Thursday, June 19, 2008
Thursday, 19 June: Snapshots from Bloemfontein
My long weekend in Bloemfontein(Afrikaans/Dutch: fountain of flowers) was far too short! This is my daughter's home, a striking house built in typical Cape Dutch style, which is unusual architecture for this part of the country. Perhaps the original owners were hankering for the lush Cape scenery in this arid part of the country, halfway on the national highway between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Bloem, as the city is affectionately known, has a modest population of about 370 000. Its Sotho name is Mangaung: place of the cheetahs.
Bloem is also known as the city of the roses due to the abundance of roses grown in the city and the annual rose festival held here. So what better way to spend Saturday morning, but at the well-known rose farm: Roses for you, attending a workshop on rose pruning and enjoying cream scones and tea.
The rose farm, set amidst a dry, frost-bleached countryside, is watered by the spruit (Afrikaans: creek).
One of the formal rose gardens just gives a hint of the splendour which will follow in October. Our roses will only be pruned in late July.
A gazebo shelters under bare trees. Bloem has a harsh winter and the leaves fall leaving the skeletons of the trees.
The weekend was also a culinary feast. Daughter, Ruth, cooks up a storm on Saturday evening...
while my two granddaughters, Joelle and Jaelene, snuggle up in the doggie bed with a very plump Schnaps, their little Staffordshire terrier.
Sunday saw us at a glorious church service at the family's church. The joyous, exuberant congregation is a true reflection of the 'rainbow nation', our multicultural society.
Then we took a stroll on the University of the Free State's campus. Here my husband did his first degree in Greek and Hebrew and Ruth qualified as a medical doctor. So it may be a small university but it has high acacemic standards and an impressive curriculum!
We shared the campus only with the pigeons - it was a long weekend.
Sisters and friends forever!
Monday morning we drove about six kilometers to the fringes of the town to visit a most unusual golf course. Unfortunately as it was a public holiday, the tea room was closed. But this will give you some idea of the dry winter grasslands and that big turqoise sky.
This is a pic of the driving range and in the far left (unfortunately my camera does not do a good long shot) are two unconcerned giraffes, munching leaves. If you click on the photo, it enlarges and you will see the giraffes.(Thank you, Dee Dee, for this tip.) Meerkatte (mongeese) scampered across the deserted driving range while buck grazed on its edges.
The Art Museum is a favourite spot during a Bloem visit, but it was also closed. So I had to take a long shot from the gates.
Monday lunchtime, it was off to the airport and goodbyes. And here is a waterbok (water buck) mounted on the wall at the golf course to bid youfarewell!
This extract describes the winter Free State landscape so aptly I had to share it with you, my friends in foreign lands.
Vroegherfs by NP van Wyk Louw
...die eerste blare val
so stilweg in die rook-vaal bos en laan,
dat die takke van die lang populiere al
teen elke ligte more witter staan.
Translation from Afrikaans -my own.
...the first leaves fall
so silently in the smoke-grey bush and track
that the branches of the tall populars already
appear whiter each morn...