The J&B Met is an annual horse racing event that's been a Cape Town tradition since the 1800s. For as long as I can remember the Met has been about flamboyant outfits and stylish dress - it's an extravaganza of note! Each year, a number of couples are invited to participate in the Most Elegant Couple competition, which takes place at the racecourse on the day. To give you an idea of what participants are competing for (apart from fame and glory, of course), this year's prizes include Seekers travel vouchers, Police sunglasses, L'Oreal product hampers, Gucci watches, and a trip to the Kruger Park. Not too bad, I'd say.
In the run-up to this year's event, Expresso, a television breakfast show, held their own best-dressed competition, where the prize was an automatic spot in the finals of the J&B Met's Most Elegant Couple competition.
So I found myself at the SABC television studios in Sea Point at the ungodly hour of 5am, taking photos of the competition entrants - and I can definitely say that I started to feel somewhat under-dressed as the studio area filled up with couples in their race-day finery.
Click here to see an album of some of the contestants, and visit us again in a couple of days to see photos from the J&B Met itself.
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?
Upon 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. :)
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.
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.
The Pipe Track is one of Cape Town's easiest hikes along the side of Table Mountain. It starts at a convenient spot with plenty of parking, just above the city centre, and follows a leisurely path along the back of the mountain, showing off the splendour of Camps Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Twelve Apostles mountain range.
The path is well-frequented, especially on warm and windless Saturday mornings. I think the best time to walk the route is in the early morning, just as the sun rises over the Boland mountains. Around this time of the year in particular you'll find that the air is crisp and clear, and that the wind hasn't yet had time to awaken.
There are generally many people walking the route in the morning if the weather's good. However, if you decide to take the walk when there aren't so many folk about, then perhaps you should consider walking in a group of at least four people. It's a very isolated part of the mountainside and although unlikely, it's possible that muggers could wait there to help you carry your cameras, wallets and phones. ;-)
Take a look at this map of the Pipe Track. This route is about 3.5 kilometres long (one way) and should take you about an hour to complete. So, to be safe, set aside about three hours for this trip. The extra hour will come in handy for taking in the sublime views!
Now before you get any ideas about cycling around Table Mountain, or even around and about the city, I'd have to warn you that you'd be insane. Cape Town city and the surrounding areas are extremely hilly, and while cycling about in the very early morning really is the best thing since sliced bread, I'd suggest that you hire a proper bike (with plenty of gears) from guys like Cape Town Cycle Hire or Rent a Bicycle.
Now that it's Argus Cycle Tour time again, you'll see dozens of cyclists practising and getting fit in the morning, generally before work. If you're a cyclist here on holiday, then you may even be able to hook up with a few riders taking a morning trip out past Camps Bay, and through to Llandudno - one of the most beautiful rides along the coast.
Disclaimer: I've never hired anything from either company, so while I suggest that you check them out, I can't vouch for them. :)
We hadn't been for dinner in Camps Bay for ages, so, after a long, long week at work, Friday night was our night to relax with an ocean view and good food.
The Pepper Club restaurant, Pepper Club On The Beach (map), is situated at the spot formerly occupied by Summerville, and is the official beach-side restaurant of the soon-to-be-opened Pepper Club hotel in Cape Town city centre. Apparently hotel guests will have the option of being driven from the city to Pepper Club On The Beach (in a Rolls Royce), where they'll be able to change into their swimming gear in the restaurant's super-modern bathrooms. :)
The restaurant's setting is spectacular of course, but the thing that impressed us most was the service - it was absolutely impeccable, the kind of service you'd expect at a top 5-star hotel. The shellfish platter we shared was *wow*, but the two highlights of the evening were the Sapphire Silk cocktail and the Avocado Ritz starter. Both were absolutely delicious, and at the risk of being boring, I'm pretty sure that our next visit will once again include both of these items. :) The cost of a main course averages between R140 and R240 per person; there is a lunch menu as well, which features quite a few cheaper options. You can download the menu from the restaurant's website.
Click here to see a few of the other photos that I took at the restaurant.
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. :)
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?
I came across this spear-fisherman and his brother at Scarborough busy trying to sell the last of the ten yellowtail that they'd speared close to Cape Point. Their price? R100 per fish! Isn't that just a crazy price? I'm not 100% sure what yellowtail costs in supermarkets, but I'm sure that it's in excess of R50 per kilogram, making this buy an absolute bargain.
