Striated skies No. 42 – The bulb sentinel

42. The bulb sentinel

The Nieuwoudtville Dutch Reformed Church towers over the very small town of Nieuwoudtville. The Church a Gothic Cross style Church was designed by John Gaisford. The cornerstone was laid in 1906. The church seats 500 with oak pews. The town of Nieuwoudtville has between 1000 and 2000 people. The church is built of Tafelberg sandstone and stands out above the dusty town.

The day we visited the area in front of the church was carpeted with purple flowers. The church was open and we went inside. There was a strange history posted on the notice board which you can read below. We climbed up into the church steeple to see the bell. Click here to see more pictures inside the church.FullSizeRender (30) IMG_4205 IMG_4206

Striated Skies No. 41 – Hantam Windmills

41. Hantam WindmillsThe Hantam botanical gardens are found just outside the extremely sleepy town of Nieuwoudtville. We visited the area in mid September in order to see the flowers. Unfortunately we did not get to see the flowers at their best although the flowers were still amazing.

The Botanical garden is 6500 hectares. The land was once the farm of the late Neil MacGregor, who took down all internal fences and opened the area to his livestock . The livestock pruned the plants, ate the dry residue and trampled the seeds. Niel was rewarded with the flowering of an extraordinary biodiversity, the sheep also flourished, botanists came to visit, and tourists started to arrive. Neil’s Flower Bus tours were world famous (

Nieuwoudtville is known as the bulb capital of the world. The town is on the plateau above the Bokkeveld mountains of the Northern Cape. The town does not have much to offer and the petrol station is only open for certain hours in the day, as discussed in Striated Skies No.37.

One piece of advice I can give is know what you want to see and explore without a time limit. going up for a weekend is not enough time and makes the trip frustrating.

Striated Skies

Striated Skies No. 37 – Unexpected falls

Striated Skies

Nieuwoudtville (Locals pronounce it “knee – hout – ville”) is the bulb capital of the world. The flower displays that take place in August-September are what drew us to visit this fascinating place. Nieuwoudtville was established in 1897 and lies on the bokkeveld escarpment. The town is extremely small and there is not much going for it besides the flowers. The petrol station for example is only open for certain hours in the day.

The visit to the town and the falls took place on a Sunday. We drove up to see the flowers for a weekend staying the Saturday night in the neighbouring town of VanRhyndorp. Being mid September many of the flowers had passed and VanRhynsdorp does not really have anything beyond the flowers either.

The Nieuwoudtville waterfall is amazing as it is completely unexpected as you drive to the parking area. There is an entrence fee so you will require some cash in order to pay. The entrance was R18 per adult when we visited. The two pictures below from show an aerial view of the waterfall in a dry session. The picture below that shows the waterfall in summer after heavy rains (Picture from Kontrei Travel).

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Our trip to the Namaqualand flowers was not the most successful trip that we have ever been on. If you are considering taking a trip to see the spring flowers and I would recommend this if you are a lover of natural beauty, then I would consider the following advice:

  1. Do your own research. The internet is a wonderful place but many places in this part of the country are not on it :-). Phone and ask for advise to get the best ideas.
  2. Phone up before you leave – Contact the many tourism offices in the flower areas. Here are some weblinks to help:
    1. Namaqua West Coast Tourism
    2. Northern Cape Tourism
    3. Namakwa District Municipality
    4. Cape West Coast
    5. Flower Route Map (has all the phone numbers!!!)
  3. Go in Late August early September in order to see the most flowers. Use the guided trips as an example.
  4. Go up for more than a weekend. You will not have enough time to see the vast expanse of the area in a weekend. Take more time. If you only have a weekend then make sure it is the right weekend and plan well!!!
  5. Consider using a flower tour company, these fill up early so book in advance:
    1. Namaqua tours (Facebook)
    2. Kontrei Travel
    3. Happy Holidays
    4. Redwood Tours (@redwoodtours)
    5. FS Tours
  6. Visit one of the flower festivals
    1. Clanwilliam Flower Festival
    2. Darling Flower Festival
  7. If you are South African and you live in the Western Cape there is no reason not to go. If you are further away then I would advise planning well.


52 Striated Skies

The Mountain (Cape Town)

In 2014 while busy with my Thesis I found a great distraction; editing photographs by taking out the sky portion and replacing it with parallel stripes. I started on a photo taken of Table Mountain in 2011. The photo was taken from the boat that we were taking to visit Robben Island. I loved the way that it turned out and decided to make more. I had the idea of creating a piece for each of the cities that I had visited, and given that we were living in East London, I decided to take a picture of the harbour and created the picture below.

Harbour Alpha


With this being a great distraction, I often found myself spending hours editing photographs to create, what I have decided to term, Striated Skies. Pictured below is the bridge going into KZN that was taken on my Honeymoon, a picture of Garlic fields near Meiringspoort and one of the ‘hogs’ of Hogsback

Shout for Joy (Bridge into KZN) Pungent Beauty We Drove (Hogsback)

I came up with the name ‘Striated Skies’ by looking for a synonym for stripe. The definitions are below.



