Monthly Archives: February 2009

Nelson’s democracy

Nelson Mandela's Democracy

Perhaps if you're not South African, or if you're not living in the country, you may be unaware that 22 April 2009 will bring one of the more important national elections since Nelson Mandela was elected in 1994.

While it may be interesting to watch South African politics unfold, the reality is that it's often a sad situation - though I guess that the same could be said for most political battles worldwide. Our hope lies in what this photo represents: not just the concept of democracy, but also the ideals and vision that people like Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo instilled in many of their followers. My hope is that these men and women will remember those ideals and teach them to their children and grandchildren, so that the truth of what was fought for so many years ago may live on for more than just their generation.

Guitar Hero – okay, we sucked

Guitar Hero

Microsoft's marketing team came along to 27Dinner this evening to try and turn a bunch of geeks into rock stars. Unfortunately it was not to be... to be perfectly honest, we sucked. To be fair to all the "musicians", not a whole lot of instruction was given to get the band started, so in all fairness I guess we didn't do too badly. :)

My little taste of Guitar Hero left me with two feelings. The one was, "hey, this can be huge amounts of fun" and the other was, "hey, this cheapens what real musos are able to do". Watching Guitar Hero players strum over the intricate riffs played by the likes of Richie Sambora and Jimi Hendrix highlighted for me why guitar heroes are in fact, guitar heroes.

I guess that the fact remains, Guitar Hero can be loads of fun, especially for those who aren't musically inclined or don't have the time to get a band together and practise with real instruments.

City centre streets

City center streets
Being narrow and lined with tall buildings, many of our city-centre side-streets are reminiscent of the "old Cape Town". A few of our streets are even made of cobble-stone, dating back to the time of horses and carts. In fact, I wonder how many people know that in 1863 the city opened its first fully operational tramway, operated by the "Cape Town and Green Point Tramway Company". The horse-drawn tram service ran from the bottom of Adderley Street along Somerset Road to Green Point. Of course, there are no more tramways left in Cape Town today - they'd cause absolute havoc with the traffic!

A koi pond

A Koi pond

I've never been much into fish (as pets, I mean - I'm quite fond of a nice piece of seared tuna :P ). I prefer my pets to have fur, generally. But koi fish seem to have become very popular in South Africa - according to the people at Happy Koi, we have the ideal climate for keeping them.

Probably because I've never been much into fish, I didn't actually know that koi are simply a domesticated version of the common carp. I also didn't know that goldfish are a domesticated version of the Prussian carp. I suppose everyone else knew this, though, right?

This particular koi pond is located at Lovane Boutique Wine Estate, which was the subject of yesterday's post.

If you need a party or conference venue in Stellenbosch…

Lovane Wine Estate

If you've been reading Cape Town Daily Photo for a while, then you might recall us mentioning something called a GeekDinner once or twice before. Normally these dinners happen at a restaurant in the city or the southern suburbs, but last night we held the very first Stellenbosch GeekDinner at Lovane Boutique Wine Estate, located just outside Stellenbosch on the M12.

Please don't read on if you're hungry right now, because you'll just end up hating me. Don't say I didn't warn you. ;-)

Dinner was a-ma-zing. For starters we had fresh beetroot slices filled with goat's cheese; the main course was a buffet of sirloin steak, creamy mushroom sauce, potato slices, baby marrows, carrots, butternut ravioli and walnut salad; and the dessert was an unbelievably moreish helping of homemade toffee/fudge/vanilla ice-cream. The steak had been cooked on an open fire, with some sort of lemongrass basting, and it was done to absolute perfection. I actually don't have enough adjectives to tell you just how good this meal was.

Lovane is a really beautiful place too, both inside and out. We even got taken on a tour of the cellar (which is where this photo was taken, of course), where we learnt a little bit about the process of winemaking.

If you're looking for a party or conference venue in the winelands, I can certainly suggest Lovane. Great service, a really lovely setting, and excellent food... what more could you want?

Mama Joan’s Farm Kitchen at DelVera

Mama Jones at DelVera

While visiting DelVera we discovered a gem of the Stellenbosch winelands, Mama Joan's Farm Kitchen. When one is away on business or vacation, the novelty of eating out at restaurants wears off pretty quickly. For me this is roughly after the second day. :) Kerry-Anne and I were delighted to happen upon Mama Joan's at DelVera - a restaurant where you can still buy "homemade" meals.

