Category Archives: DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN

WOMAN v.s BLACK PLASTIC RUBBISH BAG


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I am overwhelmed by the pandemic, I just need a little light relief. So that’s why I’m posting this piece today, written earlier in the year. Trivia, and inconsequential in the greater scheme of things, but … we all need a break.

These damn bags defeat me every time.
Despite the fact that I have opposable thumbs, a 1400 gram brain sitting inside my skull, and belong to the species that has travelled to outer space, removing a fresh black, plastic bag from the roll of new bags, and unfolding it to put into the kitchen rubbish bin always turns into ten minutes of sweaty frustration and bad language.

 
For openers, tearing the bag off the continuous roll is a challenge. Yes: there are perforations which – theoretically – tear along the dotted line and liberate one black bag. Except the perforations often don’t cooperate, causing me to hunt for scissors, snip it off, and (usually) succeed in creating an unwanted hole in a brand new bag. Sigh. Let’s try again. Maybe Bag #2 will permit me to remove it from its parent roll.
Okay. So now I have one creased new black bag in my hand. But now to unfold it. Umm. Where do I start? The folding pattern would baffle an Origami Master. The folding mechanism in the plastic bag factory must have been designed by goblins or aliens. Take your pick. Finally I persuade the folds to unfold, and voila, a new bag ready for the bin.

 
Except there’s one final test. You’ve all been baffled by this one, I’m sure. How to persuade the bag to open? Pull, tug, shake, rub, do what you will, you cannot get the two layers of plastic to part. But there’s a secret. And I will share it: lick your thumb and forefinger, and now rub the top join, where the bag should open. It just might! Success, at last!

 
Another precious ten minutes sliced away by time, into the garbage bin of my life, which I begrudge. I could have been occupied with something pleasant like reading a book, or something useful, like sorting out my latest credit card bill, but no: ten minutes wasted in Round # 493 in the uneven contest of Woman v.s. Garbage Bags. And don’t ask who won. Grrrhhh!!

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A SURPRISE BONUS DURING LOAD SHEDDING *


We’re currently undergoing two and a half hour periods of load-shedding, up to three times a day, which makes life difficult, as you can imagine. One of the difficulties is that the traffic lights don’t work when the power is off. Theoretically, the robot intersection should then operate as a four way stop.
Theoretically. Because there’s always some oke – usually in a huge 4×4 who’s in such a hurry, or so important, that he just barges across the intersection, out of turn. So crossing a busy intersection, or heaven forbid, executing a right-hand turn, is motorized Russian roulette. I hate driving when the lights are out.
Today I had no choice but to start my journey homeward during load-shedding. Horrors! Then inspiration struck. My homeward route passes the local beachfront, so why not detour to the beach, park, and wait until the appointed hour when the power should return? Brilliant idea.

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For once, there was no wind, the sun shone, the seagulls swooped and shouted and sunbathed from post perches.

 

The mountain loomed in blue majesty over the bay. Not so much as a baby cloudlet over Lions’ Head, a sign that clear, sunny dry weather will continue.

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A taxidriver and his gaartjie sat on the fence and relaxed. Given the state of his battered taxi in the parking lot, this was a good idea, prior to his attacking the peak hour afternoon traffic

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A perfect late summer afternoon in Cape Town. And when I tackled the roads again. the robots were working. What a relief!

*Our South African euphemism for rolling power blackouts.

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The Long Tailed Wydah Bird


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Regrettably I can’t give credit to the photographer; pic  of pin-tailed wydah  sourced  off the web.
He’s back. Perching on the neighbour’s TV aerial, returning to catch his breath, after performing one of his complicated aerial dance routines, displaying his long ribbon of a tail in the most enticing way he knows how.
I watch him while I eat  breakfast. My high bar-stool chair gives me a perfect view out of the kitchen window, across the road, and I have a ringside seat to marvel at his beautiful dancing and his gorgeous tail. If I was a female wydah bird, I’d be smitten by such daring dancing, and such an elegant tail!  After many days of careful observation I can report the bird has a definite pattern which he follows. I can’t describe it to you, save to say it incorporates swoops, dips and turns all of which display his long, ribbon tail feathers to best advantage.

