Category Archives: EXPLORING CAPE TOWN

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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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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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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APRIL 2019 ROUND UP FROM CAPE TOWN


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Mountains en route to Ceres, Western Cape.  Prime leopard territory.

 

 

My Northern Hemisphere readers are enthusing about Spring, sunshine, and budding trees. But we’re doing the reverse, enjoying cooler Autumn days and showery weather – harbinger of our winter rains. Fingers crossed. My garden is still struggling to recover after our punitive drought.

 
Fortunately the weather smiled when our Two Oceans Marathon was staged on Easter Saturday. The race has been run annually on Easter Saturday in Cape Town since 1970. . Due to the mountainous terrain, it’s a tough race over a course of 56 km/35 miles; the field is limited to 13 000 runners. The Sowetan reported: There was double joy for SA in yesterday’s Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, with three-time Comrades Marathon champion Bongumusa Mthembu winning the ultra leg of the men’s race and Gerda Steyn claiming honours in the women’s section.
April is the month prior to our five yearly National and Provincial Elections on 8th May. So we’re in for endless April Foolery, unconnected with the actual date of 1 April. The day itself turned out to be very low-key this year, in terms of public pranks. But not to worry, our political parties filled the vacuum with gusto. See details below of the Dagga (Cannabis) Party.

 
For openers: 33 political parties have registered to fight (probably going to be a very appropriate word) the elections. Local radio announcer, Pippa Hudson, gave us her criteria for selecting who to vote for:
• What is their track record?
• What is the quality of their leadership?
• What does their manifesto have to say?

Using these criteria to review the parties, via, gave me a headache, especially Point #2 : leadership quality.

 

However, I did crack a smile when I heard about a colourful Party entering the race : The Dagga Party. Apparently one of their major policy points is that hemp provides a viable alternative to fossil fuel. Yes: hemp seeds produce Biodiesel. News to me.  Clearly there’s more to hemp than I realised. Others thought so too, because the first Cannabis Expo took place at Cape Town ‘s Grand West venue in early April. It was punted as “– displaying medicinal, agricultural, construction and lifestyle etc. ” Unfortunately the entry tickets fell outside my budget, but hey! A sign of the times, no?

 

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Another happy event this month : popular blind singer, Andrea Bocelli gave a concert in Paarl, at the22 April at Val de Vie Estate, Paarl. Not my cup of tea, but he’s an extremely popular Performer.

 
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April was a bad month for Taxi troubles. When I say ‘taxi’ I’m referring to public transport, mini bus taxis, used by thousands. On the other side of the mountain in Hout Bay, Taxi violence on 1 April saw the bullets flying, three killed right outside the Cop Shop*; others were wounded. Local law enforcement is seemingly unable to deal with ongoing taxi violence , which is usually sparked by disputes over taxi routes. Unlike Joburg where the non-nonsense Mayor brought out the Casspirs  and the taxis came to heel. I thank my lucky stars I’m not dependent on public transport!

 

 

And, of course, the usual public holiday mayhem on our roads , caused chiefly by drunken driving, drunken pedestrians, and speeding. This year’s fatality total in our Province: 22. As radio host Africa Melane observed: effectively, we are a nation of functioning alcoholics … when are we going to stop drinking so much? Good question.

 
Followed by more arson at Cape Town station on Easter Monday: rolling stock set alight at the station, damage amounting to millions, and resulting in yet more woes for Cape Towns rail passengers. Three years down the line, little progress is being made to solve the mystery. Speculation is rife: who is behind the ongoing sabotage of our rail network? Who benefits? The Taxi industry? The coach-building industry? The ANC  by causing public disenchantment with our Province’s DA majority government? We are the only Province that is not run by the ruling ANC party. Oh: and statistically the best run Province, which is an embarrassment to the ruling party. Life in South Africa: challenging!

