Wednesday, 5 May 2010

For sale: my fab flat in Yzerfontein

I don’t really want to sell my Yzer flat. I bought it when it was brand-spanking new (no-one else had ever lived in it!) and it has given me several years of joy and delight. It’s spacious and clean and airy and, in summer, you can leave the big glass sliding verandah doors open and fall asleep to the shushing of the sea. It’s on the top floor of a smallish two-storey block in a large, well-maintained development that’s always surprisingly peaceful. It’s got a small private garden that the dogs can sniff around in, and my neighbours (only two of them permanent residents) are polite and keep gratifyingly to themselves.

Yzerfontein is a small fishing village on the West Coast, about an hour’s drive from Cape Town (and from Riebeek Kasteel, where I live). It’s old – there are several archaeological sites in the vicinity; its jetty dates back to the time when the harbour was used by whalers; and there are two lime kilns (both historical monuments) from when mussel shells were fired to turn into quicklime to use in the local construction. Nowadays, it’s sparsely populated by fishermen, artists and retirees, and walking (with dogs, usually) is the main pastime here – with good reason, as its two beaches are breathtakingly beautiful and there are several greenbelts and nature reserves in the immediate area.

The West Coast itself has a unique beauty – very wild and sometimes windswept, it’s unlike any other place on the planet; it has an unusually high density of endemic plants, and metamorphoses completely in spring, when huge swathes of different-coloured wildflowers blossom.

Yzerfontein’s main beach has Blue Flag status in summer, which means, basically, that it’s good enough for international tourists (although even at the height of summer, the beach is so big that you never feel hemmed in by people). Blue Flag beaches have to meet certain standards for water quality, amenities such as toilets and showers, and the like. This beach, which fronts onto a big, shallow, user-friendly bay, is frequented by paddlers, swimmers, surfers, kite-surfers, body-surfers, dog-walkers, volley-ballers and picnickers.

The walk from my flat to the main beach is about 15 minutes along a coastal path, past huge rock outcrops that are home to sprawling families of dassies that sun themselves on the rocks and give weird, screechy alarm-calls as you approach; and also a breeding colony of endangered African Black Oystercatchers. There are lots of other birds too – plenty of seagulls (of course) and sandpipers on the beaches, and, in summer, the occasional flamingo or pelican on the salt pans just over the dunes from the main beach.

The beach on the other side of the Yzer peninsula (the sea here is unsuitable for swimming but is used by surfers) is about 20 minutes’ walk from my flat along a cliffside coastal path which, in spring, comes alive with endemic wildflowers. In early spring you can also sometimes see whales from here (and we have!). The beach itself, which fronts the upmarket Pearl Bay development, is also huge and wild and beautiful, and from it you can see Table Mountain on a clear day. There’s a small island just off this beach (accessible by foot when the tide is low) with benches and pathways and two nicely private little tidal pools that you can swim in if you’re brave enough (the water is cold!).

Yzerfontein harbour is home to several seal pods and used by boat-fishermen – both those who live in Yzer permanently and who sell fresh fish from the fish market on the town’s outskirts, and recreational fishermen, who go out to catch crayfish or angle from the rocks (or, for that matter, the beach). (My one moan is the occasional jetskiier – they’re allowed to launch from the harbour and ride around in a delineated ocean area, and they have, once or twice, completely ruined my Sunday-morning bliss with their stupid, noisy sport. I have no idea why such hooligans are allowed in this pristine and peaceful little place.)

The weather in Yzer in summer is sublime. A constant cool onshore breeze means that bright, sunny days can be enjoyed to their fullest – there’s nothing I love more than leaving the valley in midsummer, when even breathing is difficult due to the oppressive heat, and arriving in Yzer, where I can sit in pleasant warmth on my lovely big verandah and watch the comings and goings on the main beach (sometimes through my telescope, which I also use to look at the moon when it’s full - it rises directly in front of my flat). Summer evenings are just pleasantly cool – no kicking off the duvet in sweaty desperation and no mosquitoes! Heaven!

Winters are almost European in their density – huge, dramatic fog banks roll in from the sea, the breakers roll furiously onto the beaches, and fossicking (while warmly wrapped up and wearing wellies) becomes the pastime of choice. (One of the things I would suggest to anyone who buys my flat would be to install a Jetmaster or similar fireplace.)

There aren’t many amenities in Yzer – a couple of nice small restaurants (several of which do a great weekend breakfast), a café and a usuriously expensive little supermarket. (I always do my grocery-shopping in a bigger town on the way there, to avoid being ripped off.)

So if it’s so damned fantastic, you must be saying by now, why am I selling it? Good question, and I’m glad you asked it. Basically, I’m just not getting enough use out of it. I don’t want to rent it out monthly because then I can’t use it when I want to, and I haven’t fixed it up elegantly enough to rent it out at a gigantic fee to seasonal tourists. It’s been an excellent investment and I’ve loved every minute of it, but it’s time to move on to other things.

Interested? Go here for more details and a slide-show.

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Claudine said...

If we didn't already go to Sandbaai during the holidays I'd put in an offer. Beautiful part of the country.

ali g said...

nice pad..
hope it works out for you

The Smith-Case Family in New Zealand said...

Found your blog while looking for a good South African blog to read....glad I did as it's highly entertaining! Hope the sale of your flat goes well.

Muriel said...

Hi Smith-Cases, and welcome. Hope to see you again here soon. I'll be popping by your blog soon too.

tonypark said...

Lovely. I was hoping we could get there and get drunk with you there before you sell it.

Shame, man.

If it was in Hoedspruit I'd buy it today!