Tag Archives: holiday

Hidden South African Gems – Port Alfred

I officially graduated from Rhodes University. I am no longer a Rhodent, I now part of the upper echelon of Old Rhodians. Supposedly. But #Rhodent4Life!

My gran was supposed to come down to South Africa from the UK to celebrate my grad, but her goat attacked her. How’s that for an excuse? It was a pretty bad injury, and I’m glad she stayed home and rested and recovered, though it did make some of our “grad-weekend” plans seem a bit dull…

Port Alfred

We figured we could make a beach weekend out of a weekend in Grahamstown, so we booked in a B&B in Port Alfred that was absolutely stunning, right on the beach front. PA is only 40 minutes away (30 if you’re one of the students I tutored last year who did the trip daily), so it seemed convenient at the time. It wasn’t really, because we spent most of our time in GHT, so it was a little bit wasted. But gorgeous nonetheless.

I know my mom will probably hate me for putting this up, but she is beautiful and it's her birthday on Saturday, so all my love to her, lying on some super comfy bed in a really neatly and perfectly finished B&B bedroom

I know my mom will probably hate me for putting this up, but she is beautiful and it’s her birthday on Saturday, so all my love to her, lying on some super comfy bed in a really neatly and perfectly finished B&B bedroom

I was glad to have the opportunity to visit PA again, as beach trips were seriously under-utilized in my time at Rhodes. It made for a great day trip, though one that was difficult to over do, because it was just that little bit too far away. I do regret not spending more time checking out Bathurst as well, which is a quaint little place.

Taught mom how to take a selfie. Not sure if it was a mistake to have done that or not...?

Taught mom how to take a selfie. Not sure if it was a mistake to have done that or not…?

Port Alfred is basically just another one of those gorgeous small towns along the South African coast. It is especially beautiful because it is situated in the Eastern Cape, and somehow most places there are beautiful. It’s a stunning coastal visit that still holds it’s small-town simplicity.

Rock pools

The kind of place that makes you want to attempt to capture each crashing wave and the incredible rows of shells, and the crystal clarity of the water, but its just too beautiful to ever adequately do it justice

We got a local’s recommendation to check out the Three Sisters rock formation just up the coast from Port Alfred, about a 15 minute drive. We were about 45 minutes too late, but if you ever get the chance, make sure to go just before and for the duration of low tide. It truly is a wonder to behold.

This seemed like a good idea in the time before I did it. Then I realised that I am pathetic and spider webs can be icky but it was too late to turn back...

This seemed like a good idea in the time before I did it. Then I realised that I am pathetic and spider webs can be icky but it was too late to turn back… I promise I didn’t Photoshop that sky either.

Port Alfred is just another one of those places that reminds you just how beautiful South Africa is, and how lucky we are to have such simple yet breathtaking places right on our doorstep, and a reminder to take advantage of it before we as humans do the inevitable.

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Finally made Slutty Brownies

Holidays are a tough (yet wonderful) time for me because I tend to overindulge in all the wonderful things that I don’t generally have access to in the little isolated town of Grahamstown. You may also be aware that I don’t have easy access to a kitchen, which makes baking and cooking pretty difficult. However, I was recently lucky enough to be offered kitchen facilities in my Warden’s flat, and I took the opportunity to make something so wonderful and delicious, that I will most certainly be baking them again within the next two weeks.

The name is interesting, but they’re just so delicious and indulgent, that everyone wants a piece. Slutty brownies have been on my “To-make” list for a while, and I now see that I was not mistaken in choosing this recipe.

The Slutty Brownie is made up of a base layer of chocolate chip cookies, a layer of Oreos, and topped off with a fudgey brownie layer. Those are basically the three most wonderful treats in the world, right?

I chose to stick with simple box mixes, which made it cheaper and fail-proof. I didn’t want to end up with a dud layer of choc chip cookies and a perfect brownie on top, that would have been such a waste!

Just some casual ingredients waiting to become something awesome!

Just some casual ingredients waiting to become something awesome!

The three main components: cookie dough (delicious as is, by the way, who cares about Salmonella...?)

The three main components: cookie dough (delicious as is, by the way, who cares about Salmonella…?)

Place the cookies into neat rows to make sure you get evenly distributed Oreo-goodness

Place the cookies into neat rows to make sure you get evenly distributed Oreo-goodness

Try not to notice the fact that I was 1 Oreo short...

Try not to notice the fact that I was 1 Oreo short…

Add your brownie layer

Add your brownie layer

Pop it into the oven

Pop it into the oven

I would advise that you bake for a few minutes longer than the recommended time to cook the brownies, because they are quite thick, and all that baking heat needs to get deep down through to the cookie layer. Your cookies are not that likely to burn, just beware if you are using a metal cooking dish.

