Monthly Archives: April 2009

Seems someone doesn’t like Hake…

Kill Hake graffiti

A week or two back we posted a photo of a rather creative piece of street art in Green Point, bearing the name "Hake". One of our readers, Michelle, commented that she'd seen a number of his tags around the southern suburbs too, so presumably he's fairly prolific.

It seems he has an enemy, though (look at me, being all sexist and assuming that Hake is a boy... tsk tsk), if the writing in this photo is anything to go by. I spotted this as we were driving around Vredehoek, and made Paul screech to a halt so that he could get out and grab a photo. By a happy co-incidence the man in the background entered the frame just as Paul was busy composing his shot - I think he adds an extra bit of interest to the photo, don't you?

Umshini wami, umshini wakho

Umshini wakho campaign posters
I doubt that there's a South African alive right now who is not familiar with the phrase "Umshini Wami". It's the name of an old struggle song sung by Umkhonto we Sizwe during the apartheid years. More recently it's become famous (or notorious, depending on your perspective) as the song sung by president-elect Jacob Zuma and his supporters at ANC rallies. The main phrase repeated throughout the song is "Khawuleth'umshini wami", which is Zulu for "Bring me my machine-gun". This probably goes some way towards explaining my use of the word "notorious" in the previous sentence...

The posters you can see on the wall here, designed by advertising agency Young and Rubicam, are a clever twist on this piece of South African culture. They read "Awuleth'umshini wakho", which means "Bring me your machine gun". The posters were put up in February as part of a campaign to persuade citizens to hand in their unlicensed firearms. I have no idea whether they've been effective or not, but they're certainly eye-catching.

You can read more about the campaign and see a photo of the full poster on Marklives!com.

F*ROCK at Ratanga Junction

Etienne Janse Van Rensburg - bassist for CrashCarBurn
We spent an awesome Saturday night taking photos of some of South Africa's most talented musicians performing at F*ROCK, an indoor rock festival held at Ratanga Junction. I had a really hard time choosing just one shot for the main post (we ended up with 253 photos of 8 bands, which you can see in our F*ROCK photo albums), and I even enlisted the help of my Twitter friends to help me choose at one point.

I eventually settled on this shot of Etienne Janse van Rensburg, the bass guitarist for the hugely popular CrashCarBurn. It was the first time I'd seen them perform live, and I was pretty impressed - in addition to their own original material, they played a medley of cover versions, which the crowd absolutely loved, and to make it all even more fun, they tossed out a flock of giant (no, really, GIANT) balloons for all of us to play with while they performed. Too cool for words, that was.

Check out all our photos from F*ROCK here (and visit the bands' websites to have a listen to their music):

By the way, if you have any interest in web culture and digital marketing, or if you'd just like to hear what I sound like, download a couple of episodes of The Digital Edge podcast, hosted by Saul Kropman and Jarred Cinman. My job is to sound like a girl in the news section each week, which I think I'm managing to do fairly well so far... and I promise you that the rest of the podcast is really worth a listen. ;-)

Freedom Day – 15 years on

Robben Island sunset

The 27th of April is Freedom Day in South Africa. This public holiday marks the start of our first democratic elections in 1994 (the elections were held over 3 days). I wasn't old enough to vote back then (I turned 18 two and a half months later), but I remember that day so clearly. There was an incredible sense of excitement, and news broadcasts showed images of long voting queues snaking their way through dusty township streets, and elderly black people tearfully telling reporters how it felt to finally be able to vote for the first time at the age of 80 or 90. Got to admit, I still get teary thinking about it.

We held our 4th general election last week, and for the first time since 1994 there was a similar sense of excitement and optimism. And it didn't seem to matter who you were voting for either (just as it didn't matter much in 1994) - everyone seemed enthusiastic, and it felt good to be united as a nation in a common activity. Despite all the controversy surrounding our president-elect Jacob Zuma, I think there is a lot of optimism right now amongst people of all political persuasions. It's a fresh start, and a change, and perhaps that's the most important thing for our teenage nation right now.

I found this photo in our archives; it's a month or two old, but I thought it would be fitting to post a photo of the sun setting behind Robben Island to mark Freedom Day.

Ancient relic or graffiti with a difference?

