Thursday, August 28, 2014

Brighton England - Part 2

Travel in Brighton - 2014

Go back to the start of this trip - here.

Once in Brighton we looked for the Tourism or Info offices. There aren't any! You might want to go on-line and do a search of things to do before you get to Brighton. We found their local municipal offices where a man kindly gave us a map.

We took our map and headed to V Bites, a vegan cafe owned by Heather Mills. (Sir Paul McCartney's ex wife.) We ordered breakfast and looked at our map, deciding what to see and do. V Bites also sell vegan alternatives to animal foods. Think along the lines of vegan deli meats, cheeses and even . . .
More lanes
. vegan tuna.

Brighton is famous for it's "Lanes". Theie Lanes are narrow, often cobbled alleys with old specialist shops selling antiques, crafts, hippie chic clothing, organic foods and fair trade coffees. I can't work out how many actual Lanes or lane areas exist as also found Lanes in Hove. You want to walk around in the area from the seafront up to where the station is. If a spot looks quaint, walk there, it might turn out to
Royal Pavillion
be yet more Lanes.

We found a place called hiSbe - short for - How it Should be - a fair trade, organic supermarket that focuses on sustainability. Wow! The next vegan place we ate was called The Loving Hut Cafe. It's a hut in a park run by an Asian couple. Expect yummy curries as opposed to toasted sandwiches. The couple are
Brighton Marina
committed vegans by the looks of things. Lots of anti-cruelty leaflets scattered about. Forks over Knives video runs over and over.

We walked past a good few other veggie restaurants but a quick glance at the menu was enough to put us off. Won't name them, but no way am I ever paying those prices for food. I don't care who the chef or owner is. Most nights we holed up in our room and watched
Loving Hut vegan food
our tiny telly. We had both been hit hard by a cold or flu. (Can never tell the difference.) We just wanted to sleep. And we did a LOT of walking in the day.

On a whim we decided to take a bus to Brighton Marina. The buses run from next to the train station. Our bus took a meander via council housing and residential areas to the marina. One doesn't realise how tidal the UK coastline is. Or how fierce the waves can be until you see the breakwater designed to shelter the boats in the marina.

Brighton Marina is a housing, boating, commercial, residential and social space. We walked around the harbour and along the breakwater. And we had a nice hot cup of tea at one of the cafes.

The promenade is quite a stretch. You can
Even more lanes
walk for hours if you like walking. The actual pier is a bustling place. It's bursting with games arcades, amusement rides and daft things to do. Expect flashing lights and tin can music. In the height of summer, people flock in their droves to Brighton. Apparently the 2008 Pride festival saw 150 000 people crammed onto Brighton Beach. Europeans love the sun. We're a bit more used to covering up and sun protection in Africa.

Another eatery we visited for a really early supper was Iydea. And what a good idea it was to visit that time. They
have a food "happy hour". Great food. Great value. There are two of them in Brighton.

Yet another area we went to was the Cultural Quarter. I really wanted to go to the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, which is free. But it's closed on Mondays. We left it to our last day so never got a chance to go back. Sigh! It's set in lovely gardens. A great place to sit and enjoy a take-out lunch. Right opposite is the Royal Pavilion. A palace built in 1783 for the Prince of Wales. It
Brighton Marina
might be a British Royal Palace but this pavilion looks like something you would find in India. Like the Taj Mahal. I really don't what that Prince was thinking. It looks out of place to me.

I'm sure we missed out on so much. But we took in a lot. I'm glad we didn't go in the height of summer on a bight sunny bank holiday weekend. That would be my idea of hell. We picked the right time to go. Just the wrong place. Given it's proximity to London, good chance there will be a next time.

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Brighton England - Part 1

What to do in Brighton - 2014

Beach huts on the Promenade
My husband has a 90 year old aunt who lives in North London. We go across to visit regularly. She loves having us come over. She also doesn't love having us around. She's lived alone her entire adult life. She wants to know we care. We help with things she can no longer do. But she gets a fright every time one of us pops up. She cannot get used to other people in her house.

