Monthly Archives: August 2009

A view from outside the room

Wooden beach-house

The first photo in this series was taken from the upstairs window on the right, and the second photo was taken from the doors on the left. I found myself wishing that I could pick the entire house up, put it on the back of a (very large) truck, and transport it to our suburb. I quickly realised, of course, that a huge part of the charm of this house lies in its environment - particularly the ocean views you caught a glimpse of in the previous two posts.

And tomorrow you'll get to see exactly where all these pretty photos were taken - if you haven't already guessed. ;-)

Another view for a clue

Another view from the room

Here's another visual clue to the location of our friend's house, mentioned in our previous post. Isn't this view just divine? Even though it's quite a distance to travel from here through to the city centre for meetings or social events, I can just imagine that coming home to this heavenly picture makes all that driving seem somewhat insignificant.

And then, of course, there's always the possibility of spotting a whale frolicking in the surf...

A room with a view

Room with a view

This weekend we visited a friend of ours who lives on the other side of the planet. At least it seemed that way, given the distance we had to drive to reach her house.

I have to say, the trip was entirely worth it though, for this is the view that greeted us when we arrived. The small seaside village that our friend calls home has plenty of holiday houses, and isn't too far away from Cape Point.

You'll win a great deal of respect if you can guess the name of the village from just this description and the photo above. Have a try - where does she live?

Tennis courts

Tennis court

I took this photo at Stellenberg High School, but shhh... don't tell anyone - there was a sign to say that trespassers will be prosecuted!

Kerry-Anne mentioned in a previous post that she was relegated to the "social tennis" team - because she wasn't good enough to make the 12th team. :P In grade 6 I started playing tennis... and well... I didn't ever make a team either. In fact, my teacher was so mean that I was simply never kept in the loop about practice. :( Clearly my tennis career (lol) ended there, but still over school holidays I'd play around on the courts with friends who never really cared whether or not I could play properly.

In case you're really keen on tennis, or just want to fool around on a tennis court while on holiday, visit the Green Point Lawn Tennis Club. I believe they allow casual visitors to play - at a fee, I'm sure. You can find their telephone number on this page.

The play-park roundabout

Roundabout in the play-park

Have you ever been on one of these? Have you ever been spun around so fast that you've eventually just fallen off because you were unable to hold on any longer? Have you ever felt nauseous while being spun around at a million miles per hour?

Kerry-Anne loves spinning things. She loves things that make ordinary people nauseous. It's almost as though someone removed her inner-ear so that she's impervious to that which makes many (i.e. me) turn green.

We have several play-parks close to our house, so kids don't have to go far to play. Sadly, the days of allowing your young kids to play alone in these parks are kinda over, so it's actually seldom that we see kids playing on these. I guess kids today spend time playing on their Wii or XBox... which (I think) is sad. I hold a lot of memories of playing outside, doing all kinds of weird things away from home. I can't imagine that the kids of today would in years to come have memories of a particularly difficult XBox game that they cracked, or a particularly tricky level that they achieved on the Wii.

Is this cynical? Perhaps. :)

Back to the future in a Kombi


Remember the 1985 movie Back to the Future, with Michael J. Fox? That's the one where he managed to use a DeLorean DMC-12 (that's a car) to go back in time to 1955. This Kombi made me feel like we were heading off to the 1960s...

This was the vehicle that I referenced in the posts about our wine trip. I'm sure now you're able to see why it was so much fun. The "tour operator" is the brightly coloured lad (thanks, Charl) in the photo who took us from farm to farm, restraining his tasting to ensure that we'd arrive alive.

The trip in the flowerful and music-filled VW Kombi was a stack of fun - in fact, it was so much fun and so retro that we felt like we'd gone back to being students again. ;)

The fire(place) at Bloemendal’s Wynhuis

Fire at Bloemendal

No, there wasn't that kind of fire at Bloemendal wine farm's Wynhuis ("wine house") restaurant. This was the last stop on our all-too-fast tour of the Durbanville wine route, and even though it wasn't as cosy and boutique-like as the others, it was larger, offered food for sale, and had this warm fire glowing so that those not tasting the wine could warm up too. :)

I can't say what the wine tasted like - by this time I'd decided that I'd had enough wine (because, to be honest, I'm not as in love with wine as some of you may be). ;)

Take a look at our route map; the Wynhuis is at the end of the route (on the left).

De Vallei boutique wine

The Cabernet Sauvignon of De Vallei

The Durbanville wine route has been the subject of the last two posts, and as long as you're not getting bored, after today I have two final photos in the series.

