December newsletter from Outeniqua Adventure Tours: 2010
Every year, I seem to start by saying that the year has passed, once again, all too quickly! This must be what happens as we get older! When we were children, it took forever for the next birthday or Christmas to come around.
In Feb/ March 2010, we hosted some special friends from the U.K. for their annual pre-Argus training ride. This was a road bike tour, which included some of the area around Ceres, Tulbagh, and Riebeek West. I do not believe I have ever experienced such heat as we did on the first 3 days. It was a major shock to the group, two of whom had just left Bulgaria, where the temperatures had been well below zero degrees Centigrade. They did, however, soon become acclimatised, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable tour. Unfortunately, however well-prepared the group was for the Argus Cycle Tour, no one was prepared for yet another blast from the South Easter on the day. This year the wind speed was marginally less than in March 2009, but was still pretty awful. I had been reasonably prepared, and got myself to the start, proudly wearing my shirt that showed I had completed 21 of these events. I had my photo taken with a friend, equally proudly wearing her 21 Club shirt, and we set off. Well, I am afraid that the wind got the better of me. After just two kms, I decided that I really had no need to punish myself to that extent, and turned around to go back to the start. It was the most difficult two kms I have ever ridden, and it was a huge disappointment, having geared myself to do this event. We have again entered for 2011, and are hoping that the wind gods are much kinder to us next year.
After the Argus, Dave went in to hospital for the long-postponed hip replacement, and the following three months were pretty much devoted to rest, recovery, and rehab. Happily, the op appears to have been successful, and Dave is once again trying to emulate the ‘Duracell’ man.
There was much excitement about South Africa hosting the FIFA Soccer World Cup, and the country did not disappoint. As South Africans, we pulled together and generated a fantastic vibe and loads of goodwill. The event went off with very few problems, and millions of people all over the world had a glimpse of just how special South Africa is. We were really unsure about how, or if, George would see any benefits from the hosting of this tournament. Unfortunately, although our town and the Garden Route area hosted the teams of Japan, France, and Denmark, the local tourist industry saw little or nothing of the visitors’ supporters who were in the country. They seemed to be mostly located in or around the main centres where the matches were being played. Another unfortunate aspect, was that those people who would normally have planned a winter holiday, in the Garden Route, decided to stay at home! We hope that all the added publicity and goodwill that has been generated by the SWC, will pay off in the long term, and that people will decide to try visiting S A.
The second half of the year proved to be much busier than the first half, and we organised and hosted some rather special tours. We had our annual ‘Senior Adventurers’ Tour’, this time staying closer to home, and exploring Graaff-Reinet, Nieu Bethesda , the Karoo National Park, and Prince Albert. These are all picturesque, interesting, places to visit, but never seem to quite make it onto our itineraries. There were some very happy memories revived, and new ones created, by the guests on this tour.
Our cycle tours again proved hugely successful, with the spring season packed with loads of activity, mostly in the Klein Karoo. In the main, we had fantastic weather, and visited some of our old favourite haunts, as well as finding some exciting new places on the map. This year we tried a new route along the Southern Cape coast, encompassing the Gouritsmond, Stilbaai , and Witsand area. Our group encountered lots of different terrain, some lovely spring flowers, and quite challenging hills, along the way. We were somewhat taken by surprise, as we had forgotten that the price one pays, for the beauty of spring flowers alongside the road, is the clouds of ‘miggies’ and horse flies that thrive in this environment. Not any fun for those trying to enjoy a cycle along these roads. We eventually raided a local farmhouse, and were given some insect repellent by the very friendly farmer’s wife. This definitely improved the tempers of the cyclists (and the back-up crew)!
We finished off our cycle season with a small group from KZN, who were the only group to have been really challenged by adverse weather. They were faced with some cold, windy, and wet days. The group seriously rose to the challenge, and were fantastic in their enthusiasm for, and total enjoyment in, every day. This is the sort of response that makes planning and organising these tours such a satisfying and fulfilling task (and lots of fun!).
On the domestic front, we have enjoyed visits from our U.K. family and seeing the progress the grandchildren are making. Geraldine and James impressed us all by very successfully completing the Zurich Iron Man Triathlon. Helen and Andrew, our South African-based family, are successfully pursuing their new business, in packaging, and busy renovating their new offices. (The mountain biking has, for now, taken a back seat!). My ancient mother remains in good health, and is rapidly approaching her centenary!
We are both now looking forward to enjoying the holidays with our family and friends, and are excited about the prospects of new challenges in 2011.
We would like to thank you all for your continued support and friendship throughout the past years.
Wishing you all a very peaceful and happy holiday and 2011.
Cheryl and Dave.
Water at last!! George Dam now 80% full. What a relief!