It’s a good day to be blogging inside because the sun is blazing down out of a cloudless blue sky and it’s about 40 degrees Centrigrade. “I hope you’re not doing anything outside,” we were warned. “Stay indoors.”
I did go to the gym – I know, I know, the heat must be addling my brain cell – for my second session of Pilates and we were using those big, squidgy exercise balls, just to make things more entertaining. If I have a core, it’s being given a rude awakening and a bit of a battering and I’m looking forward to a much improved golf swing and at least 20 yards on my drives when I get home. Either that or it’ll be all I can do to deal the cards at bridge.
That’s another thing about the heat – fat fingers, which is not what a typist with big hands and a small keyboard wants. We went hiking the other day, up behind the La Motte vineyard, leaving the air-conditioned cool and calm of the elegant tasting rooms behind. It wasn’t a long hike, just a couple of hours but it was at midday (!) and there wasn’t much shade as we trekked past pristine rows of sauvignon blanc, merlot, shiraz, chardonnay all growing away under the Wemmershoek mountain range. By the end, my fingers had swollen noticeably but I’m reliably informed that that’s because of the increased blood flow to the peripheries in an attempt to keep me cool.Our first round of golf in South Africa was also at midday but we were in buggies – never thought I’d be so glad of one of the condoms of golf, as Dai called them – and there was a proper wind, two to three clubs, to keep things cool. Thanks to Rae Hast, who teaches there and looks after the club dogs Ash and Belle (see the featured pic at the top), we played at Erinvale in its picturesque setting with views of the Hottentots Holland mountains, all the way down to False Bay and Cape Point, which we visitors thought was Table Mountain. That’s a bit further round – as we geographers say – and is a challenge for another day.
I was lucky enough to play with Rae and all three professionals claimed to be very rusty. It barely showed and even with my shots I had to work hard to hold my own, as you’d expect. Mind you, after drawing a veil over my first attempt off the fairway with my 5-wood – my partner’s heart must have sunk – I did hit a lot of good shots off the broad-bladed kikuyu grass and even managed some respectable pitches off the unfamiliar grass. I’ll spare you my attempted close-up of the kikuyu because the picture editor is reaching the limits of her patience when it comes to my illustrations.
Brian, who is not a golfer but had been at a friend’s wedding reception at Erinvale years ago, enjoyed watching the proper players in the group and loved the walk, especially the hilly back nine, which is the one we played first. You don’t need to be a golfer to enjoy this place and it’s sometimes hard to concentrate on the golf rather than the views.
Gary Player designed the course, which opened in 1995 (just a few years after Whittington, which was founded in 1886) and has hosted top tournaments both amateur and professional ever since. The great thing is that it’s enjoyably playable by us lesser mortals too and the light and airy clubhouse – not ostentatious – was a comfortable, welcoming place to be.
It’s funny what the locals take for granted. There was a bird with a thin, curved beak, a bit like a curlew’s to my eyes, pecking away on one of the fairways and I was keen to take its picture. “Oh, that’s a boring old bird,” Rae said, “it’s got a loud squawk and sits on the roof.” It also makes house calls, as we discovered when we found two of them pottering around in the garden, beside our swimming pool.
And, dull or not, no bird that is called a hadidah can ever be called boring. Apparently it’s also a word that can be applied to this column and its assorted inconsequential meanderings. Perfect. Hadidah. Until the next time.