Brighton Promenade

We decided to go to Brighton for three nights to get out of her hair. We chose Brighton because it was the quickest, cheapest and easiest place to get to from London. Plus my husband had never been there. My primary income is derived in South Africa. The current exchange rate is horrible. We're paying R19 for £1. I can buy four to five cups of coffee in SA for the price of one in the UK. It was my decision to stay in a hostel. My husband has never done so before. I used hostels in Scotland
Art deco buildings
and Orkney with friends. Read about those trips - here - and - here. The accommodation was acceptable to fabulous.

So I found us a hostel in Hove which is about 2 - 3 miles from Brighton. It looked fine on the web.
Greenie on Brighton Pier
We found instructions for the bus and got there easily. The guy who managed the place was a really nice chap and I feel bad for saying this, but the place was awful. He told me it was owned by a charity and all proceeds went to a good cause. He also said they were looking at fixing it up.

Our rooms were clean enough. The linen was garish and well worn. The shower had a gaping hole and no trap. I lost a razor down there. There were notices on the walls imploring people not to
White cliffs
make a noise. The communal area was dark and dingy. The kitchen cupboard doors had fallen off. I wouldn't use anything there or eat there.

I also suspect this place is used by homeless people. The same faces constantly lurked outside drinking beer and I could smell weed. Maybe that was the charity? A place of safety perhaps?

We decided that we were only sleeping there and resolved to get out as much as possible. Turns out
Seaside eateries
Brighton is a mecca for vegans, vegetarians and organic foodies. Who knew? Happy Cow listed loads of places to eat out. We walked along the promenade from Hove into Brighton instead of catching the bus. Much nicer.

There are brightly coloured beach huts along the way. As you come into Brighton you can see beautiful white cliffs. The sea was calm and flat that day. The beach is pebbled. A novelty for us. South African beaches are white powder sand. I LOVED the art deco beachfront apartments. I wouldn't be surprised if the Agatha Christie Poirot series were filmed in Brighton and Hove.
Brighton Beach

More on Bright in the next post - here.

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

York England - Part 2

The Shambles
What to do in York - 2014

Go to the start of this trip by clicking - here.

Our guide focused on historical buildings and Roman ruins. They have lots of heavy stone carved Roman coffins lying about. She pointed out cats on the buildings. Not real ones. Cat statues. They put concrete or metal cats on the walls in York. She took us through The Shambles, an area that used to trade in meat and produce. One can only imagine how it could have been a helluva mess. 

She took us around
Cat on building
the  outside of the Minster which is York's key attraction. I'm still
not sure what the difference is between a minster and a cathedral. However I now know that York Minster has the biggest stained glass window in the world.

Inside York Minster
We were in York during Easter. York Minster had a special Easter service. Access during a service is free. I really wanted to go. I'm not particularly religious but I love the drama of a full mass. I raced out the hotel only to forget my glasses. I couldn't read the song sheet. Felt a bit stupid mumbling as I had no idea what the words were. My other half meanwhile went to the railway expo. I met him there after mass.

We wanted to try as many vegan/meat-free eateries as we could. Good old Happy Cow on-line guide had a few. (How did we ever live without Happy Cow?) We ate at El Piano, a Spanish eatery that just happens to have an outlet in York. And we ate at Goji Cafe and Deli. 

For bargain food in the UK, you cannot beat Wetherspoons. A local pub and grub chain that is unbeatable for good prices. Food is OK. You get what you pay for. My favourite there is a Jacket Potato with beans or veg chili.

Of course a trip to York without a ghost tour is unthinkable. And there are plenty to choose from. The guides dress up in dark clothes with a top hat and tails. Our guide was a history boffin so his slant was very much about actual events as opposed to scary stories. He talked about grim happenings to Margaret Clitherow and Guy Fawkes who were locals. We were in York early in May. The sun goes down late, but it was bitterly cold. My teeth were chattering and my feet
River Ouse
were numb as we walked through
winding alleys. Much as I enjoyed the Terror Trail, I couldn't wait for that tour to be over and head somewhere warm.

