A holiday in the Southern Cape is about more than just hanging out on the beach. South has selected a collection of new tourism offerings, fun family activities and authentic local shopping experiences for you to explore this summer. Also have a look at our diary on page 28 and our online calendar for events happening in the region. Enjoy!
MOSSEL BAY AND SURROUNDS New Stuff
MacYoung Farmers Market in Hartenbos is the new local Saturday morning hangout. Fresh produce, plants, clothing, gifts, breakfast, coffee and live music. Open 8am-2pm. Old Sea Shells turn-off, Hartenbos River 082 337 3414
The ReedValley tasting room is the only physical location in South Africa where you can purchase this exclusive export wine. Herbertsdale turn-off (R327) outside Mossel Bay. Open 10am-4pm seven days a week. reedvalleywines.com
The famous ‘water worm’ at Hartenbos ATKV has moved to Diaz Water Park at the Diaz Hotel, where the Steyn family has reopened the water worm alongside various other upgraded super tubes, slides, a lazy river, a heated pool, braai and picnic areas. Open 9am-11pm seven days a week during summer holiday season. diazwaterpark.co.za
The ATKV Hartenbos’ new fun park includes a water park, play and entertainment areas, mini golf and more. Open 8.30am-11pm during summer holiday season. hartenbos-seefront.co.za
The longest sandboard ride in South Africa, Dragon Dune, comes highly recommended and is open to all ages. Booking is essential with Billeon Surf and Sand at 082 971 1405 billeon.com
Guided walks with elephants at Indalu Game Reserve. Booking is essential at 082 990 3831 indalu.co.za
Take a guided paddock walk and/or carriage ride with the giant horses of Outeniqua Moon Percheron Stud and Guestfarm. R328 between Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn. Booking is essential at 044 631 0093 outeniquamoon.co.za
Catch a big fish out at sea with Mossel Bay Deep Sea Adventures. Booking is essential at 072 454 2988 deepseaadventures.co.za
Take a trip around Seal Island in the Romonza boat. Departs every hour on the hour from the harbour 10am-4pm. Inquire about eco-ocean safaris and sunset cruises. romonzaboattrips.co.za
The Dias Museum complex includes a replica of the caravel in which Bortolomeu Dias came ashore in 1488, the famous 500-year-old post office tree, shell museum and aquarium, and ethno-botanical garden. diasmuseum.co.za
Hartenbos Boeremark, Saturdays 8am-2pm at the ATKV amphitheatre. 076 204 3772
Steyn’s Antiques is a treasure chest of antique furniture, collectables and trinkets. steynsantiques.co.za
The Klipheuwel Padstal (farm stall) outside Little Brak River includes a coffee shop and roastery, deli, fresh vegetables, arts and crafts, and more. klipheuwelpadstal.co.za
Déjà Vu Vintage House 7 Marsh Street Facebook: Deja-Vu-Vintage-House
KNYSNA New Stuff
A first in South Africa, try Knysna Scootours for a unique way to experience the Knysna Forest. Descend through indigenous forest on single track and navigate sweeping bends on these non-motorised scooters. Booking essential. scootours.co.za 079 148 3751
Experience the magic of flight with Dolphin Paragliding’s tandem flights at Brenton. From R750pp. dolphinparagliding.co.za 072 199 0622
Open to the public every Wednesday in December, Kilzer’s Kitchen is a cookery school where you get to see how your meal is prepared. Booking essential. kilzerskitchen.co.za 044 382 0135
Garden Route Fishing Adventures offer deep sea fishing trips – a must-do for fishing enthusiasts. Booking essential. boatingadventures.co.za 082 800 3609
Featherbed Company offers a host of fun experiences, including a ferry trip to the nature reserve and romantic lagoon trips on the Heads Explorer catamaran. knysnafeatherbed.com
Ocean Odyssey is the official whale watching permit holder in the Knysna area and hosts eco-tours outside whaling season. oceanodyssey.co.za 044 382 0321
Unwind in the shade of age-old indigenous forest canopies at Garden of Eden. 500m to 1km wheelchair-friendly walkway through the forest. Next to the N2, between Plett and Knysna. 044 532 7793
Enjoy a number of mountain bike trails in and around Knysna, next to rivers and through lush forests. Enquire at Knysna Cycle Works knysnacycles.co.za 044 382 5153
VegTable is a celebration of vegetables and rustic slow cooking. Located in a cottage in a Pecan nut orchard on Mermaid’s Rest farm on the Rheenendal Road. Booking essential. vegtable.co.za 074 833 9516
TSITSIKAMMA New Stuff
The Storms River Arts & Crafts Meander showcases the work of local creatives, including art galleries, home studios and businesses – all within easy walking distance of each other. Pick up a map from the Storms River Information Centre or participating venues. Opening times on map. Updates on Facebook: Storms River Arts & Crafts Meander. Susan Kemp 083 467 9388
The Tsitsikamma Big Tree is an easily accessible giant yellowwood tree inside indigenous forest, just off the N2 near Storms River Village. The decked forest trail is wheelchair-friendly and a perfect picnic spot.
The Storms River Village Market is open every first Saturday of the month 9am-1pm around the Bitou Gallery. Marie Brink 082 573 2442
Tsitrus Café makes great pizza, stocks lots of local products and has a play area to keep the kids busy. Facebook: Tsitrus Café
GREAT BRAK RIVER New Stuff
Seeplaas in Tergniet is the home of Ken Maloney Art, Mont Aime Coffee Shop and Venue, and New Season Design Home Decor. 044 620 2409
Brothers Coffee Roastery at The Pink House imports quality African single origin green beans, roasts and brews great coffee. Facebook: Brothers Coffee
Eat locally harvested oysters and the freshest fish in a rustic ambience on the banks of the Great Brak River at Oyster World. Open throughout the season. Facebook: Oyster World
Buy fresh bread and cake at Peperboom Restaurant and Bakery. 67 Long Street 044 620 3081
Noel Henry’s recently opened deli, The Full Basket, stocks cold meats, prawns, cheese, chicken fillet, ice cream, braai spices, dry cake mixes and more. Open 8am-5pm Monday-Friday. 8am-2pm Saturday, and 9am-2pm Sunday in December only. 072 240 6404
Entertain the kids with craft mornings while you stock up on your arts and crafts accessories at Periwinkle Crafts, Haberdashery and Jewellery. Ground level, 67 Long Street. 082 743 3089
Marnitz Steyn art gallery features the works of the talented Steyn family, including sculptures, wooden home decore items, and woven articles. Open during season, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. Saturday 9am-1pm and by appointment. 044 620 2381
PLETTENBERG BAY New Stuff
Enjoy scenic views from the wooden deck of The View Tapas Bar as the kids play on the large lawn nearby. 044 533 0165
Cairnbrogie Mountain Bike and Trail Park is geared for beginner to intermediate skill riding, including kids. Airport Road cairnbrogie.co.za 044 533 9192
Down to Earth is a natural/organic restaurant at the Plett River Lodge. Focusing on health, they serve ethically and locally sourced dishes. 044 533 5843
Visit the various historical landmarks in and around Plett, from the remains of the Beacon Island Whaling Station to the Van Pletten Beacon and Nelson’s Cave, where early man lived along the shore, on the spectacular Robberg Peninsula. plett-tourism.co.za
Take to the ocean and learn to surf with Jamin surf school at Central Beach. Lessons cost from R350pp (Summer 2016-17), including equipment. Booking essential. 082 436 6410
For the kids, nothing beats the water slides at Adventure Land. Waterslides, tube rides, trampolines, braai facilities and a take-away kiosk. N2 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay adventurelandplett.co.za 044 532 7869
Africanyon offers an exciting kloofing adventure. Must be 12 years or older. From R500pp. The Mill Centre, The Crags. Booking essential. 044 534 8055
Get to know majestic raptors from up close at Radical Raptors, where you can watch aerial displays and even handle some of the birds. Open 7 days a week. Show times 11am, 1pm, 3pm. The Heath off the N2. radicalraptors.co.za 044 532 7537
Walk with cheetahs at the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre. Forest Hall Rd, The Crags. Daily from 9am-4.30pm. tenikwa.com 044 534 8170
From mohair blankets to sheepskin slippers, socks and yarns, The Mohair Mill Shop offers the biggest range of mohair products in South Africa. You can also find furniture, Africo-chic accessories, skins and leather. Kurland turn-off from N2, The Crags. mohairmillshop.com
Offering a range of hand-crafted items and furniture, as well as a great spot for the kids to unwind, The Heath in Harkerville is a shopping must. Facebook: The Heath 044 532 7724
In addition to homemade cheese and bread, local produce and beautiful things, the coffee and light meals at Nature’s Way Farm Stall on the Nature’s Valley road are great.