Although we only stopped in for a cup or two of vanilla tea, we couldn't help but notice how good and wholesome the meals passing by our table looked. I also noticed that the menu indicated that some of the dishes on offer were made from organically-grown produce only... a sure plus in today's GM-driven world!

We'll certainly go back for a meal some time, and we'll be sure to report back.

Heading in the direction of Stellenbosch, DelVera is located about 10KM from the N1 highway, along the R44 towards Stellenbosch.

From one tree to ten tons – Chrisna’s Olives

Chrisna's Olives at DelVera

We happened upon Chrisna's new farm-style shop at the DelVera estate (just outside of Stellenbosch) today. While Kerry-Anne was tasting all the pastes, olives and flavoured vinegars I got chatting to one of Chrisna's assistants who was busy with the laborious task of removing all the pips from a HUGE bucket of olives. As we chatted, this is what I learned:

Chrisna started her olive business more than ten years ago as a home "project" while tending an old lady's olive tree. Soon word about her amazing olives spread and Chrisna started selling olives, olive oil and olive paste to friends. Things started to snowball from that point leading to her moving her business into her garage at home and by the end of last year Chrisna and her small team were processing about 10 tons of organically grown olives each year! Chrisna and her staff make the pastes and pickled olives, while they outsource the pressing of the oil from the fruit to local... well... olive-pressing-people. (Say, what would you call people who press olives?)

It seems as though Chrisna's made a roaring success from her one-tree beginning. If you love olives and feel like chatting to friendly locals, make a point of taking a drive along the R44 to DelVera - you won't regret the trip.

Cape Cobras: 2009 Standard Bank Pro20 champions!

Cape Cobras win the Pro20 Cricket Series

Yes, it's true! The Cape Cobras are the Standard Bank Pro20 cricketing champions at last! More than 16,000 Capetonians packed Sahara Park Newlands this evening to cheer their team to victory as they played the Gestetner Diamond Eagles (that's Bloemfontein's team) in the Pro20 final. As one of the Standard Bank live-bloggers, I got to watch the final from the very swanky Achiever Box at Newlands - think chic decor, beautiful waitresses, a full bar, comfy couches, a party atmosphere, and a perfect view of the cricket...

More Pro20 goodies:

It was quite a weekend for Cape Town sports fans, by the way. Not only did the Cobras take the Pro20 series, but our local rugby team, the Stormers, managed to eke out a very welcome victory over the Queensland Reds on Friday night, in their Super14 match played at Newlands Rugby Stadium.

Don’t even think about stopping

No-stopping sign

In the background of this photo you can see the arches of the Provincial Legislature Building, which houses the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. The building is located in Wale Street, more or less opposite Mandela Rhodes Place.

If you see a sign like the one in the foreground, it means that you cannot stop your vehicle at the side of the road - even if it's just to pick someone up or drop someone off. This particular sign is a temporary one (they were doing some work at the side of the road and presumably didn't want anyone stopping while they were busy), but the markings on a permanently mounted No Stopping sign would be identical.

Mandela Rhodes Place

Mandela Rhodes Place

Mandela Rhodes Place is an upmarket mixed-use development located in one of the oldest parts of the city (very close to the Company's Garden, in fact).

About four or five years ago the idea of inner-city living began to regain some popularity in Cape Town, and one of the most notable developments that originated during that period was Mandela Rhodes Place. The developers, Eurocape, restored several old buildings on the corner of Wale Street and Burg Street, the idea being to preserve the facades and historical architecture of these buildings, while entirely revamping the interiors.

Mandela Rhodes Place was launched in November 2006, and now houses a number of luxury apartments, a 5-star hotel, a winery, retail stores, restaurants, cocktail bars and coffee shops. I've only been there twice (at night on both occasions), but I must say, I love the atmosphere inside - it's quiet and stylish, with a real feeling of spaciousness.

The progress on Greenpoint Stadium

Greenpoint Stadium

Paul took this photo on Friday while we were visiting with friends at their apartment in Granger Bay. What we didn't realise at the time was that the glass roof that will cover the stands (but not the actual pitch, apparently) is now on its way up, supported by a massive network of cables that are slowly being tightened. The roof weighs around 4,500 tons - that's a whole lot of elephants.

You can read more about the process involved in getting this roof up to where it needs to be on the Shine 2010 site, and you can see a whole bunch of great pictures from inside the stadium on the official City of Cape Town website.

