Author Archives: Kerry-Anne

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...

Sea Point Promenade

Sea Point Promenade

Although I'm really happy to live where we do - out in a quiet neighbourhood in the northern suburbs - one of the things that makes me a little jealous of people living in the Green Point/Sea Point area is the Sea Point promenade, pictured here.

As Paul mentioned in a previous post about the promenade, the path runs for about 3km along the beach and seafront, stretching from Mouille Point to Sea Point. On pretty much any summer's evening (and most winter's evenings too) you'll find the promenade filled with joggers and walkers. Where we live, if we want to take a walk in the evening after supper, we either have to drive somewhere a little more interesting (bit pointless, really) or make the most of the neighbourhood scenery - which consists mostly of houses, houses, and yet more houses.

If I lived anywhere in the vicinity of Sea Point, I think I'd be out on the promenade most days, either diligently exercising, or else lazily reading a book. Where's your favourite spot for taking walks? Is it close to your house, or do you have to drive to get there?

Breakfast at the Foodbarn Deli

Foodbarn DeliUpon the recommendation of a friend, we had breakfast at the Foodbarn Deli at Noordhoek Farm Village on Saturday. From now on I shall take very seriously any recommendation made by said friend. What a fabulous spot!

Not only was the food excellent (it's only the second place Paul and I have found in the Cape that can actually make a proper poached egg), but the atmosphere was great as well. It seems to be THE spot to be on a Saturday morning in Noordhoek - we had to wait for a few minutes to get a table, and throughout the morning people just kept on streaming in. The decor is very pretty, and of course I was totally enchanted by the wall of books you can see in this photo.

Noordhoek Farm Village is quite a long drive from where we live (59km, as mentioned in our previous post), but I think it may just be worth getting up early once in a while and driving through for a Saturday morning breakfast. Perhaps we'll see you there. :)

A weekend break in Noordhoek

Horizon Holiday Cottages

It's not often that we go away for a weekend, so when we have the opportunity to escape for not one, but two consecutive weekends, we grab it with both hands. :) Some time ago, we were invited to spend a weekend at Horizon Holiday Cottages in Noordhoek, and we were finally able to take up the offer this past weekend.

Noordhoek is just 59km from our house, so it's close enough for a quick weekend getaway, and yet far enough to feel like a real holiday. The village is not too far from Cape Point, and just over the mountain from Fishhoek. It has a wonderful countryside feel about it, with lots of big farm dogs and plenty of horses about - I think Noordhoek could well be considered the horse-riding capital of the Western Cape.

We spent the weekend pottering about at Noordhoek Farm Village (lots of craft shops and a few really good restaurants) and Imhoff Farm (more craft shops, a cheese shop, a deli, and live music on the lawns), and enjoying the spectacular view from the balcony of our cabana.

The bottom of the wooden house you see in the photo was ours for the weekend. While you can't expect a luxury apartment for R550/unit per night, the self-catering cabana we stayed in was modern, neat, clean, comfortable and had everything that we needed. I'm seriously considering getting a few friends together and renting one of the larger family cottages (lower down on the property) for a long weekend. Who's in? :)

By the way, Horizon Holiday Cottages are running a World Cup special - 50% off for stays of longer than 4 days, until 18 July. So if you need a break from the crazy party that's going to be happening in the city over the next five weeks, this might be an option.

Well-hidden entrances

Concealed driveways
This road-sign always puzzled me when I was little. I couldn't understand why they would actually put up a sign to tell us about these "concealed driveways". I mean, surely they'd been concealed for a reason? Wouldn't their owners be a bit annoyed that someone was going around putting up signs alerting everyone to their existence, when they'd tried so hard to hide them? (I've always been a rather literal thinker.)

These signs still baffle me a bit, to be honest, although for a slightly different reason. I presume their purpose is to warn us that people might unexpectedly be turning out of these concealed driveways - but surely it's the responsibility of the motorist doing the turning to make sure that the road is clear before they pull out into it?