WILDERNESS Family Stuff
Wild X Adventures offers quad-biking, paintball, canoeing, paragliding, abseiling, kayaking, zip-lining and horse rides. Also view the beauty of the Garden Route during a helicopter or small plane flip. Adventures cost between R100pp and R900pp (Summer 2016-1). wildx.co.za 062 398 7818
Eden Adventures offers double, single and triple canoes for hire so pack a picnic and spend the day exploring local waterways. Other activities include kloofing and abseiling. eden.co.za 083 628 8547
Enjoy a guided horseback ride through indigenous forest with Black Horse Trails. Take the Hoekville turn-off from the N2 and head for Beervlei. From R300pp (Summer 2016-17). Cash only. blackhorsetrails.co.za 082 494 5642
Acrobranch is a tree top adventure park where you can slide, balance, jump, crawl or swing through the action-packed courses in the forest canopy. acrobranch.co.za 044 882 1113
Operating from SANParks Ebb and Flow rest camp, Segway Tours takes visitors on a guided tour of the Kingfisher Trail. segwayfun.co.za 081 796 9946
WILDERNESS RIVER SAFARIS offers cruises on a safari-style aluminium boat on the Touw River and Island Lake. Prior booking essential at 081 593 8937 or 082 440 9807
Buy clothing, gifts, trinkets, food and oysters at Timberlake Organic Village between Wilderness and Sedgefield. timberlakeorganic.co.za
Milkwood Wilderness Friday Night Market. 4pm-9pm. Milkwood Centre. Facebook for updates.
SEDGEFIELD Family stuff
Canoe and paddle boat hire and horse rides at The River Deck. Buffalo Bay Road. 083 306 6861
Garden Route Trails offer bird tours, mountain biking in nature, a photographic workshop along the shore at low tide and guided nature walks. gardenroutetrails.co.za
Take a cruise on the Swartvlei lake on Captain Saney’s twin-hulled ferry class boat, the Loose Goose at Pine Lake Marina. 084 793 4722
Moonlight Meander and Starlight Stroll night-time guided tours along the beach. Booking essential 044 883 1015
Head down to the beach and catch some waves – let the guys from Myoli Beach Shop teach you to surf or stand-up paddle. 082 386 5093
Have you noticed the mosaics in Sedgefield? Take the Masithandane Mosaic Tour to learn more about the community upliftment project that beautified the village. 044 343 2658
Enjoy a freshly made breakfast or take home homemade goodies, fresh produce and free-range meats, chicken, dairy and cheese. Wild Oats Community Farmers Market on Saturday 7.30am-12pm, off the N2.
GEORGE Family Stuff
Ten Pin Bowling for the entire family at Let’s Go Bowling in Mount View Resort. 1 York Street mountviewsa.co.za
The Skate Lab will offer hours of skateboarding and BMX fun. York Street (opposite Mount View Resort). 044 873 2808 Facebook: Skatelab George
Enjoy stunning views as you travel on the Outeniqua Power Van railbus from George to Oudtshoorn. Experience the forest, four passes, water falls, six tunnels, fynbos, proteas, bird and animal life, and a panoramic picnic site. Trips start from 7.30am from the Outeniqua Transport Museum. 082 490 5627 firstname.lastname@example.org
Immerse yourself in memories from a bygone era at the Outeniqua Transport Museum, which displays a variety of old motor cars, train carriages and locomotives, including the Emil Kessler (Johannesburg’s first steam locomotive). 2 Mission Road 044 801 8289
Learn more about the town’s history, and especially its role in the timber industry of yester-year and the Anglo Boer War, at the George Museum. Monday-Friday 8am-4.30pm, Saturday 9am-12.30pm, closed on Sundays and public holidays. 9 Courtenay Street 044 873 5343
Discover the inner workings of a modern dairy farm at Valcor Dairy. Kids can also pet the calves. valcor.co.za 082 331 8618
Abused and ill-treated donkeys get a second chance at a happy life at the Barnyard Donkey Sanctuary. Bring some carrots and fruit to feed these humble beasts of burden. On the R102 between the airport and George. 044 876 9975
From afternoon tea to a night market, park runs, a treasure hunt, hiking, mountain biking, and music concerts (bring your own picnic), the diverse fauna and flora of the Garden Route Botanical Garden offers a beautiful and natural backdrop to fun for the whole family. botanicalgarden.org.za 044 874 1558
From farm-fresh products to excellent meals and confectionary to die for, with over 125 food and craft stalls, and entertainment for the kids, the Outeniqua Farmer’s Market is a must. Welgelegen turnoff from the N2. Saturday 8am-2pm. outeniquafarmersmarket.co.za
Local dried fruit, fresh fruit and vegetables, jams, local estate wines and beer at the Kruisaar Padstal (farm stall) in Waboomskraal. N12 towards Oudsthoorn. Monday-Saturday, 8am-4pm. 082 376 4767
Eats and treats at the Roadside Deli @ Hops Valley farm Store Wednesday-Saturday 8am-5pm. Sunday 8am-4pm. Waboomskraal 073 258 4818
KLEIN KAROO Family Stuff
The Cango Caves Zipline is a new two-stage double zipline above a deep Karoo ravine and game enclosure. Bookings 072 214 4578. cangocavesestate.co.za
Be part of an elephant’s natural daily routine by brushing an elephant at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge. buffelsdrift.com
Waterslides, camel rides, putt-putt, touch farm and more at the Wilgewandel Holiday Farm in the Cango Valley. wilgewandel.co.za
The Village Trading Post in De Rust is famous for good food, interesting shopping and has a new lifestyle shop in the back. 29 Schoeman Street 044 241 2110
Handmade gifts, arts, crafts and sweets at Klapperbos in De Rust. 27 Schoeman Street. 044 241 2351
Doornkraal Farm Stall on the R62 outside De Rust offers wines from 20 local cellars and unique food items. 044 251 6715
Gone are the days that the Garden Route was considered too remote and obscure for locals to make it big. South is proud to profile some of the increasing number of internationally outstanding individuals who call the region ‘home’.
PHOTOGRAPHS Vanessa van Vreden, Melanie Maré and supplied
Professional surfer Bianca Buitendag, aged 23, hails from Victoria Bay and is among the top women surfers in the world. She reached the number four spot in 2015 and continues to lure international sponsors with her talents and charm.
As a professional surfer, Bianca travels the world and finds herself in a different time zone at least every two weeks. At the time of interviewing, Bianca was on the southwest coast of France preparing for a World Tour event.
Although she has surfed professionally since the age of 17, her surfing-related travelling started at 14. Growing up in this unorthodox way encouraged her to become open-minded towards other cultures and opinions, and she regards it a privilege that few others get to experience.
She sees the ocean as her escape. “My heart thrives when I find myself under water, lost in the freedom of the ocean and its movements.”
Becoming one of the world’s top surfers required hard work and dedication. Bianca spends long hours in the water practicing and follows a physical exercise regime focusing on core strength, cardio and stretching. To qualify for the World Championships Tour, which sees the 17 best surfers in the world competing for the crown, she has to surf heats during various events in the Qualifying Series. Her favourite surfing spot in the world remains Victoria Bay, where she grew up next to the ocean. She matriculated from Outeniqua High.
“All my memories of the Garden Route are fond; I had the joy and privilege to grow up in an untouched and uncorrupted environment. I would love to settle down in this area one day and pass these memories on.” For now she is focused on her sport but in future would like to become involved in business. “We will have to see where the opportunities might arise.” biancabuitendag.com
Born and raised in Pacaltsdorp in George, Elroy Gelant, 30, qualified for the 5000m Olympic Games finals in Rio de Janeiro and finished 11th despite an injury. A few months earlier he had spectacularly broken the South African record at an event in The Netherlands in a time of 13:04:88 – just a few milliseconds slower than the Olympic bronze time. “I worked for that record, but it still came as a bit of a surprise. During my preparation, the time trials showed I was capable of running the 5000m within 13:10. My previous personal best was 13:15. I’m really humbled and honoured.”