 

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Leaving urban troubles behind, and turning to Nature. 200 kms from Cape Town lies the mountainous Cedarberg region PIC , perfect habitat for the rare Cape Leopard . They like the rocky environment, populated by baboons, a handy food source for them. Estimates put the Cedarberg leopard population at a mere 350 animals. So sad to learn that a mature female was knocked down and killed by a vehicle on the N1 this month. The accident happened at night, when the leopard was crossing the road. Wild life vs cars seldom has a happy outcome, because the animals appear quickly, seemingly out of nowhere, become dazzled by the vehicle lights, and then its collision time.
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One of the Cape Honeysuckle hedges bordering my garden

Wildlife in my garden has been on a much smaller, safer scale: birds feasting on the nectar in the Cape Honeysuckle hedge, a late Autumn flowering. Snails reappearing with the arrival of rain showers. On which more peaceful note, I will leave you – see you in May.

*SA slang for Police Station

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POTTERING INTO PORTERVILLE


 

 

 

 

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As we enter into Porterville and slowly drive down the main road Helen asks me what day it is? Fair question. When you’re on holiday the days blur into each other. I tell her its Thursday. “Oh!” she says, “for a moment I thought it must be Sunday. Where is everybody?”
Another good question. Its mid-morning, on an oven-hot day, 40 degrees Centigrade, we later discover. Not a car in sight. Way down the street, one man leaning languidly against a wall, smoking.
We locate my artist friends’ home, and spend two hours outside, sitting under a shady pepper tree, feasting on tiny sticky figs, a selection of cheese and crackers, and absorbing gallons of tea. Our hosts are seemingly unfazed by the extreme heat and enthuse over the benefits of living in a tiny country town. Peace and quiet, minimal crime, spacious properties, lower cost of living, and still within a 90 minutes drive from urban fun in Cape Town. Plus a weekly farmers’ market, which truly is a local affair, and the source of today’s figgy treat.
They assure us that the extreme heat is only for 6 weeks or so, and the rest of the year is very livable. I’ll take their word for it.

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Driving away with the aircon going full blast, we paused briefly to take pics of an extraordinarily grand church, which reminded me of a wedding cake. My attention was caught by the pillars. But heat fatigue curbed our enthusiasm for more sightseeing and happy snaps.

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MARCH CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


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The big headlines in March are: Eskom and more load shedding. That’s the South African euphemism for rolling power blackouts.
Oh: maybe I should mention our Public Enterprise power producing company, Eskom, is billions of Rands in the red, and unable to cope. Just a tiny little detail. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns, or rather: does not burn. Eskom can’t keep the turbines turning. Sigh. AND, as the cherry on top: a 9.4% increase in the price of electricity coming next month. Our corrupt, incompetent national power supplier Eskom kicking us, and the poor old abused tax cash cow, in the ribs again.
A load-shedding parallel story from the gang-ridden Cape Flats area of our city. A caller to Cape Talk Radio station reported how, during load shedding, crime rises exponentially in their areas. Residents are not even safe within their own homes, due to ricocheting bullets. How his teenage son crawled up the stairs to his own bedroom, to study with a LED lantern; the kid crawled because he was terrified of being struck by a stray bullet on his way upstairs. Words fail me. How can we expect people to live like this?

 
South Africa has but one nuclear Power station, and I happen to live quite close to it. Our wonderful government cooked up a scheme to build three more nuclear power stations, to augment our coal fired plants, despite the glaringly obvious fact that solar energy blasts us daily and is a renewable energy source. Whichever way you slice it and dice it, solar energy is the way to go, but unfortunately it seems there’s insufficient kickback opportunities for our crooked politicians along the solar road, so our desperate need to divorce ourselves from coal is mired in inaction and controversy. One tiny crumb of comfort: the nuclear scheme, via Russian suppliers, was blocked and remains in limbo.
February/ March is the date for the annual Koeberg Nuclear Power Station Siren Test. It always gives me the heebie jeebies. The booming, disembodied voice droning : This is only a test. No action is required. This is only a test. Followed by the banshee wailing of an alarm siren. Supposedly, if Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, 15 kms to the north of my area, has an oopsie – think Chernoybl – theoretically the warning system will alert us to immediately vacate the area and congregate at designated gathering points. Personally,I think if Koeberg blows we will all be toast before anybody can press the broadcast system button.