Another tough day in Cape Town

Camps Bay view
I'm sure we've mentioned this before, but I need to say it again: it's so HARD living in Cape Town. Really, you can't possibly understand unless you've spent at least a few weeks here. We've got this exquisite mountain, all these pristine beaches, gorgeous green forests, superb weather (if you don't count the wind), a picturesque harbour, breathtaking sunsets... *sigh*.

Being surrounded by all this beauty ALL THE TIME is such a burden. I do hope you feel sorry for us.

Bumper boats!

Tug boats in the Table Bay harbour
I've always been the biggest fan of bumper cars - it's such a pity that most funfairs don't allow people over the age of 10 or so to play on them, though. Maybe they'll let me have a go on these cool bumper boats instead?

The Enseleni (at the back) was built in Durban in 2001 and has a bollard pull of 50 tons, while the Pinotage (just in front of the Enseleni) was built way back in 1980 and has a bollard pull of 43 tons. Bollard pull is basically an indication of how strong a tug is and how much force it can exert on another vessel (although my research tells me that it is a little more complicated than that).

So just remember, if you ever get invited to play bumper boats, make sure you get the boat with the greatest bollard pull.

A flag of convenience

Marshall Islands flag
Although this vessel is flying the flag of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the chance that it actually originates from there is pretty slim indeed. According to the CIA Factbook, 990 of the 1049 merchant ships registered in the Marshall Islands are foreign-owned, and therefore flying what is termed a flag of convenience. There could be a number of reasons for this - tax avoidance, circumvention of tricky local regulations, or even the avoidance of political boycotts. I was a bit young to notice, but apparently many South African vessels were registered elsewhere during the apartheid years,  in order to avoid the unpleasant consequences of international sanctions and boycotts.

Of course, being a girl, I'd probably just pick the flag that best matched my pretty ship's colour scheme, and get the vessel registered in that country. Which is probably why Paul won't let me have a sailing ship.

Silversea’s Silver Wind

Silversea's Silver Wind
The closest I've come to going aboard a cruise ship was watching Titanic in 1997. It's definitely on my long-term to-do list, but I'm generally of the opinion that if I'm going to go on a cruise, I might as well make it worthwhile - these little 3-day "cruises to nowhere" don't really get me excited. A three-week cruise to Italy, on the other hand... ah, now that seems like a good way to pass the time.

The ship pictured here is the Silver Wind, the second-oldest of the fleet belonging to Silversea Cruises. If you feel like escaping reality for a few minutes, you can create your own virtual voyage aboard the Silver Wind.

The Argo Sea|mester training vessel

Argo, a training yacht belonging to Seamester Global
This is Argo, a yacht belonging to Seamester Global. Seamester, based in the USA, offers experiential nautical training - students spend a semester at sea, learning a wide range of skills and visiting places that they would otherwise probably only read about. Can you imagine what an amazing experience this must be? What a way to discover the world! If I had a child leaving school and considering taking a gap year, I think this would be high on my list of suggestions to them.

You can follow the activities of the students on board the Argo, by reading their regular blog posts and listening to their audio updates here.

The One&Only Hotel’s private yacht

One and Only Hotel ferry
A slight change of pace from the last post... This is the One&Only Hotel's yacht, presumably used mostly for taking guests from the hotel (located alongside the yacht basin) around the corner to the V&A Waterfront's main shopping and dining area.

Of course, you could walk (it's at most a 10-minute walk to the best shops and restaurants), or take a taxi (probably 2 minutes by car), but this is far more genteel, don't you think? And besides, if I were paying around R20,000 a night for my hotel suite, I wouldn't be inclined to expend any more effort than absolutely necessary either. :)

The Atlantic Adventures speedboat

Atlantic Adventures boat
Whenever I see one of these adventure boats in the harbour I'm reminded of our trip to Sydney in 2004, when we took a ride on a jet boat from Darling Harbour. Activity-wise I think it was the highlight of our holiday. Actually, we enjoyed it so much that we went back for another turn a few days later! :D

I'm so curious as to whether the companies in Cape Town, like Atlantic Adventures, offer the same thrilling, adrenalin-filled experience as the ones in Sydney. Have any of you been on one of these boats at the V&A Waterfront, and if so, how was it?

