Sunday, August 31, 2008

Then and Now #3

Gaston has been finding more fascinating old photos for us. This is Govan Mbeki Ave as it looked in 1953 ........ (it was the only place in town to go shopping, long before de-centralisation took place)

And as it looks now, with the recent development into a pedestrian mall with shaded lock-up trading shelters for the street traders.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

happy birthday dear Ma-ax....tra la

It is the m in sam's birthday today, and the family decided on an outing to the wonderful Addo Elephant Game Park which we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep. So we packed a great picnic and set off this afternoon when our son-in-law got home from work.

Addo is looking quite dry, which is a bit scary, because we should have had some major rain at this time of year. As we drove in we saw a huge old lone buffalo and a large jackal. Along the way were vast numbers of graceful kudu, less elegant red hartebeest, eland, warthogs, elephants and ostriches.
But the highlight was as we were about to leave, quite close to the gate, when a whole bunch of elephants, including small babies, crossed the road right in front of us. It was a "hold your breath and hope they don't take offence" experience because we were boxed in by elephants to the right, cars behind and in front and dense bush to the left. My window was wide open and I didn't dare close it in case I upset mommy elephant, and of course the camera would have been too noisy so I couldn't click as they were level with us. Mommy elephant paused and eyeballed me for a bit before strolling on.... whew, ok breathe again....
it was a wonderful way to end a great family day.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Then and Now #2

Again, many thanks to Gaston from France, who sent some of his pictures, taken when he lived here in the late 50s early 60s, and enabled us to do this comparative series.
This is St Augustine's Cathedral, taken in 1960.
And here it is this week.
As with the Campanile view, I really question whether "progress" has brought around any improvement. The lovely gardens and fountain in front of City Hall, with natural stone paving, has been replaced by a large area of bland brick paving, on which all the city counsellors park, so that the whole thing in an uninviting maze you have to navigate through. The Church has changed little, but the lovely building on the right has been pulled down, to allow for White's Road to be widened, and the rest of the plot is now an open space next to the main library, with underground public toilets and a sidewalk leading up the hill. The ugly oxo cube building behind it is the offices of the Receiver of Revenue, where one goes to file tax forms and part with one's hard earned money in order to pay for all this "progress"..... in fact that reminds me, rats, I need to go there and do a provisional tax return today!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Aftermath of the Fire

Last week the Greatermans building in the city centre burned down in a fire that started in a neighbouring warehouse. This week the fire department was still busy securing the ruins and ensuring that there is not another flare up. It is amazing how, in such a short time, what seems like a strong and lasting structure can be reduced to rubble.

trees under threat

These 2 wonderful old members of the ficus family have grown at the end of Main Road Walmer for as long as anyone here can remember, and are really well known landmarks. As the system of roads surrounding them is being constantly upgraded, and shopping centres developed all around, they are looking sadder and sadder. Despite the watering they receive from tenants of Fig Tree Village, which was named after them, they are looking much sparser than they did several years ago. Debate rages in the letters page of the newspaper, but the reality is that the development has already taken place all around them, and it is hard to imagine any of it being reversed for the sake of these old lovelies! Sad but true..... but trees are resilient and we really hope these two prove all the doom and gloom types wrong, and bounce back, to continue gracing our city for many generations to come.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Then and Now #1

Thanks to Gaston from France, who used to live in PE in the 1950s and early 60s, and who very kindly sent us some of his photos from that era, we will be doing a few Then and Now comparisons in the near future. We start with the Campanile, which we did a whole series on recently.
Here it is around 50 years ago.....
And as it looked yesterday......

As you can see, the pretty old building on the right was demolished and replaced by the ugly modern block. The freeway now obliterates the view of the Harbour and the lower portion of the Campanile. The price of progress!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We're back here

OK, so Blogger is behaving again, and Wordpress is a pain to set up, so here we are, back at our old spot. So sorry to jerk you around like this, but as long as blogger plays the game, it is a way better host for us.

Watch the step

Another photo sent to us by Louise Eksteen, showing what a brilliant day it was in the bay yesterday. I love the warm fuzzy feeling generated by the snuggling couple, contrasted with the ominous broken step, sort of a gentle reminder that all is seldom 100% well in paradise!

