Monthly Archives: September 2008

Crème brûlée

Crème brûlée
Crème brûlée may not seem like a very South African dish, but you might be surprised to discover just how many Cape Town restaurants feature this dessert on their menu. It's almost a standard offering, in fact. Be warned, of course: not all crème brûlées are created equal, and if you're as picky about them as I am, you'd do well to interrogate the waiter about the quality of their particular dish before placing your order... I've had some sublime specimens around Cape Town, as well as some rather less-than-delicious ones.

This shot was taken not at a restaurant, but at a friend's 30th birthday party on Saturday evening.

Oh, and in case anyone wants to send me gifts, yes indeed, crème brûlée IS my favourite dessert. ;-)

The Spirit of Ecstasy, mascot of Rolls-Royce

The Spirit of Ecstasy, mascot of Rolls-Royce
Well done to anonymous for guessing the answer to yesterday's question correctly. Indeed, the petrol gauge is from what I believe to be a 1928 20HP Rolls-Royce.

Today's photo is of a more well-known part of a Rolls, the brand's mascot, The Spirit of Ecstasy. There's a Jane Austen-like story to be told about this mascot involving a secret love affair and a tragic death. If you have a moment, hop on over to to read the story.

Another interesting point is that the only Rolls-Royce to not feature this mascot is that of the British royal family. Their vehicle's mascot is the figure of Saint George on horseback, slaying the dragon.

Can you guess the car?

Can you guess the car?
For years this vehicle has arguably been the pinnacle of luxury, reliability, and power. Are you able to identify the motor car that this petrol gauge belongs to?

I'll give you a few clues:

  • It's about 80 years old
  • It's black in colour (no surprise there)
  • Its engines are well-loved by World War 2 pilots

Would a grasshopper commit suicide?

Would a grasshopper commit suicide?
It's not often that we see such colourful grasshoppers in the suburbs, let alone the city. My nephew (that's his hand) spotted this one in a field near Yzerfontein, a small town on the West Coast.

It's hard to believe that this friendly little fellow could one day purposefully drown himself. Nematamorpha larvae are parasites sometimes found on grasshoppers. As these worms (known as Horsehair worms) grow and mature, they somehow influence the grasshopper's brain, causing it to seek and jump into the nearest pond. Take a look at this video if you're interested in watching the full story.

Girl in a field of colour

Girl in a field of colour
The West Coast flower season is almost over. The time of densely packed flowers over rolling hills is only a memory. There's more or less a 1 month window of opportunity from early to mid August until early to mid September where the West Coast becomes a blanket of vivid colour.

Fortunately for me, even though the flowers were hiding somewhat this day, an unforeseen subject wandered into view amongst what remained of the once-brighter field of colour.

South Africa’s new President takes office

South Africa's new President takes office

"I will be faithful to the Republic of South Africa, and will obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other law of the Republic..."

These were the words spoken by our country's new President, Kgalema Motlanthe, during the swearing-in ceremony this morning at De Tuynhuys (the office of the President).

The next year will be a tough ride for the new President as the country heads towards elections in 2009. I think it's going to be an interesting year in South African politics - I can't wait. :)

On a slightly different note, relief spread across the country this afternoon as our beloved Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, was re-elected to serve under President Motlanthe. Welcome back, Trevor! :)

Thanks to wikidnickers for capturing the proceedings in Parliament this morning on her cellphone camera. You rock!

I am an African

I am an African
Today marked Heritage Day, a public holiday on which South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their heritage, their culture, who they are and where they've come from.

It seems today appropriate to quote a few words from soon-to-be ex-president Thabo Mbeki's most cherished speech, "I am an African" :-

I am an African.

I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land.

My body has frozen in our frosts and in our latter day snows. It has thawed in the warmth of our sunshine and melted in the heat of the midday sun. The crack and the rumble of the summer thunders, lashed by startling lightening, have been a cause both of trembling and of hope.

The fragrances of nature have been as pleasant to us as the sight of the wild blooms of the citizens of the veld.

The dramatic shapes of the Drakensberg, the soil-coloured waters of the Lekoa, iGqili noThukela, and the sands of the Kgalagadi, have all been panels of the set on the natural stage on which we act out the foolish deeds of the theatre of our day.

At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I should concede equal citizenship of our country to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and the pestilential mosquito.

A human presence among all these, a feature on the face of our native land thus defined, I know that none dare challenge me when I say - I am an African!