Elroy says the Olympics were a tremendous experience from which he took away a lot of skill and self-confidence that he will use to his advantage in preparing for his next goal – a top-five position in the IAAF World Championships in London in August 2017. He also has his eye on top positions in the 2018 Common Wealth Games in Australia and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
But, just participating and doing well is not where his dream ends. “The holy grail of running the 5000m is a time of under 13 minutes. I’m going to try my best to achieve this over the next two years,” says Elroy.
He wants to take his athletics career as far as possible and intends running professionally for at least the next 15 years. “When I’m over my peak for the track events, I want to switch to road races and marathons. Running is what I love to do and it is a God-given talent.”
Schooled at Pacaltsdorp Primary and Outeniqua High School, Elroy’s outstanding talent surfaced when he won the bronze medal as an eight-year-old at the South African schools championship that year. “I remember it well. I stepped in at least two thorns while running, and cried and cried, but pushed through. In some aspects that is still my motivation – despite thorns and other setbacks, one has to keep going.”
He loves the Garden Route deeply and returns from his training grounds in Potchefstroom at least twice a year. “Nothing beats running in the Outeniqua Mountains. The whole landscape unfolding beneath, the fog, the sea, the vegetation … it’s awe-inspiring.”
Social media: @elroygelant and Facebook
Meyer von Wielligh
The unique furniture of Norman Meyer and Abrie von Wielligh has been attracting international attention for some time, but it was the $30 820 (± R400 000) sale of one of their pieces at world-renowned auctioneering company Christie’s that led to real recognition.
“It was the best moment of our 12 years in business. We could follow the auction live on the Internet. Works of some of the best designers in the world were sold just before and after our piece. It is very encouraging and we take it as a sign that we are on the right track with our business,” says Abrie.
The story behind the top-selling piece, the Battleship Table, is just as intriguing. It was made from the wood of a giant oak tree, which used to tower in York Street in George, and made headlines in the local paper when it crushed a car when it fell. The slab of wood they fashioned the table from resembled the shape of a battleship, hence the name.
The Southern Guild Design Foundation, an independent organisation that acts as a platform for local designers to showcase once-off creations, approached Meyer von Wielligh to create an item for an exhibition in Cape Town. They submitted the Battleship Table, which was eventually included in the foundation’s select exhibition in London.
Abrie and Norman first met as students at Furntech training academy in George before going into business together. They are enchanted by the Garden Route lifestyle and draw inspiration for their exceptional designs from the region’s breath-taking nature.
They have several international clients who have bought properties in the Garden Route and export some of their products to the Czech Republic and the United States. In addition, they have won several business awards, attracted attention at Design Indaba 2012 and took part in numerous international exhibitions in association with Southern Guild.
They are currently involved in a five-year export marketing programme in collaboration with the Dutch government agency CBI, a centre for the promotion of imports from developing countries. “We are definitely looking at the global market for future growth,” says Abrie. meyervonwielligh.co.za
Mark and John Collins
International adventure racing legends Mark and John Collins, aged 48 and 43 respectively, were on the team that beat 50 others from 18 countries in this year’s Expedition Africa race. Their three-hour win secured them a spot in the Adventure World Championships and the respect of significantly younger competitors.
The Knysna-based brothers, who are also behind the highly successful sports events company Magnetic South, will be part of the Sanlam Team Painted Wolf, derived from the Latin name of the endangered African Wild Dog – Lycaon pictus – which literally means painted wolf. “Wild dogs hunt in packs, which involves efficient team work, so we fully identify with that characteristic. In adventure racing success depends on working together as a team. It’s also our way of raising awareness of the plight of the African Wild Dog,” says Mark. The brothers made headlines almost immediately after starting to compete in the endurance sphere and have participated as competitors or organising teams in nearly 50 international events worldwide.
In 1998, at the age of 24 and 29, they represented South Africa at the legendary Camel Trophy competition in South America, surprising veterans by coming second. Four years later they became the first rookies in the top five, taking fourth place in the 2002 Eco Challenge in Fiji, a race in which only 10 out of 89 teams managed to finish.
They wouldn’t trade their Garden Route lifestyle for anywhere else in the world. “We have a good life in Knysna and everything we want and need is right here.”
Their efforts for the World Championships were well supported by the whole community. “Many businesses joined in with sponsorships, which we truly appreciate.”
The adventurous duo wants to participate in the adrenaline-filled world of adventure racing for at least another three years, defending their Expedition Africa title amongst others, before they start thinking about slowing down. magneticsouth.net
Duran de Villiers
Selected in 2015 as one of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa by internationally renowned Forbes magazine, Knysna’s ‘drone man’, Duran de Villiers, has a can-do attitude and passion for everything he undertakes.
Duran attracted tremendous international attention after launching his revolutionary unmanned aerial camera support system in 2012, which he designed and built himself. At the time he was a sports photographer and saw the need for filming race participants in inaccessible areas.
The SteadiDrone transformed especially the filmmaking world and has subsequently found many other applications, and earned revenue of more than US$1.2 million in 2014, according to Forbes.
“For me it’s all or nothing. I believe in hard work, finding passion and joy in everything I do and being progressive, moving forward all the time. And then of course the support and hard work of my wife and team – they are all a massive part of our success,” says Duran.
Born in Johannesburg, but in Knysna since the age of 10, Duran matriculated at Knysna High and after school, when his parents emigrated to New Zealand, joined them there for a while.
“My romantic interest was here, however, and I decided to come back. Alexa and I got married and started up a media production company, which sowed the seed for the creation of SteadiDrone.”
Duran and his team are currently taking the company to the next level by building a new brand identity where their latest invention, the Alti Transition UAS, is the star of the show.
“The Alti is a world first in many aspects. It is a next-generation, fixed-wing unmanned aerial aircraft, which we’ve developed from the ground up. It has the ability to take off and land vertically, anywhere.”
Tattoos, once the province of those living on the fringes of accepted society, have become part of the mainstream like never before. On the Garden Route internationally respected tattoo artists Moog Muller and Estelle van der Walt attract clients from around the world – and from all walks of life.
WORDS Candice Ludick PHOTOGRAPHS Melanie Maré
Body art has always had a mixed reception – from being a mark of wealth in the upper echelons of European society in the late 1800s and the epitome of 1960s revolutionary expression to subversive subcultures and gang association. Today, tattoos are a recognised art form with a following across all social classes, genders, age groups and races.
Learning from a master
Moog Muller started his trade as an apprentice to tattoo artist Alain Reymond, whose hard-core reputation for travelling to war-torn regions to tattoo the foreign legion was legendary. Moog followed in his mentor’s footsteps and spent years in East and West Africa as well as Johannesburg before he moved to the Garden Route and opened Otherworld Tattoo in Knysna in 2007. He is the only manufacturer of coil tattoo machines in South Africa.
Among Moog’s more well-known clients is 5FM’s DJ Fresh, whose often-featured tattooed tribal armband was designed and inked by Moog. Not that the fame of some of his clients phases him: “I’m interested in the tattooing, the tattoo; it doesn’t matter if you’re a granny or a celeb,” he says.
His interest was sparked as a fine arts student when he got his first tattoo. “The tattooist had really good skills and could work from existing stencils, but had no artistic inclination. I had a specific idea in mind and provided my own drawings, which inadvertently planted the seed for this extraordinary career.”
After completing his art qualification, Moog began an apprenticeship under Alain in Johannesburg and also travelled with Alain for work, inking his first client in Djibouti, East Africa. “It was absolutely nerve-wracking. You’re leaving a permanent mark on someone, you have to do it right the first time.
“I’m ‘old school’ and when I learned, tattoo equipment was not readily available in South Africa. I learned to make all my equipment from scratch, including the coil machines I use to tattoo my clients.” Moog now sells coil machines to tattooists across the world.
Moog takes care to discuss his client’s choice of artwork with them to avoid regrets in future. “It is the main reason why the true professionals will not tattoo spur-of-the-moment walk-in clients under the influence of drugs or alcohol. No serious tattoo artist wants his or her work covered up – we have artistic pride like any other creative professional.” A large percentage of his work, however, is cover-ups. “About 40 to 50% of my work is covering up bad choices of subject matter and poorly executed tattoos.”
