Thursday, week two and we left civilisation (beautiful Franschhoek), via the breathtaking Franschhoek Pass (see photo below) to go to Hermanus, set along the famous whale watching coastline. We decided to leave a couple of days to visit the area because its within easy reach of Gansbaai, the great white shark cage diving capital of the world. Unfortunately for me, I developed an ear infection (thankfully not as severe as my torturous ear infection from last November) Wednesday night. I picked up drops and painkillers from the pharmacy, and started getting the pain under control, but the last thing I wanted to do was submerge my head under water. At approximately R1500 (£80+) a pop, we decided to put off shark diving until my ear is better and try diving in Mossel Baai, which is further along the coast towards Port Elizabeth and the unofficial start of ‘the Garden Route’.
We were quite pleased to leave our very basic (putting it mildly) accommodation near Franschhoek village, which Elliott had booked. I had booked us into the next place, using trusty booking.com, which stated that the lodge was in Hermanus. Perfect! Elliott took the wheel, and we set off down the R48 to Hermanus in no time, using our good friend TomTom to get us there. With not much traffic on the road (understatement: there is no traffic in the Western Cape outside of Cape Town), I soon spotted a road sign pinpointing Hermanus at 15km away. I was just about to tell Elliott that we’re not far away from our new lodgings, when TomTom told us to take the next right off the main road. “That’s odd,” I said, “Hermanus is still another 15 minutes or so away…”
“In 500 metres, take the next exit right towards ‘Fisherhaven.’”
“Fisherhaven is the name of the lodge, but we’re staying in Hermanus” I said, confused and beginning to get an uneasy feeling – especially as we had already paid half of the fee as a deposit.
We pulled off the R48, and I noted the name of the road we enter – ‘China Marais Avenue’. My heart sunk; we were on the right road. We drove past old, tired buildings, with concrete breeze block walls, and Elliott snapped: “Where are we? We can’t be staying here surely!” Meanwhile, I was in absolute hysterics, remembering the last time I booked accommodation was for our stay in Cape Town in January 2016; trip advisor reviews were great, but we ended up shelling out £50 a night for a hellhole of a private room, which didn’t get cleaned during the week we were there, or before our arrival for that matter; and we had been greeted with hairs on the bedsheets and dirty towels. “Perhaps I shouldn’t ever be in charge of accommodation” I giggled, but unfortunately Elliott didn’t share my amusement. We arrived at Fisherhaven Travellers Lodge, and it was actually pretty cute, with the rooms situated upstairs off of a viewing deck. Our hosts, Vanessa and Derek were lovely, and I wanted to share this snippet because it taught us a lesson about judging a book by its cover. The communal kitchen and lounge were spacious and well-equipped, and we used the pool table in the games room/bar (Michaela 4 – Elliott 0). Best of all, there was a bit of a mix-up checking in, and Vanessa upgraded us to a better room, for free.
To round up Thursday, we moseyed into Hermanus (which was only actually a 15 minute drive away!), stopped at a restaurant called the Fishermans Cottage for a beautiful lunch (if you go to Hermanus, you have to try their seafood curry), and then visited a very quaint bookstore.
Friday… I woke up disappointed that we weren’t on our way to Gansbaai for the shark diving, but we decided not to waste the day. Elliott had read about the highly rated Fernkloof Nature Reserve on tripadvisor, so we decided to give it a go. We arrived, and had a look around the gardens, which were very pretty and had plenty of brightly-coloured butterflies roaming among the flowerbeds. We fancied a bit of a hike, so set off along a trail path. This led to… nothing. We walked for a solid half hour, surrounded by what I should really call half-dead shrubbery. Talk about anti-climax! We abandoned the reserve, and shot into Hermanus to walk by the coast.
The story of the week however comes in the form of a few drinks at a local eatery. During the short journey from the car to our table, we started to have a few doubts about coming; the place was filled with ‘locals’ who gave us the once over upon arrival. We went upstairs and were served by the friendly bar staff, and then sat by ourselves near a TV screen (Elliott optimistically hoping a South African rugby game would be shown – no luck). Within half an hour, an elderly local appeared to start walking/hobbling over towards us, eventually arriving at the end of our table. From the outset, he seemed drunk. He enquired “are you two lovebirds new to Fisherhaven?”
