Category Archives: EXPLORING CAPE TOWN

WHY I AVOID EATING SNOEK


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Nina & I enjoyed a lovely sunny day out at a country market. The Bo Berg Market, Piketberg, to be precise.  The sun shone, the Spring flowers bloomed brightly, the breeze whispered, people milled around the small tables displaying fruit, veg, home bakes, jam, pickles, pot plants. I bought an unusual mini-rosette Malta  geranium to add to the collection on my patio, and an adventurous bunch of Rutabaga. Living dangerously, on top of the mountain. Which we were.

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But the real danger was yet to come. Entirely carried away by the plaas/farm, country  vibe and general festivity, I agreed to Nina’s suggestion to sample the local braaied/barbecued snoek.  Quite forgetting that I don’t like snoek. Why? Take a look at the photo below. More bones than you would ever imagine possible in one small serving of braaied fish.

Snoek is a Cape ‘thing’. I tried it for the first time at Port Nolloth, whilst on a bus tour of the famous Spring flowers,  during the mid 1980s,  and was totally disconcerted at the vast number of bones that had to be negotiated before I even got near a morsel of fish. Since then I have avoided snoek.

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To compound matters, snoek is braaied with a glaze of apricot jam – don’t ask me why, it just is. Like I said: braaied snoek is a Cape ‘thing’. The two  toothless Tannies, who were supervising their husbands braaing  the  snoek, warmly invited us to join them in an upcoming market, a Snoek en Patat Fees /Snoek and Potato Festival, held annually every  June, nearby. They guaranteed they’d be there, braaing more snoek!

We smiled, and said, “Ja Tannie, sekerlik/ Yes, Aunty, of course,” and wandered off with our lunch.

On this occasion I managed to eat about .05 grams of fish, and emerged hungry, covered in apricot jam, and reeking  of braaied snoek. Plus I had a raging thirst due to the salted fish, and my water bottle was long since emptied. Gah!  That’s it: never again!

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Notwithstanding this lunch disaster,  the sun shone, and the local band played on with diligence and volume. A typical Boland band, music for all occasions: a rousing mixture of Boeremusiek/traditional Afrikaans music, with rock songs.  Something for everyone.

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Country markets: you can’t beat ’em. P.S. I’m relieved to report that we never made it to the Snoek en Patat Fees. Not a chance. Now or ever.

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YAY! COLOUR! [ZEITZ MOCAA CAPE TOWN]


 

I enjoy colour. Bright and bold or pastel and delicate.

So you will understand my lukewarm response to the Zeitz MOCAA’s super modern colour scheme of black, grey and neturals inside the building. The coffee shop on the 6th floor offers a superb view of the harbour and a slice of the city, but the table ware and china were yet again in that stylish palette. As you can see below.

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Anyhoo: having enjoyed my tea break I popped into the Ladies’ Loo directly thereafter and OH JOY! Look what met my startled gaze: COLOUR. And plenty of it. Whoever designed the interiors of the ZM cloakrooms  had a nice sense of humour. Don’t you think?

 

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My fave is the red. I was blown away by the vivid colours – now I want a tomato red throne in my own bathroom at home!

 

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THE SILO DISTRICT AT THE V&A WATERFRONT


This is by way of a CATCH-UP POST.  Sometimes I write posts and for whatever reason they languish on my hard-drive. Here’s one that I hauled out from the beginning of 2019.

I recall struggling interminably with the size of the photos, and never succeeding; as you will see below. In the end I gave it up as a bad job. All the pics are mine, taken with my cellphone.

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A view of Table Mountain, from the Silo Precinct.

 

Although I enjoy the V & A Waterfront, our Numero Uno Tourist destination, I don’t visit very often. Last Sunday I pulled myself together and went to explore the recently completed Silo District area of the V&A . I’d read articles about the uber modern buildings and newly opened Zeitz MOCCA art gallery.

 

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As you can see from the pics  above   it really is bang up to the minute with trendy brand name shops (Bang & Olufsen, anyone?) plus upmarket hotels.

To my intense astonishment, I found a R15-00 cup of coffee at Si outdoor cafe; granted it was on Special Offer, but even so: usually the Waterfront is not noted for its bargain prices!

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And this is Africa folks – we could be in any major world city! Modern sculpture  (below) in the precinct.

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In distance tiny vignettes of old historic Cape Town  – Georgian buildings.

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So why is the precinct named the Silo District? The pic below explains:

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The British architectural firm, Thomas Heatherwick, turned the old grain silos in the dock area into the new Art Gallery.

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A view of our iconic mountain from the dockside

There’s labyrinthian underground parking – very confusing –  I lost my car.  On  arrival I saw many security  guards on bikes, fluorescent vest gleaming in the gloom –  but not one in sight when I went to retrieve my  car –  I had visions of my dessicated bag ‘o bones being discovered years later in a dusty corner. The design of the parking space is a crazy circular loop; no wonder I lost my car! I was never so glad to finally stumble upon my trusty little white Yaris! Purely by accident, I have to say.

