Saturday, August 31, 2013

View of Algorax

Everybody knows the big blue factory next to the N2 just after you passed over the Swartkops River on the way into Port Elizabeth.  The factory is Algorax and is a carbon black factory.  Carbon black is mainly used as a reinforcing filler in tires and other rubber products.  With three of South Africa's biggest tyre manufacturers situated in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro the factory is situated within close range of all of these.  This is the view of the factory from Bluewater Bay across the Swartkops River. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

The road is long

Port Elizabeth has some beautiful rural areas all around it with many dirt road crossing through.  Dirt road are so synonymous with rural areas in the country and I know of some people who plan their travels in such a way that they drive as many dirt roads as possible.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Boardwalk Fountain Spectacular

In December the Boardwalk launched its Lake Spectacular with fountains on the Boardwalk Lake lit up by colourful lights and "dancing" to the tune of music.  They have one show daily from Sundays to Thursday and three performances on Fridays and Saturdays.  The attraction has become one of the highlights for visitors to the city and draws big numbers especially during the summer months.  The times do change from season to season so I don't want to publish times and then have fingers pointed at me when somebody goes at the wrong time and miss the show. #justsaying 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Boardwalk wonderland

After dark the Boardwalk Complex truly turns into a wonderland with all the lights lining the building and reflecting in the water of the lake.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rusty Roadsigns

There is one set of road signs that always grab my attention.  I may not pass there often, but the rusty road signs on the old R335 just north of the Zuurberg Pass is my favourite road sign in the whole world.  From this intersection there are four road going in each of the wind directions.  South will take toy towards Addo and Port Elizabeth via the old Zuurberg Pass, the original road north from Algoa Bay.  South takes you to Somerset East, west towards Jansenville (it will take you to Somerset East as well) and east to the N10 that crosses the Olifantskop Pass from Port Elizabeth heading north.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sweet thorn sunset

Africa has the most beautiful sunsets. 
This one taken through a sweet thorn tree just north of Port Elizabeth

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

I love game drives

I love game drives.  Being out in the open and fresh air with a breeze in your face and the sound of birds around.  Watching animals in their natural environment.  The sun rising or setting on the horizon.  Sharing special moments and sightings with loved ones and seeing the reaction of strangers from all over the world to those moments.  I love game drives. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Two bridges and a drift

On the way back from spending a day in the Gamtoos Valley, I decided to take a drive through the Van Stadens Pass and stop at the bottom to snap a couple of pics (and log the geocache hidden there).  Doing some rock hopping I got to a point from where I could see both the new and old bridges as well as the original drift through the river.
The river and original pass was named after one of the area's pioneer farmers - Marthinus van Staden, who was the first person to plot a basic route through the Van Stadens River Gorge in the 1850's.  In 1867 Thomas Bain was brought in by the Cape Government to rebuild the pass so that ox wagon traffic could safely travel through the pass.  In 1868, barely a year later, a massive flood washed away major sections of the pass and bridge, which resulted in a complete rebuild.  Over the next eighty years the pass saw regular improvements and widening and it was finally tarred between 1950 and 1953.  In 1971 the N2 bridge over the gorge was opened.  It took 4 years to complete (1967 - 1971) and is the 1st of 5 large concrete bridges along the N2.  The bridge is an arch bridge design with a height of 140 m and a span of 198.1 m.  

The concrete remains of the original drift over the river can still be seen amongst the rocks and boulders.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A CITO event for International Geocaching Day