“No“, we said, “we’re just staying for a few days on our way to the Garden Route” (I think we were both hoping at this point that this would be the end of the conversation). He then asked us where we were from, and we obliged and confirmed where we are from. Following this, a pleasant conversation ensued about the chap living in England, and knowing Oxford well. He then asked us where we were from again. Exchanging glances quickly, Elliott and I confirmed again our respective places of birth. His next question: “Do you have children?” I laughed awkwardly; he was starting to make me feel a bit uneasy.
“No, we don’t have children. We’re travelling while we’ve got no responsibilities” I said, hoping to shut down the conversation without appearing rude. This led to him telling a hideous joke about how Northampton folk avoid having children, which was an awfully cringeworthy moment. I couldn’t bring myself to laugh. He then warbled on about writing books in his retirement (here we go, I thought), and then almost dejectedly saying “you won’t be wanting any children’s books then“, to which we replied “no, thanks!” He laughed, and mumbled something about needing to go downstairs and see to his wife. Relieved, we bade him goodbye. We noticed out of the window (which coincidentally looked onto the car park) our newest friend get into a parked car. We relaxed, and laughed it off. Prematurely, it turns out, because this was not the end of the tale.
Fast forward ten minutes, when our ‘friend’ hobbled his way back over to our table. It’s awful, but my heart sank. He was carrying a small book. “Here we go“, he said cheerfully, “this is one of my books“. He gave it to Elliott, who, like a fool, started looking through the book. He offered us the book (“I’ll sign it for you!“) for R40. As terrible as it sounds, I did not want to buy this book. My feeling was that this charade wouldn’t just end there, and having (like a typical girl) overpacked my backpack, I didn’t want to add more unnecessary things to the load. But I think the main reason I didn’t want to buy the book was because on principle, I didn’t want to buy something I didn’t actually want, just to be nice and because the person was pushy. We politely declined. After a few more attempts to get us to buy the book, he then asked how we were paying for our food. This immediately struck me as odd, and frowning, I quickly said “I don’t know why you are asking us that. Why are you asking us that?” He appeared taken aback, and suggested we leave the money behind the bar for his book. More awkward laughter ensued; we declined and I said “we are travelling round the world, with small backpacks, so don’t have space for extra things. Do you have a website we could perhaps look on?” He stated he did not, and I thought this would signify the end of our encounter. I turned to watch the TV screen, hoping he would leave.
Still he didn’t move, and then went on to aggressively insist on giving us the book for free. Quote Elliott: “Nothing in life is for free“, and I actually started to feel threatened by him, so I politely declined again. He took out a pen, and started to write in the book (presumably to us). I quickly said “we are not trying to be rude, but we haven’t bought your book as we don’t have the room.”
“But it’s free,” he shot at me.
Elliott reiterated our space-saving dilemma, and he just stared at us, as if we were barking mad (the irony). “You don’t want a free book? You are weird, I’ve never known anyone turn down a free book.” I wanted to say we’ve never got into a dispute with someone before who has refused to listen to our reasoning, however I sensed this would push him over the edge. Again, I explained the predominant issue for us was saving space (OK, exaggeration but remember we didn’t want to be indebted to this pushy stranger. We should have just taken the book back to our lodge and left it there – hindsight is a beautiful thing!). He stared at us for what seemed like eternity, and then muttered something incoherent under his breath, and at last hobbled away.
We waited for our ‘friend’ to depart in his car, and then legged it to ours before the local yokels were sent after us. Arriving back at the lodge, we saw Derek and Vanessa, who suggested we drive out to this private beach/lagoon they are members of to view the sunset. We followed their directions out to the lagoon. In the car, I cracked a joke about our ‘friend’ also going to watch sunset – Elliott didn’t laugh. Luckily, it was pretty deserted except for some fisherman, and we caught the tail end of a beautiful sunset. On the drive back, wild horses actually crossed the road in front of us (one nearly sat on our bonnet!), which really made our evening.