Bushman rock art

Some time ago we hid a geocache in a super-special extra-clever hiding place right in the middle of a quiet suburb. To be a little more specific, the cache is hidden very close to a dam in the Durbanville area. We go and check on it every once in a while to make sure that it's still there, and still in good condition. While we were trying to find its exact hiding spot again (because it's extra-clever, you see), Paul noticed this little piece of art.

Before you get all excited, I'm pretty sure that this is not the handiwork of real Khoisan artists, miraculously preserved in the middle of a suburban park. I think it's a whole lot more likely that this is the work of a group of high school students from the school up the road. Still, not too shabby, is it?

Cold weather food

Cold weather food
Wet winter weather, cold days, and colder nights are conducive to enjoying a good potjie (pronounced poy-kie) cooked over open coals. "Potjiekos" is the official term for this traditional meal.

"Potjie" is an Afrikaans word meaning "little pot", interpreted in this context as a cast-iron pot. The idea is that one places the pot over a few coals and adds meat, onion, herbs and spices, letting them simmer until the meat is nicely browned. You can then add vegetables in layers (this allows the vegetables to keep their individual flavour so that you don't end up with veggie-mush), starting with harder vegetables like carrots and baby-marrow, and then working your way up from butternut and cauliflower, through to cabbage and potato pieces right at the end. Keeping the potato near the top of the stack is kinda important - otherwise you'll end up with mushy potato at the bottom of the pot.

Note the following critical success factors:

  1. don't even think of stirring the vegetables
  2. don't peek under the lid until quite some time has passed (like an hour or so)
  3. when you do peek, check that the meat and onion at the bottom aren't burning
  4. you shouldn't need to add water (this isn't soup or a stew ;) )
  5. if the potatoes on top are cooked and there's still a whole lot of liquid in the pot, leave the lid off so that it can boil away

Once the potatoes are cooked, and the liquid (drawn from the veggies) has cooked away, your potjie should be ready to eat. Oh, and like a typical guy, I forgot to mention: remember to cook some rice before the pot is ready... :)

I'd be interested to know if any of our readers have ever tried cooking a vegetarian potjie. Please leave a comment if you have - I'd love to know what one can use as a substitute for meat at the bottom of the pot.

Nobu at the One & Only Hotel Cape Town

NOBU at The One and Only

Tonight we were treated to dinner at NOBU, the upmarket Japanese restaurant at Sol Kerzner's 3-week-old One&Only Hotel. It was an evening filled with exquisite food, top-class service and really great company, in an elegant yet strangely unpretentious atmosphere.

We all opted for the 7-course omakase meal (if you're not familiar with Japanese dining, eating omakase basically means that you leave the choice of dishes up to the chef), which turned out to be a really good idea - we lost count of the number of dishes the waiters brought out to us, and we sent every single plate back scraped clean. The food was fantastic, and included things like prawn tempura with dipping sauces, black cod, edamame, a selection of sushi, tuna sashimi salad, whitefish sashimi, beef kushiyaki and grilled Cape salmon. Dessert was included too, and featured a lot of yummy oozy chocolate, whisky-flavoured cream, and ice cream (as you can probably tell, I can't remember the actual names of any of the desserts... but they were gooooood).

One member of our party had previously been to the London NOBU, and she said without hesitation that the Cape Town version was better.

Read more about the One&Only Hotel Cape Town, and if you think you might like to come and stay for a few nights, check out the room rates so that you can start budgeting.

I can certainly recommend Nobu if you're in the mood for a special night out. Just be sure to dress up nice and pretty and leave your penny-pinching side at home. ;-)

Have a look at the rest of our photos of the hotel and restaurant.

FRock! Local bands at Ratanga

Music Concert on Saturday
Local bands The Parlotones, aKing, CrashCarBurn, The Dirty Skirts and Taxi Violence will be rocking our world at Ratanga Junction (Cape Town's Theme Park) on Saturday night. And - we're going!

The next time that Kerry-Anne and I are on holiday in some other country (perhaps your country) we're going to make a plan to attend some kind of music concert. It's the norm to visit the tourist spots (after all, they're tourist spots because they're cool, right?), but if one's wanting to experience the locals, perhaps one of the more interesting ways is to attend a music concert.