The only reason I didn't buy one was that I'd have had to transport it 65 kilometres home in the back of my car, without a proper fish bag to contain the fishy aroma. :)
I wrote an article a while back about recreational fishing around the Cape Peninsula, so check that out for details on where to purchase permits - they're really cheap. I had a quick look for limits with respect to quotas for line fish like yellowtail and it appears as though it's currently limited to ten per person. So, if you're lucky enough to bag a whole lot of yellowtail, make sure that you only take ten - the fines are pretty hefty.
They sang all ABBA's best-known hits, as well as a few songs from the musical Chess (which was written by Benny and Bjorn, of course); and by the time they got to "Thank you for the music" the crowd was on their feet, singing and dancing along. Kerry-Anne pointed out that the setting was absolutely perfect for an ABBA tribute show, as the harbour backdrop was very reminiscent of Mamma Mia.
If you don't yet have plans for New Year's Eve, (and especially if you're going to be at the V&A Waterfront anyway), consider booking your seat for AquABBA - I believe the ticket price includes not only the show, but the NYE afterparty at the Aquarium as well.
I've put together an album of photos from the performance. Check it out here.
On Sunday we trooped through to Camps Bay for breakfast and, because of its reputation, ended up at The Roundhouse Restaurant (up above Camps Bay). We were unfortunately too late for breakfast, so we just had some Rooibos tea, admired the view for a little while and then left to hunt down some place still serving breakfast. (In case you're wondering, we were extremely late for breakfast. :) )
The restaurant's view and atmosphere certainly lived up to the reputation, and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. The lunch menu mostly comprises picnic foods (like cold meats, cheeses, pickles, etc.). You place your order by ticking items on a sheet of paper, and a while later a picnic basket arrives with your selection carefully packed. While it would have worked for the two of us, I'd advise rather to visit in a party of 4 to 6 people so that your basket can contain a good variety of food without crashing your credit card.
Click here to read a little about the building's history when it was used as a guard house in the late 1700s.
Kerry-Anne and I were invited to watch the legendary Johnny Clegg performing at AquaFestival at the V&A Waterfront last night. This year is the first AquaFestival, and if last night's performance, vibe and setting were anything to go by, I can only imagine that the performances over the remaining week and a half will be magical, and that the festival will definitely be back next year!
You can't see it in the photo above, but in this photo you'll see that the entire stage on which the band performed was floating about 5 metres off the pier in the V&A's yacht basin. Table Mountain, the setting sun, beautiful yachts, and the city lights filled the background to make the setting comparable in beauty to that of the Kirstenbosch concerts.
Johnny Clegg is performing again on Monday night (at 20h30), and I think there are still a few tickets up for sale. Even if you can't make that show, check out the circus that's performing at 14h00 every day until Thursday, or book tickets for the evening ABBA or ballet shows; tickets cost between R60 and R250, depending on the show.
P.S. In case you're concerned about the persistent wind we've been having - I can't speak for the shows that I haven't been to, but there was only the slightest of breezes in the yacht basin last night, which was a freakin' fantastic break from the wind we've been enduring!
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. ;)
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?
Every first Saturday of the month, a variety of crafters get together under the trees in Durbanville to sell their home-made products at the Durbanville Craft Market. In December the organisers put together special night markets for people who would like to buy hand-made gifts for their friends and family. Apart from the handcrafted items that you can purchase, there's always take-away food available, and a variety of entertainers to keep shoppers amused. The night markets are finished for the year now, but keep them in mind next year - they have some pretty cool stuff for sale.
Besides the fact that this photo was taken outside a book shop in Cape Town, my story today has little to do with Cape Town itself. I love technology, and devices like e-readers and Amazon Kindles are awesome (I want one!), but won't it be sad when humanity eventually stops cutting down trees to print books?
Okay, yes, I know that it's a bit of a catch-22 situation - I'd support the saving of our forests, but on the other hand, a printed book is just so much better than a cold and generic electronic device. Apart from the touchy-feely part that makes real books cool, photos in particular simply look better in print - and I do wonder if digital would ever supersede the beauty of a printed photo.
P.S. I really have to find a publisher - I printed an 8x8 trial book a few weeks ago, and as I said, printed photos just rock!
