A little bit of Internet sleuthing led me to conclude that this goose (photographed at Cape Garden Centre) is a male Spur-winged goose. I nosed around on wikipedia until I found a goose fitting this description (black and white, with red markings on the face); I then discovered that the males of the species are the ones who have a red patch on the face. I could be completely wrong about all this, of course, so if you're an expert on waterfowl, please leave a comment!
Anyhow, it's pretty unusual to see a guy staying at home to take care of the kids, don't you think? ;-)
Spier (pronounced "spear", with a silent "r") wine estate has lovely parks with well-kept green lawns and benches where visitors can while away the time. Kerry-Anne lay on the ground reading a book while I took copious photos of everything I could lay my lens on.
Spier is a great place to spend some time relaxing. Picnic baskets and wine can be bought from a shop on the estate and there's a small play-park and stream where kids can play. When visiting Cape Town, do make a point of stopping by at Spier.
Formal and informal car guards are an unavoidable part of a motorist's life in Cape Town, and in fact all over South Africa. Identified by official-looking bibs, their only source of income is tips offered by grateful vehicle owners. Even though car guards are often ignored, insulted and brushed aside, they seem to carry on with their job, undeterred.
I once sat in a shopping mall parking lot watching a guard direct vehicles into parking bays. I watched him help drivers reverse out of bays ensuring that they didn't reverse into something or someone. I watched five vehicles leave without giving a nod, a thank-you, or a tip. I wonder how many people realise that many of the guards are refugees waiting for their citizenship; highly educated and qualified; many with Master's and Doctorate degrees... in many cases more educated than most of their clients.
Many people believe that unofficial car guards should not be tipped. Many believe that official ones should be paid by the company employing them - though in most cases this is not the case. My viewpoint is different from this. I'm grateful that there are always three or four guards around to make sure that thugs don't harass Kerry-Anne while she's packing groceries into the car. I'm grateful that they warn me to stop reversing when a toddler runs in behind my car.
Thanks guys - even though you're unappreciated, there are many who value your service. You rock!
Disclaimer: Once in a while we do come across unscrupulous "car guards" who are just out to make a quick buck and have no interest in providing a service. They normally don't have an official bib; these guys I don't tip.
Cape Garden Centre has plants for Africa. If you're confused by this and thinking to yourself, "What? Plants for Africa?", then I'm guessing that you're not South African. Translated into normal-speak it could read "Cape Garden Centre has a lot of plants". For us the expression has nothing to do with the continent of Africa or its size.
Until a year or so ago I hadn't given the expression a second thought. Then, one day when preparing to visit family in Australia, I thought about it and suddenly realised that I couldn't imagine them saying "Woolworths has sweets for Australia" to mean that they had plenty of sweets...
If I were a bird, then I think this is just the kind of place I'd want to stop at for a bite to eat. Welcoming, homely, and unpretentious... what do you think?
These bird feeders, which we spotted at Cape Garden Centre, appeared to be hand-made, and cost just R180 each. Kerry-Anne made it very clear to me that when we move into our new home at the end of March, she's going to buy one and hang in one of our trees, so that she can entice the birdies in to entertain our cats. (For the record, our cats don't catch birds, but they do love to lie in the garden and watch them.)
We spotted this dinosaur just in time to alert authorities. Many escaped certain harm, and a national tragedy was narrowly averted.
Actually, we came across this inflatable creature just outside Cape Garden Centre (a plant nursery in the northern suburbs), and just in case you were taken in by my newsflash above, let me calm your shaky nerves - it wasn't real. :) In addition to plenty of plants, a few koi ponds, some shops and a restaurant, Cape Garden Centre features a huge playpark for children, with a number of attractions, including Duncan the Dinosaur above.
Click here to see what this green monster has been up to.
There are surfers and then there are surfers. I love the latter - the traditional carefree, slightly off-the-wall and slightly odd surfer. I'm not one of this breed, but if you are, you rock! The beach - nay, the world - wouldn't be the same without you.
Long Beach in Kommetjie is a little far from the city, but worth the drive if you're into surfing, bodyboarding, or bodysurfing. Speaking about bodyboarders - a surfer-friend of mine casually told me a little while ago that surfers refer to bodyboarders as speedbumps - heh - so if you're in the water on your bodyboard, just stay way clear of the surfers.
