Monthly Archives: August 2008

May I have the bill, please?

May I have the bill, please?

Kerry-Anne and I popped in at Col'cacchio Pizzeria at Tyger Valley's Willowbridge Mall this afternoon. Col'cacchio probably serves the closest thing that you'll get to real Italian pizza this side of the equator.

Instead of ordering one of the pizzas from the menu, today we opted to select ingredients and compose our own pizza. After a bit of deliberation we decided to share a bacon, black mushroom and avocado pizza.

Now I did intimate above that the pizzas at Col'cacchio are very, very good - but to be honest the one we had today wasn't that great. The lesson we learned was that if you deviate from the menu and select your own toppings for a pizza, beware, you may regret it (or, of course, you may devise the most wonderful, awesome, divine pizza known to mankind).

Don't you just love the cardboard envelope in which the bill was presented?

Cape Town’s stormy ocean

Cape Town's stormy ocean
According to the weather services, Cape Town is in for one of the worst storms in 7 years this weekend, with swells of up to 10m expected along the Cape coast.

We went out to Sea Point this afternoon to get a few shots of the ocean in full rage. As it turned out, we weren't the only ones who had that idea: visit Cape Town Daily Photo Extras to see more photos of the stormy seas, and of all the people who braved the cold to see Nature showing her spectacular power.

Green Point Stadium: progress

Green Point Stadium: progress
The new Green Point Stadium (being built in preparation for the 2010 Football World Cup) seems to be progressing nicely. We're going to try to get into the visitors' centre in the next few weeks so that we can get some shots from the viewing area.

Green Point Stadium will be hosting five first-round matches, one second-round match, one quarter-final and one semi-final during the World Cup in 2010. If I can save up enough money, I'll be at all of them. :-)

Lovely spring weather we’re having

Lovely spring weather we're having
Apparently winter is giving one final show before spring and summer take over for a few months. Although we observe Spring Day on 1 September, spring really only starts somewhere around the 21st of September. It's a bit of a standing joke that, no matter how beautiful the weather's been up until then, it rains on Spring Day every single year.

WordPress, Cape Town Daily Photo and SA Rocks

WordPress, Cape Town Daily Photo and SA Rocks
A photo with a difference today...

It's been an exciting few days technology-wise in Cape Town - we've had quite a lot of visitors here during the last week, and a few special tech events have taken place, including Wordcamp SA and yet another 27Dinner.

This photo was taken at a little mini meet-up we had at Asoka on Monday evening. On the left is none other than Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress - Matt was in town for Wordcamp SA, which was held over the weekend. On the right is the publisher of one of my favourite South African blogs, Nic Haralambous, whom I met in real life for the first time this week (do visit his blog, SA Rocks, if you haven't already). And in the middle is me, of course - a lucky girl, some might say. :P

It’s nice of them to let us know

It's nice of them to let us know
It's really nice of the Cape Town City Council to let us know that the road ahead is still working. :D

Jokes aside, you'll find these signs all over now as our roads are being prepared to receive the onslaught of traffic over the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup period, and during the expected tourism boom beyond.

Kerry-Anne and I are looking forward to this simply because we enjoy meeting visitors. However, for many others, an increase in tourism means a permanent job, a stable income and food on the table.

So in as much as you're blessed to experience the wonders of Cape Town, we're blessed and glad to have you visit.

Cape Town, third on Monopoly World Edition

Cape Town, third on Monopoly World Edition
Who would have believed that little old Cape Town could make it to third position on Hasbro's Monopoly World Edition? Voting started earlier this year, and the mass of votes from Capetonians, along with many others around the world, allowed us to overtake great world cities like Paris and Sydney in the rankings.

The final positions were unveiled on 20 August, with Montreal declared the top city. Riga achieved second, with Cape Town in third position (followed closely by Belgrade and Paris).

So it seems as though Hasbro and their Monopoly World Edition will help put Cape Town solidly on the map for many households. :)

The Monopoly game in this photo is the South African edition and has been passed down from Kerry-Anne's parents to us. It's apparently seen the family through many cold and rainy winter days - as I'm sure you can tell by the well-worn box.