Saturday arrived, marking our return to our favourite place in South Africa (maybe even the world): Wilderness. Situated along the Garden Route between George and Knysna, Wilderness is a beautiful village sandwiched between mountainous forests and lagoons on one side, and a lovely beach on the other. We arrived in Wilderness after midday, and of course, it was raining. TomTom led us off the main road, and towards the beach. Thank God, I thought, even if it’s terrible at least it’s where we thought it would be! Elliott was driving, and followed a single dirt track for about 400m, which then inclined sharply to bring us to the hostel and the adjacent car park. When I say car park, I mean parking bays roughly drawn out to one side of a very narrow open space. Sometimes Elliott asks me to park for him, and on this occasion I confidently said “don’t worry, turn the car round in that corner and I’ll reverse it in.” As we swopped, I noticed we had an audience of hosteliers hanging out on the terrace above us. Great! I started to angle the car forward to reverse back, and I realised the great big truck to the left of the space had parked like a prat, and the angle was too tight. I then made an attempt to turn the car round to drive straight in – but the parking area was too narrow to manoeuvre this. Shit, I was stuck! At this point a fellow hostelier came round the corner, smirking. Seething, there was only one thing left to do; I drove 400m back down the dirt track, and turned the car around in the main road.
Fozzy’s North Face put in another appearance on Saturday, as we poodled around the little village in the rain and investigated where we could watch the England / France rugby game that evening. We found a place that would show the game for us (the Blue Olive), and they even reserved a prime table for us. We walked the ten minutes to the Blue Olive just before the game started, and had a great evening there. We got an incredible plate of tapas and England won! It was dark when we left, and even with my wine jacket on I felt a bit apprehensive about the walk back. Half the walk was out of the little village, and up the N2 main road for a bit (well lit), and the remainder was down some old steps to the neighbourhood by the beach, which was not well lit. After a short distance, we then had to take the old dirt path which of course, was pitch black. Out of all the advice we had received from hostel staff and SA locals, two things stuck in my mind: If you walk down a road and it’s deserted, turn back; and get a cab at night. We were flouting both of these rules! Elliott got his phone torch out, and I noticed he had wedged our room key between his fingers as a weapon. Feeling inspired, I spotted a medium sized jagged rock in front of me and picked it up, gripping it all the way to the entrance of the hostel. What a terrifying combination station!
Sunday… More rain, although it was only light rain and the sky seemed bright behind the clouds. We asked at reception if they recommended any places to hire bicycles in Wilderness. Apparently, there wasn’t anywhere in Wilderness that hired out bikes. We headed off into the village anyway, and drove right past a large bicycle hire place, with loads of pedal bikes set up outside. We laughed, and stopped in to pick up some mountain bikes. We then spent a few hours slogging up the steep dirt roads, heading for a viewpoint for ‘the Map of Africa’. The helpful lady at the bicycle hire shop had given us some routes, so we followed a ‘gentle’ 17km route (pretty much at least half was vertical, and where it had rained for a few days, parts were like clay. That cliche regarding moving through treacle was highly applicable!). After about twenty minutes, I was convinced we weren’t going in the right direction. I consulted the map, pinpointed the cycle shop, and worked out we needed to go back on ourselves about 2-3km, and reroute. Elliott reluctantly agreed, and we did an about-turn. We got back to the point to reroute, and I thought it might be worth checking TomTom, so we did… SHIT, I thought. We had been going in the right direction. I had misread the bicycle symbol on the map; I had taken it to pinpoint the bicycle shop, whereas it actually signified the bicycle trail! I relayed this news to Elliott, who luckily found this funny. I can confirm, those extra 5km or so did add a little something to our workout! To attempt to help you imagine the gradient: for the whole journey back, we pedalled in three short segments – the rest of the time we flew down that mountain!
Later that night, Elliott was getting ready for bed, and I heard him swear from the bathroom. He came running out into the room; his forearms were an angry pink, while above his t-shirt marks his shoulders were pale vanilla. He looked like Neapolitan ice cream (minus the chocolate)! I also felt my arms stinging – and we fell about in stitches laughing; as we realise we’ve both got burnt to smithereens cycling under rainfall and heavy cloud cover.
