Monthly Archives: February 2014

Rubber Duck Rescue

Rubber Duck Rescue
Here in South Africa we have a few quirks in how we name things. A common quirk is that we call traffic lights "robots" without ever giving a thought to the fact that robots are something quite different - the kind of thing that may in fact have dire consequences for the world, as they did in Battlestar Galactica and Terminator.

Something else that I realised this evening is that we calmly refer to the type of boat in this photo (you know, one of those inflatable boats with big outboard motors, that wiz around our lakes, rivers, dams and coast lines) as a "rubber duck". No, I never said that they wiz around our bathtubs... and nope, we totally don't have a picture of a little yellow duck in our minds when we utter the words.

Do other people refer to these are rubber ducks?

Louis Botha’s statue

Louis Botha's statue
Louis Botha, the gentleman on the stocky steed, was the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa back in the early 1900s. The Wikipedia article is fairly informative, so let me not repeat all of that here.

From the angle of the photo, and the view of Lion's Head in the background, I'd say there's a fair chance that you worked out that this here is the entrance to Cape Town's parliament buildings, and that the well-known Company's Gargens are more or less to the right of this photo, just behind the parliament buildings.

While thinking about this photos I realised that I've never visited the buildings - and I'm not actually aware whether or not the public can easily gain entrance. Do you perhaps know?

Clouds and the City Bowl

Clouds and the City Bowl
I took this photo from Signal Hill Road that winds along the side of Lion's Head to the parking area on Signal Hill.

The area straight ahead and to the right in this photo (on the slopes of Table Mountain and Devil's Peak) are the residential areas of Vredehoek, Gardends, and Oranjezicht. While they're beautifully located, with exquisit views of the city and mountians, those specific residential areas are known to be extremely (like as in very very extremely) windy.

I wouldn't mind living there for a couple of months, but I'm not sure that I'd enjoy settling down there.

Summer picnic baskets

Summer picnic baskets
Picnics are big in Cape Town. There seem to be an abundance of wine farms (like Warwick and Zevenwacht) that offer pre-made picnic baskets for you to enjoy on their estates, and an overwhelming number of public places (like the beach, the top of Table Mountain, Green Point park, etc.) where you can enjoy your own private picnic.

Inner City : R5 Store on Plein Street

Inner City : R5 Store on Plein Street
A store where all products cost R5. Let me put that into perspective - at today's exchange rate that's $0.50 and about £0.30.

I never crossed the road to actually walk inside and take a look. But I can't imagine that the 50%-off pillows and curtains sign in the window could mean that they'd be selling curtains for R2.50, or could it? And, could that mirror, the frame, and those flowers all cost R5 each? That's insane. I'll make a mental note to inspect the store next time I'm in the area!

Inner City : Sima & Tino Mini Market on Plein Street

Inner City : Sima & Tino Mini Market on Plein Street
This area on Plein Street is a little run down, and the stores certainly aren't fancy, and small stores like Sima & Tino Mini Market tend to be packed with a variety of products, from sweets and cooldrinks to shampoo, shoe polish, and even take-away coffee.

Seaside property

Seaside property
In my previous post I mentioned that I wouldn't mind baby-sitting one of the many empty properties along the Atlantic Seaboard; even just for a little while. Given the pointing, I imagine that's exactly what the young girl on the left was proposing.

Just look at those houses, crowded onto the slopes of Table Mountain. How spectacular it must be to live there! Well, for 6 months of the year, I guess. :)

A golden-sunset beach

A golden-sunset beach
Imagine returning from work each summer's day, to be greeted by this view?

Clifton (and our Atlantic Seaboard in general) is one of the most beautiful sea-side areas in the country - which is why the properties in this area are of the most expensive in the land. What's interesting (though not unexpected) is that most of the prime real-estate is owned by foreigners; many of whom spend only a little time in the country each year.

I wouldn't mind house sitting... just putting it out there. ;)

Stop the sky lanterns

Stop the sky lanterns
In 2012 the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) appealed to the public not to release lanterns over the ocean. In China or Thailand thousands of lanterns are released at once, but here in Cape Town the single lanterns released over the ocean look like distress flares and result in hours of time wasted by volunteers, looking for missing vessels.

