Chopper dudette!

Table Mt

I recently wrote, somewhat enviously, about a bloke going on a chopper ride over the city. Well, yesterday I finally got my chance. I’ve never been in a helicopter and a flip over Cape Town has been my dream for several years. This weekend I got my chance when clients were booked for a ride and there was space for me. It was only a 20 minute ride, down to Hout Bay and back again, via the coast both ways but it was a thrill of note!

Sorry about the lousy photos, I only had my phone and I’ll know next time to just take in the views and not bother with photos at all as it’s very difficult if you’re not an expert. But I’m chuffed to have them as a reminder. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m showing off big time.


Tiny little 4 seater

seapoint pav

The ‘Pav’ looks very small from above (700 metres)


Sea Point, very built-up!


Somewhat classic shot of the mountains and stadium

little lions head

Little Lion’s Head and Sandy Bay.


I was fascinated at the way this ship was being brought in – the tug in front seemed to be pushing it to steer it to the left.


Coming in to land. It was over too quickly!


Charlie, the very very cute pilot who permitted me to hitch a ride.


Who’s chuffed with herself, then?

Secret Garden

Enjoyed a hoity-toity little outing to the beautiful valley of Franschhoek (the French Corner, also often referred to as the gastronomic capital of South Africa) with Caroline this week. We donned our pearls, buffed our nails and left the city behind. The whole point  was a cocktail invitation to which I added a dinner. I then decided we may as well leave town earlier and pop in to a boutique winery I’ve been meaning to visit. That little side-trip will be the subject of a blog post all of its own but suffice to say we had great fun and got more than we bargained for. I can’t wait to add this gem to my wine tours.

Even though we’d lingered at the winery and were a tad late for the cocktail party (not to mention slightly tipsy and ravenous!) we still made a quick trip to the Secret Garden I’d promised to show her. This best-kept secret is next to the Huguenot Museum and a very old cemetery where many of the town’s original settlers are buried. I first saw this garden over a year ago when it was still new – yesterday’s flying visit bowled me over with the beauty of what has grown since. It helps that this time of year is the best time for our indigenous fynbos.


Our magnificent national flower, the King Protea. Franschhoek is full of them!


Caroline insisted I pose like this.









Side view of the museum.
This entire building used to be a private residence near the centre of Cape Town – Saasveld House. Faced with the threat of demolition, some forward thinking person suggested it be moved to Franschhoek. Every brick was labelled and numbered, carefully stored, transported to Franschhoek and rebuilt as the Huguenot Museum.


The front facade.


A King Protea in bud.


Then we hit the cocktail circuit and this beautiful horse was waiting for us on the lawn of Grande Provence. Can anyone guess what it’s made of?


I went to a sangoma the other day.

For those who don’t know, this is a ‘witch-doctor’ – the more acceptable modern term is ‘traditional healer.’ They hold a special place in South African culture, as well as a political one – this is something we owe to Nelson Mandela and will be a curse for eternity because they have far more political power than they deserve, but that’s another story altogether.

Not all sangomas are created equal. Some genuinely attempt to heal ailments with the use of herbs which may or may not be of any use but is rooted (pardon the pun but I’m not removing it) in ancient healing traditions which did, sometimes, work if the ailment was not too severe. But, unfortunately, there are many charlatans who promise all sorts of absurd results such a ‘bring good luck’ , ‘get a job’, ‘get rid of mistress’, and the all-time favourite in this country ‘penile enlargement’. People pay good money for this quackery and some are terrified of the sangoma’s magic power. Many people have been swindled out of their life’s savings by unscrupulous characters, and let’s not even talk about the very very evil ones in remote areas who deal in body parts.

This sangoma, who didn’t give his name, is in Gugulethu, one of the big townships in Cape Town, and I was with a tour guide who needed a French interpreter for his 6 clients. I was thrilled with Marc’s township tour because it’s very interactive and takes in more than one township.  I have warned him that I am going to alter my tour accordingly and he’s happy with that because it’s going to benefit his favourite charitable cause – more of that another day. I just need to build up the courage to drive through suburbs riddled with gangsters. Apparently this is a piece of cake. Manenberg, Heideveld, Bonteheuwel, here we come, with the help of google maps and gps. Okay, maybe not Manenberg.

So, we arrive at No-Name Sangoma who operates out of a tiny smelly shack at the end of a quiet street. The clients had been game for everything until now but the sight of this pitch black and extremely stinky interior really put them to the test. The 7 of us crowded inside (Marc stayed outside, he said he wasn’t needed, yeah right, thanks) only to find a young woman client already there. We tried to retreat but the sangoma chased her away. Euros are better than rands.

