True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Seven hours of pleasure

at the beach . to breathe . embrace the surf . bare feet freedom . feel the spray . celebrate summer 

It's wonderful what a week at the coast can do - no wonder they say, 'a change is as good as a holiday'. Spending time in nature is always a plus for me. When we open ourselves to the natural world, we escape the fast-paced bustle of our daily lives. That experience, not only reduces our stress, it also grounds us, reaffirming our connection to the Earth and all its creatures.

Whenever I go down to our holiday home in Ballito, just the 6½-7-hour (650km), drive in itself is quite an experience - it is a route well-known to me and I have my favourite landmarks which tell me how far I am and how far I still have to go. I never do the whole trip in one go, but often stop to take photographs, do some sight-seeing and have a bite to eat.

Driving through the flat landscape of the Free State, situated on flat, boundless plains in the heart of South Africa, one of my favourite stop-overs is a quaint coffee and gift shop about 200km into my trip - unusual building style, excellent food and a shopper's paradise for curios, gifts and even clothing. I often take a short walk through the grassy landscape and it is here where I spotted a Spike-heeled Lark (Chersomanes albofasciata) for the first time but was not quick enough to get a photo.

The long road ahead

The first half of the journey goes through this flat landscape for about 300km and as one gets to the border of KwaZulu Natal at Harrismith, which is 1661m above sea level, the scenery changes dramatically. Big plains get overtaken by mountainous terrain, sharply dropping off as one descends Van Reenen's Pass into KwaZulu Natal, with a breath-taking view over the Valley of a 1000 Hills.
(Going down van Reenen's Pass - Pic from KwaZulu Natal tourism)

Harrismith area

The drive through Natal, which is green year-round, is a real pleasure with lots of sightings of various Eagles, Vultures and other birds of prey and on one particular stretch of road near Swinburne, I always keep an eye out for the Yellow-billed Kite and I am never disappointed - they seem to have a great liking for that area.

After the long drive, seeing the beach for the first time is ALWAYS like seeing it for the first time again! A wonderful sight which also means the long journey is at an end! I normally leave home as early as possible, like 5am, to arrive in Ballito before lunch, just in time for a snack before unpacking and taking on the day.

One of my favourite tidal pools, lots of little creatures to see

A beach plant bravely enduring the elements and flowering against all odds

A perfect end to the day - cocktails at sunset with family or friends at one of my favourite restaurants right on the beach over-looking the ocean.