Christmas Pavlova

Christmas Pavlova

Look, I'm not going to lie. I'm exceedingly proud of this dessert. I should confess right away that I didn't make the meringue shells from scratch (I did have to put in a heck of a lot of effort to actually track them down, though, so I think I deserve at least some of the credit), but I did make the Chantilly cream, cook up the blueberry coulis, and assemble the whole decadent, sugary creation. I also managed to cut it and dish it up, which, as you'll know if you've ever tried to cut a meringue, was no mean feat either.

I'm also exceedingly proud of the fact that Paul and I managed to do every single bit of our Christmas shopping, food and all (we hosted Christmas lunch at our house this year), between 7.30pm on the 23rd and 6pm on the 24th. Without any screaming matches or nasty incidents of trolley rage! For two people who are severely organisationally-challenged, this is quite an achievement. (Want to know the best part? The entire house was clean again by 9pm. Every dish washed, every piece of wrapping paper thrown away.)

This year, I was feeling particularly nostalgic, so I made sure that the menu included reminders of family members who are no longer alive and the Christmases we shared when I was little. For instance, there were smoked oysters and TUC biscuits for my father's parents (TUC biscuits were a staple snack food in their house), sage and onion stuffing for my mother's mother (I'd always thought she made it from scratch until one day I saw my mother buying a box of ready-made Paxo mix at the supermarket :P), and pickled eisbein for my brother (the last two Christmases I spent with him both involved eisbein, and he was an absolute expert at cooking it).

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a really special day. For those of you fortunate enough to have your whole family with you, treasure these days and moments - one day the memories you're building will become more important than you could imagine.


City and the bay

When I was younger I used to love doing jigsaw puzzles during the school holidays. The puzzle pictures that I liked most were the ones that evoked a sense of place. I liked pictures of city streets, or quaint alpine wooden houses with window boxes full of flowers, or horses grazing lazily in a field somewhere. I wasn't much into baskets of kittens, or underwater scenes featuring dolphins.

I think that what I enjoyed most about putting these puzzles together was the way that I got drawn into the scene; it was escapism, just like reading a really good book. There's something about this photo that makes me feel the same way - I could stare at it for hours. Now if only someone would make it into a jigsaw puzzle for me. ;)

Guesthouses and B&Bs

Esperanza Guesthouse
Visitors coming to Cape Town get to choose from an amazing assortment of accommodation establishments - villas overlooking the blue waters of the Atlantic Seaboard, boutique hotels and casual backpackers' establishments in the city centre, sprawling estates in the rolling green winelands of Stellenbosch and Paarl, friendly B&Bs in the southern suburbs, penthouses at the V&A Waterfront, Victorian guesthouses on the slopes of Table Mountain (like this one)... I could go on and on.

Everyone has a holiday style. Paul and I aren't much into camping (I'm scared of spiders - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it), and we've never stayed at a backpackers' lodge (although I've heard that that can be a pretty awesome experience). We tend to go for comfort, but not indulgent luxury - although, if someone else is paying, then hey, we'll take it. :)

I'm generally most comfortable in a B&B with friendly (but not intrusive) proprietors (and nice linen!). A pretty garden or lovely view is likely to seal the deal. What's your preference when it comes to holiday accommodation?

Weighed, measured and found wanting

Old weighing scale

I'm a bit of a sucker for antiques and retro housewares. I spotted this old scale hanging in a lovely little gift and décor shop in the Cape Quarter, called Baraka. If you like unusual curios, antique kitchen utensils, handmade leather-bound photo albums, and brightly coloured cushions, then put Baraka on your list of places to visit. I hinted an awful lot while we were browsing around, but unfortunately all Paul got me was this photo. :-)

I guess I'll have to go back on my own one of these days, armed with my credit card and a very large shopping bag. Also, comfortable shoes, because I could be there for several hours. And Paul doesn't need to know, okay? ;-)

Let the party begin!

