Monthly Archives: July 2011

Red ‘n black Beetle

Red 'n black Beetle
Seeing this iconic South African-student car, the VW Beetle, reminded me of a conversation that I had with a friend about the brownish-red Cochineal beetle.

The Cochineal beetle is a beetle farmed in South America and used to produce a natural red dye. For me the depressing thing about the use of the beetle as a colourant isn't as much that they die, it's more how they're killed. I won't go into the detail here, but read the article if you're interested to know. We humans really don't play nice some times.

For reference, manufacturers use the names "cochineal extract", "carmine", "crimson lake", "natural red 4", "C.I. 75470", "E120" to indicate that this beetle was used in the production of their red soft drinks, sweets, or makeup.

Using old car tyres

How to use old car tyres
On 16 June 2009, I posted a photo of a swing made from old car tyres. Isn't it awesome that there are so many great uses for something that would otherwise end up on rubbish dumps, or worse, get incinerated - releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere?

So, consider keeping your old tyres and putting them to good use. And, if you're not sure exactly what to do with them - visit Urban Sprout for a few ideas on how to reuse those old tyres! :)

An old cash register

An old cash register
Imagine if modern supermarkets still used cash registers like this one. Imagine how slow the queue would be and long you'd have to wait while dozens of items in large shopping trolleys are rung up by the careful moving of sliders.

We have it much simpler these days, but still, perhaps some day we'll look back at the days of having cashiers ring up event item and think how incredibly inconvenient and time-consuming the process was. :)

Elevator buttons

Elevator buttons
Are you ever confused by the array of buttons presented to you upon entering an elevator? I find it especially confusing when:

  1. a combination of numbers and letters are used for floors
  2. the letter G isn't used for the ground floor
  3. basement parking levels start at a number greater than 0
  4. floors are numbered with various colours that seem to mean something important
  5. floors are labeled with landmarks unknown to me

This is the elevator at the Cape Quarter. Upon entering one is met with a combination of the points I made above. Not only this, but one's also overwhelmed by a large poster, a confusing legend, that attempts to guide visitors to the right button.

All that I wanted was to go to the ground level - but as the doors closed and the elevator departed, overwhelmed, I found myself pondering the merits of taking a trip to destination unknown.

Cat’s eyes on the road

Cat's eyes on the road
I find it awesome that a simple invention like this has saved so many lives. The concept of a reflective road stud being used to help guide drivers at night was invented by Percy Shaw in 1934 - and even though it's design has been improved on over the years, essentially it the same device.

Church and steeple

Church and steeple
I wasn't going to post this photo of the church in Riebeek Kasteel - but Kerry-Anne liked it so much that I decided that perhaps you would also.

I'm not completely sure, but normally churches like this are of the Dutch Reformed variety - there really is at least one in every town, and they normally stand out like a sore thumb with their tall steeples. When I lived with my parents I remember often waking up on a Sunday morning and hearing the church bells ring, calling the congregation to their gathering.

Farm houses

Farm houses
I know that we're not the only country that has such a beautiful countryside - but flip, the Cape can really be pretty and perfectly serene at times.

Please see my apology for the delay in daily photos, and my speedy catch-up posts in my previous post.

The Cape countryside

The Cape countryside
Apologies for delaying your daily photo from the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Town Daily Photo is my sideline hobby, so when my real job demands attention - I get behind on posting photos. For some reason my employer just doesn't understand that I have a photo to post! :)

To be honest though - they don't really make me work long hours - it's perfectly by choice. I believe my previous manager once referred to me as Captain Underpants. He meant it in a nice way. I think. ;)

A long country road

A long country road
One of our readers, a Capetonian and ship's Captain stationed in South East Asia mailed me to say how much he enjoys seeing the photos that remind him of home. He also mentioned that he'd have preferred my previous photo without the Mini Cooper spoiling the view.

I'm curious to know which photo you prefer - this one, or my previous one?

Mini road trip through Malmesbury

Mini road road trip
Returning from our little road trip to Riebeek Kasteel we headed towards the well-known farming town of Malmesbury (map).