1. a linear mark, slight ridge, or groove on a surface, often one of a number of similar parallel features.



1. striped or streaked.
1. marked with stria
To date I have created a number of pieces, that are shown below, but for 2015 I wanted to do something for the entire year.
Now that I have completed my formal studies,  I have spare time on my hands. I will be creating a Striated Sky piece each week for 2015, so come back each Sunday to see the new addition to my collection.

Footsteps to Beauty Abandoned Beauty (Karoo Dirt Road) Beach tour (cows on Wild Coast)
Bank on Change Mpambanyoni arch (Scottburgh) Serene Summer (Melkbos)

Cape Town Trip: Uniondale

Uniondale is a small farming village just in the Western Cape on the R62 Road. Uniondale is the start of the Route 62 tourist route. The road into uniondale from the langkloof winds down into the town which is in a green valley where predominantly sheep, goat, seed and apple farming occur.

History of Uniondale (Courtesy of

Originally laid out as a township in 1856 by the land surveyors Garcia and Melville, the area eastwards from the Court House was named Hopedale, and the upper portion of the township, westwards from that point, was called Lyon.  The first Dutch Reformed and Mission churches were erected about the year 1856.
Industries such as wagon and cart building and furniture making were largely carried on in the village of Uniondale in the 1870’s.  Many new wagons and carts were sent out, and many loads of furniture and produce such as wheat, mealies, beans, potatoes, dried fruits of various kinds and tobacco were sent into the interior and sold or bartered for cattle and for reeding and slaughter stock.  Great numbers of stock, small and large were imported into the district and sold in the village and district at a a good profit.  This kind of trade was carried on for many years.  Farmers in the Lang Kloof area of the district had to travel long distances to find a market for their produce, owing to the absence of railway facilities.

During the 1880’s ostriches and the building of houses in the village of Uniondale and district were the chief ventures.   The Divisional Council was established in 1889 as part of George district, and the few roads in the Uniondale area were kept in repair by he George Divisional Council.   The main roads were those between Knysna and  Willowmore, Outshoorn to Willowmore, George and Humansdorp, Uniondale to George along the Kamanassie Valley.  The road from Uniondale, over the mountain to Avontuur and onwards to Knysna, was built in 1865.  The new road between Uniondale and Avontuur Station, through the “Poort” was commenced in September 1925 and was complete in September 1926.

A branch of the Standard Bank was opened here in 1880, but was closed in 1886, to be reopened in 1903.  The National Bank opened a local branch in or about 1911.

The Salvation Army pioneers came to Uniondale in 1886 and the following year the Hall was put up.  The Salvation Army officers were withdrawn in 1897.

The Gaol, including Gaoler’s quarters, was erected in 1906.

Electricity came to Uniondale in 1935.  Until then paraffin lamps lit the streets from sundown to 11pm.  The last lamp lifghter was Olof Berg, whose job was to light each lamp, and make sure there was enough paraffin in each lamp to last until around 11pm.

My Experience of Uniondale

We arrived in uniondale in the late afternoon and got a little lost trying to find our accomodation at 7@Grey, this was totally due to the fact that Google maps did not see that    Grey street continued on the other side of the main street at a funny angle. We stopped outside the house and the owner was working in the very well manicured garden, when she saw us she stopped and dusted off her soil stained hands and came to greet us. “Go up the road and round the back, and I will open the gate for you to park inside” she said in a Karoo accent. We drove round to find that the property was huge and we parked on the roundabout covered in stone. We went into the room which was an old converted outside room and kitchen. The style was french and the bed was comfortable. We got our bags, one huge suitcase a vanity case and bags for shoes (I think the owner got a fright as we were only staying one night)

Traveling tip: If staying somewhere overnight pack a small overnight bag so you don’t have to haul a huge suitcase and try find where the right clothes are and then have to repack it again after one night

After putting our bags down we decided to go for a walk to discover the town, the walk was beautiful we went up to the NG Kerk which was a stunning old stone building with a clock tower and beautiful garden.

We then went down onto the main road where there were a number of old buildings that were beautiful. On the main road we came accross an antique store that was still open at 7pm and although the owner was closing up let a have a walk through the stop which was filled with old church memorabilia, regalia and paraphernalia.

We got back to the cottage in timeto hop into the car and drive up to the fort for sunset, which was beautiful but very cold and windy.

For Dinner Uniondale does not offer much and seems to go to bed rather early but we did manage to get something to eat at Uniondale lodge, even though it said that the kitchen closed at 8 and we arrived just after 8. The restaurant felt like you where sitting in someones house which was a little uncomfortable but we pushed through and ate the rather overpriced food.

We were awoken by the sun the sun the next morning due to the fact that two strategic windows only had lace curtaining but this allowed us to get on the road quickly.

I would suggest stopping over in Uniondale if it crosses your path, the place is quiet, quaint and beautiful and the people are friendly and seem to love their town, there are also numerous policemen roaming the streets and correctional services correcting offending behavior.