2010 football sign

Tomorrow is a beeeeg day in Cape Town. Just in case you didn't know, South Africa is hosting the FIFA World Cup next year. Yes... of course you knew that. :) Have a look at the banner on the building to the left - it's one of a number of banners put up by Cape Town Tourism to promote Cape Town as one of the 2010 World Cup host cities.

Anyhow, tomorrow is when we'll have our first glimpse of what we can expect come June next year. The final draw to determine the tournament groupings is taking place tomorrow in Cape Town, and the city is gearing up for quite a party. People have been hearing helicopters and fighter jets overhead for a few days now; someone spotted David Beckham having dinner at the One & Only Hotel this evening; and apparently Charlize Theron is in town. I don't think it would be melodramatic to say that there's a real sense of excitement and expectation hanging in the air.

Tomorrow evening a whole lot of VIPs and media will be gathering at the Convention Centre for the official draw, while the rest of the plebs party it up at the special party venue being prepared in Long Street. An estimated 700 million people are expected to watch the draw live on television tomorrow, in 200 countries all across the world. If you're one of them, keep an eye out for us. We'll be in Long Street with all the other plebs. :D

The Pumphouse

The Pumphouse

Paul mentioned The Pumphouse in a previous post about the V&A Waterfront. Built in 1882, the building originally housed the dynamo that powered the first set of electric lights in the Table Bay Harbour. According to Eskom's website, there were sixteen 2000-candlepower arc lights at first (you can read more about the use of arc lights in the 1800s here - it's pretty fascinating). The Harbour Board's report to the Cape Colonial Parliament for the year 1882 said that the light "... proved of great service, not only in minimising accidents, but in facilitating the working of vessels at night."

More recently, in the 1990s, The Pumphouse was a popular pub and live music venue, one that it seems a lot of people have really fond (if somewhat foggy ;-)) memories of. The reason the building is called The Pumphouse, by the way, is because it contains the pumps used for draining the water out of the Robinson Dry Dock.

Long and winding road

Red road bus

Have you ever been on a long-distance bus trip? When I was young, I used to go on a lot of school camps, and of course, we were always transported to and from the campsites by bus. Most of these trips were only two or three hours long, but on one occasion we travelled all the way from Cape Town to Pretoria (about 1400km) on a bus - an ordinary bus too, not one of those nice luxury ones with the soft seats, headrests and little curtains.

I guess it's not so bad when you're young, because it's kind of an adventure. Still, I remember it being a Very Long Journey. What's the furthest you've ever travelled by bus?

Longkloof: a mystery no more

Longkloof in Hout Bay

After reading what Paul had written about Longkloof in the previous post, my immediate thought was, "Pah! How hard can it be to find some information about this historical building? Must be all over the web, surely... he couldn't have googled very well..."

I had to eat my words, of course, after paying a visit to Google. Plenty has been written about Longkloof the area, but I couldn't find anything about this building. I couldn't even find a photograph of it online, which surprised me, because I thought it was a fairly obvious subject for a photo shoot. I'm not one to give up when faced with a mystery, though, so I kept on hunting.

I found this set of notes by Anne Lehmkuhl (definitely worth a read if history fascinates you), from which I was able to deduce that the building was once the wine cellar of the farm Groot Moddergat, and was built somewhere around 1841.

But I wanted to know what the building is NOW. Not content, I kept going, trying a bunch of different search terms, until eventually I struck gold. Or rather... clay. Because, as it turns out, the building now houses... drum roll, please... A POTTERY STUDIO.

It was no easy job to figure that out, let me tell you. And even once I'd worked it out using my superior powers of observation, I still couldn't find a single website to actually verify this information. So how did I know? Well, while Paul was taking photos of the building, I happened to notice the unusual fence adjoining the house, just off to the right of this shot. And when I saw this photo on the Longkloof Pottery site, I recognised the fence and wall immediately.

Now, please don't go knocking on the door and demanding to see the pottery - judging by the lack of information on the web and the lack of signage outside the property, I'm guessing that the talented resident potter, Yogi, would prefer to keep his studio a sanctuary. (And a pretty awesome sanctuary it must be too!) Visit his website to see more of his remarkable work and find out how to contact him.