 

Whether the pic above shows my neighbourhood bird is difficult to say. From my vantage point, its difficult to see what colour he is. But the whole point about the post are his magnificent tail feathers, which the pic shows to advantage.

 
Last week I spotted a much smaller, and of course tail-less bird (females of the species, etc. ) perched on the opposite end of the TV aerial, not quite alongside him, but at an interested distance. After a minute or two, she flew away. Ag shame. He’ll have to polish up his dance routine and try again.
I’ve noticed that he’s very aggressive, and if another bird intrudes into his air space he zooms up immediately and chases them away, regardless of size.
After some Googling, I learn that the male wydah bird’s tail can grown to as much as three times his body length during the breeding season, and that wydahs lay their eggs in other birds’ nest, a la the cuckoo. However, apparently other birds either don’t notice or mind, because they don’t kick out the foreign eggs, so more  generations of wydah birds takes to the skies.

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JANUARY BELT TIGHTENING


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This is the month when we’re tightening our belts, usually financially; but also at  the other end of the spectrum we’re slackening our belts ,and wondering why did we eat  yet another slice of Christmas cake? Because its delicious, that’s why! But of course, those extra kgs come to roost, generally around our mid-sections.

So I offer a few thrifty tips, none of them exercise or gym related.

On the topic of food, there’s  the idea of Meatless Mondays,  don’t explain, apologise, or introduce  it to the family, just do it.  When they moan, ask if they would like Christmas gifts in December 2020 ? because this is the first step toward that target.

Obviously fast food deliveries to your door is a no-no.  And a blanket ban on fast food at any location, for that matter. Its expensive, and  unhealthy, as  we all know, don’t we? Not to mention soggy and lukewarm. Yuck.

Lastly  here’s the cracker: Do not go to the January sales. Unless you have a specific object in mind, and have been saving up all year for that  big purchase e.g. a new fridge or a TV.  Sale buys are often disappointing or rash, once reviewed soberly at home, away from the frantic grab and run of sales. And you will have spent more money you don’t actually possess. See the agitated smoke rising from your credit card? I rest my case.

Happy January!

 

 

 

 

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DECEMBER 2019 : YEAR’S END IN CAPE TOWN


 

YIMG_20191214_131600_resized_20191214_031806280 (002)You may have noticed the absence of November’s Cape Town Round-up. Blame it on year-end fatigue. It’s been a difficult year in Cape Town and I’m not up for more reporting on our catalogue of on-going woes.

 
Long ago in Rhodesia, the farmers (who were never happy with the weather, the crops and the Government) used to sigh and say: Next year will be better. I sincerely hope so!

 
‘Tis the season to be jolly , proclaims the old song, so in that spirit, let me wish all my readers a warm and happy Christmas with family and friends, followed by a peaceful and healthy New Year.

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JOLLY HOLLY TO ALL


 

 

IMG_20191111_090310_resized_20191111_053834643 (002)I was hunting in my desk for my address book, because I need to send out three Christmas cards – yes, readers, those antique objects : Christmas cards. Remember them? The glitter? The snowy scenes, the holly, the robins. All wildly inappropriate seeing my Christmases are hot, sunny and dry, but never mind, tradition is tradition!
Inside my address book I found old lists dating back to 2004, listing the names of people who annually received cards from me in December. Some of the names mean nothing to me now, pen friends of yore I suspect; some folk have died, others have moved out of my life. Every year I receive fewer and fewer cards but I stick them up and enjoy the green and red cheer.