In case you're planning a trip, perhaps it's worth noting that Malmesbury isn't really a town to visit on an outing - in my opinion. The town itself isn't very pretty and rather the kind of town that one passes though when heading up the West Coast, or when going to places like Riebeek West, or Ceres.

Please, I'm looking for someone to disagree with me - so if you're keen on Malmesbury, please do leave a comment to say why you love it. I'm just being honest when I say that although the countryside is extremely beautiful, I've never found the town very pleasant at all.

Wind, pump, water

Wind, pump, water
It's weird to think that someone figured out that they could drive a pipe down into the earth and then use the wind-power to extract water. What kind of mind thinks to do this?!

While looking around the Web for information on wind-pumps, I found a photo gallery depicting the restoration of an old wind-pump. If you've ever wondered how they fit together, take a look at Andy's photos.

Incidentally, you'll notice from the gallery that the photos are from an old wind-pump in Riebeek West - which is more or less where this photo was taken.

Barbed wire and green fields

Barbed wire and green fields
This landscape, my previous photo, and the one that I'll share tomorrow are the reasons to visit Cape Town in winter. Sure, we have lovely warm summers where the sun rises early and sets late - but the winter countryside really is the best.

Take a look at the difference between this photo and one taken for Google Street View during summer! :)

A beautiful landscape

A beautiful landscape
I wrote about the Royal Hotel in Riebeek West yesterday, and before that I showed you a photo of a pastel-blue building from that same town. This photo of the little town is taken from just outside its borders. If you've visited Riebeek West before, you'd immediately recognise the large church building.

Colourful vineyards, green fields, blue mountains, and billowing clouds. The late afternoon sun makes this such a beautiful landscape. I wonder if people living here ever become jaded towards its beauty.

An old hotel patio

An old hotel patio
There's something charming about old hotels in small and remote towns, like Riebeek West. This is the front patio of the Royal Hotel. Unlike modern up-market hotels, this old colonial hotel was built right along the street with no huge bright-green lawn, large water fountains, and no undercover valet parking. :)

When we go away on vacation in South Africa we normally stay in B&Bs. After visiting here I think perhaps for our next local vacation we'll try to find an old colonial hotel like the Royal Hotel - just to get a feel for what it must have been like back in the day's of the Cape Colony.

See the beautiful evening photos on their website. The hotel was quaint and retro-stylish, but not as pretty as their website shows. Although, perhaps that's just because it wasn't lit as brightly since it was only mid-afternoon when we visited!

Sky, mountain, grass

Sky, mountain, grass
This time of the year is probably the best time to travel the Cape province's inland countryside. Around time we'll often have cool, yet bright and sunny, windless days - whereas during summer our inland countryside is terribly hot and often windy.

The only problem with visiting Cape Town from abroad during winter is that the weather is so unpredictable - your visit could co-inside with superb weather like this, or with two weeks of rain, often accompanied by wind. Sorry about that. :)

Old typing keys

Old typing keys
These are the keys from the typewriter shown in yesterday's photo. I'm so use to using my laptop's low-profile, easy-touch keyboard that I get solidly frustrated using a regular computer keyboard. Imagine how difficult it is typing on this one! I've tried, and believe me it's certainly no fun.

Do you think that some day we'll look back at our then-antiquated laptop keyboards and wonder how we ever managed?

A long long time ago

A long long time ago
Did you immediately recognise the item in the photo? Better yet, have you used one of these before?

Actually, I never had the privilege of using a manual typewriter - instead I recall the day's of typing school projects out on my mother's electric typewriter... but that sure was a long long time ago - I must have been about three at the time. :)

All over South Africa you'll find little gems like this used as decoration. I found this particular typewriter on the patio of the Royal Hotel in Riebeek Kasteel.

Pastel blue buildings

Pastel blue buildings
I took this photo on a recent trip to Riebeek Kasteel (map)- which is about 90 kilometers (or a little under 1 and a half hours) from Cape Town.

This building reminded me of the first house that Kerry-Anne and I owned. She convinced me that we should paint the exterior pastel blue. Being easily swayed by female charms I agreed to this... instantly regretting the choice after the first wall had been painted.