While many people choose from designs in reference books, there is a significant increase in people who arrive with definite ideas and pictures. Moog designs and also refines a client’s idea as part of his service but remains flexible to what they want. “There isn’t only one way. It is the client’s tattoo, not mine,” he says.
“The current trend in men’s tattoos is sleeves and for ladies, finer work on their ribs. It is constantly changing. What people see influences them in terms of their tattoo choices.”
Moog charges R900 per hour (Summer 2016/17) and takes a deposit for design work. Booking is essential and a waiting list of several months is not unheard of.
Not an ordinary woman
While other girls read Blush magazine, a teenaged Estelle van der Walt read tattoo magazines and drew pictures in pen on herself. “There are many reasons why people choose body art. It is something you do for yourself, no-one can take it away from you and it brings you joy,” she says.
Estelle’s formal education includes textiles and jewellery design in school, 2D and 3D art, and painting at the Cape Technical College. “My dad is an artist, and art has always been an important part of my life.” At 17 Estelle took an apprenticeship in leatherwork, which she regards as part of her journey. “I’m still working with skin and needles,” she laughs. “It is such an amazing job because it is rewarding in the sense that the appreciation is immediate, as opposed to putting artwork in a gallery. It is also one of the most difficult industries to get into. You have to be persistent.”
Estelle worked in henna for a number of years before securing a henna job in a tattoo shop, where she learned the ink trade. Morag Pringle of Skinscape Tattoo in Sea Point was not keen on an apprentice but Estelle’s talent, willingness to learn and persistence eventually paid off. “An apprenticeship is a commitment from both parties. You basically work for two years in exchange for knowledge, it isn’t easy to survive.” She has been tattooing for 11 years. While her business, Ocean Ink Tattoos, is based mostly in Plettenberg Bay, she has travelled to Thailand and Spain to complete commissioned work.
In the beginning she tattooed herself with water and also practiced on oranges. Every time she gets a new tattoo machine she first practices on herself so that she knows first-hand what her clients will feel.
Estelle mostly tattoos her own designs and has a waiting list of clients for new designs and larger pieces, such as backs and sleeves, which require more than one sitting. Many clients will continue adding to their old pieces over the years. A full sleeve can take 35 to 40 hours to complete. “Some people can sit comfortably for three hours while others can sit for six,” she says.
“Every tattoo is for a different person with a different story for a different reason. I interpret people’s ideas onto paper and skin, a lot of it is very intimate.
“People come from all over the world. I have tattooed gynaecologists, doctors, deejays, film producers, professors, primary school teachers, policemen, traffic officers and other tattoo artists – people from all walks of life. The oldest person I have tattooed was 75.”
Estelle says about 50% of her work is cover-ups – either bad work or the clients have emotionally outgrown their existing tattoos. She also helps people cover up scars, for example from cutting, and works with people who want to mark a turning point in their life, like recovering addicts.
She likens tattooing to therapy. “I call it needle therapy. It is a space where people are free to express themselves; a kind of pain therapy.”
Estelle likes to work with the shape of the body. “I often look at a person and get a picture in my head. It may not always be what they see but it is there. Getting a tattoo is a journey, a process; going through with the process is a commitment.”
Estelle charges R850 per hour (Summer 2016/17) and takes a deposit on design work.
CHOOSING YOUR TATTOOIST
The needle-in-skin methodology and permanence of tattoos require careful consideration when choosing a tattooist.
Do your homework: look at samples and reviews of tattoo artists, and ask others to make recommendations.
Check that sterile equipment is being used (a good tattooist will have an autoclave).
All surfaces must be impervious and sterile.
Check that the tattooist uses sterile gloves while working, and sterile needles and fresh ink for each client.
While there is no legal age restriction, most tattooists require permission from parents of minors.
The Western Cape government has bylaws regulating tattooing, generally pertaining to health and safety requirements.
The Council for Piercing and Tattoo Professionals (CPTP): bodyartcouncil.co.za
CONTACT Otherworld Tattoo
082 514 7648
Facebook: Otherworld Tattoo Ocean Ink Tattoos
Estelle van der Walt
073 613 6209
Facebook: Ocean Ink Tattoos SA
In 2009 the initiators of the wildly successful Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) in Oudtshoorn created a sister festival to cater for the locals’ need of quality classical music. Today, the Klein Karoo Klassique attracts performers from around the world and a previously untapped winter audience of passionate aficionados to the Southern Cape.
WORDS Tisha Steyn PHOTOGRAPHS Hans van der Veen and supplied
Driven by attorney and businessman Nic Barrow and a committee of respected local music, art and hospitality roleplayers, the Klein Karoo Klassique is held in August each year to celebrate classical music, food, art and wine.
“We wanted to bring classical music to the rural Klein Karoo,” says Nic, who sensed many others in the community shared his love of classical music. Among them was music teacher Danie Bester, whom Nic called in 2008 to ask his opinion on revitalising the then almost non-functioning Oudtshoorn Music Society. “Klassique was the natural outcome of the re-established society and took the activities of the latter a step further by extending the classical offering to non-members, the rest of the country and even the international community,” says Danie.
The festival’s founding meeting, where Nic was elected chairperson, was held at the Queen’s Hotel and was very well attended. Danie suggested the name Klein Karoo Klassique and the date for the first festival was set for 14 to 16 August 2009. The committee comprised of several other Music Society members and ArtKaroo gallery owner Janet Dixon.
“Many of us felt the KKNK was not representative enough of the true Klein Karoo culture,” says Janet. “We felt we needed to present something more authentically Karoo to the public, such as our unique local cuisine and excellent local wines.”
Klassique was also an opportunity to attract additional tourism to the town in the relatively quiet winter months.
“Musically, Klassique was aimed at complementing the cultural roots of the KKNK by focusing on classical music specifically, with a strong emphasis on supporting South African performing artists – several of them at a relatively young stage in their careers, such as local prodigy Sulayman Human,” says Brett Pyper, the then CEO of the KKNK.
The first programme included all genres of classical music, and of note was the inclusion of Nina Schumann and her husband Luis Magalhães, who played compositions for two pianos by Brahms, Lutoslawski, Arensky and Copland. The couple’s link to the festival would have far-reaching benefits in later years.
Also included in the first programme was the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, now the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, with conductor Theodore Kuchar and soloists Pretty Yende and Given Nkosi, at the Oudtshoorn Civic Centre. The performance was so much sweeter in light of the orchestra’s previous appearance at the centre in 1983. An apartheid era local municipal bylaw prohibited multiracial audiences from attending a performance in the civic, while the orchestra’s policy determined they could not perform for segregated audiences. “A High Court order forced the municipality to comply in 1983, and so the less controversial 2009 opener was extra special,” says Nic.
What Nic doesn’t say is that he carried the costs of that first performance – not only their transport but also their accommodation in the Queen’s Hotel, according to Danie. “If it wasn’t for Nic’s financial input, the Klassique would never have happened. He also sourced the first handful of sponsors.”
The first Klassique was a huge success. “The Klassique was widely publicised and enthusiasts of classical music from as far afield as Kimberley, Uitenhage and Colesberg attended,” recalls Nic. “Apart from introducing world-class artists performing classical music to the Klein Karoo, the region’s unique natural environment, food, wine and art were also given an international stage.”
During the first two years the programme included mostly solo recitals, chamber music concerts, a symphonic programme and choirs. The line-up gradually expanded to include performances covering the breadth of music described as classical, such as classical pop, classical jazz, light classical songs from musicals and choirs, including the Cape Town Youth Choir, the St George’s Choir and community choirs.
The reaction of those who have since attended Klassique has been overwhelming: “People want to know where we find all these amazing classical musicians,” says Danie. “We are proud of the excellent artists we manage to attract. People who attend regularly often book their shows and accommodation a year in advance.”
Klassique became an additional project of the KKNK festival office from its second year.
Sulayman Human, who started playing the piano at the age of twelve, owes his success largely to Klassique.