This guy was so young, yet he surfed like a pro. I snapped this shot while taking a walk along Long Beach. To me it looks like an awesome place to learn to surf - no rocks, moderately-sized waves and a long, stretched-out beachfront.
To all of you who hazarded a guess as to what was happening in yesterday's photo: There were a few good guesses, but what I think happened was that he had grabbed his friend's backpack and run off into the waves - to tease him, I suppose. And oh yes, that photo was taken at Small Bay, close to Big Bay in Table View - that would be Robben Island in the background.
Here's a question for you: What do you suppose this guy was doing with (what appeared to be) a backpack? There wasn't a boat in sight. There was another guy to the right of this photo, also walking towards the beach. Leave a comment telling me what you think happened and/or what was going on. Tomorrow I'll tell you what I think happened.
On an unrelated note, that's Robben Island that you see in the background. While I'm in the Q&A mood - which beach do you think we were at?
Today's post shows a bit of what I tried to explain a few days ago. Today was pretty hot but as the sun began to set we watched this cloud bank move in over Table Mountain. While summer is filled with plenty of beautifully hot nights, every now and again something happens and it becomes really chilly in the City.
I really hope that the folk that were on top of Table Mountain, watching the sun set, took warm clothing along.
Drinks at the Blue Peter Hotel have become somewhat of a summer tradition for many Capetonians. On any hot day the front of the hotel is likely to look much like this, with a lucky few managing to find spots under the umbrellas, on wooden benches, while the rest relax on the grass embankment overlooking the ocean.
Disclaimer: While the view from the benches and embankment is spectacular, and while it's a lovely place to have drinks, I've never found the food here anything to write home about.
Today was the memorial service for Kerry-Anne's brother, who passed away last week Friday. The memorial was held at Mel's Village Kitchen in Rondebosch - thanks to Mel and her staff for making the occasion run as smoothly as it did.
After the memorial service, Kerry-Anne's other brother took her parents and us out for dinner to Leesia's, a Greek restaurant in Rondebosch. The food was superb and the service just as good. Normally we don't like empty restaurants, but for some reason the popular Leesia's was quiet this evening, which turned out to be just what we needed after a fairly tough day.
Our fridge ran out of meal options for us this evening. What were we to do but go out for dinner? A friend mentioned that he'd been to the new Keg & Highlander pub restaurant at the Glen Garry shopping centre in Brackenfell.
Now you have to understand, Brackenfell has NEVER been renowned for good restaurants - not food-wise, and not service-wise. Despite the odds, we decided to give them a chance and visited for dinner this evening. Though I guess I shouldn't speak too soon, we both have the feeling that we may have struck upon a gem. The food and service were both excellent; but shhhh.... don't jinx it!
We came across a small ferris wheel in a small open-air shopping centre in the small northern suburb of Eversdal. The courtyard was deserted.
I managed to take a few shots before the appearance of a rather unconvincing security guard, warning me that photos were not permitted. I considered snapping one of him - but figured that that would be just rude. I asked him why photos were not allowed, but alas, this he could not answer.
I was tempted to get annoyed with him, but then sense prevailed. He knew no more than I and was simply doing what his boss had told him to do. I smiled and we parted ways.
I don't think the northern suburbs of Cape Town are very accustomed to tourists. I can only imagine a tour bus stopping at the centre one day. Click, click-click, click. :D
Unbeknown to Kerry-Anne and I, our walk in the Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve led us through leopard country. Fortunately for us, it's extremely rare for hikers to come across leopards in the bush... they're very wary of humans and though they may be close by at times, the chance of spotting a leopard (*grin*) is quite small.
This photo is of the Cape-Dutch-style homestead that was home to the original owner of the Assegaaibosch farm, Wouter Eduard Wium.
Monday was a scorcher of a day - it was seriously hot - there was no need to light up a braai (barbecue) - we just left our meat outside for 15 minutes and voila, it was ready to eat! :)
In this post from a few days ago, I mentioned that Cape Town's weather is particularly fickle. Days can start off really hot and end with a chilly wind and even rain. Today was no exception to the fickle-rule. After yesterday's heat-wave, today was cloudy with rain... a refreshing break from the summer heat.
Disclaimer: This photo of Table View was not taken today, although the weather looked just like this - we're still a little too preoccupied to be out and about taking photos, so are using up a few of our stock shots.