Robby Kojetin: 17th South African to summit Mount Everest

Robby Kojetin, talking about his Climb of Hope

What's the most challenging thing you've ever attempted? I'm half ashamed to say that the most daunting thing I've ever done (voluntarily, anyway) is probably going on a kloofing expedition down Suicide Gorge. I've never run a marathon, or done the Argus, or been on a hike that lasted for longer than a day, or climbed anything higher than Table Mountain.

So you can imagine that I felt mildly inadequate having a conversation with Robby Kojetin (pictured above). Because, like, HE'S CLIMBED EVEREST. Right to the top. Just three years after breaking both ankles and spending eight months in a wheelchair. And apparently he plans to do it again. (Everest, that is, not the wheelchair thing.)

I met Robby at a World Lymphoma Awareness Day event at the Mount Nelson last month, where he told us about his experiences and about what motivated him to do the climb. Robby lost a friend and mentor to lymphoma several years ago, and a number of other people close to him have been diagnosed with cancer through the years; so he undertook the Climb of Hope in order to raise funds for CHOC (Childhood Cancer Foundation), and to raise awareness around cancer, and lymphoma in particular.

Lymphoma is frequently misdiagnosed, because its symptoms are similar to those of illnesses like influenza and tuberculosis. The sad thing, of course, is that it's very treatable if diagnosed early. Take two minutes to read about the symptoms and treatment of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

When Robby was telling us what it was like up on Everest, he said something that really stuck with me: "You're there. You can't hit 'Escape'. It's a lot easier to face something if you know there's a way to back out when the going gets tougher than you thought it would, but it's quite different when you have no chance of escape, and no option of stopping for a rest either. And that's exactly how it is for those living with cancer, isn't it?

Take flight

Birds at sunset

I found this photo in our archives - Paul took it about three weeks ago, but I decided that it's too beautiful not to post. It looks almost like something that Monet could have painted - can you see the brush strokes criss-crossing the sky? He probably would've added a bit more yellow, mind you. ;-)

Friends of ours get to look out at this scene every evening, from the balcony of their flat in Milnerton. I think in future we'll have to time all our visits to coincide with the setting sun - there's something so serene and calming about watching birds taking flight as the sky is changing colour. For a few minutes you're forced to stop talking, stop thinking, stop working, and just absorb.

This photo reminded me of the Birds on the Wires musical experiment - if you haven't listened to it yet, stop whatever you're doing and listen to it now. Go on, you need the break. ;-)

Filling up, are we?

Petrol birds

Let's stick with the petrol station theme for one more post, shall we?

I've never been much into ornithology - I don't have a particularly lengthy attention span, and let's face it, for the most part birds just aren't that exciting. Guinea fowl are different, though. While I find the average sunbird or robin pretty and all, a flock of guinea fowl actually has the capacity to entertain me.

They always look so purposeful. I mean, take this lot for instance. They're going to the petrol station, aren't they? Not wandering about aimlessly on a lawn. They have "things to do". Also, they always appear to be having meetings. There's something bizarrely anthropomorphic about this species.

I once spent ages watching a big group of them taking turns to jump off a concrete water reservoir. (Yes, I said "jump". Guinea fowl don't fly unless they absolutely have to - say, to get up onto a water reservoir.) They formed an orderly queue and slowly jumped off one by one. And I could have sworn that the braver ones, who were already on the ground, were teasing the scaredy-birds about being too afraid to jump.

Fortunately for me, we have one or two large flocks of guinea fowl in our neighbourhood, and they seem to make their way up the street systematically over a period of weeks, stopping in at a different garden each day. When they're visiting our garden, I usually call the cats and then all three of us spend a few minutes watching the Enormous Birdies through the window.

It's the small things... ;-)

A view from outside the room

Wooden beach-house

The first photo in this series was taken from the upstairs window on the right, and the second photo was taken from the doors on the left. I found myself wishing that I could pick the entire house up, put it on the back of a (very large) truck, and transport it to our suburb. I quickly realised, of course, that a huge part of the charm of this house lies in its environment - particularly the ocean views you caught a glimpse of in the previous two posts.

