St George’s Park Ox wagon

I’m sure most Port Elizabethans who grew up here would have played in the playpark at St George’s Park at one stage or another as a kid and would remember the oxen and wagon. I remember playing on it and so do my kids. After taking a walk around Art in the Park on Sunday, Miggie couldn’t wait to hop on just for the fun of it.

A stroll around Art in the Park

Art in the Park truly has been a part of Port Elizabeth’s being for much longer than I can even remember. 35 years ago I can remember my mom having a stall at Art in the Park and how we spent the whole day playing around St Georges Park and going through the stalls. The stalls stretched all the way from the entrance at the art museum past the pool to the first big trees and then down to the pay area and consisted just about exclusively of handmade items. But over the years the number of visitors deteriorated, people bought less hand made items and thus the number of stalls deteriorated. These days there are literally only a handful of hand-made item stalls, as many food stalls and the rest are made up of second-hand items and bric and brac stalls.

Regardless of this, it’s still really nice going to Art in the Park on the first Sunday of the month to stroll between the stalls and look for a bargain or something you didn’t know you needed (or actually did need). This past Sunday (7 March 2021) was another beautiful sunny and mostly windless Sunday morning and a very good excuse for an outing to Art in the Park. It may not be anywhere it used to be, but long live Art in the Park.

Laurie’s Bay

On Saturday morning we joined a couple of friends for a walk from Kini Bay to Laurie’s Bay. It’s not a long walk, but definitely not easy if you are barefoot or in slops. The beach along the way may be beautiful, but the beach isn’t quite soft sand but rather mostly fine broken shells. It’s still worth it though. At the end of the beach you get to a collection of cottages right on the coastline and on the other side the best spot to go for a swim. Let’s get back to the cottages though. They are located on Laurie’s Bay, on private land and without any services. So what is the story behind the cottages and where does the name come from.

A couple years ago I read the comments on a Fb post about Laurie’s Bay and Nicky Lovemore Anema said that a piece of the land was given to Dr Douglas Laurie by her great grandparents, Harold and Esme Lovemore. Harold and Esme’s son, Colin, developed a very sore and swollen knee when he was about 4 years old and after many doctor’s visits, it was decided that he had to go to Johannesburg to have the leg amputated. By some miracle, Dr Laurie heard about this and asked if he could examine the leg. He examined both knees and the results showed a foreign object under the sore kneecap. After operating he found a mimosa thorn under the kneecap! Colin’s parents were naturally very relieved and very grateful. They invited Dr Laurie to choose a site on the coast where he could build himself a holiday home. Dr Laurie and the Lovemore’s became close friends and he delivered several of the present generation Lovemore’s. This is where Dr Laurie retired, and the bay was named after him – Laurie’s Bay. Colin Lovemore passed away in Feb 1991.

I’m not sure how old Colin was when he passed away, but I guess this all happened in the early 1900’s so that would be when the first cottages at Laurie’s Bay was built.

A Bird of Paradise

Every morning I walk past a patch of Strelitzia on my way to the office and when there are flowers in bloom I can’t help but pause for a moment to enjoy it. The Strelitzia reginae is also known as the crane flower or bird of paradise. In Afrikaans it’s called a kraanvoëlblom and in Nguni it’s an isigude. The Strelitzia reginae occurs naturally only in South Africa along the eastern coast from Humansdorp to northern KwaZulu-Natal in coastal bush and thicket. It often grows along river banks in full sun, however, sometimes it occurs and flowers on margins of forest in shade. The inflorescence stalk is 700 mm tall with 4-6 flowers that emerge in succession in a boat-shaped spathe.

Source – SANBI

Addo warning signs

It is totally against the rules to get out of your vehicle anywhere in the Addo Elephant National Park except for one or two spots. One of those is Domkrag Dam where a new sign has been erected to warn visitors that it is a Big 5 reserve and wild animals do roam freely. Miggie wasn’t really too shocked although she tried her best to look it.

The sign on top of Zuurkop has been there for probably 20 years and I used to stop here often back when I used to be a tourist guide. I’ve even seen a lion sitting right next to the sign, but this time round… Ha! I laughed in the face of danger.

Crossing the Great Kei River by Pont

Crossing the Great Kei River by pont into what used to be the old Transkei has always been on my South African bucket list. That was until I got to do it about 6 years or so ago.  Since then I’ve had the opportunity to do it a couple of times and I always look forward to it.  It’s nothing fancy or out of this world, but it is special because there are so few ponts left in South Africa. In fact, the only other two in South Africa that I know of is the one at Malgas over the Breede River in the Western Cape and the one at Sendelingsdrift crossing the Orange River into Namibia.

The Pont began operation as a vehicle transport in it’s current form in 1990 and has become a vital lifeline for the communities living in the Centane area. Before the Pont, it was either a dice with death in a rowing boat or a 154km round trip via Butterworth, just to get a few hundred meters to the other side. In fact, travelers getting to the crossing point too late on their way to their holiday destination often have to do the detour to get to their hotel for the evening.

The Pont is in operation seven days a week, 365 days a year. They only close when the river is in flood or the tide too low. There is usually only one Pont in operation at a time, but during holidays there would be two, or sometimes three, in action. Each Pont can carry two vehicles at a time and the first crossing of the day is made at 7am, when people from the Transkei side make their way across to work in Kei Mouth.

Update: I asked the members of the Wild Coast Holiday Association if they had any information on the ferry’s history and I received the following:

Sonny Taylor used to row people across the river before the pont, as we know it today, existed.

Russell Kruger from East London – “My dad used to run the ferry until 1977 or there abouts . There was no pont in those days and the crossing was first with a rowing boat then he got two boats with Seagull motors.”

Richard Warren-Smith from Morgan Bay – “I remember before the red ferry got a motor and the guys rowed across with a full ferry of Black Label quarts. Back when we were at the little school above the municipality. Between 72 and 80.”

Andrew Baisley (one of the original partners in the first pont) – “I moved to Kei Mouth permanently in 1981 and at that stage the only way across the Kei was by rowboat. After a few years, the business community came together and purchased this red boat to replace the rowboat.”

Graham Roebert, Andrew Baisley and Peter Myburg went into partnership and launched the first pont in March 1990. The pont from 1990 is no longer in service today. It has been replaced by newer models over the years, the most recent one having been launched in Dec 2020. There are currently 3 ponts.

Julie-Anne Gower of Kei Mouth – “We use to drive down the beach from Trennerys/Seagulls with the Hulley’s landie, and off road to the top of the hill. Park at the top of the hill and then wade through the muddy salt flats to the boat. We would then walk through to the Kei Beach hotel and the shop to pick up the paper and get the Matric results for the kids that were staying at the hotels over the holidays. Then reverse the process going home. When my hubbie and I were dating in around 93/94 we went over on the ferry, and it was just a rough 4×4 track – that has now become the tar road. It was a bundu bash of note

Dusk over Kings Beach

The Port Elizabeth beachfront faces east which means the sun comes up over Algoa Bay and the sea. I don’t think a lot of people realise that the beachfront is also a great place to watch the sun set as it sets over the city centre. The KidZ wanted to go down to the beachfront to watch the sunset the other day and we were just to late to see it disappear. Still beautiful.