I spotted a Southern Right Whale
from my house!

I spotted a Southern Right Whale from my house!


When I moved to Witsand permanently in December 2003, I immediately became involved with the tourism industry and the marketing of Witsand as a holiday destination both locally and internationally.


Other than the Breede River and the plethora of activities it offers, the next best local and international attraction is the annual migration of the Southern Right Whales to our shores.


These gentle giants of the sea arrive to calve and mate and can be seen in the bay during the months of May/June to October/November. Witsand is privileged to get the lion’s share of these majestic mammals annually, thus making us known as the whale nursery of South Africa.


Interesting facts about the Southern Right Whale


The Southern Right Whale, or Eubalaena australis, joins Blue Whales and Humpbacks in the baleen family. These filter feeders’ main source of food is krill and copepods. They are dark grey to black and sometimes have some white patches underneath.


These gentle giants are very playful and curious around people and can often be seen trying to give kayakers and skiers a ride on their back. They also interact socially with dolphins and Humpbacks. They are slow swimmers, taking their time through life at a speed of around 5 km/h; then again, we all may move a bit slower if we weighed in at an average of 47 tonnes!


Pregnancies last just over a year, with only one calf being born. These calves average around one-and-a-half tonnes at birth and suckle until they are around six months old. They can drink up to 600L of milk a day, which helps them build up the blubber they need to stay warm. With such an appetite, it’s no wonder they put on around 90 kg per day.


Due to the sensitivity of the breeding and calving in the bay, no boat-based whale watching is allowed, but these magnificent creatures are clearly visible from the beach and look-out spots along our coastline.

Can you spot a Southern Right Whale?


Right whales have no dorsal fins, and the Southern Right Whale is no different. This is one of the key factors in identifying these large mammals.


Another well-known identifier is the calluses that form on their heads, known as callosities. Each whale has a unique pattern, just like we have fingerprints, that allows conservationists and researchers to spot individuals. Seeing as these amazing creatures can live up to 100 years, it helps to know who’s who in the zoo.


Conservation and the Southern Right Whale


The Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit recently posted its first aerial survey for the year. You can find more information here.


Run by the Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit, the “Adopt-a-whale” campaign is for the raising of much-needed funds to continue the research and conservation of the Southern Right Whale, to either co-adopt or to fully adopt one of the best know Southern Right whales, please do so here, and help conserve our gentle giants.


And finally, for some amazing aerial photos of the area and marine life; the marine conservation photographer Jean Tresfon posts regularly and covers a vast area of the Western Cape’s coastline; you can follow him on Facebook.

Be where the whales are


Breedezicht Lifestyle Estate in Witsand gives you the perfect viewing opportunity. There are many activities in the area, and whale watching is one of the most satisfying. Buy a completed house, or even a stand and build your own home, from where you can sit and relax while watching the whales.

Benefit from nature – rest, recharge and destress at home and work

Benefit from nature – rest, recharge and destress at home and work

Benefit from nature with Cradle Ridge Estate’s natural surroundings, making it the ideal location for your home and home office. The estate is close to where pre-human life flourished approximately 2.3 million years ago. Here you can live with nature on your doorstep in an eco-friendly estate.

The benefits of being in nature


According to Kirsten Weir (2020), time spent in nature can improve our physical and psychological health and enhance cognition. Other benefits include:

  • Stress reduction.
  • Restoration of attention.
  • Better overall mood.
  • Lower risk for psychiatric disorders.
  • Improvements in empathy and cooperation.

Cognition and memory are affected to the extent that children in schools with a park nearby showed enhanced cognitive ability (Berman & Schertz, 2019). Nature also improves the subjective experience of wellbeing in people who struggle with low social connectedness and loneliness (Cartwright et al., 2018). Cartwright and his colleagues studied participants in the United Kingdom who struggled with social isolation, which is usually a precursor for low feelings of wellbeing. However, the researchers found that participants with low social connectedness who had access to nearby nature reported high levels of wellbeing. 

Several theories explaining the benefit of being in nature are being explored; suffice to say that there are immense and diverse benefits of spending time in nature (Capaldi, et al., 2015).