There are so many museums in York. Too many. We always go for the cheapies and freebies first. Some of the museums, like the Viking museum were really tempting. But the entrance fees are steep and it can all add up to a LOT of money. We also skipped a boat trip up and down the River Ouse and walked along the river for free. Lots of lovely pubs line the river. Be sure to try a local craft beer.

Greenie walking the wall in York
You can walk on the sections of the old wall that used to surround York. Also free. The wall is not complete anymore but it's a lovely walk as you can see the city from higher up. Even local pubs have mini excursions in their dungeons. We found a pub in town that had Roman Baths underneath. Except they were closed the day we were there.

Apparently the first Easter egg was invented in 1798 by a Yorkshire woman called Esther Burnay. She painted an ostrich egg and threw it at the Archbishop of York. Turns out the world
York skyline with the minster looming large
  liked the idea of painted eggs but did not adopt the concept
of throwing them at clergymen. Chocolate comes from Yorkshire. The Rowntree, Cadbury and Fry families were Quakers who were in the Yorkshire area. We were told at one of the specialist chocolate shops that more Kit Kats are sold than any other chocolate snack.

York is apparently one of the top 10 cities to visit in England. Our guide seemed to think it had more going for it than Bath. So there you go. If you heading north, why not take a detour and visit York.

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

York England - Part 1

Traveling in York - 2014
Gates to York

The main reason for us heading up to York was because my other half is a serious model railway enthusiast. Our coffee table at home houses tracks and locos. The whole setup actually works. Lights go on and his trains move around the track. A great way to start conversations in our house.

Train Museum
York has one of the biggest Model Railway Expos every year. My other half was all keen to visit the show. Not only that, York has the biggest railway museum in the world. And it's free! Sort of. They ask for a donation at the door. The train museum has so many trains and videos and information boards that you really need to put aside a fair amount of time to take it all in.

York is synonymous with the York Minster, Easter eggs and chocolate, Vikings, cats, trains, River Ouse, ghost tours, the Romans and Emperor Constantine who lived there. It's halfway between London and Scotland and was a favourite stop-over in days gone by.

We went by train from London's Kings Cross. Just arriving at York station is an attraction in itself. It's one of the most beautiful and well preserved Victorian railway stations in the
York Station

We booked at our usual - IBIS Hotel, (no we don't get paid to say that). The IBIS in York is near the racecourse which turned out to be the venue for the Expo. We wanted to do a Park Run in York and that's also at the racecourse. So it was a good choice with hindsight. Park Runners will like that the racecourse as it's flat. York have a big group. Park Runs occur every Saturday morning around the world for a timed 5 kilometre run. It's free, but you have to register and get a bar code.

Roman ruins
York is not a big place and we easily took in the sights on foot. Once we had checked in, we located the Tourism Info, loaded up on brochures and went back to the hotel to decide what to do. We had Internet in our room so also did a Google search on York.

We're both terrible at taking relaxing holidays. Every single trip, we do the same thing. We find out as much as we can, can't bear to choose and try to do it all. You would think with York being such a small place AND we had four nights at the hotel, that we would have had time to chill. But no.

York was originally called Yorvik by the Vikings who settled there. You can see where it gets it's modern name. They have a free tour every day given by volunteers. We figured that would be a great way to start. It was supposed to be 90 minutes but was more like two hours. Which was fine as we learned a LOT.

Church Goodramgate going back to 12th century
Apparently below the foundations of the city lie relics and artifacts that will never be recovered. Each time they excavate in York teams of archaeologists get involved as special items are discovered.

Read Part 2 - on this link.

