Tag: spring

:: papkuilsfontein ::

Suddenly we were back in England. The grey skies threatening rain. Driving winds and rolling moorland dotted with flocks of sheep. Yet, we were in the Western Cape. We were unprepared for the scenes around Nieuwoudtville and our camping spot for two nights on Papkuilsfontein Farm.

The atmosphere setting up our camp in the gathering gloom of twilight surrounded by acres of nothing but grouse like shrubs was fantastic. It wasn’t like our previous nights on the trip had been in the middle of Times Square, but here was a feeling of true seclusion. There was just one other couple at the camp site, but they left the next morning, so night two was just us and our small circle of light from our camp fire. This was the epitome of what we were looking for.

The flowers were different up on the plateau, much more of the yellow bulbs protruding up on stalks. Around the campsite were spotty patches, but elsewhere on the farm grounds were whole fields of them.  We were told this area is known as ”the Bulb Capital of the World” because it has the highest speciation of indigenous bulbous flowers on Earth, and that certainly didn’t disappoint.  We wandered past the ruins of an old farmstead, built when the land was shared amongst three families, and marvelled at the beauty of so many yellow flowers reaching into the air.

Papkuilsfontein is a working farm, but it is also has a restaurant and guest cottages, as well as the camp site. This is a family affair, with the current owners being one of the three original families.  Now in their sixth generation the husband still runs the farm, whilst his wife runs the guest side of things. Her mother is the chef! She came to visit six years ago and hasn’t left! The food is fantastic and we were lucky to be able to take ours to go and sit by the camp fire each night and enjoy truly wonderful offerings. We can’t recommend it highly enough and they do lunches, for those not interested in battling the moorland roads at nighttime.

The name comes from the Afrikaans names for bulrush and spring, so it is the spring covered by bulrush. A meandering stream flows through the property, before plummeting 60 or 70 meters off the edge of the plateau. It had little rain in it, but the falls were lovely to see nestled within a horseshoe of cliffs. A short hike brought us along the edge of the cliff face, but we did not attempt the extreme trail down into the ravine. We instead found our way a little upstream to enjoy the peace and tranquility that comes from the sound of only flowing water on a sunny afternoon.

:: blooming burbs ::

We currently live next to a lovely little neighbourhood which is home to a unique array of houses each with their own distinct character, garden, driveway and mailbox.

Suburbs like this one are a great place to witness the American appreciation for space and individuality.  Coming from urban living in the UK, these houses and gardens all seem immense.  And unlike the terraced houses you find in London and beyond which can sometimes all look very similar, residents of this neighbourhood have made extra efforts to bring unique elements to each home.  Everything from the actual design and colour of the home to the garden decorations and porch fixtures are different in this neighbourhood.

As we went for a walk the other day through the neighbourhood to a small local park we were stunned by the beautiful bushes blooming everywhere, making all of the houses look really lovely.  I felt like a proper tourist walking around with my camera admiring the lovely blossoms, huge gardens and American homes, but I was happy to come away with a few photographic memories.

:: holi good fun ::

One of the great things about being in the foreign service is being surrounded by people who share an interest in experiencing cultures. Well two of my classmates put together a Holi party yesterday in Meriden Hill Park in the District. Basically Holi is a Hindu spring festival celebrating the blossoming of new growth after the winter – though there are also religious connotations as well.

The tradition is to throw coloured powder and water at one another! Everyone is meant to wear white and run around throwing the bags of powder and water balloons at everyone else. A group of thirty or so of us gathered in a public place and then proceeded to go crazy! There were a lot of bemused bystanders, but we all had a blast! In the end it looked like a paint factory exploded!

Image

Image

We then partook in some traditional Indian line dancing, which involved short wooden sticks that we had personally decorated earlier. It was two parallel lines with the people standing opposite hitting the sticks together and then moving down to do it again with the next person. Of course the more flamboyantly you could move – think turns, jigs, twists, etc – the better! Afterwards we had some Indian sweets and general picnic offerings.

Image

Perhaps the most interesting part of the day was walking from the park to the bar. To say we got intriguing looks and comments from passersby would be an understatement! Of course I hadn’t really seen what I looked like until I saw the mirror at the bar – I completely understand why people responded like that!

Image

It was a great day out – especially as it was the first truly warm day of spring. Sun, warmth, good friends and coloured powder – not much more you could ask for!Image