One Whale Wallows
Weekenders line the cliffs and choke up the paths in the Rep.of Hermanus. Spring break and it's chock-a-block.Traffic jams, long queues and exhausted officials are the order of the next 10 days.
No matter where you were within a 1km radius of the Old Harbour you’d hear the screech of a microphone coming from KFM, the radio stations’ D.J. stirring up the crowd to enjoy the activities, market stalls, fun and festivities. Faintly the poor old Whale crier tried his best to call either the whales or the tourists to cast their gaze seawards. The endless stream of cars flowing into an already choked up CBD was proof advertising works. All the beds were booked, so were all the tables in restaurants. For the next ten days business will be booming in our favourite seaside village as musicians sing their hearts out to excited crowds of teenyboppers who have been let loose by weary trusting parents. The cops will have their hands full, I know, I’ve been there and got the T Shirt.
15 years ago my boy was “taken into custody” twice, for being disorderly (can’t say the first word). In a state I had to fetch him from the police station where he, and 50 other teenagers, were holed up until the “responsible” parent fetched them. I still shudder at the thought. To add insult to injury he made it into the morning papers too, the secret was out. Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end. But they did. Those energetic, creative kids are all hardworking, conscientious, responsible adults bringing up their babies and doing a jolly good job of it too.
We took a break and had a Cuppachino at the Hermanus Morning market, bought the nicest, plumpest, sweetest organic strawberries, a delicious gluten-free loaf of bread and a bottle of sugar-free tomato sauce for our vegetarian meal this week. Tuesdays are Pasta days in our kitchen. I must get myself hooked up to Snap Scan, that's how many of the stalls operate, not having credit card fascillities. The Potter lost out on a deal as I'd fallen in love with one of his platters, my Quinoa Pomegranate and Sumac Salad would've dazzled on it.
Wheels, Whales and Wine is what the weekend was all about. I loved the wheels. Vintage cars, motor bikes and a tractor were on display, polished to a high gloss they were parked on the lawns for us to admire. When the starters’ gun went off I was ready to photograph some of the entries in this years’ rally. My particular favourites were the Granddads setting off with their grandchildren as navigators, memories must surely be made of this. We could hear the revs going up as the cars circled through the village delighting the crowds.
In 1972 my Mom sported a very fast grey Volvo, seeing a similar one brought back memories of her revving up when she stopped to drop us off at the bus stop, I was all big feet, knees and pimples and didn’t fancy the attention she got as she gunned off from The Beehive, always trying to beat the traffic light in Main Road. Jody Schechter had nothing on my old lady, she was most indignant when a traffic officer pulled her over one day driving us to Bikini Beach, she was only doing a 100 she said. He said “yes madam, you were doing miles per hour in a kilometer per hour zone!” What could she say? I was mortified and swore I’d hike to the beach in the future.
There was a festive breeze blowing through the beautiful gardens at the Anglican Church, the display of Orchids was out of this world. My admiration goes to each grower who so lovingly cultivates and nurtures these amazing plants. While I photographed some of my favourite blooms I heard the very knowledgeable enthusiasts wax lyrical about growing mediums, plant food, correct pruning and the spacing of the buds on stems. Well worth a visit. Just being there amongst these perfect blossoms calms and lights the soul. I think my efforts have failed and the two pathetic plants I whisper and encourage to grow are destined for the bin. Taking photographs in the church hall was somewhat tricky. The old Oregan Pine floor creaked and groaned every time someone passed me, causing the flowers to quiver and shake, the light was bad too. I did not use a flash, tri-pod, reflector or any other aid, just my Macro lens, a high ISO to speed things up, a large aperture (2.1) and the fastest shutter speed I could manage. I know some will snort at this.
Community spirit pulses strongly in the veins of most people in Hermanus and it is always evident when they’re showing off their towns best assets. Last weekend we were delighted to spend a few hours at the Fernkloof Indigenous plant and Horticultural show. The magnificent specimens on display were truly awesome. The collection of blooms is a mammoth undertaking where groups are instructed to set off to collect very specific flowers in the mountains, valleys and farms in the area. Farmers freely donate wagon loads of Fynbos to the society to display and to sell. Tents and halls are manned by members and volunteers who eagerly enlighten visitors about one of the wonders of nature, the fynbos, and this year, in particular, they discussed the fires and the importance of veld fires in the propagation and spread of new plants. The gardens are all immaculate and carpets of colourful springs flowers are everywhere. Families from all over the world were taking hikes and leisurely strolls on a fine spring day. The sugar birds and sunbirds were feasting on all the nectar in the pincushions lining the way into the mountains.
The refreshments tent was abuzz with friends and visitors enjoying homemade cakes, sandwiches and light meals. I indulged in a freshly baked scone, strawberry jam and whipped cream. Our waiter, a delightful young man was taking time off from his studies to be of service to his community.
There is so much expertise, knowledge and experience freely given by so many highly qualified, clever people who delight in spending their valuable time teaching anyone willing to listen.
In life there’s always a balance, on the one hand we experience everything that’s good in life and then disappointingly there’s a downside too. We witnessed one of the busiest days in Hermanus, parking was a nightmare, but the majority motorists found parking somewhere, seldom could it have been convenient, but with good grace everyone respected and dealt with the extraordinary circumstances. Unless you were the inconsiderate driver of the Springbok Atlas Tours bus, that is. To our dismay he parked right in front of Mon Desir, one of the original fisherman’s cottages in Hermanus, now an annex to Misty Waves Hotel. Blocking their view completely. Like a huge beached whale he sat there and refused to budge ignoring the waiters’ pleas. What we thought was going to be a pleasant drink on the veranda watching a whale and being nostalgic about the old house turned out to be a frustration.
Bus drivers have my sympathies, dispatching their clients in the most convenient place must be a priority, but, to blatantly disregard both the no parking red line and the businesses' request to move was shocking and disappointing. I’m sure the Municipality will learn from last weekends’ influx of tourists. Maybe they could consider a “drop and go” area, where tourists could be dropped off and collected from their busses and taxis. A designated parking area for large vehicles should be created somewhere on a field where the drivers can relax and enjoy their time in the village without causing a furore.
With a sigh of relief we returned to our haven in Onrus to enjoy a languid luncheon, watch a game of cricket and rugby (the war was on - S.A. vs. Australia, we were victorious) and later spend time with friends and family around our table.
For a detailed programme visit - www.hermanuswhalefestival.co.za