Hello. We’re in Seymour. Or perhaps not.
Confused? Look. We’re either in Seymour, near Seymour or nowhere near Seymour at all. There is also a strong possibility that Seymour doesn’t exist.
Our mapbook suggested that we head for Seymour in order to, sometime in the next couple of days, reach Fort Beaufort. That’s in the Eastern Cape and on our route to Grahamstown. Which, since we’ve both been there in the past, does exist. Unless they’ve moved it somewhere else.
The thing about Seymour is that we just haven’t seen it. Or seen any roadsigns that might suggest that we’re on our way to it, are in or near it… or, yes, that it might exist at all.
What does exist is the Jan Malan Pass which, according to the locals in Cathcart, goes through Seymour, around it or near it. If it exists. We know the Jan Malan Pass exists because, not only did we see a sign, but we climbed it. To one thousand three hundred and something feet above sea level. And old Heartman knows he unicycled up the three hundred feet bit from Cathcart to wherever it is we are now, Seymour or not.
Focus, folks. That’s three hundred vertical feet covered in 30km from Cathcart to a mythical place locals refer to as Seymour. Impressive stuff from The Heartman. Again.
And that’s why he’s been sleeping for 12 hours while I’ve been watching horses and cows jostle for turf outside the window of the bedroom I slept in last night. The moos outweighed the neighs. Angus stock, you see. Beautiful beasts. The farm is called Glenfinlas (owned by the kindly Chris and Sally Purdon) and it is quite stunning in its sumptuousness. It could easily be set in the Natal Midlands such are the lush, green and rolling hills which peer over this valley.
In fact, I woke up thinking I was in the Scottish Highlands. Magnificent shards of mist were snake-hipping down the mountains, covered in heather for all I know, and the temperature was 9 deg C. I mean, this is January in the southern hemisphere, not J-J-J-uly! There is a fireplace in our rondavel and Heartie and I wasted no time in lighting a great blazing conflagration after we stumbled in last night. I wish we had had a good whisky. Or any whisky.
When I sat at the window at 5am this morning and stared out at the Highland cattle shivering in the gloaming, I really did wonder if we were in some Scottish valley. I would not have been even a wee bit perplexed if I had seen a burly wild-eyed fellow with ginger hair and a kilt run past waving a claymore at some grouse. Because that would have been our nutty unicyclist engaging in some extravagant shenanigans.
He does this kind of thing. When we unpacked the back-up truck last night in a frantic effort to find something for dinner, a vrot (rotten) banana was unearthed among the delicate eco-system which is fast developing among all the junk we carry. I fully expected to find my bed “apple-pied” with it last night. Instead, I was rudely awoken by an alarm clock (set for 2am) which had been secreted under a pillow on the neighbouring bed. I am now keenly anticipating Heartman’s reaction when he slips his feet into his riding shoes to find a very large and very dead dung-beetle-like creature obstructing the progress of his big toe into the forward end of his footwear. Touche!
Such fun. Spoiled only by the distinct lack of a 3G internet connection here in Seym… um, wherever we are. Which means I cannot upload any pictures on to this blog. Not unless I had a day to spare for each picture. As mellow and laid-back as we might be on this Heart and Sole Tour, I don’t. Sorry. Especially as I have some cracking piccies to show you. From our night and morning spent in the most seductive hamlet of Cathcart.
Of Father Matthias of the Catholic Church who very jovially and expressively made our stay a beautiful one. Of Mama Zoleka who kindly gave over her guest-room to two mad mlungus at the last minute. Of Sister Kathleen who showed us around the Schonstatt Shrine, the very earliest of the Catholic shrines to be built in South Africa, and who blessed AmaOneTyre (the unicycle), The Heartman, myself and (I think accidentally) my camera.
Of Nic Nel who, with wife Rita, runs a strange shop in Cathcart which, among other things of curiosity, sells the wonderfully weird metal sculptures that he conjures out of scrap in his workshop (a building which originally served as a motor repair workshop for Model T Fords). Of former Durban advocate and fierce defender of human rights, Jenny Wilde, who came to Cathcart a couple of years ago to die but found her malady cured by the Catholic faith and the purest of air. Of her daughter-in-law Robyn, a “fire artist, who managed to balance her willowy frame so delectably on AmaOneTyre that she is now determined to add a unicycle to her repertoire of flame-throwing wizardry. Yes, there are photographs of many wonderful people we have met.
And so many, too, of this beautiful thing that goes by the name of The Heart and Sole Tour. Perhaps next time. Lang ma ye lam reek.
Good graciousness. I have pic uploading capabilities. Right, while I have airtime, I’m going to run with this. Bear with me. And do join me on our pilgrimage through Cathcart…
There. So happy to have got those pics on the blog. Only took me two hours. I think we have some riding to do now. Word is reaching us that Seymour is still 30km further down (or up) the drag. Ahem. Later!