Sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for our coach to the airport we can reflect on two wonderful weeks in South Africa thanks to Arena Travel their excellent tour director Karin Hellaby.
Our adventure began in Cape Town where we met our guide Sarah and her driver (who we later found was her husband) Izak. Some of us did suspect an affair!
A chilly trip up Table Mountain, where the views were stunning, followed by exploration of the surrounding area and the Cape lead us to a visit to the wine lands and then to Pniel, near Stellenbosch where we were greated by local quilters who gave us delicious cakes and showed us their quilts.
After a night in Outshoorn we visited an ostrich farm and an aloe factory before two days in Knysna, where the recent fires had devastated huge areas.
Finally Port Elizabeth gave us more of the lovely warm sunny weather we have enjoyed for most of this winter trip and time to look at quilts at the National festival.
The group of 18 ladies and one brave husband has become a group of good friends with Karin providing constant support and help. She also had time to instruct us in two quilting projects which many of us have worked on in our few spare moments. This has certainly added an extra dimension to a top quality holiday staying in 5 star hotels.
Thank you Arena Travel and Karin for looking after us so well.
Here we are waiting for our airport transfer.
Last night, we had a show and tell of purchases from the first day of the show. Of course, you can all guess what happened today. What we had missed yesterday we bought today. There are some wonderful traders here, with South African fabrics, threads and embroideries. These were some of our favourites including – Langalapua, fabrics4africa.
We wanted to support Tambani and bought many of their hand embroideries. Such an amazing worthwhile project, creating jobs for Venda women to help them support their families.
I love bumping into Rosa at the various shows all over the world. She is from Spain and the only trader who had made it over from Europe. Quilters here, avidly watched her apliquick techniques and many of our group just had to have the tools.
The Egyptian tentmakers display, was much admired and you can watch a video of them on my Facebook page.
Several of us attended the lecture on the Keiskamma art project. This is an indicative that helps unemployed rural women earn money by learning embroidery and other craft skills.
And there was time to relax in the sun. Note the shopping bags, I hope they can get all their purchases into their suitcases!
Tonight is our farewell dinner and we have invited Renee de Beyer to join us as she has done much to make this tour such a success. Thank you Renee, it is thanks to you that we have met so many South African quilters.
After a short night we went down for the most amazing breakfast buffet – sushi, oysters, scones and clotted cream, every fruit you can think of, scotch eggs, etc. They start early in South Africa, so at 8am we were on our way to the Cape of Good Hope.
Who needs a safari? On our picturesque journey we stopped for baboons blocking the road, a family of wild ostriches, whales spouting in the distance, eland, amazing birds such as ibis, flamingoes, guinea fowl and cape sugar birds.
A funicular railway took us up Cape Point with wonderful views.
Then on to Simonstown, which has one of only three land based African penguin colonies. Seeing penguins in the wild has always been on my ‘bucket’ list. A bonus was the Saturday street market, full of crafts and black children singing and dancing.
The gardeners amongst us loved the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens and we enjoyed a guided walk, before heading to a quilters home.
We were privileged to be invited into Margie Garratt’s home, a listed building full of artefacts that she had collected from all over the world. As this was a private home no photos were taken inside.
Members of FACT (Fibre Artists Cape Town) provided us with traditional afternoon fare, sherry and tea before a show and tell which incorporated traditional quilts and quilt art. An interesting occurring theme was the depiction of fire in nature. I have place an album of many of the quilts that we were shown on my Facebook page.
Looking forward to tomorrow!
The start of our South African quilting tour! We were met at the airport by Sarah our tour guide, Izak the coach driver and Renee de Beyer from the Cape of Good Hope Quilters Guild. Renee welcomed us with gifts of fabric and quilts.
Within an hour, we were on top of Table Mountain, admiring the views in all directions.
Sarah pointed out a dassie sitting on a ledge below, and told us it was related to an elephant. How can that be it looked the size of a rabbit!
Lunch was in Company’s Park in Capetown and we had time to admire vegetation and birds that we have never seen before. Then it was off on a coastal coach ride through Camps Bay, Clifton and round to the Victoria and Alfred waterfront. You should have seen the real estate. We arrived at the 5* Table Bay Hotel mid afternoon and just look at the view from my bedroom window for the next 4 nights.
Tonight we have a welcome dinner at The African Cafe. We will be eating a ‘communal feast’ 14 taster dishes before the dessert!
This was a memorable meal. We were also impressed with the interior decoration of the rooms, a few photos will have to do but I struggle to convey how different it is.
During the meal we had our faces painted.
And Renee showed us two quilts from an African challenge. More about this in the next few days.
We only left London 24 hours ago and more than half that time was spent on a plane. We can’t believe how much we have covered on our first day. It has been wonderful! Thank you Arena Travel.