I am writing this blog entry on what is, officially, the last evening of our honeymoon. After fourteen years of courting/being an item/going out, I thought you’d like to share the happy news; Mrs Chips and yours truly finally tied the matrimonial knot (we’re getting so long in the tooth that it was touch and go whether it was going to be a granny knot). Not that we hadn’t tried in the past, mind you; but each of the previous attempts seemed to coincide uncannily with some other family disaster or tragedy. We were therefore most grateful that nothing marred our plans for the 22nd September 2012. Rest assured, however, we do not plan to have any more ‘chips off the old block’. I’m sorry, I had to get that in – WordPress insisted on it.
As with such celebrations, we would love to have had ALL our dear friends join us on the day, but careful tracing of our family tree revealed that John Paul Getty, Hiram G. Rockefeller or Bill Gates apparently do not number among our generous uncles (a bit of an oversight on the part of my forebears, but there you are). Also, that Facebook zucker seems a little unsure of his worth currently so we thought we wouldn’t put the bite on for a loan from him either.
The wedding took place in a small city in the Eastern Cape of South Africa called East London. It’s a quaint, old fashioned-ish kind of town; for instance the good burghers of East London still think there’s a property boom on – so don’t try to buy a house there. If you know anything about the surfing world, you will probably be acquainted with “Nahoon Reef” where several world surfing championships were decided in the past. But did the city fathers promote this surf spot as a tourist mecca? Did they sponsor sport development programs to promote surfing, paddle-skiing or kite surfing? No, they poured millions into an adjacent pump station which daily sends tons of sewage into the sea just near the Reef, causing such interesting maladies as ‘Surfers Ear’. It is so bad that if the wind is in the right (wrong) direction, the stench is literally breath taking.
However, some businesses do try hard to survive in East London. Two of these we had the pleasure of dealing with for our wedding arrangements. The first was the Quarry Lake Inn and the second was Blue Ribbon Cooking and Hospitality School.
If you need a venue that is run professionally and efficiently, seek out a young lady called Julie. She and her team provided a venue that is charming, quiet, elegant and with just the right amount of ambiance to make for an entirely pleasant reception.
Also playing their part in the event was Blue Ribbon. I ought to mention it is not only a catering company, but a hospitality/cooking school. Owned by a quietly spoken Donna-Mae, herself a qualified chef, she provided us with an impressive list of tasty comestibles from which we selected appropriate tea-time treats. I can unhesitatingly recommend both Quarry Lake Inn and Blue Ribbon in the confident expectation that your requirements will be met. Oh, and a voice from the kilt says that both are great value for money.
The cherries on the cake, as it were, were the sterling efforts of close family (you all know who you are) who worked tirelessly to put a polish on the ceremony and celebrations that exceeded our wildest dreams, and made me humbly grateful to know and be related to such wonderful people.
For us, the most important part of the wedding is the declaration of the vows before Almighty God. The rest is a happy bonus. The ceremony was held in the Cambridge Methodist church and the small reception at the aforementioned Quarry Lake Inn. In view of the fact that a large number of loved ones travelled from a great distance, we also had a braai (barbeque) afterwards at my old high school recreation hall – a modest but agreeable place to hold such an informal event. It allowed us to all sit and chat together in a (again, superbly decorated) convivial atmosphere until it was time to say ‘see ya’.
Afterwards, Mrs Chips and yours truly repaired to our hotel room where we did what many newly wedded couples do on their wedding night – we had an argument; but in keeping with the best husbandly practises, I can’t remember what it was about (see, I’m getting the hang of this marriage thing already).
Next morning we left for the first stop of our official honeymoon. My sister and her family had most kindly given us two nights at a five-star establishment called Tenahead – more of this anon. En route to Tenahead and to coincide with their booking dates, we took a two night stop over in a microscopic but eminently beguiling town of Rhodes. Our web search for places to stay revealed a guest farm called Kinmel.
There are two main routes. The first is on the N2 from East London, through Idutchwa (now known as Dutywa, Butterworth turning towards McClear and up Naude’s pass past Tenahead to Rhodes down Naude’s Nek pass (one hopes they don’t find any other parts of Mr Naude’s anatomy to drive on).
As is our wont, we selected an alternative route that took us first northwards on the N6 through Stutterheim, Cathcart, turning right onto the R359 in Queenstown and making for Lady Frere, Askeaton (becoming the R393) to Elliot.
But no honeymoon story would be complete without a fair dollop of drama would it? In my pursuit to give you value for money, dear reader, I hope not to disappoint. You see, we’d had the old charabanc serviced in Port Elizabeth. In so doing, the chaps at Ryan’s Service Centre had had the rear brakes skimmed and new brakes installed (baby’s got new brake shoes, as it were). What they’d failed to do (amongst some issues I’ll chat about later) was to ensure the right rear brake was disengaging, resulting in the wheel overheating and wanting to lock.
This manifested itself about 120km from East London. There we were on the side of the road; the intrepid groom (enveloped in an aura of bright profane blue) pacing up and down while his blushing bride (who was now colouring for very different reasons) trying in vain to calm him down.
Fortunately your blogger is moderately prepared on his travels (Lord Baden-Powell was beaming down on us – s’true’s Nyannies), and with wrench in hand got under the bakkie to adjust the lock nut to a more suitable position and after a few minutes we were back on the road.
In Elliot, we turned northwards and just after negotiating the Barkley Pass we turned right (remaining on the R393). We tested the Hilux’s suspension and Kumho tyres on the muddy and lonely farm roads before reaching Rhodes.
The sun was setting as we emerged from the mountains just outside Rhodes and one’s breath was momentarily taken as cold grey shadows slowly crept up the golden manes of the upper grass slopes and met with the sombre clouds to the west. By the time we entered the normally somnolent Rhodes, the town appeared almost comatose with only a few lights gently glowing in some small homes giving any hint of life within.
As the last of the day’s glow disappeared in the west, we pulled up to the gate at Kinmel Mountain Retreat.
Stay tuned for some more honeymoon travels.