Benefit from nature at Cradle Ridge



The estate was developed with the needs of high-flyers like you in mind. Ensuring that nature becomes part of your residential experience was essential to the design and layout. As high-functioning, career-driven individuals themselves, the developers understand the necessity of distressing and rest. The unfortunate fact is that many people tend to work so hard that they never switch off. Cradle Ridge Estate integrates nature with your life seamlessly by bringing it to your doorstep.
For this reason, the estate boasts huge ecologically designed gardens with space for walking, jogging and cycling as part of an aesthetically pleasing design. The houses are eco-friendly and have large private gardens to keep you connected to nature through gardening and other outdoor activities such as a family braai or playing with the children.
While on the subject of children and their high energy levels – Cradle Ridge Estate has kiddies play area with BMX track, mini soccer field, jungle gyms, and a water fountain with adjoining braai areas. This means that mom and dad can have time to connect while the children are happily spending quality time in the fresh air. In the play area, children will spend time outdoors and get exercise in a natural environment. Sweet sleep awaits after a rough-and-tumble day of play!
Leisurely strolls, journaling on a secluded bench and watching the birdlife will also add to your wellbeing. The clever integration of the natural environment into the design will lure you away from your computer from time to time to simply enjoy a cuppa in your garden or take a lunchtime stroll through the estate’s gardens.
In addition to the stylish and effective natural environment inside the estate, the surrounding area complements the experience with a myriad of nature-related opportunities outside the walls.

Nature in the Cradle of Humankind


The developers purposefully chose this geographical location for the estate because of its majestic vistas over the Cradle of Humankind and the variety of outdoor-oriented opportunities available in the vicinity. There is an abundance of outdoor activities available in the area. These include the Silverstar Casino, Cradlestone Mall, Ruimsig Golf Course and Country Club, the athletics stadium, various stables with horse riding, abseiling, hot-air ballooning, caving, 4×4 quad biking, rally trails, river rafting, hiking, and 4×4 driver training. The Hartbeespoort Dam is only a short drive and offers water-related activities – think skiing and boating.
For those who aren’t adrenaline junkies, you are in the proximity of the world-renowned Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and a variety of experiences from art and eating in lush gardens to visits to the various nature reserves such as the Bothongo Lion and Rhino Nature Reserve and The Cradle Nature Reserve. You can also have a picnic in a bubble in Muldersdrift or spend a restful day at the Hartbeespoort Dam.

How to buy into this rare opportunity


Becoming part of the growing number of homeowners at Cradle Ridge Estate is so easy. Visit the website and/or the estate, and speak to one of the friendly, highly trained consultants who will ensure adherence to strict COVID-19 regulations. The consultant will walk you through the entire purchase to ensure that your experience is as stress-free as the environment where your house will be.

It is crucial that you hurry, though; stands are selling out like hotcakes and most of the already built houses have been sold.

Work from home and have everything you need on your doorstep

Work from home and have everything you need on your doorstep

Nothing screams “STRESS ME OUT” as much as peak-time traffic, followed by views of the ever-expanding urban jungle! I now work from home but used to feel that I spent more time on the road than at work, which meant less work got done, and my work-life balance took a serious knock. If you are with me and many others in Gauteng, then you should continue reading.

Work and play from home

Instead, we all want to work from home in a tranquil spot, go on relaxing walks and watch our children enjoy themselves in play areas within a world-class estate close to all the much-needed amenities that make our lives easier. If you share my dream, then Cradle Ridge Estate is for you! This beautiful estate is in an idyllic location on the north-facing slopes of the Roodekrans Ridge, with exquisite views of the Cradle of Humankind. Sitting here, I can’t help to think that my caveman ancestors shared this view, and I wonder what otherworldly animals and plants shared their time and space.

Albeit vastly different, my needs are met here as much as theirs were hundreds of thousands of years ago. I have the privilege to work from my bespoke home and share friendships with like-minded families. My fibre-ready, eco-friendly home is my family’s sanctuary. From here, we enjoy everything that our estate offers; this includes massive gardens, pathways for walking, running, and cycling, and excellent recreational facilities for my youngsters. Our kiddies play park includes:

  • Convenient braai areas and a BMX track.
  • Mini-soccer field.
  • Water fountain.
  • Jungle gyms; my children can’t get enough of these.