We had the chance for the first time to visit & Union (yes, that's And Union) for drinks and a light snack last Friday. We had an awesome evening, not only due to the fun people that we met up with, the exclusive selection of imported beer, and the yummy bratwurst snacks, but also because we were fortunate to be treated to a few dozen songs by photographer and musician, Andy Lund (pictured here, on the right).
As you may have gathered, summer has arrived in Cape Town. Days are getting longer and evenings are getting warmer - which means that restaurants have started spilling over into the open air, creating an awesome party vibe throughout the city. I love this time of year!
If you're looking for directions to & Union, no worries, here's a map. :)
Almost F1-racing at Killarney – you can do it too!
We were given overalls, boots and gloves similar to the ones that you may have seen Formula1 drivers parading around in, and then we sat down while one of the instructors explained everything that we needed to know about driving one of these beasts.
After the briefing, we all jumped on the back of a bakkie (a small utility vehicle) that took us on a slow ride around the circuit. As we drove, the instructor explained where we should drive and what we should be cautious about - like braking before entering a corner, and staying off the grass. :)
On our return to the garage we grabbed our helmets and headed off to the Reynards. Getting into the car was a little tricky (it's a fairly tight fit) but once in I felt pretty snug, and with the 5-point harness, pretty well secured. I quickly tested all the controls to make sure that everything was within reach, fired up the engine, and waited for the marshals to indicate that it was my turn to pull the car forward.
Getting going was pretty easy - the speed-machine worked much like any other manual car, except that the gearbox was sequential. This means that you keep pulling backwards on the stick to go from first to second, through to sixth gear and then push forward to go from sixth to fifth, through to first - easy-peasy.
The instructor took the lead around the circuit, with everyone following in single-file. I have to say that it was pretty easy and within two laps I felt fully in control, gunning it as fast as the car could go down the straights, but being just a little cautious on the bends. ;) After about 6 laps the chequered flag came out and I finished the final lap as fast as I possibly could. :)
We had a little break with some refreshments and a little more instruction from our teacher and then headed off for our second set. This time was even better since I felt in control right from the start and the tips given in the break helped me to know better where to drive and how to get the most out of the Reynard.
All in all, it was fantastically awesome and I find myself fighting a motor-racing addition. :) The cost ranges from R2,500 to about R4,400, depending on the package you choose, and if you have a need for speed, it's definitely something to add to your to-do list!
Thanks to Bianca, Julie, and the rest of the Fantastic Racing team for the rocking morning. If you'd like to enquire about learning to race one of these cars, check out the contact details on this page, and if you'd like a map to Killarney, see the Google Map with the route that I've plotted from the N1 right to Fantastic Racing's doorstep.
Coastal Tool Hire is a company that, as you would have almost certainly guessed, hires out tools. While away on honeymoon (many, many years ago :P), Kerry-Anne and I stayed at a guesthouse on Knysna's Leisure Isle - and as it so happens, the owner of the guesthouse also owned Coastal Tool Hire.
Now, whenever we see one of these signs it brings back memories of boat rides, oysters, deep dark forests and that awesome guesthouse on Leisure Isle. :)
If you're in Johannesburg and plan on going to the Whisky Festival at the Sandton Convention Centre (11 to 14 November) then arrange your day so that you get to the show early enough to ensure a space at the Schweppes Art of Whisky Cocktail Making Zone. The class looked like an absolute blast, and what's cool is that entry is free but, clearly, space is limited! So, be there a little while before 6.30pm, 7.45pm or 9pm and queue to make sure you get a space!
Early morning and sunset tractor-rides through vineyards are the best. I've just discovered how difficult it is to find somewhere (near Cape Town) to go on a tractor-ride. But nevertheless I've managed to find a wine estate in Wellington that does just this. Diemersfontein Wine & Country Estate offers tractor-rides for 6 people at 35ZAR per person - including a glass of wine! At that price the cynic in me says that it must be a glass for everyone to share, but Kerry-Anne's convinced that it's a glass per person.
Check out Diemersfontein's website and consider doing some of the other activities, like perhaps a picnic, horse ride or short hike.
Disclaimer: Diemersfontein didn't ask us to write this article, and, in fact, we've never actually been to Diemersfontein. If you decide to go, and then discover that it sucks (which I doubt), please leave a comment and let us know. On the other hand, if it's awesome, please leave some feedback too!
