JULY 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


 

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Winter in Cape Town

 

NATIONAL
Much loved musician Johnny Clegg dies. The man who bridged the national cultural gap by making Zulu music his own. The French gave him the fitting soubriquet of Le Zoulou Blanc. The entire nation mourned his passing. Hamba Kahle, Johnny.
http://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/355022/may-we-repeat-asimbonan

 

Former President Jacob Zuma finally attends the Zondo Commission of Enquiry into State Capture. Why he bothered I don’t know, because he displayed wall-to-wall amnesia about everything.

 

What a mensch! Not strictly a Cape Town story, but I did hear it on Cape Talk Radio Station. It’s such a good news story, I have to share it. A recently qualified medical doctor, Dr Paolo de Valdoleiros , living in Bloemfontein, has taken the radical step of telling patients they should pay what they can afford for a consultation. Now that’s a real doctor, in my book! He says he’s not interested in the luxe lifestyle, expressing disinterest in acquiring a Merc – how very refreshing.
The background to his story is even more astonishing: at the age of 46, paraphrasing his words : I woke up one morning and decided: that’s it – I’m going to be a doctor. Inspired by a lifesaving stint as a patient in hospital in Beira, Mozambique, when he was ten years old,  suffering from hepatitis. His recovery made him realise, at this early age, he wanted to help people. However, it wasn’t until he reached middle age, when he changed career path and he succeeded. What a story.

LOCALLY
At last, at long last, after literally years of formal requests, the Army is deployed to assist the SA Police in the gang-ravaged areas of the Cape Flats. The difference thus far is minimal, from what I’m hearing. Last weekend only – note only – six murders on the Cape Flats. Clearly better than the double figures reported after every weekend, week after week. The mind just reels.

 
Winter rains continue falling, to the relief of those watching our dam levels, now around 70% capacity. Counterbalanced by the annual misery of flooding amongst shack dwellers living in low lying areas, plus yet another fire in Masi in Hout Bay. Imagine being homeless in the pouring rain ….

 

PERSONALLY
I’ve had some lovely beach walks, read a pile of books, drunk plenty cocoa. My garden has provided the annual smorgasbord of tasty shrubs to hordes of hungry black and orange furry caterpillars busily munching their way towards their cocoons, and ultimately glorious wings. Meanwhile, they’re hairy, ugly, prickly and to be avoided. Much like South Africa. I wish our country could quickly pass through this painful, difficult period of clearing out the mess and corruption, and move on to butterfly status.

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NOSTALGIA AT DUNN’S CASTLE


Another February travel piece belatedly staggers into print  …
If  live in the Western Cape and  have ever wondered where our bread comes from, wonder no more, because we drove through huge areas planted with wheat, rolling wheatfields as far as the eye could see, in the Swartland area.

Helen and I drove around this area in February, exploring small towns en route, notably Piketberg and Porterville. I think my favourite discovery in Piketberg was a small garage on the outskirts of the town, named Voortrekker Garage.

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The faded wall picture of a 1930s type car, said it all. There was no plate glass, no fancy cars parked outside, this was strictly about fixing broken down cars. I found the name amusing, because the doughty Voortrekkers owned no cars, their was an era of ox wagons, a pre-car agricultural age.

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The other Piketberg building that I loved, because of its colour, was the old Synagogue painted a pretty baby pink colour. I loved the pink colour contrasted with the bright blue sky above the hilltops. As my bad photo shows, synagogue on the left.  In actuality the pink colour is more pronounced than in  my photo, despite my efforts to tinker with it.  Now the building serves as a Museum, but in its heyday it served the immigrant European  Jewish farming population.

Our overnight stop was at Dunn’s Castle . If you follow the link you’ll find a splendid night-shot of the imposing frontage. https://www.kwathabeng.co.za/go/dunnscastle.html
What the website doesn’t show you is the narrow, torturous road that wound up a very sizeable hill to the castle.

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We opted to stay inside the castle itself, and not in the modern conference block. As my pics show, it was a nostalgia trip of note. Both of us kept saying: look at this! And pointing to an antique sewing machine, or a 1950s style radiogram – most Rhodesian homes had a radiogram, in the late ‘50s.

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My vast bedroom‘s bow-fronted window looked out onto the rolling hills and wheatfields.

 

IMG_20190214_073807.jpgThe wooden strip flooring creaked gently, and the prettily carved wooden wardrobe smelled deliciously of mothballs – of course it did.

