Almost drenched by a bambi bucket in Newlands Forest

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?

We couldn’t smell any smoke… perhaps the chaps from the Volunteer Wildfire Services were just practising? They had recently had their Open Day, which was attended by over 1,500 visitors!

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…Β  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!!

11 thoughts on “Almost drenched by a bambi bucket in Newlands Forest

    • That is wonderful news! Thank you for telling me about that, Adrian. I just wish we’d known about the Toy Run beforehand, as I would have loved to take photos of the riders. It must have been an incredible event. And all for such a good cause: making children happy for Christmas. πŸ™‚ I hope that all went off smoothly, without any actual emergency services being required!

  1. Hi Kathy and Slam

    The still pictures (which are screen-captures from the video) really don’t do it justice, but I don’t have a video upgrade, so I can’t upload video clips.

    But it was seriously impressive – especially the roar of the helicopter and the rushing sound of the water! I’m so relieved they missed us, because that deluge would have soaked us to our skin. The drive back home would have been rather unpleasant. πŸ˜‰

  2. The mist must have been so refreshing. What an awesome experience. Did you happen to see any rainbows?

    As a teenager, a couple of times I accompanied my dad when he took aerial photographs from a helicopter. He always likened these aircraft to big bugs in the sky. Your first photo looks like a big bumblebee.

    • Nope, no rainbows in the spray! But next time a helicopter is about to drop a ton of water on me, I’ll stick around to look for rainbows. πŸ˜‰ Chuckle….

      How fabulous that you’ve been on a helicopter! I’m so jealous! πŸ™‚ I tend to get seasick (which sucks), and so avoid roller coasters because they confuse the blixems out of my inner ear balancing system, so I suspect I might also get airsick in a helicopter. I’ve often wondered about that. But not enough to fork out the cash to try it out! Imagine the embarassment of … er… losing your breakfast in mid-air. Urgh. Have you been up again since childhood?

  3. My youngest brother was helicopter-crazy and always managed to get a seat when my dad chartered a helicopter (no easy feat considering there were 5 of us kids!) He would ALWAYS get airsick and we’d have to make an emergency landing because the pilot didn’t want to have to deal with the mess.

    That same brother managed to FINALLY get his helicopter pilot’s license this year. (He’s also a psychologist).

    • You sure have an interesting family, Amy! πŸ™‚ It sounds like your youngest brother somehow overcame his airsickness if he is now a helicopter pilot – and well done on getting the licence!

  4. To answer your question, no I haven’t been up since I was about 18. When my husband was a survival instructor he taught helicopter pilots and their crew how to survive crashes in the sea. I don’t know if I’d feel safe with my brother in the pilot’s seat. I don’t even feel safe when he’s driving a car!!

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