Day 470 – 17 years ago

Do couples remember or celebrate the day they got engaged?

We got engaged 17 years ago today at sunset on a clifftop in Hermanus.
Such was the romance involved, we only just made it to PicknPay before closing time immediately afterwards.

That was back in the days when you were allowed out late.
And allowed to buy alcohol. Remember them?

I must look out some photos of the happy event.
Not now though. I’m hiding out in the Karoo this week.

Suffice to say that the journey together ever since (I mean in life, not to PicknPay) has been wonderfully full of adventure, glamour, excitement. And two kids and a beagle.

Hermanus thoughts

Some further thoughts and recommendations following our Hermanus trip this weekend.

We stayed here. After a rather rocky start, it got better. Comfy, cosy and close to the beach, it’s a bit out of town, but nice enough.
So. Many. Windows. I imagine that in summer, it would be magnificent.

We went here. A decent Saturday morning market. There was wine, beer, food, crafty stuff. You know that other Saturday morning market you go to? Well, this is like that.

We ate here. It was really good. Really, really good. Great staff. Eclectic decor, coupled with a really interesting fusion of Asian and local cuisine with some completely unique dishes (the Bun Cha has to be top of your list here).

We walked here. So accessible, so well signposted and maintained, and some excellent views as well.

We did one of the shorter routes, but if you’re fit enough and have the time (and if you don’t have young children attached!) there are some exciting looking longer walks as well.

And then – as described yesterday – we dropped in here on our way back to Cape Town. And look, I know that Boulders has its plus points: proximity to Cape Town, nice sandy beach etc, but for me, the penguins and the other wildlife make Stony Point a much better all-round experience. Don’t @ me.

Hermanus gets too busy for me in the summer, but out of season, it’s a great local getaway and – especially if the weather is good – there’s plenty (or more) to do.

Note: This isn’t a paid review (unlike some blogs, I always tell you if I do paid reviews), we just had a good time and it would be great if you could too.


We went to Hermanus with very few concrete plans. See a friend there, stay in a B&B there, and that was about it. I was skeptical that it was going to be a huge success, but obviously, as usual with these things, I was wrong. We had a great couple of days; busy, but fun. Some good family time. Beach visits, a market which had beer on sale, some flamingo stalking, a spot (or two) of fun with the Mavic, a walk in the nature reserve, some decent food (some not so decent food) and then an impromptu stop at Betty’s Bay on the way home.

… where the penguins and dassies and cormorants were all only too pleased to pose for the camera, and where the foreign tourists (German and Spanish) refused to spend R20 (£1.16, €1.31, $1.49) to see the all the chicks, because there were two just before the hut where you had to cough up your admission fee. The admission fee that goes towards looking after the penguins and preserving their future.

Sometimes foreign tourists can be tight bastards. All they seemed to want to do was stand around near their tour bus and smoke cigarettes (and guess where the fag butts went, fewer than 24 hours on from this?).
Most of the tourists we see in the Cape are having a great time and are amazed by what they see. These ones, not so much.

Anyway, photos here. Not of the foreign tourists, obviously. Ugh.

Saturday’s detour

We might have been caught up in the traffic after the accident on the Houw Hoek Pass – hell, we might even have been the accident on the Houw Hoek Pass – were it not for a stop off at friends in Hermanus on the way back from Agulhas on Saturday. And it was while we were leaving that tourist-infested, currently whale-free utopia that we checked Google Maps and found that there were 75 minute delays on the otherwise 75 minute N2 journey home.

No thanks.

Google suggested an alternative route, basically avoiding any delay, and who are we to disagree with Google? We jumped at the chance, even when it took us off the R43 out of Hermanus, onto the R44 towards Kleinmond and then immediately off that too.

Onto a dirt road. A steep, windy, narrow dirt road; decidedly old Transkei, and quite a challenge in a heavily laden 2 wheel drive SUV.

The road does show on Google Maps, but only just (you have to look closely), so I’ve marked the two ends of it with red dots for you, together with (for non locals) a black arrows showing the route we’d usually have taken, and a red line where the accident was blocking the road.


If you want to do it the other way, simply turn south off the N2 at the Peregrine Farmstall – and keep going.
The thing is, not only was this a bit of fun – a mountain pass adventure in the (mostly) rather mild Western Cape – it also gave us this view of the valley as we crested the top:


My Goodness. I had no idea that such a place even existed.

But this is Elgin Valley – apple country. Sadly, all too often only observed through the car windows of those flying by, off to the more established tourist areas out East. Look at what we’re missing. We visited the other side of the N2 when we went quad biking just before Christmas, but that was Grabouw – much more rugged and piney. Nowhere near as lush and green as this little oasis.

It’s only an hour out from Cape Town as well, so I can definitely see some more research being done, and a decent day spent out exploring this place this year. I like apples.

UPDATE: Here’s a full guide to the Highlands Pass.