Monthly Archives: October 2011

Barbed wire and the Anglo-Boer War

Barbed wire and the Anglo-Boer War
There had for a long time, in the late 1800s, been conflict between the British Empire and South Africa's Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers, known as the Boers ("boer" being the Afrikaans word for farmer). At that time the Boers held two independent republics, the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State - which are both somewhat inland from the Cape Province (which was held by the British Empire).

In 1899 the second Anglo-Boer War broke out which resulted in the two republics being incorporated into the British Empire.

Due to the title of this post you've probably gathered that there's a relationship between barbed wire and the Anglo-Boer war. Allow me to explain: Barbed wire was developed in 1860 to keep livestock from wandering into neighbouring properties. It's use spread from France to America and was later used for military purposes in the Spanish-American War during the Siege of Santiago.

The British armed forces must have learned from this as only a year after the Seige of Santiago did they use barbed wire to build the infamous concentration camps that kept the Boers wives and children captive.

Tobogganing at Cool Runnings

Toboganning at Cool Runnings
If you haven't been tobogganing at Cool Runnings in Tyger Valley yet then you're missing out on a whole lot of fun. And, don't be fooled, even though it's dominated by kids it's certainly not for kids only - there were several older "kids" getting their piece of the action while we were there.

One tip - if you're not keen in queuing to catch your car, then it's best to either go early (when they open at 11am in the week and 9am on the weekend) or about an hour before closing time, which is 6pm.

MARVEL – it’s a bar, not a comic

MARVEL - it's a  bar, not a comic
I can't help but think of Captain America, Ironman, and The Incredible Hulk when I see this bar. Located at the top of Long Street in Cape Town, Marvel is rumored to have the friendliest staff and most chilled beats in Long Street.

I've never visited Marvel, but I think that I'll make a concerted effort to do so in the not too distant future. :)

Ballerinas on Table Mountain

Ballerinas on Table Mountain
These ballerinas seemed to be in an awful hurry (heading towards the "exit" sign at Table Mountain's upper cable station), so I never had a chance to ask what they'd been doing on the mountain. I pretty sure that they felt a little too much in the limelight and wanted to change out of the tutus as quickly as possible.

A penny for your thoughts

Lizard's profile
I'd never given much thought to the possible thought processes that occupy the brain of a lizard. While staring at this photo for a while I began to wonder if the lizard was contemplating something, having some deep philosophical thought, or just keeping an eye out for predators.

Imagine living a life in which you were constantly either trying to find food or dodging predators.

View from the top

View from the top - Table Mountain
The inside of the cable car rotates as it ascends from the lower to upper cable station. We were lucky enough to be positioned just right so that I could take this photo from the open window at the rear of the cable car (as we neared the upper cable station) and then take the fourth photo (below) of the upper cable station from the front of the cable car (shortly before docking).

If you know Cape Town, you'd recognise Lion's Head on the left, Signal Hill in the middle, and Robben Island in the ocean above. Besides for the upper cable station, the three remaining photos below are of Devil's Peak, Table Bay, and the Twelve Apostles mountain range.

We're so lucky to have such a large mountain bordering on our City Center - becoming part of normal city life.

The 65-passenger Table Mountain cable car

The 65-passenger Table Mountain cable car
As Dieter correctly guessed, my previous photo was of the inside of one of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway's cable cars. This photo is of the cable car birthing in its lower docking station.

It's difficult for me to imagine that a cable car of this size is able to fit 65 people. Once everyone's inside there's not a lot of place to move around, but fortunately there's enough space so that it doesn't feel as though you're a sardine in a tin!

South African music

South African Music
I remember the days when South African music (for the most part) sucked in comparison to what international artists were producing. And then, the apartheid walls came down and people we free to say what they felt; and South African music blossomed.

We grew up following international artists and bands, so for me it's strange to see how South Africans today clamber after and support South African music; not due to blind patriotism and not because the music has a cultural significance, the artists have simply become so good at what they do that today they compare with, and sometimes exceed, their international peers.

If you have some time to watch, and listen, take a look at the page that I put together with a few South African music videos. Safe as Houses by aKing is a special favourite of mine. :)

Royale’s eccentric decor

Royale's eccentric decor
The main photo is of Royale Eatery's balcony that overlooks Long Street - which is arguably the heart of Cape Town's night life. Isn't the decor beautifully eccentric? It's so much more awesome decorated, don't you think?

