Crossways, Sebastion Vettel, Pig’s Eyes and the Bridge of Death

posted in: Blog | 3

(UNEDITED – Need to publish before Oz departure)

Mouse, canine in charge of all homely activities, has distinctive clairaidient and hyperosmia abilities.  I have made use of these words, for exceptional hearing and smelling abilities, so as not to give her a big head.  After experiencing her uncanny abilities to suss out food, I am under the impression that she knows when I am even writing about her.

Mouse Canine-in-Charge
Mouse Canine-in-Charge

Mouse’ ability to hear the cutting of a baked potato, the spreading of Bovril on a Provita biscuit or the careful peeling of a banana is mindboggling. 

In an attempt to counteract this every now and then, the ‘Foot Loose’ team escape to surrounding eateries.

Last Saturday I was invited on such an escape to Crossways Farm Village, just north of Jeffrey’s Bay for breakfast.

Crossways is advertised as South Africa’s first, “new ruralism development – combining eco-friendly residential development, farming and a country lifestyle.”

GAMTOOS MOUNTAINS FROM THE RESTAURANT
GAMTOOS MOUNTAINS FROM THE RESTAURANT

After seeing the village – in an early state of development – that description is fine, as long as they do not start advertising it as an eco-friendly, state-of-the-art conservation as so many others have done.

One of the best examples of eco-friendly conservation development I have experienced, is an island just off Zanzibar.  Chumbe Island.  The winner of many international awards.    I was fortunate to spend a couple of nights on Chumbe.  Absolutely brilliant – if you have a few pennies wobbling around – get there.  Some others.  And some more.

Anyway back to the ‘Foot Loose’ breakfast run… 

The day started well – conversation during the drive very cuisine orientated, discussing the pros and cons of tripe and pigs eyes.  My input – my preference for the bum – ‘parsons nose’ – of a cooked chicken.  Some people prefer the eyes of a cooked pigs head, and grab one as the head is removed from the pot!   Everybody to their own, I suppose.  But I can always get chicken – pork is difficult to find as a culinary experience in many parts of the world.

So on to breakfast…

The Crossways restaurant is great.   At the entrance, a life size African cow stands greeting people people.  The cow is made from thousands and thousands of black and white beads – a real feat.

The Beaded Cow
The Beaded Cow
Close up of cow
Close up of cow
Chandelier made from Beads - Magnificent
Chandelier made from Beads – Magnificent
THE LOST PICTURE WALL
THE LOST PICTURE WALL
A WELL ORGANISED KITCHEN WITH AN AWESOME VIEW
A WELL ORGANISED KITCHEN WITH AN AWESOME VIEW

In contrast to the last time I went out with the ‘loose footed’ crew – this week I had male company with Vern.  Vern’s wife, Shelagh – I don’t think she’s from Awstrylia – was celebrating her twenty-third birthday … I think … I must ask her.  Anyway she is having a knees up at their home this week and some of the ladies have offered Vern an ‘out’, as there are going to be about fifty odd (odd as in ‘about’ not ‘weird’) excited, inebriated – possibly – ladies wobbling around his home.  But he turned down all the offers saying he would lock himself in his bedroom with the dog and kettle and stay out of the way until the dishes were washed.  Male wisdom abounds.

BREKKIE
BREKKIE
DEAR DEE - SMOKE BREAK!
DEAR DEE – SMOKE BREAK!

Brekkie was great, no pigs eyes or birds bums – just good wholesome enjoyable food and company.  I went ‘British’ with that great British institution ‘Bangers and Mash’ – lovely.

CHEESE-CIABATO-WITH-BACON-TOMATO-AND-THREE-HOME-MADE-CHEESE-SPRINKLED-WITH-CHIVES-AND-PARSLEY - MOUTH WATERINGLY GOOD
CHEESE-CIABATO-WITH-BACON-TOMATO-AND-THREE-HOME-MADE-CHEESE-SPRINKLED-WITH-CHIVES-AND-PARSLEY – MOUTH WATERINGLY GOOD

Afterwards, with bulging tummies, we said our good-byes and climbed into Naomi’s posh, automatic VW.  They have changed as well over the years – the VW’s not the Naomi’s – she is always lovely.

We took the scenic route back home up the N2 over the ‘Bridge of Death’.   Van Stadens bridge was constructed in 1972.  Within twelve days of its completion there was a suicide.  To date there have been  eighty-eight suicides.  This includes the suicide of a gentleman who jumped with his two young children.  It is the world’s most frequent suicide spot. 

VAN STADENS BRIDGE OTHERWISE KNOWN AS 'THE BRIDGE OF DEATH'
VAN STADENS BRIDGE OTHERWISE KNOWN AS ‘THE BRIDGE OF DEATH’

A private donor installed a R1,000,000 video-camera surveillance system.  There are lifeline phones at each end of bridge.

More recently after many approaches to the government a 2.7 meter high steel mesh barrier is being erected on both sides as a preventative measure.  Let us hope that it works.

THE ANTI-JUMP BARRIER
THE ANTI-JUMP BARRIER

There have been rumours of Satanic rituals taking place in river bed beneath the arch.

The Cross of Hope, a fourteen meter high white cross, has been erected on the hillside overlooking the road. 

Gruesome reading.

 After passing over the bridge we did a Sebastian Vettel entry onto the R102, the old main road between Durban and Cape Town.  We drove along the winding narrow tarmac road down into the Van Stadens gorge. 