I'm not afraid of heights. I'm happy to jump waterfalls and do the occasional bridge-swing. But this kind of "fun", on the other hand, is just no fun for me. I mean, does anyone actually enjoy feeling nauseous, and does anyone like turning a paler shade of green?
Kids generally just love this kind of thing, but I remember not really being too perturbed as a kid that my friends got to go on all the rides. I was pretty much content to watch them having fun, from a safe distance.
Oktoberfest, a 16-day (sometimes 17-day) festival held in a (super) large field in Germany is celebrated in many countries, including South Africa, with plenty of beer, all kinds of traditional German food, a traditional-style band and plenty of dancing.
But seriously, the event seemed to have huge support from the community and everyone there seemed to be having an awesome time. I have a feeling that next year's Oktoberfest is going to be a rocking event. Best make sure that you get there!
We found this old car on the De Vallei wine farm's grounds. At first I thought that perhaps someone was trying to refurbish it, but on closer inspection I noticed the roll cage inside the cabin and realised that it may be used for stock car racing!
When I was in school, friends often spoke excitedly of the stock car races that they'd been to. I've never been to a race, but Kerry-Anne on the other hand seems to have been something of a regular visitor - dragged along to the noisy events at the Goodwood Showground (which no longer exists) by her mom and dad. She swears it was loads of fun.
The Tygerberg Raceway, a proper oval dirt race track, is still in operation and in fact will be hosting a race on 17 October and 7 November this year. Contact details and information about the events seem to be fairly scarce on the web, but if you're interested in attending a race, this page has a contact number that you could call to find out more about dates, times, and cost.
Can you see the way Big Mike was trying to stare me down?
The first (and only) time that I risked climbing on a horse, the beast in question turned out to be an obstinate animal with a mind of its own, refusing to listen to my gentle (and later, extremely firm) tugs on the reigns. My animal dragged its hooves, keeping a good 50 metres from the rest of the group, and when I dug in my heels it ignored me like a cat being told not to jump over a wall.
If you have more luck than I do with horses (or cats) then check out Horse Trail Safaris - it was some years back, but I think they were the ones who took us on that beach ride in Hermanus.
We were invited to the launch of Encore, an "opera appreciation club" created by Cape Town Opera to promote opera (and other performing arts) among 20- and 30-somethings. Don't you think that the posters for "Dead Man Walking", "Cunning Little Vixen", and "Requiem Mass" all look enticingly appealing?
We spent the evening listening to several young, stylish and talented singers and musicians perform in a style that I'm not accustomed to, and while I'd have to admit that I'll never be a opera junkie, the performances were pretty darn good and definitely worth making a part of your "night on the town".
Joining Encore is a matter of paying a R100 fee per year, which gives members access to several benefits - you can read about them right here. If you'd like to go out regularly, have the chance to dress up a little, enjoy some sophisticated entertainment, and perhaps meet other young people with similar interests, give it a try - I think it's certainly worth the R100.
My previous post about Wijnland Auto Museum featured a photo of something one would expect to see at an "auto museum" - even though the cars in the photo hardly looked like traditional museum pieces...
However, ten metres to the left of the previous photo rested this itty-bitty-baby tank. While awesomely cool, I'm not sure that I'd class a tank in the "auto" category. Its presence in the museum display is more or less like having a high-powered rack of blade servers, or better yet, an IBM mainframe, in an Apple MacBook display. :D
This is the third photo in the set taken in Joostenbergvlakte. (If you've missed the previous two, click here and follow the trail back to them.) We thought we'd take a drive out to this remote suburb to visit the Wijnland Auto Museum - which, from the outside, looks more like a scrap yard, or an auto graveyard.
Sadly, we failed in our objective. We took a quick look around and decided that we'd rather return with a group consisting of other photographers, perhaps, and two or more people dressed up and ready to be models. The museum apparently has one of the largest collections of rare cars in the country, and old (perhaps deceased) cars like these make a great backdrop for a modelling shoot - don't you think?
You'll find the museum by
driving along the N1 (with Cape Town at your back)
taking exit 34
turning right at the first opportunity
driving to the end of the road (past the nursery on your right)
Strangely the Wijnland Auto Museum has no website or email address, but they can be contacted by telephone on +27 21 988 4203. The museum is open daily until 16h00 (including Sundays) and charges R50 per person.