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Oystercatcher Trail Part 2

Bedroom at one of the Sandpiper Cottages

Black Oystercatcher Hike - 2014

Please click - here - to read from the start of this trip

The cottages were nicely decorated and comfortable. We had welcome drinks and snacks waiting for us. After a nice hot bath or shower we all met at one cottage for sundowners before heading to the Leisure
Bathroom at a Sandpiper Cottage
Centre where we had more sundowners on the deck and then supper. The tour organisers pride themselves on making authentic South African food. Food like Babotie, Karoo lamb, I really don't think they have catered for so many vegans before. If any at all. One chef bought a vegan recipe book and had been practicing. She did well.

Day Two was beach hiking
The next day we had breakfast at the Leisure Centre and were bundled into a van and taken back to where we finished the day before. We resumed our hike. If Day One was about the coast and cliffs, Day Two was mostly flat and along the beach. Day Two was 12 kilometres.

There is abundant wildlife in the area. Various buck, wild cats such as the caracal, mongoose and genets, penguins, eagles, cranes and gulls are amongst the creatures that can be spotted in the area. We were looking out for Southern Right Whales which are present from January to May and again from September to November. Dolphins are present all year round. Amongst the bird life are of course the black Oystercatchers. Turns they eat mussels and not oysters. They are unique to a strip of the South

African coast. The Oystercatcher Trail is right
Black Oyster Catchers
in the middle of this strip. We saw loads of them on the beach.

The key thing with a group of people traveling together is - getting along. It’s hard. People all want different things from a holiday. A sure fire recipe for tension. We had a nice group. We chatted so much we probably missed on wildlife spotting.
Preparing for a swim in a lagoon
Suppertimes were fun with lots of bawdy commentary. Our organiser asked us to have awards for dumb things. At first I wasn’t so keen. Seemed a bit, well, high school. But the guy nominated to give the awards did it in such a way, it was bags of fun.

Day Three was 21 kilometres. Um, that’s a half marathon! Not going to lie, I was a bit anxious about it. Especially shortly after we got going and scrambled up an almighty hill. Fortunately the rest of course was a LOT easier. That didn’t stop me climbing up a dinkum sand dune later in the day. How could I not?

The organisers brought us lunch al fresco. I’m talking a proper table with a cloth, stainless steel cutlery, pasta and salad, drinks and fruit.

Day Three
A person could almost never move again. But we got going and headed to the finale, which was a boat trip along the Gourits River.
The end almost never came. We walked and walked and just could not find the boat. And then - there it was. We took off our shoes. Stepped on board and went across the river. Very. Very. Slowly. Heaven.

On the boat were ice cold beers. A few brave folk were swimming in the river next to the
River boat on Gourits River
boat. Eish. On the other side the crew collected us and took us back to our cottages for a hot shower and if you wanted - a massage or treatment at the Leisure Centre.

The staff were amazing. Real warm proper South African hospitality. I loved the rustic charm of the cottages. The sincere efforts of the chefs to cater for vegans. They did a fabulous job. The beauty of the coast and time out to enjoy it all. It doesn’t get much better!

There is lots of info on the Internet should you want to do this hike. Google -
Hiking up a dune Day Two

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Oystercatcher Trail Part 1

Oystercatcher Trail South Africa - 2014
Ana's Place Mossel Bay

Where do I start with the Oystercatcher Trail? Firstly I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of it. Apparently National Geographic rated it as one of the top trips of a lifetime in 2007 AND in 2008. BBC classed it as one of the 30 unforgettable walks to do before you die. And good old Getaway (local South African travel magazine) called it one of the top South African hikes. Just goes to show how little I
Ana's Place views

We were invited by some friends to make up a party for a three day hike. Organisers tailor the walk to suit your available time and budget. Our party went for that particular organiser’s Silver option. The package included a full time guide, all meals plus snacks and comfortable accommodation. Our friends who arranged it opted for slack-packing, so we didn't have to carry anything other than a small back-pack with water, a swimming costume, our snacks and sunscreen.