I took this photo in the cool and damp concrete cellar of De Vallei, a boutique wine producer found along the Durbanville wine route mentioned in my first post of this series.

The subject of this photo, the words "Cabernet Sauvignon", is in fact not (as I once believed) a type of wine, but rather a type of grape. What I'm sure the wine connoisseurs among us already know is that the red Cabernet Sauvignon grape is in fact a crossing of two varieties of grape, the red Cabernet Franc and the white Sauvignon Blanc! Go figure; I guess it should have been obvious, but I had never considered this before.

So now, the question is: don't you think this should make Cabernet Sauvignon a rosé grape? ;)

Altydgedacht on the Durbanville Wine Route

Lilies at Altydgedacht

We arrived at Altydgedacht wine farm in our "fun vehicle" (see yesterday's post), with AC/DC's Thunderstruck blaring. It was a tranquil environment - that is, before our merry crowd arrived. The occasion was a celebration of Guinivea's birthday in the form of a road-trip from wine farm to wine farm. I guess we felt that the occasion warranted at least some kind of commotion on arrival!

The music stopped along with our vehicle, and we piled out, ready for our first tasting. The portion of the farm where tasting is done is unfortunately not particularly pretty. Yet, I captured this photo of the beautiful Arum Lilies that the farm's owner popped in to drop off.

Incidentally, the first title deeds for the land were signed by Simon van der Stel in 1698! The property was called Tygerberg back then and only later renamed to Altydgedacht. Tygerberg is now the name of the the area of which the suburbs of Durbanville and Bellville form part.

In case you're in the mood for a bunch of Arum Lilies, they charge only R10 for a bunch like this one. What a huge bargain!

Durbanville wine route

Wine tasting in Durbanville

I don't suppose that anyone can guess what we spent the afternoon doing? Of course, driving from wine farm to wine farm (in a rather fun vehicle) tasting wine!

Besides for the mode of transport and the fact that we didn't know 4 of the 6 people we went with, what was awesome about this particular expedition was that we didn't do the traditional and well-worn Stellenbosch wine route. This time we stayed close to home (in fact, only 5 minutes away from home) and toured around the Durbanville wine area. I took a moment to draw the short route that we drove - click here to see the map.

School with a view

Stellenberg High School

A couple of months ago I mentioned that I used to have a great view of the R300 fly-overs from my high-school classroom window. Well, here's another rather pretty view from my old school, Stellenberg High.

I can't say that I spent much time on the field in the picture, except for when some sort of non-sporting special event was being held there - I was not particularly strong in the hand-eye co-ordination department, so sport was not my thing. I do remember spending many a spring afternoon playing "social tennis" on the tennis courts from which this photo was taken, though. (I played "social netball" for a while as well, and even "social squash" - basically, that's what they called it when you weren't good enough to be on an actual team.)

To be honest, I think my friends and I got more exercise from laughing at one another's incompetence with the racquet than from actually hitting the ball. Good times. :)

Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre

Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre

The building in the foreground is the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre, and at the bottom of the pathway you can see the main gate of the Tygerberg Nature Reserve.

Kristo Pienaar was a well-known (and popular) South African botanist, probably most famous for encouraging South African gardeners to make use of indigenous plants in their gardens. He was a multi-talented man, though - some of the best South African reference books on gardening were written by him, he was a university professor, he presented Veld Fokus on SABC's 50/50 (a TV programme that covered all sorts of ecology-related topics) for a few years, and he was even the mayor of Bellville at one stage!

He died in 1996, at the age of 73.

Look left, look right, look down…

Warning sign

How many times have you tripped on a step because you didn't notice the "Mind Your Step" sign? And how many times was that due to the fact that the "Mind Your Step" sign was posted on the step itself, instead of at eye level, where you were most likely to be looking?

Similarly, I wonder how many people notice this sign for the first time when they're inches from the ground, with their feet in mid-air and their arms flailing at their sides. "Oh! It's a slippery pathway! That's why I'm falling!"

Wheelchair-friendly hiking trail

Wheelchair-friendly hiking trail

I don't know exactly when this sign was put up at the top of Tygerberg Hill, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't there back in 2002 when I was, in fact, pushed up the hill in a wheelchair.

Allow me to take you on a little trip down memory lane. I sustained an unfortunate moshing-related injury at my graduation party in April 2002 - I tore a ligament in my knee and ended up on crutches for 6 weeks (and believe it or not, there was absolutely NO alcohol involved in this incident).