Many week days, and on every weekend, you'll find one or more well-known local bands playing somewhere, and a horde of largely unknown (but still pretty good) bands playing from Hout Bay to Durbanville. You'll generally be able to find and book for live concerts at CompuTicket, or WebTickets (just make sure that the concert isn't in some other part of the country).

Check the FRock FaceBook Group, or Premier Attraction's site, for more concert details. For now, just to mention, gates open at 5pm and the music starts at 6pm (and oh, it's an indoor event ;) ).

South African Elections: the ballot paper

Election Ballot Paper

As decided yesterday, we took a leisurely stroll over to our local voting station, and were back home 35 minutes later - duty done. The voting process was quick and painless, and went something like this:

  1. We joined the queue - about 80 metres long at the time.
  2. We proceeded slowly to the head of the queue, which was at the door of the school building.
  3. As four people exited, four of us were let into the building (I guess there were about 12 to 16 voters in the building at any one time).
  4. I handed my Identity Document to the official who scanned the bar-code and printed a little "receipt" of sorts.
  5. I took my receipt and headed to the next official who found and crossed off my name on a printed list.
  6. Next, I moved over to the tattoo parlour (kidding) where a little drop of iodine was dripped onto my left thumb nail. (Here's Kerry-Anne's thumb nail.)
  7. I then moved on to the next two officials who collected and checked my "receipt", and handed me a provincial and national ballot paper respectively.
  8. Almost done, I walked around to the voting booth, where I took this photo and drew an X in the appropriate blocks.
  9. And finally, I walked to the table holding the two ballot boxes, and dropped in my ballot papers.

I believe that some people had to wait far longer than we did to cast their vote. I guess it depends on the concentration of voters in a particular area, as well as the efficiency with which the voting station is being operated (along with technical challenges that I believe some had with the bar-code scanners). I took a drive past our voting station this evening just before closing at 9pm - and while there wasn't a long queue at all, there were still people arriving in dribs and drabs. Let's hope that everyone who wanted to vote made it through to the various stations on time.

Don’t drive to the voting station

Driving my car

As I mentioned yesterday, tomorrow will be the day that gazillions (hopefully!) of South Africans visit their local voting stations to put their cross on a ballot and cast a vote for a political party... or I guess in many cases, against a political party.

Whichever party :-) you fall into, why not do as Kerry-Anne and I will tomorrow? Don't drive to your voting station, but walk instead! You'll (a) avoid possible traffic, (b) get some exercise, and (c) have a chance to walk outside in the nice, clear, and comfortable 25°C weather we'll be having. It looks like it will be a perfect day for voting - not too hot, not too cold.

Of course, I should probably disclose that we only live a shy 900 metres from our voting station... :)

Buena Vista Social Cafe in Green Point

Buena Vista Social Cafe in Greenpoint

We met a friend for coffee at Buena Vista Social Cafe, a Cuban-themed restaurant in Green Point. The decor is what I'd expect to find in an old Cuban bar; the best part of all is the old leather couches and chairs - like those you'd expect to find at your grandmother's house - making up a corner lounge-area, where you can enjoy drinks without having to sit at a table.

Buena Vista is a really nice place to visit, and if you've never been there before you should make a turn (and try the lamb and feta nachos!). Just be warned that the restaurant doesn't have a non-smoking section (which I thought wasn't allowed these days), so if you have an allergic reaction to cigars and cigarettes then best check that there aren't too many people smoking when you arrive.

Now that I think of it, perhaps the reason they're able to get away with a fully-smoking restaurant is because of the Cuban theme - you kind of expect to see people smoking cigars in a Cuban bar, don't you?

South Africa votes on Wednesday!

We're voting on Wednesday

The air has turned cool, the sky has turned grey, and the first significant rains of the year have started to fall. Millions of South Africans will be heading to the polls to vote in our national elections on Wednesday, and fortunately it seems as though the weather will start clearing in preparation for that.