It's actually a four day hike (day one doesn't count as it's arrival day) but it was trimmed down to three days to fit into a long weekend. The other big bonus was we were with a few other vegans. The
St Blaize Cave
organisers usually focus on South African cuisine but agreed to 50% vegan catering for us. More on that later.

We all drove down individually to Mossel Bay which is at the start of the Garden Route and met at a plush guest house called Ana's Place. My other half and I got there last. We found the others enjoying complementary drinks and snacks on a wide balcony overlooking the bay. Serious views.

They made a booking at a local restaurant for our evening meal. After a quick freshen up, we walked down to the main town and found our eatery. The food wasn't bad. I don't expect to enjoy eating out with my meat free diet.
St Blaize Cave
And I don’t ever expect vegan food at a restaurant. They actually had a few vegan meals on the menu.

So every year there's a massive motor bike rally in South Africa called the Buffalo Rally. Which happened to be the very weekend we were in town. Let's just say the "Buff" as it's known, is not exactly a high brow affair. Bikers from all over South Africa come to get drunk and shred tyres or
Cliffs on Day One
make a noise. Those that don't - watch those that do. Some folks get hot under the collar about the goings on. I find it a bit of a laugh. I will say the sound of engines revving permeated the
Looking down to ocean Day One
night but my other half and I got some sleep.

Next morning the organisers collected our luggage and moved it to our new accommodation at Sandpiper Cottages in Boggomsbaai. We walked to the local hotel and had breakfast in the restaurant which is right on the rocks next to the sea. Vegans don't do dairy or eggs and our guide soon discovered we weren't properly catered for. Much frantic conferring with the organisers happened and profuse apologies ensued. Luckily the person who made our snack-packs was clued up.

We kicked off our walk at St Blaize Cave. Day One was moderately up and down. We walked along a cliff which had breath-taking views of the coast and ocean. Day One was 15
One of the Sandpiper Cottages
kilometres. We could have included a talk by archaeologist Dr Peter Nilssen at Pinnacle Point but decided against it. Can’t remember why, and with hindsight, I wish we had included the extra walk/talk. We finished our first day at Dana Bay where we were collected and taken to our cottages.

This holiday continues - here.

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Klein Karoo Mc Gregor Part 2

Donkey at the sanctuary

Mc Gregor Klein Karoo

Read Part 1 by going to the last blog post or click - here.

Saturday morning we raced out to make sure we didn't miss the "short' market. Our city mentality meant we over budgeted time-wise and had LOADS of time to kill. The first marketer pitched long after us. We hid around the corner and waited for the market to start. A whole six stalls happened. We bought at nearly every one. But it was over so fast that we can't be sure it was in fact a market! We bought spinach pies, ginger beer, quiche, milk tart, pea shoots and fresh spinach. While we were waiting for things to happen we got chatting to a local about property prices. OMG!!! A house in Mc Gregor STARTS at just below R1 million. Prices go up to R3 million. Hello! This is a village in the middle of nowhere.

We collected our ethically sourced raw honey from Deli Girls
Donkey sanctuary Mc Gregor
and had a quick cup of tea. Quick because ESKOM power was about to fail and they had to make sure they had hot water. A friendly American joined us and regaled us with tales of his life as a pilot and global traveler. He had decided he wanted to make Mc Gregor his home. He prophesied that Las Vegas and Austin in Texas had a bleak future as water was fast becoming scarce in America. He saw South Africa as a better option to the United States of America. Who knew?

After our tea and conversation we headed off on a
Mc Gregor Winery
wine tour. At Mc Gregor Winery we bought a bargain Ruby Cabernet (R19 per bottle) and a Pinotage (R38 per bottle). No discount for bulk at Mc Gregor Winery. Sigh. Then we went to Tanagra down the road. Prices were a bit steep there (R70 a bottle). We tasted Grappa. Hated it. Not for us. The price (R200 a tiny bottle) didn't help.

