4 October 2018
The day didn’t start well, with Ian waking Cornelia at about 08:00. She had been warned of an early start (yes, 08:00 is an early start for her!!) but awoke grumpy and miserable, and stayed that way for much of the day. She didn’t want Cheerios, despite asking for them, she didn’t want two bunches, after I’d already done them. It was going to be that kind of a day, which was a particular shame as it was the start of our real African adventure!
Our driver arrived promptly at 08:30, and waited patiently as we chatted to Barry before saying our goodbyes. He is heading to Cornwall next year and we are rather hoping they will swing by for a night, as they are so interesting and I bet would be great company! Once the car was loaded, we were driven to another part of Cape Town and down a dodgy-looking side street, before Ian reassuringly spotted lots of Avis vehicles parked down a lane and behind one of the houses, which turned out to be their office. Amos greeted us and proceeded to spend over two hours with us, checking everything on the van (quickly named “BigBell” to go with Bluebell and Whitebell from our previous trips!) and showing us how everything worked. It is a brand new vehicle, with a very old and slightly knackered camper back unit. Lots of the bolts needed a bit of a hammer to straighten them out, and our table legs don’t fold down properly, but hopefully that will all add to our experience rather than frustrate us! The whole vehicle is incredible. We have two separate tent sections: one on the roof top, and one that pops out at the side, all accessible by ladders and a useful portable step, or a “bunky” as Amos calls it. There is a shower unit, heated by one of the two gas bottles hooked up to the van, and a kitchen with storage and a gas hob fitted to one side of the unit, with a 90 litre fridge and freezer box that slides out. Ian wants to swap Bluebell for one of these at home….although he realised that the lack of indoor seating may be a problem in the U.K…!
Once we left Avis, we set up the sat nav for our first destination in Clanwilliam and headed off. You drive on the left as we do at home, so it was very easy to get used to the roads and they were all very smooth and well-signposted. We decided to stop at a hyper market to stock up on things like washing up liquid, tea towels and clean Tupperware (the boxes supplied with the van are a bit stinky), as well as food. It is all so marvellously cheap here and it was quite easy to get carried away. Cornelia ended up with a Paw Patrol camping chair, a new activity book, a reading book and a box of Lego, but I could’ve easily bought her a million other lovely things, had it not been for her horrendous behaviour in the store! Oh my goodness, that child pushed all of our buttons today! She started off being hideous with Ian, when they went off, funnily enough to get her camping chair. Then every little thing had her screaming, crying and dribbling on the floor. Had it not been for the need for us both to be shopping (Ian was sourcing a car seat for the van for her), I would’ve taken her back out to the van and kept her there while Ian finished off the shopping. Sigh, it was gruesome and SUCH a shame, as I loved this hypermarket!!
Once we’d finally finished the shop and loaded it all into the van, it was getting quite late – it was about 14:00 by now – so we decided to have lunch in the Bread & Butter cafe which was next to the Checkers hypermarket. Cornelia was still being screechy and high maintenance but we struggled on through and I really enjoyed my Mexican chicken salad, despite the various interruptions from The Child.
Eventually, we were on our way, and drove north (near the west coast of South Africa) up the N7, reaching Clanwilliam at around 18:00. The journey was almost without incident, apart from one occasion when I suddenly yelled at Ian “Stop the car” as I had looked out of my wing mirror and seen our fridge dangling out of the side of the camper. Argh!!! He managed to pull over quite quickly and we spent some time ensuring the bolts had been properly secured – another of the “slightly bent” things on our long list. 😩
Saint du Barry’s is the most beautiful B&B made up of five little cottages, ours being #5. It has a double bed for us and a single for Cornelia, a small desk area and a large bathroom. Joan, our host, had been thoughtful enough to book a table at Reinholds Restaurant for us, as the other decent restaurant in town (which had a children’s play area) was closed, and she thought that Reinholds would get booked up. This is just another example of the terrific hospitality shown to us so far by our South African hosts. Joan also had three dogs, four cats and a grey parrot, so Cornelia was in heaven! Shona, one of the dogs, followed Cornelia around everywhere much to her delight, whereas Jack, a rescue German Shepherd who had no teeth any more, was happy to just be stroked and cuddled. Cornelia put her binoculars around her neck, donned her sun hat and went on her own little adventure around the garden, trying to escape the pirates.
Dinner was a terrific affair. Reinholds was a ten minute walk away, and we wandered over there, with another couple just behind us, also from the same B&B. The hostess was fabulous- so friendly and enthusiastic, and engaged so beautifully with Cornelia, referring to her as “Your Highness” all evening on account of the crown Cornelia was wearing for her meal.
There was a firefighters’ award ceremony taking place in an adjoining room which was brilliant for us, as it meant that we didn’t need to try and keep Cornelia too quiet, and she thoroughly enjoyed herself all evening, eating a whole chicken schnitzel, chips and a ramekin of cheese sauce. I gorged on steak with a green fig, feta and cheese sauce, followed by peppermint and caramel tart (so sweet but so more-ish 🐷) and Ian had cordon blue chicken, and a brandy nut sponge with ice cream. We couldn’t resist dessert, despite the fact that it was getting very late and was way past Bugsy’s bedtime – it was all ridiculously yummy.
Needless to say, bedtime was quite quick, with a tired but happy little girl, and I wrote her birthday thank you postcards and updated the expenses before heading to bed myself!