Monday 6 February: by far the best day of our entire trip. Finally, we woke up to clear blue skies! Wilderness has lots going on in the summer, from paragliding to canoeing along the lagoons and rivers. Paragliding isn’t really our thing (wimps), so we went to hire canoes from a place called Eden Adventures. We were shown a route to a waterfall, and were really excited about taking out the canoe, when we saw a sign at the reception counter: ‘No cards, cash only’. Oh no. We hadn’t thought to bring cash, typical. I felt really disappointed, but the nice lady saw my face, and said she could take our car key as a deposit and we could pay later that day. We set off in our canoe, and after five minutes of awkward, un-synchronised paddling, my arms felt like lead. “Els, do your arms ache?” I said.
“YEP!” We had over an hour left to go up the river, and then a 2km (which felt like 4km) hike to the waterfall. A little while later, a couple came paddling up the river, displaying perfect synchronised paddling… “Show offs“, we sniggered enviously. We had almost reached the little beach to park up our canoes, when Elliott shouted and pointed at something electric green wiggling across the surface of the water in front of us. “Snake!” I yelled excitedly. It practically glided across the width of the river, and disappeared into the depths of the dark bank across the other side of the river. We were lucky to capture this on our Go Pro Hero.
The hike to the waterfall was pretty, mostly uphill, and seemed to go on forever. Every time we heard loud, running water, our hearts lifted and we thought we had made it; however the walkway just continued. Finally, we reached steps leading down into an open clearing; and there was the waterfall. Substitute Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for a Coca Cola factory, and this waterfall would have been a perfect fit! Dark brown water, the exact shade of Coca Cola, shot over the rocks. After eating our snacks and having a well-earned a little nap, we returned back to our canoe, and paddled downriver to the village. We then took ourselves to the beach to play in the waves, and laid in the sun (aka fell asleep face planted on the sand). We went back to the hostel after a few hours, where we planned to make omelettes for dinner.
After we had showered, Elliott suddenly piped up, “shall we go out into the village for dinner?”
“Well, we’ve eaten out for the last few nights, we shouldn’t really.” Elliott started sulking, so I rolled my eyes. “OK, where shall we go?”
“Shall we wander to the beach and catch sunset, and then see what we feel like?” I put on my trusty black Nike t-shirt and patterned trousers, and announced I was ready. We wandered to the beach, where it was quiet, and the sun was just beginning to set. Elliott kept stopping randomly, and was being rather quiet, which was odd. All of a sudden, Elliott whipped a beautiful, sparkling ring out of his pocket, got down on one knee, and asked if I fancied being Mrs Downes! Ecstatic, and not quite believing what had happened, I said yes, and we walked up the beach to the village giggling like teenagers. I told Elliott off for letting me wear my casual clothes, but a surprise proposal on our favourite beach was perfect. We celebrated with a delicious dinner and mojitos at a great restaurant with live music, and once again on our walk back to the hostel in the dark we became a terrifying combination station: I found a big rock to hold in front of me and Elliott gripped his weapon tightly in his fist (our room key). When we got back to our room, we wanted to share our happy news with friends and family; but our tight hostel allowed twenty minutes of free wifi use per day – and it wasn’t working that day which was absolutely typical!
