Saturday, April 18, 2015

AutoPavilion Geocache

One of my favorite geocaches done lately was one located inside the VW AutoPavilion in Uitenhage.  The coordinates take you to the museum itself from where you have to follow the instructions in the cache description.  These tell you to look for the blue racing car and to get in to find the cache.  I'm giving this one away a bit, but the container is muggle proof so doing so isn't the end of the world.  The cache container turned out to be a ammo can in the shape of a first aid kit located somewhere in the car.  Its secured to the car so no muggle can move it and its locked with a combination lock to secure the content.  It had some very nice VW and car related swag inside and once I signed the logbook I spent some time enjoying the simulator in the car.  A very cool cache by Navimate and well worth doing if you are a Geocacher.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Snorkeling with an otter in Schoenies

I found this video on YouTube posted in 2013 by Brad Taylor of him and his dad snorkeling in a gully in Schoenmakerskop.  To their surprise they were joined by an otter.  Now there's something that doesn't happen every day.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

St Katharines in Uitenhage

A little caching expedition took me to St Katharine Church in Uitenhage the other day.  The foundation stone, which cannot be found today, was laid in 1867 and it is from this date that the anniversaries are counted, although the building (as in construction) only began in 1869.  It was completed in 1875 after many financial constraints and problems and dedicated that same year by Rev. William Llewellyn.  It was named by him after St. Katharine, an eighth century Egyptian Princess who was beautiful and wise.  In 1894 the chancel was added and the original galvanized iron roof was replaced by the slate roof in 1966.  The church is built in a simple Gothic architectural style with stones quarried from the vicinity of the farm “Hillwacht” and transported by ox-wagon to this site where Muslim stone masons built the original structure.

So who was St Katharine? 
From earliest childhood she was known for her beauty and great intellect, stimulated by all the resources in her parents’ kingdom and beyond.  Orphaned by 14 years of age she became queen and to the dismay of the elders found no suitable person to marry.  A hermit learned in a dream that the King who should be Lord of her heart was to be the Blessed Virgin’s Son and after he showed her their picture, Katharine could think of no other. In a dream the Lord turned her away as not being fair enough for Him and after that Katharine could not rest until she had become a Christian and was baptised.  Again in a dream, the Lord betrothed Himself to her and she was so filled with faith and fortitude that she confronted the cruel Maximin of Italy who was ravaging all the Christians in Egypt.  So convincing was her appeal at the assembly he convened to trap her, that many were converted and believed that Christ was Lord and God. This so enraged Maximin that he ordered further massacres of Christians and had Katharine tortured, wounded and thrown in a dungeon.  Even there, the captive princess continued to talk of God and converted Maximin’s own wife and chief captain.  Finally as she was chained between 4 wheels that were to tear her body, fire came down from heaven and broke the wheels apart.  While others were hurt by flying fragments, Katharine was unharmed.  Maximin ordered her to be taken outside the city of Alexandria where she was beheaded with a sword.  Her body was taken to Mount Sinai where a monastery named after St Katharine may be found.  Katharine became a great Virgin Patron, her Saint’s Day is November 25th. - From the listing of The Story of St Katharine

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

AutoPavilion garage

The VW AutoPavilion in Uitenhage doesn't just have some awesome exhibits inside the facility, there are also a couple of outside exhibits.  One of them being this replica roadhouse and garage.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The VW AutoPavilion - a world class attraction

A quick trip out to Uitenhage to fetch my drivers license had me pop into the VW AutoPavilion briefly and even though I was in and out quickly I just realised again how much of a world class attraction it is.  We really are very fortunate to have it right on our doorstep but I often wonder how much more popular it would have been if it was in Port Elizabeth and able to attract more visitors.  Locals tend to be a bit on the lazy side to travel to Uitenhage (I also joke that some people probably pack padkos when they drive out there) while most tourists and holiday makers probably never get anywhere close to The Hage.

For those who don't know what the AutoPavilion is, it is Volkswagen of South Africa's high-tech, interactive expo and heritage centre.  The centre features state of the art technology and unprecedented interactivity and thoroughly showcases the evolution of the VW brand from the very first Beetle to the contemporary passenger and sports cars of today.  You get to travel in an interactive "movie studio" Beetle complete with green screen technology, drive in a simulator, see icons of yesteryear such as Herbie or South Africa's oldest kombi or check out a Beetle cut in half by a laser.  These are just a few of the amazing attractions at the AutoPavilion.  Never been?  Make a plan and go for a visit.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mohair ground breaking

Did you know that Port Elizabeth is the mohair capital of the world?  South Africa produces 53% of global mohair production and together with Lesotho produces 70% of world production.  The majority of the world's mohair gets processed in two plants in the Eastern Cape while there are two dedicated mohair spinners within Nelson Mandela Bay.  Port Elizabeth is also home to Mohair South Africa and it is here where most of South Africa's mohair gets handled and exported from. 
Last Wednesday I attended the groundbreaking of the new Mohair South Africa headquarters in Walmer right here in the Friendly City.  Other than Mohair SA's head office, the building will also include a retail space, where an array of mohair products, produced both locally and abroad, will be available.  There will also be a mini conference centre  as well as provision for a mohair library and crafting space to be utilised by students.
An artist's impression of what the building will look like

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tourism Ambassadors

Last Sunday while in the Kings Beach parking area after a walk on the beachfront, I spotted a group of youngsters with orange bibs that had TOURISM AMBASSADOR on it.  I was curious and snapped a picture of them as they passed with the idea of asking my friends at Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism what it was about.  The one guy saw me and came over to chat and offer some information.  Turns out that they are part of a project by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency and go around tourism hot spots with maps and visitor guides, offering information to visitors.  The guy was a very friendly and eager chap but I doubt he would have been able to tell me anything I don't know.  It was awesome to see them there and to hear that there is such an initiative on the go again.  Now I hope its an on-going one and not just one to tick another box.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Chaos Boy turns 13 at Sleepy Hollow

Chaos Boy turns 13 today (I can't believe he's a teenager now) and he wanted to have an outdoor "Survivor" party.  We decided that the best place to have an outdoor party would be at Sleepy Hollow and this morning we headed out there with eight kids for a day of hiking, swimming in the Maitland River's pools, foofy sliding, slippery sliding and exploring the old mines.

My best attempt at a Survivor cake

Highlights of the day

Friday, April 10, 2015

This giant South African flag packs a punch

After posting about the raising of the giant South African flag on the Donkin Reserve last week, I thought of a video I saw a little while ago of the flag being taken down on a day when the wind was pumping.  I found it and decided to post it for your pleasure this week.  Check our the Prince Alfred Guard soldiers struggling to get the flag under control.  More importantly, check the size of the flag. When it flies 65 meters up on the flagpole people don't want to believe they get told that the flag is 10 meters by 15 meters in size.  About the size of a tennis court. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hinterveld Mohair factory shop

The last stop on the Mohair Factory Tour in Uitenhage is the Mohair factory show at Hinterveld.  Open to the public, this shop sells labeled mohair products that retails for a lot more in other shops and often gets exported to fashion retailers and designers in the UK and other countries.
Yesterday I attended the groundbreaking of the new Mohair South Africa headquarters in Port Elizabeth (I'll still post about that) and found out to my shock that the Gubb and Inggs Factory where a big part of this tour takes place burned down on Sunday.  Devastating news, specially to the mohair industry in Uitenhage.  Some of those machines were over a hundred years old.  It obviously doesn't just affect the operation but also the tours which would not be available for a while.  The factory shop will still be open though.