Clarens, and home again

Continued from Oviston to Clarens

6-7 September, 2015

We spent the last weekend of our holiday with my cousin Peter Badcock Walters and his wife Toni in Clarens in the eastern Free State. We had breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant.

Breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant in Clarens.

Breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant in Clarens.

And looked at Peter’s art on display at his gallery. This one was of their granddaughter Leah, when she was about 5 years old, about 15 years ago.

Leah Reid

Leah Reid

The gallery is a new venture, and also has a restaurant attached.

Peter Badcock Walters with the exhibition of his art in the Gallery on the Square, in Clarens.

Peter Badcock Walters with the exhibition of his art in the Gallery on the Square, in Clarens.

Some of the exhibition was devoted to his earlier book, Images of War.

Images of War

Images of War

On Monday 7 September we left, and that was effectively the end of our holiday. Once one leave Clarens, the scenery is monotonous. Bethlehem is the last place where one can stock up on food and drink, as the other towns along the way, Reitz, Frankfort, Villiers and Balfour, are not geared to catering for travellers. Villiers and Balfour used to be on the main road but now it by-passes them, and their prosperity has visibly declined.

Val Hayes, Peter & Toni Badcoc Walters, Clarens, 7 September 2015

Val Hayes, Peter & Toni Badcoc Walters, Clarens, 7 September 2015

And as on our last journey this way four years ago, we were struck by the crumbling transport infrastructure — abandoned railways lead to heavy goods going by road, with a consequent deterioration of the roads.

Abandoned railway lines between Villiers and Balfour, 7 September 2015

Abandoned railway lines between Villiers and Balfour, 7 September 2015

And perhaps the picture also symbolises the end of the line for such touring holidays for us too. It’s probably the last such journey we shall ever take, unless we win the Lotto or something.

It took nearly 6 hours to travel the 374 km between Clarens and where we live in Kilner Park, Pretoria, though that was partly due to getting a bit lost in Springs in the evening rush hour, where the signposting isn’t too good.

We saw most of the things we wanted to see — the Aughrabies Falls, spring flowers in Namaqualand, and the roads that ancestors had travelled on 150 years ago. We spenmt five days in the Cape Archives doing family history ressearch, and though we didn’t quite finish looking at everything on our list, we did see most of the important stuff.

We visited all the friends and relatives we wanted to see, or at least those who wanted to see us, many of them for the last time, as we’re unlikely to be back there again. And some, like Jean and Paul Gray, we met for the first time.

At most of the places we stayed, we left our surplus books via BookCrossing, and we managed to get some of our cousins, at least, to be quite enthused by the idea of exchanging books in that way. BookCrossing doesn’t seem to have caught on much in South Africa, at least not as much as in other places, and of the 25 books that we have “released into the wild”, we’ve only had news of one being found. Still, we live in hope.

Our puppy Pimen had grown, but was pleased to see us.

Pimen welcomed us home

Pimen welcomed us home

He also delighted in barking when a group of men with orange legs went past.

Men with orange legs

Men with orange legs

 

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Ghwarriespoort to the Gariep Dam

Continued from Hermanus to Keurfontein

Friday 4 September 2015

We woke up in chilly Keurfontein, at Ghwarriespoort, and continued our journey North and East along the N9. Keurfontein, the place where we stayed, was selfcatering accommodation rather than a B&B, but that was OK — it was was a fast day, so we had baked beans on toast for breakfast.

Keurfontein

Keurfontein

About 50 km up the road we passed the Grootrivier Dam — the road goes over the dam wall. Four years ago it had been dry, and we expected that after the rain of the last few days it might have had some water in it, but there was none, and the river was the merest trickle. A bit further on we saw puddles at the side of the road, so there had been rain, but obviously it had not affected the river. Perhaps the “Groot” name was irony.

Grootrivier Dam -- as empty as it was four years ago

Grootrivier Dam — as empty as it was four years ago

We bypassed Aberdeen, and reached Graaf Reinet at 11:43, 197 km from Keurfontein. We dropped in to visit my cousin Ailsa Grobler, and this time she was at home. Last time we had visited (in 2011) she was away visiting her son Bruce, who works as a chef in Dubai. Interestingly enough another cousin on the Hannan side of the family, Ceri Duff Henderson, lives in Dubai, where she is a diving instructor.

Steve Hayes, Ailsa Grobler, Val Hayes, Nick Grobler: Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Steve Hayes, Ailsa Grobler, Val Hayes, Nick Grobler: Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

There was a bonus on this visit, as Ailsa’s other son Gavin, who lives in Cape Town, was there as well. We had coffee with them and chatted for a while. Nick and Ailsa run the Villa Reinet Guest House in Graaff Reinet, and we stayed there on our trip in 2011, though only Nick was at home then. We can also recommend it as a very good place to stay, and not just because it is run by our cousins.

Steve Hayes, Gavin & Ailsa Grobler. Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Steve Hayes, Gavin & Ailsa Grobler. Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Our Hannan great grandparents, William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane, lived in Glasgow, and four of their children emigrated to southern Africa, including Ailsa’s grandfather Stanley Livingstone Hannan and my grandmother Janet McCartney Hannan, who married George Growdon.

Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape. 4 September 2015

Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape. 4 September 2015

We left Graaff Reinet about 12:45, and crossed the Lootsberg Pass at 1:20 pm, 262 km from Keurfontein, and probably, at 1781 metres (5843 feet), one of the highest places on our route this day. In some places we followed the railway line, which on our previous visit had looked neglected and disused, but this time looked as if it could be in use again. The road was wide and smooth, and seemed to go almost effortlessly over the hills. Last time we had been here 4 years ago we had travelled this section in the dark. At Middelburg, which we reached at 1:48 pm, 306 km from Keurfontein, they were working on the road, and there were a couple of stop/go sections, but they did not hold us up for long. The road clearly needed working on, as it was narrow, bumpy and much patched, They had completed the sections from Noupoort to Colesberg, which were wide and smooth.

Toverberg, the Magic Mountain, also known as Cole's Berg, named after Sir Lowry Cole, sometime governor of the Cape Colony.

Toverberg, the Magic Mountain, also known as Cole’s Berg, named after Sir Lowry Cole, sometime governor of the Cape Colony.

Henry Green, the brother of Val’s great great grandfather Fred Green, was resident magistrate and civil commissioner in Colesberg in the 1860s, so we visited the town museum to see if we could find out where he had lived at that time, and it appeared that the drosdy (magistrate’s residence) was next to the Anglican Church, where most of Henry Green’s children by his second wife, Countess Ida Von Lilienstein, were baptised. The drostdy is now a restaurant, but it wasn’t open when we passed through. The Anglican church next door has services once a month, when the rector of Middelburg visits.

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant. Henery Green apparently lived here when he was resident magistrate in the 1860s.

We then followed the southern shore of the Gariep Dam to Oviston. The Gariep Dam is the biggest dam in South Africa, used for water storage, power generation and irrigation. It is on the Orange (Gariep) River, which we had seen further downstream earlier in our journey when we crossed it from north to south at Kakamas, and saw it at the Aughrabies falls.

Gariep Dam, 4 September 2015

Gariep Dam, 4 September 2015

We went to Oviston, on the southern shore, where we spent the night at the Aan Die Water guest house.

Sunset over the Gariep Dam at Oviston

Sunset over the Gariep Dam at Oviston

 

 

 

 

More cousins & friends in Cape Town

Continue from Visiting more old friends in and around Cape Town

Saturday 29 August 2015

We finally packed up and left the Sun 1 Hotel at the Cape Town Foreshore, and went to spend a night with Jean & Paul Gray, Val’s cousins whom we had not met face to face before, only on Facebook and by e-mail.

But first we went to see another old school friend of Val from Escombe, Cheryl Verrijt and her husband Theo. There wasn’t quite such a long time of not seeing them as with some of our other friends, as they had lived in Eshowe when we lived in Melmoth, and we had also seen them on a previous visit to Cape Town in 2003.

While waiting for them we observed life in and around the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, a large shopping centre built next to Cape Town docks.

Cape Town docks, 29 Aug 2015

Cape Town docks, 29 Aug 2015

It was interesting interesting to see how modern life encourages new outdoor activities.

New outdoor activities: smoking and cell phones

New outdoor activities: smoking and cell phones

And there are also more traditional outdoor activities, like this little girl and her father eating fish and chips, with the gulls waiting around in the hope of titbits, and whenever they got too close the little girl would jump up and shriek and wave her arms to chase them away.

When ze seagulls follow ze trawlair, it is because zey sink fish with be thrown into ze sea (Eric Cantona)

When ze seagulls follow ze trawlair, it is because zey sink fish with be thrown into ze sea (Eric Cantona)

There seemed to be a fair amount of activity of small craft docking and moving away, including this one

Cape Town docks

Cape Town docks

.When Theo & Cheryl Verrijt arrived from an exhibition they had been attending nearby we had lunch at the San Marco restaurant.

Cheryl Verrijt, Val Hayes, Theo Verrijt, Cape Town, 29 Aug 2013

Cheryl Verrijt, Val Hayes, Theo Verrijt, Cape Town, 29 Aug 2013

We then went back to Paul and Jean Gray and talked about the family history. Jean is a cousin on the Stewardson side of the family, and we had recently discovered several new generations of Stewardsons going back to Duffied in Derbyshire, England. It was quite a breakthrough, because we had known of Val’s great great great grandparents, Mr & Mrs Stewardson, we did not know their first names or where they had come from. There were references to them in books and journals about Namibia in the 1840s and 1850s, but they were always referred to as “Stewardson” and “Mrs Stewardson”. One frustrated author, writing a historical novel of their times, made up names for them, Ian and Norah, which got misleaqdingly incorporated into some serious historical publications, but we eventualy discovered that they were Francis Stewardson and Frances Morris, and they were married in Donisthorpe, on the border of Leicestershire and Derbyshire in England, in 1838.

The Stewardsons went to Damaraland in the 1840s, and were involved in the beef cattle trade (some members of the Morris family were butchers in Cape Town, and at one time they had a contract to supply beef to the British garrison on St Helena).

The Stewardsons’ daughter Kate married first to Fred Green, Val’s great great grandfather, and then, after Fred Green’s death, to George Robb, from whom Jean Mary Gray is descended.

Val Hayes, Jean Mary Gray, Paul Gray, 29 August 2015

Val Hayes, Jean Mary Gray, Paul Gray, 29 August 2015

Though Val and Jean are the same age, they are half second cousins once removed, since Kate Stewardson was Val’s great great grandmother, and Jeans great grandmother. Kate had 16 children, of whom only four survived to adulthood.

Continued at Cape Town to Hermanus.