Thursday, July 31, 2014

Reasons to love Port Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela Bay

A couple of years ago when I was still with Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, we ran a campaign on 101 Reasons to Love Nelson Mandela Bay.  I had a blast recording 101 things to do around the city and metro and it was great to mention it all and not just try to highlight a few things.  At the time a video was also made where members of the public was asked to put something they love doing on a blackboard and be part of the video.  What do you love doing in the city?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cape Recife seen from Marine Drive

Cape Recife is the western point of Algoa Bay and the lighthouse on the point was built in 1851.  This is the view from one of the lookout points along Marine Drive on the Wildside.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lady Slipper hut

Sometimes you discover things at places that make you wonder why its there.  I had one of those moments on top of Lady Slipper recently.  Close to the Telkom tower, standing all on its own, is this little hut.  Just one square room with windows on all sides.  It has stunning views all around but its anything but a holiday home.  Wonder what it was build for? Or who?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Penguins on the diving board

I spent my 67 minutes of service in Nelson Mandela's name on Mandela Day at SAMREC in Cape Recife along with the team from Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism.  In between helping out I got to pop around to the penguin pool and photograph these few guys contemplating hopping of the "diving board". 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Boardwalk Hotel seen from the pier

I mentioned the other day that I have finally started to Instagram now that I have replaced my Blackberry with a Samsung.  The day the phone was delivered to me I couldn't wait to take my first photo with it to post on Instagram.  I decided to take a walk across the road from the office and snap a picture of Hobie Beach and the Boardwalk Hotel from Shark Rock Pier.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shark Rock Pier and Hobie Beach on a winters morning

After a nice cold snap a week or two ago, we've had some beautiful weather this week.  Walking across the road from my office to a meeting at Blue Waters Café I couldn't help but to snap Shark Rock Pier at Hobie Beach on my new phone and Instagram it.  By the way, have I mentioned that I'm on Instagram now? No? Well if you are on Instagram, please look me up under FireflyAfrica and follow my photos there as well.

Friday, July 25, 2014

45 seconds of Nelson Mandela Bay activities video

I absolutely love the Discover Freedom destination marketing video used to promote Port Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela Bay.  This is a short 45 sec version covering activities in and around the city.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Arc of the 30th Meridian

I took the KidZ on a Geocaching outing over the weekend to find a cache called Arc of the 30th Meridian.  It's located close to a trig beacon in the Humble Ways private nature reserve on top of Lovemore Heights and is one of the oldest caches in Port Elizabeth.  In the picture Chaos Boy is signing the logbook while Drama Princess strikes a pose.

Map of Africa The trig beacon is one in a series of 26, which are the first set of historic astronomical stations measured in order to establish the groundwork of the Arc of the 30th Meridian.  The Arc of the 30th Meridian is a set of triangulation measurements effectively creating an arc from Port Elizabeth in South Africa to Cairo in Egypt through the entire African continent.
The purpose of the measurement was to determine the size and shape of the Earth.
This beacon represents the Southern most point of a chain of triangles measured along the 30th meridian through Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi,  Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and ending near Cairo in Egypt.
Prior to 1999 the beacon was also the origin of the geodetic survey of South Africa.
The project was initiated by Sir David Gill, the Astronomer Royal at the Cape in 1879 and the final measurements were completed in the Sudan 1954.
The arc, known as the Arc of the 30th Meridian, can be connected across the Mediterranean Sea through Crete and Belarus to a similar arc measured through Europe terminating at North Cape in Norway.  The European arc is known as the Struve Arc and together these two arcs cover nearly 105º in latitude which is over 11650 Km in length.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Approaching storm

If locals didn't realize that it was winter yet, they were reminded a week or two ago when a big coldfront hit and temperatures plummeted.  Suddenly it was freezing outside for a couple of days before normal winters weather resumed.  I was driving back to the office when the coldfront passed over and snapped this pic from the beach at Bird Rock.   

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Marine Drive on the Wildside

I think most Port Elizabethans take Marine Drive along the Wildside for granted.  I took a location scout from Cape Town that way last week and she was very impressed with the stunning views you get of the coastline from the road.  It may not be Chapmans Peak Drive, but it sure can be classified as a scenic coastal drive of note.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

On top of Lady Slipper

Last weekend I decided to scale Lady Slipper west of Port Elizabeth for the first time...  No, I didn't do it up the front having to do rock climbing and the such.  I went up the back on the road leading to the Telkom tower at the top.  Lady Slipper has about 17 geocaches situated along the road and at the top so it was long overdue to make a trip up to the top.  I will have to go again though as I ran out of time and didn't get to find all of them.  This is the view looking east towards Port Elizabeth as I was approaching the tower at the top.  Unfortunately the wind was howling and the view not perfect, but I'm hoping to have a more perfect day next time I ascent. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Humble Ways bell

