Monthly Archives: November 2010

The herb garden

The herb garden
If you've ever cooked a meal and added fresh rosemary from your garden then you know how wonderful it is to have a little herb garden right outside your kitchen door. Fresh herbs have a way of transforming a bland dinner into a meal fit for a king.

With the number of small housing and apartment complexes having increased dramatically over the past few years several people that I've met have started either a small herb garden or a tiny vegetable patch in their little back yards. Kerry-Anne and I've tried to do this several times but we never seem to keep a handle on it and the poor patch of plants invariably either overrun (in the case of the hardy plants) or fizzle away into dried up stalks.

Do you have a veggie or herb garden at home, and if not, are you considering starting one?

Keep it real

A pink cocktail

I'm so glad I didn't accidentally order this pink cocktail; I'd hate for an accusatory big black man to have spontaneously appeared next to me, like in this popular TV ad.

Kerry-Anne and I decided to take advantage of Leaf Restaurant and Bar's half-price sushi and cocktail special. Unfortunately for us, we quickly realised how it is that they're able to offer this semi-permanent special. The cocktails were filled with more ice and less alcohol than we'd expected, and the pieces of sushi were smaller than what we're accustomed to, plus the rice fell apart far too easily.

It's possible that the restaurant was just having a bad day, but unfortunately for them we're spoiled for choice in Cape Town, so we probably won't end up there again.

South Africa and American Express

American Express
I used to be the proud owner of an American Express card until I realised that many merchants don't accept AmEx and the account is, for me, far more expensive than ones available from other banks. I once asked a local restaurateur why they don't accept American Express cards and his response was simple - American Express charge merchants 5% commission vs the normal 2% or 3% charged by VISA or MasterCard providers.

Basically, what you've learned in this post about Cape Town (and South Africa in general) is that many merchants will accept your American Express card, but you're far safer bringing along your VISA or MasterCard (just in case you can't use that beloved AmEx one).

The end of the long-anticipated year of 2010 is almost upon us. If you're looking looking for a 2011 calendar that will remind of of Cape Town then click here to buy Cape Town Daily Photo's first annual calendar! :)

Vaudeville and its performing delights

Vaudeville Fez Club

Kerry-Anne's business does some work for Yola, a company that provides an infrastructure allowing you to easily build your own website. Because of this, we were invited along to the company's year-end function at the Vaudeville burlesque supper club.

An evening at Vaudeville involves about 300 people gathering for dinner around a stage in a long, dimly-lit room, while a variety of performers put on a show that some may describe as gaudy and risqué in style. The atmosphere reminded me of Moulin Rouge, the movie, and perhaps Chicago, the musical.

The evening was brilliant and definitely comes highly recommended. The only negative aspect for me was that the food, although perfectly acceptable, wasn't particularly "wow". However, after reading a blog post by Oscar, the chef, I realised that I'd completely missed the extraordinary feat that the kitchen had performed in delivering 300 meals that would satisfy most of the diverse palates in under 20 minutes.

So, if you'd like to enjoy an evening of slightly dark and moderately risqué entertainment, with a reasonable meal - grab a few friends and book a table at Vaudeville.

Expensive property

Expensive property
This property overlooks the bay that you saw in my previous photo. The properties in this area as of the most expensive in the country, and given the view, I guess you're able to understand why.

Many of the expensive properties on the Atlantic Seaboard, if not most, aren't owned by South Africans. Many are owned by UK, German or Dutch citizens, and many spend most of the year empty (which is such a shame). A few years back our government started making it more difficult for foreigners to purchase property in South Africa. The good thing about that is that it prevents our foreign friends from quietly turning Cape Town into a part of Europe ;), but it's bad from the perspective that it reduces foreign investment in the country.

Kind-of a catch 22; don't you think?

A beautiful view

If you saw yesterday's photo then you'll no doubt have realised that this photo was taken from the same location. From here the beaches of Clifton, Camps Bay and Llandudno stretch into the distance from this vantage point.

During summer months the roads in this area get choked with traffic and available parking spots become about as scarce as hen's teeth. I've often considered how awesome it would be to live here, but then when I get stuck in single-lane stop-start traffic on sweltering hot days - I'm not too sad that I live where the roads are wide and congestion is at a minimum.

Click here to participate in my quick poll.

Blue skies and purple flowers

Blue skies and purple flowers
I'm sure if you've been to Cape Town before that you recognise Camps Bay beach and the Twelve Apostles mountain range in the background of this photo. This, dear friends, is the Cape Town we live for. Blue skies, towering mountains, still air, clear water, and of course, the beauty of nature.