See the lovely layers, so inviting and tempting

See the lovely layers, so inviting and tempting

Ooey gooey delicious finished product

Ooey gooey delicious finished product

They could possibly have stayed in the oven a little longer, but then the ooey gooey-ness of the brownies would have been lost. The softer brownie also offsets a crispier cookie layer, so you really get to enjoy the textures. The Oreo layer is like a small burst of happy in your mouth, a pleasant surprise each time you come across one with that characteristic sweet frosting inside.

Need some R&R after those R&R’s

Do yourself a favour, and DON’T ever drink an R&R. If you do, at least learn from your mistakes. And then learn from the mistake of not learning from your mistakes… I tell you this because that drink is delicious, delicious and VERY dangerous. I don’t even want to know what they put in that rum of theirs, but those Mozambique-folk use it for one hell of a party.

We went from the extreme cold of the French Alps to the sticky heat of the African East coast. It was the first time we had driven to Mozambique and if I can give you one piece of advice before you head across South Africa on a road trip, it is this: before you leave, make sure you know which town’s you’ll be driving through, and confirm that their names have not changed since the directions were last distributed by your dive charter. We spent about an hour driving in what we hoped was the right direction, waiting for the signs to Witbank, until we finally discovered that Witbank had, in fact, changed its name to E’Malahleni, in Mpumalanga. We were very lucky that we were going in the right direction.

The way to the burning beach

The way to the burning beach

We had a pleasant Mozambique-border experience. We had travelled through the night and arrived at the Kosi Bay post at 5am on 27 December. There were a few other cars, but it wasn’t as bad as the 7km queue of cars that had been rumoured around Christmas Eve. We had decided to leave our car on the South African side, which I wouldn’t recommend: we were very lucky to get our car out of there because of the bad way that all the cars had been parked in.

Busy busy busy

Busy busy busy

Our first two beach days were wonderful. While Ponta do Ouro was very busy, we were staying at Phambuka Dive Centre, which was a short walk and a scalding beach sprint to a much quieter rock pool beach. Following our first days, however, I barely swam at all because the beach was overpopulated with blue buggers bottles. They pretty much defined where the water ended and the beach started, and there was hardly a break between them. Their tentacles were longer than people, so there was little chance of out-swimming them. Thus, I did not swim in the sea again in Mozambique. (I do recommend taking a gazebo to the beach. I intend to invest in one of these soon).

It was a bit of a long walk to the main beach though...

It was a bit of a long walk to the main beach though…

Ponta has a reputation for being a great place to scuba dive, so we booked to do four dives. We saw some great things: loads of star fish, potato bass, nudibranchs, rock fish, parrot fish, Nemos and Dorys, and rays. My mother saw sharks on a dive she did without us. However, the water was cold and the visibility was a little bit shocking: I almost had face-on-face action with a ray when my mother pointed it out to me, but I couldn’t tell what she was pointing at. I pulled away very fast when it bolted, a mere 0.5m from my mask.

We spent New Year’s here, and it was such a huge party! I was a bit disappointed because the random people that I had met that night had disappeared right before midnight, so I was alone. Apart from that 10 minute period where I was wondering around like a lost soul, though, I had a fabulous party.

Party on the beach!

Party on the beach!

And about the R&R’s: they are a local concoction of Mozambican rum with Raspberry mixer (Spar-Berry), and rumour has it that the lack of production regulation means that this rum could have traces of petrol in it. I wouldn’t be surprised. Fernando’s, home of this evil, makes it really strong, and good luck remembering the party of the night before if you have more than 2 of these red wonders.

By the way, backstreet beach bars are officially the best places ever!

By the way, backstreet beach bars are officially the best places ever!

The hearts belong in France

Les Trois Vallées’, the Three Valleys. And I had the privilege of visiting one of these. Meribel: a traditional, yet somewhat commercial, French village, with wooden chalets and hearts on every piece of decor that you see.

We stayed with Meriski, the seven of us in a cosy chalet, where we had our own “house lady”, a charming British girl named Charlie. Meriski was great: we were collected by First Class taxi service in Geneva and taken directly to our home for the holidays. There were fresh French loaves with jars of Nutella and strawberry jame waiting for us. It was literally the best strawberry jam I had ever had.

Just the view from our bedroom window each morning

Just the view from our bedroom window each morning

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Generic Geneva

Jet d'eau - boat tour in the bitter wind

Jet d’eau – boat tour in the bitter wind

Oh no! Only a few hours in Geneva! However shall we appreciate it in such a small amount of time?! Continue reading

Eastern Travels Original Article

I wrote an article for the student newspaper here… It was about my Hong Kong trip. I understand that newspapers need to cut down articles that are too long, but when it’s cut down from what it was to so few words… Well, I felt that they needn’t have bothered with putting it in the edition at all. I will post about my Hong Kong trip in a blog-post form, with different pictures, pictures to be added to this article at a later stage. But here is how the article was intended to appear: (will also post the link to the edition when that becomes available again, it seems to have disappeared)

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