Sunday, 7 April 2013

Elvis is alive and well in Gansbaai

Elvis is alive and well in Gansbaai
7 April 2013
We've just come back from a four night middle of the week get-away to Kleinbaai.  Just the five of us and it was sheer and utter bliss.  So completely and utterly amazing, I can't even begin to describe it.  Unbelievably and incredibly rejuvenating.

In 1967 my Oupa Willem got an early inheritance from his father.  Actually him and his brother both. Oom Stoffel bought a brand new car.  I believe it was a Valiant.  And Oupa Willem and Ouma Helene bought a tiny little ramshackle house in a little hamlet about 10 minutes’ drive by car from "the fishing metropolis" of Gansbaai, called Kleinbaai.  That very same little house has been called Kleinbaai ever since.
And our family has been abundantly blessed since that day.  In fact even now, Oupa's original cheque which he used to buy Kleinbaai, is hanging framed in the seaside house.  It cost the princely sum of R4 850.  Which I am sure was a rather large amount of money in 1967.

It is the place where all of us escape to in order to recharge our batteries and feed our souls.  You cannot help but feel soothed by the calming presence of the sea, the fresh air and general relaxed feeling all around.  Worries seem to simply roll off your shoulders from the second you arrive and breathe in the unique smell that is Kleinbaai alone.  The sound of the sea, the almost continual fire in the kaggel, the hypnotising calm of watching the waves.  They all seem to induce relaxation.

The house is situated on a prime piece of land.  Right on the sea.  No one can ever build in front of us and the house is slightly elevated, ensuring a most magnificent view of the entire little bay.  And the stretch of beach and sea in front of us is a beauty.  I experience a wonderful feeling of coming full circle when I see my own kids getting the same enjoyment from the very same rock pools I so enjoyed as a child.  The vista has not changed.  Sure there are a few more houses now, but the essence has remained unchanged.  The rock pools are the same.  The pebbly beach strewn with bamboo, the same too.  I clearly remember some of my earliest memories of before the age of five playing in those pools.  And right through my childhood.  Fishing with little nets.  Spending hours lovingly collecting starfish in a bucket.  Traipsing up to the house with my loot to show all the wonder I had collected, only to go down to the sea once more and release them into my very favourite pool.  Just to start all over again with the next low tide.
Just as I did as a kid, my kids enjoy endless throwing of stones into the sea.  Aiming at big rocks or big stones we've placed on rocks.  Of stone throwing at night, to see if they can make sparks. Endless walks to the harbour to watch the little boats come in.  Though nowadays it's not little boats anymore as shark cage diving has taken the area by storm.  Of watching the repetitive “three fast ones and then a long break” between the lighthouse beam lighting up the night sky in the distance.
The kids enjoy exploring the same caves that filled me with wonder as a child.  And they enjoy the same sense of adventure that I did.  Endeavouring climbing to the very highest outcrop of rocks, to overlook a powerful sea below.
One of our favourite pastimes at Kleinbaai of young and old, is playing darts.  And like the ninny I am, I left our darts at home.  No problemo, I thought.  I would just quickly nip down to Gansbaai and get some darts in town.  And I must say that I was intrigued by the huge amount on Chinese shops in such a small little town.  Who would have thought that the Asian community would have grown so much in such an isolated little spot.  I am all for the entrepreneurial spirit and people filling a gap in the market and seeing to the need of people in the community.  But about ten shops selling exactly the same stuff?  In such a small little town?  And when I say that Gansbaai is small, I mean it. Tiny in fact!  And most disturbing of all is the fact that apart from none of them having darts (hardly an unforgivable sin) is the fact that none of them spoke even a semblance of English.  Never mind Afrikaans.  How could they possibly hope to serve the community and make a buck in the process without being even vaguely proficient in a common language?  It boggles the mind.