Chris and I agreed, in the comments of a previous post, that Cape Town is fantastic at this time of the year. I *hate* leaving for work in the dark and leaving the office at dusk in the winter months. These days I wake up to a brightly-lit room - and and atmosphere that shouts "get up, get out!". Cape Town's winters can be pretty - but OMW there's no beating summer!

Cycling around Cape Town

I've been thinking of getting back into cycling again - but after 12 years, I can only imagine the amount of pain that I'll endure while whipping this relaxed body of mind back into form.

We live about 25km outside of the city - and I've often though how awesome it must be to live in the city center, or anywhere around Table Mountain in fact. Compared to the mountain and ocean routes of the Cape Town area, our Northern suburbs residential roads are plain boring.

If you're visiting Cape Town, consider hiring a bike - you'll see far more than you would by car, and cover far more ground than you would do walking. You could also consider doing a cycling tour - it's probably safer and you may even make a few new friends.

Beach chairs on the beach sand

Beach chairs on the beach sand
The time for fun in the Camps Bay sun is quickly approaching. In fact, we've already had several splendidly awesome sunny beach day's. The weird thing about Cape Town is that one day will be beautifully warm and the next overcast with light rain, followed by a windy but clear day, and another stormy one, that culminates at the end of the week with a few warm and sunny days back-on-back. TICT - this is Cape Town.

A whale in Camps Bay

A whale in Camps Bay
Besides for the calm ocean and the blue sky with it's pretty clouds, what you see, not too far from shore, is a whale relaxing just off Camps Bay beach.

I've never seen a whale in off Camps Bay beach before - not that they don't enter the larger Table Bay area - but they're just more prolific on the False Bay side of the peninsula where the water's just that little bit warmer. I spent a long time watching this one roll about in the water until I finally got bored waiting for the perfect breach, or tail fin.

Sorry about that. :)

Flowers follow the sun

Flowers follow the sun

I've always found it really very difficult to take beautiful photos of flowers. For some reason, they never seem to look the same in a photo as what they do in real life.

While this isn't the best photo of a flower that you'll ever see, don't you just love how the light shines through the delicate petals and illuminates the flower's different shades and colours? Doesn't this perspective, close to the ground, with all the other flowers in the background give you a feeling of being close to nature?

As with my previous one, I took this photo in the well-looked-after Company Gardens in Cape Town (map). Next time that you have the opportunity, get together a small picnic lunch and sit on the green lawn or on the wooden benches, under the large shady trees. It's perfectly relaxing.

Life-giving water

Biblical fountain
What you see in this photo is one of the small water fountains in Cape Town's Company Gardens.

I always find these small fountains to be a reminder of the origin of the Cape Town we know today. As you no doubt already know, Cape Town (aka The Cape of Good Hope, aka The Cape of Storms) was once a replenishing station for trading vessels sailing around the bottom of Africa - often between Europe and India.

The water from this fountain no doubt comes from the slopes of Table Mountain, where rainwater drains into the ground and makes it's way to the lower-lying areas. Don't you think we're lucky to live in a city that backs onto such an awesome mountain?

The world’s first heart transplant

Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital

It's common knowledge to South Africans, but perhaps you're unaware that the world's first successful heart transplant was done in 1967 by South African doctor, Dr. Christiaan Barnard. The hospital that you see in this photo is Netcare's Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital (map) - which is not the one in which the first transplant took place, but rather one named in memory of Dr. Barnard.

The actual transplant took place at Cape Town's Groote Schuur hospital (directly translated at large barn) and, as you'll no doubt read, the patient survived for only 18 days, passing away due to pneumonia. In light of this, don't you think it's interesting that Dr. Barnard passed away from a severe asthma attack while on vacation in Cyprus? The first transplantee and transplantor both passed away due to lung conditions.

Lunch at Saul’s Taverna

Saul's Taverna
Saul is a local businessman and restaurateur who own's several Saul's restaurants in the Sea Point area and across the peninsula. We'd once visited Saul's Saloon (in Seapoint) at 3am (after we'd been out dancing) and were so impressed by the burgers that we decided to try Saul's Taverna (on the Bantry Bay side of Sea Point, near the circle).