The bell outside the Humble Ways Chapel.  Humble Ways is a private nature reserve on Lovemore Heights and the perfect spot to go for a short walk to get away from it all yet still being less than a kilometers from civilisation.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Port Elizabeth - 100 years since being declared a city

In July 2013 Port Elizabeth celebrated 100 years since being declared a city.  At the time I was still working for Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and was tasked to find out what it was all about.  We all know Port Elizabeth is much older than that.  Fort Frederick was built by the British to defend Algoa Bay in 1799 and the British Settlers arrived in 1820.  It was also in 1820 while overseeing the landing of the Settlers that Sir Rufane Donkin named the town Port Elizabeth after his deceased wife, Lady Elizabeth Donkin.  So in general it is excepted that Port Elizabeth was established in 1820.  So where does the 1913 date come from then?  It was in June 1913 that the town council decided to officially declare Port Elizabeth a city.  There was no specific guideline that had to be met to be a city, unlike in the UK where you had to have a cathedral to be called a city.  Both Port Elizabeth's cathedrals only became cathedrals after that date any.  It was just a case of the town council deciding that they felt the town had reached a size big enough for it to be called a city.  A document was probably drawn up and signed by the mayor and from there on Port Elizabeth was a city.  Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and the municipality had this video produced at the time to celebrate the 100 year anniversary.  It contains some very nice old photos of the city and some modern footage at the end.

June 2014 Port Elizabeth celebrates 100 years of being a city

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ships at anchor in the Bay

If you look at old photos of Algoa Bay dating back to the late 70's and 80's (or even way back to the last 1800's), you would notice that there were always a number of ships laying at anchor in the bay.  These numbers dwindled and for a decade or two up to the time the Coega Harbour was built you would only see a big ship at anchor in the bay if the berth they are supposed to use was occupied.  Since the Coega Harbour has started operating the shipping traffic into the bay has increased again and you will see a number of ships at anchor in the bay on any given day again.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nanaga roosterkoek

The first thing most people think of when you mention the Nanaga Farmstall is their home (farm stall) made pies.  Mouth watering, lip smacking, meat filled (and not just meaty sauces) pies.  My recommendation to go along with these pies is always the 100% pineapple juice.  The juice is produced by another farm but to me is very synonymous with Nanaga.  But Nanaga is just as famous for its roosterkoek than their pies.  Some people buy bags full of plain roosterkoek while there are also options of butter only, jam, jam & cheese, mince, bacon & egg and others.  Roosterkoek, for those who don't know what it is, is bread dough made into buns and grilled over the coals or a grill.  Unfortunately I'm on a low carb diet at the moment, so no roosterkoek for me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Aloe view of Swartkops River mouth

My three favorite flowers in the wild are aloes, proteas and arum lilies.  The aloes are in full bloom at the moment and gives colour to the winter landscape.  A hike along the Aloe Trail at Bluewater Bay took as to this spot from where we could see Amsterdamhoek and the Swartkops River mouth with flowering aloes in the foreground.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Drama Princess leading the way

Its amazing how different from each other one's own children can be.  Drama Princess is the sporty outdoorsy type while Chaos Boy is happy to sit and watch tv or play in his room.  The other day when I announced that I was meeting Shefetswe and Sanhain at the Aloe Trail for a quick 6km hike and a couple of Geocaches, Drama Princess quickly got ready to go with while Chaos Boy just blew us off and went back to do whatever he was doing.  Daddy's little girl.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nelson Mandela Bay - The Investment Hotspot

Port Elizabeth is the perfect city to live, work and play in.  Its not huge and over developed like some of South Africa's big cities and I often refer to it as a city with a town at heart yet it has all the big city amenities that you expect from big cities.  A couple of years ago the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality did a stunning video called Nelson Mandela Bay : Investment Hotspot to show off just that.  Its just short of 5 minutes, but well worth the watch.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chelsea Point Trig beacon

One of the local Geocacher teams, Chris'nDenise, recently placed a series of 7 caches called the Trig Beacon Series.  Six of the seven caches were placed at trig beacons along the Wild Side and Driftsands area.  The Chelsea Point Tri Beacon (I hope that's the name of the trig beacon as its the name Chris gave it in the cache description) was the third stop in the series.  Chris gave the following information about trig beacons in South Africa as the cache description.
South Africa is fully covered by the National Control Survey System which is of high accuracy and which is marked by a network of trigonometric stations and town survey marks.
The integrated survey system consists of a network of approximately 62 000 control points throughout the country. There are approximately  29 000 white beacons on mountains, hilltops and prominent man-made structures; approximately 24 000 town survey marks of brass stud in a metal box in tarred streets located in 122 cities; and approximately 20 000 benchmarks brass studs set in a concrete base originally along railway lines and alongside roads and highways.
The purpose is to provide Surveyors with a network of known co-ordinates and elevation which are critical for accurate survey for everything from roads, houses, skyscrapers to pipelines and boundaries etc.
This survey system is gradually being replaced by more than 50 active GPS base stations to be known as TrigNet which provides post processing and real time GPS correction data.
The responsible government department has identifies 9 836 trigonometric beacons that will be maintained. These beacons were selected using the following criteria:
  • Beacons requiring less than two hours climb
  • Block/Platform in excess of 4 meters
  • Beacons located on man made structures
  • Wind pump tower and pipe beacons
  • Tertiary beacons supplementing the above to ensure adequate horizontal control coverage around built up/development areas.
This trig beacon is on the list to be maintained.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Aloe Trail viewpoint