Tuesday brought more sunshine to Wilderness, which was also typical as we were due to move on to a tiny village in the middle of the Tsitsikamma forest, called Stormsriver. My South African former boss, Andrew, had kindly organised for us to stay at his parents’ forest lodge along our journey to Drakensberg. En route, we decided to poodle round Knysna for a bit, a town with pretty lagoons and a beautiful viewpoint of ‘the Heads’ (cliff formations – we stopped off for these quickly last year, but never made it to the town). TomTom directed us to Knysna, then we drove around looking for a car park (“it can’t be that hard!” I said to Elliott). At last, we found a car park… Next to a grotty looking shop, that was surrounded by dishevelled, industrial buildings. I drove out of the car park and kept my eyes peeled as I drove, looking for a good car park. “There’s one!” Cried out Elliott. I looked; it was a seedy-looking multi-storey job, surrounded by tired-looking roads and nothing else. I felt like this was the hood. I shook my head, and stubbornly drove on, Elliott shouting at me. Eventually we found parking near the waterfront, and finally escaped the car. To be honest, it still looked pretty grotty; but as we were here we decided to look around as it was nearly lunch time. I really fancied a cheap, cheese and ham toastie for lunch, nothing fancy or big and greasy. We walked from seafood place, to overpriced seafood place, to greasy grills and a very quiet Chinese. Eventually we found a small coffee place that had a good menu, and offered a variety of sandwiches, salads and pastas. I opted for a mozzarella, tomato and lettuce baguette, that arrived in a little pool of water on the plate. Yum! Elliott had gone for pasta, which turned up looking bland and actually looked better than it tasted. We wouldn’t recommend cafe Mario’s to those dropping into Knysna any time soon! Knysna had left a bit of a sour taste in our mouth (or perhaps it was just our overpriced lunch), so we headed off for Stormsriver.
On our way to Storms, we stopped into a food market to pick up provisions as we knew Storms was in the middle of nowhere. I was so excited to see a pick and mix sweetie section that I ran over immediately. Mmm, M&M’s! The dispenser looked a bit complicated, so I gave it a little tug to see how it works – not noticing a little sign next to the sweet section reading ‘place bag under before dispensing’ – whoosh! A huge handful of M&M’s came flying out, scattering across the floor. I cringed and apologised profusely as the staff member to my right gave me a look of death, and swept up the roaming sweets. I skulked off to the flowers section, to pick Louise a nice bouquet. Flowers, a safe area. Or not. I wandered around, looking for something more exciting than the usual white or pink, and found a bucket featuring unusual orange coloured flowers. Perfect, I thought. I picked up a bunch, not realising how full of the water the bucket was, and I’m sure half the bucket emerged with the flowers, all down my dress and over the floor around me. I was mortified, as people stared at me. We left the store pronto. An hour or so later, we arrived in Storms, and were shown to our beautiful room (with a comfy bed, home from home!). Ah – no fridge! We thought we would perhaps ask later on if Mike and Louise could store the food for us until we came to have a braai. After a short while we met Mike, married to Andrew’s mom. He was lovely! We felt very much at home straight away, and fell in love with their pooches: two beautiful border collies, Jessy and Jake, and a little naughty long haired white fluffball, Lucy. We could have stayed forever playing with the dogs. We then met Louise, who was also lovely and we chatted away for ages before having dinner. Mike and Louise suggested visiting a cheese farm the next day – right up our street! Louise also mentioned that we could do our laundry while here, and at this point I felt it was just too cheeky to ask if they would store our meat and veg for us (Elliott bitterly threw it out a few days later; all that drama in the food store for nothing!).
Wednesday – what a Gouda-y (sorry, I couldn’t help myself…)! We had an awesome breakfast courtesy of Chef Mike, and following a tour of the forest lodge property, we went for a local forest walk. Naively, forgetting that we were practically in the jungle, I hadn’t bothered applying mosquito repellent. I paid dearly for this omission; by the time we returned I had no less than ten bites on each leg. Elliott, meanwhile, escaped unharmed. Typical. At around midday, we headed for the cheese farm. It was a windy route off the N2, via narrow tracks through farmland. We arrived, and were greeted by several enormous beautiful Rhodesian ridge backs and the owner of the cheese farm. We had a wonderful few hours, chatting away, trying salads and vegetables from the garden, and eating goats cheese, matured cheddars and other exotic cheeses with delicious homemade bread. It was so lovely tasting cheeses in a rustic farmhouse (which looked like something from an old French film). Mike and Louise also surprised us with sparkling wines to celebrate our engagement, and we felt so lucky. What a way to celebrate – wine and cheese! When later reflecting on things we have done in SA, Elliott and I both agreed this was one of our favourite experiences, completely off the beaten track, and totally uncommercialised.