Even though the view from up top on the balcony is great - for some reason I still prefer sitting downstairs, and prefer visiting in the afternoon - before it gets very busy. Royale's service has always been good, vibrant and cheery; and while it remains such the restaurant will always be one of my favourites.

In terms of a recommendation - I'd certainly recommend the Sweet Petunia burger; a 150g beef patty covered with grilled mushroom, fresh rocket, and drizzled with homemade mustard mayonnaise. And, to drink, I'd recommend the divine Fresh Banana and Peanut Butter milkshake. It's killer. :)

Salmon burgers?

Salmon burgers?
Now, it's only on rare occasions that I'd choose a chicken burger over a beef burger - but salmon? Really? Who would do such a thing?!

I noted this sign at, what is in my opinion, the best burger restaurant in Cape Town - Royal Eatery. And, that said, I guess if someone's going to pull off a salmon burger, it's probably going to be Royale. :)

The iron beak of the Red-winged Starling

Red-winged Starling
Allow me to introduce you to the Red-winged Starling. Perhaps its just my over-active imagination, but doesn't this shadowy creature look perfectly evil? Click on the image to see the larger view - doesn't it's beak and those talons look like they've been forged in the fires of Mordor?

Granted, I'm interpreting the bird's nature based on external appearance (which is just silly, really) but it is true that Red-winged Starlings aren't push-overs - they can be quite fierce, actually. These birds are well-known to attack pets and humans wandering too close to their nests... which are unfortunately often located in the roofs of our homes - uncomfortable close to where we normally do wonder. :)

Unfortunately, Starlings are often considered pests (and are dealt with as such) since Starlings like to nest in roofs and tend to spread lice and other creepy-crawlies. It's sad actually - I kinda like those devilishly-dark-sometimes-fierce birds.

Breakfast at Beleza in Cape Town

Breakfast in Cape Town
Beleza is, as mentioned in my previous post, currently my favourite breakfast spot in Cape Town.

I especially love the open-air feel when they open the large windows on the deck and how the morning sun streams in on cool Spring mornings. Also, seems as though mostly university students work at the restaurant, so the atmosphere is a young and vibrant one - which is definitely a great way to start the day!

Our volunteers are always on call

Our volunteers are always on call
I love this billboard poster - it appears above my current favourite breakfast spot in Cape Town, Beleza. It gets the NSRI's message across pretty simply, don't you think?

The institute is entirely supported by members, donors and sponsors, and is run by (about 980) volunteers - unpaid volunteers. Consider supporting the NSRI by becoming a member - it costs only R100 per year!

Fez Club

Fez Club
For obvious reasons when I think of the Fez Club in Cape Town I'm reminded of Seth Godin's book The Big Red Fez, which was quite revolutionary back in the day. The book of course has nothing to do with Cape Town. :)

The Fez Club, as you may know, is a super-popular restaurant and live entertainment venue in Cape Town, similar to that of the legendary Madame Zingara (the portable restaurant that's located at Century City, just outside of the city center, until the end of 2011).

Now, thinking of Madame Zingara; we haven't seen her in a long long while - I think we'll have to pay her visit as soon as Kerry-Anne's recovered from her hip op.

Spinning parachutes

Tandem parachuting
One of our readers was just commenting on how the instructor let him take control of the parachute during a tandem jump. The instructor at the Melkbos jump site (map) also let Kerry-Anne take the reins and (as I replied to him) she made the canopy spin like a top (she likes that kind of thing, you know).

From the booking process, to the briefing, to the actual jump - we're pretty happy to recommend Downhill Adventures. The had Kerry-Anne kitted up in a matter of minutes; bundled her into the plane; and had her free-falling about 20 minutes thereafter.

Parachutes and airplanes

As mentioned in my previous post, Kerry-Anne took to the sky in a small plane and tumbled out of the plane at 10,000 feet with an instructor who (fortunately) had one of these attached to his back.

Have you jumped? If not, you really should consider it when visiting Cape Town - the view from up there is remarkable (or so Kerry-Anne tells me) and the rush is unlike any other!

For reference, the entire experience took about 45 minutes (from walking in the door, to walking out after the jump) and the cost was a R1750. Downhill Adventures will also video the experience for another few hundred Rand, depending on the option that you choose.