Political parties have been advertising on lamp posts, and several times each day on radio stations. I'm not sure how political radio ads are dealt with in other countries, but here the station has to play a standard message before each ad, along the lines of: "The following message was paid for by the political party concerned and does not necessarily reflect the views of this radio station." I guess we should give the same message before this photo: the views of the ID and ANC aren't necessarily those held by CTDP. ;-)

Voting in South Africa is tricky. We have one very large party (the ANC) and several much smaller opposition parties. The chance of one of these opposition parties coming into power is zero, but in theory, if the ANC doesn't win an outright majority, the smaller parties could join together and govern as a coalition. This has happened at provincial level in the past. Which brings me to the next point: we don't vote only on a national basis, but on a provincial basis too. This means that we could vote for party A at national level (perhaps because we believe in their ideals) and for party B at provincial level (because we believe they will be more efficient at running our province). Or we could vote for the same party in national and provincial elections, of course!

Wednesday's going to be an interesting day. I'm keen to see if the tide has started to turn against the ANC's two-thirds majority win of 2004. Personally, I don't think it's a great idea to have one party (any party) with complete power, so let's see what happens this time around. Let's go and vote, people!

Keep me safe?

Keep me safe

Why do you imagine someone would draw a bird on an old LP, write the words "keep me safe <3 hake" at the bottom, and then stick it on the side of a building in Green Point? I have no clue myself. I googled the words, and found nothing at all except this rather odd poem by someone called George Hake, which contains the words "keep me safe". Somehow I don't think it's connected. :-/

If you have any idea what it's about, or if you'd like to take a flying guess, please help us with this little mystery by leaving a comment.

Beach weather and sailing ships

Beach weather and sailing ships

Perfect bliss may well be lying on a beautiful (and windless) beach while watching sailing ships pass by at a pace significantly slower than life.

Cape Town has for many years been known as a city where the pace is somewhat slower than the rest of the country. I've noticed though that the tide has started to turn and even though there's a more relaxed feeling in parts (like at this beach), it seems to me that the pace of business has picked up. Average folk seem busier than before, working longer hours than ever, and generally being trapped in the great hamster-wheel.

The interesting thing about Cape Town is that whenever the weather is good you'll find loads of people on the beaches... and not tourists, I might add. I've come to the conclusion that these people most likely fall into four categories:

1. They worked smart and earned a lot of money, enough to retire early.
2. They're trust-fund kids.
3. They're locals on holiday.
4. They're bunking work or lectures!

And in the majority of cases, I'd place my bet on option 4. ;)

Could they not have told us before?

Road closed!?

We've taken Tafelberg Road along to the Cable Way many times, but I've never bothered driving further along the road to see exactly where it goes. We decided to take a drive along the mountain road, heading towards the southern suburbs, hoping to eventually get through to Newlands.

All was going well until a few kilometres into our journey, when we suddenly came across what you see in the photo. I mean, really, could they not have warned us that the road was barricaded? I took a look on Wikimapia and found that the road actually does lead down to De Waal Drive, which is a hop, skip and a jump to Newlands.

Even though it took us to a dead end, the view from Tafelberg Road is spectacular. It's actually worthwhile parking near the Cable Way and taking a walk along to the start of the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail, one of routes to the top of the mountain.

Breakfast at Café Caprice

Cafe Caprice

Ever since James Small, a past Springbok rugby player, opened Café Caprice (on Victoria Road in Camps Bay) we've been meaning to pop in for a meal or drink. There's just never seemed to be space for us, though - we always seem to end up in Camps Bay at the same time as Cape Town's entire population of trendy people! Café Caprice has always been a very popular meeting-place, and I'm not sure that that's just because of the identity of its owner.

We managed to arrive in Camps Bay early (just after 9am is early, isn't it?), and so there was still plenty of space for us to pick a nice sunny seat at the window. So, our first visit to Caprice was pretty good, actually. Our young waiter was sparky and quick to attend. For breakfast we both chose the Madame Caprice (a pocket of French toast, buttered with mustard, filled with bacon and cheese and topped with a fried egg) with coffee.

Madame Caprice was flippin' awesome - except perhaps for the mustard, which Kerry-Anne loved and I felt spoiled the meal a little. I've never been a real mustard fan, and in retrospect I should have asked them to hold the mustard.

Café Caprice's website is one of those annoying Flash sites, but take a look anyway - their menu seems up-to-date and they have a small (though un-maintained!) gallery section with photos from parties held at the restaurant.

