Posted by: gypsytales | January 25, 2012

Vancouver’s 2012 Polar Bear Swim

We’ve all heard of starting the New Year off with a bash; but how about beginning with an icy splash. For the past 92 years, residents and visitors to Vancouver, Canada partake in a frosty tradition known as the Polar Bear Swim.

For more photos and a short article please click here


Posted by: gypsytales | August 1, 2011

A guide to budgeting and planning your next trip

We’ve been travelling for close on two years.  During this time, and prior to departure, I’ve been keeping a record of the costs involved.  Based on this data I hope that a couple of these tips will come in handy for anyone planning their next trip.

Read the full article here: A guide to budgeting and planning your next trip


Posted by: gypsytales | May 27, 2011

Stroll the historical sites of Knysna

Buildings and architecture provide the visual appeal but it’s the people of a town that confer the soul and leave a legacy.

Knysna has a colourful tapestry of history peppered with tales, fables, tragedy and humour alike.

You will hang by the neck until dead

There was no deliberating in this instance.  In May 1860 the gallows, for Knysna’s first (and only) public hanging, arrived by ship.  Before the month ended, the victim – or culprit – one Jacob was executed in front of a crop of foliage known as O’Reilly’s Bush, ‘between the hours of 8 and 10 in the forenoon.’

Birthing and Baking – all in a day’s work

After hearing this story from a local resident, I’m convinced the modern woman is all the more appreciative of birth plans, epidurals and soft music.

In the early 1800s, the Fauconnier family lived not far from the current Knysna Mall.  During her morning bread baking routine, Mrs Fauconnier went into labour.  Putting the loaf in to bake she went to the bedroom and gave birth; returning to the kitchen to remove the bread from the oven before it had time to burn.  ’Ai, they made them differently in those days,’ remarked the resident.

To read the full article please see my post on Getaway’s blog site 

Posted by: gypsytales | May 26, 2011

Prince Albert – Karoo – South Africa

Stories and meanings behind the names of towns amuse me. 

On a recent visit to the Karoo town of Prince Albert we stopped to have lunch at Prince Albert Country Store.  Behind the shop front is an outdoor eatery.  Sitting at a rustic trestle table, I could have been a character in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel “The Secret Garden.”   Framed by pergolas, water features, flowers and a vegetable garden, it provided a nostalgic mise en scène for an afternoon of al fresco dining.

Between waiting for lunch and taking photographs we discovered the communal book table.  A book entitled “Prince Albert – Kweekvallei”, published by the Prince Albert Writer’s Guild, provided a replete account of the town’s history along with an evocative narrative of its namesake. 

But who was Prince Albert?  An extract from the book reads: 

He was Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a German Prince, first cousin to Queen Victoria.  Albert was quite a lad – well educated, of an artistic bent, he studied architecture at the University of Bonn and had a passion for music.

 Some interesting facts about him:

  • He married Queen Victoria
  • He had a knack with matters of finance and improved the financial situation at Windsor.  However, a visitor found it appalling that newspaper supplanted the use of toilet paper.
  • He had 9 children with Queen Victoria
  • The children learned to cook, bake and grow flowers and vegetables.  Prince Albert purchased their yield at market related prices.
  • He introduced the custom of Christmas tree decorating and the opening of gifts together – a tradition still practised by the Royal family today 

A further paragraph from the book states: 

The Prince had a well-developed social conscience and spoke out against child labour and slavery.  An advocate of scientific research and technology, a designer, gardener, humanitarian and patron of the arts, Albert nurtured progress in areas from architecture to industry and social welfare to education. 

He once commented: “To me, a long, closely-connected train of reasoning is like a beautiful strain of music.  You can hardly imagine my delight in it.”

Albert was unobtrusively influential in the Queen’s life.  Without usurping her rank he wrote her speeches and advised her.

So how does this equate to the little Karoo town?

In 1845 residents of Kweekvalley received permission to re-name the village in honour of the Prince.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were married for 21 years.  After his death, due to typhoid, the Queen withdrew from public life for some years.  Subsequent to his passing, Prince Albert’s speeches were published as a tribute to his character.  The Queen sent a copy to the little Karoo village of Prince Albert, with a personal inscription on the title page.

The book ends off with this paragraph:

As a boy Albert had written in his diary: “I intend to train myself to be a good and useful man.” 