Can you believe that we are just over a year away from the 2010 World Cup? The first round of ticket sales starts on Friday, and I must say, the reality of the awesome party that awaits us is starting to set in for me. If you're keen to get your hands on some tickets (and I can't see why anyone wouldn't be!), then read this official FIFA information on how tickets will be allocated.

Just another gorgeous day in Cape Town

Devil's Peak
We Capetonians are under no illusions regarding this terrible burden we bear. Whenever we have days like this, we gripe quietly to one another about how terrible it is to live in this city, and what a tough job we have keeping this place going

Of course, we realise that someone has to do it. And since we're such good souls, we take this task upon ourselves without complaint, and make the best of it.

Yup, we do what we have to do... which, in summer, mostly involves watching stunning sunsets at the beach, drinking cocktails, spending the afternoon in the pool, braaiing with friends and walking on the mountain. *sigh* It's a tough life.

Cricket fans – the post-match stampede

Cricket fans at Sahara Park Newlands

The past weekend saw our province's cricket team, the Cape Cobras, play two matches against KwaZulu-Natal's Nashua Dolphins, with each side winning one of the matches.

I can't say that I'm the hugest cricket fan, but there is something to be said for the atmosphere generated at cricket and rugby games held at Newlands. If you're ever in Cape Town around the time of a cricket or rugby match it's a worthwhile outing to attend one - even if only for an hour. Tickets are pretty cheap and can be bought online at Computicket - although you'll have to collect them beforehand at one of the Computicket outlets (see the website for details).

Tickets can also be bought at the gates, but depending on the particular match tickets might get sold out quickly - so online is generally the best option.

Black Day, a contrast to Valentine’s Day

Lingerie Shop

Yesterday had most of Cape Town celebrating Valentine's Day - restaurants were fully booked, and parties all over Cape Town were buzzing. While we were driving to the friend's party that I spoke of yesterday, Kerry-Anne spotted this lingerie shop in Kloofnek Road. Isn't it an awesome display?

To get back to the title of this post - and for the sake of those who are single - did you know that in South Korea there's a tradition that on Black Day (14 April) single people get together for a meal of noodles with black bean sauce? That sounds like an awesome idea! Just imagine, a room full of single people... a room full of possibility. :)

Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day Car

With the way that flower wholesalers increase prices over the days leading up to Valentine's Day, I guess I'm lucky that Kerry-Anne doesn't like red roses. :)

I'd hazard a guess that Valentine's Day needs no introduction to most of the people reading this blog, so I'll not get into explaining its origin, except to mention that it has a definite Catholic heritage. What many will be surprised to know is that in Japan it's traditionally the woman's responsibility to give her partner hand-made chocolate on this day, whereas on White Day (14 March) the man traditionally reciprocates with gifts that are usually more than just chocolate!

For those of you who left messages to my dire plea for suggestions of what to do this evening, thank you! I ended up making a simple (really simple) dinner (twice), and setting the table with a single long candle and a hand-picked assortment of flowers. Later in the evening we got all dressed up and went out to a party at a friend's house in Cape Town. It was plenty of fun. :)

A view above Granger Bay Harbour

Granger Bay Harbour

After work today Kerry-Anne and I drove through to the city to meet one of our longtime readers, Beverley, and her husband David, who are currently hiding from the chilly English weather here in sunny Cape Town. If you have a moment, take a look at Beverley's collection of Cape Town photos by clicking here.

This photo was taken from their holiday apartment, which overlooks the small harbour of Granger Bay, located between the Radisson Hotel and the V&A Waterfront. It was fantastic to meet Beverley for the first time, and we all spent a lovely evening chatting and sharing stories over drinks.

I'll cover this topic in more detail some other time, but just for interest's sake, the orange submersibles in the bottom right of the photo are used for survival training at the Survival Centre, which is part of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Twestival at Cape Town’s Doppio Zero

Twestival in Cape Town

At short notice, several members of the Cape Town Twitter community pulled together and organised an event at Doppio Zero, allowing Cape Town to be part of the worldwide Twestival (it's a silly word, I know ;-) ). "Twestival" (yup, it's still a silly word) involved Twitter members gathering together in 186 cities across the world, on the same evening, to raise funds for charity: water, a non-profit initiative working to provide safe and clean drinking water in developing nations.

Guests at Cape Town's Doppio Zero were entertained by the beautiful and inspiring singer Verity, central African musician Sylvestre Kabassidi, Marcel (hands-down the best magician and close-up entertainer I've met), and the energetic entrepreneur Eran Eyal, who co-founded Springleap with Eric Edelstein.