Snow Patrol at Coke Zero Fest

Snow Patrol at Coke Zero Fest

First, let me say that Marshall Music (myspace, facebook) is my new favourite music equipment store. But wait, read further to see why I'm so excited!

Each year Coke and 5FM put together a 10 to 12 hour outdoor music concert in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The music festival normally includes several local bands, along with a few international acts. This year we saw local bands Die Heuwels Fantasties, Foto na Dans, aKING, Cassette, Zebra and Giraffe, and (our clear favourite) The Dirty Skirts all put on super-rocking, super-professional acts.

The international acts that followed as the heat of day started to fade were the fantastically popular Panic! At the Disco, the Kerry-Anne-thinks-they're-awesome-and-very-cute Snow Patrol, and the strangely-legendary if-that-says-anything-about-their-performance Oasis. ;)

If I were to judge which band was best, I'd have to declare a tie between Snow Patrol and The Dirty Skirts... seriously, TDS were that good!

Now, aside from the beautiful day at Lourensford Estate, the superbly organised and smoothly run event, the beautiful people and the rocking music, it would seem as though the guitar gods were indeed smiling on me. Kerry-Anne and I arrived at the concert during Foto Na Dans's set. While walking through to the golden circle area we heard that Marshall Music had sponsored a PRS electric guitar as a prize to be given out during the Foto Na Dans set. I never win competitions, but I guess Le-Roi Nel (the lead singer) must have taken pity on me, as today I'm in possession of the finest guitar I've ever owned! Flippin' fantastic Marshall Music - thanks!

The organisers didn't get back to us in time for media passes, so I wasn't able to take my "proper" camera into the venue. Nevertheless, I managed to snap copious shots with Kerry-Anne's baby point-n-shoot camera - check them out here.

Tea at the Vineyard Hotel

Musicians at a wedding

I promised to share with you another instalment in our fun-filled Saturday, when we celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. For now I'm going to skip the breakfast and lunch parts of our day, and jump right to late afternoon tea.

11 years ago we were married at a huge manor house right next door to the estate of Klein Constantia, about 10 minutes' drive from the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands. On that day, when our afternoon wedding was over, Kerry-Anne and I headed off to the Vineyard Hotel to start our two-week honeymoon. So, I guess that it was a natural choice for me to include afternoon tea at the hotel to bring to a close our anniversary celebration.

As it happened, we arrived at the hotel just in time to witness another wedding taking place, 11 years after our own. So we sat and enjoyed our cake and tea while watching the bride and groom mingle on the lawn with their friends and family. This small group of classical musicians wandered among the guests, keeping the atmosphere calm and serene. It really was a beautiful wedding. :)


GeekCricket action

Regular readers will know that I've been to quite a lot of cricket lately. This particular game was a little different, though. This wasn't a test match, or an ODI, or even a Pro20 game.

No, this was GeekCricket - a glorious opportunity for those of us not playing to spend a whole morning laughing at our friends. Actually, these guys did surprisingly well for a bunch of amateurs, and I got the feeling that this might just become a more regular event. I hope so, anyway.

I got bullied gently coaxed into keeping score for part of the match, with a real scoring book and all. *excitement* Given that this is GEEKCricket, though, I sincerely hope someone will write a little piece of software to make scoring simpler next time around. ;-)

You can read a few updates on the game here, and see a whole lot of photos here.

Our wedding anniversary

The Sanctuary Spa

Today Kerry-Anne and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. We married fairly young and have been together for quite some time... so here's the challenge to you: leave a comment and guess how many years we've been married. (Hey, family and friends who know, shhhh..... ;) ).

So we normally don't do anything extravagant for our anniversary, but since I missed last year's one due to a business trip (*cough*) to Vegas, I realised that I'd have to make up for it this year. Since I'd like to keep the length of this post within reason, I'll tell you about the main highlight and fill you in about the breakfast, lunch and afternoon parts of our day next week.

We've never been to a health spa; I knew that Kerry-Anne would love it, and since I'm such a *cough* confident guy, I figured that I could put aside my bravado and join my lady for a couple of hours at a spa. So, I did what any smart guy would do and called a (female) friend for some advice. She recommended the Sanctuary Spa at the Twelve Apostles Hotel as "the best spa in Cape Town". And, although we're not experts in the field, she may have been right - the spa was pretty awesome.