Before telling you about Saul's Taverna, let me say that Saul's Saloon's burgers weren't gourmet burgers by any stretch of the imagination, but they were the most fantastic 3am snack that I'd ever had. While clean and well run, the restaurant isn't pretentious at all - and certainly doesn't even try to present itself as an upmarket restaurant. That said, especially at 3am, the burgers, chips and coffee was wonderful, and very well priced.

So, as I was saying, we tried out Saul's Taverna for lunch. While the Mediterranean decor created an interesting atmosphere we left feeling somewhat ambivalent about the food. My warthog ribs were fine, and Kerry-Anne's lamb schwarma was OK, but in our opinion neither anything special and while not expensive, not cheap either.

Perhaps it was just that our previous visit to Gourmet Burger was still fresh in our minds, or perhaps it was because we were the only patrons in the restaurant - who knows?

Wheel clamping toilets

Wheel clamping toilet sign
If I read this signpost correctly, it says that the public toilets are to the left, but be careful, even if you're desperate to get there you may not park illegally, because if you do, you're wheels will get clamped. A picture really does say 1000 words!

In all seriousness, wheel-clamping (apparently known as "booting" in the US) involves some authority attaching a large metal clamp over the driver-side front wheel that results in a large fine being paid over in order to release the vehicle (unless of course you happen to carry a bolt-cutter with you).

There's good reason for wheel-clamping - some people have extremely little regard for road laws, other drivers, or privately-owned parking spots, and simply park wherever they please. Fines on their own aren't good-enough deterrents, but a fine coupled with the inconvenience of having to find the official who's able to release your vehicle - that's something that people tend to take more seriously. :)

Painting the town red

Painting the road red
You may not have thought that I was being literal in the title of this post - but I am - I found a handful of guys with red brushes painting the streets of Cape Town red with buckets of red paint. Heck, I think they may even have painted that car in the background! (I'm kidding, but you knew that, right?)

Anyway, enough of my silly jokes - we're going to be giving one of you four tickets to Funny Bones, a night of comedy at the Purple Turtle (map) in Long Street on (this coming) Tuesday 23 November. To win, you'll naturally have to be able to get to the Purple Turtle on Tuesday evening, but in addition, you'll need to leave a comment on this post mentioning who the headline act for the evening will be. (Check out the Facebook event to find out.)

I'll leave the competition open until some time on Friday night, and then select a random winner using my famous inky-pinky-ponky random-winner-selection technique. :)

Awesome burgers

Gourmet Burger restaurant
Kerry-Anne found a two-for-one coupon for Gourmet Burger (a restaurant that we've been meaning to try out for some time) in a promotional flyer a while ago. We eventually got around to visiting the restaurant, and oh my, it really was pretty awesome.

Kerry-Anne had a chicken burger, covered with Camembert cheese and cranberry sauce. I had a traditional beef burger with a creamy mushroom sauce. (menu). Both were pretty darn good, but what made the outing great was that our waitress was friendly, smart, and efficient.

I don't think they're normally as quiet as the photo portrays it is. We visited on a Saturday afternoon, which appears to be the perfect time for a quiet lunch out. (map)

Shady trees

Shady Pine trees

Although Cape Town has plenty of pine trees like these, over the years of my existence in the distant suburbs of the city, I remember many beautifully huge trees like these being cut down - for various "legitimate" reasons of course. The reasons range from the need for new roads, new homes, safety, and simply whether or not a particular land owner likes the tree in the place it is.

I'm being a little melodramatic - there are plenty of good reasons to remove certain trees, but sometimes people do seem to remove them for no apparent good reason. A case in point are our new neighbours who, a few weeks ago, removed almost all the trees on their property - and yesterday removed another huge tree.

Granted, the trees that they had weren't the most magnificent, but they were large, green, and provided good shade. Their garden looks so barren now. :(

I took this photo in the very leafy suburb of Tokai - one of the beautiful areas of Cape Town's Southern suburbs.

G-South Africa at the Bay Hotel

The Bay Hotel
Last week Google hosted an event named G-South Africa at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay. If you're unsure exactly where it is - The Bay Hotel is the hotel between the sports field and Blues in Victoria Road; you know, that really expensive-looking one? :)

I was excited to attend the event - partly because of the interesting things that I thought I may learn and partly because it was being held at in the beautiful Camps Bay. Unfortunately the weather failed to play along, so the two days weren't quite as awesome as it could have been!

For those of you who are interested in what was presented - here's a link where you're able to find a few of the presentations offered over the two days.

