Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stroll down the promenade - Sky Watch Friday

The sunset was so beautiful at the beach front this evening that we decided to deviate from our trip down the Baakens valley, for a walk down the promenade. This shot was taken between Someting Good and Shark Rock Pier.

Baakens Valley #3 - Third Avenue dip

The Third Avenue dip is convenient short cut from Newton Park to Mangold Park, Lorraine or Walmer. However, the dip is prone to occassional flooding and many a motorist who has misjudged the depth and force of the water, or been too lazy to take the long route has been swept away.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Baakens River #2 - Guinea Fowl Trail

The Guinea Fowl Trail starts at Sunridge Park and ends at Settlers Park. Most people who do the walk start at the Third Avenue dip at Newton Park.

If you do the walk wear a pair of good shoes and take some water with you, because it can get very hot in the Valley. These days it is advisable to go in a crowd as there have been muggings in the Valley. I was delighted to see that the Baakens Valley Trust also arranges organised walks down the Guinea Fowl Trail.

We are really fortunate to have this piece wilderness in our city, with the indigenous bush and wildlife. We have seen duiker, hares, francolin and guinea fowl in the Third Avenue dip. You may also come across rock rabbits and tortoises on the walk. And just to remind you that you are in Africa, you may even come across a puff adder.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baakens River

The Baakens River Valley that runs through the city and enters the sea at the harbour is one of the last true greenbelts in Port Elizabeth and is a treasure that is worth preserving.

Today's picture, taken at the intersection of Circular Drive and the Kragga Kamma Road, does not show the greenbelt, but rather the redeveopment of the bridge and the road that was damaged during the floods, in August 2006. As there was no place to pull over I did a composite of two photographs shot while we were waiting at the traffic light.

As the city expands and new suburbs are developed, there will inevitably be more runoff, when it rains, which will make its way into the local rivers and streams, with spectacular results. What so many people seem to forget far too quickly is that the seemingly "innocent" little streams in South Africa can turn into raging torrents in no time at all, sweeping everything away in their path. The house in the background was built after the floods and could well be flooded when the Baakens River next bursts its banks.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cora Terrace - from the other end

We previously showed a view of Cora Terrace looking down from the Cuyler Stree end. This one is looking up from Bird Street. This is a wonderful example of owners taking pride in their homes and in upgrading of the area.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Holy Rosary Convent

Holy Rosary Convent in Bird Street is another historical building that has been trashed. With the initiatives of the Mandela Bay Development Agency and the Heritage Trust it is hoped that steps can be taken to reverse this tide and restore these buldings to their former glory.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hot dog

We now know what happens after dark in one of Port Elizabeth's top decor shops in Dickens Street.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


One does not begrudge any entrepreneur the chance of making a living, but the way this sign has been scrawled on this wall, in Bird Street, seems to indicate this is also another contribution to the urban decay we see in so many parts of Central.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Algoa FM

What an idyllic setting. A view of the Algoa FM studios from the 34 Degrees South restaurant at the Boardwalk.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mime or mannequin?

At first glance this mime artist looks like a mannequin and when you ask if you can photograph him, he does not answer and he does not move a muscle. Mmmm you wonder am I talking to plastic? Then after taking the picture and dropping some money in the box, he comes to life with a sudden movement and then takes on a new pose.
You can often see this guy at the Boardwalk complex.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Railway yards and harbours are the source of great photo opportunities. Somehow the rusty objects lying around, and the shadows they cast, can yield wonderful abstract images. This was taken at the harbour.

Friday, July 18, 2008

On the dry dock... happy birthday Madiba

An outing of a group of artists to the Algoa Bay Yacht Club yesterday yielded all sorts of interesting subjects (for painting and photography!) Duncan Stewart was drawn (hehe) to the view of Free Spirit getting some t.l.c. on the dry dock.

And dry dock is perhaps a fitting way to lead into the significance of this day.... because our loved and highly respected past President, Nelson Mandela, turns 90 today. He may be in dry dock now, retired and needing a bit more t.l.c. than he is used to, but he has done so much in his 90 years to improve the lives of others that a bit of time to enjoy his family is well deserved.

From Nelson Mandela Bay, which proudly bears the name of such a worthy and iconic human being, we wish you all the best ..... HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADIBA!