We also stopped in at Esseltjerus, a donkey sanctuary. They let you pat the friendly donkeys and you can have a bite to eat. We picked prickly pears off the cacti with a piece of paper. They are yummy but a mission as they have long fine thorns that get stuck in your fingers and are a nightmare to remove.

Came home and soaked up the 35'C sun. Snoozed. Bathed and then went on a village historical walk. There
Greenie at the Saturday market
are four walks to choose from. Mill Walk. Gaol Walk. Graveyard Walk. Church Walk. We did the Mill Walk. After our walk we had a quick drink at the Old Post Office Pub. Then headed back to Temenos for supper. I had a veg curry and my other half had hake en papillote. And yet more Mc Gregor wine. We tried again to see the Temenos gardens but again we were not allowed. Sigh! Staggered home and slept like logs.

We had a slow start to the day. Late brekka and a very late lunch. Lots of snoozing and reading in between. Around 14.30pm we ventured out to do
Kleinberg hiking trail
the The Kleinberg Hike. We found a sign off Voortrekker Street saying 1.5 kilometres. We thought that was the start of the hike. But no. That was - to the start - of the start of the hike.

And we managed to miss the start. We saw a sign saying Kingfisher River but walked on. Luckily a bakkie (pick-up truck) came past and directed us to the start. When we went back, we saw below in much smaller letters, it said Kleinberg Hike. We finally got going with the hike.

The lady at Deli Girls recommended we do the Heron Trail at the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve. I wish we had
Sign depicting Old Mill historical walk
taken her advice. Apparently they have two hides to observe wildlife. I was not thrilled to see a big baboon sitting at a brick works on the side of the road. Turns out there are lots of baboons around. And they have been known to be violent.

We hotfooted it up the hill but sadly we never got to the top. The signs dried up and we kept getting lost so we gave up and went home.

On the way back we passed the town brass band. I was
Mc Gregor brass band
clapping enthusiastically only to find out later they march at funerals. Major oops. Sunday was a quiet night with home cooking and scrabble.

The next day, Monday, we had a long lie in before we packed up to head back home. We visited the free museum hoping to see the original king James bible with Rob Roy's signature but it was out on loan. It's hardly a big museum. One room, but I could have spent hours reading all the history and looking at the exhibits. Then we set off to have a last lunch en route at Bon Cap organic wine farm. Yummy lunch and nice to be able to get some
Bon Cap wine estate
seriously good organic wines.

Then came the anti climax as we headed back home. I would love to go back to Mc Gregor but I fear many of the other fabulous places we have yet to see in South Africa may take priority. Will keep you posted.


Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Klein Karoo Mc Gregor Part 1

Travel in Mc Gregor Klein Karoo South Africa in 2014
Fireplace Plum Cottage

This was the first South African break we had taken in a while, 2013 was a helluva year for us. We bought a boat in 2012 in The Netherlands and had to sort out a whole bunch of stuff. We made the decision to scale back and let go of our house. It was far too big for the two of us. Which meant we had to de-clutter, fix up, sell, pack up, store and find another home. And once we found another home, of course our furniture no longer fitted, our new home needed some fixing up and phew! At one point I was homeless. At another point I was living in our empty house surrounded by boxes.

Plum Cottage Mc Gregor
Our new lock up and go home meant we could pop off for a weekend breaks. Yay! We get to see a lot of Europe but we want to see more of South Africa. Everyone ALWAYS raves about a little town in the Klein Karoo called Mc Gregor. I've been past the place, but am ashamed to say, never been there. We booked a long weekend at one of the self catering cottages managed by Fountain Place. And looked forward to a break.

The first thing you want to know about Mc Gregor is that it is safe and tranquil. The kind of place you can go to kick back and catch up on rest and relaxation. Not that there aren't things to do. You
Road in Mc Gregor
can hike in the Krans or Vrolijkheid Nature Reserves, go 4 x 4-ing on the Groot Toren trail or try your hand at mountain biking on one of many biking routes. The helpful people at the Tourism Office will ply you with brochures and issue permits if required.