In the evening, we nipped to the village to pick up something for dinner, and met the cutest puppy, named Eeyore (it seemed at this point that SA was the dog capital of the world!). He snuggled me while we waited for the pizza to be cooked in the wood fired oven. Back at the forest lodge, we continued feeding our Suits addiction. Elliott asked for a drink of water, and I realised we didn’t have any. I said to this effect, and suggested I could get him some out of the tap. Elliott must have been in a sassy mood, because he then snapped “oh yes, like a dog! I might as well drink from the toilet while I’m at it.” This had me in stitches, and I couldn’t stop laughing. We finished watching Suits, and Elliott started reading about susceptibility to mosquito bites. “Here you go – this lists criteria that attracts the mozzies! Blood type, if you drink alcohol, if you’re ov-” He stopped suddenly, looking sheepish. “Yes?” I prompted, “go on!” He laughed, nervously.
“Well, it just says if you’re overweight…” We looked at each other and burst out laughing. Cheers Elliott!
We spent Thursday at the amazing Tsitsikamma National Park. Mike had suggested we do a waterfall walk in the morning, and then visit the suspension bridge in the afternoon. What had sounded like a gentle walk turned out to be mostly rock scrambling for an hour and a half along the coast, to an impressive waterfall that fell to a pool, and then met the sea. It is no exaggeration when I say there were times when sweat fell from my face and neck, it was that humid and the scramble was that exerting. The views were incredible, and it was worth the effort. On our return to the suspension bridge, we passed a German couple (who still had about forty minutes to go to reach the waterfall). “How far until the waterfall?” The woman asked, pleading with her eyes for me to say, not far! “About thirty – forty minutes over the rocks” I said honestly. Exasperated, and clearly mentally done with the hike, the lady shot at me: “and the McDonalds? It’s down there?”
“Pardon?” I said, thinking she couldn’t possibly mean a McDonalds existed where the only way to the point was one and a half hours scramble along the cliff face. How would they transport the burgers there, ready to cook and serve to tourists? I quickly quashed the urge to laugh in her face. “You know McDonalds or Burger King?” She said; I smiled kindly, and shook my head. As Elliott and I walked on, we burst out laughing. Poor woman was going to be seriously disappointed in just under forty minutes time. As we continued along the coastal path back to the car, we spotted a turquoise pool which was sheltered from the sea by rocks. I was just about to tell Elliott that we were going for a swim, when I spotted a man casually treading water in the pool… naked, while his male partner was taking photos of him. I waved cheekily as we walked on, and the naked swimmer grinned up at us. We returned to the forest lodge, and shared the day’s events with Mike and Louise, who laughed with us. They invited Elliott and I to have a drink with them in their pub, the Forest Fox, which they built themselves in the grounds. It had a wonderfully cosy atmosphere, and the dogs joined us too as we chatted away.
Friday arrived, and we said goodbye to Mike and Louise as they headed to Plettenberg Bay for their shopping. Meanwhile we were off to stay with Andrew’s parents in law at their beach house in Cape St Francis. We were packed and almost ready to go, when we spotted an excited Jake and Lucy running over to our room (which opened onto a walkway by a pretty stream, where we threw sticks for the poochies) to say hello. We gave them some attention, and shooed them out but it was too late; Jake had peed on the corner of the rug. Shit, I thought, our stay had gone so well until this point. I saw one of the cleaning ladies pass by, and asked if she had anything I could use to clean the rug, but she said she would sort it out later. I relaxed, and we left her a tip. Which was just as well, because we were almost at the car ready to set off when she came and brought me a pair of shorts I had left behind!