“Musician and singer Coenie de Villiers was the first to notice the local schoolboy’s potential at a recital during the KKNK and brought his talent to Nic’s attention,” recalls Danie. Since then Nic and the Klassique team went out of their way to develop his gift.
At the time Sulayman was attending Dysselsdorp Secondary School and taking music lessons from various teachers. When he was about 15 and in Grade 10, renowned classical pianist and educator John Theodore facilitated Sulayman’s move to Oudtshoorn High School where he could take music as a school subject, and started preparing him for external music examinations. Nic gave him a Dietmann piano, which Danie delivered to the residence where Sulayman’s mother was a domestic worker.
Sulayman subsequently became a student of Nina Schumann and Luis Magalhães and his progress culminated in a superb recital at Klassique in 2013.
“It was a pivotal moment when Sulayman performed a brilliant solo recital on the Yamaha G5 grand piano on stage at the Neelsie that day,” recalls Danie. “Coenie was overcome by emotion as the schoolboy, who after only seven years, played such incredible music.”
What to expect
The festival starts with an opening concert, which since 2013 included the winners of the previous year’s ATKV Muziqanto competition, and whose final round coincides with the performance of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra gala concert on the Saturday night.
This gala concert has been known as the Mimi Coertze Gala Concert since 2012. The legendary opera singer agreed to be the patron of the festival in 2013.
Musicians include local talent such as pianists Sulayman and John, and soprano Friedel Mitas, as well as South African-born musicians from elsewhere in the country and those who have won international acclaim and live and work overseas.
Janet says the Klassique is arguably a much more pleasant festival than the KKNK “because it draws a completely different set of people who are really interested in music, art, the unique Klein Karoo cuisine and our excellent wines”.
“To my mind, Klassique has notably brought younger artists from a range of backgrounds to Oudtshoorn, broadening understandings of who is active in the classical musical world, and for whom this music is significant,” says Brett. “Some programmes have notably extended the conventional understanding of the classical repertoire as well. As always, this work continues to be extended and remains a work in progress.”
The festival guides are printed in Afrikaans and English, and productions are introduced in both languages to allow for the festival’s diverse following.
The Klein Karoo Klassique takes place from 12 to 14 August this year (2016). Programme and booking information at klassique.co.za. Early booking of performances, accommodation and meals are highly recommended.
Age is relative – just ask three local 70-somethings whose continued accolades in sports AND DANCE are inspiring young and old.
WORDS Corrie Erasmus PHOTOGRAPHS Melanie Maré
On the bike
“Sport keeps you young,” says 72-year-old cycling legend Willie Marx, who continues to compete and win medals in mountain bike and road races.
During the 2014 South African Track Championships he secured three medals in his age division – two gold and one silver. At the time of going to print, he was on his way to participate in the South African National Road Championships in February.
Better known these days for his bustling bike shop in York Street, Willie once was South African national track champion no less than seven times and was headhunted for the Dutch Amstel Beer team to compete in the Tour de France at the age of 18.
“I competed in the world championships in Holland that year and came third. After five days of racing, my teammates returned to South Africa, but I was approached to stay behind and ride for Holland,” he says.
Eventually, Willie stayed for three years and cycled the world on fire.
He broke British cycling hero Sir Reg Harris’ quarter mile record and was honoured for this achievement by being invited to Buckingham Palace for tea and scones. “I didn’t meet the Queen though,” he smiles.
Willie returned to South Africa to pursue studies and a career in electronics, but after a bad cycling accident 35 years ago he sold his electronics business and opened a cycling shop in George, which is still flourishing today.
His dream is to go back to the world championships and become number one again. “If I can get a sponsor, I will practise very hard. I’m healthy and still have the drive and enthusiasm to do what it takes,” Willie says.
He cycles three times a week, doing 50 to 60km at a time, and takes a special remedy to prevent cramps, reduce stiffness and keep his blood clean. A local specialist who won a world award for his work developed this remedy.
What do people say when they hear he still cycles? Willie says: “It is always very positive and everyone encourages me to keep on doing this.”
Meet Marianne van der Merwe-van der Lecq, a veteran ballet dancer from Little Brak River.
At the seasoned age of 70, this remarkable former professional ballerina of the erstwhile PACT (Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal) is still dancing and enjoys every minute of it.
“I’m most grateful towards my Creator and feel very blessed to be able to still do what I love at my age,” Marianne says. “Also, it’s very special that my beloved mother, who recently turned 100, is still able to share my joy. She has always been my greatest supporter.”
After years of not dancing, Marianne took up classes again a few years ago. In 2014 she successfully completed the Royal Academy of Dance Grade 7 ballet examination. She performed the best in her group – comprising mostly teenagers – and received both a distinction and a gold medal.
Marianne explains her reasons for taking up dance again: “I went to a ladies tea one morning and met ballet teacher Mariki Viviers from Great Brak River. We started talking and the desire to do plié’s and pirouettes once more was suddenly there.”
Ever since she can remember Marianne says she was always dancing around the house. At the age of nine a family friend took her to the Johannesburg City Hall to see a ballet performance by an international star.
“I was totally enchanted and, having grown up in a home where we were exposed to music, literature and the arts, everything about that performance made an enormous impression on me.”
The cherry on top was when she met the prima ballerina, Tamara Toumanova, backstage and got her programme signed. The die was cast and soon afterwards she started ballet lessons. After school PACT asked her to join their ballet corps and Marianne soon became one of their solo dancers.
“My four years with PACT were some of the happiest and most fulfilling of my life. We were very privileged in the 1960s to work with some of the greatest international artists in the ballet world. Apart from performances in all the major cities in South Africa, we also had the privilege from time to time of touring the country to expose and educate those in remote areas about the arts.”
Marianne gave up her dancing career after getting married. Although she didn’t dance professionally any more she joined a dance group in Cape Town and took part in classes and performances. She called it quits in the 1990s but remained supple with Pilates, which stood her in good stead when she returned to ballet.
“I thought I wouldn’t be able to complete my first lesson with Mariki, but to my surprise I completed the lesson and was even able to do the jumps,” she laughs.
“Ballet is beneficial to the whole body, mind and spirit. I will keep on doing this for as long as I am able to. I feel revitalised after each class.”
According to Marianne, people’s reaction on hearing that she is still dancing at 70 is overwhelmingly positive. “To me, one of the joys that comes with ballet is to inspire people. Be grateful for your health, enjoy it and stay active.”
Not only is Oudtshoorn-based Toy Ungerer the South African women’s champion in her previous age division (65 – 69) in the 100m, 200m, 400m and long jump, she also won the gold medal in the 400m two years ago at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Brazil. Having recently turned 70, Toy is currently training hard to break at least the 400m in her new age category at the World Masters Championships in Australia later this year.
Toy says she excelled in athletics, netball and gymnastics as a child. She believes she inherited her talent from her father, Ernst du Plooy, a fine athlete in his own right. After school she went to the Oudtshoorn Teaching College, but didn’t continue with her running.
Her spectacular comeback to the world of athletics – 42 years after she had stopped running – started with a small advertisement in a local publication. “When I was 59 years old, I responded to an advertisement looking for volunteers to act as field marshals during the district masters championships, which were held in Oudtshoorn that year,” Toy says. “The organiser, Frans Kalp, convinced me to participate as well. I took the plunge, competed in the 100m and came second.”
This achievement marked the beginning of great things as Toy continued to participate in numerous big athletics events, including three world championships, harvesting medals and breaking records along the way. Besides being a dynamic athlete who practises for an hour and a half three times a week, she is also very involved with the administrative side of the sport.
Toy has been the chairperson of Athletics South Western Districts (ASWD), an affiliate of Athletics South Africa, for the past eight years. She also serves on ASWD’s track and field committee and is the vice-president of South Africa Masters Athletics (SAMA).
“My life has become so enriched in terms of experiences. Besides meeting and befriending people from all walks of life and from all over the world, I even became computer literate, being involved with the administration.”
Every athlete suffers injuries from time to time and Toy is no exception. She tries to eat according to her blood group in order to prevent the build-up of lactic acids and does ongoing research to help her perform better.
She says she has become very strong, physically and mentally. “It’s hard work, but the word ‘lekker’ (fun) is connected to every aspect.”
Her future goals include coaching other athletes. “I want to stay involved in athletics. It’s important that people know about masters athletics. Life doesn’t stop just because you are growing older. I want to motivate others to become active and enjoy their life. Set yourself goals and don’t wait, just do it!”