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Best of all, hiding behind a wooden screen was a ball and claw enamel bathtub, and alongside was a lavatory with a de rigeur pull chain flush from the wall mounted cistern. What memories these evoked! Farm bathrooms and toilets, back in the early 1950/60s. All lavatories had wall mounted cisterns with a dangling chain, usually much too high for kids to reach, and in some cases, short adults, i.e. me.

We loved our trip back in time. The food and service at Dunns Castle : not so much. Lets leave it at that and focus on the nostalgia.

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OH, I DO LIKE TO BE BESIDES THE SEASIDE ¶♫♫


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Indeed I do, even if it’s a partly overcast, mid-winter  Sunday. Melkbos is  always  lovely whatever the  day or season.  Look at those clouds, the play of light on the water.

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The sun gleamed and vanished, but it made no difference to the walkers, the dog walkers and the Dads playing footie with their kids.

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Did I see dogs? Oh yeah – and of course, my cellphone camera was not to hand, so you‘ll have to take it on trust that I saw twin beagles, many Pavement Specials, a curly poodle, two extraordinarily well behaved Jack Russells, Labs both black and cream, three tiny Yorkies manically towing along an elderly lady who was forced to tilt herself backwards at an angle of 120 degrees to maintain stable forward progression, otherwise she’d be ploughing a furrow in the sand with her nose!

 

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The  mid-pic group wearing red are the junior trainee lifesavers, going through drills. You need your wet suit in these icy Atlantic waters!

The jet skis howled and whined offshore, above the sound of the incoming breakers. But the racket didn’t spoil my morning. And even though my little Yaris was boxed in by two behemoth 4x4sfrom which I extricated myself with difficulty on departure, even this did not dispel my seaside euphoria.

Oh! I do love to be beside the sea side!

 

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*JAP* SO WHO’S AN ACHING LITTLE GARDENER?


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Me, that’s who!
But the glow of satisfaction is warming my sore hands and aching lower back. Oh! The aged bod.
Mid-winter is the time to oil my secateurs and lay waste to the straggling fuschia, the lanky geraniums and the snail munched canary creeper. Snip, Snip, and off they come. Pausing constantly to yank out the indigenous foxglove which is the most persistent plant on the planet, so far as I’m concerned. I use it as ground cover, but somehow the plant didn’t get the message, because it has rooted itself into every pot and tub on my patio with gusto. I’ve seen pics of the rioting vegetation swarming over the deserted area area around Chernobyl in Russia, so if Koeberg ever blows its lid, a mere fifteen kays away from my house, I am quite confident that the good old foxglove will shake off the radiation in no time, and proceed to envelop everything within a ten kay radius. Plant power versus nuclear power. You’d better believe it.

*JAP* Just a Paragraph to keep my blog ticking over whilst I’m working on longer writing projects.

 

 

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*JAP* BEATING THE WINTER BLUES INSTALMENT 2


 

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Drag out those old LPs, dust them off, and crank up the turntable.

 

Here come the 50s, 60s, 70s . Those singalong tunes, the cheesy lyrics, the falsetto yodelling of Slim Whitman, the brassy trumpets and the salsa music. The heart broken cowboys lamenting lost loves, accompanied by mournful guitar twanging. You no longer own a turntable? Chucked out the old records? Not to worry. Just turn the radio dial to LM Radio, which is pumping out pretty much non-stop music of our youth. Reprising a few of the old dance steps will your blood flowing, and warm you up. Dancing not your thing? Then go & sit in the sun. Bask a little. Turn up the radio. Enjoy!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LM_Radio
http://www.radio-south-africa.co.za/lm-radio

*JAP = just a paragraph to keep my blog ticking over, whilst I’m busy with longer posts.

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JUNE 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


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Mid-year finds me depressed by crime and politics. Crime I’m going to skip over, relating the catalogue of recent mind-blowing events will not help or change anything, and a rehash will depress me even further.
Mid-month, to preserve my sanity, I turned off my trusty little red radio and limited local news to a 5 minute bulletin at breakfast time. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the tide of crime and politics, none of the news in these categories is good. I remembered the advice of American Dr Weil, way back in the early 1990s, who advocated a 6 week news fast, exercise, an anti-inflammatory diet, and his cherry on top was: buy flowers once a week for your home. Pretty good advice in my opinion. To which I would add: sit in the sun, whenever possible. It eases my arthritis if nothing else.

Seems I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed by the current global political climate, and ex-Saffer- now -Aussie Joanne Fedler’s recent post on the 100th Monkey story came timeously. Here’s the link: https://mailchi.mp/88b499636593/you-could-make-this-place-beautiful?e https://joannefedler.com/
On the political front, we had the Prez’ State of the Nation address/SONA , which evoked a torrent of ridicule, scorn and derision because the man had the temerity to dream a little, and speak of a bright future for South Africa, featuring a brand new mega-city (a la China) and a Bullet Train. Well – why not? What a refreshing change to think of the country in bright positive terms instead of wallowing in the dark muddy mire of the present.