Danie Craven (aka Doc Craven), a South African rugby legend from the 1930s, is honoured here at Coetzenburg Sports Centre in Stellenbosch.
One of the rugby greats from old, he was arguably the best Springbok coach ever, and has been recognised as one of the world's top rugby administrators. Though not with us anymore, Doc Craven holds a position of great respect in the hearts and minds of South African - indeed even international - rugby supporters.
Kerry-Anne rescued Ludwig from the raging stream running through the Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve last week. Ludwig the Grasshopper was first mistaken for a Locust, hence the name Ludwig, though we later became unsure - as apparently the only actual difference between the two is that Locusts swarm whereas Grasshoppers don't (and Ludwig didn't appear to be swarming when we found him).
Still dripping wet in this photo, Ludwig was soon released back onto a nearby tree branch - but only after being given a stern talking-to about not swimming directly after a meal.
It's with great sadness that I write today to tell you of the passing of a son, a brother, a husband, father and friend. Kerry-Anne's brother passed away on Friday morning South African time.
Paul Sharpe, you'll be missed by everyone who knew you. You were a good son, a fantastic brother, an adoring husband, a loving father and a great friend. Our thoughts and prayers go with you wherever your journey leads you. Peace be with you.
Paul was taken by a heart attack while playing with his dog after dinner. He leaves his wife and two kids in Sydney, Australia as well as his mom, dad, brother and sister back here in South Africa.
If you're visiting Cape Town, and if you're in the mood to escape the city buzz for a while, take an hour or two out of your programme to walk around on Signal Hill. It overlooks the city bowl and Table Mountain on one side, and Table Bay Harbour with the Atlantic Ocean on the other side. Be careful not to walk far though as it's easy to underestimate the size of the mountains and hills in and around Cape Town.
Tips that can save your life:
Take at least a litre of water per person, as well as warm clothing - no matter how warm it feels when you set out. Cape Town's weather is notoriously changeable.
Never walk alone on the mountains. Always plan your route with the aid of a map, or else a quick unplanned 1-hour walk could easily turn into a 24-hour sleepover on the mountain - it really is that big.
Store the Metro Rescue telephone number on your cellphone, in case you encounter difficulty while on the mountain: 0027 21 948 9900 (international) or 021 948 9900 (local).
The High Angle Rescue Team is a team of volunteers organised by Dion Tromp of High Angle Rescue and Access. Chances are good that they'll be the ones to save your life when you end up precariously poised on a narrow ledge. When they do find you, be nice, they are volunteers and they've risked their lives to save yours.
We dragged a friend of ours along on a geocaching expedition to Zevenwacht wine farm, heading for a lookout point at, what I believe is, the highest hill on the farm.
Seeing a "no entry, trespassers will be prosecuted" sign on one of the gravel roads that we believed may have led to our destination we turned around to seek an alternative route. Kerry's Mini soon became a 4x4 Mini as we headed up a rather dubious-looking gravel and sand road. We eventually stopped the car, realising that it would take us no further, and set off on foot.
Huffing and puffing, we reached the top of the hill in what must have been 5 hours (actually only 15 minutes, but it seemed so much longer). The bus (presumably a tour bus) in this photo is seen leaving the hill down the gravel road with the "no entry, trespassers will be prosecuted" sign. Perhaps we should have ignored that sign. ;)
As with many villains, this one's know by several aliases, including "Argiope aurantia", "Black and Yellow Garden Spider" and "Writing Spider". Unlike many villains however, this one is completely harmless to humans. The worst that could happen is that Argiope aurantia could walk on you. Of course, this little nugget of information doesn't comfort Kerry-Anne at all, and is, in fact, precisely what she fears most.
"But it might crawl on me!", Kerry exclaimed with a look of horror creeping over her face.
So, when going for a walk in one of our many nature reserves, be on the lookout for Argiope - you should find at least one or two with which to horrify your partner. :)
Signal Hill overlooks Table Bay and the great Atlantic Ocean, making this spot the perfect place from which to watch the setting sun. We stumbled across this couple filling their glasses, presumably in celebration of the new year, a new career, their engagement or perhaps simply each other.
When visiting Cape Town you should make a point of visiting Signal Hill; the drive to the top of the hill is spectacular, showing off our city in all its glory.
