South Africa Tour 2009/10

No miracles at the Montagu ghetto

Hi all

After the Capetown test finished we had a night out together and then went our separate ways. Saint was flying home in the evening and Wycombe accompanying Tremers and myself in the hire car along the Garden Route.

Breakfast together in the Cape Town Lodge was a real treat. Wycombe had been out with myself and the Saint the previous night when eight pints of Guinness proved more potent than his usual 25 pints of lager. Saint informed us he had been sick during the night and fallen asleep on the bed fully clothed locking Saint out of the room in the process - although we later found out this was a failure on the part of Saint in the correct usage of hotel door cards. Nevertheless , it was a rare priviledge watching Wycs stuff himself to replace the missing solids.

This was all to the accompaniment of live Grand piano music. SP had warned us to " avoid the piano" if suffering with a hangover but he neednt have bothered. This morning , The Pianist , who looked nothing like Adrian Brody, was playing cheerful numbers such as the theme from " Schindlers List " and as I looked round unsuccessfully for a coach party of surviving Schindler Jews holidaying in Cape Town I came to the conclusion that The Pianist was simply trying to make all the guests feel as suicidal as he looked.

After saying our goodbyes to the Saint we set off for Montagu, a resort on the edge of the Karoo with a nice hot spa pool. I had visited this place before in 1996 and had excellent memories of the spa and also the meal we enjoyed at the restaurant. On arriving I was horrified to find the place had been partitioned , apartheid style with a fenced off area - guarded by two Prussian ceramic eagles -now available only to guests of the five star hotel who had a " Private Pool" and were almost exclusively white - and a

" General area" at the back which was available for all the plebs ( ie, us and the black folks ). This area had been fitted out with a trendy plastic waterslide and was teeming with kids.

Tremers was not happy. " This isnt my kind of hot spa" he muttered gloomily, and retired to our chalet to read his latest novel " Dick van Dyke ruined my life " by the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Wycs and myself decided to give the pool a try and to add to the partition / ghetto flavour we were forced to wear armbands which entitled us to use the rear pool but not the "Private" one.

Before you ask these armbands didnt have yellow stars on.

Being a rebellious sort , I blagged into the "Private" Pool in due course and took the piss out of the assembled rich whities , followed eventually by a reluctant Tremers and Wycs.

The pool waters are supposed to have miraculous healing powers, but despite Tremers and myself holding Wycombe under the water for nearly two hours his behaviour has not changed so I think we can discount that.

All in all a disappointing day only partially redeemed by an excellent meal at the Montagu restaurant.

Wycs was especially disappointed as the hotel had offered a casino which turned out to be just slot machines, so he was unable to lose any money that night.

The following day we all travelled to Plettenburg Bay and managed to get into the swanky Beacon Point Hotel for 500 rand apiece. We ate in Moby Dick's on the beach on the recommendation of the Blades and Disney, but were shocked to find our main meal served up to us in frying pans. When we queried this, the waiter explained that some regulars from the week before had requested this as " thats how its done in Sheffield" and now the restaurant had adopted the practice as general policy to save on washing up costs.

The hotel was so nice we spent the following morning there vegetating on the grass bank next to the sea.

Our task today was to get Wycombe to George airport on time for his 5pm flight to Johannesburg in our car.

A game of petanque was announced - yes Herbie - petanque - and Wycs and I decided to join in.

Wycs threw his first shot underarm as if he were ten-pin bowling and the metal ball hurtled off the grass bank where the jack was sitting straight into the deep end of the swimming pool like a depth charge.

A girl diver had to be despatched to bring it out.

I have offered the services of Wycs to Herbie to bolster the numbers in his petanque team but he seemed strangely reluctant, in fact he used the phrase " F**k off" in reply , which I think must be some kind of petanque-talk for those in the know.

Most of the morning was spent winding Wycs up about flight delays, diversions to Maputo International Airport at Mozambique etc etc most of which he pooh-poohed but a sense of unease was gradually building in our budding journalist.

At mid-day he received the first text message from the airline. " Your flight has been delayed and put back to 6pm". One hour later he received the next text." Now delayed till 7pm".


"Im fed up with this. When you pay a hundred and fifty pounds for a flight you expect it to be on time. I'm in no rush to get to the airport now. We can go and look at something if we can" said Wycs.

How he would regret this simple statement.

Thus it was at 2pm we set off for the Prince Albert Pass , which the lonely planet described as picturesque but slow going. Three hours later we were still on the Prince Albert Pass and heading deeper and deeper into the middle of nowhere. A very uncomfortable Wycombe sat quietly on the back seat grimacing and thinking dark thoughts. He was very quiet. Eventually :

" I'm getting worried about making my flight fellas. Big style worried". And then the classic. To himself or to us I know not: " Thats my career down the drain".

We got Wycs to the airport at 5.45pm with fifteen minutes to spare. As I wheeled his big pink case to the check-in desk he obtained his boarding pass to Johannesburg and the check-in girl at the next desk admired his luggage. "I have a case like that at home but it has a crack in it. Would you mind doing a swap!".

Wycs didnt appreciate the joke and he appreciated it much less when he was informed there had been yet another delay in his flight , which was now leaving at 7.45pm!!

When he arrived in Joburg Tremers received the following text message:

" The hotel room is okay but the rest of the stuff is shite. The bars wouldnt serve me a meal as I arrived after 10pm and as the two vending machines were also broken I couldnt even buy a pack of crisps".

Clearly not Wycombe's day.

Tremers and myself then drove to the lovely town of Prince Albert , where armed security is not required and everyone leaves their door open at night, to enjoy a relaxing stay in the Swartburg Hotel.

As we settled down for our evening meal in the middle of nowhere , what should come over the music system in the hotel restaurant?

Yep, you guessed it.

" Swann, Swann will tear you apart again....!"


Love to all

Midnight xxx

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