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Cathy and the Trolley Dollies in Cape Town were the DA’s special guests for the 2019 Sona on 20 June 2019. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN
One SONA linked event cheered me enormously. Don’t ask me why, but the Democratic Alliance ( the official opposition) invited the Trolley Dollies to the SONA event. These people are female impersonators aka drag queens . SA pays due politically correct attitudes to all shades and variants of gender. Think SA athlete Caster Semenya. As you can see from the above  pic, the Trolley Dollies are a splendid trio.

Speaking of  women , Gerda Steyn, a South African runner, broke the record for the Up Run Race in the 94th Comrades Marathon that took place on 9th June 2019. For some years the Womens’ race at the annual Comrades was dominated by a pair of Russian twins, which always irked me.

Another Comrades’ story, of which I caught the tale end on the radio, about a domestic worker in Johannesburg, who regularly runs to work, from Soweto to Rivonia, a distance somewhere between 44 kms and 58 kms, saying “ I don’t run for the money – I run to be part of Comrades”. The human spirit can be extraordinary.
In similar vein, the following anecdote: you were casting about for some good news, Alison, why not mention that lovely story about that petrol attendant who paid the R100 for the girl who left her credit card at home? And when she put this good deed up on Facebook, everyone was so cheered up by his generosity that they have collected R495,000 for him – and still counting, nice . Thanks to my friend Ginny, for reminding me not all is doom and gloom.

So: ending on a lighter note. My friend Vanessa and I had a fabulous girly morning at the Charity Luxury Vintage fashion event, held at the Waterfront, in the Cruise Ship Passenger Terminal. I stood on the balcony, looking out over Table Bay, and dreamed of cruising for the rest of my life, as a permanent passenger on the QEII. I believe an elderly British lady did just that. Apparently it was economically viable option for her. I wish!
At the sale I drooled and oohed and aahed over Jimmy Choo and Louis Vuiton handbags; they’re one of my many weaknesses. I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any more handbags, but as you can see from the pic below, who was I kidding? I salved my conscience with the thought that I was supporting a charity working for literacy and children’s reading. So I’m enjoying my handbags and polishing my halo.
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IRONING MUSIC


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Most people hate doing the ironing, but I’m one of the few people who doesn’t mind ironing. I’m not saying I look forward to it, but one Sunday a month, when the pile of ironing is halfway to the ceiling, I tackle it, and while I iron, I play CDs or my antique LPs. Today’s music was Paul Simon’s So Beautiful, so What. I enjoy his lyrics, plus he often has exotic instruments as backing. A good combo for me. What’s your musical accompaniment to chores?
*JAP = just a paragraph to keep my blog ticking over, whilst I’m busy with longer posts.

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*JAP* BEATING THE WINTER BLUES


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Tip #1 – sit outside in the sun whenever and wherever possible. Following the example of my fat feline guest. Tip #2 – turn off all sources of media – radio and electronic. Tip #3 – refuse to listen to news bulletins. Tip #4 – take advantage of the glorious weather and go on an outing – fresh air and sunshine are a restorative combo. Tip #5 – once the sun sets, make cocoa. Enjoy!

*JAP = just a paragraph to keep my blog ticking over, whilst I’m busy with longer posts.

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MAY 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


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Jean Doyle’s bronze statue of Just Nusiance; erected 1985 overlooking Simonstown Harbour.

FINALLY the Elections are OVER. Whew! Not a moment too soon. All the talking heads busily telling us who voted/didn’t vote (many of the unemployed, disinterested millenials) followed by a fresh bout of punditry on who would/would not be elected to the Cabinet. Which Prez Cyril has told us will be surgically trimmed to 22 ministries, as opposed to the current bloated 35. Jobs for pals, our previous Prez’s modus operandi, meant we could have built a wonderful braai/barbecue fire with the deadwood in Parliament. That is, provided we could have woken them up in time to herd them off to the braai fire. Our MPs are notorious for snoozing peacefully on their cosy Parly benches, as many pics have testified.
Election fatigue was followed by the drama over the new cabinet : who’s in? who’s out? The days of delay while the behind scenes turmoil of bargaining, bluster, and probably blackmail play out against the backdrop of a tripartite political party. The ruling party is a robust alliance of the African National Congress (ANC) the SA Communist Party (SACP) and the COSATU (the Congress of SA Trade Unions). Can you imagine trying to satisfy – placate is probably a better word – those three groups? Prez Cyril can have it, rather him than me!

