WORDS: LOUISE LIEBENBERG IMAGES: SALVELIO MEYER
A much-loved charming seaside village with quick and easy access to bustling Nelson Mandela Bay, we take a look at Schoenmakerskop.
Melissa and Rory Riordan rented in Schoenmakerskop, or Schoenies, for six months after returning from honeymoon in 1999. They moved away then, and a year later in December 2000, bought their present home in Salix Lane.
Both our sons were born since we moved to Salix and Rory’s three older boys have been regular visitors, Melissa says. It’s a great village in which to raise kids as they can roam free on the bush paths and beaches without parental supervision.
Homes need regular maintenance thanks to the sea air, but Schoenies is a source of real joy for us, she adds. Our garden is indigenous and full of coastal dune plants like agathosma, agapanthus, gazanias, and various dune berries and buchu plants, as these survive the sandy soil and wind best.
Melissa estimates their house is about 90 years old and says it featured in the film version of Athol Fugard’s Marigolds in August. The previous owners built a second floor with just one bedroom upstairs. The view from up there is second to none.
My favourite features of the house are the fireplace in the lounge which keeps us warm all winter; the wooden floors and beams; and the big sea-facing windows.
Out and about
A typical weekend involves nature-loving visitors bringing picnics and children or dogs – or both – to the cliff tops and beaches, she says. Fishermen congregate at The Tanks or at Cracker Rock. Athletes either cycle or run along Marine Drive, and increasingly paddlers enjoy cruising the shoreline in kayaks. Many residents start the day with a sea swim. There’s also ‘kuiering’ with neighbours, faffing around in gardens, or enjoying an afternoon of fishing, tennis, trail running or cycling. The sunsets are stunning, so sundowners on a cliff top bench are essential.
Rhetha’s Trail is a magnificent walk for plant lovers. Children swear they’ve seen fairies there! And on misty mornings and evenings you should see otters on the Sacramento Trail, around Psyche’s Bath or at Gibbons Pool, she says.
A 4km walk gets you to Sardinia Bay, and snorkelling in the gullies or mountain biking along the many bush paths is a favourite pastime.
The cannon at the end of the road is a replica of ones salvaged from the wreck of the Portuguese galleon Sacramento.
A yoga studio and retreat have recently opened at the corner of Periwinkle Lane and Marine Drive, and the Tuesday morning tennis club on Salix Lane is a source of fun and friendship, Melissa says.
Another real gem is the presence of our wonderful resident photographer, Luc Hosten, who runs the Friends of Schoenies Facebook page.
The most special thing about Schoenies is that we just about live on the beach. The sound of the sea is constantly with you, as is its taste in the air. MELISSA RIORDAN, RESIDENT
Melissa’s father, writer and playwright Andre Lemmer, says Schoenmakerskop is a village where you know all your neighbours and fellow residents; where there’s a sense of camaraderie and neighbourliness.
He has lived here for 30 years and says, It’s paradise! Andre wrote Schoenies and Its People, Past and Present here, as well as a variety of plays, several of which have been published and performed.
He also runs a small business, Language Editing Services, from home. This includes educational materials development work such as editing school editions of setworks and writing study guides, academic editing and proofreading of treatises and journal articles. Solitude and privacy; easy access to Nelson Mandela University via Marine Drive; and quiet time all make Schoenies ideal for working from home, he says.
My labrador retriever, Jock, gets two walks a day and now, just across the road, I can attend yoga classes every week with a truly excellent teacher Dr Elizabeth Morris.
One must have breaks from sitting hunched over a computer keyboard day in and day out.
On the down side, he says, any sort of business needing to operate via emails and internet is subject to the vagaries of connectivity. Unfortunately this has deteriorated in recent times – everywhere, says Andre, adding his clients are readers, students and staff from tertiary institutions, and publishers wanting the services of writers and material developers.
- Schoenmakerskop’s Sacramento Restaurant is the Riordans’ favourite for breakfasts and lunches, and the Wednesday evening set menu is a must.
- The Grass Roof in nearby Lovemore Park is also convenient for locals.
- Apron Strings is around the corner on Sardinia Bay Road and a good outdoors escape from the wind.
- Some enjoy the Glendore Arms 3km away to the north and Monkey Biznis opposite The Willows, 6km east of Schoenies along Marine Drive.
- We never skip a weekly takeaway from Fishfinders in Mount Pleasant, Melissa says.
- Mount Pleasant also has other restaurants and cafes, among them Raak2, Otak Otak, Divino and Death by Chocolate.
- The whole of Schoenies is a park with numerous walking trails, and cliff-top areas for picnics and sundowners, Melissa says.
- There’s also a Schoenies Social Club Park on Salix Lane where locals enjoy playing tennis and where visitors are welcome.
- There’s a jungle gym for children and slightly scruffy big lawned area which is great for practising golf shots, flying kites and where teens enjoy a game of touch rugby, Melissa says.
Although there are no schools in Schoenmakerskop itself, residents are fortunate to have great schools close by. My boys attended wonderful Clarendon Park Primary in Walmer and now love Pearson High School in Summerstrand, which is a gorgeous drive away along the sea front. Mount Pleasant Primary is 9km away and St Dominic’s Priory is even closer in Walmer Heights, Melissa says.
- Walmer is only 8km away, so most residents use the BP garage in 10th Avenue or Toby’s Motors on Eighth Avenue in Walmer.
- Mount Pleasant is equally close and the Total Garage there is popular with its all-night Woolworths food store.
- There are no hospitals in or near Schoenmakerskop, but Life St George’s in Park Drive, Central, and Netcare Greenacres in Cape Road are under 12km away.
- There are no shops in Schoenies, but The Grass Roof in Lovemore Park has excellent fresh produce. You won’t find better eggs anywhere, Melissa says.
- Nearby Mount Pleasant has numerous centres including the one where old-school corner cafe Tasos is situated. Further along Buffelsfontein Road you’ll find Emerald Square, the Salisbury Centre, Access Retail Park and Kings Court.