We started off our skin rejuvenation journey in something called the Rasul Chamber. You first use some kind of coarse salt (I think) to exfoliate, and then apply a layer of clay (which looks much like real white potting clay)... followed by (yes, guys) a face and hair mask! The chamber then filled with dense steam for about 30 minutes before a fine rain began falling from the ceiling, washing off the products clinging to our skin.

Once we were done in the chamber, we headed off to the flotation pool, then sat in the warm spa bath for about half an hour, enjoying (part of) a bottle of sparkling wine.

At about 12h30 we were taken outside, up to the gazebos (seen in this photo) for an hour-long Swedish massage... which was divine. The gazebos have glass walls that allow you to see the ocean while you're in the room, and the sound of birds twittering and chirping in the surrounding bushes was incredibly relaxing.

I'd love to go into more detail about the experience, but time and the word-count of this post are against me. To get back to the introductory paragraph then, let's hear it: how many years do you think we've been married for?

“Black” taxi

"Black" taxi

If you're unfamiliar with South Africa you may wonder why I named the title of this post "Black" taxi, especially when there are no black vehicles in this photo. The orange minivan in the photo is in fact known colloquially as a "Black taxi"; this form of transport is used by a large portion of the country's population to get to and from work, and by far the majority of these commuters are black. These taxis are generally (and perhaps ironically) white, so this orange one is an exception.

If you are unlucky enough to find yourself on the N2 highway during rush-hour you're sure to experience the taxi operators' phenomenal driving ability - often you just have to sit back and laugh at these drivers' arrogant resourcefulness when navigating stopped or grid-locked traffic. And, oh, by the way, the unofficial rule of the road is that unless you have a significantly large vehicle and/or don't particularly mind your car being scratched or dented, these taxis have right of way. ;-)



Don't you find that you spend far too much time behind your computer screen? Ah, perhaps not you, but I certainly do. Many years ago (as mentioned yesterday) I was painting the town red on my skateboard, with the result that I had pretty okay leg muscles. I've found that over the subsequent years, with plenty of time spent sitting at my computer, these have atrophied and shortened to a point where I now regularly suffer knee and lower-back pain.

I stand in awe of guys like AB De Villers (the cricketer in the photo) - how does a man possibly flex like that? Well, I guess that the answer to my problem is to get off my butt and exercise those muscles. So, although I know that it's not enough, I've begun stretching and strengthening my leg muscles in the mornings as part of my start-of-day routine, and I've also decided to walk up the five flights of stairs to my office instead of taking the elevator.

The challenge now is to keep on doing this. :-/

This coming weekend is jam-packed with things to do. On Saturday we celebrate our wedding anniversary, and Cape Town hosts the Two Oceans Marathon. Sunday we'll be covering what will hopefully be an entertainingly inept group of "cricketers" at our first GeekCricket event, and then on Monday we'll be joining thousands of people at the Coke Zero Fest, which is essentially 10 hours of live music.

Wellington – the name of many places

The Church in Wellington

This photo features what must be one of the most notable structures in the small town of Wellington. This church building is home to the town's traditional Afrikaans church, the NG Kerk (Dutch-Reformed Church), and is in fact the "moedergemeente" (mother-congregation), meaning that it's the main Dutch-Reformed Church of the district.

While looking for information on the town I discovered something interesting. Do you know how many places in the world are called Wellington? Just take a look at the "Places" section of the Wikipedia Wellington disambiguation page. Apart from New Zealand, the UK, India, Chile, Canada and Australia, the United States of America alone has 18 places called Wellington (or Wellington Township in some cases)!

I mean folks, what's up with that? Why are some names just so popular?

Anyway, let's get back to Wellington in South Africa. The smallish town of Wellington is home to just shy of 58,000 people. It's found just behind the perhaps better-known town of Paarl, and is one of the Cape's prime grape districts. Many years ago, in my teenage years, my family used to spend Easter weekends camping at the municipal caravan park in Wellington. Although I'm not sure what the park is like now, at the time it was pretty decent. Most camping sites had ample shade from huge Bluegum trees, there was plenty of grass on the large open space in the middle of the park, the facilities were not bad (as far as camping facilities go), and the huge swimming pool with high diving boards was simply awesome.