My moody teenager often forgets herself on long walks or when writing poetry while gazing at the phenomenal panorama. As for me, I enjoy the tranquillity, beauty, closeness to nature and the home office where I can let my creativity soar.

Nearby amenities

When we want to go out, there is so much to explore! Besides the incredibly convenient shops (such as those at Cradlestone Mall), weekends have turned into fun time, and even my teenager has to agree that this is “the coolest place to be, mom.” There is Ruimsig Country Club which has a Gary Player designed golf course, horse riding, athletics stadium, and various adventure sports right here (this includes trout fishing, which becomes an adventure sport when my city-bred husband endeavours to bring back the bacon/fish).

On the nature side, we have picnics at the renowned Walter Sisulu Botanical gardens, visit the Cradle of Humankind, and lunch at the lovely nurseries with my parents, who live in one of the retirement villages nearby. We indulge at one of the many restaurants on Friday nights or relax at a nearby pub. Sometimes we even try our luck at the Silver Star Casino or watch a show at the Barnyard Theatre.

It was a challenge picking the right schools for the children, simply because there are so many excellent schools in the vicinity, like Maragon Private School, Curro School, King’s School and government schools such as the Muldersdrift Laerskool, Monument High School, and Krugersdorp High School. Pathways School for the disabled is also nearby. My teenager is eagerly hoping for admission to the international Monash University – but that is a secret! When I ask her, she pretends to get angry and bang the door on me for “intruding in her space.”

Nowadays, work functions and conferences are done at one of the many classy conference centres – especially because my co-workers and clients can easily fly to Lanseria International Airport, come in from Centurion, Randburg, and Sandton, or drive in conveniently via the N14 / R28. My consultant husband has his offices at the nearby Ruimsig Country Office Park.

In case of emergencies or accidents, such as when my husband hooked himself instead of hooking the fish, the helpful staff of the Netcare Pinehaven Hospital was close by.


Work from home at Cradle Ridge Estate

I love where we live, and it was easy to choose Cradle Ridge Estate as our home. After a visit to the estate where we connected with one of the stellar staff, we only had to sign on the dotted line, and basically, everything was taken care of by our consultant.
However, I would urge you to hurry, because the last time I checked the website, there were only three ready-built houses and 52 stands left!

Retire in Witsand – Breedezicht, the estate surrounded by lush winter canola fields.

It’s that time of the year again when everything is YELLOW!


They call retirement the silver years, but there’s no reason you can’t retire in Witsand and be surrounded by green and a beautiful golden yellow. Imagine for a moment, sitting outside with a warm cup of coffee, looking out over the yellow blanket that is the canola fields. This is surely a sight that will warm any winter heart!

Breedezicht Estate adheres to general landscaping guidelines to help create an integrated and responsive landscape, emphasising the natural Western Cape coastal landscape characteristics.


retire in Witsand
retire in Witsand
retire in Witsand

Retire in Witsand and enjoy some gardening


One of the best past times of retirement is the time you have available to spend gardening, and winter is the best time of year to start gardening and the perfect time to establish new plants for the dry summer months ahead.

Milkwood, Sideroxylon inerme, is, of course, one of the best trees to plant. Milkwood trees are seen all over Witsand and remain popular for their ability to grow in harsh, seafront weather. They have dense foliage and offer wonderful shade for a late afternoon picnic.

These hardy evergreen trees also form a natural windbreak when matured. Milkwood is a protected species and may not be damaged, moved or felled without a permit.

retire in witsand

The top shrub will have to be the Spekboom (Portulacaria afra). Read this article from Garden and Home for seven significant reasons you should plant spekboom, an indigenous succulent, in your garden.

  1. It improves our air quality.
  2. The spekboom is a proudly South African plant.
  3. It’s a water-wise plant.
  4. It’s suitable for all seasons and weather conditions.
  5. It’s effortless to grow.
  6. It’s a versatile plant.
  7. You can even eat it.

