Category Archives: Cape Town

a walk in the park

Some more pics from my walk in Arderne Gardens on Wednesday.

Right under my nose on Main Road, Claremont; a few minutes away from my house.
Little path
Wildlife. Two Egyptian geese and evidence of a large warren of moles
Azaleas in bloom
Spotted by the guinea fowl family. They were hoping for some grub. Sorry, guys, next time.
A New Zealand oak. Catherine, I thought of you when I saw this tree.
Hmmmm interesting. Apart from the common name of this tree, which obviously hasn’t kept up to date with post-colonial rebranding, this might be a very useful and natural source of a poisonous substance should I ever need to get out my bow and arrow and use it against someone mean….
Part of a series of little ponds, usually filled with ducks and koi. The algae seems to have taken over for now.
Water almost completely stagnant.
I spotted a solitary duck on this part of the pond system, and no algae. Maybe it’s got something to do with the sunnier position.
Got the fright of my life and stopped me in my tracks with horror – I thought this was a gigantic spider balloon created by a colony of mutant golden orbs or giant wolf spiders. Turns out to have been part of an area of the park undergoing restoration, and the netting covers an ancient tree that collapsed into a pond. I’m terrified of all spiders and it took me a while to recover. A second coffee would have been helpful at this point.

Don’t let the lack of rain fool you. It was icy cold and I’d forgotten to wear gloves, so it was just too freezing for me to consider a bit of chameleon spotting (a necessarily slow-paced activity!)
Arderne Gardens is well-maintained by the municipality, and I chatted to about three permanent staff on my rounds. There are also now security guards at the entrances – they certainly weren’t there when I first moved to Cape Town, 35 years ago. I used to share digs in a large house on the other side of the park in those days and one of the ‘inmates’, Paul, liked to go jogging in the early evenings. He said his jogging turned into a very fast sprint if he ever decided to take his life in his hands and detour through the park!

running on (almost) empty

One way of looking at the impending crisis of a waterless Cape Town is that we are certainly getting a crash course in disaster management. I am enormously impressed with the City of Cape Town’s media release** yesterday, about how things can be managed for the best, who is ready and able to get involved (eg. retailers, traffic police, etc) and what each of us can do to avoid Day Zero altogether. It’s most likely that none of the people now involved in crisis management were responsible for allowing this major f%#k-up to happen in the first place, so their efforts are especially laudable.

** In case anyone is interested in reading it,  here’s a link to the release: CITY OF CAPE TOWN

Realistically, many people will not sufficiently reduce their water consumption and it’s a matter of a few more weeks before the taps run dry. We will then each be allowed to take 25 litres of water a day from one of the city’s 200 wellpoints. It won’t be nice, but we won’t die.

I saw this post from an American citizen on a friend’s facebook page this morning, and it struck me how spot-on he is about this being a wake-up call for the whole world – we must never ever take any natural resource for granted again.

drought

I hope you don’t mind me sharing my beloved city’s problem here. I believe the issue has made the news around the world so I thought some of you would be interested.

Montebello

Last week, to belatedly celebrate Anne’s birthday on 1 January, we had lunch at the Gardener’s Cottage, on the same grounds as the Montebello Design Centre in Newlands.

montebello 1

I specially went early because it’s been so long since I was last there, and I was not disappointed. The grounds, the studios, the workshops, the nursery, the restaurant – everything was beautifully maintained, the staff were professional, the atmosphere was calming and also blissfully cool thanks to all the tree cover. The place is no hidden Cape Town secret, but there’s something about it when you’re there that makes it feel like you stumbled into another world.

montebello 4

montebello 3

The shops and studios are run by the people who are involved in making the products, and the range and quality was superb. It was like the best of Cape Town rolled into one.

montebello 5

montebello 6

The hand-embroidered and beaded cushions took my breath away. I would have bought them all if I could have afforded to because it would have been impossible to choose.

By the time I got to the eating side of things, I was too excited to take pics of the food plus I wanted to concentrate on talking to Anne. I’m trying to get myself in the habit of switching my phone off when I’m with someone, constant beeps and flashing icons are too distracting. I figure there’s nothing that can’t wait til later (barring an emergency, in which case I would presumably receive a phone call) – but it’s a hard habit to break. I’m getting there, slowly. I’m grateful for the upsides, but for someone as easily diverted as I am, this is one of the downsides of the world of instant communication in which we live…

Food. Right. I had the “hand-crafted” bagel with salmon and cream cheese – I was a bit concerned about its size when it arrived, because I have a healthy appetite and this chap looked to be on the small side, but I’d forgotten how filling and substantial a truly good bagel can be – and one of the best cappuccinos ever. I can’t remember what Anne had but whatever it was, she said it was very good :)

Since Montebello is about eight minutes from my home and I drive past it at least three times a week on my way somewhere else, it is ridiculous not to stop by more often. You guys come visit Cape Town, I’ll take you there for lunch!

Cape of Storms

That’s the name given to Cape Town, in the late 1400s, by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias: Cabo das Tormentas.  4 million people live here and, while many of us know it by different names in various languages, this epithet has particular resonance right now.

south africa

Our winters are usually wet, wild and stormy – but we had very low rainfall during this past winter, and the dams were low to start with. The result is a severe water shortage. Fingers are being pointed at politicians and administrators and, if some experts are to be believed, we will have run out of water by March 2018. If you are planning to holiday in South Africa this Christmas season, especially down here on the coast, you’re going to be constantly reminded not to waste a drop. The City of Cape Town municipality is urging us all not to flush toilets unless absolutely essential, and to shower only once in every two or three days, among other things. A dirty car is now a sign that you are “doing your bit”, and grey (water) is the new black.

I came across this clip by Chronicle Digital via The Daily Maverick, which I’m posting here for any South African readers who may have missed it, but also because it presents some images of this country that do not usually feature in travel commercials and tourist advertisements. I hope you find them interesting.

PS. The water that you see people filling the 5-litre bottles with is coming straight off Table Mountain from a natural stream. It is marvellous and free – but again, a privilege for only those of us who have (a) a car, (b) money for petrol, (c) the time to collect it. And even then, I have witnessed fights break out in the queues to get to the spring’s openings! 

and wine not?

An old friend asked me to accompany him yesterday to Simonsvlei, the wine farm in Paarl where he collects his weekly monthly quantum of red wine. This blackboard caught my eye, and I have to admit that #3 is beginning to strike quite a chord with me :)

Simonsberg

Happy Monday, everyone xxx