The morning started with the mother of all thunder storms and ended with the water deficit of the province being restored within thirty minutes. This should be interesting. The poor dog has started making noises again.
Why do owners ignore animals? The very nature of a dog is that it is social, denying it that thing we have bred into them is the height of cruelty.
I am still half asleep which makes being constructively angry difficult.
With breakfast done we began our ride.
Well, when I say ride, I mean persistent, never ending, climb. That was what we did. The whole day. Cranking the pedals until we arrived in Rosendal. I will say this though, the landscape remains absolutely stunning despite the “green drought”; it’s a treat to see the rolling sandstone mountains flanked by neat farmlands. We were cheered on for the ugly inclines by populations of chittering weaver birds and the presence of the odd Verreaux Eagle. The shoulder on the road is generous which means we didn’t have to worry about being buzzed by cars.
Every now and then there is the sweet guff of Poplar tree. Hardy bastards when you look at them up close. They provided shade for several stops along the way today. They were obligingly watered by my father and I during these intervals.
Another observation: there are ancient picnic tables on the side of the road. Cement antiques from a different time which are still being used as plastic bottle graveyards by inconsiderate motorists.
We cycled into Rosendal straight to the waffle joint in the “upmarket” part of town. As we pulled in, a popular local television show was being filmed on the veranda of the cafe. I am sadly unable to post pictures or say what show it was until April, but I will say it was a damnably surreal experience. The crew packed up leaving the restaurant for the patrons. Beautiful lunch of savoury waffles washed down with water (me), coffee(Dad).
Checked into House Beautiful and showered. Dad declared he was going to nap and I took that as a sign to go for an amble around town. I have never hidden my love for Rosendal and I was going to take the opportunity to wind down by indulging in this peaceful little utopia. The town is built on a foundation of clay strata and whimsy. I passed an incredibly fierce guard dog who fiercely insisted I scratch it through the wire post. It fiercely put up no resistance.
I decided to visit the ancient sandstone church which occupies the town centre. The cornerstone was laid by my great grandfather in 1914 and the inscription still stands. While wandering down a dusty little road another dog spoke to me. I obligingly approached it at the gate only for a wildly wired-hair woman to appear from inside and introduce herself as Sam. I introduced myself as a descendant of one of the men responsible for the building in her stoeps view, and was immediately shuttled into the house while a book written about the Church’s history was sought. It sadly was not found but I was told that when it was it would be sent to House Beautiful for inspection by my father and I. What I did find out was this was Sam, partner to Michelle Nigrini, the resident (and internationally regarded) artist.
I continued to amble, topping it all off with a coffee back at the waffle place and a walk back to House Beautiful.
Dad was still asleep. He lay on his side making noises which foley artists would consider useful for Klingon dubbing. I made light conversation with Tannie Dora (our hostess at House Beautiful) on the veranda. She obligingly updated me on Rosendal’s current affairs including the fact that some people in the town don’t go to church every week but she does. Dad eventually lurched back into the land of the living and declared he wanted to go for a walk. At a loss for what to do I joined him again. Before leaving, a book was handed to us from Sam by a third-party courier. This was the missing history book about Rosendal’s church (whose construction was delayed in 1913 due to the war). We quickly found great grandad within its pages (pencil tache, 6.3, dark suit, can’t miss him). It was decided to return the book to its owner via a circuitous route through town.
Coffee at the waffle place (again). Dad and I were sitting on the veranda as some extremely ominous clouds arrived. These were pitch black with a low front of malevolence and wind speeds of doom. They were a color reserved for funeral mortician underpants. Rain proceeded to bucket down, reducing everything to a wet mess, including the donkey tethered to the pole in an adjacent field. The rain continued in this fashion for about half an hour until it let up enough for us to walk to Sam and Michelle’s house.
We were greeted at the gate and shown in for a brief chat. They are a delightful couple whose ancient home sits somewhere between bohemian chic and probably haunted. My suspicions were confirmed when Sam told me it still has some of the original clay walls which continue to shift and breathe to this day. I would imagine the ghosts that occupy its walls are likely well-versed in wine-speak and wear wool.
At a loss for what else to do, we proceeded to Yolla’s for drinks and dinner. “Yolla’s” is short for “Yolande”, the name of the owneress. She has managed to carve out a sufficiently fun niche for herself in Rosendal as the local watering hole/theatre. The pub managed to squeeze itself between an open outdoor area where market days are held, and an indoor chamber which was decorated for Christmas meals. I sat in this main room reading Afrikaans recipe books made for people who like to cater. Most recipes had serving sizes for 16+. Then again, being the Free State, this may just be a guide for a family of four.
After the heavy rain, both Dad and I agreed it would be foolhardy to attempt a road on bikes which were weighted. As a result, Dad managed to arrange for a bakkie to collect us first thing in the morning. Our lift would spare us the mud-splattered indignity of the first brief stretch of road, dropping us off on the N5 from Paul Roux to Bethlehem.
Dinner was mopped up with a round of drinks, ending with two men splashing into clean beds.