Watch this space. In another post I’ll be adding more pics of the interior, and my favourite splash of colour at Zeitz Mocca.
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THE FINALE – INVESTEC 2020


https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/
I’ve enjoyed sharing my Investec 2020 visit with you, but all good things must come to an end. So I thought I would finish off with these two gloriously kitsch ceramic pieces.

 
The first piece looks like the aftermath of an explosion in a junk shop. Imagine if somebody gave you this object as a gift? The mind boggles.

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But the second piece I want to share, has made me stop and think more deeply. Initially I was going to pass off the piece as a striking example of kitsch, and comment on the lovely bright red lacquer finish, which I find very appealing.  I notice my pic shows it as a pink colour, but the original was a striking, shiny Chinese lacquer red. But when I hunted through my pics for the photo showing the artist’s name, I noticed the title of the piece, which is “Mammie”.

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I took a closer look, and enlarged the photo so I could see the woman peering hesitantly? Furtively? Shyly ? out of her frame of domestic bric-a-brac. Is the artist saying that her Mum was protected by domestic detritus? Or smothered and imprisoned by it? I’m still wondering. Thank you, Stephane E Conradie, for eye-catching and thought provoking pieces!
I hope you’ve enjoyed coming to the Investec 2020 Art event with me . I already have next year’s event highlighted on my calendar!
FOOTNOTE: INVESTEC 2019 ART Fair : If you enjoyed this series of posts on Investec 2020, please go to the archives and find my post on last year’s event; the post appeared on 20th April 2019 . Plenty of pics and commentary.

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PEOPLE & PHOTOGRAPHY https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/


Part of the fun of attending a big exhibition is the opportunity to people-watch. I’ve noticed that visitors  often wear extravagant, eye-catching outfits and jewellery to this event. Whether they’re wannabe Trendies, art critics, fashionistas, or plain old exhibitionists I have no idea. I doubt very much that they’re artists. The days of flamboyant artists – think Salvador Dali with his sharp suits, hats and waxed moustache, – are over. My artist friends usually adopt the casual/scruffy/work clothes style. They’re way too busy working in their studios to be messing around with fashion statements.

Some people are working, and having a chat during a  rare quiet moment.

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Others are also standing around, but stuck on the wall:

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I spotted Mondrian socks. I want some!

 

IMG_20200214_131023_resized_20200214_040544267 (2)Delightful Minnie Mouse bows:

 

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And stunning jewellery. Or is it wearable art?

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I don’t recall seeing any hats other than these ones on the wall:

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I was admiring the  pin-striped suited gent’s textured pink socks  when I realised  the painting on the opposite wall  offered a mirror image, with the   pensive woman in an almost identical, abstracted  posture.

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Next I saw this man, working on an exhibition stand – he presented an almost ecclesiastical  image,  don’t you agree?  I think it was the thin white rim of tee-shirt at his neck, together with is clothing, lanyards around the neck, monkish haircut, and clasped hands that reminded me of a cleric.

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Then I discovered this quirky series of pics, a sort of strange amalgam of botanical illustrations and old sepia portraits by  Alida Rodrigues “The Secret History of Plants.”

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I was blown away by  a wonderful black and white series of figures, executed by  Sungi Mlengeya.  The brilliant use of negative space was dazzling.

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Tucked away in a corner I spotted these this lovely little blue retro radio. I particularly liked the knitting needle antennae – or are they ears? I’ve been a radio fan all my life, so I was enchanted by this exhibit. I have a feeling the little radio’s name is probably Max.  Whatever it is, top marks for inanimate personality!
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The next photo is a marvelous study in movement by Manuel Braun Alexandria on Stage II.
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Lastly I loved this quiet photograph of an offering of two walnuts, it exuded generosity and dignity.

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WATCH THIS SPACE, I’M NOT DONE YET! MORE TO FOLLOW .It was a very big art exhibition  and I was clicking away merrily.

P.S.  If I haven’t mentioned the artists names in some of the pics above, its because I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a pic of the display card alongside the work; in some cases I  looked but couldn’t find the card.

 

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MY FAVOURITES at Investec 2020 https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/


This year, the textured items and the very colourful items were top of my list.

When it comes to colour, who could resist this vibrant display put up by Kwa Zulu Natal artists. The juxtaposition of the hot curry reds, oranges and yellows offset by the contrasting tropical greens and sky blues, screamed DURBAN at me. For northern hemisphere readers, Durban has a huge Indian population and is renowned for being Curry Central!

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And how about this Marion Arnold wool tapestry, Untitled, 265 x 377 cm, Rich colours somewhat reminiscent of a Pierneef landscape .

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And I would be remiss if I didn’t include this stunning display of traditional artist EstherMahlangu’s traditional Ndebele art work. Would you believe she uses a chicken feather as a brush?  My pic is a poor one, because so many viewers were constantly blocking my shot, but it’s the best I managed to get. Take a moment to follow the link: what a fascinating story.