Sometime during those 6 weeks, our friends Nicholas and Chanel phoned us up one Sunday and suggested that we all go up Tygerberg Hill for a picnic. Of course, hiking up the hill on crutches, while not at all impossible, was going to be annoyingly slow and extremely tiring. So, ever resourceful, Nicholas borrowed a wheelchair from one of his family members (yup, apparently there are people who have spare wheelchairs lying around :P), and the three of them took turns pushing me up the hill in it.

It's a memory I really treasure - particularly since we lost Nicholas to a stop-street-jumping truck driver in May 2004. Paul's dad's recent heart-attack scare reminded me once again of how fragile we are, and how important it is to build up a storehouse of memories for the future. What are you doing today to make memories with the people you love?

Map to the top of Tygerberg Hill

The top of Tygerberg Hill

The Tygerberg Nature Reserve was opened in 1973, which makes it only a little older than I am. I never realised it before, but the 300-hectare reserve has 460 plant species, of which 12 are endemic to Cape Town and three endemic to the reserve itself! Besides for these, the reserve is home to about 50 different mammals, 125 species of bird, 35 reptile species and several different types of frogs.

Yesterday's photo was taken to the left of this one, more or less where you see the people standing - far in the distance. The setting here is beautifully peaceful with marvel-worthy views of Table Bay, Table Mountain, the Cape Flats, False Bay, and the Boland mountain range.

Two of our readers requested directions to the reserve, and since it's a little tricky to explain I drew a map using Google Maps. So, click through here for a map to the top of the Tygerberg Nature Reserve. Once the satellite image has loaded, wait a moment for the route to load. :)

A perfect lookout point

Table Mountain from Tygerberg Hill

Sunday, oh beautiful Sunday. At about 11h30 Kerry-Anne and I paid R10 each to take a walk up Tygerberg Hill. Although the top of Tygerberg Hill wasn't crowded by any means, I never realised just how many people walk up for Sunday afternoon picnics.

The spring weather was absolutely perfect. No wind, not too hot, clear skies. If you haven't taken a walk up this little bump rising above the Cape Flats, you really should. Pick a warm day with little wind, take some food along and spend an hour or two admiring the 360-degree views.

Take a look at this map; I've placed the cursor in the centre of the screen exactly where this lookout point is on Tygerberg Hill.

Western Cape Metro EMS

Western Cape Metro EMS

The Metro Emergency Medical Services is a government organisation with about 1400 staff, that provides emergency response to the public.

The reality of the situation, as I understand it, is that the Metro EMS ambulance services are over-extended and unable to respond quickly enough to many time-critical medical emergencies and so, even though my dad's medical aid generally only covers the use of state ambulances, his house doctor requested a private ambulance to transfer him to the hospital. Sadly, some people have no option but to rely on state ambulances, and while they do successfully assist many, in times of crisis they're sometimes simply not able to respond in time.

Apart from being short-staffed, all ambulances continuously have to deal with other drivers (unbelievably) doggedly standing their ground, refusing to let ambulances pass in any kind of hurry. I often see drivers not paying attention to emergency sirens, and I've honestly seen drivers on occasion just not make an effort to open a path for ambulances. Unbelievable? Believe it.

A doctor, an ambulance, and a trauma unit

Karl Bremer Hospital

A few people who commented on the photo posted yesterday were correct in guessing that the shot was taken in a hospital - a government hospital, Karl Bremer, to be exact. As I walked the corridors on Friday afternoon, I recalled that the last time I'd been in the hospital was when my sister was born, about 30 years ago. I was very young at the time, but I remember sitting in the waiting room while my dad visited my mom, who'd just given birth.

There was less excitement associated with this visit though. My 70-year-old dad suffered a heart attack at about 12h00 while he was doing some hard labour trying to find an underground water leak at his home. My mom took him through to the doctor, who immediately called an ambulance, realising that my dad's condition was life-threatening. Upon arrival at the hospital his heart in fact stopped, but fortunately the doctor attending to him in the trauma unit managed to massage his heart back to life. The next few hours were tense as we waited for the drugs to take effect; and by the grace of God he managed to pull through.

In closing, I thought I'd provide a point-form commentary on my experience of Karl Bremer Hospital:

- Admission to the trauma unit (from the ambulance) is fast.
- The process to follow at reception is confusing and slow.
- The trauma doctor on duty was knowledgeable, courteous, and professional.
- The sisters in the trauma unit were firm, yet lenient enough, and professional.
- The sisters in the ICU were well-organised and paid close attention to their patients.
- The building was neat, but old and in need of renewal.
- The security staff were friendly and helpful.

