Sadly, the ubiquitous farm windmills are now are rare sight – especially working ones. These patient workhorses have drawn water in out-of-the-way places for decades, filling reservoirs that provide the thirst-quenching liquid for cattle, sheep, and goats – as well as filling the tanks that see to the needs of those living on farms.
Now the countryside is dotted about with what are called ‘wind farms’ that use the wind to generate electricity. That sounds so good – the trouble is that they appear to make no difference to the price of electricity. Then, the less said about our national electricity provider the better.
Although their first bank account was opened at Barclays Bank in 1879, the Cradock Club only officially opened its doors in 1881.
Typically, its walls are decorated with hunting trophies. I have already shown you the Aardwolf, one of a pair, standing in pride of place in the Ladies Bar, but there are others scattered around, such as this Kudu:
As well as the stretched out Python skin, with a Springbok looking obligingly at you on the left:
Many of the rooms set aside for different activities have lead-lined decorative panes.
Some of which show the wear and tear inevitable over so many years.
While the Fourth Sherwood Foresters were stationed in Cradock during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), their senior officers were invited to make use of the Club’s facilities. At the end of the war they donated their leather-topped Burmese Teak mess table along with a dozen chairs to the club as a gesture of their gratitude.
Also in the Reading Room one can see the Officers’ Snuff Horn which was donated to the Club. This is made from the horn of a Highland sheep and is decorated with silver and amethyst.
Elegant wooden hat and coat hooks in the passages point to a different era of dress code.
Should you have visited Trafalgar Square in London and noted the graceful lines of the St Martins-in-the-Fields church next to South Africa House, you will experience a sense of deja vu when travelling down J A Calata Street (formerly Stockenstroom Street) in Cradock and see the Dutch Reformed Moederkerk rising majestically above the buildings around it. This is because this church has been built to the same design.
This is the 200th anniversary of the Dutch Reformed community. The church has an interesting history, including the fact that President Paul Kruger was christened here by a Welsh pastor in 1826 and that it was occupied by British soldiers who occupied the town during the Anglo-Boer War. They apparently used it as a look-out post and kept watch on the inhabitants from the roof.
The interior is spacious, with seating for approximately 900 worshippers.
The stinkwood pulpit is impressive.
The windmill is an appropriate motif for this area.
The church contains an impressive organ.
And beautiful pews.
We were told of an interesting situation that occurred when a member of the congregation was working on repairing the roof in recent years. Looking down, he noticed two layabouts drinking alcohol on the pavement below. He rather mischievously bellowed down the drainpipe, I see you! The two layabouts got such a fright at hearing this disembodied voice right next to them that they fled in terror!
Sadly, the potential peace and tranquillity of the interior of the church is challenged by loud music blaring from the radios of vendors that crowd the pavement outside, selling anything from butternuts to cheap sandals.
Move off the National Roads in the Eastern Cape into the rural areas and you will experience a variety of roads and spectacular landscapes. This is the dirt road leading through bush covered scenery towards Riebeek East
Actually, the surface of this road was mostly in better condition than some of the tarred roads that are pitted with deep potholes in places. These are not visible in this view of the R61 leading towards Tarkastad, which you can see stretching ahead towards the mountains in the distance.
Narrow rural roads are characterised by low level bridges, such as this one on the road through the Baviaans Valley.
The picture below illustrates the type of landscape that some of these roads cut through.
The fleshy leaved plants near the top of the picture are Aloe striata which have not yet come into bloom.
The Aardwolf (Proteles cristata) is neither a wolf nor a jackal, but is the smallest member of the Hyena family. Proteles means ‘complete in front’, referring to the fact that they have five toes on their front paws and four toes on their back paws, while cristatus means ‘provided with a comb’, referring to their mane. They are highly territorial and define their territory by extensive scent marking. When threatened, the Aardwolf (Earth Wolf) raises the stiff bristles of hair forming the black stripe on its back in order to look larger and, hopefully, more menacing. This has given rise to its common Afrikaans epithet of Maanhaar Jakkals (Mane Hair Jackal). One rarely comes across one either in or out of game reserves. This is because these solitary creatures are nocturnal and feed mainly on termites. The Aardwolf laps up termites from the ground using its long, sticky tongue.
It was very sad to see an Aardwolf had caught a blow from a passing vehicle during the night and had died on the road.
These and Bat-eared Foxes are prone to being hit by vehicles travelling at night. I wonder if they are dazzled by the headlights and ‘freeze’ or if they simply cannot get out of the way quickly enough.
We visited the Cradock Club (established in 1881) and came across two mounted specimens of Aardwolf decorating a pub – they had clearly been hunted a very long time ago. Still, it seemed a strange coincidence to see evidence of these shy creatures in two very different places on the same day.
Now, to hope that we will come across a live one in the wild one day!
These pictures were taken between Grahamstown and Riebeek East.