At last – another family wedding, always a favourite event to attend. We were invited to the wedding of my nephew Angus and his fiancé, Michelle, both teachers at Gill College, Somerset East in the Eastern Cape.
On 22 September 2017 we were on our way to P.E. We arrived at lunch time and decided to have lunch at Bluewaters Cafe. On our way to the restaurant, we were greeted by Ella, a car guard who still remembered us after our relocation to Cape Town at the end of 2010. She remembered us walking our dog, Luca, every day of the year, whether the sun was shining or the rain was pouring down. We immediately felt welcome in our hometown. Late afternoon we met our good friends, Erna and Kobus, for coffee at The Verandah restaurant adjacent Hobie Beach. Then we were off to see their daughter Chrizelle, who has just opened her awesome new Kip McGrath Education Centre in Walmer.
On Friday evening we went to The Coachman at Brooks Pavillion with my sister Marinda and her husband Sean for a lovely dinner. It was our first visit to Brooks Pavillion after it has been renovated and we were stunned. The next morning we drove around in P.E. and had fond memories of our many years living in the friendly city.
Then we were off to Somerset East. This small town in the Eastern Cape was founded by and named after Lord Charles Somerset in 1825 and is in the Blue Crane Route Local Municipality. It is at the foot of the Boschberg Mountains. If you like birdwatching or hiking, you could visit the Boschberg Nature Reserve. Some other activities include trout fishing or a 9-hole golf course. There are also beautiful buildings in the town of which the Dutch Reformed Church is one. The church, with its partly Cape Dutch and Gothic architecture, is almost 200 years old and it has a beautiful organ. If you love art, you could visit the Walter Battiss Art Museum, which houses many of this South African artist’s beautiful paintings. He was one of the first South African artists known for abstract paintings. The magnificent buildings of Gill College meet you at the entrance of the town. The school was originally founded as a university in 1869. Somerset East is also known for annual events such as the Spring Rose and Flower Show as well as the Biltong Festival.
When we arrived in Somerset East, I immediately went to the church to practice the Wedding March. We took many photographs of the beautiful church interior and organ. The organ was purchased in 1951 for the amount of 4 981 pounds. Professor Gawie Cillié from Stellenbosch designed the organ and was also the organist on 20 September 1952 during the inauguration of the organ. Today it still has a magnificent sound.
At 15:40 the bride – being a bit late as tradition requires, entered and looked beautiful in her lace wedding gown. The couple took their vows and after that we went to the reception hall to enjoy a lovely evening with our family and the newlyweds. It was interesting to hear that it was the first wedding that my nephew Stefan’s children have ever attended, as children are often not allowed to attend weddings these days, which is quite sad. Children need to be part of celebrations like these.
We slept over at the Somerset Guest House in Paulet street, built in the Colonial style. Many of the houses in Paulet Street today are National Monuments. Somerset Guest House was originally built as a school and today it is a spacious and elegant building with a large furnished stoep from where one has a view of the beautiful garden and mountain. It was the perfect guest house with lots of ambience and tranquility. After a busy week this was rural bliss. Our gracious hostess, Vega, did everything possible to ensure that we enjoyed our stay. Unfortunately, we could not stay for breakfast, as the family got together again for a lovely breakfast, prepared by brother Johan. After a last family photo, we were on our way back to P.E. and the bride and groom were off to Phuket. That evening four of our five siblings and our spouces got together again for a relaxing meal at the beach front.
On Monday, we enjoyed pizza with brother Stefan and his wife Sanet at their house which has a beautiful view of the harbour. We spent the last bit of the day wandering around the beach front and was astounded to see that the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment Complex was so quiet with many shops closed down. On our way back to our Garden Court hotel, we took a photograph of two young women dressed in traditional clothes suitable for Heritage Day.
That evening we cancelled our appointment with the family and had a quiet meal at Ginger restaurant as we were exhausted! The next day it was time to say goodbye to family and P.E. and we again realized that we really enjoy living in Cape Town and that we have become real Capetonians. However, it is always good to visit P.E., as it will always stay close to our hearts.