In this particular case, I watched as the onshore breeze blew the lantern from Clifton 4th beach, up to Victoria Road, and onto the slopes of Table Mountain. It's irresponsible of people to threaten peoples lives and properties for the pleasure of marveling at the pretty light in the sky.

Clifton sunset surfer

Clifton sunset surfer
I'm quite out of my depth, but I can only guess that that's a longboard. Would I be right?

Anyway, the haze that you see there is from the cold ocean air moving in over the land. The water temperature at the time was only 12°C - which I'm guessing is why that wetsuitless mad surfer person decided to come in to shore.

In case you're wondering, I know it was 12°C because my friend and I (he with his thermometer-watch) hit the waves for all of 4 minutes. It was very unpleasant. Cold-sandy water, with plenty of seaweed constantly wrapping around our legs.

Everybody says Clifton's a great place to enjoy the view, play in the sand, and relax on the beach - but for swimming, she was certainly not made. Now, this is mostly the case, but I have to say that if you catch the tides just right, Clifton's water can actually be reasonably warm... even approaching a swimmable 19°C! ;)

2014’s Moonstruck at Clifton 4th Beach

Moonstruck at Clifton 4th Beach
Each year around Valentine's Day one of our local radio stations, CapeTalk, hosts a huge beach party on Clifton 4th Beach, in aid of our much-loved National Sea Rescue Institute.

A stage gets erected, a band is appointed, and people flock to the beach with picnic baskets, bikinis, boardshorts and boomerangs (only kidding, Cape Town isn't in Australia). This year CapeTalk, and Discovery (this year's sponsor), invited The Solid Gold Session band to let their mix of 60s, 70s, and 80s hits spill out over the families and friends gathered on the beach.

I couldn't make it before 9pm, and really only arrived once the official party had stopped - but, just in time to see the full moon start to peak over Lion's Head. See the photos below. Isn't it pretty? Don't you wish you'd been there? :)

Clifton by candlelight

Clifton by candlelight
During our warm summer months people come out to Clifton 4th beach to enjoy the golden sunsets, fine white sand, and windless conditions. Soon after dark the beach comes alight with the orange-yellow glow of candles, creating this, the perfect close to a hot summer day.

The temperature tends to fall reasonably quickly as the sun sets and the cool ocean air moves in over the beach, and it's the strangest feeling to leave the beach and the refreshing 19°C air and walk up the many steps to the parking areas to be met with the preceding day's oven-hot air.

If you are visiting Cape Town at this time of the year - pack a picnic dinner, add a few candles, grab a sweater, and head on down to Clifton 4th beach at about 18h30. Feel free to thank me later. ;)

Bikinis, beaches, and books

Bikinis, beaches, and books
Clifton 4th, where I took this photo, is one of the most idyllic beaches on our coast. I say "one of the", but that's only to be nice to other beaches. :)

The thing that Kerry-Anne likes most about the beach isn't the sand, or sea water - hell no, she actually doesn't enjoy those much at all. But, hand her a book and an iPad together with a couple of G and Ts, and she can sit on the beach for hours.

We're both working next week, but I'm going to make a plan to leave work a little early (perhaps on Tuesday), pack in a drink or two, our iPads, and head over to one of Clifton's 4 beaches, or perhaps even Camps Bay if the wind isn't blowing. It's gonna be awesome!

Handprints and real irony

Handprints on a black wall
I found these handprints on the wall of the Wellness Foundation, an organisation that supports people struggling with HIV/AIDS.

I would have written a little more about what they do, but ironically, Google lists the site with a note "This site may harm your computer." I dug a little deeper and found that Google found that the site is infected with malware that automatically downloads to your computer, potentially infecting it with a virus.

Now Alanis, that's irony.

Quiet coffee and dessert at the Cape Grace

Coffee and dessert at the Cape Grace
If you'd like to go out for coffee and dessert, but don't feel like noisy crowds of people - visit the Cape Grace hotel. Their coffee's pretty good, and the dessert is simply divine.

Isabella’s – good food that takes a while

Isabella's Restaurant
We recently discovered Isabella's in Durbanville's Heritage Square. Isn't the decor beautiful? Sure it is. In fact, the restaurant is almost as beautiful inside as it's cakes are on the outside. I've been on a low-carb diet for a while now, so I haven't yet indulged; but I'm biding my time, and soon we'll be devouring a cake or three.

