whether it is board games or games in the garden. And don’t stop when the lockdown is over.

Create something together, such as cooking, baking and braaiing, making clothes, building puzzles, building lego or whatever your family is into.

Try to teach your children something regularly during the lockdown, but keep doing it hereafter. Teach them to pray and care for others, braai, plant veggies, snoei trees, play chess, build something out of wood, do DIY chores in the house etc. Doing this on a regular basis will not only teach them skills, but give them confidence and the ability to do things for by themselves and for themselves.

Read together. Read bedtime stories to your children from day one. (Yes, they need to hear stories in their dads’ and moms’ voices from an early age.) When they are older (and now during lockdown) you can lie around reading for a few hours a day.

Start a thanksgiving tradition, either at the breakfast or dinner table or whenever you are all gathered together and bored during the lockdown. Think about those less privileged during this time and start a ‘Thank You’ jar where you can all contribute with things you are thankful written on a piece of paper and put into the jar. Open in up in a year’s time or so and read it aloud around the table while eating.

These are just a few examples. There are lots more. You know what your family love doing. Dust off a few old ones or start new traditions. Search the Internet for more ideas if you need to.

Keeping it Up

Our young adult son is still with us at home. We continue doing things together as a family on a regular basis, such as eating together every meal, even though he lives outside in the cottage. We go for picnics at the beach and going on Sunday exploring rides etc. My sister-in-law’s two adult children are having dinner with them every Sunday evening. Some dads and their adult sons have weekly squash appointments. You get the point.

So, when this lockdown is over or when the children are all grown up, don’t stop with the traditions. Many South African families are split up and live all over the world, but with the technology available these days, we can still be ‘together’. Make a family group call on a week night/morning (depending on time differences) and kuier together on Skype or WhatsApp video calls.

Do whatever it takes to keep your family traditions going, because they create awesome and precious memories for your children which they will carry over to their children.

 

© 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 – The Finale

 

 

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As we are ready to leave Egypt after almost four and a half years, I knew I had to eventually write the conclusion to our cat chronicles. I put it off for quite a while, because like with all goodbyes, this too is a bit of a sad one – a-circle-of-life kind of finale.

Cat#1 and Cat#2, Camo’s latest (and last so far) black and ginger offspring are still doing well. It was touch and go for a while for Cat#2, the slightly weaker of the two. The little ginger became ill and stopped eating. He was so weak and unwell that we thought he was at his end. But, alas, we fed him (and prayed a little also) and after two weeks we knew that he would make it for now. In the meantime he grew strong and still lives in our garden with his brother. Their mother, Camo, mainly lives downstairs in the parking garage, with her favourite place to relax on our car! I find the dust paw prints on the bonnet quite cute. 🙂

We are leaving soon and we hope that the new tenants will also find it in their hearts to feed them when they are here. They are not dependant on our food for survival as they are fed by people upstairs, the policemen on duty outside the building and the bowabs (doormen). So, they are sorted. And privileged! But. We are going to miss them. These two last ones were cute ones, especially the little ginger. I will miss his little face and his chutzpah when he hammers his head against the glass door in the mornings to get my attention – or to go around the corner to the other window to stare us down when we’re sitting on the couch. And I will miss laughing at him when my husband scares him with our soft toy Ikea dog, Ike!

I wrote in my previous cat chronicles blog about ‘our’ beloved ginger building cat, GemmerGat who came back after an absence of nine months. We were very happy to have her back and quickly realised that she was tired and nearing her sell-by date. So, it came as no surprise when we noted one day that she had become quite weak. We fed her and chatted softly to her and told her to hang in there, but I think we knew that her time had come. So, three days after she became so weak, she wasn’t in our garden anymore. It was the beginning of a really hot period in the summer and we fathomed that she went downstairs to the parking garage to have her last lie down. Maybe she came home to find her rest. This time we are okay with it though. She came to greet and we’ve said our goodbyes.

