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Day five:
Shopping in Worster.
This isn't very exciting really, but noteable in that if you want to go shopping somewhere with lots of nice clothes shops, you have to drive a LONG way. It took us an hour and a half to drive to Worcester (which is pronounced Worster, like a British place name!) for something for her to wear for her birthday. We stopped on the way at a pretty store called Spaces, which sells loads of lovely handmade goods and curios. I could have bought nearly everything in there. I especially liked this bottle chandelier. It is MASSIVE! Minutes after we left Spaces Mum realised she had to be back before 4.30 to help edit the Swellendam TV film, giving us only an hour to shop and Worcester was still an hour away. Fortunately, we found something in the very first shop we entered, 'Woolworths'. Woolworths here is actually just like Marks and Spencer, it even sells Percy Pigs (but not the veggie ones). I also got some cute shorts and a new bra. Exciting, nay? (this is a very South African thing to say.)

We headed back again after a quick (but delicious) lunch at Mugg and Bean (the food here is brilliant, I am worried I am not going to fit back into any of my clothes soon) so that Mum could help edit the film. Amy, who is making the film, has BEAUTIFUL dogs. A massive brown one, a bit like a Weimaraner, called Rainbeu; a little terrier called Solo who wanted lots of attention and the most beautiful wolf dog called Sky who I just fell in love with. He is MASSIVE, you can't see how massive from the pictures, but for a sense of scale his paws are literally the size of my hands.

We have to leave that early too however, as we were due to have a Brai (a South Afrcan BBQ) with Heike, Felix and Renée who were all due to leave the next day. We had a lovely evening; I think it must be great fun to run a B&B and meet new people all the time. Heike is actually a returning guest, she stayed for a few days last year and enjoyed it so much she booked again. Mum and Dave have a lot of repeat customers, and if you see the visitors book you will know why. I will try to get some photos of some of the comments.

Day Six
After saying goodbye to Heike and her family, who were off to cape town for the last leg of their trip (via the Fairy Sanctuary - I am interested to know what they thought of it! This was my impression 4 years ago) Mum and I head off to visit Wildebraam Berry Estate where you can do jam and liqueur tasting. I have been eating their jams every morning as Mum and Dave serve them for their breakfast! They are utterly delicious and I am particularly obsessed with the tomato and pepperdew jam. I hadn't tried any of the liqueurs before, so was excited to do so. It's about a 15 minute walk to Wildebraam from Impangele, and it's a beautiful walk with views of the mountains and local farms especially in the warm spring weather - today is 1st September and officially the first day of spring here. Everyone we pass wishes us a "happy spring day".

Wildebraam itself is laid out beautifully, all the jars of jam and preserves and liqueurs in coloured glass around the shop sparkling like jewels in the sunshine. We try lemon, hazlenut, chili chocolate, guava, orange, roiboosh (red bush tea) and youngberry liqueurs.

A youngberry is a cross between a blackberry and a rasberry, it's sharp and sweet all at the same time. Most of the youngberrys grown in South Africa are grown here in Swellendam, and are so called because the guy that invented them was called Mr Young. I've never heard of them before! I buy a large bottle of the Hazlenut (because it's flipping LUSH)and a few little mini bottles of some of the others. Gutted that you can only take a small amount of booze back across the borders, otherwise I'd be bringing back as much as I could carry! I also get a huge jar of the tomato and pepperdew jam because it is amazers. If you come here in November/December time you can pick your own berries!

We headed back to Impangele, but were passed by a friend of Mum's in his pickup truck called 'Bakkies' here, who offered to give us a lift back. It's not a long walk, but I wasn't about to pass up the chance of a trip in bakkie, so I jumped right in!

Mum, Dave and I took a brief trip into town to buy supplies, and for me to FINALLY pick up batteries for my camera so I can take decent photos of wildlife. Mum and I grab lunch at Wimpy, just for [livejournal.com profile] kafunked. Dave goes to his fave pub (also known as Swellendam's ONLY pub) called the Full Stop, which advertises itself thus:

This afternoon Mum has to do more tourist stuff and Dave has band practice (please all go and like his band on facebook) so I will be resting and catching up on my reading, and trying to get better photos of birds!