If you have a moment, and if you're not afraid to shed a tear, take time to read the full speech here, or watch a short excerpt from the address to the nation here.

The photo was taken at Evita se Perron in Darling. The sign is a genuine relic from the apartheid era, and has been put on display to remind us of where we've come from and to where we should not return.

A little bit of tranquility in the wake of Thabo Mbeki’s resignation

A little bit of tranquility in the wake of Thabo Mbeki's resignation
We've had a tumultuous few days here in South Africa. For those overseas readers who haven't heard the news yet, President Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation on Sunday evening, after being asked to vacate his post by the ANC executive.

Today the news broke that fourteen members of President Mbeki's cabinet had handed in their resignation, including everybody's favourite Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel. And so there is a degree of uncertainty hanging in the air, although it seems that at least some of this will be resolved on Thursday, when Parliament votes to elect an interim president. (Also, six of the fourteen, including Trevor Manuel, have agreed to make themselves available for service in the new cabinet.)

We're a hardy nation though, and it takes a lot more than being president-less to get us down. Nevertheless, I thought everyone could do with a little tranquility this evening, and so I'm posting a photo of two peaceful cows munching some grass in a field near Darling. :-) The photo was taken on Sunday, when we went up the West Coast to catch a glimpse of the last of the spring flowers.

More from the Cape Town Air Show

More from the Cape Town Air Show

Scary looking beast, isn't it? This is the MI24 attack helicopter, which made its appearance at the Cape Town Air Show in what was apparently a world first: the MI24 took to the skies alongside South Africa's own Rooivalk - it was the first time they've been seen flying together anywhere in the world.

If you live in Cape Town and didn't make it to the air show this year, make sure you get there next year. The aerobatic displays alone make the day immensely worthwhile. And a little tip, specially for our readers: there were significantly fewer visitors on Sunday afternoon than on Saturday, so if you'd prefer to avoid the crowds, that's the time to go. ;-)

Have a look at the rest of our photos of the air show on the Cape Town Daily Photo Extras blog.

The Silver Falcons

The Silver Falcons
The aerobatics display of the Silver Falcons is possibly the most anticipated event at the annual Cape Town air show. The five pilots of these small aircraft made good on that anticipation this year demonstrating exactly what two wings, a propeller and a whole bag of skill can do in the air.

The Silver Falcons air force aerobatics team was originally formed in 1946 as a four-man team named the Bumbling Bees (what were they thinking?). In 1967 the new five-man team was renamed as the Silver Falcons - a far cooler name I'm sure you'll agree.

Currently all five pilots serve as flight instructors at the Central Flying School located at Air Force Base Langebaanweg (a little over 100 kilometers up our west coast). This is where they also spend their spare time practicing routines and formations that dazzle crowds at Ysterplaat each year.

Silver Falcons, thanks for an spectacular display earlier!

We're busy preparing a few extra photos taken at the air show this weekend. With any luck we'll have them ready by tomorrow, so do check back here early in the week.

Harvards rock at the Cape Town Air Show

Harvards rock at the Cape Town Air Show
Kerry -Anne and I shot through to Ysterplaat, our friendly local air force base, this morning to join thousands of others at the Cape Town International Air Show.

After what Cape Town's weather has been like over the last week or two, the organisers couldn't have hoped for a more pleasant weather. The sun was out, there were no clouds and although there was a breeze it wasn't enough to disrupt the carefully planned maneuvers which were executed with utmost precision.

We spent the day watching all kinds of aircraft, from the Oryx multipurpose helicopter to the Russian MI24 and South African Rooivalk (Red Falcon) attack helicopters. We watched as huge Boeing and Airbus commercial planes and Electric Lightning combat aircraft danced in the skies above.

However, in our opinion it was the Harvards that stole the show. After 63 years of flight, their bright colours, the distinctive high-pitched sound from their propellers beating the wind, and the impressive aerobatics again allowed them to steal the show for us.

We unfortunately had to leave before the Gripen figher aircraft and the Silver Falcons took to the sky. If things go according to plan we'll make it though to Ysterplaat tomorrow and bring back a few photos of what we missed today.

Looking forward to the air show

Looking forward to the air show
Every year the South African Air Force hosts Cape Town's air show at Ysterplaat, an air force base just outside of the City center. Starting off as a civilian airfield in 1929, this airfield was taken over by the South African Air Force in the Second World War era and later renamed to AFB Ysterplaat (an Afrikaans word meaning "iron plate").