Guinness World Record: Biggest ballet class in the world

Guinness World Record: Biggest ballet class in the world
A friend of ours took up her position in breaking the record for the largest ballet class in the world this morning.

The record was first set in Cape Town in 2003, where I believe 550 dancers participated in a class. In 2006 this record was broken by 551 dancers attending a class in Pretoria (near Johannesburg, South Africa).

The Cape Town organisers expected between 600 and 700 dancers to arrive today; so when 983 excited dancers arrived at the Canal Walk shopping centre they were caught just a little off guard!

Well done Cape Town, and better luck next year Pretoria! ;-)

Far too large an ego

Far too large an ego
Kerry-Anne dragged me over to one of the clothing stores in the Tyger Valley shopping centre to see this t-shirt hanging in the window.

The irony about this shirt is that I reckon someone with an adequately inflated ego would actually love to own it. The problem that I have with this statement is that in reality I'd love to own it myself... ;-)

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight

Red sky at night, sailor's delight
I've heard the saying, "red sky at night, sailor's delight, red sky in the morning, sailor's warning" several times before, and kinda had it in the back of my mind that it's never seemed to ring true for Cape Town.

I received an excited call from a colleague on Wednesday evening saying that I should really look outside and take a photo of the setting sun. So I grabbed my camera, drove to a viewpoint, and snapped this beautifully cloudy red sunset (click the photo to see the big version).

The following day's weather was terrible - it rained buckets in the morning. This led me to think of the saying, and how it should have been a "sailor's delight". Today, Friday, I type this post as the sun is setting. The sky is again a brilliant red hue, so I just took a look at WeatherSA and guess what I found? Saturday:"Cloudy, rain mainly afternoon (60%)"!

So I'm thinking that perhaps the saying should go "red sky at night (in Cape Town), sailor's warning, red sky in the morning (in Cape Town) sailor's delight". Our red-sky mornings really do turn into beautiful days. :)

Come back, Spring, all is forgiven

Come back, Spring, all is forgiven
After a week or so of absolutely perfect spring weather, it suddenly turned unexpectedly cold and gloomy today. Well, to be fair, not entirely unexpectedly - it is Friday tomorrow after all, and one certainly can't expect good weather over a weekend...

Hopefully this cold front will blow over quickly though, and we'll have more glorious blue-sky days to look forward to.

Gartner Symposium in Cape Town

Gartner Symposium in Cape Town
I was fortunate enough to attend a few of the Gartner sessions this week. For those who don't know, in it's simplest form, Gartner is a group of IT research analysts who try to predict future of IT and provide advice to IT professionals.

I was rather surprised at the large turnout that the event had. The tickets weren't cheap (though not unreasonable) and yet the various rooms (each hosting different topic tracks) were pretty full every time (as was the lunch hall at 13h00).

It would seem as though Cape Town's IT industry is booming. If anybody knows, I'd be interested to find out whether or not ticket sales for this event have increased over the last couple of years.

Thanks Daryl Plummer and Frank Kenney for the comedic, yet well thought out and informative talks you gave on SOA and BPM. We'll remember to watch out for the Black Mamba. ;)

Tri-Nations rugby

Tri-Nations rugby
I, shamefully perhaps, haven't been paying too much attention to the Tri-Nations rugby matches. South Africa is currently third on the log after being solidly thumped (16-0) by New Zealand at the Newlands stadium on Saturday.

Our next match is against Australia on 23 August where we really need to pull off a victory. After such a disastrous loss on Saturday, we fondly think back to our past glory during the 2007 World Cup, hoping that our boys will take courage, demonstrate their skill and find the determination needed for victory on Saturday.

We're behind you all the way, guys!

Edit: The score was actually slightly worse, 19-0. See the comments below.

Location, location, location

Location, location, location
Lyonesse Villa is located on the slopes on Table Mountain, close to Constantia Nek (for those not too familiar with the layout of Cape Town, this is the back of the mountain - the side you usually see in photos is the front).