Skydiving in tandem

Skydiving in tandum
Since I've known her Kerry-Anne's wanted to go skydiving. We tried going for a jump in Citrusdal about 5 or 6 years ago, but that little trip was called off due to an airplane malfunction before we even climbed on board!

After putting off the jump for several years she eventually decided to give it a go and had LessFuss (who are awesome) book the jump with Downhill Adventures.

The guy walking up behind Kerry-Anne was the German who she had attached to her back for the tandem jump. For reference, jumpers are attached to each other with four clasps that (luckily) make it fairly impossible for them to get separated.

Wine estate information – a useful summary

Red red wine
Wine is one the things the Cape Province is know best for. Wine estate crawling (much like pub crawling) is something that anyone with an appreciation for the fruit of the vine really should get around to doing.

The province's wine districts (map) are divided into a few regions: Constantia, Durbanville, Paarl, Wellington, Worcester, Robertson, Stellenbosch, the Swartland, Tulbach and the Breedekloof area. If you'd like to visit the wine estates in these areas take a look at these useful tables with contact details and information for dozens of wine farms across the province.

On the lawn at DeHugenot Estate

On the lawn at DeHugenot Estate
Besides for the formal inside restaurant, DeHugenot Estate, mentioned in my previous post, has an outside lawn area where one's able to get just that little bit closer to the splendor of nature.

What's awesome about the experience is that (as you can see) the tables are spread fairly far apart so that you're able to enjoy the company of those at your table without the intrusion of other guests in close proximity.

Lunch in the country – DeHuguenot Estate

Lunch in the country - DeHugenot Estate
We took a short trip through Stellenbosch and across the Helshoogte mountain pass to the DeHugenote estate where we enjoyed one of the best lunches we've had in ages. Isn't the view from the restaurant the best? I found it difficult to capture the real splendor - but hopefully the photo is good enough to give you a feeling for how beautiful it was.

Even though the food is fine-dining, the main and desert was enough to leave me full and not wanting for anything else. Lunch wasn't cheap, nor was it outrageously expensive. The (particularly-awesome) Chalmar Beef Sirloin cost R120 and Banana Split dessert cost R40.

If you'd like a delectable lunch and good service in the countryside, then DeHugenot Estate is certainly worthy of a visit.

Yellow weaver bird

Yellow Weaver bird
A month or two ago a similar weaver built a nest on this same branch in our garden. Unfortunately, the nest wasn't secured well enough and it slid off the end of the branch and ended up on the grass below.

I've watched this weaver build its nest over the past few days and, perhaps it's premature to say so, but I think it looks a little more secure than the previous one. That said, I sure hope that the little piece of grass that you can see wrapping over the thorn above the nest isn't the only thing keeping it in place!

School photos

School photos
I found this photo on the same slipway (at the V&A Waterfront's yacht basin) that I mentioned in a previous post. I do wonder how it ended up here.

I use to hate having official photos taken at school. I'm not sure if it's common practice internationally, but here in South Africa it's the norm to have photos taken each year. Perhaps it was relevant in previous years before high-end digital cameras became such common place - but now, I wonder if it's still as necessary.

Does anyone perhaps know the schoolgirl in the photo? I have her photo. :)

Slippery green stuff

Slippery green stuff
Some people would know better than others why slipways like this are called slipways. Even though the concrete surface is made with a corrugated finish, there's nothing quite as slippery as wet green moss.

Besides unfortunate people slipping, and landing on their bums, many a vehicle has seen its end by being dragged into the water, unable to gain enough traction to stop from slipping down the incline.

Unlike others, I'm always extremely over-careful when walking on this kind of surface. ;)

Dockyard cranes

Dockyard cranes
Aren't they just beautiful? Cranes silhouette by the sun and reflected in the water - they create such a tranquil feeling, don't you think?

The blue building to the right of the photo is the well-known Blue Shed craft market at the V&A Waterfront, and the brown structure that you're able to see to the left of the photo is the Two Oceans Aquarium - which certainly should be included on any visitor's V&A Waterfront excursion.

Yachts of the yacht basin

Yachts of the yacht basin
Even though I'd have to take motion sickness medication, still, I'd love to spend a day or two one of these beauties - as long as the weather was good. :)

For reference, this yacht basin is the one that the Cape Grace and One and Only hotels at the V&A Waterfront back on to.