We moved a couple of years ago and painted the exterior of the new house last year. This time we chose a non-pastel, neutral, earthy colour. However, our painter made a mistake (actually, I think he pulled a fast one on us) and painted the house a light brown colour that has a slight pink hue. :(

Yellow fields and blue skies

Yellow fields and blue skies
We took a drive out to Riebeek Kasteel - a little town in the Riebeek Valley recently. If you've been out into the Cape countryside, I'm sure you'll believe me when I say that the view in real life is so much prettier than what this photo portrays!

In case you're wondering, the white nets that you see in photo cover the grape vines. I assume that they're used to protect the ripening grapes from the harshness of the sun. It's curious to me though that only this patch is covered - do you think it could be because this particular patch is used to provide grapes for late-harvest wines?

Oxo makes milk very interesting?

Oxo makes milk very interesting
So yes, I know Oxo as a thick, sticky, beefy spread (that one normally applies to toast) and as a beef stock cube used in cooking - but Oxo in milk? You have to be kidding me!

I'm sure the tag line is quite correct - not tasty, not yummy, but "interesting".

Red leaves

Orange vines, red leaves
These could be some of the last autumn leaves to fall. The signs of Spring are already starting to show in our garden - we have a lemon and naartjie trees full of fruit, our proteas have started bearing flower heads, and the air smells fresher than ever.

Even though we've been having great weather, it's not quite time to put away the warm clothes and double duvets. This little taste of warm weather won't last too long - winter isn't over yet! :)

Surrounded by Table Mountain

Table Mountain
I love Cape Town on days like this. This photo unfortunately doesn't convey adequately how beautiful the mountains, the trees, and the sky looked. It's so beautiful in real life that I honestly don't believe that any photo could do it justice

We stopped here, in Vredehoek, at about 10am for our first stop of the day - breakfast at Woodlands Eatery. However, even though the information we found said that they were open from 9am - they appeared not to be open - the door was closed and there was nobody in sight.

Even though we were disappointed, Kerry-Anne heard that Woodlands is a great restaurant, so I'm pretty sure that we'll be back to give them a try soon enough. :)

Doing what it takes

Doing what it takes
There's a guy who, every morning, pushes this cart with his handmade bedside tables and baskets from wherever he lives, or wherever he's dropped off, to this spot close to our home. He sits here all day long, selling only a few items, and then heads home in the evening.

Although the last few days have been warm - imagine what it's like pushing the trolley to this spot on bitterly cold mornings and sitting here on stormy days in the hope of selling a few items to make an honest living. Nobody would condone theft, but seeing the hardships that many people go through to make only a few Rands makes me understand how very tempting crime must be - and gives me great respect for those who don't resort to it.

It's a good a noble thing to buy what you don't need and don't want only to support people like this.

Cloudy-grey on Bottelary

Cloudy-grey on Bottelary
This photo was taken on the Bottelary road that joins Bellville, Brackenfell, Kuilsrivier, and Kraaifontein to the Stellenbosch wine district. The word "bottelary" is an Afrikaans word that refers to a bottling plant - specifically, the kind that bottles wine. :)

The weather represented in the photo is actually in stalk contrast to the weather that we've been experiencing yesterday and today. In my next post I'll show you just how great the weather that we're having now is. After living here for so many years it's still astonishing to me how quickly and drastically the weather conditions change in Cape Town.

Orange Aloe flowers

The orange Aloe flower
While beautiful in a clump like this, the flowers of the Aloe aren't what make the plant so popular. For many years people have believed that the gooey inside of the super-thick super-spiky leaves (see this photo) have certain medicinal benefits.

Today you'll find many after-sun lotions, anti-eczema creams, etc. in South Africa (and perhaps even in your country) referring to Aloe as a primary ingredient.

Possible medicinal benefits aside - isn't this just a beautiful cluster of flowers?

Wet roads and sunshine

Wet roads and sunshine
In yesterday's post I mentioned how dangerous slippery and wet roads can be. Something that this photo illustrates is how dangerous it can be to drive when the sun comes out after the roads have been rained wet.