The views are absolutely incredible from here, and there are balconies all along the front of the villa to take advantage of this.

If you click through to Cape Town Daily Photo Extras, you'll see a whole lot of photos of the 2-acre indigenous garden. Seeing the wealth of colours and textures in the garden made me realise again just how diverse and beautiful the Cape Floral Kingdom is.

This is the last in our series of posts about Lyonesse Villa (see #1, #2 and #3, and visit Cape Town Daily Photo Extras for more photos of the house and garden). Thanks to our hosts, Ric and Robyn, for treating us to a superb weekend away!

More of Cape Town Daily Photo’s mini vacation

More of Cape Town Daily Photo's mini vacation
As you might have seen yesterday and the day before, Paul and I spent the weekend at the gorgeous Lyonesse Villa in Constantia. At last, Paul has finished processing most of our photos, and we can show you the rest of the property. Today we're doing the interior - the accommodation and living areas - and tomorrow we'll show you some outside shots to give you an idea of the villa's location.

Each room is furnished in its own particular style and colour scheme. This lounge is one of my favourite rooms in the house (probably because I'm rather partial to pink!), and I spent part of Saturday afternoon curled up on the corner couch with my book.

Visit Cape Town Daily Photo Extras to see photos of some of the other rooms, as well as a few close-up shots of the furniture and artworks that give the villa its character and style.

This luxury villa: ours for the weekend

This luxury villa: ours for the weekend
As Paul mentioned yesterday, we were badly in need of a break, and so we were thrilled to be invited to stay for a couple of nights at what must surely be one of Cape Town's top accommodation establishments: we're spending the weekend at Lyonesse, a jaw-droppingly beautiful villa in Constantia.

This is just one of the bedrooms in the 850m2 house; there are eight in total, as well as eight bathrooms. I've lost count of the number of TVs... and I've lost Paul several times too.

We had breakfast served to us at the 12-seater dining room table this morning; we spent the afternoon wandering around the 2-acre indigenous garden (photos of that will follow in the next day or two); and we spent the evening playing Wii Sport in the downstairs room. Apart from all the bedrooms and bathrooms, there's a fully stocked bar, an extensive library, a huge swimming pool, and a kitchen full of Gaggenau appliances.

I can't wait to show you the rest of the house, but it's taking Paul some time to resize and watermark all the photos we've been taking, so you and I will have to be patient, I'm afraid.

Getting away for the weekend

Getting away for the weekend
This weekend has started pretty well. It's been a long time since Kerry-Anne and I have been away for the weekend, so when the opportunity arose, we took it gladly. I'm not quite yet going to tell you where we are, but it's safe to say that we're still in the shadow of our beautiful Table Mountain and quite literally in the lap of luxury.

It's pretty late in the evening, so I'm about to head off to the huge four-poster bed shown in this photo. Watch this space tomorrow to find out more about where we are and how absolutely beautiful it is.

Best coffee in Cape Town

Best coffee in Cape Town
It really is. I wasn't entirely convinced by all the hype... until I had a cup, and discovered to my delight that it was perfect.

I spent the evening with a group of bright, enthusiastic and creative women at Origin Roasting in De Waterkant. It was my first time at Origin, but it won't be the last - the atmosphere was great, the staff were friendly, and the coffee was absolutely awesome.

If you're on Facebook, have a look at their group, and if you're in the Green Point area, do yourself a favour and pop in for a cup of coffee.

Watching the tide rolling in

Watching the tide rolling in
I stopped at Three Anchor Bay this morning on my way to a seminar, and spent a bit of time watching the waves rolling in. The swell seemed unusually large, and it reminded me of this article I read the other day about the potential effect of climate change on Cape Town's coastline. It seems to validate our theory of buying property a few blocks up from the beachfront... ;-)

Cape Town’s tech community

Cape Town's tech community
We went to another bloggers' party this evening at Long Street Café (look for the red neon sign in the photo). There's quite a thriving (and growing) tech community in Cape Town. In fact, two Cape-based start-up companies have just been nominated for Industry Standard Innovation 100 awards: Synthasite, the free website builder, has been nominated in the Community-Social category, and Springleap, the t-shirt design company, was nominated in the Retail category.