Note to visitors: Whilst it is very safe during the day, as a local I would be cautious about visiting this remote hilltop at night. I'm sure our friends in the photo made their way to their vehicle and down the hill soon after the sun had set.
Each summer Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (located on the slopes of Table Mountain) host a series of "Summer Sunset Concerts". We joined a couple of friends for a picnic on the lawn while waiting for Shaun Morgan - lead singer of Seether - to make his appearance.
Seether, originally a South African heavy-metal band, moved to the United States a few years ago to take the next step in their musical career. Since then they have toured the world gathering thousands of fans along the way. This evening Seether returned to their place of birth for an open-air acoustic concert.
Shaun Morgan's performance was exceptional - his voice is well suited to acoustic renditions of their heavy-metal tracks. The rain that started halfway through the concert only added to the vibe and atmosphere. We were soaked and cold, but absolutely loving it.
I found one of their music videos on YouTube, so if you like guitars with raspy distortion click here and take a look.
If you'd been in our house today we would have dragged you along on a short hike in the Assegaaibosch nature reserve. Assegaaibosch is in the Jonkershoek valley, which is about 9km outside the famous town of Stellenbosch.
Assegaaibosch is filled with indigenous Cape plants (as well as a few 180-year-old British oak trees). We spent quite some time wandering the footpaths under the African sun, and finally rested for half an hour in an ice-cold stream we found running through the reserve.
If you're a keen day-hiker or even a mountain-biker then the Assegaaibosch and Jonkershoek nature reserves should definitely be added to your agenda. I can't believe that today was the first time I'd visited these reserves - they're so close to where I live!
Hermanus is a coastal town just over 100km from Cape Town, famous for its land-based whale-watching. We spent the day there, and were in fact lucky enough to see a whale splashing around very close to the shore.
I have wonderful memories of many holidays taken in Hermanus when I was a young girl - unfortunately the town has since become a little too commercialised for my liking. The tiny shell-shops and bookshops I remember from my childhood are gone, and have been replaced by chain-stores and restaurant franchises. (I did stumble upon an awesome second-hand bookstore, though, called Hemingway's. They stock a huge range of first-editions, Africana and out-of-print books; and I could have happily spent an entire month's salary there in just an hour or two.)
There are some beautiful beaches in and around Hermanus, and the Old Harbour is definitely worth a visit.
Each year on the second of January the Cape Minstrels put on a parade through the streets of Cape Town, as part of their annual competition. Dressed in colourful outfits, participants of all ages dance through the streets, playing musical instruments and singing with great bucketloads of enthusiasm.
This year saw the centenary of the parade, and almost any Capetonian's childhood memories will include the Kaapse Klopse, as they are known in Afrikaans. My mother was telling me that she recalls how, in earlier years, the minstrels used to parade through suburban streets, singing Christmas carols and ushering in the New Year.
The post title is Afrikaans for "second new year", and refers to a holiday that was celebrated in the Western Cape until a few years back. Actually, it's still celebrated, but it's not an official public holiday anymore. We Capetonians are rather fond of holidays, and don't relinquish them easily. :)
We visited Spier Wine Estate yesterday afternoon, where we discovered these golden sculptures of the nine muses, nestling on an embankment in front of the amphitheatre.
I thought they looked rather pretty in the late-afternoon sun, but it seems I might be in the minority - I read a few rather unflattering opinions of them on the web last night. It's hard to tell from a photo, I know, but what are your impressions of these larger-than-life ladies?
Click here to see the Wikimapia aerial photograph of Spier Estate.
We decided to catch the cable car up Table Mountain last night to watch the last sunset of 2007 from the summit. We were lucky enough to catch the last car up before the sun actually set, and although I've been in the cable car a few times, this was by far the most spectacular trip yet.
I hope to never forget the moment at which the cable car rose over the last rocky outcrop, revealing the setting sun and spilling magical orange light over us and the rocks below. What a fantastic end to 2007!
Happy New Year to all of you - we're looking forward to an awesome 2008, and trust that you are too.
Clockwise, from the top left: the sun setting over Camps Bay; the lights of the city, stretching out to Blouberg and beyond; looking north-east over the city bowl, just after the sun had set; three cable cars from years gone by, no longer in use.
Click here to see the Wikimapia aerial photograph.