Some sweet day I’ll make her mine…

Well done if you got the reference to the Manfred Mann song Pretty Flamingo since that was our big new fauna experience for Tuesday. We started the day with a brisk walk to the New Harbour to build an appetite for breakfast. The harbour is a working one and not what you could realistically describe as picturesque. It’s a small industrial estate with a couple of whale watching tours for the visitors. After breakfast, we came to realise that we find ourselves in Hermanus in what is probably the off-season for them. The main whale watching season is over and we’re not at the height of the summer. We’re headed to Franschhoek on Thursday, which is in the heart of wine country, so we’re saving our wine tours until then. That leaves a somewhat limited range of options with which to amuse ourselves locally.

Ishbel to the rescue, though. She discovered that there was a salt pan along the road in Vermont which is home to a range of bird life, including flamingos. Off we duly went to see what we could spot. After parking up at the salt pan, we spotted flamingos at the far side of the water so started along the path around the shore. We encountered a local who was out walking his dog and asked if it was possible to get around to the side that the flamingos were on. Apparently that side was all private property and the route was fenced off by the owners. He also said we should have been there a month or two ago as there were 200-300 flamingos then. The message here is, if you want peak flamingos and whales, come to Hermanus in October. There were still around a dozen flamingos there, a mix of lesser and greater flamingos. That’s a greater flamingo pictured above. There were also a number of occupied grey heron nests on the water. A successful trip.

Our first night here, we had eaten in the restaurant attached to the hotel, The Heritage Cottage. Ishbel had a nice confit duck leg and I had enjoyed a surf and turf which featured an exquisite piece of fillet which apparently originated in Mozambique. While that meal was delicious, we thought we’d go for something a little more down to earth. I attempted some research and was surprised to discover that a lot of the restaurants here only open for dinner on the weekends. Eventually, we settled on an Italian called Fabio’s, partly because of its proximity to the hotel.

Power cuts were expected again that evening so we decided to eat reasonably early. As a novelty, we shared a plate of springbok carpaccio as a starter, while Ishbel ordered penne puttanesca and I had the chorizo and prawn risotto as mains. The carpaccio was fine and Ishbel’s pasta was good. My risotto was awful. The prawns were overcooked and rubbery, the chorizo wasn’t chorizo, and the rice was watery rather than creamy as it should be. We won’t be going back there.

After dinner, we decided to take a walk along the front. There was quite a wind blowing in from the sea and the temperature had dropped a few degrees. However, almost the first thing we saw when we got to the shore was a whale jumping in the bay. Again, there were two whales together and they cavorted around for about 15 minutes. We’ll be happy if we maintain our whale a day average while we’re here.

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