South Africa Tour 2015/16

Lofty was a Voortrekker...but he never hurt nobody

Our final breakfast at the Brenwin in Capetown was taken with Pugger, one of Lofty's pals from Guernsey and our latest Addis recruit. Pugger and his mates also went AWOL from the cricket on day five and took a day trip to Robben Island.


Funny how people who are confined on a small island for most of their lives choose to be confined on a different, even smaller island on their holidays. Still, I'm sure Mr Mandela in turn would have preferred twenty years on Guernsey!


Wycombe joined us at the breakfast table looking subdued and rather worse for wear.


"How many beer tokens do you have left from yesterday?" asked Lofty.


"None. Used them all up at the cricket!" replied Wycombe.


"You don't deserve to be alive, do you?" said Lofty.


"Some people might argue that he isn't!" added Pugger.


We set off on our travels today. First a word of praise for the helpful staff at Bidvest as we collected our hire car. Then we hit the N1 motorway towards Johannesburg.


Once through the Huguenot Toll tunnel, the land opened out into fertile plains of fruit trees, olives and vines between the surrounding towering peaks. After traversing the Hex river pass with 150km of motorway on the clock, we took the stunning hill road R318 south towards Montagu and Robertson, which was our eventual stop for the night.



We were treated to one splendid vista after another, but where to stop for a comfort break? We passed through a small village called Koo where a bakery and general store looked promising. After buying refreshments - Lofty bought something he thought looked like a Kit Kat, which in fact proved to be a 'Hiss' bar - we ascertained that no toilets were available inside.


Being somewhat desperate, I nipped around the side of the shop where there looked to be a concrete urinal outside. This in fact turned out to be a pile of breeze blocks. Unable to wait any longer I unzipped and started to pee, then noticed to my horror that the two African ladies from the shop had followed me out and were giggling loudly as they watched.


Taking the 'Hiss' indeed.


The town of Robertson is noted for its wine produce and Lofty and I called into both the Robertson and Excelsior vineyard shops to purchase some liquid refreshments for our onward journey.


At Robertson Vineyards I acquired a few bottles of 'Fat Bastard', which I'm sure would meet the Herbie 'Hooligan gold seal' standard of approval.


When we arrived at Excelsior, which is out of town in a lovely rural setting, I got talking to the winemaker Johan and asked him why Sainsbury's in England no longer stock their excellent product.


"No good for us." He said. "They don't pay us enough money."


As I, a retail customer, had just bought a mixed box of six excellent bottles of red for 297 Rand (about £15) at the packing warehouse, I can only conclude that it is not just UK farmers that are being royally shafted by our avaricious supermarkets back at home.


Paul and Lynne Goddard, the owners of our bed and breakfast, the Cedar Lodge, arranged a reservation at a local restaurant called Bourbon Street for 8pm, and astonishingly, rather than use our car, Lofty agreed to walk the mile or so to the main drag where we would be eating.


Not for the exercise, you understand, just so that he could consume lots more wine.


The place was full, the food menu was comprehensive and the wine list one of the best I have ever seen. Our waiter was worth his weight in gold. Everything he suggested was top notch. We both enjoyed neck of Karoo Lamb mains, plus starters, large desserts and a classy bottle of wine which even Herbie's nose would have approved of. At the finish we agreed a large tip would be appropriate and in total parted with 600 Rand between us, or just less than £15 each. The cost of this trip is really beginning to mount up!


The thirty minute walk back to Cedar Lodge along deserted, partially lit streets was interesting to say the least and I think it would be correct to say we were relieved to return in one piece. It will be a while before we can adapt to rural South Africa after our experiences in cities like Durban.


Over breakfast next day Lofty discovered that Paul Goddard, our host, had also been a successful rally driver, and I dreaded a delayed departure whilst the wonderful world of motor racing was chewed over. However, when Lofty found out that Paul had loads more rally trophies in his cupboard than he did, a swift departure soon followed!



Day two of the road trip saw us on a mission. For the next couple of days, we will be in the vicinity of George, Lofty's place of birth, and he has asked me to help him trace his ancestry back to his South African Motherland.


How could I refuse?


At the first place we visited, Matjiesfontein Museum, we hit paydirt.



There was Lofty's old school bike, still rideable after all these years.



In the museum cafe, we found a collection of Lofty's old vinyl 78's.



I had to drag him away from that museum, even though there were also a collection of vintage hearses for him to drool over!


After a further three hours in our hire car listening to Lofty's 1000 track USB stick music collection, I found myself longing for a portable record turntable on the back seat in order to flip some of those old 78's back into life.


Pickettywitch, Sandie Shaw, Mud, Steve Earle, loads of line dancing, country and western crap and top of the list - the worst cover version of any song I have ever heard. Check out Neil Diamond singing the Harry Nilsson number "Everybody's talking". It had everything, except maybe Derek and Clive on backing vocals.



Ever nearer to the city of George, and still more ancestry leads. We drove through a rift valley bearing Lofty's middle name -'Aalwyn'.


We arrived late at our overnight stop in Calitzdorp, where the ever helpful Paul Goddard had recommended we try a Portuguese restaurant called The Porto Deli.


When we bowled in, the place was full, so we had to wait in the bar across the road for half an hour until a table was free.


This bar featured two talking parrots, and local children were walking up to their cage to converse with them.


Fortunately for the good people of Calitzdorp, I managed to steer Lofty away from the cage. The thought of a future involving two foul-mouthed parrots insulting diners with a stream of vile abuse and expletives taught to them by Lofty in English (and also Africaans, probably) was too awful to contemplate.


The meal at the Porto Deli was simply superb and its not often I say this but it would be worth staying in this small town again just to have the opportunity to dine there.


However, we may not get the chance.



During tonights gin rummy challenge, Lofty upset the owner of our B & B by spilling a full glass of red wine over the living room table and carpet and then scarpering back to his room to also drink the free port wine supplied there.


Current SA rummy challenge score : Midnight 205 rand up. Lofty 205 rand down, plus the cost of a new pack of cards and an axminster carpet.


Well, they say revenge is a dish best served cold. At breakfast, Lofty ordered his customary fry-up and received two tiny rashers of streaky bacon and just one fried egg, plus a sprig of rosemary. My breakfast, on the other hand, was exceptionally good!



A rueful glance at a wine-stained carpet on the way out, and an early start with nearly 500 km to cover today. As we neared the city of George, anticipation grew as to what we might find.



Alas, horror upon horrors. When we reached the famous birthplace, no blue plaque or any other recognition. Just a run down, now deserted adobe cottage surrounded by garbage.


You know, I've been that busy trying to remember all the facets of our quest I may have forgotten something. What exactly is a 'Voortrekker' I hear you ask!


Well, in the nineteenth century, thousands of Boers made an epic trek north to escape the repressive government regime in Cape Town.


I bet Lofty is the only one who made it as far north as Guernsey.


After his disappointment today Lofty is not a happy bunny, therefore could I ask all Addis members arriving in Johannesburg and Centurion not to mention his South African birth certificate, please?


Regards, Midnight




Click here for other tour diaries