We were sad to leave the Biedouw valley and the sunny flowers but we then had to tackle the most difficult road so far to Oudriff. Past Bushman's Kloof where we stayed some years ago, up and up over a rough gravel road, looking for a turning to this next hidden away stopover. No notice just a white stone marker recognised by Ann. The road wound round and round, through astounding flowers and scenery and three gates, before we spotted the white painted houses of Oudriff and the river roaring down down the valley.
They were built by Bill and his wife Janine from straw bales, the warmest accommodation so far ,and equipped luxuriously inside. Both our hosts cook delicious meals and provide amazing hospitality in the midst the the South African wilderness.
Janine is a herbalist and knows a great deal about local plants and cures. She provided Rosemary with an infalluible cure for flu! The sound of the river tumbling over rapids was the only noise in this remote and beautiful spot.
We left sadly the next morning.The cold and rain returned after four days of sunshine, so it was a long haul back over the mountains to Clan William where we left Ann, as she had to return to Cape Town for her next flower tour. Fortunately our next stop at a Rooibos tea farm, possessed its own expert Chris, who told us a lot more about the plants of the Fyneboss and the growing of tea. Rooibos tea comes from quite a different plant to the Indian teas , it does not contain caffeine and is good for your digestion and all sorts of other ailments. It is popular in South Africa and of course Precious Rambotswe the 1st Lady Dectective drinks it constantly. Over the last few years its healthy properties have increased its popularity across the world, and Chris told us how much was exported to America and Europe. It was freezing cold walking round the farm, so the hot cup of rooibos and applejuice we were offered tasted delicious.
We then set off with Cape Splendour and Julie for the west coast to see gannets at Lambert Bay. The wind and rain were hammering the harbour and after a meal at the fish cafe, Peter and julie walked along the harbour wall to see the extremely smelly gannets. Rosemary chickened out and stayed in the warm and dry. We spent the night at Draalhek in an attractive guest house right by the sea. The individual chalets were very luxurious and they even lit a fire for us after we finished dinner and retired for an hour or so s relaxation..The weather relented for an hour or so and we walked across the board walk to the beach and the dunes. An amazing empty beach, not a house in sight, stretching two or three miles up the coast. It is probably busy in the summer but this time of year, we were the only guests and lay and listened to the wind and roar of the surf.
Next day off to one of our favourite places, Bartholmeus Klip near Herman right up against the Elandsberg mountains. We intended to stay three very lazy days there, eating their delicious food and relaxing. Arriving in the cold and rain, we found it an oasis of warmth and comfort. A roaring fire, delicious High Tea followed by an even more delicious dinner, and hot water bottles in our bed in case the South African winter should chill us too much.
We braved the game drive, that evening wrapped in coats.scarves and blankets and saw eland, zebra, bonte bock and spring bok as well as two bat eared foxes. The reserve is a piece of rhinosterveldt vegetation, which has survived the conversion of most of this fertile veldt land for agriculture. The small areas which are left are vital to the survival of many plant species and insects associated with them. This time of year it looks boring with the dark coloured vegetation but amongst the bigger plants are hundreds of smaller flowers.Later in the year the proteas and other Fynebos bushes flower, but this time of year it is mainly the gladioli species,alatus,trichonemifolius, the oxalis ambigua and obtusa as well as one specific to the reserve oxalis nauta which grows in the water. There were a lot of babiana and moorea species as well but examining some of them was difficult as the continuous rain left much of the lower part of the reserve under water.
On the second day as the weather improved we were able to walk round the reservoir and examine the flowers in detail. Two of the most interesting was the peacock flower spoloxene capenis and a variety of sun dew with quite large lilac flowers.We were told that the flowers here, further south than Namaqualand ,need another couple of weeks of sunshine to be at their best. However ,the Game ranger also told us that by mid September, a particularly vicous type of horsefly fertilises these flowers. Maybe we will give them a miss!!
Rosemary missed out one of the early morning game drives, but was delighted on the morning she did go, to see lots more animals and flowers.In fact there was so much to see we were nearly late for brunch. Three very large meals a day is the standard at Bartholomeus Klip, so it was just as well we only stayed three days.
Collected again by Julie, we then spent three days at Frenchhoek and after a lovely meal at Vergelegen flew home leaving the flowers behind. We hope you enjoy the pictures but feel free to put us right on names or species you knowledgeable types out there. We are still learning and will we hope to have lots more trips to get it tight