Van Stadens river gorge is part of an initiative to protect the conservation of the area.  With no fences encouraging the free movement of animals and retention of the rich natural flora.  No cultivated land in sight, just an array of rich greens pinpointed with bright flashes of colourful flowers.

In the Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve, a 500 hectare piece of unspoilt land – there are two walks – a 4 kilometer river walk and a six kilometre forest walk which takes you through the natural Fynbos, succulents and other indigenous flora.  Mountain bikers are welcome to explore sections of the reserve.  At the old bridge thick green vegetation. Succulents, Ericads and other indigenous plants flourish with wild abandon … an area which is very much unspoilt and natural.  There is a traditional Xhosa ‘umzi’ (homestead) which is worth visiting.

Talking about jumping.  On a more cheerful note, one and a half hours further south on the N2 you can jump as much as you like, off a higher bridge.  But, it will cost you R790 to chuck yourself into the 216 meter (709 ft) abyss. At the end of a bungy cord

The Bloukrans Bungy jump is the highest adrenalin jumpie’s jump in the world.

People have been hurling themselves off the Bloukrans bridge since 1997.  The company has a 100% safety record.  Probably why they are still in business.

Some tips from an experienced bunger … is that what you call them?

  • Make sure you have some sort of ante-anxiety something before you jump.
  • After buying your ticket, sit in the bar/restaurant and attempt to get the glass of ante-anxiety something into your stomach without missing your mouth, or making a mess of the bar top.
  • Don’t worry, fear is the body’s way to make sure you have clean underpants available.
  • Try and channel positive thoughts into your body.  Although your body will never, ever believe you ever again.

 

Some fascinating facts:

  • Oldest jumper was Mohr Keet, aged 96 years.  Before he jumped, he was five foot five inches. After he jumped he was … well let’s just say to date he is still the tallest 96 year old in the Guinness book of records.
  • Most bungy jumps in one day – Scott Huntly 107 in 9 hours 2011.  The human yoyo.
  • Most in 24 hours by Bill Boshoff (South African) 101 jumps in 14 hours and 23 minutes. The human yoyoyo.
  • Run by Face Adrenalin employ 60 people from local communities. Significant percentage of turnover paid to local community since 1998.
  • I have been there twice and still get weak knees when I go within three kilometres of the place – I hate the squeal of tortured elastic as it stretches.  When I travel over the bridge, it is done at three million miles an hour with my eyes closed.  So, no I have not become a bugger … I mean a bunger.

 

So Naomi Vettel herded us into the VW and off we sprung…

Driving on a bit further we pulled into the Ferry hotel on the banks of the Gamtoos river (Khoisan language meaning – ‘Place of the roaring lion’).  Apparently huge Cape cob lurk beneath the muddy waters here.  A catch of one such monster of 76kg has been recorded.

The Gamtoos river was the eastern boundary of the Cape Colony in the mid 1700’s. In the early days farmers had to take their ox wagons upstream to cross the river.  In the mid 1800’s a ferry was in use where the Ferry hotel now stands.  In 1896 a single lane bridge was built, this bridge is still in use today.

ORIGINAL GAMTOOS FERRY
ORIGINAL GAMTOOS FERRY
ORIGINAL GAMTOOS RAILWAY BRIDGE
ORIGINAL GAMTOOS RAILWAY BRIDGE

There is a well maintained caravan/camp site at the hotel as well as a mini market, pub and bottle store.  Boat cruises, fishing and sand-boarding excursions to the Gamtoos river mouth are available.

FERRY HOTEL FRONT STOEP
FERRY HOTEL FRONT STOEP

We did not stop for tea as they were very busy getting ready for a wedding that evening.  The lady rersponsible for doing the fantastic decore and wedding table is Charmaine Vell-cross.

WEDDING HEAD TABLE AT THE FERRY HOTEL
WEDDING HEAD TABLE AT THE FERRY HOTEL

Although tea, coffee or a drink were available.  We could have taken our time sitting in the buzzy pub or a bit more relaxed on the river bank.

THE DANCING TROUPE
THE DANCING TROUPE
THE VERY REAR 'NAOMI' FLOWER OBSERVING THE OTHER FLOWERS
THE VERY REAR ‘NAOMI’ FLOWER OBSERVING THE OTHER FLOWERS

Then with seat-belts on, we continued back through the Gamtoos valley, with dairy cows, agriculture fields, the little cafe where Tinkerbelle the blind dog lives andonto JBay and home.

 Thank you again to my friends for a brilliant day out – it is good to know nice people.

The great Inuit hunter, Aglakti once said:

“oƃә ɹo ɹnoɯɐႨƃ ɹoɟ ʇou Ⴈɐʌ!ʌɹns ɹoɟ ʇunႡ әʍ”

 

3 Responses

  1. Brilliant, Rob – a great mixture of good humour and history, you gave this piece ‘texture’. Cute doggie, and I chuckled my way through your funny bits – you’re clearly “on a roll”. I like this kind of (sociable) history lesson – Well done. And you had me on my knees upside down, reading the last line! Also, it was sweet to mention the lovely ‘Tinkerbelle’ again. Lovely article. xx love Jacqs

  2. loved all the things made from beads, amazing!

  3. I have seldom enjoyed any type of blog or review as much as this one. It flowed, transported me back to the eastern cape and filled my heart with warm feelings. Your humor and gentle observations remind me of good things.

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