Monday, August 25, 2008

shadow play

In the early days, many of the historic cottages were constructed of timber clad with corrogated iron. Considering our harsh coastal conditions, it is amazing that any have survived. So many would have been removed over the years and replaced with more modern and permanent structures. One that has stood the test of time is a little cottage in Cuyler Street, Central, which, for several years, has been home to the Cuyler Street Art Gallery. This is the courtyard, with the shadows of the pergola beams creating a rick-rack effect on the corrogated walls.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

skyline from sea

The skyline of PE is very different, now, to the bleak hills rising out of sand dunes which confronted the 1820 settlers. This is the view as you are entering the harbour and approaching the yacht basin. The early forefathers were responsible for many of the striking features which are so familiar on the horizon. The Donkin Lighthouse and Pyramid are real icons of PE, as are the Campanile and many of the old Church steeples. To the Right on Richmond Hill, you can see the steeple of what was originally the church used by the London Missionary Society when most of Richmond Hill was bare, except for the mud huts of the harbour workers. It is now an NG Church.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

wildlife in the suburbs

If you get bored with the miniture trains, you can always go game viewing. These guinea fowl have taken "ownership" of the local neighbourhood and are a delight to watch.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Miniature Railway

At Londt Park in Sunridge Park is a delightful miniature railway, complete with station, overhead pedestrian bridge and tunnel.

It is a great place for children's birthday parties (and the accompanying adults seem to enjoy it too!)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hot off the press....

......excuse the pun. We already did a post today on the new wordpress blog, but ironically were unable to upload the bitmap kindly sent sent to us by our friend Louise Eksteen (a noted photographic artist who has offered to supply us with pics.) However, as I am in Capetown and uploading from my cellphone, blogger is behaving delightfully!
So here is an image of the fire in Port Elizabeth yesterday, in which the old Greatermans building was burned. In the foreground is the old post office, under renovation, and the old Main Street, now Govan Mbeki Ave runs off diagonally to the right behind it. The Greatermans building was on the right hand side.

This place could do with a re-birth

This tatty looking building (admittedly made worse by the fact that it was photographed through the windscreen on a wet and miserable day recently) is where a huge number of Port Elizabethans (including our son) were born... it is the old maternity wing of the Provincial Hospital. Definitely in need of some tlc, but given the abysmal state of the Health Department in this province, I imagine it is low on the list of priorities.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

All fresh and new.....

Until recently these were very run down houses in Richmond Hill. I love the new colour scheme on the dark one! And as you can see, these properties enjoy superb views across the bay.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Mosque that stopped a freeway

This is Pier Street Mosque, now marooned on a patch of lawn between the harbour and the freeway.
After forcibly removing the residents of South end in the early 70s, even the all-powerful Apartheid Government had to yield to a higher power over this.... and so our settlers freeway has a truncated offramp hanging in space, because they were not allowed to go ahead and demolish this mosque, which is considered to be on holy ground.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Byebye blogger

Well after weeks of utter frustration, and hours of wasted time trying to upload pix on other programmes, copy them across, only to lose the lot because publishing keeps failing, we have decided to move to wordpress. We have tried and tried to avoid it, because we much prefer the flexibilty offered by blogger as far as picture size etc is concerned, but I guess we will just have to accept the compromise, because there is no way we can go on like this. We have been on the point of ditching the blog altogether because it has been such a mission to post a simple daily photo!

You can now find us at our new Port Elizabeth Daily Photo home.

If we change ISP providers and resolve the conflict with Blogger, we might come back to the old site, but for now you'll catch us over at Wordpress. Our time has been so limited, and we have wasted so much just trying to keep the daily posts going, that we have utterly neglected our other blogs, and our visiting, so please forgive our scarcity at the moment. After a trip out of town this week, we should be back into some sort of normality from next week, and will try and catch up.

Elaine Hopewell Gallery

We seem to keep popping back to Parliament Street and vicinity, which is not too surprising because it is home to some delightful old buildings. This is actually in Ivy Terrace, but is seen from Parliament Street. From this gracious old house, Elaine Hopewell has been running her well known Art Gallery and framing business for many years. It is in one of the little pockets that you can find in Central which have remained relatively untouched by the urban decay around them. However the upgrade to Parliament Street is in full swing, (Colin, will TRY and get to taking pics for you soon!) so hopefully, before long, the whole area will be looking like this, and not just isolated parts of it!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

one day i'll grow up....