In the world of trail running, The Otter African Trail Run has deservedly earned the name ‘Grail of Trails’. Mark Collins, co-organiser and a legendary endurance racer, explains how they secured a race on one of the most famous protected hiking trails in the world.
WORDS Mark Collins | Photographs Jacques Marais
Staging a run on the Otter hiking trail was actually my brother John’s idea. He is absolutely besotted with the hiking trail. The 40km spectacular, unspoilt shoreline of the Tsitsikamma is in his eyes the crown jewel of the African coast, and to him the idea of a race along it was the ultimate event. Given the global boom in trail running and the Otter trail’s international renown, we thought it was inevitable that sooner or later someone would want to try and organise a run along it – so why not us?
The Otter hiking trail is a sought after wilderness experience and usually booked out throughout the year. Would SANParks, the custodians of the trail, even entertain such a notion?
We approached SANParks with the idea in 2008, expecting it to be dismissed out of hand, but our timing could not have been more perfect. SANParks was at that very time receptive to new sustainable concepts and to our surprise agreed to consider our proposal, and requested that we present our plan at the general meeting of the Garden Route National Park.
Trail running is arguably the sport that can be staged as an event with one of the lowest impacts on the environment. The erosive impact of shoes on a trail cannot be compared to that of the wheels of a bike, for example, and mountain biking is itself a low environmental impact sport.
Trail runners also do not use hard soled boots, carry less weight and strike the trail 30% less than even hikers do. Waste management is also an integral part of the trail running ethos and race rules dictate that everything taken onto the trail must be taken off. In this sport littering is akin to cheating and penalised with disqualification.
Although the sport’s impact still awaits the scrutiny of scientific study, some contend the holistic impact of an individual trail runner on a trail is even less than that of a hiker. Of course the impact of hosting an event is far more complex but we felt we could do it and do it well. We wanted it to be a credit to the sport and to our hosts. In our introducing the sport to SANParks, we presented these observations together with our proposed event management plan.
Our presentation was followed by robust internal debate. Frankly, given the status of the Otter hiking trail and the importance of the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park to the environment, I would have been disappointed had it been anything less. Eventually it was agreed the only way to fully assess the impact of such an event was to give us the opportunity to stage a once-off event, provided an Environmental Impact Study was done and an Environmental Management Plan drafted and adhered to. Any future events would only be considered following the assessment of this one event. We were given our opportunity and we put our trail shoes on.
Running the Otter trail immediately captured the imagination of the South African trail running fraternity and demand for the limited entries was high from the outset. The Otter trail did not disappoint. The trail is a marathon distance but anyone fooled into considering it in kilometres alone is in for a shock. Metre for metre, it is one of the most brutal trail running challenges around and even the best of the best take twice as long to traverse its undulating course as they would for the same distance on the road. Although the trail climbs no big mountains, the cumulative altitude gain of the numerous short sharp hills makes it comparative with some of the bigger mountain runs in that regard but it is the unrelenting, twisted and tangled surface of the trail itself that poses the greatest challenge. No two strides are ever the same. It is just impossible to find a rhythm.
These physical challenges combined with the overwhelming beauty traversed left a deep impression on the 168 runners of that inaugural run in September 2009. The fact that it was off-limits to trail running outside of this organised event only added to its magical allure. One of the runners of that pioneering event dubbed it the “Grail of Trail”, a definition that resonated and stuck.
Today The Otter African Trail Run, presented by Salomon and GU, is considered the yardstick of South African marathon distance trail running and the limited 440 entries are snapped up as soon as they become available each year. The race has also won a SANParks Kudu Award and we have been nominated in several categories in the national Sport Industry Awards in 2012 and 2015.
According to former winner Dr Andre Gie: “it’s a reputation wrecker.” AJ Calitz, a South African national team trail runner with more trail race wins in more races than just about any other South African, says: “No disrespect to the others but the Otter is the one.”
AJ has yet to taste victory in The Grail of Trail but he came agonisingly close on three occasions, bagging two converted black ribbon medals for twice dipping below the 04:30 mark. Only four other runners hold black ribbon medals. World Champion Ricky Lightfoot from the United Kingdom is one of them. He professed to being “shocked” by how technically sustained the trail was during his record setting run in 2013. Shocked he may have been, but his mark of 04:15:22 is almost inconceivable to anyone who has hiked the trail in five days.
Lightfoot is one of a host of international trail running royalty who have made the pilgrimage to do the Otter run. Legends like France’s Sebastian Chaigneau, the United States’ Krissy Moehl, New Zealand’s Ruby Muir and South Africa’s own superstar Ryan Sandes all have carved their names into the history of the race.
Ruby became the first woman to dip below five hours when she edged Landie Greyling in 2013. Landie is the only South African woman to run sub-five hours.
Perhaps no other runner has made a mark on this race more than Iain don Wauchope, who won the Otter three times, including the inaugural race (04:59:02) and finished second twice. His competitors refer to him as “the Professor” of the Otter run for his uncanny ability to pace his race to perfection. Iain holds the record for the West-East running of the race, which was introduced in 2012 and is known as the RETTO (Otter spelled backwards), which he completed in 04:23:24.
While it is evident we are absolutely passionate about the race aspect of the Otter run, and thrilled by the status the event has attained, it is the environmental ethos of the event that we as organisers are most proud of. Our founding philosophy is that the Tsitsikamma must be better for us having been here. The manifestation of this philosophy has endeared us to our hosts and resonates strongly with our participant base. Good intentions are one thing, practically making a difference is much harder and we have a long way to go yet, but we have been innovative in our physical efforts and our Environmental Check Station with SANParks is a world first for a trail race. The cumulative awareness this generates is harder to quantify but perhaps more profound than the physical marine debris that the event marshals assist the rangers in removing annually from the rocky shorelines.
What not many people are aware of is that the greatest extent of the Tsitsikamma lies beneath crashing waves. The marine protected area extending five miles offshore is the oldest and largest in Africa and of critical importance to marine life along the entire coastline. How this is managed affects all of us and we never tire of making our participants and the media aware of this. Being entrusted with the opportunity to organise an event here is indeed a privilege and we treasure every moment spent in the park. With that privilege goes a big responsibility.
We will always be mindful of that.
In a tiny sandstone building near the end of a busy street, a vintage-besotted family charms the hearts of visitors with their quirky shop and boutique movie house, providing an unforgettable trip down memory lane.
WORDS Athane Scholtz PHOTOGRAPHS Desmond Scholtz
Knock on the door of 7 Marsh Street in Mossel Bay, and a soft-spoken woman is most likely to open. Dressed in genuine fur, a little bling and a hat or headband, she’ll invite you into a treasure chest of original vintage clothing and accessories that will pull at your heart strings. And just when you think you’ve taken it all in, Joan Carstens will invite you for a vintage high tea.
Filled to the brim with beautiful items, Déjà Vu Vintage Clothing and Accessories is the culmination of a lifelong passion for all things vintage that retired school teacher Joan shares with her actor daughter Cornelle. “Every item in here has a story – from grandchildren arriving with suitcases filled with their late grandmother’s treasured evening dresses to a 1940s bridesmaid’s dress discarded in a thrift shop box on the sidewalk,” says Joan.
While most items are priced, not everything on display is for sale. “There are some pieces that I am too attached to – like my irreplaceable collection of more than 60 fur coats and a lace wedding dress for which I’ve been offered a lot of money on several occasions. Yes, I could have made some good money, but the value of the garment in my hand and heart is priceless.”
Joan says suggestions to move her shop to a big city, where she could make a lot of money, hold no appeal. “This is my service to my community. I am known to pay good money for worthy pieces and sellers are assured the garments will be loved and cared for. I provide a good home for other people’s memories and ensure those who buy from here have the same appreciation for the clothes and what they represent – they were, after all, worn by other people who may have had some of their most beautiful memories in those garments.”
While she sometimes buys from second hand shops or fetes, Joan believes the treasures find her. “When people bring me clothes and accessories, I love to hear about the stories associated with the different pieces.”
Joan admits to being a “hoarder with a purpose”. Tiny pieces of paper are saved for decoupage and decorations, fabric scraps for kiddies craft projects, and old stuff just in case… She also has a flat where she keeps more clothes, about 400 hats and endless boxes of gloves, scarves and other accessories.
