Monthly Archives: April 2012

Our visit to Tulbagh begins

A dam, a jetty, and a pretty blue mountain
We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world yet we so seldom break away from work long enough to unwind and enjoy what the Cape Province has to offer.

So, on a whim, I scoured a few online accommodation sites and booked two nights away in Tulbagh, a small town that's a short 121 kilometers from the City (here's a route map).

I took this photo at the guest house where we stayed - a rural estate about 3 kilometers outside the town. Over the next few days I'll share with you more of what we saw in and around Tulbagh.

Kalky’s in Kalk Bay

Kalky's in Kalk Bay
Kalky's is probably the most well-known fish 'n chips restaurant in Cape Town... perhaps even in South Africa! As you can see, the decor is quite unassuming - there's nothing special about the look of the restaurant - which I guess you can then take to be a testament to how great their food must be!

The best time to go would be an hour or so before lunch time - just to make sure that you get a seat. You'll find the restaurant located close to the water's edge, inside Kalk Bay harbour.

And, if you're wondering why it's so empty... it's because this photo was taken a little while after 8am, while the restaurant was closed. :)

Olympia Bakery in Kalk Bay

Olympia Bakery in Kalk Bay
This old red door, located on the side of the large Olympia Bakery building (off Main Road in Kalk Bay) is the entrance to the bakery's take-away section where patrons buy breads, danishes, croissants, and many more delectable baked yummies.

The side of the building that faces Main Road has large glass windows that allow the morning brightness to flood the restaurant. I'd hoped we could have a bite to eat at the bakery's restaurant, but it seems as though it's popular enough that one would have to book in advance to get a seat. So alas, we moved on to an alternative restaurant that was ok, but not quite as awesome as I think Olympia would have been.

We'll have to make a plan to return - perhaps for breakfast and then hop over the road for lunch at Kalky's! :)

Land Rover, the best 4×4 for Africa-trips?

Land Rover, the best 4x4 for Africa-trips?
My Toyota-bigot friends would contest and suggest that the Land Cruiser is the best 4x4 to use in Africa. While I'd probably not win a technical motoring argument, there's good reason to argue that Landy's are the best 4x4 for tripping into deepest Africa.

Land Rovers have been so pervasive in Africa over the last 20 or 30 years that finding desperately needed spare parts on old broken-down Landy is very likely - even in the remotest of African villages. The same cannot be said for modern, albeit awesome, 4x4s. What that says for the Land Rover's durability is an arguing point that my Toyota friends would certainly pose, but in reality it's true, any vehicle is prone to failing at some point and it's undeniable that having a ready supply of old parts is always super-useful.

That said, I'd probably rather road-trip though Africa in a comfy new 4x4 and fork out the money for a satellite phone than take a 4,000km trip in one of these rattle-traps. :)

Seal Eye(land)

Seal eye(land)
It was eerie how Robert-the-seal kept his one eye focused on me as he frolicked in the water below the pier I was standing on. I wasn't sure if he was hoping that I fall in and join him for a swim, or if he was in fact just being cautious of the scary human. Personally, I think I think the former is a more likely reason. :)

Boys love fishing

A boy fishing
Most boys that I've met appear to love fishing. While I did, when I was 10, I don't now - and I now wonder why it kept me entertained for hours on end. Perhaps it was the challenge of catching something, perhaps because it was so different to what I normally did, perhaps it just seemed cool at the time. I'm really not sure. :-/


Trains, boats, and harbours
The train crawling out of Kalk Bay station in the background departs from Cape Town station, passes though Cape Town's southern suburbs, and then takes a sharp right turn at the cost to wind it's way along the beaches of False Bay towards Simon's Town. Even though the train's interior isn't in a great condition, and it's not a "first-class" ride, the views and experience certainly are first-class. And yes, it's pretty safe - as long as you keep to daylight hours.

Tourists and locals alike can buy cheap day-traveler hop-on-hop-off tickets at Cape Town station. Besides for sticking to daylight hours, the only advice I'd give is to head out early and to try and pick a sunny, windless day.

Doesn't that sound like fun?

A distant Simon’s Town

A distant Simon's Town
At the foot of the distant blue mountains, right in the center of the photo, is the well-known Simon's Town. Simon's Town is most prominent in my mind for our navy's annual naval festival, and Boulder's Beach - one of the major tourist spots in Cape Town.

Longline fishing boat

Longline fishing boat
The vessel in this photo, known by name Sulaiman, is a longline fishing boat. Longline fishing is a fishing technique, often used to catch tuna and swordfish, that relies on a single long fishing line that has hundreds (even thousands) of smaller lengths of baited hook lines attached. Not a very nice thought, now is it?