And tomorrow you'll get to see exactly where all these pretty photos were taken - if you haven't already guessed. ;-)

Another view for a clue

Another view from the room

Here's another visual clue to the location of our friend's house, mentioned in our previous post. Isn't this view just divine? Even though it's quite a distance to travel from here through to the city centre for meetings or social events, I can just imagine that coming home to this heavenly picture makes all that driving seem somewhat insignificant.

And then, of course, there's always the possibility of spotting a whale frolicking in the surf...

School with a view

Stellenberg High School

A couple of months ago I mentioned that I used to have a great view of the R300 fly-overs from my high-school classroom window. Well, here's another rather pretty view from my old school, Stellenberg High.

I can't say that I spent much time on the field in the picture, except for when some sort of non-sporting special event was being held there - I was not particularly strong in the hand-eye co-ordination department, so sport was not my thing. I do remember spending many a spring afternoon playing "social tennis" on the tennis courts from which this photo was taken, though. (I played "social netball" for a while as well, and even "social squash" - basically, that's what they called it when you weren't good enough to be on an actual team.)

To be honest, I think my friends and I got more exercise from laughing at one another's incompetence with the racquet than from actually hitting the ball. Good times. :)

Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre

Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre

The building in the foreground is the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre, and at the bottom of the pathway you can see the main gate of the Tygerberg Nature Reserve.

Kristo Pienaar was a well-known (and popular) South African botanist, probably most famous for encouraging South African gardeners to make use of indigenous plants in their gardens. He was a multi-talented man, though - some of the best South African reference books on gardening were written by him, he was a university professor, he presented Veld Fokus on SABC's 50/50 (a TV programme that covered all sorts of ecology-related topics) for a few years, and he was even the mayor of Bellville at one stage!

He died in 1996, at the age of 73.

Look left, look right, look down…

Warning sign

How many times have you tripped on a step because you didn't notice the "Mind Your Step" sign? And how many times was that due to the fact that the "Mind Your Step" sign was posted on the step itself, instead of at eye level, where you were most likely to be looking?

Similarly, I wonder how many people notice this sign for the first time when they're inches from the ground, with their feet in mid-air and their arms flailing at their sides. "Oh! It's a slippery pathway! That's why I'm falling!"

Wheelchair-friendly hiking trail

Wheelchair-friendly hiking trail

I don't know exactly when this sign was put up at the top of Tygerberg Hill, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't there back in 2002 when I was, in fact, pushed up the hill in a wheelchair.

Allow me to take you on a little trip down memory lane. I sustained an unfortunate moshing-related injury at my graduation party in April 2002 - I tore a ligament in my knee and ended up on crutches for 6 weeks (and believe it or not, there was absolutely NO alcohol involved in this incident).

Sometime during those 6 weeks, our friends Nicholas and Chanel phoned us up one Sunday and suggested that we all go up Tygerberg Hill for a picnic. Of course, hiking up the hill on crutches, while not at all impossible, was going to be annoyingly slow and extremely tiring. So, ever resourceful, Nicholas borrowed a wheelchair from one of his family members (yup, apparently there are people who have spare wheelchairs lying around :P), and the three of them took turns pushing me up the hill in it.

It's a memory I really treasure - particularly since we lost Nicholas to a stop-street-jumping truck driver in May 2004. Paul's dad's recent heart-attack scare reminded me once again of how fragile we are, and how important it is to build up a storehouse of memories for the future. What are you doing today to make memories with the people you love?

Enjoying the sun

Enjoy the sun

This is one of my favourite photos from Paul's Photowalk set. I love the facial expressions, the composition, the way these people were taking advantage of Saturday's summery weather to warm themselves up, the inclusion of the "Happy Birthday Madiba" poster to the left of the group, and the selection of photos on the wall just behind their heads.

If you're wondering about those photos on the wall (and I certainly was), Paul shot this scene just outside the offices of the Cape Argus, and presumably those are some of their recent or most popular press shots. I guess that makes this another example of meta-photography. :)