Even though a military presence exists, the base isn't really used for military purposes anymore. It's in fact rare that we see fighter jets landing at Ysterplaat these days. Besides for the cost involved in running a fully operational base, the residential areas have steadily crept up on the base and today thousands live in very close proximity. Noise-wise, I'm pretty sure that local residents are grateful that the base has been scaled down.

The Cape Town Air Show is spared from rain

The Cape Town Air Show is spared from rain

It almost slipped my mind that the Cape Town International Air Show is taking place this weekend! Yay! Did I ever mention that when I was young I wanted to be a pilot?

Anyway... I digress. It almost seemed to have slipped Mother Nature's mind too - it's been raining like crazy today. The good news is that the rain will have passed by tomorrow afternoon, just in time for Saturday and Sunday's air show - which is open to the public at a fairly low charge of R50 for adults (and a little less if you pre-book, are on pension, or happen to be under 12 years of age).

I haven't been to the air show in years, so this weekend is my chance to catch up on all the photos I've missed out on. Be sure to watch this space. :)

Click here if you'd like to see a map of how to get to Air Force Base Ysterplaat, or here if you'd like more detailed logistical information, or here for a Google Maps aerial photograph of the venue.

Office lights

Office lights
Whenever we drive into the city at dusk, we comment on how absolutely beautiful the skyline is, particularly when the sky is mostly clear with just a few wispy clouds dotted around on the horizon.

To me, the lights shining from these office windows give the city a sense of warmth and a feeling of life. I've always found city lights oddly comforting.

One man’s flower, another man’s weed

One man's flower, another man's weed
According to my sources it would seem that the Arum Lily is indigenous to Africa only, and found predominantly in southern Africa. We have a few Zantedeschia Aethiopica plants flowering in our garden at this very moment, in fact.

At some stage it would seem that the Arum Lily was taken over to Australia, where it flourished and was subsequently declared a weed. In true Australian style [we do love you guys ;)] the government had strict laws enforced with respect to the transport and control of the plant.

What few may know (I certainly didn't) is that the boiled Arum Lily was, and perhaps still is, used by traditional medicine practitioners as a cure for headaches as well as a means to reduce skin inflammation.

Disclaimer: We don't suggest that you actually try using the plant for medicinal purposes... at least not before doing a truck-load of research on the Internet. :)

Tip: And, never utter the words "I read on the internet..." in the presence of your doctor.

A little bit of art for a rainy day

A little bit of art for a rainy day
It's rainy and wintry and FREEZING cold in Cape Town this week, so instead of heading out in the stormy weather, we've gone hunting through the archives for some shots that we haven't posted yet. Forgive us for not being brave little soldiers, but this really is duvet and DVD weather. :-)

A bedside view of Cape Town

A bedside view of Cape Town
Our suite in Camelot Villa (see yesterday's post) had huge sliding doors that faced directly over the city and towards the Boland mountain range. I took this photo at about 6am on Saturday morning, after prying one eye open to see where all that light was coming from! I hadn't closed the blinds the night before, and so this was the sight to which we awoke. In reality it was far, far more beautiful than this photo has any hope of showing.

Click through to our CTDP Extras blog to see photos (perhaps a little more impressive) of the rising sun, as well as the unexpected view from the suite's spa-bath.

Just keep swimming

Just keep swimming
So as I mentioned in yesterday's post, Kerry-Anne and I are spending the weekend at Camelot... not King Arthur's Camelot but Cape Town's Camelot, a luxury self-catering villa on the slopes of Table Mountain.

This 15-metre heated swimming pool is a dream for anyone wanting to keep fit without having to head off to the gym. As I mentioned, the villa lies on the slopes of Table Mountain, and the owner reckons that there's a 20 or 30 minute walk that one can take up the mountain to a spot where you're able to see the tip of Cape Point.

So, with the pool for doing laps and the mountain for climbing stairs, I'm pretty sure that a month in this exquisite location could go a long way towards the formation of a fitness regime.

It may be of interest to mention that we've neither swum a lap nor climbed a step on the mountain since arriving... we have however suntanned, napped, and made use of the spa-bath (which overlooks the Constantia Valley and Boland mountains) - if that counts for anything. :-/

Mkhanyiseli “MK” Kapa: street-child to celebrity chef

If you've been visiting our blog for a while you'll remember our exceptional weekend away at Villa Lyonesse last month.

When our hosts, Ric and Robynne, invited us to stay with them at their Camelot Villa this weekend, we gladly accepted. What we hadn't realised was that Ric had purchased the culinary services of celebrity chef MK on a charity auction.

