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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

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!

Bottoms up!

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...


willow said...

Eleanor, welcome back! I enjoyed this post so much. You are certainly blessed with a beautiful daughter and grand
daughters. And their house is so looks like something from a gorgeous time period film!

I thought it was so interesting that you read My Antonia while in North Dakota! What an appropriate setting. Glad you enjoyed the ballet. Yes, I wish we could chat in person. One day I must come for a visit. :)

Theresa @ Take A Sentimental Journey said...

Hi Eleanor, Beautiful pictures. You have a beautiful daughter and 2 beautiful grand daughters.They have pretty hair. Enjoyed all the pictures. Glad your back home safe, I missed you ! HUGS

Mary said...

Dear Eleanor,
How wonderful to have a guided tour of such a beautiful and mysterious country! I don't imagine that I will ever get to visit South Africa, but I very much enjoy seeing it through your eyes. I somehow keep forgetting that it is winter there now!

You have an accomplished daughter and beautiful grandchildren, and their house is so lovely, too.

Thank you for including the poem -- so hauntingly beautiful!

KarenHarveyCox said...

Eleanor, I so enjoyed seeing the pictures and learning about Bloemfontein. Your daughter and granddaughter's are beautiful. Your daughter's home is lovely, and I find it fascinating to see what that part of South Africa looks like. I would have surely loved to been at that workshop, admiring the roses and sipping tea. Karen

fairmaiden said...

Awe...your daughter's home is beautiful. Makes me want to live in Africa. It was my dream at 20 that didn't fade till 33. But visiting your blog tugs at my heart. I know I would have loved a life lived there. I always thought I was going to go in the Peace Corp, fall in love with Africa, and fall in love with a man, and stay for the rest of my life. Maybe one of my children will go. Anyway, I get to enjoy Africa through you! And enjoying it, I am!!! I think Thatchwick Cottage needs a garden bed...idea...find a cute antique daybed at a yard sale for cheap, paint it what ever color you like, and cover with rosy quilts and toss pillows, set under the trees and you can even hang a mosquito net from a tree branch over the bed. Enjoy a quiet day of reading on your garden bed.

Eleanor said...

Wow, dear Fairmaiden, that is a great idea. A garden bed is on my list for spring! what do the rest of the Thatchwick visitors think of that?

Tracy said...

Hi, Eleanor! Wonderful post...thank you for taking us along to see such beautiful, interesting places! Your granddaughters are adorable...I love that photo of them with their dog all cuddled up in the dog bed--LOL! Welcome home...and happy weekend ((HUGS))

Kari & Kijsa said...

What a beautiful place!! Sounds like a wonderful visit and a lovely tour!!! This house is amazing!!

Beautiful photos!!

kari & kijsa

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Everything looks so exotically foreign. Brings home to me how far away you are, and how different and unique (and beautiful) is the landscape of South Africa!

Ms.Daisy said...

Uhmm, cream scones and tea...sign me up!

I also enjoyed strolling the campus with you and the pictures of the golf course and turquoise lovely!

Your daughter and granddaughters are beautiful!


Rhondi said...

Thanks for such a great tour of some of your homeland. I love the wide open spaces. I would have enjoyed a cup of tea there in Bloemfontain with you Your daughter and grandaughters are beautiful.
Hugs, Rhondi.

Rhondi said...

Just wanted to let you know that I added you to my "blogs I love to visit" link in my blog because I do love to visit you!
Hope you're having a happy day.
Rhondi xo

Mary said...

Such a wonderful trip Eleanor - thanks so much for sharing the beauty of the landscape - and the giraffes!! You have a lovely family and I bet your enjoyed those little girls' antics - I know they loved having grandmother come to visit.

Muriel said...

Beautiful blog