Last Saturday (17 August 2013) I joined a number of fellow geocachers in celebrating International Geocaching Day with a CITO event in the Baakens Valley at the back of Beverley Grove.  CITO stands for "Cache In Trash Out" and is a clean-up organised by geocachers at a spot where a cache is hidden that is in need of a spring clean.  This specific location is home to a cache called Ancient Roman Tablets and for some reason has a huge litter problem. 
Cachers of all shapes and sizes joined in.  Those cachers who pitched in were Seekoei, Erenei, Grannynasty, Wikkelgat, Spesbona, Tumbleweeds, Fiddletwigs, Spiesie, iPajero, Blaster, BigG, TheCrow, Bremar Josrut, MacRambo, Navimate, Simplr, Sharky Jnr, Chaos Boy and of cause myself, FireflyAfrica.  Hope I got everybody.  Also keep in mind that some of these are teams which means that we had quite a turnout.
Once the clean-up started we were joined by a couple of local residents as well as a team from ADT Security.  I'm still not sure where they came from but they climbed in with gusto and really helped out in a big way.  A big shout out to the ADT guys for their assistance.
By the time we were finished the path through the valley looked beautiful again.  Now to hope it stays like this.
But what is a geocaching event without finding a geocache?  Well, just an event.  As most of us haven't found Ancient Roman Tablets yet we set off en-mass to go and track it down.  The cache is hidden somewhere in this section of the valley and as GPS coordinates aren't always 100% accurate under trees we had to widen our search for this elusive little container.

The search even took some of us way up onto the cliffs above.  Alas, Spiesie had it in hand after a little while and we all signed the log before she returned it to its hiding spot.  Thank you very much to Grannynasty for organising yet another memorable geocaching event and for allowing me to steal some of her photos to use in this post.
Check out more pictures on the Eastern Cape Geocachers group on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cape Baffalo

When you ask visitors which of the Big 5 they would like to see the lion and elephant always comes up first followed by the rhino and then the leopard.  For some reason the buffalo always seem to be forgotten.  Why? Because people see it as little more than wild cattle?  Perhaps.  What they don't realise is that the very docile and quiet looking Cape Buffalo are aggravated very easily and then turns into a killing machine, goring those in its way with its big sharp horns.  The other thing that counts in their favour is the fact that they live in big herds which increase the chance of animal safety from predators.  Many of the game reserves surrounding Port Elizabeth have Cape Buffalo on their land and you would be most likely to see them when visiting Addo Elephant National Park and closer to town at Kragga Kamma Game Park.  The picture was taken at Kuzuko Lodge in the Greater Addo Elephant National Park.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Santa's beach hangout

On a geocaching outing along Marine Drive the other day, Chaos Boy was very chuffed to find the spot where Santa hangs out during the year.  The painted rock is visible from the road but not as well known as the bikini tree lady on Buffelsfontein Road.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Flyover fountain

One of the first things they did when they started with the Route 67 developement was to open up the section of Strand Street between Market Square and the Campanile.  A new set of steps were built to link the two areas and at the bottom of the steps a fountain was installed to cheer the area up a bit.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Conservatory history

The Pearson Conservatory in St George's Park was opened by Honourable John X Merriman on 12 September 1882 at a cost of £3,800.  It is named after Mr HW Pearson, the Mayor of Port Elizabeth at that time.
The Eastern Province Herald discribed the conservatory as following in an article the next day. 
The structure consists of a centre building and two wings.  The central building measures 25 feet by 50 feet by 29 feet high to the centre of the skylight.  The roof is supported on eight lofty columns with marble shafts and ornamental heads picked out in gold and dark green.  The wing buildings each measure 21 by 44 feet by 17 feet high to the centre of skylights. The roofs of these buildings are also supported on ornamental columns, and over these as also the centre building the iron ribs of the roof are strengthened by means of ornamental wrought iron scroll work.  The whole of the buildings with the exception of the plinth are constructed of glass and molded teak wood framing, the roof ribs being of light iron. The interior is decorated as follows: a warm grey ground picked out with pale blue and light chocolate lining, and the scroll iron work with light flesh colour lining columns all marbled and mouldings guilded, and the glass on the sides exposed to the sun is frosted with ornamental lines and corners.
The roofs have also been frosted in light blue to subdue the vertical rays of the sun and keeps the place beautifully cool.  The exterior is decorated as follows: Light stone colour ground with chocolate and white lining.  The gutters have a small chocolate stencil pattern, and the sashes all white, the ornamental iron cresting and terminals are painted dark blue, picked out with white and gold.
The ventilation of the building is complete, being arranged as follows: Ivory alternate sash at the bottom opens, being hung on pivots, and the sky-light sashes throughout are opened simultaneously by a lever apparatus, worked by a hand screw.  The arrangements of the interior are as follows: Round the whole building a raised bed is built with a retaining wall for plants, and at the centre of the two wings a double tier of shelves of perforated iron, supported on miniature columns for the reception of plants.  The centre building has a very handsome centre fountain with large basin, and on either side enclosed spaces for plants.
There are also four very handsome bronzed seats for visitors.The glazing, painting and decorating has been executed by Mr Johnstone, of Port Elizabeth, under the instruction and superintendence of Mr W H Miles, Consulting Architect to the municipality.
I got the above info off the St George's Park history website.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