MK has an interesting history. A former street-child, he was selected to undergo training at Jamie Oliver's famous restaurant Fifteen. You can click here to read his story.

MK has worked at a number of top restaurants around Cape Town, and on one occasion even cooked for Nelson Mandela! This evening he treated us to a starter of tabbouleh wrapped in cucumber strips, a main course of dorado topped with mashed peas and parma ham, and a chocolate fondant dessert with blueberries and ice cream (which you can see in the photo above). The meal was absolutely sublime, and I know without a doubt that MK has a very successful career ahead of him.

O Magazine Tea Party

O Magazine Tea Party
I spent the afternoon with my mother and two friends at the annual O Magazine Tea Party. This year the tea party was sponsored by Huletts (one of our biggest sugar producers), and so the entrance to the venue was decorated with a display of the most fantastic sugar art, part of which you can see in this photo.

We had an afternoon of absolute decadence: sparkling pink cocktails on arrival; a scrumptious selection of cakes, pastries and savouries to enjoy with our tea; a stunning array of prizes; and energetic entertainment provided by the incredibly talented Coda. And of course no event that bears Oprah Winfrey's name would be complete without each guest receiving an extremely generous goodie bag to take home. :-)

Please CERN, don’t mess it up

Please CERN, don't mess it up
Wow, we're still alive! For now at least. We were unsure whether or not yesterday's post would be the last for Cape Town Daily Photo. :P This morning CERN switched on their Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland. Apparently the particle accelerator could, possibly, maybe, with a small chance, destroy the earth by creating (amongst other things) micro black holes. We'll find out for sure next month, I guess, when the first collisions take place.

Doom of the earth aside, it's been pretty gloomy in Cape Town. Nature has been raining her proverbial cats and dogs over the peninsula all week, and I think that I speak for all Capetonians when I say: We've had enough of winter!

I met with a consultant from Johannesburg on Tuesday who couldn't believe that we're having such cold weather - apparently they've been suffering somewhat of a heatwave up north, only 1500Km away. Come on Jo'burg, send some of that warm, sunny weather our way!

This photo was taken in the parking garage pictured in this post.

Cast a little light

Cast a little light
I spotted these pretty light fittings at Wembley Square, when I went to Sinn's Restaurant for a friend's birthday. Something about the combination of colours really appealed to me, and I was intrigued by the fact that so many lights in such a concentrated area could still produce a pleasant degree of light, without any harshness. I think I might consider an arrangement like this for our dining-room, when we eventually get around to renovating...

Attack of the Killer Robot

Attack of the Killer Robot

"Minimal and Techno" - now I get techno, but I do wonder exactly what minimal is. I may need some help here, but from what I understand, minimalist music is very repetitive music created with very few instruments; hence minimal - predictable and with no complication.

Killer Robot is a club in Long Street (Cape Town) just over the road from the Long Street Cafe. The venue hosts techno music by DJs such as Ivan, Bruno Morphet, and AK47. It does sound interesting, I think we're going to have to stop in some time - just to check out what's happening.

Concrete and parking garages

Concrete and parking garages
Do you ever stop to think about the amount of concrete above your head when you step out of your car in a parking garage? I certainly wouldn't want to be here during some kind of seismic event.

At this time of the evening this parking garage is pretty empty, although during week days it's filled up with colleagues' cars. Only a few vehicles remain after hours, belonging to very committed workers trying to catch up on things undone. On September evenings like this one, there's an icy wind that rushes among the cold concrete pillars, almost pushing you along, and encouraging laggers to vacate the building and head on home to their families.

Zimfest, a music festival

Zimfest, a music festival
Today Overtone Music presented South Africa's first Zimfest (Zimbabwe Festival) - a music festival created to raise money for humanitarian efforts in Southern Africa.

Kerry-Anne and I shot through to the Goodhope Centre (perhaps an aptly named venue) at about 11am this morning to catch the opening act, Matthew Gair, singer, songwriter, and guitarist (that's not him in the photo, though).

The rest of the day was filled with superb performances by CODA, Failing Forward, The Little Kings, Tristan Waterkeyn, Louise Day Band, Hot Water, Cold Hand Chemistry, Nomfusi Gotyanan, Freshly Ground, Jacsharp, Overgraze, The Rudimentals, Autopilot, Ike Moriz, The Plastics, Shy Guevaras, The Dirty Skirts, Betray The Emissary and New Altum.