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I enjoyed the next  work : textile wrapped fighting sticks and spears – I don’t know the title or artist, but I enjoyed the colours and textures

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Then I found this bold orange and yellow and black work, which ticked the colours & textures boxes very neatly. It was executed in leather and, I think, fabric; I was so enchanted by the colours and shapes, I forgot to take a pic of the signage It had a sort of snakes-and-ladders feel to it.

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A charming crocheted gecko caught my eye. I don’t want it on a wall in my house, but I thought it was fun.

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Appearances can be very deceiving. I thought the next exhibit  was a woven fibre work, but not so. Paper beads, mounted on bark cloth. What a surprise! Usage of very Africa materials.
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I enjoyed this set of 8 pictures, executed by a woman from West Africa, using natural fibres and seeds to create the textured effects.

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Artists come up with the most innovative ideas. Here’s a work, executed on graph paper, in crossstitch. The shadowy images in the work caught my eye.

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I’ve saved the best until last. Just look at the texture in this work. It had a lush, rich texture, akin to velvet turned into shag carpeting. I was fascinated. When I drew closer to the work I was stunned to discover it was composed of … wait for it … “toothpicks in polyeurethane sealant in pine wood frames” by Chris Soal. Talk about appearances being deceptive!
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Watch this space: more pix in a day or two. We’re not done yet – it was a big exhibition!

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THE ANNUAL INVESTEC CAPE TOWN ART FAIR – February 2020


This weekend I visited the Investec Art Fair  – my annual treat. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

What a feast of art across a wide spectrum: photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics, weaving, prints, art books and more besides. Obviously the theme is African Art, but artists from the diaspora and Europe were also on show. It really is an international exhibition. This year one of the themes was to exhibit emerging artists, not only from Africa, but, including artists from the Middle East, North America and Europe. So here are my photos of some of the works that  blew me away and that I enjoyed. I’m splitting the pics into separate sections , which I’ll post at intervals, otherwise its too much to take in and appreciate.
So: at the Investec (the sponsors stand) I found this multi-media statement :

 

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And an installation, which – for once – I enjoyed. I’m not a fan of installations.

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I don’t think I would be tempted to try sitting on this sofa, it looks both flimsy and uncomfortable, but if the sign were not there, trust me, some idiot would be lowering their rear end on to the item!

 

You know you’re at an African art exhibition when you see this:
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That ubiquitous football. Africans love football!

Another ubiquitous feature of the African landscape: goats. Although I have mixed feelings about this artwork. The human figure with goat hooves left me with an uneasy feeling.

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Another Art Fair post will follow in a day or two. I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen thus far. The show was big, and I only photographed items which appealed to me, so my pics are a very individual view.

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HELDERBERG NATURE RESERVE


Early in the New Year, Nina & I drove to Somerset West and enjoyed a stroll and a picnic in the Helderberg Nature Reserve. What a lovely day we had ! Refreshing green lawns, plenty of benches under shady trees.

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A stroll through shady woodland, efficiently equipped with yet another green bench, where we sat enjoying the play of sunlight on the foliage, and listened to the birds calling. Very soothing indeed.IMG_4593P (003)

 

The reserve also offers a pretty lake, covered in blue and white water lilies. We admired the scene, walking a short distance along the circular boardwalk. By now it was a hot afternoon, not ideal for long walks.

 

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After our picnic lunch, we ambled around and discovered an enormous tortoise stomping across the lawn, systematically grazing on what was obviously its favourite, a low growing weed or herb.

 
Excited little kids spotted the animal, and rushed up to tentatively pat its shell, but the tortie didn’t bat an eyelid, didn’t shoot back into its shell, just kept on grazing in a determined fashion, stomping forward on a clearly pre-determined route. Ultimately it reached a bed of agapanthus, lumbered into the plants and disappeared. I reckon it’s a permanent resident, and the agapanthus bed was home base.

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That wasn’t the end of the wildlife. The next piece of excitement was the arrival of a red duiker that emerged from the long grass around the hiking trail, and streaked across the lawns at speed. I half expected to see a predator (there are leopards in the area) or at least a runaway dog in pursuit, but nothing else burst into view before our surprised eyes. Enough excitement for one afternoon.

 

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After a quick caffeine refuel stop in the reserve’s quaint little restaurant, we navigated cautiously through the maze of suburban streets until we stumbled upon the highway exit. One advantage of this slow exit was that I had plenty of time to admire the brilliant cerise bougainvillea tumbling over garden walls, in between  glimpses of deep blue plumbago bushes and luxuriant gardens. The soil in Somerset West must be excellent, because we passed magnificent gardens. The main road to the town is lined with white, pink and red oleander bushes, all blooming profusely, despite the hot, windy summer weather.
As we left the area, we were treated to the spectacle of waterfalls of white clouds cascading down the distant blue mountain ranges. Nina’s dramatic picture captures the unusual sight. Usually clouds fall over the top of Table Mountain in a solid white drape, hence their nickname “the tablecloth” so the waterfall effect was very different.IMG_4641s (002)

All in all: a wonderful outing!

NB: pics courtesy of Nina Ganci, except for bench pic.

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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.

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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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