And that, my friends, is the grand finale of our cat chronicles in Egypt. We will return home now and become dog people again. We can’t wait to have doggy companions again! It had been a long few years without pets. It had been only the second period in my life without pets and I missed having them around a lot. We hoped to see our beloved Maltese, Simmie, again when we went back, but he died on 6 December 2017.

So, this is it for our Egypt cat chronicles. Thank you, Egyptian building cats for entertaining us the way you did. And rest in peace, dear Gemmergat.

As if any of you cats were going to read my blog… 🙂

 

2018 ©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

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

 

Read my previous cat chronicles here:

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 3 https://fieliesdekock.com/2018/03/25/egyptian-street-cat-chronicles-part-3/

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/

 

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.

The Lost Treasure of Storytelling

My Musings #13/2017

I am from the lucky generation who still grew up without a TV. Well almost. TV arrived in our town in South Africa in 1976, when I was in Grade 2. Or it might even had been a year earlier. I can’t remember. My dad didn’t buy one immediately, “because they didn’t show the rugby”. Actually that was his way of saying that he didn’t have the money to buy one. Not that I held it against him. We never had money, but we always had food, shelter and clothes. And love. We, television-less children in our street had to gather at a house that had a TV every Tuesday at six to watch Haas Das se Nuuskas and Heidi. I had to wait until my oupa sold his TV second-hand to my dad years later to have the pleasure of staying at home to watch it alone – which wasn’t as much fun as wandering down the street to Theunis’ house every Tuesday evening.

I only realised much later in life that not having a television set in the house was much more of a privilege than having one. We ate together at the kitchen table, where we talked about our days and then we listened to the aandgodsdiens (a Bible message) and the ten minute story over the radio. And then we washed the dishes and we all retreated to our rooms, where I would read Bible and a story book before falling asleep.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love technology to a point where I have to admit today that I am addicted. I struggle with it and hope that when our living arrangements change in a year or so, that I will be able to be less dependent on social media and will thus use my phone in a more constructive and balanced way. But for now, I have to live with the addiction, because when you live abroad, that piece of electronics is your life-line to family and friends back home.

One thing that technology killed in our day, is the treasure of storytelling. It’s no shock anymore that when you go to restaurants, you find big or small groups of people sitting together, conversing inwardly via their phones with other people than the ones they are physically with. The same thing happens when children visit each other. They ‘play’ with each other through phones and gaming equipment. Parents prop iPads and tablets into two year olds’ hands to keep them busy, instead of teaching them to play and use their imagination. We had become a strange lot indeed.

When we grew up we still knew boredom. We had no entertainment to speak of at home and very little at school. If we wanted to be entertained, we had to do it ourselves. I arrived late in our family, so I didn’t really had siblings to play with. My dolls became my friends and all the trees in our garden had names. I could sit for hours in my tree and watch people in the neighbourhood go by – without them spotting me. I loved it. I even packed rations to spend whole afternoons in my tree. I also made a ‘saddle’ for my tree trunk ‘horse’, because otherwise my bum would go numb. And I always had a kettie (slingshot) with me, because the Sering tree (I don’t believe the word I found in English for this tree’s name is the correct one) provided me with round, hard, green seeds as ammo. (As the only girl living in the street I learned to be prepared at all times.)

In that tree I dreamed up stories by the hundreds. My mother was the busy sort, so I don’t remember her ever telling or reading me a story. But there was a lot of storytelling around me – not as much as I wanted it to be, but nevertheless. I went to my single oom Mieg’s farm on some Tuesday nights with my grandparents, where my grandfather, grandmother and uncle played cards. Nothing fancy – just boring Rummy. But they played while drinking very, very strong coffee, which ou Betta, his house keeper prepared before she left for the evening. I always drank with and was always sorry afterwards when my stomach cramped so much that my mother had to give me medicine and promised me that I will never go with Oupa and Ouma to oom Mieg’s again. Until the next time. But I loved it, because I loved sitting there, listening to the old people talking.

My brother, Willa, was the first one to read me stories. He read stories to me and he read from the Bible for me and he preached to me and my dolls after school in the sitting room. I loved listening to him and the stories he told me. I think I became a Believer because of him. He practiced so well on me, he became a pastor in real life.