N2 view

Standing at the same spot as yesterday's post from where I took the picture of the Cotswold (Moregrove) Quarry but looking the other way, the N2 snakes away from the suburbs towards Algoa Bay.  The N2 is the main road from Cape Town along the Garden Route, through Port Elizabeth and up along the east coast past Durban. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cotswold Quarry

Situated next to the suburb of Cotswold is the Cotswold Quarry where they collect supacrush for building purposes.  I got to this lookout area with fellow geocacher Seekoei the other day on a caching expedition.  Even though I've always known that it's there I actually don't know much about the quarry and thought to consult my good friend Google.  Unfortunately he didn't know anything either. 

There seems to be one more informed that my friend Google and that is regular PEDP reader Grant Slater.  He sent me the following:

It is called "Moregrove Quarry" owned by Lafarge Aggregates.  A brochure titled "Moregrove Quarry: 50 Years" was published in 1992.  Which would make the quarry 71 years old this year.  The quarry is on the Moregrove Fault.

He also sent me a link to an online article on the Moregrove Fault and I quote the following from it.

"There are three ancient fault lines in Port Elizabeth where some slight movements can still occur. One of them, the Moregrove fault, runs along the Port Elizabeth beachfront from Pollok Beach, Summerstrand, along the shoreline, through the Baakens Valley and ending at the Moregrove quarry near the Kragga Kamma interchange. The water which continually runs across Lower Valley Road near the old PE Tramways building is underground water seeping to the surface through the Moregrove fault. Another, the so-called Chelsea- Noordhoek fault, runs parallel to the Schoenmakerskop coast, while a third fault runs in the Coega area."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The best view in PE

What is the best viewpoint in Port Elizabeth?  In my opinion its the view from the top of the Donkin Lighthouse.  This is the view across the Donkin Reserve showing the King Edward Hotel, Grey Institute, Donkin Street Houses and some of the Route 67 art pieces, including the 65m high flagpole.  To think of it, I should have taken a panorama towards the city centre side as well. Next time, I promise. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Port Elizabeth St Georges Club

In 1866 a group of Port Elizabeth businessmen decided to start a social club where they could come together after work for a drink while playing snooker and billiards.  The Port Elizabeth Club was born.  The club originally started in Western Road opposite the Trinder Vlei and then moved to the present location when membership started to grow too big for the premises.  The present building was completed in 1903.  The club's facilities were quite primitive back then compared to modern standards.  Gas and oil lamps and candles lit the rooms with accommodation rooms having iron bedsteads and straw mattresses with matting on the floor as furnishings.  Each room had a water jug and basin on a washstand while a tub of hot water could be ordered for your room if you desired a bath as there were no bathrooms.  The “privies” were in the back garden with only lantern hanging outside the door indicated its whereabouts at night.
St George’s Club was started in premises on Castle Hill in 1892 by the younger men in the town as they felt the PE Club catered more for the older men.  It first moved to another site in Western Road before, in 1927, moving to the beautiful building in Park Drive where it ran successfully until 1998 when it was amalgamate with the Port Elizabeth Club.  Hence the long winded name of the Port Elizabeth St Georges Club.  Since then the club has scaled down quite a lot to its present size with all the extra rooms no longer being needed by the original club.  Although the club facilities are still in the club's hands, the rest of the building and grounds have been sold to a prominent local businessman who has renovated it.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Baakens River Valley view

The view down the Baakens River Valley towards the Port Elizabeth Harbour from the Knysna apartment building in 1st Avenue Walmer. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The history of the Pearson Conservatory fountain

The Pearson Conservatory was originally built in 1882 and restored to its former glory between 2009 and 2011.  The centre piece of the conservatory is an ornamental fountain made by Andrew Handyside at the Duke Street Foundry "Britannia Iron Works" in Derby in the UK around the same year.  The Britannia Foundry's work was well known for its fine quality so these fountains can be found all over the globe.  This particular design of fountain is listed as Design Number 15 on Page 30 of the 1879 publication "An Illustrated book of Designs for Fountains and Vases, costing from £1 to £1200 manufactured by Andrew Handyside".  The same fountain can be found at Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, Australia as well as at Sarmiento School Fountain in San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina, South America.