If you think they're worthy, do vote for them!

Welfare photo

Welfare photo
I took this photo as Kerry-Anne drove past the Kayamandi settlement (on the outskirts of Stellenbosch). I'm not sure what precisely the text is trying to convey, and if anyone can help and explain I'd be most appreciative.

From what I've been able to find out, Gilbeys Distillers used to bottle alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in Devon Valley, near Stellenbosch. It would appear as though Gilbeys closed its doors some time back and that a couple of its senior executives bought much of the bottling equipment, hand-picked many of the good Gilbeys staff, and started Rostberg Pty(Ltd), a company specialising in the bottling of wine.

Now, this still doesn't explain what the text on this wall is all about - but for some reason I really like the photo. Perhaps it's simply the colouring and incomprehensible black text... I'm not sure.

Cat’s Eyes

Cat's Eyes

Even though this little device (known for its reflective ability as a Cat's Eye) was developed in Britain in 1933, Cape Town's roads only had them installed in the 1980s. I remember one night as a kid being fascinated by the hundreds of newly installed reflective eyes watching us as we drove home along one of our national highways.

Since then they've helped keep me, and many others, safe on poorly-lit roads. I only wish that there were more of these little helpers on more of our back-roads, as they're often the most poorly lit areas.

I find it really disconcerting not being able to see bends in the road ahead, or, when it's raining, not knowing whether I'm veering over into another lane or not. Well done Percy Shaw, this really was a simple yet brilliant invention.

The Landy

The Landy
The Land Rover, affectionately know as the Landy, was one of the first "all-terrain" non-military 4x4 vehicles to be sold. Introduced by the Rover Company in 1948, the Land Rover concern was sold to several companies over the years and is currently owned by India's TATA Motors.

I've been told more than once that if you're planning on travelling up through Africa then an old Land Rover is probably the best vehicle that you could take. The reason is simple: the Land Rover is so pervasive in Africa that no matter which village you end up in, you're bound to find an old Landy from which you can salvage parts to fix your broken-down vehicle.

The Blue Gum tree

The Blue Gum tree
The Blue Gum tree is part of the Eucalyptus family. This Australian tree was originally introduced to South Africa by a British botanist, Sir Joseph Banks. The Blue Gum grows extremely rapidly and is able to consume 2,000 litres of water per day! Interestingly, I believe that the tree was originally introduced into the Johannesburg area for the production of timber for our mining industry.

I've noticed over the past few years that many large Blue Gum trees have been removed from the area in which I live. The negative impact that this tree has had on our environment has caused it to be regarded as an invader that should be removed.

The Full Monty

The Full Monty
Doesn't his photo just remind you of Chicago, the musical? Personally, I prefered Moulin Rouge to Chicago, though here Kerry-Anne disagrees with me and believes that I'm swayed because I thought that Nicole Kidman was particularly hot in Moulin Rouge. :)

To get back to why I brought up Chicago: If you're visiting Cape Town at any time and would care to see a show or two, then it would be a good idea to take a look at Computicket's online booking website where you're able to book tickets before even arriving in South Africa. It's fairly simple to use and once you've booked your tickets all you have to do is collect them a day or so before the show from a kiosk in one of the listed shopping malls. Easy peazy.

Ploceidae – aka African Golden Weaver

Ploceidae - aka African Golden Weaver
The African Golden Weaver is part of the Ploceidae family of birds. They're extremely common in the suburbs around Cape Town and most often spotted near rivers or dams, making their distinctive nests (shaped much like huge drops of water) to hang from trees.

Weaver birds are given the name because of the intricately woven nests. What's interesting is that you'll most often find that the entrance to their nests face downwards, towards the ground. I remember hearing once that they do this so that snakes are unable steal their eggs.

