Category Archives: DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN

YOU CAN BET ON IT !


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Regardless of the venue, be it theatre, cinema or concert hall, there’s ALWAYS that one idiot who doesn’t switch off their cell-phone. And sure enough, at a crucial moment, their phone will merrily chime to announce an incoming call. Despite turned heads, and hostile glares, the culprit often continues to sit happily engrossed in the performance, until a neighbor administers a sharp nudge and hisses: Your phone – turn it OFF!!

 

Despite clear announcements prior to performances, people ignore the polite request. What’s the matter with them? Are they so addicted to their mobiles they can’t bear to be out of communication for an hour? Or so important that such mundane things don’t apply to them? And most deaf people can lip read, so they’re not excused either .

 

And let me tell you, the culprits are not just the elderly technophobes who don’t know how to turn off their phones (and I’ve met them!) but much younger folk too.

 

Here’s a hint: turn your phone off before you enter the venue. Works every time!

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THE LAST BUNCH OF INCA LILIES


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My friend E visited me on Wednesday. She walked in, carrying a generous bunch of Inca Lilies, freshly cut from her garden. As ever, she apologised for the mess they will make, and as ever, I replied “I don’t care, they’re lovely!” Which they are. Deep red, with yellow highlights. En masse the flowers produce a light, frilly effect, but day by day the papery petals fall off, until the tall glass vase is surrounded by a halo of drying petals. I could care less – the flowers are so beautiful, and it takes but a few moments to pick up the fallen petals and bin them.

 

 
I always enjoy her visits. E’s passion in life is to travel. I listen with envy to her planned trips for 2019. Her equal passion is photography, and she take hundreds (and on occasion, literally thousands) of photos on her journeys , which she puts into visual presentations and photo-books, and shares with friends. I’m an armchair traveller, but she is a modern female Marco Polo.

 

 
Two days later she texted me to say she was in hospital, and the prognosis was not good.
I’m looking at my vase of Inca Lilies, and know that this may well be the last bunch of Inca Lilies I will receive from E’s garden.

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THE JOY OF SIMPLE PLEASURES


 

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My picture tells the story beautifully.
Gently steamed fat spears of fresh asparagus, doused with butter, and eaten with brown bread.
Nothing nicer. You can keep your gourmet highlights like caviar.
I’m very satisfied with my simple supper of fresh asparagus.
Not only satisfied, but content and delighted!

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WINTER COMFORT FOOD


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Cold winter weather always drives my Inner Cook into action. Chiefly because I’m constantly hungry, as opposed to hot summer weather, when I wilt, along with the salad leaves. So its time to make Chai tea – Ceylon tea with a mixture of spices. I’ve grown lazy and buy the tea bags instead of making my own, but its hot and warming; all that ginger, no doubt.
At a recent Village function the good ladies of our Village Catering team produced Sago pudding, which was to die for. I thought: the hell with it, and had seconds! My, it was good. Two of my fellow diners screeched: Urrrggghhh – NOT SAGO! And flatly refused to have anything to do with it. Turns out they were the victims of Boarding School cooks, and I know exactly where their phobia originated. I also have grisly memories of leathery rice puddings, slimy tapioca, and worst of all, baked egg custard. Shudder.
However, moving on to happier times and rosier memories. I managed to find a copy of a much-wanted cookbook ‘Retreat’ by Daniel Jardim, a noted South African vegetarian cook. And within its pages I found a recipe for Boeboer. I can hear you saying “Huh? What’s that?”

 
It’s a Malay dessert, made by the local Muslim community, on special occasions. Cape Town has a rich cultural heritage stemming from the early days of its history, when the Dutch East India Company imported slaves from Indonesia and Java. Their descendants form an essential part of our city’s mixed community, and their cuisine reflects their traditional Asian heritage.
Here’s a Boeber recipe from the web:http://boekatreats.com/recipe/boeber . If you decide to try the recipe, please note the cup measurements are British standard cup measures, (250 ml) not American.  I can never remember whether the US version is bigger or smaller; the point is, there’s a difference!  And, by the way, the mixture needs to be stirred constantly.
Enjoy!

 

 

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CREOSOTE


 

 

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My garage smells of creosote. The clean, tarry odour is wafting off the bundle of five metal fencing posts I bought this afternoon at my local Builders’ Warehouse. I need the posts to stake up my collapsing Cup of Gold creeper. It’s grown too heavy for the original wooden trellis that provided support when I originally planted the creeper.
Finding the fencing posts in the cavernous warehouse was a mission, and fitting them into my small car was another challenge. I know, with certainty, that the creosote has rubbed off onto the floor mats in the back, but you know what? creosote is black and so are the floor mats. Isn’t that fortunate? And I’m no petrol-head so I won’t be diligently scrubbing the mats to remove the traces of creosote, always assuming I could actually find the stained bits on the black flooring. I love the smell of creosote, so if I’m now driving a creosote-scented car, I shall sit back and enjoy the odour.