Cape thatching reed plants like the Restio (Restio tectorum) and easy-to-grow Dakriet (Elegia tectorum) are prevalent throughout the area. These are proudly South African water-wise reeds that form part of the unique group of plants found in the Fynbos regions of the Cape. They are easy to grow in the garden and cope well with being in containers too. These are also popular landscaping plants because of their hardiness and bold structural shape.

Another common sighting in the area is the bright yellow canola fields. Did you know that canola oil contains the least saturated fat of any common edible oils on the market?! Once harvested, the canola seeds are taken to a crushing facility, where the oil is extracted, refined, and bottled as canola oil. The leftover “meal” is then used as a protein source in animal feed. Other uses are biodiesel, fertiliser, cosmetics, and industrial lubricants, to name a few.

Retire in Witsand with great activities


If gardening is not your forte, no need to fret, Witsand is the perfect slow-town destination that keeps on giving; may it be the prolific amount of excellent fishing spots in the area or the stunning views of the Breede River mouth meeting the mighty ocean or the sights of farmlands stretching along the highway. The town offers a serene environment filled with stunning, wavy hills of canola flowers, unspoilt beaches, and a small harbour for water sports.

Another bonus of this resort town is the plentiful marine life sightings in the area. This picturesque town along the Garden Route boasts plentiful whale watching opportunities due to the so-called whale nursery of South Africa being located there. The Breede River has also seen some of the largest bull sharks in the surrounding waters.

There are also few things more beautiful than the winter farmlands along the Garden Route. A true picture-perfect wonderland of patchwork quilted fields. On a winter’s day, the stretch of road on the N2 towards Witsand with the backdrop of the Langeberg mountain range will surely leave you inspired.





Retiring at Breedezicht

Retirement should be about leisure strolls along the coastline, enjoying the tranquillity of the vast open countryside, breathing in the fresh coastal air, and using your free time doing activities and hobbies that you never had time for before. Breedezicht Lifestyle Estate offers all this and so much more.

Let Breedezicht be your escapism from the cacophonies of city-life, book an appointment today with one of our friendly sales consultants and experience the beauty and serenity of a sea-side retirement for yourself at Breedezicht Estate and enjoy spending your much-deserved free time gardening, walking along the beach, enjoying the breath-taking sights and marine life of this strategic location.

Witsand canola fields

Home maintenance tips – Looking after your drains

Home maintenance drain education – What cannot be washed down the drain?

When it comes to home maintenance, the following items – which we call the big offenders – are known to be major causes of clogged drains, and should never be put down the drain or toilet:

Fat

Grease from fats and oils may be liquid on entering a drain, but it soon cools off down there and will rapidly congeal and become a sticky solid mass that adheres to pipe walls and attracts further waste to it.

Use a fat trap (a lined, disposable container) to pour waste oils and fats into or add it to your green recycling bin. Keep a caddy in the kitchen for food waste – it is healthier for your pipes as well as the planet!

Hair

Both human and pet hair are also major clog-factors. The simplest way to avoid drains becoming blocked by hair build-up is to install simple mesh screens over all your drains, particularly shower and bath drains.

A mesh screen in the kitchen sink will also trap food waste from washing down the drain. They are easy to clean out – just make it a habit to empty them regularly.

Food Waste

Coffee grounds seem like a harmless, free-flowing item to wash down the sink. However, you may be surprised to learn that they are a high-risk factor for drain blockages.

Dispose of them – along with other food waste particles, like rice and pasta – in the food waste bin or repurpose them by adding them to your pot plants for added plant nutrition.

Fibrous Materials

Items such as wet-wipes, dental floss, cotton balls and feminine hygiene items should be disposed of in a bin, not flushed down the toilet. They easily snag on rough parts inside drains and build up into potential blockages.

Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals

Engine oil, paints and solvents should be safely disposed of according to local regulations; never introduced it to the water supply where they can harm our groundwater and be toxic to plants and wildlife. Return unused medicines to a chemist for safe disposal.