 
Many cards only arrive at the end of January and sometimes February or March, due to the vagaries of our postal service. So I tuck them away for the year ahead and enjoy them a year later. And why not? In these difficult times, we need all the good cheer we can get! Don’t you agree?

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FRIDAY FLOWER


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Inspired by the Monday in a Vase posts from DigwithDoris https://digwithdorris.wordpress.com/ and Cathy at https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/
I offer this pic of Isidingo, in full bloom, given to me on Tuesday as two neat buds but now open and sweetly perfumed. Nothing like roses – one of my favourite flowers.
Wishing us all a Fabulous Friday.

P.S. Isidingo, by the way, is the title of a much loved and long running South African TV soapie.

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OCTOBER 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND-UP


 

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NATIONALLY
The spotlight is on Rugby Fever, of course. The 2019 World Cup taking place in Japan. I’m that rare creature – I’m not a sports fan. In a nation of sports fanatics I’m the odd woman out. I keep a low profile. I don’t want to be lynched! Because SA has made it into the finals, Rugby Fever is rampant. Good luck to the Bokke! See: even I know what to shout at the appropriate time!

 

LOCALLY
ON 1ST October the Army arrived in Dunoon, a crowded low-income area about 6 kms away from where I live. It’s a transport hub, both for the mini-bus taxis and the MyCiti busses. The Army arrived to restore law and order, because the taxi drivers (notorious for behaving exactly as they please, ignoring traffic laws blatantly) rioted when the local Traffic Police conducted a blitz against unlicenced and unroadworthy vehicles, and outstanding traffic fines. The taxi industry was outraged that they were “not consulted first” – oh please! The law applies to them just as it does to us, the law abiding motorists. Tyre burning, trashing of MyCiti passenger bus stations, road closures, violence, a taxi strike : it was chaos . Roads in and out of this area, including the major N7 highway, had to be closed due to protests.

 

Can you believe that between April 2018 and March 2019 4 000 murders – yes, that’s right, this is not a typo – were committed in the Western Cape? The figure is beyond staggering. We are in a crisis in this country.

 

To finish off the month, see below. https://www.capetownetc.com/news/snowfall-surprise on October 28th : Snow-forecast.com, the snowfall reached 4cm around the area of the Matroosberg Nature Reserve. Not in my area, but in our  Province.

 

PERSONALLY
We’ve had unexpected late Winter rains. 40mm last Friday, and another 40mm over the weekend – rain, glorious rain. After the 2018 drought, I will never complain about rain again. Every drop is a blessing. My garden is sodden. Venerable oldster friends are saying things like: proper winter rain! This is how it always used to be , 30 or 40 years ago , days of heavy rain. Unfortunately the rain has encouraged the snails to come out of their hidey-holes. They mowed down my lovely strong bean seedlings that were doing so well. I could just scream! But I sighed and planted more seeds. Fingers crossed. So it’s the Dawn Snail Patrol for me. They come out to feed in the early hours. They will regret it. My Snail Jail awaits!

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SEPTEMBER 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


 

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LOCAL
Early in September The World Economic Forum Africa met at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTIC). Whether anything useful was accomplished is debatable. There was high level security around the CTIC, because during the same period there were protests and demonstrations in the CBD about violence against women. Heaven forbid a visiting head of state, or talking head pundit be injured during a visit to the international -hot air talk show. Pardon my cynicism, but all we ever seem to have is talks, investigations, enquiries, committees, but little seems to be done as a result.

 
Our city has a large, modern Convention Centre in the downtown CBD; it hosts a variety of events, changing every week. I’ve attended Book Expos, Décor Expo, Art Shows and once – as an experiment – a Gaming Expo. See my post Granny goes Gaming on this blog: https://wordpress.com/post/despatchesfromtimbuktu.wordpress.com/1927

 

 

Heritage Day – 24 September – is it wrong that the popular title for this PubHol is “Braai Day” ? All South Africans love to braai, don’t they? Radio host Afrika Melane was jumping up and down (in SA someone is always jumping up and down about something) about the focus on braais instead of our National Heritage. In such a multi-cultural nation such as ours, which is still riven by old racial and political turmoil, what is our National Heritage? Do we even have such thing? Perhaps Braai Day is a much safer idea. What do you think?