He explained that he had been guided by the ancestors from childhood, via dreams, to become a sangoma. He pointed to various bottles and packets and dead animals and told us which was used for what purpose. Simply put, powders and potions are for treatment of physical ailments and animals are used for mental issues, such as good luck, get a job, etc.

He must have been disappointed with our visit because not a single euro changed hands. We came, we listened, we smelled, we left.

exterior sangoma

The entrance. I assume he never uses ‘overhead costs’ to justify his prices.

interior 1

A typical shelf. Stock-taking must be a real bitch.


These animal heads and skins hang all over the place.


Clearly he’s not using his own potions. There was a large number of tickets and many blank forms.


The man himself. He hurriedly donned the skins as we arrived. The previous client didn’t warrant the full costume, obviously.

smirnoff viagra

That very appropriate container, high up on a shelf, is the ‘viagra’ potion.

success potion

This is the ‘success’ potion – it was larger than most others.


My favourite photo and moment of all. This is just inside the entrance. I asked, of course, what purpose it serves and was told it is the equivalent of the tokoloshe and therefore safe-guards the sangoma.
For people who don’t know: this is our president – the man we most love to mock and who gives us plenty of reason to do so.
If you don’t know what is a ‘tokoloshe’ please google it, you won’t regret it.


After the pig photo the other day we now focus skywards and feature birds. They’re not as easy to photograph as pigs but they’re prettier and more challenging. If you want a challenge.

My friend Heather spends a fortune on bird feed. She has a lovely garden full of trees and large shrubs which all attract birds, plus she feeds them regularly. Every afternoon they start arriving, knowing they will be fed. They sit on the branches and wait patiently for her to scatter seeds and then they plunge down and have a feast.

I spent some time last week hoping for a few great photos (#failed) after a fabulous lunch accompanied by a most delectable wine inadvertently left behind by Heather’s ex after a recent visit – he has his uses.

This is the bird corner. That's their favourite tree and that is their bench.

This is the bird corner. That’s their favourite tree and that is their bench.

birds waiting

Slowly gathering.

swoop and scoff

Feasting – Heather buys only the best seeds and the birds know this is the best spot in town

birds taking off

And of course we take off in a wild flurry at the slightest sound or movement, only to come straight back seconds later.


And the afternoon ends with a shot of the sky at sunset.


pig pooping

I’ve just realised I haven’t blogged in two weeks so here’s a photo of a pig.

Actually, it’s a piglet. Her name is Bella and she’s 6 months old. I met her at the local nursery. Her owner had her on a lead and she was making a lot of noise. Heads turned as she oinked her way around. When I petted her she wasn’t friendly like a puppy would be and her coat is very coarse.

Then in the car park she needed a poop and that’s what she’s doing in the photo.

I didn’t mention rillettes to the owner but I did think of it.

Chopper dude


I had some time to kill today between 2 jobs so I drove to the end of Breakwater at the Waterfront and poked around between the dolosse to see if there was anything worth photographing. By the way, did you know these are a South African invention and now used throughout the world?

This chopper was preparing to take off with a lucky bloke who can afford this very expensive flip over the city or the whole bang shoot of one hour all the way to Cape Point so I got ready to try catch it as it took off. The passenger saw me and took a photo of me taking a photo of him. Cute. I hope the one of me is going viral via his Facebook page as we speak. But it was only when I uploaded today’s photos that I saw the next photo. You grumpy thing!! You’d think he’d be happy to be going on such a nice ride on this gorgeous day.



And off they go.


And here are the dolosse, with Table Mountain in the background (where I went with clients a bit later and where it was hot hot hot, for a change.)
Oh and there’s a young woman who was having her photo taken in among the dolosse in a variety of lovely shoes.



Sometimes you don’t have to go far to see a cute nature moment. This family of Egyptian Geese was waddling down my street late yesterday afternoon looking for somewhere to sleep for the night. After mom and dad hustled the kids along past my car, they stopped in the middle of the street looking into bushes with great interest. Given the speed at which some idiots race down that road I hope they didn’t linger too long.


A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 83 other followers


my new life in france

The Best Ticher

EFL advice, tricks and tips for newbie teachers...

Morsels of Gratitude

Trying to find the positive in a world where negative has become too comfortable

Tales from the African Bush

Brian Connell - Author News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

Trekking Across Gondwanaland

My long journey to Australia and back

A pic a day from the Cape

Snippets of my life, my city, and beyond