 
Just in case you’re puzzled by the red and white tape wrapped round the posts, that was the bright idea of the young man who carried the posts from the vast warehouse to my car. Understandably, he wasn’t keen to be covered in sticky creosote. And as a bonus point, the red and white provides a nice visual contrast to the black metal.
I suppose the manufacturers coat the posts with creosote to deter rusting. Fat chance, living three kms away from the coast. The salty air is not kind to metal or paintwork.
The smell of creosote manages to be both clean and slightly antiseptic, as well as tarry and aromatic. In bygone days wooden poles were always creosoted to prevent the termites from chomping through the timber. I remember from my Central African childhood how determined those hungry little ants can be. Seemingly solid door frames would suddenly crumble and disappear, the interior long since devoured by the white ants. So creosote was liberally applied.

 
Today’s creosote reminds me of another tarry odour : that of Lapsang Souchong tea. I enjoy Lapsang Souchong, with its smoky, tarry flavour. Not everyone’s favourite , for sure, but I like it. I was introduced to Lapsang Souchong years ago by a very exotic lady, who’d grown up in the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. Quite why or how she’d come across it I’m not sure, but perhaps it was a 1920’s fad? Or maybe her mother enjoyed it? I shall never know, but the sticky metal poles in my garage certainly have evoked memories for me.

 

 

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DESERTED SHOPPING MALLS


 

 

 

 

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Have you ever visited your local mall, and found it almost deserted, and very dimly lit? This was my experience today and it was distinctly eerie.
Shop doors locked, and in many cases, steel shuttered. Subdued lighting. Very little sound. I’m sure we can all agree that shopping malls are always bright and loud– very noisy, a combo of voices, music, public announcements, clacking heels, shopping trolleys rattling wheels, wailing kids, people yelling into their cell phones because of the noisy surroundings.
But not today. I approached the Help Desk at the entrance and asked the young lady: What’s going on? Where is everybody?

To her credit she managed a small smile, and told me Eskom was load-shedding in their area today. I pointed up at the ceiling lights and said: And these?

Our Generators, she crisply replied. She waved a typed list at me and announced that the businesses on the list would be operational today, despite lack of power. To my relief, I saw the name of my Bank on the list. My primary reason for visiting the mall was to withdraw money. So much for the secondary idea of a leisurely coffee and maybe a sinful slice of cake.

 

But relief died rapidly when I approached the escalator to reach my First Floor bank. Blocked off. Stationary. No service today due to load shedding. There is no staircase linking ground floor and the banking hall. Okay – so that meant I had to join the crowd of people patiently waiting for the one and only lift. Ummmmm. What if the generator ran out of diesel and marooned us between floors? What if/what if/what if ????

 

Get a grip, woman! barks my mental sergeant-major. I shuffle into the lift and sardine myself into the last tiny space. Good thing I’m small, hey?

 
The banking hall was in low light gloom, and almost empty, barring for the two security guards having a happy chat at the other end, oblivious to all else. So absorbed were they, I don’t think a herd of elephants trooping past would have registered.

 
The bank doors were firmly shut – chained actually, never mind shut! But two ATMs beamed out beacons of light. I nervously inserted my card and went through the cash removal routine, praying that the machine wouldn’t eat my card – I’m due to leave on a three week trip in two days’ time, so this is no time to go ten rounds with the Bank to extract my vanished card. But for once, disaster decided to leave me alone and swooped down on some other hapless person.

 
I scuttled out of the cavernous, dystopian gloom at speed. I noted, grimly, that despite there being no interior power, the external power was still operating the flippen’ parking ticket machines, exit booms and so on – free parking on a power-down day? Nah. In our dreams.

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I WANT ONE OF THOSE !


 

 

 

20180503_150433-2.jpgDon’t ask me why, but South Africa is obsessed with white cars. I would go so far as to say that seven out of ten cars that pass you on the roads will be white.

 

So when I saw the wonderfully bright pink sporty little number at Seaside Village, I was amazed. Isn’t it a zooty little number? Don’t you love that bright pink? Is it petunia pink? Or maybe bubblegum pink? Either way: its great. I prowled round it, phone at the ready to catch a few pics, and expected to find a commercial branding logo plastered on the side, but no. Glorious pink all round. I’d love to know who drives it.