 

 
Maybe Adriaan Nieuwoudt’s scheme to establish an escape haven for beleaguered whites in his new town of Eureka, to hell and gone in the Northern Cape, is not such a bad idea after all. Abundant sunshine, (solar power; Eskom can take a hike), wide open spaces, beautiful Namaqualand spring flowers, plentiful mutton, what’s not to like? And don’t even think about playing that tattered old Race Card. Boo-oooo-rrring.
Fibre Optic cable is being laid in our Village: the 21st Century has officially arrived! Men in hardhats are hauling cable up out of manhole covers in every street and doing technical additions. I won’t be subscribing to it, because I don’t livestream material, and my current ADSL line works just fine, thank you. Additionally, I’m a POP = a Poor Old Pensioner.

 
Despite all the above gloom (pun intended), life goes on. Polo at swish Val de Vie Wine Estate, sponsored by Veuve Cliquot, and organised by SA swimming star, Ryk Neethling who has obviously handled the transition from water to land very successfully. Cape Town is within easy access to dozens of Wine estates, ranging from the ultra-luxurious to the modest but productive smaller ones, that don’t go in for the added-extras like open air concerts, music fests, wedding and conference venues.
Cape Town has hosted an Ed Shieran concert which was packed. What a good thing our 2010 soccer stadium was left standing to serve as a venue. I say this because a few years ago some genius wanted to tear it down and build low cost housing on the site. Other musical excitement this month is the annual Cape Town Jazz festival which always draws huge crowds.

 
The radio promo for the big musical Chicago, which opened mid-March sings : greed , lies, adultery, treachery …. And all that jazz! Sounds suspiciously like the job description for entering South African politics. Sorry: couldn’t resist that one. I’ve had too  much Zondo Commission info this month.

 

Mid-month brought a lovely story about Mufasa, the lion escapee from the Karoo National Park, finally captured in Sutherland, darted and transported by bakkie* back to the park. Apparently during the loading process, locals gathering around the recumbent lion, saying … ssshhhh … don’t make a noise … apparently worried in case he woke up, jumped out and devoured them all! I wish I had a pic to add to this little gem.

 
Finishing on a happier note: here’s a pic of the pink March lilies that bloom annually along the shores of our local Rietvlei Wetland. I had to scrounge a pic online. Thanks to .http://www.everything.co.za/2015/02/march-lily/ . Oddly, they signal the end of summer, not the beginning as one might suppose. Every time I head down the R27 I catch glimpses of them on my left. Luckily it’s a dual carriageway at this point, so I can sneak a peek if the traffic is light. Flowers, along with books, are in prime position on my list of Favourite things.

• Open truck/ute

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CAPE TOWN CALLING : OFF WE GO IN JANUARY!


 

 

 

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Table Mountain on the left, from the Silo District, V & A Waterfront

 

Despite the blue skies and sunshine, January is generally a gloomy month. Chiefly because our credit card statements were terrifying, and because our purses were scarily empty. We all know we shouldn’t overspend at Christmas, but guess what? We always do. South Africans are not very good at saving, despite campaigns to encourage us and offers from our major banks to open a savings account.
The Road Death Toll for the 2018 Holiday Season figures are released. As usual, they are staggering. In, the Western Cape Province, the total was 169 fatalities, over the December/January period. And still we continue to drive like maniacs and disregard the rules of the road. Statistics reveal that over 50% of road deaths are alcohol-related. And yet we continue to drink & drive. Arrrggggh. You venture forth at your peril!
Schools re-open. The tiny tots start their School careers on Day One with either floods of tears or wild delight . Mums agonise and helicopter around the kids Other parents wake up and realise they should have booked their kid’s place in the local school last year, around June 2018, so now there’s no place for little  Bongi  or Devan except in a school that’s 20 kms from home and not on a bus route. Pandemonium, threats, panic, (and probably bribery) ensues.
No sooner has the furore over school placements subsided, and the annual tsunami of grumbling over the (admittedly high) cost of school uniforms staggered to an exhausted halt, we are galvanised all over again by reports of rural schools in far flung districts that have not received any textbooks for 2019, never mind the promised water-borne sanitation that was promised at the beginning of 2018. Life in S’Affrica!
Fire Season in Cape Town flares up  every summer. Our famous Signal Hill, part of the Atlantic seaboard/CBD, was ablaze – fanned by 40 kph South-Easter winds. Wuppertal a small historic town in the Cedarberg (350 kms away) is demolished by fire. The Overberg region is ravaged by fires for days.  Apparently the initial fire was caused by some bright spark  letting off a flare on Old Year’s Night. Our noble fire fighters battled the blazes for weeks on end. They all deserve medals.

