Thursday, July 15, 2010

Last Day at Abloom

Well there comes a time in every holiday when you just have to accept that it is drawing to a close and start the dreaded packing process again. One of the greatest things about staying anywhere for over 4 weeks is that you get to unpack every single thing you have brought with you, and hide away your suitcase or backpack. The downside to this principle is that you then have to reverse the process and try and cram all that stuff you brought with you, plus a load of other crap you have picked up along the way, back into the offending suitcase or backpack and then lug it to the airport. Can you tell I wasn’t looking forward to packing...?

Well as today is our last full day here in South Africa, Fiona & I have spent a portion of the day looking at how we can pack everything up and make it as easy as possible to travel on to our next destination. I think we are okay, but I’m still not sure how we will carry my hand made New Zealand ‘Makarapa’ , (think of an adapted construction helmet), I might just have to wear it on the plane....

But it hasn’t all been dreary packing and worrying about carrying our stuff through various customs and immigrations departments. Our wonderful hosts, Carmen & Louie, took all three of us out for a breakfast at a local landmark home that once belonged to a local industrialist called ‘Sammy Marks’. This was a spectacular 5 course champagne breakfast that we had sitting outside in the warm winter sun, overlooking the formal gardens. It was a sumptuous meal which I am still digesting now 6 hours later, made all the more enjoyable by the quality of the company and conversation. Carmen & Louie have stopped at nothing to make sure that our stay was not only comfortable and relaxing, but they also went the extra mile to make us feel like we were visiting old friends, they could not do enough for us. If there are two more friendly, approachable and hospitable hosts in the whole of Africa I would be totally stunned. Thank you guys, you have made us feel more than welcome and we will endeavour to come back some day.

After breakfast, (which lasted until 1pm), Fiona Yates & I did the house tour to find out a little more about Sammy Marks, a Lithuanian Jew that left his homeland penniless in the 19th Century, only to make his fortune in South Africa through a number of different ventures. Although this is not a surprising story, and Sammy Marks was not particularly extraordinary in himself, but in his will he bequeathed his house and all its contents, not to his immediate decedents, but to the fifth generation that succeeded him. The net result of this was that for 60 or 70 years, none of the estate or a single piece of furniture, cutlery or even linen could be sold, and when the fifth generation did come along, they in turn bequeathed the house and its contents to the South African people. The Sammy Marks house has therefore become a late 19th century South African time-capsule, with 98% of its original features and details that is being lovingly restored and open to the public. Our tour, which was brought to life by our very knowledgeable guide Thabi, lasted about an hour and it was like going round a BBC film set for an Edwardian period piece, I expected someone in a top hat and tails to pop out at any moment... This was another very interesting place that we would not have seen if it was not for the excellent local knowledge of our hosts.

The rest of the day has been spent finalising bills, sorting our paperwork and doing some packing, I think Fiona is finished already...! We will be having our last (sob!) gourmet meal at the lodge tonight and Louie intimated that it would be a special one, so we are looking forward to that. Tomorrow, Fiona and I will be heading out to the airport at about 8am and then onto Singapore. As Yates’s plane is about 7 hours later than ours, he is getting a ride to the airport later in the day that will also be giving him a driving tour of Soweto, which should be an interesting end to his time in South Africa.

I will be updating the blog from Singapore, but as I intend to spend as much time sitting by the pool, don’t expect anything too riveting....


  1. Well done that man.
    Enjoy what's left and the stopover in Singapore.
    (and leave those damn vuvu's behind - they are banned in NZ!!!)

  2. Hi guys

    Loved the blog, and have enjoyed/endured various emotions whilst following it! Enjoy Singapore, and look forward to seeing all your photos and hearing more about your trip when we're over in October.

    Stay safe


  3. Thanks Guys...

    We are genuinely sad to be leaving South Africa, it has been a remarkable country that blew our expectations right-out-of-the-water.

    Singapore will be a nice warm stopover, but we are now starting to think of home. Not long now.

    Dan - we have taken almost three & a half thousand photo's, hope you are ready...!!

    Cheers - SteveG

  4. Ok I will not say : Told you so :) but yes I agree SA is one hell of a country
    I think I am reading your posts back to front :)