The last time we’d been to Newlands Forest was at the start of November (see post), when we walked from there to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to have a cup of tea. The month of November passed by in a blur of work-work-work, with even the weekends not offering much of a respite.
This morning, however, we took advantage of the coolish weather to traipse along our favourite short route – the Littlewort Trail. We had a brief rest at the side of the old stream, munching an apple in companiable silence, and allowing the twittering of the birds and the gurgling and splashing of the water tumbling down over the rocks to soak away the tensions of the last few hectic weeks.
By the time we headed back down to the car, we were feeling almost reborn. The forest sure is an enchanted place.
All the way down, we’d repeatedly heard a strange roaring and put-put-putting sound in the distance. It was interspersed with the rhythmic whap-whap-whap of what sounded like a helicopter passing overhead. Curious – and wondering whether a fire might have started somewhere in the forest – we briskly walked down to the helicopter landing pad at the Newlands forestry station and fire base.
Suddenly, the big helicopter appeared just above the tree line towards the north, the large red Bambi bucket dangling below it, trailing whisps of water. It must have just picked up a load of water from the reservoir!
Was there a fire somewhere?
This is the large helicopter. As you can see, it has two sets of blades, rotating in opposite directions (I think these must be coaxial rotors). I think it is a Kamov KA-32, operated by Titan Helicopters and used primarily for fire fighting.
I took a video clip of it flying towards us, wondering where it would drop the load of water. Fortunately, it all dropped very neatly on the open lawns of the helicopter landing area. Here are some screen captures:
We decided to wait for another drop, and were rewarded by a really spectacular one! Richard (now wielding the camera) had taken up position underneath the trees directly in the flight path of the helicopter, from where he had a clear view of the landing area. I was standing a little way behind him, because I could see that the helicopter was heading straight for us!
Hubby was – as usual – struggling to see clearly on the LCD screen (because he doesn’t like using the viewfinder), and so he wasn’t quite sure of where exactly the chopper was in relation to himself… Which almost got him an unplanned drenching by the Bambi bucket!
As you can see, the deluge missed us (and the camera!) by only a few metres! The spray that drifted over us was delightfully refreshing though!
It was all VERY exciting!!
And when we turned onto the M3, heading towards town, we finally solved the mystery of the strange roaring and put-put-putting sound we had heard earlier. It was a long line of motorcycles that was puttering southbound along the M3. When I saw that many of the drivers were carrying teddy bears and stuffed animals on their backs, or strapped to the handlebars of the bike, I realised this had to be the Annual Charity Toy Run (see here).
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to detour down the side streets and onto the opposite side of the road in order to find a good spot for taking proper photos. Most frustrating! But from what we could see on the M3, the N2 and the M5, it looked like there must have been hundreds and hundreds of bikers. These are a couple of pics I took from the moving car – not great, but they give you an idea:
Ooh! So much excitement for one day!!