A morning at Kalk Bay harbour

A morning at Kalk Bay harbour
Kalk Bay (pronounced "Cork Bay") started its existence as lime-producing town. In case you're wondering if there's a link between the word "kalk" and lime - there is! The Dutch (and Afrikaans) word "kalk" means "chalk" - which is a form of limestone. So the literal translation of Kalk Bay would be Chalk Bay. :)

Pulleys lift a heavy load

Pulleys lift a heavy load
The guy who invented the pulley system for lifting heavy objects deserves a prize. Really, he does. Pulleys changed the world even more than Steve Jobs or his newfangled gadgets have done. ;)

If you've ever wondered (as one does) how to calculate how much force is required to lift a heavy object using pulleys then take a look at this quick demonstration and formula on the Dynamic Science site. It's so simple, even I got it!

A door unhinged

A door unhinged
Don't you love photos that tell a story? Did you notice how the photo's composition makes it to look a little like a face?

Through the doors you're able to see an industrial area, located just outside of Cape Town city, named Paarden Island. I find it super-interesting to drive around industrial areas - to see the types of businesses that operate. It's often really surprising what one finds! If you haven't done so before then perhaps you should take a drive through an industrial area. Really, it can be interesting. :)

Old wooden lockers

Old wooden lockers
These wooden lockers must be many years old and must have in their time belonged to several people. Imagine all the history that they must be privy to - the different items they've stored over the years, from worker's lunches to coats and perhaps even stolen or illegal items. Imagine the stories that they'd tell if the could speak. There's almost certainly a novel here waiting to be written. :)

Garden snake

Red fire hose sign
The sign on the left, clearly, represents a fire hose - but don't you think it looks a little like a red snake?

Speaking of hoses and snakes - if you don't speak Afrikaans you may find it interesting to know that the Afrikaans word for garden hose is tuinslang (pronounced tain-slung), which translated literally means "garden snake".

Green doors and chevron steps

Green doors and chevron stairs
I really wanted to go inside, but the old dilapidated building was just a little too eerie - I really wasn't sure what I would find on the other side of those green doors.

Only now did I notice that there appears to be something resembling a picture frame to the right of the stairs. How very strange.

An old train workshop

An old train workshop
I'm pretty sure this building is an old workshop that was previously used to service trains. I don't think it's in use anymore - it looked as though the train tracks leading into the dilapidated building haven't been burdened with the weight of a train in quite some time.

There was nobody else about and the old building was airy and spooky - and, I can't deny that I felt the need to keep checking over my shoulder.

Horns not to be lubricated

Horns not to be lubricated
Is it just me, or does that sentence read a little phallically? :)

The object in this photo is the end of a train-carriage; the part that hooks on to the next carriage. I wonder if carriage horns should normally be lubricated and if this sign was painted on the horn to indicate to the guys who normally maintain the carriages that this one had been decommissioned and should no longer be lubricated. I'm not sure - do you know?

Rainy days and broken windows

Rainy days and broken windows
For as long as I can remember, with the exception of two or three weekends, it's always rained on Easter weekend. This weekend was no different - so I took the opportunity to walk about in places where not many would venture - especially alone, and especially on a cold and dark day. Over the next few days I'll be sharing a few photos from my impromptu photo-walk. :)

Stop, wait for Shunter?

Stop, wait for Shunter
If you look closely at the sign you'll notice that it's been rewritten. I wonder what the previous sign said. "Wait for Peter"?

Seriously though, a Shunter is the person responsible for switching the tracks onto which approaching trains will be guided. The process is called "shunting", hence the title Shunter.

I'm sure you can imagine that it really is a good idea to wait for the Shunter to finish shunting. :)

Mouille Point bus sign, number 043

Mouille Point bus sign, number 043
Imagine how long this sign's been marking the bus stop. In fact, it looks like this one's holding bracket corroded away at some point and has been replaced by a nice new shiny bracket - which is either silver or made from something that isn't quite as corrosive as steel.

Many years ago, probably up until around the time my dad was born (which was a long time ago, dad ;) ) Cape Town use to have a tram system. In 1935 the city introduced its first trolleybus (which looked a lot like the buses we know today) which gradually led to the tram system being decommissioned in 1939.

Sun, rain, and a door with flaking paint

Sun, rain, and a door with flaking paint
The problem with north-facing painted doors and window frames is that the harsh African summer sun alternating with wet winters and howling wind soon causes this kind of damage. And you know, I'm just not that into sanding and painting. :)

White giraffes – statues in a window

White giraffes - statues in a window
At over 5 meters in height, African giraffes are the tallest animals on earth. They eat the strangest food - the leaves of the thorny acacia tree. And, even though they're so tall and gangly, they manage to run at speeds of up to 56 kilometers per hour!

Aren't giraffes just awesome? :) (Click those last two links.)

Obsolete air vents

Obsolete air vents
Years ago homes used to be built with air vents like this one connecting the outside to the inside. The room in which I'm sitting has four of these passing air through the double brick wall. A few years ago I noticed that new homes appeared not to have air vents - so either vents were of no real benefit, or architects decided it was easier to just leave them off the plan.

To be fair to the building trade, these vents do let in huge amounts of cold air in winter and hot air in summer - which isn't ideal. On the other hand, the absence of this ventilation may be why many small modern town-houses seem to struggle with damp in winter.