On the brighter side – yes, there is one. A fire crew discovered a traumatised baby duiker in a fire zone, the little buck had badly burnt feet/hooves. They were able to catch it, and take it to a nearby vet in Somerset West, who treated and saved Bambi. Yes: that’s what the fire crew christened the little survivor, and, even better, the vet rehabilitated the animal free, gratis and for nothing! Us Saffers have big hearts when the chips are down.

 

Some much needed comic relief: in a recent development, the proposed new Gatvol Party* is sulking because the Electoral Commission won’t let them register their party name because “ the name might cause offence to some people.”  *Gatvol is a very vulgar Afrikaans expression, indicating complete disgust – I’m not even going to try to translate this one!

 

And the cherry on top: The Independent Electoral Commission announces over 240 parties have registered to contest the election in May. We can only hope this is fake news!
All this and it’s only the end of January – sterkte+, as they say in the Afrikaans classics!
+ strength

Dockside, at the V&A Waterfront

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A CAPE TOWN DECEMBER 2018 SNAPSHOT


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Our world famous Clifton Fourth Beach

 
Me: nobly dog-sitting the neighbour’s Papillion dog. Virtuous dog-walking to off-set the Christmas fare. Dog returned with relief. Little dogs are demanding. Give me a nice self-sufficient cat any day!

 
Different voices on my local radio station while the regular announcers took a well deserved break after a hectic year. Less hard news – more Christmasy items – where to go for the perfect picnic, how to cook the tenderest turkey – which will be the place to celebrate New Year? Does the annual Cape Minstrels Parade (PC-speak for the traditional Coon Carnival) still have any significance? Reminiscences about Christmases Past, when life was simpler and easier: grand family gatherings. Boxing Day beach picnics. Volunteering at Christmas for the less fortunate; plenty of street people in Cape Town in need of festive cheer, blue skies & sunshine notwithstanding.

 

 

And then hard news with hard facts about real life kept intervening: the annual carnage on our roads; I don’t even want to think about the numbers.

 

EMS  crews being attacked and robbed when they enter some of the more dangerous townships. Can you believe it? Robbing Ambulance crews!
And of course – 3 drownings. The Western Cape is a coastal province, and most of the locals have never learnt to swim, so predictably, every holiday season, there are beach fatalities despite lifeguards on the beaches, and PRO exercises by the NSRI.  . So sad when fatalities could be prevented if people only listened and swam where indicated or on beaches with lifeguards. But of course, they don’t. People being people. https://www.nsri.org.za/

 
A Rambo type private security firm illegally chasing people off Clifton’s famous 4th beach and the ensuing uproar, the politicising, the protests, the slaughtering of a sheep on the beach to make a point (poor old sheep, I say) and then the fresh uproar about debasing customary Xhosa ritual animal sacrifice for political gains – it wouldn’t be South Africa if we didn’t have at least one issue in December with inflammatory ingredients.

 
Aforementioned Rambo Security Service arbitrarily closing off roads – ‘coning’ they call it, this is not a typo, it refers to the orange traffic cones used by the Traffic Cops in Cape Town They closed roads in an affluent area thus provoking further outrage and uproar, and and and … sigh, whatever happened to the Season of Goodwill? Just asking.

 
In my own tiny little world, there were gatherings, festive meals, modest gifts, laughter, stories, jokes, Christmas crackers that wouldn’t crack (el cheapos don’t) and more hilarity as we read out the terrible terrible puns and jokes spilling out on tiny paper strips. Now we know what Santa’s elves do post-Christmas during those long Arctic nights. I mean, how elf could they be gainfully employed? A feeble pun I know, but indulge me.

 
We drank toasts to a Happy Christmas, and one week later we did it all again and drank a toast to a Happy New Year. Everybody agreed that 2018 was challenging and difficult, so we’re looking forward to an easier year in 2019. There’s an encouraging start on 2 January when the new monthly petrol price comes in, with a ZAR1.00 price reduction per litre. That’s good news!

 
And so I wish all my readers a peaceful and prosperous year ahead.

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