Please visit our Cape Town Daily Photo Extras blog to see about 60 photos taken during the course of the morning.

The West Coast flowers are in bloom

The West Coast flowers are in bloom
I overheard a colleague who lives in the coastal town of Langebaan mentioning today that the flowers are in full bloom and looking beautiful as ever. The Cape's West Coast is renowned for its flower season, which starts every year around mid to late August. Vast fields of flowers come alive with colour, compelling thousands of city-dwellers to pack their picnic baskets and head up the coast to spend a day among the flowers.

I took this photo in a field near our house. Believe me when I say that it's rather bland in comparison to what's in store a couple of weeks from now (when we'll eventually have the opportunity to take a drive up the West Coast). In fact, we would have driven up to visit the flowers tomorrow, but there's something far more exciting happening at Cape Town's Good Hope Centre... To those of you who are attending Zimfest - see you there. And to those who don't know what I'm talking about, stand by, I'll show you the photo(s) tomorrow. :)

Silent night, no rain in sight

Silent night, no rain in sight
We live in a city where it can be storming wildly one day, and the next day the weather is clear and quiet, just as though nature had never lost her temper.

After the past weekend's rain and heavy winds it must be hard to imagine that we've just had two days of perfectly clear weather. As quickly as bad weather arrives, it vanishes without a trace, leaving in its stead a crisp, clear and smogless skyline.

Ah, the beauty of Cape Town...

I was hoping to get a photo of the pink city skyline this evening, but ended up working a little later than normal. I snapped this shot as I was about to leave our parking garage.

Could Cape Town be the next Silicon Valley?

Could Cape Town be the next Silicon Valley?

We've recently heard of a few American visitors to Cape Town mentioning how much our city reminds them of San Francisco, with the exception that San Francisco has "the dial turned way up".

The amount of innovation within the Web community of Cape Town is simply astounding. This evening local web-entrepreneurial hero Vinny Lingham, CEO of Synthasite (a Cape Town web-based startup company) presented a talk to some of Cape Town's web entrepreneurs, explaining how to go about seeking venture capital to help turn small under-funded startup companies into the next Google or Facebook.

If you are thinking about investing in a Cape Town-based startup I'd suggest that you don't wait too long. Over the next couple of months and years I think we'll see Cape Town's web entrepreneurs attempting to turn that virtual dial "way up", making a couple of lucky investors very, very happy in the process.

Cape Town storms disrupt Muizenberg trains

Cape Town storms disrupt Muizenberg trains
I landed upon a headline report on the Cape Argus website stating:

"Hundreds of commuters were left stranded this morning after Metrorail closed eight rail stations from Muizenberg to Simon's Town due to damage caused by turbulent seas and huge waves crashing over the railway lines.

We live too far from the Muizenberg coast to verify whether or not commuters were stranded this morning, but I would imagine that after the past weekend's storms and raging seas the train lines would have certainly been knocked out. Click here to see exactly how close the rail lines are to the sea. Beautiful, but crazy!

I took the train photo a couple of months ago, so no, I wasn't aboard a rogue train today.

A round-up of storm coverage:
- Saturday afternoon at Three Anchor Bay and Sea Point
- More photos of the Sea Point area, after the storm had struck (thanks to
- Stormy seas and giant waves at Kalk Bay
- Zoopy video of wave damage at Kalk Bay's Polana and Harbour House restaurants
- Storm damage and flooding in Strand and Gordon's Bay

Cape Town storm: it’s not quite Gustav, but still pretty impressive

Cape Town storm: it's not quite Gustav, but still pretty impressive
We weren't quite as brave as the New Orleans residents who stayed behind to face Gustav: instead of heading out to storm-ravaged Kalk Bay ourselves today, we asked the crew from Zoopy to bring back a photo or two for us, since they're far more intrepid than we are. :-)

This is not an indoor pool, no. It's the interior of Polana, a restaurant at Kalk Bay harbour, after huge waves struck the area earlier today. Windows broke, tables floated out into the harbour, and as you can see, the restaurant was completely flooded.

There are more photos here and here. The Zoopy crew apparently took plenty of video footage, so we'll let you know as soon as that's been loaded onto their site.

You can read reports of the storm damage throughout the Western Cape here and here.

Thanks to the guys and girls at Zoopy!

Update: There are some fantastic photos of the giant waves in Kalk Bay on Luke Hardiman's blog. You can compare those with these: Kalk Bay harbour when it's not stormy.