The slithery predators are forced to approach the nest from the branch above and due to the shape and location of the nest are unable to hold on to anything while attempting to enter the nest, causing them to fall unceremoniously to the ground.

I wonder which was the first Weaver to think of this bright idea?

Ships on Melkbosstrand beach? Huh?

Ships on Melkbosstrand beach? Huh?
Two fishing vessels, Weskus 1 and Seawin, became stranded at Kreefte Bay (close to Melkbosstrand) late last week. Apparently one of the two was in trouble and the other tried to help out, but ended up running aground itself! The salvage operation is underway, and all pollutants have been removed. The next steps are to dig sand away around the vessels and then to use tug boats at high-tide to tow the vessels back into the sea.

This photo was kindly provided by Bennie Vivier, a colleague who's over the years taught me a lot of what I know about photography. His photos have often been an inspiration to me, and now you too can see why - click to see the large version. :)

No smoking please

No smoking please
I'd always accepted that people had a right to smoke wherever they pleased. I remember being disgusted at breathing wafts of used smoke while sitting down to dinner at a restaurant and I remember colleagues smoking while they worked at the desk next to me... and me getting home smelling quite like an ashtray. :)

This was until the then Minister of Health, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, banned smoking in public places. Restaurants have been forced to restrict smoking to a small percentage of the total floorspace, and these designated areas have to be properly sealed from the rest of the restaurant. Smoking has been banned from public transport, shopping malls, places of work... essentially all indoor and many outdoor public areas.

If there's one good thing that Madame Zuma did for us, it was to make South Africa a cleaner, less smokey country. Way-to-go Dr Zuma!

Safe public wifi

Safe public wifi

This tweetie-bird was wandering in and out of Cafe Neo, a popular place for drinks or lunch. Cafe Neo is popular for its open, light feel and perhaps especially for the fact that they offer free wireless internet access. When visiting I've always noticed at least two or three people sipping drinks while typing away on their laptops.

May I caution you however that if you're going to use a public wifi hotspot anywhere in the world that you do at least follow these 5 rules to safer public surfing:

1. If you're using Windows, always turn off "File and Printer Sharing". Not doing this could allow bad people to download files from your computer.

2. Make sure that you're using a proper firewall. If you're using Windows Firewall, I would consider installing a second higher-rated firewall like Sunbelt Personal Firewall, Comodo, or ZoneAlarm. Not doing this could similarly allow bad people to do all kinds of nasty things to your computer, including stealing your files.

3. Never allow your mail client (e.g. Outlook) to download your email unless you're absolutely sure that the client is doing so over a secure channel (which it generally is not). Not doing this would allow bad people to view your mail account's username and password.

4. Whenever using an Internet banking website, a facility like PayPal, or your webmail account, etc. always check the server certificate of the website to make sure that you're not seeing someone's fake website. They really look like the original - you cannot tell the difference just by looking at them.

5. Make sure that your computer's operating system is properly patched. For Windows users this means that Windows Update must be active and you must allow it to install patches. If you're a Linux user you're better off to start with, but don't be fooled, Linux is also vulnerable to attack - be sure to keep your OS patched.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any helpful tips for safer surfing when using open wifi.

Night-night Greenmarket Square

Night-night Greenmarket Square
Greenmarket Square was built way back in 1696 and at the time was (disgracefully) used as a slave market and later a vegetable market. In the 1950s it was apparently (though I wasn't around to verify this) used as a parking lot, and only in the 1980s was it converted into a craft and flea market for informal traders.

The area is super-safe during the day, though I'd keep a wary eye open for suspicious-looking people at night. This said, I felt safe enough to whip out my camera and take a few photos of the deserted market area.

Pony ride anyone?

Pony ride anyone?
Speaking of Perdeberg (see yesterday's post), here are two horses of a different kind ("perd" is Afrikaans for "horse"). These two ponies live on a little smallholding in Joostenbergvlakte (about 40km outside of the city, between Bellville and Stellenbosch). They spend their days grazing on tufts of grass and taking kids for rides. I wonder if they get as much fun out of these rides as the kids do?