My Grade One teacher, Juffrou Ieta (Mrs Boshoff), was another first of the great story tellers in my life. She had the most soothing voice and some out-of-this-world stories. She would let us lie down on the carpet in the classroom and tell us a story. And if some of us fell asleep, she let us. But I never fell asleep. Stories awed me too much to let my brain go to rest. Instead, it triggered my imagination and I would later play out the stories in my room or in the garden with my dolls or my trees and with the growing number of characters who eventually took permanent residence in my head.

In Standard 2 (Grade 4 nowadays), we had a teacher, Miss Paul, who told us a story once a week. We nagged the whole week long, but she never gave in. We had to wait for Fridays. Her stories sometimes scared us, but they were never dull.

Both one of my primary school teachers – who later became my sister-in-law, Hessie (De Clerq) Breytenbach, and my high school teacher, Attie Saunders, were good enough storytellers to get me interested in history and to this day I still love the subject and it had quite an impact in several of my life choices.

I started writing my own stories and in high school a few of my friends and I even had our own little ‘library box’ with self-written stories, which could be borrowed by others. I’m not verbally good at storytelling, so I am in awe by people who are natural oral storytellers. But they had become very few. And if they still exist, there is no real place for them to practice their art in everyday life anymore, because story time is now watching-TV time or binge-watching-series time or being-glued-to-our-phones time.

Today, we live in an instant world, where entertainment is literally at the tip of our fingers wherever and whenever we want it. We don’t have to go somewhere to a social gathering or wait until it is dark. We push a button wherever we are and literally have endless choices. We actually have so many choices, that we can’t always make up our minds – and not just about entertainment, but about other things in life too.

I’m not against this way of doing. I do it too and I enjoy it, but I think that we have lost something very important with the way we are entertained in our day. We don’t need our imagination so much anymore, because all the imagining is being done for us now. That book that we should have read and the world in it we should have imagined, is now a movie and we don’t have to go through the trouble of imagining characters and worlds, because someone else have decided for us what it looks like. We just have to sit back and watch without any effort on our behalf. And then forget it again. Because tomorrow we will have some more choices and we will be bombarded with some more special effects and we’re getting so overly stimulated, that our brains doesn’t have any time to enjoy and process and remember the last thing we’ve watched before watching the next.

Our friend, Abri, is a good storyteller. He can entertain one in such a way by telling you about something happening to him that it feels as if you have experienced it with him. He also tells his sons stories. One of the ‘series’ he tells them is about Buks, a farm dog. Buks is an awesome dog. He makes grand plans and fight scary lions and nothing ever gets the better of him. The stories are entertaining and get made up as Abri goes, which sometimes are very, very funny. When he goes away, he records a few stories, so that his sons can listen to them. They love it! And not only does it stimulate the boys’ imaginations, but it tightens the relationship between father and sons.

We still have a few storytellers around. They are mostly humorous and are limited to a few TV shows and yearly cultural festivals and people have to pay to hear them, but at least they still exist. Are there still people telling ghost stories for fun and for free around a camp fire like we did when we were children?

God is a great storyteller. He created billions of characters throughout history and has ‘scripted’ their stories for them. I wonder how many of us live out our stories as He has originally plotted it out, or how much we deviated from His script for our lives to instead live our own, ‘better’ versions through the choices we make? Or how much living we are missing out on because we spend our days on our phones. He also made sure that a lot of His stories got written down for us, so that we can learn from the lives of Adam and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Esther and ultimately, Jesus, and that we can have a ‘compass’ to navigate our own stories by. Luckily even those are electronically available today…

I sometimes ponder on how much we miss out on because of the entertainment we choose thanks to our technologically advancing lives. I wonder how many unsaid words there are between people because we choose to live virtually with our eyes glued to a little electronic screen in our hands, instead of looking around in awe at the world and playing out the ‘scripts’ we have with our loved ones.

Unless we switch off that little device every now and then, I guess we will probably never know.

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

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