I've been a bit of a link pimp in this post, but I think that the kind people who made this event possible deserve credit for a job well done on extremely short notice. Thanks to you all!

Obama in Cape Town

Obama on a pillow

Now that he's spent a few weeks in the President's seat, I'd be interested to know how the American people feel about President Obama, and whether or not his presidency has already started to have a positive and tangible effect on the American spirit.

Keen-eyed Kerry-Anne spotted this pillow in a shop window just a little way from St. George's Mall in Cape Town. What are the chances of finding an Obama pillow in Cape Town? I mean, the chance that one would find a pillow with a photo of any other American president in Cape Town would be fairly slim...

Wherever you walk in Cape Town, there's a huge chance that at some or other point you'll see a statue, photo, painting, or some other work of art as a tribute to Nelson Mandela. This store might be aiming to sell this pillow to an American visitor, but I think it says something about our country's perception of the significance of President Obama's election.

PS. Oh, and President Obama, when you discover this post some day, know that I think I speak for most of Cape Town when I say that you and your family are welcome to stop over any time. :)

The grapes you once knew

Last grapes of the season

On 31 October of last year, I posted a photo of the first super-tiny bunch of grapes to start growing on the vine covering our patio. This bunch is one of the fully adult, yet relatively small, bunches of grapes to materialise from the baby-bunches that I photographed in October.

I tasted a couple of the grapes, and while not harshly bitter, they're not exactly the sweetest, largest, or juiciest that I've ever tasted. Perhaps next year's harvest will be more palatable - although best I don't leave it to chance. If you have any tips for for producing a harvest of large, lush, and sweet grapes, I'm all ears. :)

Turtle among the lilies

Turtle among the lilies

I wonder how many visitors to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens know that there are turtles hovering in the ponds, keeping a beady eye on passersby. Shortly after I took this photo Mandrake (the turtle in question) swam to the side of the pond, giving chase as I slowly, and then slightly more rapidly, backed away.

As it turns out Mandrake wasn't really after me, or my pointy camera. He headed straight past me towards the pathway - for what purpose I'm not sure. It seemed as though even he was perplexed when he reached it! I understand that peak turtle breeding season is coming to a close, so perhaps he (or perhaps she) was just trying to look as fierce as a turtle is able to look.

For a moment I quivered. :P

Fiery sky

Red-sky sunset

I decided to post this photo today for two reasons. Firstly, the fiery sky symbolises the raging flames that have been ravaging large parts of the Cape over the past few days. Last night's rain and today's slightly cooler weather served only to slow the fires down. We're hoping that this evening will bring more rain so that the firefighters can take a break from the battle.

And then, this photo also reminded me of the fact that it's Valentine's Day next Saturday... and I need help! I still haven't booked anything, and have no clue what we should do. Here are some of the ideas I've had, and suggestions that have been tossed my way:

  • Have dinner at the Ritz in Sea Point: The Ritz has a revolving restaurant on top of the hotel that gives diners 360° views of the city, mountain and oceans. It's a great idea, but the restaurant is already fully booked.
  • Have a picnic at one of the many wine farms around Cape Town: Awesome idea, but I'm not sure at this stage what the weather's going to be doing.
  • Go to the theatre: One of our friends is taking his wife to see Beauty and the Beast at the Artscape Opera House. Strangely enough, Kerry-Anne didn't seem to be particularly taken with this idea, though. Perhaps because she knows I'm not keen on musicals...
  • The big one - a weekend at the famous Kruger Park: We've never actually been to the Kruger Park (can you believe it?), even though it's one of South Africa's major tourist destinations. I thought this was an awesome idea (and discovered that it's surprisingly affordable!), but Valentine's Day is now only a week away and there's no way I'll be able to get leave from work. :(

So really, guys (and girls), if you have any suggestions I'd be very keen to hear them!

Did rain put the fires out?

Woman in smoke
The Stellenbosch Fire Department received reports of 100 fires in only 72 hours, and Cape Town's fire department received 83 reports of fires during office hours on Friday alone! It seems as though the whole of Cape Town is on fire.

The Stellenbosch Fire Chief was quoted as saying "Everywhere. Every area." in response to being asked where fires had been reported. Apart from the Stellenbosch fires and the 83 other reports within the Cape Town city limits, fires have been reported in Somerset West, Clanwilliam, Gansbaai, Hermanus, Plettenberg Bay, Algeria, Moutonshoek, Philadelphia, Bellville, Tygerberg, Strand, Monwabisi and Blikkiesdorp.