A special guest experience that Joan and Cornelle offer to groups in the shop’s adjoining little theatre is a vintage tea. An elaborately decorated room with a raised platform, the Monroe Theatre hosts a weekly vintage classic movie night as well as on appointment, live cabaret shows, vintage high tea, and the mother of all children’s parties for girls – with dress up, photo shoot, little ladies high tea, children’s theatre and beaded crafts to take home.
A red carpet and a glass of sparkling grape juice welcome me at the door. I get to pick a fur stole for the occasion, with matching gloves, a hat and pearls. Some of the other guests scrounge around the shop, disappear behind a curtain and return in stunning vintage outfits.
The first discussion, of course, is about the furs. “Obviously we don’t condone slaughtering of animals for new furs, but we also believe in preserving heritage and memories… these furs are the loving handiwork of people who lived at least 65 years ago and they represent people who have lovingly worn and preserved them, often for several generations,” says Joan. There is also an option to choose a delicate lace shawl or velvet jacket for those who do not wear fur.
The high tea table is laden with delicious homemade treats – tiny quiches, heart-shaped cucumber sandwiches, date balls, cheese cake in heart shaped cups and Joan’s legendary rainbow cake. And filter coffee or tea from a vintage pot. Guests are seated at tables decorated with vintage crockery and flowers.
As we savour the eats, we wonder aloud how the women of yesteryear ate without soiling their gloves – or kept their fur stoles from slipping off.
When the sun comes out, we sit outside in our elaborate outfits. Passers-by slow down to get a better look. We smile and wave like royalty.
Joan’s husband, Dewaal, is a keen photographer and takes nostalgic photographs of the guests in their regale in a self-styled photo booth behind the stage. The pictures are presented to guests on a CD to take home.
In addition, guests can enjoy a good book in the reading room in the attic.
Those who’ve attended them highly recommend the weekly movie night at the Monroe Theatre. The 35-odd people lucky enough to get their hands on tickets each week are treated to a light meal and a show for R55. Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are among the favourites.
By the time I leave, I feel like family and the jovial sentiment lingers long after my departure – what a unique and extraordinary experience with an exceptional family.
Déjà Vu Clothing and Accessories offers:
Vintage clothing and accessories – including wedding gowns – for hire and sale
Costumes for hire (clothing from the 1920s and onward; theme costumes; children’s costumes)
Vintage photo shoots
A 1964 DKW vintage car for hire
Rare and second-hand books
Crockery, collectables and crafts.
Monroe Theatre offers:
Vintage classics and art movies
Live cabaret shows
Tea room (traditional English cream tea with hats, gloves and shawls; vintage high tea; tea for two in the attic; special occasions and events; children’s parties; and little ladies high tea with dress-up, photo shoot and activities).
Déjà Vu Vintage Clothing and Monroe Theatre
7 Marsh Street, Mossel Bay
Joan Carstens 082 415 9588
Cornelle Carstens 082 338 4364
Facebook: DéJà Vu Vintage House
Establishing and maintaining a graceful garden along the shores of the Garden Route’s lagoons and estuaries can be a frustrating chore rather than a relaxing pastime. Knysna-based Dallas Greeff of Earth to Eden gives some guidelines on gardening in sand and salt.
WORDS Jacques Marais PHOTOGRAPHS Lisa Greyling, supplied
“Lagoon-side properties are often either at the water’s edge, or on low ground,” says Dallas Greeff, who started operating as Earth to Eden in 2007, specialising in creating, establishing and maintaining gardens throughout the Garden Route. “The soil along the shore may be affected by the tides, while tidal action also influences the fluctuating level of the subterranean water table, affecting the soil of gardens in low lying areas. This saltwater infiltrating the soil leaves salty deposits behind when it retreats.
“Winds blowing in from our estuaries and lagoons are laden with saltwater vapour, which is deposited on plants’ leaves. The close proximity of the ocean and the sea breezes we experience also mean plants are getting more than their fair share of salt.”
Dallas suggests using indigenous plants, especially endemic varieties. “I prefer working with plants that are local to a specific region,” he explains. “They have adapted to thrive in conditions that other plants would struggle with like, for instance, salty soil and gusting winds. This is the easiest way to ensure a happy, healthy garden.”
In areas close to the water’s edge, or that are affected by the changing levels of the water table, Dallas suggests planting hardy vygies like the Carpobrotus edulis (sour fig or Cape fig). Members of the restio family, especially Elegia tectorum (Cape thatching reed), also do well in these areas. For extra colour Dallas suggests supplementing your planting with gazanias. “Gazanias bloom over a long period in the summer and produce large flowers in various colours.
“Don’t enrich the soil too much in these areas – the returning tides and fluctuating water table will wash most of the additives away. This is also why it’s a good idea to work with plants that naturally occur in these areas. Regular watering will wash away some of the salt deposits.”
For areas further away from the tideline and on higher ground, Dallas enriches the typically sandy soil with compost. “A great tip is filling a large cardboard box with a good quality compost and planting your plant in this box. Then you plant the box into the ground. The cardboard will disintegrate over time, but by then your plant will be well established.”
In these areas Dallas uses plants like the bushy Aloe arborescens (krantz aloe) and the taller, fast growing Aloe thraskii (dune aloe) in his clients’ gardens. Fruit bearing shrubs like the Carissa macrocarpa (num-num bush) are sure to attract a host of birds and even some small wildlife to the garden. If you want to bring in extra colour and texture into the garden, exotic plants like the Gaura (beeblossoms) and any of the lavenders also work well along the local lagoons.
“If you are going to introduce exotic species, you should compost your plants at least once a year, and water and feed them regularly. Speak with your local specialist about the specific requirements of each species.”
Trees that thrive in lagoon-side gardens include Syzygium cordatum (waterbessie), Erythrina caffra (coastal coral tree), Dodonaea angustifolia (sand olive) and Sideroxylon inerme (white milkwood). “The flowers and fruits of these trees will also attract many birds and small animals to the garden,” Dallas says.
“If you have your heart set on a garden filled with exotic plants, or plants that don’t naturally occur along our lagoons, consider using pots.”
With a record 23 trips to Antarctica under his belt, Garden Route-based structural engineer Hennie Stassen is a legend among those who work on the icy continent, and his credo – “’n boer maak ’n plan” (a farmer makes a plan) – is firmly imbedded in international Pole-speak.
WORDS Heidi Sonnekus PHOTOGRAPHS Melanie Maré, Hennie Stassen and provided
Hennie Stassen’s heart beats in three distinct colours: white, green and burnt umber.
The first time he set foot on Antarctica as part of a South African Department of Public Works maintenance team, many years ago, his soul recognised home and he lost a large part of his heart right then and there – irrevocably.
When not down south, he yearns for the white, vast, minimalist world where life is lived in its simplest form. “There are no distractions. For the duration of the short summer – during long, 16-hour shifts, seven days a week – you are intently focused on the job at hand. A lapse in attention or judgement can mean the difference between life and death, for yourself and others,” says Hennie.
During the Antarctic winter Hennie lives 4000km to the north at Kalanderkloof, a farm perched on a hill overlooking the Karatara River near Sedgefield. It’s a lush, permanently green world of indigenous trees, among them the famous Outeniqua yellowwood (kalander).
His wife Helga – she of the long, umber tresses – uniquely ties Hennie’s two worlds together. Helga is an architect with experience in design for extreme conditions. She became part of Hennie’s design team and once, while seven months pregnant, even accompanied him on an Antarctic trip. The experience strengthened their bond and that of their family, which includes Daniel, now six years old, and Ida, aged three. Like their siblings from Hennie’s previous marriage, the children understand their dad’s need to visit his white world as often as he can.
Internationally respected, Hennie joined the Department of Public Works after completing his studies to honour his bursary specifications. It became his job to maintain state-owned structures, including those on Marion- and Gough Islands and the fast-disintegrating South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) III base.