So many words of wisdom have come from Madiba over the years, but my favourite quotation, and one which is as apt today as it was when he uttered it is :
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Parliament Street again

We recently featured the top section of Parliament street, which is undergoing an upgrade, and had some interesting feedback in the comments from one of the property owners in the area. We also showed the cafe in the middle.
This is lower down the hill. I love driving or walking down this street and arriving at this point with a glimpse of the bay in the gap, and recently painted buildings on the left. The beige one on the extreme left is the offices of the East Cape Institute of Architects.
Disappearing down the hill in the distance, you see the roofs of the famous Donkin Terrace. The spire belongs to Hill Presbyterian Church.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This old beauty was spotted at the South African Airforce Museum last weekend, undergoing a facelift. In the background you can see a Trojan T28 training plane, part of the very impressive stable of local aerobatics legend Stu Davidson.
If you are at all into aircraft, the museum is well worth a visit. It is not everyday you get a chance to get up close and personal with Mirage fighter jets, vintage planes and assorted helicopters all in one building! (By the way, don't forget that if any of the places we feature interest you, and you want to know more, there is the questions section on MyPE website where you can ask a local for more info, and a really fun list where each day residents post ONE reason a DAY to visit Port Elizabeth .)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lift off

Here's a view of the Port Elizabeth Airport that is not commonly seen. Viewed from across the runway, a plane clears the ground as it gets past the arrivals hall of the airport. (It is a little blurry, but as you will realise, it was moving really fast!) It doesn't matter how many times I see this, or how much I know about the theory of aerodynamics, I still find it awesome when a huge heavy metal object full of passengers flings itself into the air and defies gravity!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Woo-Hoo, The whales are back

If you are anywhere near the Southern coast of Africa in the next two months, don't forget that the whales are back! If you get a chance, take a drive along the coast and see if you can spot them. We went to Schoenmakerskop this afternoon, and had a wonderful time sitting on a bench, freezing our butts off and watching groups of them cruising past. We were delighted to catch a couple of them breaching. On the horizon there was an interesting ship with built in cranes travelling towards Capetown.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Places of worship # ?

It's been a while since I remembered to post one in this series, so I have lost track of what number it is.... this is St Mary's Anglican Church down in the city centre.

It has quite a checkered history, as it goes back to the very earliest days of Port Elizabeth. (And it is WAY too fascinating to stop at just 1 photo!)

The town began in 1820 when boatloads of British Settlers arrived. Quoting from the historian Redgrave, who wrote Port Elizabeth in Bygone Days in 1947 (and now itself a collectors item)....

"Up to 1824, no minister of religion had been appointed to Elizabeth Town, as the place was commonly called in the early days. There was no place of worship and the few ministers who had arrived with the settlers had proceeded with them to their respective settlements in Albany where they were more than fully occupied tending to their spiritual needs. Preachers from the neighbouring Bethelsdorp Mission Station came over occasionally to hold short services and then returned to their native settlement above the Salt Pan. To remedy this state of affairs, Captain Evatt convened a meeting of religious minded persons in a room of the Red Lion Tavern in Evatt Street and headed the list of subscriptions towards the erection of an Anglican Church. In 1825 the Reverend Francis McClelland, one of the British settlers, was appointed Colonial Chaplain of Port Elizabeth, and having built the rectory at the top of Castle Hill (now a museum which we have featured recently) busied himself with the erection of St Mary's Church, the foundation stone of which was laid in the same year, but it was only completed and opened for worship in 1832."
In this early photograph from the 1800s, you can see that the tower was much simpler than it is now.

Again quoting from Redgrave:
"Upon its completion, the Church of St Mary's did not present a very imposing appearance with its plain oblong building and triple tile red roof supported upon great teak pillars. During the War of 1834 it was used for garrison purposes..... When peace was resored, the hideous red tiled roof was removed and Mr E Slater of Grahamstown replaced it by a neat roof of slate. A few stringed instruments, including the violincello and a seraphin, appear to have been used in the old singing gallery in the early days.
In the 1850s it underwent an upgrade, but in 1895, disaster struck, in the form of a pyromaniac, Miss Frances Livingstone Johnson, who set it alight, and it was gutted by fire. Many irreplaceable treasures and records were lost. (She subsequently burned Holy Trinity down, and also tried to burn St Augustines.) St Mary's was rebuilt the following year and looked grander than before (hence the extra detail on the tower) but Frances again tried to burn it and , according to Redgrave "was caught by detectives again in St Mary's, seeking a fresh point of attack to fire the church. She was taken to gaol and sentenced to Robben Island where she nearly succeeded in burning down the entire Government buildings there whilst the officials were giving an evening party."
Development of the town has resulted in the once proud old building being sandwiched between large modern buildings....