The following items should never be disposed of down any drain:

  • Food waste
  • Plastic bags
  • Nappies
  • Sanitary towels, including tampons, applicators, and wrappers
  • Cotton buds
  • Condoms
  • Bandages and plasters
  • Razor blades
  • Medicines, needles, and syringes

Home Maintenance Tips to Maintain Clean Drains

As well as teaching your family what is safe and not safe to dispose of down the drains, it’s also a good idea to regularly use some simple cleaning procedures.

These six easy steps will help to dissolve and loosen any fats that have started to build up:

  1. Boil a pot of water.
  2. Pour ½ cup of vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda into the drain.
  3. Put a cleaning rag over the top of the drain to cover it.
  4. Wait five minutes or so while the mixture eats away at the build-up.
  5. Remove the rag and pour the boiling water into the drain.
  6. Put some vinegar on the sponge and wipe down the drain fixture.

You can also buy yourself a drain snake (also known as a plumber’s snake – a long, flexible, small auger that rotates as it is physically pushed through the clog) to hook out build-ups and dislodge early build-up.





Estate Living and Being Neighbourly

Be a good neighbour in estate living


There’s a Czech proverb that says “A good neighbour increases the value of your property”.

It’s always great to have neighbours who you get along with, especially in estate living. It is even better, though, to be a good neighbour yourself – even more so when living in a security estate.


The good side of estate livingThe other side of estate living
Secure open spaces
Safety
Increased property value
Communal facilities
Neighbours
Building regulations and restrictions
Levies and taxes
General estate rules

Living with difficult neighbours


Within the estate, you will probably have more interaction with the people living around you than in a suburban property. The need to be considerate of those around you is even more important when there is a governing body in an estate and upsetting the guy next door could lead to issues with others. Of course, sometimes the neighbour may be the problem and not you.

How to deal with difficult neighbours

Firstly, be reasonable. If this person is regularly making noise through loud music, shouting, unruly pets or renovations then that’s one thing. But if your generally quiet neighbour one day has a party with music that is a little loud, then surely you can let that go?

However, if the noise is of such nature that you just can’t deal with it, you can follow these steps:

  • Approach your neighbour personally and have a calm discussion. Perhaps this person isn’t even aware that they are making so much noise.
  • Alternatively, a polite letter can be written and handed to the person in question.
  • If these steps don’t work then you can discuss the matter with the HOA.

Always try to resolve matters peacefully because this person will still be living next door tomorrow.

Being neighbourly



We sometimes forget when we live in an estate that with great power comes great responsibility. Don’t wait for other homeowners to show the example of how to be a good neighbour.

  • Get to know the people around you. Knowing that Susan in number 45 bakes delicious cakes may be a lifesaver when you’ve planned your kid’s birthday party and remember the night before the big event that you forgot to order the birthday cake!
  • Lead by example. If there are neighbourhood issues – like waste for instance – get a group of residents together and form a cleaning squad.
  • Get active. Many people would love to work out but they don’t have someone to motivate them. Or perhaps there are kids that get left out of sporting activities at school. This is a great opportunity to start a community activity. Arrange exercise classes like yoga or a bootcamp. If there’s space then get the kids to join in a rugby game or soccer match on Saturdays.
  • Look after them. Often your community becomes your family and family takes time to help each other out. Even if you aren’t family, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t help your neighbours. Remember when you and your spouse brought home your newborn baby and the women in your street got together to make you a few meals for the first week so you don’t have to cook? Pay it forward! Help the elderly gentleman across the road to put up new cupboards or the people next-door who need a petsitter while they are away on holiday.
  • Support them. Do you know that Mike two houses down lost his job recently and is now doing carpentry from home to earn an income and look after his family? Help him out by referring people to him, perhaps go with him to a market day and help him sell his products because you are more a smooth-talker than he is.
  • Be considerate. There will be a time when you will want to host a party at your house and you just know it’s going to be a bit noisy. Give those living around you a heads-up that you are hosting and it may be a little loud. You could even invite them over for the party.

It’s not that hard being a good neighbour. A little consideration and friendliness can go a long way.

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