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Notwithstanding the debate, on Heritage Day at my local Parklands SPAR store, all the female staff were decked out in traditional Xhosa dress, the headwraps, colourful skirts and tops, and white patterns painted on the faces. They looked terrific!

The Junior Royals, Harry, Megan and baby Archie visit Cape Town this month. Mercifully the visit went off well, without incident, The Sussexes focused on UK charity NGO organisations, and made a carefully curated visit to the colourful Bo-Kaap Malay area in the CBD. Here’s the link to the 12 best pix:
https://www.iol.co.za/entertainment/royals/12-best-pics-from-day-2-of-prince-harry-and-meghans-visit-to-cape-town-33513715

 

There have been Protests, tyre burning, stone throwing and road blockades in my general area – about 6kms from my house. The result is major traffic snarl up as people take alternative routes to avoid the hotspots. The Community is protesting but I’m not quite sure why; it’s usually about housing shortages and lack of jobs. The sad thing is these protest events usually end in violence and little seems to be accomplished.

PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS
The Open Book Festival is an annual event, every September, organized by local Indie bookstore, the Book Lounge. This year the Book Lounge invited submissions from Capetonians   to the Writing my City Project, and launched an anthology of the best writing to coincide with the Festival in September. During the winter, I ran four workshops at the Milnerton and Edgemead Libraries, to assist writers prepare their entries for submission, so it was a thrill to visit the Festival, and buy the newly published anthology and recognize names in the book.

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But the highlight of my month was meeting a Postcrossing member in the flesh, as opposed to the usual  brief message on a postcard. This is the first time I’ve met another member, local or foreign; other than locals I’ve recruited to join the club. Nels lives in Santa Monica USA, and came out with his Cactus Club’s Flower Tour of Namaqualand, ending his visit in Cape Town at a local Blouberg guest house. We managed to squeeze in a morning visit – such a lot to talk about : life in our respective countries, his flower tour; our respective writing careers; our membership of Postcrossing.com and a great deal more besides! Viva Postcrossing!

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AUGUST 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND-UP


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I’m taking a break from the usual catalogue of Cape Town events this month, partly because I left Cape Town for ten days on a family visit to another province, followed directly thereafter by a houseguest for nearly a week. But a few paragraphs about the better August events follow.

LOCAL
My local highlight was a visit to the Postberg Flower Reserve, in the West Coast National Park, to see early Spring flowers. Because we went in early August, the flowers were not up to 100% Flower Power, but there were sufficient to make our visit worthwhile. We managed to hit a clear day, when the sky was blue, the sun shone, and there was no wind. It was idyllic. The traffic was minimal, so we could drive slowly admiring vistas of flowers, sea and sky.

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The variety of wild flowers is dazzling. At one point we stood still, looked down at our feet, and counted the number of different flowers we could see directly around our feet, perhaps to a radius of 1.5/ 2 metres. We spotted ten, ranging from bright yellow star shaped flowers, tiny lemon yellow flowers, succulent bushes with teeny white knobby flower heads, white orchid like flowers on faux asparagus stems , plus others which I now don’t recall. Some of the wildflowers grow at ground level and require hands and knees grovelling or very keen eyesight; neither of which applied to us.
An added bonus were the animals we spotted en route: two pretty little Steenbok, a number of solemn bontebok, groups of Cape Mountain zebra, striped-back mice, and a massive tortoise, roughly the size of a rugby ball. And sighting of the endangered  black tail harriers hovering over the scrub on the exit road to the gate. On the lookout no doubt for a hapless mouse. In the bush, its eat or be eaten.

 
Wishing us all a peaceful and productive September.

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