This tiny yacht is called an Optimist, which is pretty appropriate really. Maybe he is optimistic that one day he will grow up into a big boy's toy like the one behind him, which in turn looks pretty skimpy in contrast to the bulk ore carrier being loaded behind it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Back to the Baakens Valley

Pied Kingfisher captured in the Baakens River near the harbour, opposite the old Tramways building.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

returning towards the harbour

Returning to the harbour from the East, one passes the lovely old Brewery buildings, now standing empty and deteriorating fast. In the foreground is the breakwater with dolosse designed by an East London engineer. For more information go to Sue's post on Dolosse.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

welcome to Port Elizabeth

If you ever get to enter the City of Port Elizabeth from the sea, this is what greets you on entering the harbour, the harbour master's tower, checking on all shipping movements.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cruising around the bay.....with Raggy Charters

Continuing with our whale watching trip from last week, the map from google earth will give you a better idea of where we went. In the next few days we'll continue to show you the highlights.

Along the way, the skipper, Lloyd, (facing the camera, in red and white jacket) fountain of much knowledge about the marine life of the bay, stopped to explain about the penguins we had just seen. He mentioned that they mate for life, and do not get divorced....(because the female penguins can't talk!!!!) hence the smiles!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


5 days now, and we are unable to upload pictures to blogger. Every time we try, we get the following message

Network Error (tcp_error) A communication error occurred: "" The Web Server may be down, too busy, or experiencing other problems preventing it from responding to requests. You may wish to try again at a later time. For assistance, contact your network support team.

On the forum there is a short note from a Google Employee saying there is a problem and they are working on it.... well 5 days is a bit long, you'd think they could at least give updates to their frustrated bloggers!

So reluctantly, we are in the process moving across to Wordpress. We much prefer Blogger, but it seems they have outgrown their capacity and the service offerred when there is a problem is becoming more and more dismal.

So please excuse the enforced absence, and bear with us while we set up our new sites, we'll be back asap!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

St Croix Island #3 - Guano

These lonely looking houses on the leeward side of the island were built for guano collectors. This was apparently not a very succesful venture, as the collection of guano was made difficult by the terrain. The smell of the place would have put any normal person off, before they started.

Monday, August 4, 2008

St Croix Island #2 - Penguins

St Croix Island rises out of the sea like a large rock and looks like a very inhospitable place, but it boasts the largest colony of African penguins in Southern Africa.

Wherever you look on the island there are groups of penguins. They are increasingly coming under pressure, as the fishing trawlers have depleted the area of fish. Recent sudies have shown that they travel up to 155 kms to find food. That is a long swim by any standard.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

St Croix Island

The cross on St Croix Island is a replica of one left by the Portugese explorer, Bartolomeu Diaz, way back in the 1488. St Croix is the largest of the three islands off Hougham Park. The other two being Brenton and Jahleel.

Joshua Slocum talks about Algoa Bay in his book 'Sailing Alone Around the World':
The early Portuguese navigators, endowed with patience, were more than
sixty-nine years struggling to round this cape before they got as far as Algoa
Bay, and there the crew mutinied. They landed on a small island, now called
Santa Cruz, where they devoutly set up the cross, and swore they would cut the
captain's throat if he attempted to sail farther. Beyond this they thought was
the edge of the world, which they too believed was flat; and fearing that their
ship would sail over the brink of it, they compelled Captain Diaz, their
commander, to retrace his course, all being only too glad to get home. A year
later, we are told, Vasco da Gama sailed successfully round the "Cape of
Storms," as the Cape of Good Hope was then called, and discovered Natal on
Christmas or Natal day; hence the name. From this point the way to India was

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Still on a high

There is a man in Port Elizabeth who is both passionate and very knowledgable about marine life in Algoa Bay. His name is Lloyd Edwards, and he owns an operation called Raggy Charters. Lloyd is involved in all sorts of marine conservation, education and research projects, and in order to fund these, he has written a stunning book called Scenes from Algoa Bay, full of photos he has collected over his years of boating in the bay. In addition, he offers charters around the bay to the public.

Max and I have been wanting to go on one of these for ages, and had decided that we would treat each other to a 3 hour whale watching and island cruise for each other's birthdays. We have been waiting for the right time, as far as available free time, weather etc is concerned, and today was it! So early this morning we set off to the yacht club, and off we went on the Orca 2 catamaran.

Over the next few days we'll share the journey with you, but we just HAVE to start with the high point, when we spotted two Southern Right Whales swimming very close to the shore between Coega and Bluewater Bay.

You can see from this picture how close we were able to get to them.

If marine life interests you, watch this space, because very soon we plan to launch a guest spot for Lloyd, called Marine Monday, where we will feature photos and articles and news updates from Lloyd in his trips all over the bay.