Tag Archives: Porterville

NOSTALGIA AT DUNN’S CASTLE


Another February travel piece belatedly staggers into print  …
If  live in the Western Cape and  have ever wondered where our bread comes from, wonder no more, because we drove through huge areas planted with wheat, rolling wheatfields as far as the eye could see, in the Swartland area.

Helen and I drove around this area in February, exploring small towns en route, notably Piketberg and Porterville. I think my favourite discovery in Piketberg was a small garage on the outskirts of the town, named Voortrekker Garage.

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The faded wall picture of a 1930s type car, said it all. There was no plate glass, no fancy cars parked outside, this was strictly about fixing broken down cars. I found the name amusing, because the doughty Voortrekkers owned no cars, their was an era of ox wagons, a pre-car agricultural age.

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The other Piketberg building that I loved, because of its colour, was the old Synagogue painted a pretty baby pink colour. I loved the pink colour contrasted with the bright blue sky above the hilltops. As my bad photo shows, synagogue on the left.  In actuality the pink colour is more pronounced than in  my photo, despite my efforts to tinker with it.  Now the building serves as a Museum, but in its heyday it served the immigrant European  Jewish farming population.

Our overnight stop was at Dunn’s Castle . If you follow the link you’ll find a splendid night-shot of the imposing frontage. https://www.kwathabeng.co.za/go/dunnscastle.html
What the website doesn’t show you is the narrow, torturous road that wound up a very sizeable hill to the castle.

dav
We opted to stay inside the castle itself, and not in the modern conference block. As my pics show, it was a nostalgia trip of note. Both of us kept saying: look at this! And pointing to an antique sewing machine, or a 1950s style radiogram – most Rhodesian homes had a radiogram, in the late ‘50s.

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My vast bedroom‘s bow-fronted window looked out onto the rolling hills and wheatfields.

 

IMG_20190214_073807.jpgThe wooden strip flooring creaked gently, and the prettily carved wooden wardrobe smelled deliciously of mothballs – of course it did.

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Best of all, hiding behind a wooden screen was a ball and claw enamel bathtub, and alongside was a lavatory with a de rigeur pull chain flush from the wall mounted cistern. What memories these evoked! Farm bathrooms and toilets, back in the early 1950/60s. All lavatories had wall mounted cisterns with a dangling chain, usually much too high for kids to reach, and in some cases, short adults, i.e. me.

We loved our trip back in time. The food and service at Dunns Castle : not so much. Lets leave it at that and focus on the nostalgia.

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POTTERING INTO PORTERVILLE


 

 

 

 

dav

As we enter into Porterville and slowly drive down the main road Helen asks me what day it is? Fair question. When you’re on holiday the days blur into each other. I tell her its Thursday. “Oh!” she says, “for a moment I thought it must be Sunday. Where is everybody?”
Another good question. Its mid-morning, on an oven-hot day, 40 degrees Centigrade, we later discover. Not a car in sight. Way down the street, one man leaning languidly against a wall, smoking.
We locate my artist friends’ home, and spend two hours outside, sitting under a shady pepper tree, feasting on tiny sticky figs, a selection of cheese and crackers, and absorbing gallons of tea. Our hosts are seemingly unfazed by the extreme heat and enthuse over the benefits of living in a tiny country town. Peace and quiet, minimal crime, spacious properties, lower cost of living, and still within a 90 minutes drive from urban fun in Cape Town. Plus a weekly farmers’ market, which truly is a local affair, and the source of today’s figgy treat.
They assure us that the extreme heat is only for 6 weeks or so, and the rest of the year is very livable. I’ll take their word for it.

dav
Driving away with the aircon going full blast, we paused briefly to take pics of an extraordinarily grand church, which reminded me of a wedding cake. My attention was caught by the pillars. But heat fatigue curbed our enthusiasm for more sightseeing and happy snaps.

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