It was on Marion that Hennie met Helga, who designed the space-age base built there in 2007. The nitty-gritty of working at impossible jobs in improbable terrain is fascinating: for the Antarctic base, they casually toss into conversations figures like “600 tons of nuts and bolts, 11 000m² insulation, 4km of optical cables and 9km of electrical wiring”. Every component has to be labelled and packed in crates within the weight-capacity of being airlifted onto the ice. And if they forget something? Tough. The next trip to the local hardware shop can only happen at the end of the Antarctic summer – on another continent!
Hennie selected the spot for the South African National Antarctic Expedition’s fourth base, designed and built from the rock base of the Vesleskarvet escarpment, part of the Nunutak mountain range in Queen Maud Land. Work was done in short bursts over six summers. SANAE IV is 150km from the sea, a trip by bulldozer-pulled sled train over washboard-like snowdrifts.
Just getting there is not for the fainthearted. “We travel – in best circumstances – at 10km/h in very, very cramped conditions. Hours of mindlessly bumpy tedium go by before you can stretch our legs.”
And that is after a 4000km trip in very confined quarters on the SA Agulhas II icebreaking vessel, crossing the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties (degrees latitude).
Most of the work is manual labour. Over December 2014 and January 2015 Hennie’s team had to hydraulically lift the South African summer base and underground vehicle compound two meters to prevent them from becoming ice-logged.
This meant pick-axing and jackhammering 130m by half a metre of blue ice – melted and refrozen to be “hard as concrete and slippery as snot” – from around the compound before painstakingly lifting it out of the ice, section by section, and then securing it in place to withstand the pile-up of winter drifts and storms of over 200km/h.
“In Antarctica there is no time – only weather. Storms visibly approach and we sometimes literally have minutes to secure new work and anything that can blow away. Katabatic gales can last for days and bury every single thing, including bulldozers and ‘ground won’ yesterday. Repeatedly,” he explains.
It is in a film about his work that one realises just how dangerous this is – while building SANAE IV a team member was unaccounted for. Venturing out into zero visibility and a 193km/h wind, three volunteers braved a “white wall of air” to search for him. One of the volunteers lost his grip on the rope and was blown away.
“You simply get blown off your feet. There is no traction on the ice, nothing to grab onto. The new base is close to a 250m cliff, specifically to prevent snow build-up, but this increases the danger. It is possible he was blown off the cliff.”
There is the immediate push-pull of wanting to send out more search parties – but always at the real risk of losing more men. Searching means teammates lashed together on 20m ropes, walking blindly in circles, hoping to stumble over the lost person. Ice goggles steam up. If you take them off, your eyelids freeze. Hard decisions have to be made by strong leaders who have to consider the bigger picture and risk to the rest of the team. In a tragic irony, the original lost team member miraculously found his way back to base.
The lingering trauma and sadness leaves Hennie quiet, and Helga says: “There is no place for romanticism or aesthetics there. If things go wrong people can die.”
Hennie’s years of experience in the ice also led to him becoming involved in the design process of other international projects. Micheal Pinnock of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) recalls Hennie and his men helping BAS erect radar masts for a project shared by 44 countries. “We were proudly admiring our completed work when Mr Stassen commented, drily, ‘Tsk. Pity it won’t last.’ Indeed it did not: quite a few masts were promptly blown away. We made sure to involve him in designing the next batch.”
Adapting plans to the sub-zero temperatures, and the ability to tread lightly and pack up quickly, has become a mind-set. Materials do strange things at -50˚C – rules change at the end of the earth.
Mentally, survival on the ice depends on relaxation in between prime focal periods and during weather-enforced tool-downs, often of undetermined duration. This is when you get a chance to try out the base gym and enjoy a round in the pub, where Hennie’s name has been immortalised in copper plate. Appreciative Polies understand that his mind travels there, even from Kalanderkloof, pondering their problems and designing solutions.
Hennie stresses the importance of teamwork and praises the last batch of men who accompanied him.
“The team cooks together and each has his own speciality. Fitter and turner Louwrens Dreyer was our go-to pasta cook; carpenter Michiel Senekal’s mieliepap will be forever unbeaten. His brother Martin – welder/carpenter – made a delicious duck. Bulldozer- and crane operator Polla Malherbe’s leg of lamb was legendary and electrician Gerrie Kotze the team braai-champ.” Hennie makes a mean chicken dish and also boasts having amazing dishwashing capabilities.
The team leader’s state of mind has a huge influence on morale. He has to plan Christmas celebrations in October already. “This year we used washers and jelly babies for the tree,” Hennie smiles.
What’s next? “Aah, I so wish for an impossible project that will occupy his mind like his Antarctic work – but closer to home,” says Helga. “Daniel, Ida and I could do with him being home this coming Christmas. But not at the cost of feeding his soul.”
Plettenberg Bay’s Tshisa Talent project has already landed a local winner a movie role, and has hosted high profile judges such as comedian Marc Lottering, Freshly Ground lead singer Zolani Mahola and Idols winner Elvis Blue. But the energetic founder of Tshisa and Lunchbox Theatre has bigger plans to develop talent beyond Bitou’s borders.
WORDS Athane Scholtz PHOTOGRAPH Melanie Maré
An interview with South is not the only thing on Stuart Palmer’s to-do-list. Barely two days after the finals of the three-month-long Tshisa Talent project, he is back on the planks and rehearsing for a show at the Harare Festival of the Arts in Zimbabwe. In the coffee shop where we meet, I am the first in a row of appointments and already the third media interview since the weekend.
“The success of Tshisa and Lunchbox, and a new family, has filled up my life significantly since we arrived here in 2007. It is such a privilege to be able to do it all here on the Garden Route,” says Stuart.
“Tshisa Talent offers performing artists from previously disadvantaged communities more than just an opportunity to develop and showcase their talent. Finalists receive development training in a range of skills that will help them pursue their dreams – including business and marketing skills, fundraising know-how, and singing and dancing lessons. The winners are given prizes that will help their promotion as artists and typically include recording time, promotional photographs, clothing, business cards and more. The whole idea is to empower them to manage their own talent and make a living from it.”
Since the first talent show in the streets of Plett in 2009, Tshisa has had a number of successes. Most prominently 2012 overall winner, Louisa Harker from New Horizons, also won the singing category of the South African Championships of Performing Arts in 2013 and last year secured a supporting role in Regardt van den Bergh’s Uitvlucht.
“While outside successes are great, it is not our primary goal. Tshisa is about helping people to stand on their own feet and to give them confidence and life skills that will ultimately benefit their families and the broader community.”
Born and raised in Cape Town, Stuart has been part of theatre groups since he was ten years old. After school he joined a local amateur dramatic society, did an acting course and landed parts in movies and advertisements.
He travelled extensively before meeting Vincent Meyburgh, a professional actor with a passion for street theatre. The pair developed several shows under the banner of Jungle Theatre Company, which still does drama workshops and educates school children. “Once I experienced the spontaneous and animated response of children exposed to live and interactive theatre, advertising roles and even the occasional movie just weren’t as appealing.”
When Stuart’s daughter Anela was born in 2007, he and wife Rhian Berning, who was raised outside Plettenberg Bay, decided to move here.
Lunchbox Theatre was established soon after to educate, entertain and employ through theatre. The schools programme duplicates Jungle’s work in the Southern Cape and has performed over 360 shows to more than 60 000 children. It also features at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival.
Lunchbox Theatre colleague Mncedisi Ncedani suggested open mic shows as a way to identify and grow local talent. The concept was developed into what is today known as Tshisa Talent. “People shout ‘Tshisa!’, the Xhosa word for ‘it’s hot!’, when a performance gets them going, which is the perfect name to inspire performers to captivate and entertain their audience.”
Tshisa enjoyes support from the National Arts Council of South Africa and the attendance of high profile judges such as Marc Lottering, Zolani Mahola, Elvis Blue, Wendy Oldfield, actress Nomboniso Paile and Grahamstown National Arts Festival artistic director Ismail Mahomed.
A Tshisa Talent website, originally intended to promote competition winners, unexpectedly turned into the Tshisa Talent Agency for professional artists when an increasing number of requests for entertainment at functions were received. An additional site dedicated to the talent show is now being developed.
“My next goal is to duplicate Tshisa Talent in Knysna and George, with long-term plans to include the Eden District. We are in discussion with potential role players and hope to see this project grow so that the region’s undiscovered talent can be developed to ultimately employ and uplift entire communities. This is a dream we can all aspire to,” says Stuart.