26 September 2013

Snow on the Stellenbosch Mountains

I had been doing some work in Cape Town and stayed a few extra days to do some landscape and avian photography of the region. It had been bitterly cold (well for me at least) and the wind and rain had at times been unrelenting. Last Sunday morning saw me on my way on the R300 with my destination to be Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens at the foot of Table Mountain. Whilst driving I threw a casual glance to my left and there it was.. snowcaps on the mountains behind Stellenbosch. Now you don't understand, the feathered friends will always be at Kirstenbosch but the snow would not always be on the mountains.. Decision made, destination changed and off I steered on the N2 towards Somerset West. As to the actual mountains my knowledge was rather sparse but hey, if there were roads, I could get some shots. Not the best time of day for the best light but it would have to do.

Now the town Stellenbosch is 53 km east of Cape Town and is in a hilly region of the Cape Winelands. It is sheltered in a valley at an average elevation of 136 m flanked on the west by Parrot Mountain (yes, you read correctly), which is actually a hill. To the south is Stellenbosch Mountain and to the east and southeast are the Jonkershoek, Drakenstein, and Simonsberg mountains. The Twin Peaks have an elevation of 1,494 m and the highest point is Victoria Peak at 1,590 m.

The soils of Stellenbosch range from dark alluvium to clay. This, combined with the well-drained, hilly terrain and Mediterranean climate, prove excellent for viticulture. Summers are dry and warm to hot, with some February and March days rising to over 40 °C. Winters are cool, rainy and sometimes quite windy, with daytime temperatures averaging 16 °C.  

I firstly headed into the upper suburbs of Somerset West which showed this lovely backdrop.

I then headed up on the road from Somerset West through to Stellenbosch and managed this shot over the vineyards. I particularily liked the sky.

From here I drove through the town and headed up on the Pniel road where just a week before I had shot some images of the mountains with clouds hanging over them.
I have made this image available as a wallpaper for your computer. Please click on the correct link for your screens resolution.

1368 x 768
1920 x 1080 

The previous week, same place

 Traveling further down heading towards Franschoek I came across this open field which provided a wonderful foreground to the mountains.

16 September 2013

Rhodes Memorial

Rhodes Memorial on Devil's Peak in Cape Town, South Africa, is a memorial to English-born South African politician Cecil John Rhodes (1853–1902).
Sir Herbert Baker was the architect of this memorial and he allegedly modelled  it after the Greek temple at Segesta. It consists of a massive staircase with 49 steps (one for each year of Rhodes's life) leading from a semi-circular terrace up to a rectangular U-shaped monument formed of pillars. The memorial is built of Cape granite quarried on Table Mountain.

At the bottom of the steps is a bronze statue of a horseman, Energy by George Frederic Watts. Eight bronze lions by John Macallan Swan flank the steps leading up to the memorial, with a bust of Rhodes (also by JM Swan). The inscription on the monument is "To the spirit and life work of Cecil John Rhodes who loved and served South Africa." Inscribed below the bust of Rhodes are the last four lines of the last stanza from the 1902 poem Burial by Rudyard Kipling in honour of Rhodes:
The immense and brooding spirit still
Shall quicken and control.
Living he was the land, and dead,
His soul shall be her soul!
The monument was completed and dedicated in 1912.

Rhodes Memorial
The magnificent view from the memorial

Cecil John Rhodes

Energy by George Frederic Watts

Bronze lion by John Macallan Swan

Pillars of a Greek temple?