Isabella's has an astonishingly-comprehensive menu filled with creative gourmet alternatives to regular burgers, wraps, salads and sandwiches. The portions are fairly substantial, and super-tasty.

Don't visit if you're in a hurry though. On both our recent visits it seemed like the restaurant's relaxed atmosphere intoxicated it's staff into a Sunday afternoon-like slumber. :)

But, the lack of speed and sparkyness is made up for by the surroundings and food. So, heed my advice if you're in a hurry, but do visit them if you have some time to spend.

The heart of good food in St George’s Mall

The heart of good food
We don't frequent the open-air St George's Mall that often - so we were really surprised when we stumbled upon Fruit 'n Veg City, a fresh food chain that started off many years ago as an alternative to regular supermarkets, selling only fruit and vegetables (normally directly from local farmers).

In subsequent years they expanded, introduced more variety, branched out into selling meat, dairy, and baked goods, and is now in many ways South Africa's equivalent of the renown American Whole Foods Market.

This particular Fruit 'n Veg store (near the top of St George's Mall in Cape Town) surprised us a little - it was fantastic. The food looked especially yummy. The store was neat and squeaky clean. It wasn't thronging with people, and the variety of food was simply awesome.

If you're hungry and looking for take-away food (other than fast-food), then pop in at Fruit 'n Veg near the top of St George's Mall. I think I even spied an informal group of tables and chairs where you can sit down to quickly devour your meal.

Cold ‘n dark parking garage

Cold 'n dark parking garage
"Cold and dark" would ordinarily imply dingy and scary, but cold and dark concrete parking garages are great in our summer months. Instead of parking out in the street, paying ~R10 per hour, and returning to a blazing-hot car, rather hunt down one of the underground parkades - like this one below Thibault Square. It normally works out cheaper and you get to return to a car that's absorbed the cool basement air. :)

Gotham City and the Central Methodist Mission

Central Methodist Mission, Longmarket & Burg
It's hard to miss the Central Methodist Mission church building when visiting Greenmarket Square in the heart of Cape Town's bustling CBD.

Imagine for a moment that all the buildings in the city resembled this one's architecture. Wouldn't that be fantastically awesome and thoroughly scary, especially at nightfall? I guess it would then be mandatory to rename Cape Town to something more appropriate, like Gotham City.

Not that Gotham City looks exactly like that, but you get the idea, don't you? :)

Old Underwood typewriter

Old Underwood typewriter
Based on the photos I saw on the The Typewriter Database, I estimate this Underwood Noiseless typewriter to stem from the 1920s or perhaps 1930s.

While I've never typed on this type of typewriter, I do remember writing school projects using my mothers old electronic typewriter. And, while I'm sure my parents thought that we had it easy (using a nifty electronic typewriter, with soft-touch keys) I can't help but think that kids these days have it really-really easy.

But then, perhaps kids these days simply have other challenges - like disciplining themselves to stay focused among the distraction created by our many digital devices and social platforms. Poor things. I pity those kids kids.

Steampunk Truth

Steampunk Truth
Using steampunk couture to develop Truth Coffee Roasting's brand was a pretty smart idea - given the way in which espresso is made, of course.

If you're scouting for similar decor, the particular contraption to the right of this photo, with it's dozons of pipes, cogs, and levers was created by Chris Jones (email) from Psychedelic Steampunk.

A confusion of flora

A confusion of flora
Once picked, we can refer to these as a bunch of flowers; but like this - I suggest we refer to this collective as a confusion of flowers. It seems like a fairly apt name, IMO.

After a blistering hot Friday, we had a strangely-cool Saturday, with plenty of cloud-cover, especially congregating around Table Mountain like a huge ball of grey cotton wool. Kerry-Anne and I headed out to the Alphen Hotel in Constantia to meet up with friends for lunch at La Belle, a lovely restaurant on the hotel's estate.

La Belle is pretty awesome - the service is great, and the food is superb. The pork neck I ordered was spectacular, the cheese cake was heavenly, but the coffee was unfortunately only average. I'd definitely recommend you visit La Belle though - you're sure to enjoy it.

No one looks tough drinking through a straw

Street Art in Observatory
I discovered this piece of street art in Cape Town's eccentric suburb of Observatory, and right now I'm trying to imagine standing in a bar, beer in hand, sipping through a straw. It may as well be a pink beer... which reminds me of this funny advert for Windhoek Lager. :)