 

And, P.S. I’d love a bright pink little roadster!

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THE ORAL BIOGRAPHER


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I was in the copy shop, waiting for the copier to spit out my papers, when I became aware of a persistent monologue to my right. The backview of the speaker showed a short woman, dark blonde hair in a ponytail, long sleeved white sweatshirt, blue & red floral leggings . Probably middle-aged, judging from the backview and timbre of her voice. Visually, nothing extraordinary. But the soundtrack? Golly-gosh-wow! Delivered in a normal speaking voice, not overly loud, but perfectly audible from the one metre between us. She was addressing the hapless young clerk behind the counter, whose face I could see. The clerk’s face  showed polite attention.
The monologue went this way – snatches of it, anyway:
He murdered her, but its still not come to court …. High court ….I don’t know why it takes such a long time …. I had to wait … fifteen years before my divorce, we were separated …. I had him deported … the police caught him at the airport … he never paid any maintenance, you know – only two months! I was married in Canada …. fifteen years ….
I am fascinated and astounded that people will cheerfully relate their life stories to complete strangers, over shop counters. And in queues, to strangers. Maybe this is the point? That the listener IS a stranger, and in no position to deny or challenge the storyteller?

 
I knew a young woman who was obsessed with a websites called SECRETS (or something similar; I now don’t exactly recall). She kept urging me to visit the website and look at the contents: anonymous people’s revelations. Clearly the idea intrigued her. Not me! Do I really want to be peering and poking through dark, shadowy corners of other peoples’ lives? Even for research purposes for my writing? No thanks!
Would I ever do my True Confessions recital, in public, or over a shop counter ? Never in a million years. How about you?

 
I’m born under the Chinese astrological sign of the Snake, which is classified as being secretive. A very good idea, indeed, in my view!

 

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EVERYTHING CHANGES


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Its well known that older people are often resistant to change, and find it difficult to deal with. Intellectually I’ve always known, and understood , that change is the one constant in life. An elegant paradox if you will, and one of the central teachings of the Buddha.
Yesterday I had change shoved right up into my face, by – of all people – my hairdresser. I’ve driven up to Melkbos for years, to my home hairdresser who gives me a perfect haircut for a modest charge. Wonderful! She understands my hair and is prepared to do a dry cut. In other words, I don’t have to go through the rigmarole of a wash and shampoo prior to the haircut. Fortunately I have very manageable hair, that falls into place easily and behaves itself.

 
She started to snip away and announced she and her husband were moving to a small town 97 kms up the West Coast, and  she was retiring. I nearly fell out of the chair. Bam! Out of the blue.

 

I managed not to burst into tears, which was what I felt like doing. I wished her well and thanked her for years of beautiful haircuts, not to mention the plant cuttings she had given me over the years. We share an interest in gardening, you see. Apart from the excellent hair-cutting skills and the gardening, I like the woman: a no-nonsense middle aged Afrikaans vrou*. We’d chat about our families, and local neighbourhood events. She always alerted me to the date of the next mammoth pre-Christmas Church Fete held by the NGK in Melkbos.

 
You knew where you were with her. You might not always agree, but hey! I only saw her at seven or eight week intervals, so it wasn’t crucial.
I’ll miss my hairdresser. And the worst thing is, I now need to find another home hairdresser in my area. Sigh. This older lady is not enjoying this particular change in her life.

*vrou = wife, woman

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TREE THERAPY


 

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Readers of my blog will have seen from recent posts, Cape Town is struggling through the worst drought of 100 years. To add to our woes, we’re experiencing a very hot summer. For example, today’s temp is 36 degrees Celsius. Way too hot for me. I positively drool over blogs from the Northern Hemisphere showing snow pics.
Anyway. On Sunday I managed to spend a wonderful five hours in my favourite place, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. KBG have their own water supply from high up on Table Mountain, so the gardens are watered and present a restful oasis of green. There are benches placed under shady trees and shrubs, little secret leafy bowers, wood-chip paved windy paths leading to yet another cool, green shady spot.

 

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And of course, the trees. Magnificent tall trees, in avenues, clumps, groups, pairs, scattered throughout the grounds of the garden, which is large – ‎528 hectares (1,300 acres). Because I live up the coast in a very windy coastal area, trees do not do well up here. Those that do grow are generally stunted and warped by the wind. Consequently, I suffer from tree deprivation. For me, one of the chief attractions of the Garden are the variety and number of trees.

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After soaking my weary body, mind and spirit in Kirstenbosch’s green balm, I drove home relaxed and smiling, healed from my hectic week. If you’re hot and frazzled, I heartily recommend the Kirstenbosch Cure.

 

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