Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 6


From Warmwaterberg back to home in Green Point. 369km starting at 8h30 and finishing at 6.30 in the evening. We went back to Barrydale for breakfast and passed these nice yellow bushes.

I don’t know what they are. The whole countryside was yellow with them.

The yellow veldt.

There were also these Cotyledons growing there.

The common name is varkoer-plakkie.

After breakfast we went back over Tradouw pass to Suurbraak. Here is a description of the development of this community from “The Old Buildings of the Cape” by Hans Fransen & Mary Cook 1985. (It is an update of their original “The Old Houses of the Cape” 1965 to which a lot of credit must be given for the wider appreciation and preservation of our buildings.)

This old mission station, near the foot of the Tradouw Pass in a picturesque valley beyond Swellendam, dates from 1812. In that year the Hottentots, through their 'Captain' Hans Moos, invited Mr Seidenfaden, of the London Missionary Society, to settle here. His connection with the Society ended in 1823, and in 1825 he relinquished the mission. In 1827 the Rev Heinrich Helm was appointed; after his death in 1848, he was succeeded by his son, the Rev Daniel Helm. In 1858 land was granted to the inhabitants by the then Gover-nor, Sir George Grey. The population consisted of the original Hottentots (Attaquas), later augmented by numerous freed slaves. The village of Zuurbraak is arranged along one long main street, with a few side streets on either side. Like Stellenbosch, it has its 'Braak' (ie a stretch of fallow land), a most pleasant, grassy square, the main street entering it at the north-west and south-east sides; ie the parts in which the square divides the main street are not in one line. Apart from the customary modest thatched and — the later ones — iron-roofed cottages, a type of double-storeyed house can be found here that is peculiar to Zuurbraak; they are 'opgeklei', and their upper floors have tiny windows which are not placed straight above the ground-floor windows, which gives them a curious 'squinting' look. They have small pediments in the centre of their plain cornices.

Of further interest to us on this trip is the note that the local ‘Hottentots’ were the Attaquas – they were the people who originally lived in Attakwaskllof. Note also that they INVITED the missionaries to settle at Suurbraak.

Here is one of the buildings that appealed to me. Suurbraak has not been ‘discovered’ like Mc Gregor and Greyton so the buildings are still authentic.

The front building has peculiar triangular windows. The one in the back is double storey as discussed in the quote.
We went on to Swellendam then Rooipoot took me over a bridge and on gravel roads to Mc Gregor. I saw the following two buildings on the gravel road there.

This one is no longer occupied.

I will explain why I particularly like these buildings. My step father was an amateur artist and collected art which he bought at auction. A picture that was in our house from somewhere in the 60s and which I have had since the 70s is this one by Pranas Domsaitis.

Not to everyones taste but it has been with us for a long time and I really like it. Here is a bit about the artist from:

But in 1938, after having been included, along with Munch, van Gogh, Nolde, Kirchner, Mueller, Dix, and many others, in the notorious exhibition Entartete 'Kunst' (Degenerate 'Art', organized by Hitler for the specific purpose of ridiculing Expressionist and other "decadent" art styles), Domšaitis' work was removed from all German museums in 1938. In her extensive monograph on Domšaitis, Elsa Verloren van Themaat writes that "sombre as they are, Domšaitis' paintings are yet warm and peaceful: a combination that evokes a transcendental or religious rather than a realistic world. He created this atmosphere by using stark contrasts and basically heavy, strong colours, outlined in black, as well as cold colours against which a small wealth of warm colours would glow and sparkle."

I only found out about all that (Hitler, van Gogh & Munch – think of ‘The Scream’) when looking him up for this ride report. He came to live in South Africa in 1949. I thought he was Greek with that name but see he was Lithuanian. Anyway those houses made me think of the houses in our Domsaitis picture.

Here is a landscape of his titled ‘Karoo Landscape’ belonging to Sanlam. I would love to have that in my house. It comes from here:

Rooipoot does not like McGregor, nor do I much – it has been re-developed and lost all its character, Greyton is in much better condition and Suurbraak could do with a little help but over-fixing a village is the kiss of death to me. We wanted a beer and something to eat but everything was closed on this Monday so we went to Robertson. Had lunch at the Dros; first time I have been to one & you guys can keep them, my food was lousy.

Rooipoot led me along a nice gravel road on the northern side of the Breede river and over the low level crossing near GaatSaam’s farm and on to his home in Villiersdorp where I met his wife, mother and sister-in-law. Then I went home over Franschhoek Pass and Helshoogte to Green Point.

This is on the way to Helshoogte in Banghoek. When I was a student at UCT I was a rock climber. That kloof is known as Duiwelskloof and i climber that big face in the background by a route called ‘Lucifer’. It is known as ‘Lucifer’ because it is in Duiwelskloof and you fry on that big west facing wall as the sun beats down on you. I still have my climb logbook, just two of us that day, got up at 3:45 so we were at the base of the climb at first light (December 1972) and got back to the hut at 10.00pm after losing the path down in the dark. Climbed with Dave Cheesmond who died on a mountain in Alaska a few years later.

Back home. I have really formed a strong attachment to this bike. Many thanks Rooipoot for the nice roads you introduced me to & the great company.

Continue to LGF's Ride Report


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