We arrived in Cape St Francis around midday, and it was beautiful: all the houses were in the style of Cape Dutch, most with thatched roofs, and the village was so picturesque. We drove into a lovely road, and TomTom announced we had arrived at our destination. We got out the car, and tried to locate the beach house. We worked out odds were on the right, and eventually found the house. It was amazing, with an awesome deck overlooking the golf course (my brother would have been in his element). Margie welcomed us, and showed us to our pretty room which overlooked a garden which was home to lots of birds, chirping and singing! We had lunch and chatted away, and then spent the afternoon touring St Francis with Margie; we went to St Francis Bay and walked all along the beach, then we drove to the waterways/canal which was so beautiful. The houses that lined the canal were stunning, featuring jetties, balconies and jet skis. We stopped for G&Ts at a quaint bar/restaurant that overlooked the canal, and Margie met her friend. For dinner, we went to a seafood place in the harbour, where it was self-service. I decided to get paella, and Margie and Elliott went for hake and calamari combi’s. I offered to go up to the till point and order, and I managed to order the wrong sides for them – oops! Margie brought along a bottle of Fat Bastard for us to enjoy with our dinner (Chardonnay), and went back to the beach house for a cup of tea and yummy cookies before bed.
Saturday, now known as surf Saturday! St Francis is twenty minutes from world famous surf capital, Jeffrey’s Bay, so we had breakfast with Margie, and then took off for Jeffrey’s. We picked up some new clothes and then enquired about surfing lessons with Son Surf School. They booked us in for the afternoon, so we returned a little later to get suited up. Our instructor, Andre, held up a wetsuit against me and I looked apprehensively. “Are you sure it will fit, I’ve got a huge bum” I said, laughing nervously. “This is the biggest one I have, all the others are rented out right now.” Awkward! He gave me a plastic bag to use to slip my way into the wetsuit, and after five minutes of sweaty struggling with the wetsuit, I was in. I had just zipped up Elliott, when Andre said “Oh man, I hate to tell you this but you’ve got your suit on back to front!” We burst out laughing; poor Elliott was sweating crazily (it was hot in the store without the wetsuits), so I helped him wriggle out of the wetsuit and into it the right way. We walked with our boards across the road to the beach, and the lesson commenced. Andre was great; he managed to get Elliott (who struggles with balance) to keep on his board after an initial phase of wiggling off his board each time before he caught the wave. I started relatively well, but struggled when we moved on to learning to stand up, and got wiped out countless times. Elliott did really well, and by the end managed to do cartwheels on his board (he’s just asked me where the bit is about him being great). Joking aside, by the end of the lesson Elliott had successfully stood up twice. We left the lesson (dragging our boards with us) extremely tired and very happy – but we completely forgot to get a photo!
On Sunday, Elliott earned the name ‘biscuit boy’. Margie had gone back to her home in Addo on Saturday for a party, so we got up after a well-deserved lay in; our entire bodies ached from the surf lesson, so we planned a lazy day. I spotted Elliott pinch a cookie from the tin in the morning and I told him off for taking liberties. He said, “but they’ll only go off!” I laughed. I really fancied a swim at the lovely little beach at the bottom of the road, so we took our towels and walked there. The sea was a beautiful turquoise colour, and I couldn’t resist asking for a photo at the beach. There were a few dog walkers and couples on the beach, and we quickly ran into the sea; it was a bit chilly at first but we soon got used to it. The waves at this beach were brilliant, and we were soon chasing waves and jumping over them and ducking under them like kids. We spent well over an hour messing about, and happily returned to the beach house for lunch. I said to Elliott I would pop the towels out, and I realised we had locked the front door. I went back to the kitchen to get the key from Elliott… to find him stuffing a cookie in his mouth. “Elliott!” I shouted, making him jump. “Stop sneaking cookies!” After lunch, he asked for another one, the cheeky sod. “No!” I said, “you’ve already had two now today!” Shortly after, Elliott offered to make tea, which I should have known was a ruse. As he was making the tea, I realised the biscuits were by the kettle and he wouldn’t be able to resist the cookie box. I crept into the living area, where I had full visibility of him making the tea, and sure enough his greedy little paws were tucked into the biscuit box. “OI!” I shouted loudly, he jumped out of his skin and I collapsed on the floor in a heap, laughing so much my sides still hurt.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our week along the Garden Route, and apologies to anyone who has asked me where the second post was. We’re now back to blogging after a full on month in India, and our next post will follow shortly! Lastly, Elliott would like it made known that ‘wheely good cheese’ was his input…