Overberg Accomodation: A comparison of three options

A few weeks ago M and I did our cycle tour of the Overberg and we stayed in three towns along the way: Grabouw, Sandbaai, Caledon.

We wanted affordable self catering accommodation which would offer us a good opportunity to rest up for the next day and was close to a grocery store so that w could buy supplies. Here is what we used and how they compared:

Belfield Wine Farm: Acorn Cottage

Belfield Wine Farm is just behind the Peregrine Farm stall. We stocked up on food here and cycled the 1km down the road to get to the farm. The Owners Mel and Mike and very friendly and welcoming and  ensured that we had everything we needed. The organised a braai pack for us for supper and when we arrived the Weber was ready. “Oh and there is fresh coffee in the fridge” Mel said as she left us to get settled. We strolled around the garden and relaxed. The setting is nice and quiet and feels like you are very much in the countryside. There is one other cottage on the grounds and also the farm house. The wine tasting room is less than a minute away 🙂

The Verdict: Accorn Cottage is spotless and you can see that is has just been refurbished. The rooms are small but perfectly adequate. There are a few books on the shelf but for those looking for a TV you will be dissapointed, we were not!

Real attention to detail and a love for what they do shone through. I can only reccomend this. We will be back.

Price PPPN: R 275

Sandbaai Country House:

Initial contact with Angelique and Riaan was a bit unenthusiastic but I guess this could be a language thing. Our apartment opened onto the parking area so not a huge on the atmosphere front but we soon got used to it and relaxed. All amenities were there and we had to ask for nothing. We plopped down on the couch and watched TV to relax before taking one of the dogs for a walk on the beach.

Breakfast is included in the price and seeing as we were going to head out the door at first light Angelique made us some sandwiches to die for which we consumed on the road. We really appreciated the gesture. We parked our bikes in the garage. The closest food shop was the Engen garage about 1,5km away on the main road so supplies were a bit limited but we managed.

The Verdict: Sandbaai Country House is good value especially if you include the breakfast ( I can’t judge how good this is). If you want a beautiful setting then I would look elsewhere but if you plan to be out all day and are just looking for a roof over your head then look nowhere else. I can certainly recommend this.

Price PPPN: R 300

Little Lotta Cottage: Spacious Cottage

Spacious it certainly was! A large lounge / dining area / kitchen. Inside braai, etc. We had only very brief interaction with the staff who showed us the cottage and then the bill. A bit strange. Not much hospitality shown. Out of the three options we were most dissapointed bu Little Lotta. There was nothing wrong per se but the broken tiles in the kitchen, not clean counters in the kitchen and unfinished bathroom was not what I would expect.

The Verdict: Spacious Cottage is adequate if you intend to just spend a night and leave the next day. With a little bit of attention and care shown by the owners this would be a great spot.

Price PPPN: R 330.

All three accommodation have a website. contact them there.

Full disclosure: We paid the full advertised price for each of the above for one night each between 21 and 24 Dec 2013. We received no benefit for writing this and these are our opinions alone.

Let me know if this is of interest and I will post more reviews like this.

I’m Here to Win: Book Review of Chris McCormack’s book.

Well ok that was simple! State your intentions up front. Chris Macca McCormack has won most things in triathlon including 2 Ironman World champ titles in Kona in 2006 and 2010. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Macca is a profesional athlete and as such must win to earn a living. In other words he uses every trick on and off the course to beat his opponents. He talks again and again about the psychology of winning. He works out who his competition is at a given event and how to beat them. When you spend 8h racing you have plenty of time to work out these strategies. His strategies include telling his opponents what he wants them to hear. Creathing the perfect set up so that they race to Macca’s stregths and not their own. Once he controls their mind he controls their (and his) race.
Macca is known for being outspoken and I am sure he has made some enemies along the way.
He is also not without faults or bad patches in his life although serious injury seems to have spared him until a month ago. (It happens to all of us sooner or later). His mother’s death has shaped him deeply and he talks about this quite extensively.
I do wonder what an average Joe gets out of this book though besides hero worship. The (W)insights (scattered amoung the pages) start off as interesting extra info and then just turn into repeats of earlier text. Like he ran out of stuff to say.
His build up and strategy to Kona 2010 and his telling of the race going down is riviting. How Macca knew he was going to get caught. It was just a matter of when. Would he have to race 5 miles for the win or could he get away with holding onto the lead for longer?
I wonder if in a few years this book will be forgotten along with Macca. I enjoyed the book very much but am just not sure that it will make it onto my all time great list.
For those who are competitive in triathlon or any sport this book will certainly hold interest. For others it is still a good read.

Black Diamond Sprint Headlamp early review

Disclaimer: I personally believe the more light the better when running at night. It may be a boy thing to compare beam size but I don’t want to be left stumbling around in the dark – ever! More is almost always better in this case! I would also advise to buy the most powerful headlamp that you can afford.

So it was with a fair bit of sceptisism that I tested the Black Diamond “Urban Inspired” Sprinter. From a design perspective the Sprinter looks fantastic and rather futuristic compared to most headlamps or as Mel likes to call them: “doos liggies”. The Sprinter fells balanced on your head with the battery pack on the back. It also does not feel too heavy.

Features which set the Sprinter apart include flashing red backlight (which can be switched off if somebody is running behind you) and the main beam has a really nice seamless dimmer switch which I have not seen before. Basically hold the switch down and it quickly gets brighter, flashes briefly when at its max then dims to its dimmest setting (another quick flash). The biggest unique feature is that the battery is a rechargeable mobile phone style battery. It is more eco friendly in that you don’t have loads of disposable batteries. The problem is that with longer runs at night you are not able to exchange batteries and keep going. The other minus for me was that the beam has a diffuser lens in front of it but more of that below. The beam on the Sprinter is bright enough for most things. Certainly good enough for aspirant Comrades warriors needing to see and be seen for long training runs during the wee hours. Also perfectly adequate for many trail adventures where navigation or seriously technical terrain is not an issue. In fact my test model seems to claim its space quite nicely on the recharge console on my desk at work- right next to the Blackberry, I pod and Laptop! This is exactly the niche market I see the Sprinter doing really well in.

As far as the physical testing goes it is sometimes best to take an item to be tested way out of its comfort zone to find its real limitations and plus points. So off we were on a late night run up Devil’s Peak in pretty bad weather. Comfort, ease of use, light weight, nods from other runners all get a +. The big problem was that under the really bad conditions of our run. The diffuser did not give me enough shadows to make me feel steady enough on my feet. In more normal conditions at an average paced run it would probably have done ok.

In short:

+ Design and integration of elements like connector from battery to LED into the head strap.

+ The seamless dimmer is awesome.

+ I like the fact that the rechargeable battery is more environmentally friendly.

– Rechargeable battery. Cannot deal with all night runs. I have not tested the exact duration of the lamp to its limit but it was absolutely fine for a couple of hours.

– Diffuser on the beam does not give adequate shadow in adverse conditions.

Who should buy this: The runner (and cyclist) who wants to be visible on the road and do moderate trail runs lasting a couple of hours.