CRADOCK CLUB

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:

Warthog:

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.

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DUTCH REFORMED MOEDERKERK: CRADOCK

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.

SOME EASTERN CAPE ROADS

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.

WARTHOGS

The Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) has successfully expanded its range in the Eastern Cape since its introduction to various game farms and reserves during the 1970s. The name refers to the warts carried by the boar, while the Afrikaans name, Vlakvark (Plains Pig), points to its habit of roaming plains as well as in open savanna woodland and sparse shrub land.

Warthogs are fond of mud baths and are found along watercourses and marshlands, preferring to be close to water sources.

It is always interesting to watch warthog kneeling to dig out roots – up to a depth of 15 cm – with their tusks and muscular snouts. They also have an endearing habit of trotting off into the bush with their tails held erect like an aerial.

Here is a warthog family resting in the shade.

A DRIVE OUT

It is such a beautifully sunny day that we drove along the Bathurst road this morning and returned via the Belmont Valley road. Here is a very different view of Grahamstown from the one from our side of town. The CBD is on the left and Makana’s Kop is on the right.

The narrow tar road that wends its way along the Rietberg Mountains exposes layers of underlying rock in places, showing evidence of the stresses involved in shaping our landscape.

For most of the way there are no clear shoulders, instead the grass verges grow right to the edge of the tar. During summer, the grass is generally taller than this.

Here the road is about to wind down the very steep Blaauwkrantz Pass.

The reason for our drive was to look at some of the many beautiful aloes that are still in bloom in the veld.

The dirt road that winds through the Belmont Valley passes productive farmland, much of it under drip irrigation. Near the end of our drive along this road, we had to stop and wait for this to move aside for us.