The information above was found on the Friar Gate Bridge Derby website.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Narrow gauge line

The narrow gauge railway line between Port Elizabeth and the town of Avontuur in the Langkloof  was built by the government of the Cape Colony between 1890 and 1906 and at 285 kilometres it is the longest 610-mm-narrow gauge route in the world.  Along the way the line crosses over the highest two foot narrow-gauge railway bridge in the world.  In 1965 the Apple Express tourist train started operating on part of the line and finally seized operations in 2011 due to hassles with Spoornet on the use of the line.  There are moves afoot to get the steam train going again but unfortunately other than Spoornet one of the obstacles to overcome is the fact that some of the line was since washed away in flooding.  I snapped this pic on a Geocaching outing close to the South End Cemetery.  I was standing on a footbridge over the railway line looking towards Humewood.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Cross of Prester John

The space between the Port Elizabeth City Hall, Old Post Office Building and the Feather Market Centre in Fleming Square and it contains a monument which is the only of its kind in the world.  The Prester John Cross was unveiled in 1986 by the Portuguese Ambassador and is dedicated to the mythical king-priest, Prester John, and the Portuguese explorers who discovered South Africa.

It was the quest for Prester John as a Christian ally that led to expeditions to reach him by sailing around Africa.   The monument consists of a large Coptic cross and in the central circle are the figures of Prester John and a Portuguese navigator.  
The legend of Prester John were popular in Europe from the 12th through the 17th centuries and it told of a king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient. Prester John was reportedly a descendant of one of the Three Wise Men of the bible  and was generous ruler and a virtuous man, presiding over a realm full of riches and strange creatures. 
At first it was imagined that Prester John resided in India.  Later accounts placed the king in Central Asia and eventually Portuguese explorers convinced themselves that they had found him in Ethiopia, which had been officially Christian since the 4th century. 
Read more about Prester John on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bridge over the Swartkops River

This is the view towards town from the Forward Observation Post in Bluewater Bay with the N2 bridge over the Swartkops River in the foreground. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Aloe on the banks of the Swartkops River

Winter is aloe time and when it comes to flowers one of my favorite seasons.  I found these Kranz Aloe flowering on the banks of the Swartkops River in Redhouse.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mosaic fun

The 470 square meter mosaic next to the Donkin Memorial (pyramid) is fast becoming one of the most popular art pieces on Route 67.  People are finding all kinds of fun ways to take photos of it.  This group of school kids were lying down on the circles for pictures when I was on top of the lighthouse the other day.  Unfortunately by the time I got my camera out they were getting up already

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ship on the silver seas

A ship sailing towards the Port Elizabeth harbour with the morning sun shimmering silver off Algoa Bay.  St Croix Island is visible on the horizon.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Horse riding at Holmeleigh Farmyard

When people get to Holmeleigh Farmyard the first thing that they normally do is to go and feed the animals.  There after the moms (and dads) normally sit down for some coffee and perhaps something to eat while the kids head off to go and play in the big playing area.  There are two other activities that the kids can do.  The one is to go on a tractor trip on the farm while the second is horse rides.  As I've mentioned so many times before, the KidZ love animals and the outdoors and Chaos Boy couldn't resist going for a ride the last time we were there.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tracks on the sand

The Swartkops Estuary is well known for its waders and other water birds making it an awesome bird watching spot.  But its not always about the birds themselves like the scene in the picture of the spoor of a bird that went for a walk along the river bank.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Crane your neck

The Campanile was built to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the landing of the 1820 British Settlers.  The 54 meter high building with its 204 steps were constructed on what used to be the landing beach, today standing between the Port Elizabeth harbour and the Settlers Freeway.  Some effort has been made to try and reconnect it with the city after being "cut off" by the freeway for so long and it was decided to make it the start of Route 67 which leads up to the Donkin Reserve.