 

I’m finding it difficult to ensure the balance in my monthly Cape Town round-up posts. I don’t want the post to be a non-stop litany of crime, which is pretty much 75% of the daily newscasts in SA, and the Western Cape in particular. I certainly don’t even want to think about, let alone write down the daily national murder rate figure. I heard it yesterday on radio. Quite often, on the days when I don’t feel particularly brave, I work on the principle of “if I close my eyes, it’s not there”, i.e. head in the sand approach; believe me, if you live in SA, you either have sand in your ears, or you’re busy booking your ticket to Perth, WA. There’s a theory that Perth now has a bigger population of white ex-South Africans than the actual Republic; but this is only a snarky rumour.

 

Metal theft is prevalent in my city. The scrap metal dealers don’t ask questions. They weigh the scrap and a desperately poor person gets a few rands in his pocket to feed his family, and/or buy drugs. Garden taps, metal house numbers – you name it. Latest victim of this scourge was Just Nuisance, the magnificent bronze statue of the famous Great Dane overlooking the harbor and Naval dockyards in Simonstown. He stands proudly in Jubilee Square. But some so-and-so prised off the metal dog-collar, and his naval cap, both of which were part of the statuary. Sigh.

 

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The other 25% of our news that is not clogged up with politics, is heavily slanted towards Sports. If its round and it bounces, or if its got four legs or even two legs, and runs, then South Africans will watch it, participate in it, bet on it, follow it, endlessly analyze it, obsess over it. Football, rugby, cricket, golf followed by the rest of the sporting categories. But not by me. I am the .00001% national anomaly who is oblivious to the national passions. And you know what? My sports-free life is just fine, thank you.

 

One major good thing happened to me this month: at last I got the message to collect my renewed Drivers’ Licence card from the Milnerton Traffic Department. The end of a saga that began in September last year, when I virtuously applied well in advance of my expiry date. I had new pics taken ( aaarrrgghhh – do I really look like that?) paid my money, had my eye test, filled out the paperwork and hope to receive the renewal within six weeks. Ha! Foolish woman. First obstacle was months of labour problems, a strike; followed by a dispute with the new service provider who lost over 100 000 applications … mine included.

 

I had to make another trip to the Traffic department, to re-apply and start the process all over again, and seven months later, I finally received my new licence card. That’s what’s so exhausting about living in South Africa – apart from the nervous wear and tear – mundane tasks turn into a Mission of Note.

 

We’ve had glorious mild, sunny weather that has been alarmingly dry. Ours is a winter rainfall area but this year the rains hover above, and then very frustratingly, blow up towards the Southern Cape coast, missing my area. So no new gardening projects for me. But I’ve been feasting on winter produce from my neighbourhood Food Lovers : leeks, which I adore, turnips, cabbage. And I’ve dusted off my big cast-iron soup pot and brewed up delicious Quinoa and Sweet Potato soup. It’s laced with fresh ginger, one of my favourites. I’m a winter person, just in case you hadn’t guessed!

Here’s hoping for a more tranquil and wetter June.

 

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SO WHO’S A HAPPY LITTLE GARDENER?


 

The answer is me!

Look what I grew in pots on my patio :

 

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Nothing beats the taste of young, freshly picked green beans. By planting at four weekly intervals another crop of beans arrives in time to replace the fading first plantings. I’ve had fun waiting and watching for the sprouting beans to push through the soil, then watering them – just a little, this is pot gardening we’re talking about here – until they’re established. I use my kitchen grey water for my pots where possible, and it fascinates me that the beans are not flavoured with Sunlight Dishwashing liquid!

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The New Zealand Spinach is rampaging happily, as it does. I can barely keep up with it! Nobody more surprised than me when it erupted in both my pots, having self seeded eighteen months ago.
I’m currently on a gardening binge, and buying a few new shrubs to fill in the evidence of the drought. My lavender and my ground cover died off, drought victims, and my ten year old Rosemary bush jungle is in a sad state, sorry to say.

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My two new hibiscus plants, both with promising fat buds. I’m looking forward to their generous pale pink flowers.
However, I’ve had success with striking cuttings from my Hoya creeper and my pretty pink geranium, so I need to start replacement rosemary cuttings. On a hot afternoon the remaining rosemary sends clouds of perfume into my bedroom. Delicious!
The soil in my garden is basically beach sand, but fortunately only  a very small area, which is manageable for a spasmodic gardener like yours truly.  Gardening in pots is waterwise,  versatile and rewarding.  If, like me, you garden in adverse conditions, pot gardening is worth a try.

 

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