At the time, my siblings, cousins, friends and I spent most of our time swimming, and a fair amount of time cruising the streets on our skateboards. Ah, those were the days of little stress and worry, where the only concerns on my mind were (a) girls and (b) being back at the caravan in time for food. Those were the days...

You really can enjoy sushi

Tao Yuan Restaurant

Before a vocal part of the Cape Town geek community point it out, let me admit that this photo is a week old. It was taken at the last GeekDinner, codename Majestic Mandarin, which Kerry-Anne and I attended on 31 March.

Tao Yuan, is (kinda obviously) a Chinese restaurant, and they provided our group of roughly 60 people with a set menu consisting of sushi, chicken, sweet-and-sour fish, calamari, peppered beef, and many more delicacies (for a phenomenally good price of R100). Now the reason for bringing up sushi in the title of this post is because I normally don't enjoy this apparently addictive treat. The strange thing however was that I found the few pieces of sushi that I did try pretty darn good, actually... and in fact not as distasteful as I had expected them to be.

To be fair, I avoided any treats containing seaweed and stuck to the ones with mainly fish and rice. What I think made the difference with Tao Yuan's sushi is that the rice was the best I'd had yet. Normally I find that sushi rice contains far too much vinegar to make it appetising. Yet, that night's sushi was just perfect - even for a self-confessed sushi-shrugger like myself. :)

Oh, by the way, thanks to Perdeberg Winery for sponsoring enough wine to make us happy and yet keep us safe on the road. Thanks, guys!

Kite surfer on Blouberg beach

Kite surfer

Kite surfing is one of those sports that looks so awesome and appears to be so much fun, but can in fact be deceptively dangerous - especially for the foolishly brave noobies who think that it's okay to go out on their own. It really isn't okay for the inexperienced to kite-surf on their own, even if the wind is calm.

The Cape Town wind has a nasty way of arriving suddenly and changing unpredictably. A friend of mine was once lifted several metres into the air, and then thumped down on the sand, severely injuring his back. It took months for the feeling in his lower back to return... and he was lucky. More than once have I heard of kite surfers being dragged around on the beach, slammed into barricades and even dragged across roads. A little while ago I heard a report of a kite surfer flying across the beach, then flying across the road, and finally being slammed against a building.

If you do plan on taking up kite surfing, make sure that you take proper lessons and get in a good few hours of surfing before going out alone. Also, take a look at the safety tips on this kite-surfing school's site. And, just before you're ready to go out and buy your first kite, do take a look at this video. (Warning: The video contains no blood, or visible damage to any person, but could be classed as horrific in nature.)

Every day is a braai day

Braai fire

A weekend isn't really a weekend in Cape Town if it doesn't include at least one braai, is it? We had ours last night, with a couple of really good friends that we hadn't seen for a while.

If you're not familiar with the workings of a braai (which is kind of like a barbecue, just better :P ), here's a fairly typical description of what takes place:

Guests arrive, bringing meat (steak, lamb chops, sosaties and boerewors are the most popular choices) and drinks (beer is almost mandatory, at least for the guys, but red wine is a favourite too, and if you're in the northern suburbs then it's Klippies and Coke, of course). It's customary for each guest or couple to bring a side dish or a packet of chips, or even dessert - and this is usually arranged with the host beforehand. In our case, our hosts had told us not to bring anything, so we took them some easter eggs and sparkling grape juice instead. It's just not polite to arrive empty-handed. :)

Most of the time, you'll find the women in the kitchen for at least part of the evening, while the men are outside... um... tending the fire... or something. They make it seem terribly important, anyhow. It's a funny thing, because I'm sure that most of us girls could braai the meat if we wanted to, but this is one area of our lives where gender roles seem to have stuck. And you know what? I think we're all pretty okay with that.

So the guys cook the meat, while the girls get all the other bits and pieces set out on the table or the kitchen counter (potato salad, Greek salad, noodle salad, corn-on-the-cob, braaied mushrooms, and garlic bread are a few of the most common side dishes you'll see), and once the meat is cooked, everyone helps themselves, drinks are replenished, and we sit down together (outside if it's still warm enough - or, at some of the braais I've been to, even if it isn't) and eat until we can eat no more.