If you've just realised that the end of the year is almost upon us, then you may be looking looking for a 2011 calendar. Click here to buy Cape Town Daily Photo's first annual calendar! :)

Gun-free in South Africa

Shoot at Own Risk
A few years ago the government started making it increasingly difficult to own a firearm. Many people who'd previously had several guns were forced, by law, to reduce the number of firearms that they own as well as ensure that the remaining ones were properly locked away in a safe.

At the same time the government launched a campaign that provided an amnesty period, during which time illegal firearms could be handed over the the police without fear of prosecution. During that time thousands of guns were dropped off at local police stations - everything from standard hand guns to high-powered AK-47 machine guns.

Perhaps we don't see the fruit of that exercise, but I believe that it must have had an effect. We'll never rid ourselves of violence - people will always kill people by whatever means - but I do believe that the new laws must have reduced the number of impulse killings and the number of accidental deaths. Guns kill so quickly and it's better not have them at all, or to have them locked safely away - especially from little boy's hands.

Boys will be boys and we do so love things that shoot.

Click here to visit the website of Gun Free South Africa - an organisation aiming to reduce the number of firearms in South Africa to nil.

Now that’s a dirty swimming pool!

A dirty swimming pool
First let me say that this isn't my swimming pool. :) I held my camera over a rather tall wall to take this random picture of what looks like the swimming pool of an school or sports club in Cape Town (over the road from Vigiletti Motors in Roeland Street).

It's really easy to keep my own pool clean during the cool winter months. All that I do is dump a cup of chlorine into the water once or twice a week and run the pump every second day (I don't have one of those fancy salt water chlorinators). However, now that the air has warmed up again I'm back to adding chlorine daily and running the pool pump for hours on end.

I wish there were a more energy efficient way to keep pools clean. It often feels like we don't make enough use of the pool to justify it's existence. This mindset however changes quickly when the heat of January an February strikes us in Cape Town. :)

Vines and wines of the Cape

Vineyards of Constantia
After a winter of leafless barren-looking vines, these tiny ones are the first that I've had the pleasure of seeing this spring. In only a couple of months these small vines will be looking absolutely huge with plush green leaves and will (hopefully) be laden with huge and juicy bunches of grapes.

I can't claim to be a wine connoisseur, but I'm very reliably (and perhaps biasly ;) ) told that Cape Town produces some of the best wine in the world. So, if you're not from these parts but would like to try our wines check out wineweb, a local site that allows you to order a huge variety of our glorious wines over the Web.

While browsing I spotted this, well-priced, pack of 6 different wines from the Spier wine estate - doesn't it sound awesome?

DSK Basar – An Oktoberfest in November

Lamppost poster
We missed this event at the DSK german school in Cape Town this past Saturday. Based on their Facebook event page it sounds like we missed out on a lot of fun, food and something called a "FUFFY SLIDE". I call the event a "basar" because that's what the poster says, but based on the description of the event it sounds like we missed out on a good old Oktoberfest, albeit an Oktoberfest in November.

Did you end up at the DSK Basar? What did you think?

Falafel or Felafel?

Falafel on a menu
I guess there's no real debate here, Falafel is spelled Falafel (although, to be fair, I wouldn't have known had Kerry-Anne not pointed it out). :)

Don't get too excited - I'm sure the chocolate brownies were made from carob. I mean, read the notes below the Date Crunchies - I think the only thing that they left off the list is fun-free. :) This and the spelling violation aside, doesn't the menu look awfully healthy?

Scouting in South Africa

Scouting a zip-line
Let me just put it out there. I was a Scout when I was younger. Some would argue "once a Scout, always a Scout", and I guess there could be some merit in that.

Back in the day there were two movements, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides, but these day's it appears as though they've amalgamated into the Scouting Movement. Personally, I have mixed feelings about this one - on the one hand it's the politically correct thing, but on the other hand, I'm sure merging the genders creates a whole host of other problems - especially at camps! When boys and girls had separate organisations boys could be boys, and girls girls, without the complications that puberty brings. That said, I'm fairly confident that for the most part the Scouts would have it no other way. ;)

The Scouts had build the structure in this photo to provide a high-point for a zip-line. If you look carefully, you'll see a growing queue of kids waiting to get dressed in a harness and climb the ladder to the top. I watched for a while as the most responsible of the Scouts, manning the top of the structure, carefully attached each kid's harness to the structure as they reached the top. He did his job with surprising focus - he reminded me of a friend that had been involved in the High-Angle Rescue team a few years ago. Nicholas always took climbing and safety extremely seriously.