But be that as it may, we eventually got us some darts.  And made quick order of indulging in numerous dart tournaments.  We played the ancient stone game, though we'd left ours at home too.  I made a little home made one with ice trays and it provided lots of entertainment.  We played the head band guessing game.  Went exploring, numerous walks, fishing (all of us get the grills when we have to remove the poor hapless fish off the hooks in order to release them again), stone throwing, sea glass collecting, etc.
A rather unexpected and humorous end to our holiday came as we were driving out of Gansbaai, car heavily laden, on our way home.  Coming out of the very last Chinese shop, just before you leave town, we saw Elvis emerging like a Phoenix from the fire.  From the likes of Gansbaai no less. Actually quite a good place to hide and attempt to remain incognito.  Not sure if the locals are any the wiser?
And I must say, he has aged quite well.  He's still a bit porky, his side burns are still bushy and long, the shades are still big, the shirts are still loud.  My only regret was that I couldn't get to my camera fast enough to snap a shot.

Elvis hasn't just left the building.  He's left America too.

And clearly their loss, is our gain.

Well, it’s a one of the money.  Two for the show…..

 The head band guessing game - lots of fun - even the teenager indulged

Amber was an edible item every single time - much to her horror, mostly vegetables

It was such fun

Moenkie and I

Beautiful view of the bay from the stoep

My gorgeous little Berry

Grantie kindly took his putie along for me so that I could blog every so often

Kids fishing and exploring

Everyone just relaxing

Luke - my favourite pyromaniac - he has always loved making a fire (rather worrying actually)

Magnificent view!

Oupa en Ouma sit op die stoep

Cole trying to get his shoes dry after getting them soaked on the rocks

Most beautiful girl

Amber and I enjoying our stone game - she whipped my butt!

Best bed in the house - right at the kaggel - cosy and warm the whole night through

Cole proudly showing off his Cherry - rather proficient at darts

Cole just bagged another fishie - the big question is who will take it off the hook?

Fishing is loads of fun

Grant also had a few go's

Cole - a rock climber of note

Luke in a familiar pose - hand in front of the face to avoid the camera - he should know me better by now as it still won't stop me snapping away

Grant showing the size of his fish

The great big fisherman

Hey, I was there too!

Hunting for sea glass - a favourite hobby

Admiring the view

From all angles

A dart tournament on the go

Hey, I'm actually quite good - years and years of Kleinbaai practice

Boys teamed up against girls

Sleeping beauty

This is heaven
About to go on a walk
On top of the highest outcrop of rocks

Grant and his little Princess

We saw this guy wrestling with a huge catch.  And when he pulled it out, the top of his rod snapped off.  A huge reward for the kids though, was to see the shark he had caught.

It was actually rather big and it's skin felt like sandpaper.  In Afrikaans they call it a Skaam Haai.

Me and my brood

Very, very, very scary moment - Luke having his first driving lesson - he nearly popped out of his skin with excitement

He was just so chuffed with himself - personally my nerves were quite shot

We explored the deepest cave - Luke and I armed with candles and matches to try and see on the inside.  It is only accessible at low tide and we had to walk through the water in our shoes, to try and reach it.  Amazing though.

Grant - the dart king

Entrance to the cave - deep and creepy, though beautiful at the same time

My sea glass collection - lots of help from all

Chef Helene's in the house - quite scary actually!

I also got a cherry!
Gansbaai's Elvis looked just like this, minus the mike of course

Yip, he looked just like this

Alive and well


  1. Very enjoyable. Brings back great memories of Kleinbaai.I think I first went there in 1968 or thereabouts.

    I remember Jannie (Rosemary Holtzhausen's boyfriend) and I getting perlemoen the size of hubcaps at Danger Point on one of it's rare calm days.

  2. Oh Helene, sommer jaloers!
    Very happy that you had good family time there!
    It is just the best!

  3. Wow! Epic Post! I am so jealous. Looks like you all had an awesome time there. So many memories made and still to make. Can't wait till we all share the holiday house again!