Day Seven
Nothing much to report on this day, Mum had yet MORE tourist organisation stuff to do so it was another day of chilling and book reading. I'm currently reading 'We need to talk about Keving' and finding it utterly gripping, so don't mind the time to relax and read. The weather was horrible for the first time since I've been here, so it was nice to just curl up in a blanket in front of a real fire and hermit for a bit. There had been no guests last night, so there was no big breakfast, so Dave decided to make a lovely homemade chili, and a veggie one for me. We were expecting a full house tonight though, so I was evicted from the Zebra room and put up on a mattress on the floor of Mum and Dave's room. I was not looking forward to this, as the last time I had to sleep here was the day before I went to De Hoop, and I slept terribly, because Mum and Dave snore horribly. Dave snores like an angry rhino, the room shakes! However by 10pm it became clear that the guy for the Zebra room was not coming and I could have stayed there after all! With a guest due the next day it didn't seem sensible to sleep in the bed and have to have Beauty strip it again in the morning, so we just dragged my mattress into the Zebra room for a blissfully snore free night!

Day Eight

Today I was moved into the Leopard room, at least until they get more bookings. I've not slept in here before, so selfishly I hope they don't get any! It's a little classier than the zebra room, there aren't quite as many knick-knacks but it's still very leopardy. You can read leopard books, do a leopard jigsaw, cuddle a leopard and, of course, dress up leopard style.

We had a brief interlude of excitement when a poor silly little cape robin got itself stuck in Mum's room. The poor thing was battering itself up against the closed windows; but once we opened them chose to batter itself up against the ceiling instead. After about ten minutes we managed to shepherd it towards the window and suddenly it got the message and with what almost seemed a final victory loop around the room it flew in a huge circle and then straight out of the window.

Today was also Mum's Birthday lunch, up at Joubert Tradow in the mountains. It's a different climate over the mountians, although they are just a short drive away. It's at least 5 degrees warmer, almost tropical. Our host, the owner of Joubert explains that the high altitide has something to do with this, and that the difference is so great that for wine making grapes would be picked here at a different time (as much as 2 weeks apart) than at the side of the mountain Mum lives on. Much wine is 'tasted', delicious lunch eaten, more wine tasted, then a cake which clearly has some sort of delicious booze in it, then more wine 'tasting', then home. It's only about 5pm but we're all ready for bed! The advantage of mid-day drinking is that your hangover is done with before you've gone to bed, so you wake up feeling fine the next day!

Day Nine
Step-Dave usually commentates for a Horse show held here in Swellendam (run by Mum's friend Colleen's Daughter) but has got out of it this year due to it clashing with Mum's birthday. I was keen to go and have a look though, so Step-Dave drove me over to the grounds that have been built in a Valley especially for shows like this. It's a perfect setting; you hardly know it's there until you are on top of it; a clear flat grassland flattened at the base of the mountains and very peaceful. Dave tells me that they hope to host concerts here too, as it's far enough away from any homes to be a noise nuisance and with lots of camping space, and it already has electricity facilities. I can't imagine Dave or Mum ever camping though. I watch some enourmous horses pretty much step over the fences, and some tiny ones - with equally tiny riders - leap over fences almost as high as they are, legs ablur. I decide I like the tiny ones best because they are making more effort! This one was my favorite - his name is Highland Prince Charming and I was taller than him.

In the afternoon, we head over to a restaurant called 'Koornlands' for a pre-opening preview. The restaurant is owned and built by Steve and Marianna; the original Koornlands sadly burnt down, and so for the last few months the owners have been working flat out to rebuild in a different site. I am inclined to like them purely because at the preview we are offered free Bon Courage Blush wine, to which I am now actually addicted. Even without the Blush though, the place looks fantastic, and I am looking forward to trying it out when they officially open for business. I particularly like the fabulous photos on the wall, which I am told were all taken by George Irwin, a friend of Mum's I'd met at her birthday lunch. I especially love the ostrich one, if I can afford it I hope to bring a copy home with me.

I also have the opportunity to try a South African sweet called a "koeksister" (Step-Dave insists on mispronouncing it as a "cocksucker"). These are basically pastries made with syrup, dipped in syrup, deep fried and then covered in syrup. And probably fried again, just to be sure. These things are SWEET. I mean, I have a super sweet tooth, but these are right at the limit of my tolerance for sweet. They are heavy too. Somehow I still manage to eat two of them. I suspect that I had the second one more to confirm that my experience of the first one was accurate, and that these are the sweetest things I've ever eaten in my life. I feel like my arteries are dissolving.

Tomorrow is Mum's actual actual birthday, and she's having a party at the B&B, so I am prepared to be introduced to many many people and say "yes, I know, it *is* a strong family resemblance?" about fifty times.

I am still in the Leopard room, which I have decided is my favorite!

To see all of the photos, go check them out on facebook.
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February 2015


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