Today the temperature hit 40°C, although fortunately the wind remained at bay until late this evening. In retrospect it seems as though the hot weather today was a blessing in disguise. Earlier this evening we had a few rain showers (caused by the warm air rising) that will certainly help dampen the dry veld, and at least slow down the fire's progression. So far it looks as though Stellenbosch has had just over 5mm of rain this evening. With weather reports predicting more rain, we can only hope that they're accurate and that tomorrow holds in store many more showers.

If you missed yesterday's post, take a moment to look through the photo album that I put together with photos taken just outside of Stellenbosch yesterday evening.

As I'm typing this post I can hear large drops of rain falling again. Awesome.

Relevant News Articles:
Cape Argus

The Stellenbosch fires

Burning tree stumps
I was just complaining to friends that this summer has been fairly cool in comparison to previous years... and then today happened. It's really really hot in Cape Town.

The fires that started in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve have spread, threatening the town of Stellenbosch. They have in fact approached the edge of town, university property and even homes. Kerry-Anne and I took a drive out to Stellenbosch this evening to see what was happening with our own eyes. Click here to see the photos that I've uploaded to our photo album.

I had a brief opportunity to speak with one of the firefighters who came down from the bush in his vehicle to help lead a fire engine up to where the fire was raging. His blackened hands, the perspiration on his brow, and the way he said "It's not good" in answer to my question about how it was going, gave away how serious this fire could be.

An interesting thing that I noticed was that even though he'd been battling the fire for what must have been more than 12 hours already, he was still friendly and ready to kick some fire ass. A fireman is truly a different breed of person - and perhaps one who's sadly only really appreciated when fire threatens what we hold dear.

Fynbos must burn

Fynbos reserv
A bushfire started in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve just outside the town of Stellenbosch yesterday. Today the fire still rages, and while it's true that Fynbos (the indigenous vegetation of the Cape Province) needs to burn every 12 to 15 years to ensure the long-term survival of the species, incorrectly timed or over-frequent burning can lead to the extinction of species.

Our firefighters have been out trying to keep control of the fire, but with the strong Southeaster fanning the fire who knows how long they will manage this for. I imagine that for a firefighter, fighting a fire with a raging Southeaster wind is much like riding a wild bull!

Ostrich concubines?


The male ostrich (in the lower left corner) appears to be one lucky guy. I know this because female ostriches are easily distinguishable from males due to their comparatively dull appearance. Quite a contrast to the human species, don't you think?

In case you've never had ostrich meat for dinner, you may be interested to know that it's fairly close in appearance and taste to beef - although a little darker in colour. Ostrich is one of the healthier meat options since it reportedly contains 40% less fat than beef!

The Western Cape actually has quite a few ostrich farms. There is, in fact, a flock of them housed just one kilometre from where we live. I spotted this particular group, not too far away, wandering along one of the hills behind Durbanville - what a life.

Sailing the seas on Valentine’s Day

Overlooking the ocean

In the distance, far out of focus, you can see a ship floating in Table Bay. This got me thinking about the last time that I was on a large ship - and then I realised that I've never been out to sea on a large ship. With Valentine's Day just a few days away I started looking around for things to do and came across the 2-day "starlight cruise" on the MSC Rhapsody. The ship leaves from Cape Town and takes a trip along the coast, to nowhere in particular, and then returns.

Unfortunately this cruise is out of the question right now, but we'll have to make a point of doing this some time soon. For now, to solve the immediate problem of Valentine's Day, I've started making enquiries at restaurants that are "doing something special" for the evening. It would seem however that if one is to find a good spot for the evening in Cape Town then it's advisable to book more than 11 days in advance. It seems as though many places are already fully booked. :(


Greenhouse at Montebello

This is the greenhouse at the Montebello Design Centre (have a look at yesterday's post to see the signpost that points visitors here). It's apparently one of the oldest greenhouses in South Africa, and is now home to a nursery.

Do click on the photo to enlarge it so that you can see all the tiny treasures filling the greenhouse.

February Theme Day: Paths and Passages


While Kerry-Anne watched another Standard Bank Pro20 cricket match at Sahara Park Newlands this afternoon, I spent some time reading IT strategy documents in between sips of coffee (and beer:)) at the little restaurant at Montebello. The document, discussing strategic direction, was coincidentally in line with today's City Daily Photo theme of Paths and Passages. I spotted this signpost just as I was leaving, and thought it would be an interesting take on the theme.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.