I find it a little stressful to drive in unfamiliar places when the sun's glare on the road completely obliterates the markings and forces me to squint. Similarly, driving at night on unfamiliar wet roads into the bright lights of oncoming traffic is another thing that I really don't enjoy.

Don't you just hate driving in conditions like this? Wouldn't it be awesome if the rain would leave the roads alone and stick to falling on mountains, fields and in our gardens?

Remember to be smart and drive slower in poor conditions and when you can't see road markings clearly. Be safe and arrive alive.

Slippery wet streets

Slippery wet streets
I drive a rear-wheel drive car with a fairly powerful engine and no traction control. Even though I've been driving her for some time now, on wet days like this I'm still caught off guard by how easily the car's wheels spin when I pull away from a dead stop on a wet road.

I realised again a few days ago (when I took advantage of a normally-safe gap in traffic) that it's actually incredibly dangerous to momentarily forget that roads are slippery when wet. Fortunately I knew to reduce the power, gain control and re-accelerate - and fortunately the car coming at me from behind was actually going slower than I at first thought it was.

Who recognises this town? It's not too difficult, click to zoom - there's huge clue right there in the photo.

Orange leaves glowing

Orange leaves glowing
So far we've had far more grey and wet days this year than last. If you were here during the World Cup football you'll remember that we had plenty of cold-yet-sunny days in June/July.

Even though it's been very wet, grey and cold we have had the odd sunny day, and even though it's still cold the sun and blue sky is a welcome reprieve from the winter grey.

I, and perhaps the rest of Cape Town, may complain about the wet and grey conditions, but this is tempered with memories of 2003 when we had much less rain than normal which led to summer water restrictions. In reality, we're grateful for the rain, but I have to be honest and stay that I'd far prefer Johannesburg's warm and rainy weather!

Circles of barbed wire

Circles of barbed wire
I found this fence in one of the quiet up-market neighbourhoods of Stellenbosch. Most of the properties in this area either have high walls, electric fences, barbed wire, or a combination of these surrounding them.

Most people in the suburbs of Johannesburg and Durban have high walls and electric fences surrounding their properties. It's quite different in Cape Town though - what you see here isn't really the norm. In Cape Town you'll find that some houses are protected like fortresses and others don't even have a fence, nor a burglar alarm - some times homes in Cape Town don't even have burglar bars.

Something that I find amusing is that when people move from Johannesburg to Cape Town, one of the first things that they do is to build a palisade fence or high wall around their property. While I understand their need to feel secure, it's still just a little amusing to predict how long it will take for the security barrier to be erected. :)

Breathing space

One of the things that I liked most about J&B's Start a Party at the Castle last weekend was the fact that there were so many different mini-venues within the main venue, each with their own character and layout. I generally avoid nightclubs and jam-packed bars, because I find the combination of low light and jostling crowds quite unsettling. (And yeah, I realise that makes me sound old, but honestly, I've always been that way. I'm rather fond of my personal space. :))

So it was a pleasant surprise when we arrived at the Castle and found that there were several different areas set up as part of the party. We spent the evening moving from room to room: from the entrance area with its small bar, to the main dance floor, to the chill room, to the sophisticated and spacious bar area upstairs, to another chill room, to the media centre, to the more crowded bar downstairs, back to the dance floor, and so on and so on.

I loved the fact that we could spend a few minutes on the dance floor, and then go upstairs to a chill room where we could still hear the music, but could actually sit down and talk. Now, if only all parties could be like this...

Memories of the Football World Cup

It's a party
A integral facet of J&B's Start a Party Republic is that each year they take some of the people who attended the previous party along to the next one. Since the last party was in Mexico we were privileged to have an awesome group of Mexicans join us at the Castle of Good Hope.

It took an hour or two for our foreign friends to warm up sufficiently, but once they did they ruled the dance floor and ignited a party with an atmosphere that reminded us of the month-long party that erupted when the world came to visit us last year for the Football World Cup. I hope this party sent our group of foreign visitors back home with memories that'll last a life time.

Rock on Mexico!