This is as it looked at the beginning of this year, nestled between the Public Library and a relatively new office block, while the upgrade to the city centre was in full swing.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

You light up my life

If you have hung around this blog for any time now, you will have realised that I have a bit of a fascination for capturing the moon with all sorts of unlikely objects in the foreground. We also intermittently do a series on lamp posts around town. I guess this falls into both categories, the light in question is one of the large stadium lights used to illuminate the Westborne Oval (athletics and cycling track) for night events.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Parliament Street Upgrade

We have often spoken about the urban decay which has hit the historic Central area of town, and the moves that are being made to reverse it. Another exciting project by the Mandela Bay Development Association which is in full swing is the upgrade of Parliament Street.
Until recently, this area was the site of many street fights and muggings due to the proliferation of illegal pubs that took over, and Max has been known to refer to it as the longest urinal in town.

But now it is closed off, and, with the co-operation of business owners in the street, is being turned into a one way street with ample parking, wide pavements with sidewalk cafes, beefed up security and a pleasant atmosphere... YAY!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A corner of town...

I love this street corner in Parliament Street.... because it has so many interesting elements, like your classic corner store, or the very acute angled corner building in the background, and the view of the sea peeping over the horizon.

And if you stand and look down the street to the left, you get a stunning view across Russell Road to the graveyard, and the historic old NG Church in Richmond Hill...... a scene I painted recently.

I had a phonecall from an artist friend this morning, apparently her neighbour got an e-mail from a friend in UK who is a regular reader of this blog, and who was surprised to spot my friend in one of our recent photos, attending a pastel demonstration. Small world! Just goes to show, if you are out and about in PE, make sure you are having a good hair day and are not with anyone you shouldn't be with, because you never know when there are bloggers lurking with their cameras! hehe.

And finally, we went whale watching at Cape St Francis last weekend, and to the Grahamstown Art Festival last week, so if you are interested in seeing pictures of either, check out my latest posts.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Smelly creek

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned Smelly Creek when looking around the Swartkops River Mouth area. Last week the carbon black factory was belching particularly voluminous clouds into the early morning air.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

lest we forget....

Cenotaph at the entrance to the Art Museum in Rink Street. The names of those Port Elizabeth citizens who died in the Second World War are listed around it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Determined .......

Some plants will attempt to grow in the most inhospitable places.... like this Cape Fig which has attached itself to the rough plaster on the side of an old building in Russell Road, which houses the Handlebar Pub.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

City Hall

While I was dropping off my tax returns at the SA Revenue Service Office, Suzi-k took the opportunity to photograph the City Hall. The building in the foreground in Plein Huis, which as far as I recall houses the Town Clerk's depatment.

With all the upgrading that has taken place in the City Centre it is now well lit up and one feels quite safe going there at night.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

St George's Park

One of the delightful features of St George's Park is this large wooden summerhouse structure, covered in Wisteria. In spring it is a glorious sight, and we will try and return then to show you how it transforms, but here it is in its bare-boned winter state.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hopeful signs

Depending on whether you are an optimistic sucker (like me) or a pessimistic cynic (like local counsellor Terry Herbst) you will either be delighted or unimpressed to see the scaffolding
on the Old Post Office Tower, one of the really important landmarks in the City Centre. (If you want to read more, check the labels on our sidebar for denton and old post office.)

Recently it has literally been falling apart, and one of the lead sheets from the tower fell off and nearly hit a child on the street. Thus galvanised into action, the owner Mr Denton is finally doing something about it. After years of going through the motions, and making and breaking promises, the sketicism of many locals is not unfounded, but let's hope something really does come of it this time.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pursuing the cultural theme....

This is another well loved art gallery in town, Montage Gallery in Main Road, Walmer. There is always a fabulous selection of art by respected local artists, and they do framing too.
The gallery is something of a landmark, thanks to its distinctive round stained glass window.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cultural Pursuits

This is the EPSAC Gallery, which is housed in one of the lovely old historic buildings in Bird Street, Central. EPSAC (Eastern Province Society for Arts and Crafts) is a community based society, and provides a great place for artists to interact, exhibit, teach, learn, borrow wonderful art books etc.
Last week the gallery hosted a useful pastels demonstration by French artist Dominique Guillot.
In the background, you can see the parrot, one of the works he has done in pastel.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A "No" and many "Refrains"

This sign at the Southern entrance to St George's Park has the usual restrictions that the bureaucrats feel are needed to, "maintain good order in the park". With all the restrictions the the sign writer has managed to use only one "no". The polite use of "refrain", makes it sound a bit friendlier and more welcoming.

Perhaps they should have added "please refrain from throwing eggs or other messy fluids on this sign!"

We were too late to register for the monthly theme, but there will be many City Daily Photo Blogs around the world showing their "no...." signs today, so pop in and visit, the more organised members of the community will be able to link you to those participating! You MUST visit Elise in Hungary, I want a sign like that for our park across the road!