Bet you're hungry now, aren't you?

SA Blog Awards: the results

SA Blog Awards party

So we got all dressed up last night and went off to join about 200 other party people at Chevelle, to find out who the winners were in this year's SA Blog Awards. If you're a regular reader, then you'll probably know that we were nominated in three categories again this year. And if you're somewhere in this photo, then you'll probably know that we didn't win anything this time around. :)

We came second in the Photographic Blog category (the winner was I Wrote This For You) and second in the Travel Blog category (the winner was the Portfolio Collection blog). Strangely, we're not particularly disappointed about not winning - the thing that's meant the most to us throughout the process has been the constant stream of people telling us either in person, or via email or Twitter, or right here on our blog, that they'd voted for us and that they really enjoy and value our photos and our commentary each day.

(We've also had a whole lot of compliments on the new design, by the way, but those compliments must go entirely to Max Kaizen, the creative brain behind this beautiful layout.)

So, from the bottom of my heart, a huge thank you to all of you. Winning awards is not what makes this worthwhile. Knowing that we regularly brighten your day, teach you something, persuade you to get out there and do things, rekindle your memories, or make you want to visit our fabulous city - those are the things that count, and I sincerely hope that we can keep on doing them for a long, long time.

You can see all the results here: SA Blog Awards 2009. And to Chris, Miguel and Tyler, you did a fantastic job in pulling this together - thank you.

Sol Kerzner’s newest hotel: One&Only Cape Town

Sol Kerzner's One and Only Hotel

For a while now everyone's been talking about the opening of Sol Kerzner's new hotel, the One&Only Cape Town. I'd seen a couple of artist's impressions of the interior (top secret sources!), and had heard how difficult it was to get to see the actual interior (bloggers don't seem to be too high up on Sol's list of VIPs :-) ). I'd also heard rumours of how much the penthouse was sold for (an astonishingly obscene amount of money).

And then, quite unexpectedly, I found myself right over the road from the hotel late on the afternoon of the launch party. I'm rather sorry I didn't have a better camera with me, because it turns out there were some pretty distinguished guests at this party - Nelson Mandela, Sharon Stone, Clint Eastwood and Robert de Niro, amongst others. As a matter of fact, I spotted a paparazzo half hiding behind a tree just a few metres from me - he had a very decent-looking camera with an enormously enormous lens, and looked decidedly furtive. My first brush with the paparazzi! Such a disappointment then that his camera wasn't aimed at me. :P

And sometimes it’s the big things :)

Table Mountain after sunset

There are so many fantastic sunset spots in Cape Town: Clifton 4th Beach, Summerville in Camps Bay, Signal Hill, Table Mountain itself, Scarborough, upstairs at Wakame in Mouille Point, Blouberg Beach (which is where today's photo was taken), the top of Tygerberg Hill, Lovers' Lane... if you live in the city, or have been here, which is your favourite? And yes, I know, that's like asking you to name your favourite dessert - but give it a try anyway.

As much as I love all the other spots, I'd have to say that the two most spectacular sunsets I've ever experienced were the two I watched from the top of Table Mountain. Clifton 4th Beach is a close second, though, and a bit more accessible, to be fair. :)

It’s the little things that count

Detailed railing

One of the great things about publishing this blog is that it really forces us to pay attention to the details around us. When you've lived in a place for a reasonable length of time, it's easy to miss all the small things that make it beautiful. Sure, you'll probably marvel at the tablecloth hanging over our gorgeous mountain, or spend time watching the sun setting over the ocean, but you're quite likely to miss the ornate doorway, the cheeky graffiti, the quaint cobblestones, the handwritten sign in a shop window, or the weathered old church-bell.

Part of our aim here at Cape Town Daily Photo is to draw your attention to these tiny facets of the city's character, whether you live in Cape Town or not. It's not always about the big landscapes, the bold architecture, the famous landmarks - sometimes the beauty of this city lies merely in the juxtaposition of a shiny wrought-iron railing with an old church's faded brickwork.