12 September 2008

N.'s question

N. from The Wishes and The Glitches asked,

What is your favorite childhood memory in S. Africa?
My favourite SA memory would have to be camping. When I say camping, it encompases all of the experiences of camping out in a caravan that my family did almost every weekend for most of the year - first in a remote and wild campsite in the middle of the mountains (Bain's Kloof) and later (from my early teens) at Worcester Yacht Club.

We had the best time ever! We used to camp with another family which luckily included my best friend, Leith, and we were inseperable from Friday when we arrived in the mountains until Sunday when we made the hour's drive back home again. We'd spend the whole day running around the mountain unspervised, wearing nothing but bathing suits, enjoying nature, swimming in streams and pools, playing games, climbing on rocks, dodging wildlife, imagining, laying down permanent skin damage resulting in fine lines before my time due to complete disregard for sunscreen ... but I digress.

Okay, this post is worthless without pictures (unless you were there) so here are some shots of the mountains that we were in the middle of - my dad took all of these pictures in and around where we used to camp, which was a place called Steenboks.

Here is a view of the campsite - the black road is the road to civilisation, the valley groove is Steenboks. That's my brother, my younger sister and me on the rock:

My dad bought the plot in the campsite and we were able to leave our caravan there permanently rather than tow it back and forth every weekend. The plot was on a little half-circle of dirt road within Steenboks - here you can see our car / caravan as you approach from one side:

Approaching from the other side:

The back of the caravan was onto the dirt road, the front had a little flat piece of land - you can see it here with the black shadecloth my dad pegged over the sand:

That shady bench was the perfect place for a nap:

See the gap in the trees in the picture above? Walk through there and there are "steps" (rocks stuck into the sand) down to a stream. Across the stream the mountain goes up again, and on it there was a troupe of baboons that like to hang out (you probably can't see them well in this pic):

Here are some of the beautiful streams and rivers that we would swim in:

(That's me in the turquoise swimsuit.)

The river always flooded every Easter - we'd get big inner tyres and surf down the rapids on them!

This was a place called The Bend, about a kilometre (two thirds of a mile?) down the road. We'd usually all pile into the back of my friend's dads pickup truck and go down there for a few hours, but sometimes we walked. One time while we were walking we came across a king cobra - luckily nobody got bitten.

Me, enjoying the freedom and sunshine:

Me, with my dad in the background - this part of the river was across the road from Steenboks:

In my early teens my dad bought this:

And sold the plot on Steenboks and bought one at Worcester Yacht Club on Brandvlei Dam. Here's an overview of part of the dam (at dusk) - the yach club is on the right in that little bend of the shoreline.

A closer view:

A view of the yach club from the other side:

At first we camped on the patch of lawn in front of the clubhouse:

Then my parents bought a plot along this strip - you can see our caravan with the blue awning fourth plot from the right:

A closer view, ours is third from the left:

My dad built the awning (steel frame, shadecloth over):

The view from our site back towards the clubhouse (the water is quite high in this picture, it was usually lower):

From the hill behind:

Ooh look, we had our own tap (faucet):

In front of our site was this rickety wooden ladder down to the water:

Of course my older sister, friend and I loved it when the club held Hobie regattas and we got to hang out with all of the hot guys (we eventually all got into sailing when my dad began doing rescue at regattas):

Another friend and I paddleskiing behind the boat:

A calmer ride on the paddleski:

We also enjoyed waterskiing (although I never attempted it) and kneeboarding.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, I had to include this picture of my dad's car when going to regattas. Yes, he used to drive like that! It was like a train. Is that even legal?!

Thanks so much, N., for your question which sparked some wonderful memories which feel a million miles and a million years ago. They are some of my happiest memories and I really enjoyed thinking about them today.

(Leith, I miss you!!)

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