I found my heart in Sedgefield

I felt very honoured when a friend recently asked me to write as a guest blogger for her travel blog, Mzansi Girl. I wrote this piece and realised that 400 words cannot even begin to describe the piece of paradise I am living in!

>

How often do we get to return to the place of favourite childhood memories and find it, not as we remembered it, but even better? As a young girl on the brink of adulthood, I spent two magical winter vacations, between the mountains and the sea, just outside the small town of Sedgefield.

Swartvlei mouth in shades of green and blue

I have such fond memories of Sedgefield – maybe due to a holiday romance – that, although I have set foot on 6 of the continents and some islands, it has remained my ultimate favourite spot in the world. When the opportunity came to move to this quaint, sleepy little town tucked away in the middle of the Garden Route, how could I not jump to it?

Magical sunsets in the summer

If you asked anyone where exactly it is, for most the answer will be that it lies between George and Knysna – what most people won’t tell you is that it is also between Victoria Bay and Buffalo Bay – two renowned surfing spots with great camping. For the camping enthusiast the area is a treasure trove with our own local Swartvlei caravan park – the place of aforementioned fond memories – and the camping spot at Wilderness National Park, two of my personal favourites.

One of the many mosaic artworks in town - Marinara

One of the many mosaic artworks in town – Marinara

Many of the residents are former Gautengers who wanted a better quality of life and, with Sedgefield being South Africa’s only certified Cittaslow town, they certainly found it. The world renowned Wild Oats Community Farmers Market is a favourite spot to stock up on fresh produce for the week and, for us locals, breakfast here is the equivalent of the old European town square. I also never miss out on an opportunity to visit Zucchini – one of the few restaurants where I can always count on great quality food for my many vegetarian and vegan friends, even though you might have to enjoy it under the curious gaze of one of the local monkeys.

Teach them while they’re young – at Wild Oats

On Easter weekends the Slow Festival celebrates that this little town is all about the lifestyle. Every day is a glorious day when you can stroll with your dogs on the banks of Swartvlei, take your kayak out, hike one of a plethora of trails, fly from one of our fantastic paragliding spots or meander along one of our 5 beaches. But then, the days you see dolphins or whales playing in the surf are the best days…

The town is a magnet for artist and creatives

Advertisements

The Bang Bang Club

The first time I saw they were making a movie about The Bang-Bang Club, I was on the road and thought I would not be able to see it on the big screen. When I came back to South Africa I was a bit surprised and very relieved to see that it was not yer released here.

 

 

The town of Worcester, where I currently find myself, is just too conservative Afrikaans to screen it so I left the house one morning at 4:30 to spend a day in Malmesbury so I could have the opportunity to watch the movie in Stellenbosch that evening.

Now, as some of you may know, Ken Oosterbroek is on my very short list of ‘People I admire most”, so I was always in two minds about seeing the movie – firstly because the movie was about Ken and secondly because it was an international movie about South Africans set in South Africa and they so often get it so wrong.

My heart sank with the statement made at the beginning of the movie as I though: “Another political movie making the whiteys out to be evil incarnated” and when Taylor Kitsch (Kevin Carter) started speaking directly thereafter I almost cried – nobody in South Africa sounds like that bro – nobody! Yet the movie won over my critical eye. It does focus a lot on Greg Marinovich but with Ryan Phillippe having to rake in the money at the box office, it is probably the only way it could have been done. Kudos to Ryan for a job well done on the accent!

With the roles of Ken and João played by local actors Frank Rautenbach and Neels van Jaarsveld, it is probably no wonder that their two characters almost get lost in the background but even so, with the exception of Ken having short hair in the movie and the guy in the Casspir who says “They are smoking marijuana” – dude, if you are South African you would call it dagga and if you don’t call it dagga you are as much a Saffie as Oprah Winfrey is an African – the movie is true to life and the characters very recognisable. They are the same cocksure South African boys I grew up with and lived with my entire life.

It it not a political movie and the purpose of the movie was also not to make political judgements or even depict the lives of people during the dying spasms of the Apartheid’s era. The movie is all about the pictures and the photographers who took them. It is the story of four photographers doing a difficult job in a difficult time and, if nothing else, homage to Ken Oosterbroek and the plea he made at the beginning of his career:

“Will somebody please give me a gap to let it rip? BUT, give me a break to shoot the real thing. Real, happening, life. Relevant work. Something to get the adrenaline up & the eyes peeled, the brain rolling over with possibilities and the potential for power-house pictures. I am a photographer. Set me free.”