If that all feels a bit too energetic you can visit one of myriad wine estates in the Robertson Wine Valley. Many have restaurants, so you can squeeze in a lunch while you are stocking up on vino. Some offer unusual things such as vertical wine tasting at Estona, blend your own wine at
Sitting on our patio
Excelsior or have a picnic on a river boat at Viljoensdrift.

A little bit of history about Mc Gregor. Of course like ALL places in Southern Africa, the Bushmen were the very first people wandering around. People don't realise that Africans migrated south from central Africa and are NOT indigenous to Southern Africa. The Bushmen unfortunately kept no records. The earliest mention of Mc Gregor is in 1838. Documentation mentions two brothers Alewyn and Johannes Smit being granted a farm called Over Den Berg in that year. (Over Den Berg means - over the mountain - and the village is surrounded by mountains) A Mr. J.S. Naude is recorded as the next owner of the farm in 1861. But Mr Naude had already written a letter in 1856 applying
Deli Girls Mc Gregor
for permission to start a village on his farm, he was most likely the owner a few years prior. No one is sure why he wanted the village, possibly because he wanted shops and provisions closer as Cape Town is almost 200 kilometres away.

Mc Gregor was originally called Lady Grey, after the wife of the British governor of the Cape. Not that she had ever been there. Someone else had also tried to ingratiate themselves with Lord and Lady Grey and there was another village called Lady Grey. This caused much confusion with the postal services. Mc Gregor was commonly
Looking at the lunch menu at Temenos
referred to as "Mc Gregor's Parish" after a much loved Scottish minister who regularly visited the area. It was eventually decided to formally name the village after Reverend Andrew Mc Gregor. A few Mc Gregors lived in the area. The chap who ran the mill and his brother who made whip stocks both lived at the top of Long Street back then. The Mc Gregors came from the West Scottish Highlands. An authentic King James bible can be seen at the museum at inside Tourism Office with what is believed to be Rob Roy Mc Gregor's signature.

By 1919 the population of Mc Gregor was 1000.
Prickly pears grow in abundance
A century later that figure doubled. That's hardly a lot of people. And that is exactly what attracts people to Mc Gregor. They say it lies on the road to nowhere. People come to Mc Gregor to get away from it all. The sort of people who live in Mc Gregor are artists, writers, musicians, healers, yoga and pilates instructors, carpenters, garagistes (garage wine makers), artisan food makers, etc . . Some say Mc Gregor is built on top of ley lines. What are ley lines? Apparently mystical alignments of land forms. It certainly is a peaceful and crime free community.

We arrived Thursday 14.55pm and checked into our cottage, (Plum Cottage) then went up the road to check out the area. We found a Tourism Office. The woman gave us heaps of info, so we came back to cottage and had a big fat read-up. That evening we made a huge salad with veggies we brought with us from home. I had texted organic food producers to find out how
Feasting on prickly pears
we could obtain fresh produce. The lady at the Tourism Office kindly gave us the local fresh organic producers contact details.

Friday morning we had a mini lie-in and got going later than planned. Mad dash to Tourism office for directions to Langwater Farm. Found it after much confusion and got organic veg. Came back to Villagers shop and bought home made soap, olives and other items. Went to Deli Girls across the road and ordered ethical raw honey. Went all the way to Robertson to do a mini shop-up and headed off to the wine farms. Van Loveren's restaurant Christina's had been highly recommended. Their entire menu had ONE vegetarian pizza. Nothing
Neighbour's cottage
else and certainly nothing vegan. Every salad had meat. Gave up and went back to Mc Gregor and found a vegan burger at Tabaldi's Restaurant Temenos. Hoped to see the special garden and shrines, but no such luck. Temenos was having an "international detox" and locals weren't able to see their famous gardens. Came home and did our own yoga workout and baked a bunch of the organic veggies we bought earlier.

Read Part 2 - on this link.

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.