I can't say that I didn't wish that I was just a little smaller and able to join the queue of kids. It looked such fun! :)

Did you know that the Scouting Movement was started in 1907 in the UK by Robert Baden-Powell (as a result of his military service in South Africa) and that he and his sister, Agnes Baden-Powell, started the Girl Guide movement two years later?

The Mayan guys

The Mayan guys
For some time people all over South Africa have spotted guys dressed like traditional Mayan's at parties, nightclubs, and many other social places. I must have been locked away in a dark cupboard for the last few weeks, so knew nothing of them, but Mandy was kind enough to explain their significance at the Whiskey Festival that we attended on Wednesday evening.

It's simple - apparently the Mayan's are part of a J&B's Start A Party competition which will have winners will be flown over the Atlantic ocean to a huge party that's happening in Mexico on 27 November. How Mandy managed to pry this information from the guys, I don't know. Apparently they're are under strict instruction not to talk.

Click here you'd like to see a few more photos from the whiskey festival. Alternatively, if you'd like to read a more detailed account of the various whiskey's at the event click here to read Mandy's article.

South African Scottish Whisky

Drayman's Single Malt Whisky
This South African whisky is made after the style and tradition of Scottish whisky (which is why it's called whisky and not whiskey). I drew a tasting from this bottle at the whiskey festival (that I mentioned in my previous post) and was surprised that even though it wasn't manufactured at one of the legendary Scottish distilleries, it tasted - well - pretty good! Granted, I'm not a whisky or whiskey connoisseur - but it sure tasted like the real deal.

Drayman’s (micro) Distillery, perhaps better known for it's brewing of beer, opened it's doors in 2006. Moritz Kallmeyer (distiller, owner, and the guy in the photo) started his small distillery by blending various Scottish whiskys to make Drayman's Solera Whisky. It was naturally only possible for him to start selling his own single malt (seen in the photo) a couple of years thereafter - apparently whisky takes at least 3 to 5 years to mature.

I guess distilling whisky's not exactly the job for an impatient sole as myself. :)

The whiskey festival

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Malt
Mandy from dragged me along to the annual FNB Whiskey Live Festival in the CTICC. Okay, to be truthful, perhaps "dragged me along" isn't quite the right turn of phrase. ;)

We arrived at the doors at about 18h30 and spent the evening walking from booth to booth sipping an array of whiskeys far too complex for either of our pallets.

I'll fill you in a little more about the festival in my next post, but for now - if you enjoy whiskey (or the ridiculousely beautiful ladies serving the drinks) make your way to the CTICC asap. Note that time is short - Friday 5 November is the last Cape Town day. If you miss this one you'll have to fly to Jozi next week!

Remember to be safe - don't drink too much and then think it's okay to drive home. It's way cooler to have your mom fetch you than to be locked up your local police station for the night. :)

Noordhoek Country Fair

Carousel of Kids
What makes you think that the guy on the right wasn't impressed that I was taking photos of the kids on the carousel? I guess he was doing his dadly duty; but, damn, it sucks.

I took Kerry-Anne through to Noordhoek to have breakfast with an entire troupe of girlfriends. While she and they sat at one large table at Noordhoek Farm Village's Cafe Roux, I joined another outcast husband and his mate for a boys' breakfast (which I guess isn't quite as cool as a boys' night!).

After exhausting our boyish chatter Allan and I headed across the road to the Noordhoek Country Fair which seemed abuzz with excitement. Unfortunately for us, most of the excitement was to be had by families with kids (a condition that both Allan and I have craftily avoided. ;) ).

The fair had pony rides, food stalls, a foefie-slide, a brass band, clothing stalls, and of course - this tiny carousel. However, to be brutally honest, I think the fair was good fun for locals with young kids, but wasn't really worth making any kind of long trip to attend. But then, that's just the opinion of two kidless men!

I, perhaps cunningly, never realised that there would be an entrance fee - so thanks be to Allan for sponsoring my ticket. Big up to you Mr Kent! :)

Halloween in Africa

Discotheque, The Sangoma's Curse
I don't know how it happened - but somehow this year America's Halloween became big in South Africa. Oh, wait, I do know how... business owners realised that they could make more money by throwing just a little marketing into Halloween. I don't like it, but it is smart. :)

Kerry-Anne and I were stuck at home (as she's still recovering from that arthroscopy), but over this past weekend many of our friends attended fancy-dress Halloween parties and nightclubs organised special parties to draw the crowds.

Did you do something "special" this past weekend? Did you attend a Halloween party? Please leave a comment here.