Last weekend a couple of us went for a late afternoon walk along the Aloe Trail at Bluewater Bay to find the Geocaches placed on the trail.  I make sure I always have my camera at hand and I snapped Drama Princess enjoying the view towards the Swartkops River without her knowing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Aloes silhouette

The aloes are in full bloom at the moment and an late afternoon walk along the Aloe Trail in Bluewater Bay gave me the opportunity to grab this picture along the way

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Algoa Battery

I have done several posts regarding the Port Elizabeth Harbour defenses erected around the city during World War II, but just to recap in case you haven't seen any of them.  Before the Second World War the Port Elizabeth Harbour actually had no defense in place except for Fort Frederick which was built in 1799 to guard the original landing place in the early days.  In 1942 it was decided to put harbour defenses in place at all South Africa's harbours.  In Port Elizabeth Three Fortress Observation Posts (FOPs) were built at Amsterdam Hoek (Bluewater Bay), Seahill (Cape Recife) and Skoenmakerskop, together with a Port War Signal Station next to Cape Recife lighthouse.  These three along with the Algoa Battery building in Humewood and the Battery Observation Post on Brookes Hill had to keep a constant lookout for approaching ships, submarines and planes. 
If you click on the links you'll see the posts featuring these buildings.  That is all but the Algoa Battery which is situated on the army base on the PE beachfront.  Its not the easiest place to visit although I get to see it from behind the fence every morning on my way to the office.  Heading out to a meeting I decided to snap a picture of it from the road until a better opportunity presents itself some day.  The lookout tower is a slightly more modern version although not in use anymore either.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The sun setting over the Swartkops River

A Sunday afternoon walk along the Aloe Trail from Bluewater Bay had the sun dipping towards the horizon as we headed back to the car.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wildside walk

Most people know the Sacramento Trail at Schoenmakerskop but isn't very familiar with the nearby Fynbos Trail.  Out looking for a Geocache last weekend I ventured onto part of the trail and snapped this pic looking west towards Schoenies.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Donkin Heritage Trail on Pasella

I got to be on Pasella on SABC 2 for the first time in 2009 when they were in town to film an insert on the Donkin Heritage Trail.  At the time I worked for Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and got to do the insert with my colleague and good friend Sadie Issacs.  We met presenter Vicky Davis and the team at the Donkin Reserve and ended up shooting around the reserve, on the lighthouse, around City Hall and Market Square, at the Prince Alfred Guard Memorial and finally at Art in the Park.  This was my first time on a travel insert on a magazine program and I absolutely loved it.  Unfortunately the insert was done before Pasella started doing English subtitles, but its still well worth watching even if you don't understand what is said.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Boerewors Roll queue

The guys who do the most business at any festival or show are the guys with the food stalls.  This was again evident at Art in the Park this past Sunday.  As lunch time started to come around the queues at the food stalls started to grow. Pancakes, burgers, springrolls and specifically this stall selling boerewors and russian rolls.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Art in the Park stall

If it's the last Sunday of the month it means that its time for Art in the Park and when the weather is beautiful then it is the perfect excuse for a Sunday morning outing to St Georges Park.  I have to admit that Art in the Park isn't anywhere close to what it used to be, but it doesn't mean that people support it any less.  I did hear two stall holders chatting about the fact that there are lots of people looking but not many buying which is clearly a sign of the times.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sand driving at Brakkeduine

When the South African government banned driving on beaches both the angling and 4x4 fraternities took a big knock.  The anglers couldn't go as far along the beaches as they used to or had to find overland shortcuts while the 4x4 okes had to stick to mountain trails and off road paths.  There is one place I know of where the boys can test their toys and sand driving skills though.  Brakkeduine close to Oyster Bay and St Francis Bay, making it close to Port Elizabeth as well.

Brakkeduine offers a beautiful grassed campsite on the banks of a dam with a long slippery slide and zipline into the water.  But it's the natural inland dune field that attracts 4x4 enthusiasts to Brakkeduine.  They offer guided trips following a set route with drivers given the opportunity to test their skills going up and down the dunes either on the straight or around turns, pushing their vehicles to the max.  The trips are led by experienced 4x4 drivers who know the dunes like the back of their hands and will show the way to approach each "obstacle" first before the others attempt it.  They come prepared to assist if anything happens, anything being a wheel popping off the rim or getting stuck on top of the dune.