A long long corridor

A long corridor
You may have noticed that we've been struggling to keep up to date with our daily photos. Plenty has been happening on our side to keep us busy and otherwise occupied. Sometimes I wish that I'd known the consequence of calling this website Cape Town Daily Photo. :) At other times, I'm really glad that this site has a photo for each day of our lives. It's awesome being able to page back through your life a day at a time. To date we have about the last two-and-a-half years represented, with a single photo for each day. It's really awesome; you should try it!

Okay, so I'm now catching up, and this photo leads into my post for tomorrow. So pray do tell, if you're able to guess, where do you suppose this photo was taken? A school hallway? A prison?

Summer is approaching

Summer is approaching

Even though our gardens are still enjoying rainy days, the smell of summer is already in the air. Well, at least in my nostrils it is. Spring has already arrived - trees and shrubs are sprouting leaves, flowers are blossoming and the air is slightly warmer than it was a month ago.

Summer in Cape Town is fantastic, with the only really bad part being that locals find themselves busy at work, many of them indoors, hidden away from the beauty of summer. The things that make it bearable for them (us :) ) are holidays, and the fact that summer days last until after the working day, with the sun setting after 8pm. Even when it's dark the warmth of the day lasts late into the night.

You can tell I can't wait, can't you?

Protea, South African national flower

Orange and red proteas
As you by now know (perhaps due to the title of this article), the Protea is South Africa's national flower. It's perhaps easy to imagine why it's the case, (a) they are fantastically beautiful, and (b) there are huge numbers of them in many different species all over South Africa. Just take a look at the map on this page and click on the Western Cape. Click on the various coloured blocks representing areas and the species found there. Hectic hey!?

A couple of interesting points about the Protea are:

  • The largest flowers grow up to 300mm in diameter!
  • Once planted, don't ever think about moving the plant, or disturbing its roots. I now have 3 dead Proteas in my garden. :-(
  • Most Protea species protect their seeds from rodents by using ants to carry seeds underground or by protecting them in cones that release the seed only during a bush fire. Some Proteas in fact encourage rodents to carry off their seed by dropping juicy fruit on the ground. They produce abundant seed for a short period, causing rodents to hoard the seed in nice damp places, often covered by a little soil. Rodents often end up not returning for the food, or simply not being able to find all of it! This naturally encourages germination, and voila, a new Protea bush erupts.

Belly-dancing teacher extraordinaire

Tenille from Feminine Divine

There's a cynical statement that says that people become teachers because they're not able to actually do whatever it is that they teach in practice. Tenille (in this photo) is the founder of and teacher at the Feminine Divine Oriental Dance Studio where Kerry-Anne attends classes, and I'm confident in saying that she both teaches and practises what she teaches like a pro.

Kerry-Anne's progress from her own unique... erm... style, to the performance delivered on Saturday (in only a couple of months) simply has to be proof of this! In fact, all round, the performances delivered by the (approximately) 200 dancing divas was worthy of a standing ovation.

I mentioned in my previous two posts that I've been working on photos from Saturday's show. Finally, I'm done. If you'd like to see the 200 best shots of the day, visit the photo album here... and please, don't forget to comment on photos that you think are simply awesome. :)

Dancing Wings

Dancing Wings
Phew! I spent a grueling 11 hours reviewing, developing and choosing the best 200 photos that I took at the Feminine Divine Studio show on Saturday. It took so long partially because I don't have a sports-photographer's road-cone-sized-mortgage-my-house lens and partially because my computer is in dire need of an upgrade!

If you'd like to see a belly-dancing show sometime, perhaps over dinner, consider booking a table at Anatoli Turkish Restaurant in Green Point. The show starts at about 8:30pm on Saturdays, and I have no doubt that you'll love every minute!

Dancers, as I mentioned, I've finished with the photos from the day and will be posting them along with my next daily photo.

Feminine Divine Annual Studio Show

Cane Dance

The day of the long-awaited Feminine Divine Studio show eventually arrived. Kerry-Anne, and the rest of the dance studio, had spent months practising an assortment of belly-dance styles, and making costumes to match.

This is only the first sample of the photos to come (I'm busy working through the 500 photos I shot!); this genteel yet slightly cheeky cane dance was performed by the studio's teachers towards the end of the show. All in all, the show was spectacular, and I guess can be summed up in the words of Anais Nin (taken from the Feminine Divine website): "There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.".

It’s a hair salon, not a barber

Vivacious Hair

I have the impression (right or wrong) that guys in many other countries visit "the barber" to get their hair cut, beard trimmed, and nose-hairs snipped (*eeuw*).

For a few reasons, I've never visited a "barber". The one is that the thought of having a stranger who's a guy so in my personal space is a little weird, and the other is that there are very few men-only salons around these days. Apart from these reasons, given the option of a guy tending to your needs versus a beautiful woman... erm, don't you think the latter wins hands-down?

