Club Meeting, The Flowering Desert with Alan & Pat Porrett - Tuesday 18th April 2017.


On Tuesday 18th April 2017, our guest speakers were Alan Porrett ARPS, EFIAP, DPAGB, APAGB and Pat Porrett LRPS,
AFIAP, APAGB who gave a talk entitled “The Flowering Desert.”

Alan and Pat, two very accomplished photographers from Whitley Bay Photographic Society presented their photographs
taken whilst exploring Eastern South Africa, mainly looking at Namaqualand during the winter flowering season when the
semi desert becomes the most colourful flower area in the world.

The couple spent a total of six weeks in the area to ensure that their visit coincided with the flower season which turned
out to be the best show in living memory. Their trip started in the Cape Town region where they travelled on the main
Route 7 visiting the Clan William citrus farm then to Kamieskoon, a small town lying in the foothills of the Kemiesberge
which has an elevation of approximately 800m. A trip to Bantry Bay, just west of Cape Town, followed where they visited
Table Mountain with its sheer north face, 1,000 meters high and estimated to be 600 million years old. On the summit the
terrain resembles our limestone pavements but in the 30 degree winters are awash with vibrantly coloured flowers. On
the Cape Peninsula the audience enjoyed images of the penguin colony with their scruffy, fluffy young. Their trip continued
with a trip to the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens nestled at the eastern foot of Table Mountain where we saw beautiful
images of yellow, orange and red flowers, including the amazing Proteas with its feathered petals and soft downy buds.

On to Stellenbosch, a university town dwarfed by mountains with Dutch influenced architecture of gabled and thatched
roofs, from where the Porretts visited the wineries at Franschhoek. Some disused buildings there had been converted into
a motor museum and the audience enjoyed images of classic American cars and Le Mans racing cars from the 60’s to 80’s.

Travelling 100 miles north, they visited a Citrus Fruit Farm, a beautiful location surrounded by vineyards and mountains
adjacent to the Groot Constantia Wine Estate, they sampled oranges plucked straight from the groves and witnessed the
building of ingeniously engineered Weaver bird nests which resembled basket ware. Throughout their talk the audience
were shown images of unbelievably beautiful plains of colourful crocosmia, Mesembryanthemums, the iris-like Dietesbright Grandiflora, bright orange Namaqualand daisies, Pincushion Proteas, purple Akenalia, Felicias and the magical Koerkboom
trees. After rare torrential rain, the region comes to life transforming the brown arid landscape to a vibrantly coloured
carpet of flowers among red lichen covered boulders.

On their travels Alan and Pat also encountered spoonbills, springbok, caterpillars of every hue, crickets, timid bat eared
foxes and meerkats, mongoose, patterned tortoises, long horned Oryx and brightly blue scaled lizards. Alan explained
difficult travel conditions of boulder strewn tracks with sun baked ruts, and followed on with images of abandoned Boar
War British Camps, Cornish mining pumping machinery and locomotives used for copper ore transportation at Nababeep
where flowers colonise the spoil heaps. Included were dramatic images of 30 foot Atlantic coastal waves and wrecked ships.

The audience enjoyed a brilliant selection of photographs of South Africa’s indigenous flora, at altitudes of up to 5000 ft
providing a rainbow of flowers for just a few weeks of the year, together with very interesting dialogue. Chairman, Glyn
Trueman thanked Alan and Pat for a very enjoyable insight into the fascinating vegetation of Eastern South Africa which
was further discussed over coffee.