Not a bad aim for anyone and it is fitting that his memory should live on in this village – Prince Albert, a far flung outpost of his Queen’s Empire. 


PRINCE ALBERT – Kweekvallei
Published by: Prince Albert Writers’ Guild
November 2005

  • All information was obtained from the book Prince Albert – Kweekvallei
  • Words in italics are verbatim extracts from the book
  • For the rest of this post I have paraphrased the story using the information written in the book
  • Please see links to Prince Albert Writer’s Guild here
  • Photographs taken by


Posted by: gypsytales | May 24, 2011

Lunar Cafe – Knysna

Lunar Cafe is our de facto coffee destination in Knysna.  We look forward to our next visit while we are enjoying our current visit.  The moment we walk through the door, the sound of roasted coffee beans begins to whirr in the grinder.   Just take a look at this coffee.  Don’t you feel like a cup right now?

I love the vibrant colours and use of textures.   The mock-suede bench in chocolate brown frames the back corner.  The contrast between wooden chairs and metal table tops compliments the artistic style.

We usually sit inside.  Since the arrival of the roll down blinds we’ve found a sheltered corner outside – away from the wind – but with enough sun to warm us on these chilly autumn days.

Posted by: gypsytales | May 19, 2011

10 unconventional travel ideas for a tight budget


Picture: Volunteering in El Bolson, Argentina

The costs associated with long-term travel are like tooth decay, relentlessly rotting away at the budget.

When we began travelling we initially stayed at the cheap and ‘nasty’ establishments to save money.  By the third week it became abundantly clear that where one sleeps contributes significantly to ones travel experience.  Upgrading our lodgings meant our costs increased too.  The benefit of a long trip, however, provides opportunities to combine a variety of travel and accommodation options.

To find out how we were able to add joie de vivre to our travels while simultaneously managing our resources click here to read my post on Getaway’s blog site entitled “10 unconventional travel ideas for a tight budget”.

Posted by: gypsytales | May 18, 2011

Storytelling in Uniondale


When we embark on a road trip I’m always on the look out for a good story.  We do our best to travel without an agenda or a deadline.  This leaves one open to surprises and gives one time to enjoy the journey too. 

With only one hour into our journey (and about 8 more hours to go) it was time for a coffee stop.  Without a map or GPS guiding us we turned off at the very next exit sign. 

To read more about our discovery the full article appears on Getaway’s blog site.  Please click here.

Posted by: gypsytales | May 14, 2011

Beach walking challenges receptors in your feet

We went for a walk on the beach this morning to boost our proprioceptors.  

What’s that you ask?  

Proprioceptors in the feet and ankles are sensory receptors that help to orientate where your foot is in a given space.  If we didn’t have them we wouldn’t be able to look ahead while walking.  We would need to watch every step we took.  Walking on uneven surfaces, like a stony pathway or the beach challenges your proprioception.  Weakened proprioception results in injuries because the foot cannot adjust to uneven terrain as easily.

We lived in an Inka village in Peru for three months.  All the pedestrian streets are made from pebbles.  When we arrived we found the unevenness of the alleyways very annoying.  So did many of the guests who came to stay at the lodge where we volunteered.  But it surprised us to see how quickly we adjusted to the irregularities in the terrain.  I can only imagine how well-oiled our proprioceptors were. 

Fortunately the beach isn’t quite as demanding to walk on in comparison to those old Inka roads. 

Posted by: gypsytales | May 11, 2011

Sunset at Myoli Beach, Sedgefield

I was so chuffed with my first attempt at photography yesterday (see yesterday’s post with sunset photos from Buffalo Bay) so when it was decided that we’d go down to the beach again today for more sunset shots I was very excited. 

I think we were spoilt yesterday with the light because I feel my photos were much better yesterday than the ones I took today.  It was still lots of fun though.

There is this huge notice board just before you enter the beach that gives details about the different kinds of fish and how many one is allowed to catch per day.  Just after the sun dipped behind the mountains this fisherman arrived.  I wonder what fish he caught for dinner?

Posted by: gypsytales | May 9, 2011

Sunset at Buffalo Bay

After a weekend of wonderful non-stop rain it was time to hit the beach for sunset shots.  I was really pleased with the results from my point and shoot camera.

I love the way the sun is just catching these stones.

Have a look at those three little cloudy puffs to the left of the image.  As they were dissolving the sun was just catching the last bits. 

The last of the dramatic sky before it was time to leave.


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