Kerry-Anne and I have our hair snipped and trimmed by Mariechen-scissorhands, the owner of Vivacious Hair in the Willowbridge shopping mall. What's cool about Mariechen is that she's down-to-earth, unpretentious, and snappy with the scissors. :)

Meandering pathways

Meandering pathways
Pathways like this one aren't predetermined by a "field pathway engineer" - they develop organically as people make their way from one point to another. Normally it's pretty clear that the pathway leads to some common gateway or meeting place.

What is interesting is that while one may expect the pathway to be straight they tend to meander to their destination. Perhaps I'd understand this if the same person walked the route each day, but this path was made by a variety of people. What made them all meander in this particular pattern? It's not like there are hills or other obstacles in the way.

Is it only me, or is this kinda crop-circle-strange?


Small Poison-apple

As I walked past this car I had to smile at the sticker on the rear window. The word "gifappeltjie" can be translated as "small poison apple" - which I guess could refer to the small car on which the sticker finds itself, or perhaps even the driver.

What I found interesting about a "gifappel" (of the genus Solanum) is that it's known by the names "Apple of Sodom", "Devil's Apple", "Poison Apple" and a variety of others. Some sites indicate that it's a treatment for all kinds of ills, while others claim it can be used to poison arrows. I even came across articles claiming evidence that it can be used to fight skin-cancer.

It seems as though the exact effect is determined by the species of Solanum. So, unless you know exactly what you're doing, I don't suggest that you go experiment with the medicinal properties too readily. ;)

Fish and “slap” chips

Fish and Chip ship
One of the most fantastic we-don't-have-time-or-inclination-to-cook-a-meal foods is freshly battered and deep-fried hake with a huge pile of "slap" (pronounced "slup" and meaning "limp" in English) chips.

Do you know the kind that I mean? The kind of fish and chips that you just can't buy in a restaurant. The kind of fish and chips that comes bundled in large pieces of newsprint paper. The kind of fish that's covered in a crispy batter with the kind of potato chips that are soft, thick, salty, and laden with vinegar.


Fuel Tanker

Petrol Tanker

In yesterday's photo I drew attention to one of many pieces of litter littered about in a nearby field. Today our photo focuses on a different, and possibly more damaging, form of environmental damage. Yes, you have it, fossil fuels. This fuel tanker was headed for the Caltex oil refinery in Milnerton where it was presumably to pick up a consignment of diesel or petrol.

What I've always found strange is that for years we've all heard about hydrogen-powered cars and cars powered by water, but it seems as though petrol- and diesel-power still flourishes. For years the world has voiced concern over the environmental impact of fossil fuels, but clean-energy vehicles never seem to take hold. Even vehicles like the Toyota Prius aren't great for the environment... well, at least not the first few iterations (read more here).

Perhaps one day it won't be all about the money.

Careless litter

Field of litter

I took this photo while walking back home after leaving the Kwikspar (mentioned in my last post). Whilst the field's not a complete litter dump, I found it annoying that every now and again I came across of a piece of careless litter like the one presented in the photo.

Even as a kid I would never have dreamed of throwing my chocolate wrappers on the ground. Even if they fell by accident I'd pick them up. Even if the wind blew them beyond reach, I'd chase them down. Why is it that some think it's okay to not take care? Do you think it's that they simply don't think about what they're doing? Do you think that they believe that someone else should chase after their rubbish because they're too awesome to have to deal with it?

Warm bread and cool butter

Our local Kwikspar
Instructed to find fresh bread, rolls and a pack of very lean bacon, I hurried over to our local Kwikspar, which is only a short walk from our house and (for the record) is one of the best Kwikspars that I've ever shopped at. The staff are normally pretty friendly, and the managers are even more so. The shop is always clean and tidy. The veggies look pretty fresh. The meat is of pretty good quality. There's always a variety of fresh bread and rolls.

I've found myself buying more bread from the Kwikspar's bakery lately. For the last few years we've been buying a brand of "toaster bread" that's manufactured in bulk by large manufacturers. What started to concern us about this bread is how long it lasts... I mean, is it normal for bread to last 2 weeks and still be soft? When we thought about it we remembered that when we were kids bread bought on Monday was stale by Tuesday... and I think this is the way it ought to be, else there's something terribly wrong with the substance we call bread.

As I said, lately I've been buying fresh rolls and bread from the Kwikspar... and I can definitely say that it's way better than the artificial bread we were previously buying. I mean, what's better than a thick slice of warm bread with a chunk of butter? Yum!