It’s action-packed at Boulders!

Penguin love

Penguin love is a balancing act.

South Africa’s most famous penguin colony, Boulders Beach, is action packed at the moment .. and oh boy are those cute little birds getting action!

It’s a lascivious den of iniquity – the beach and surrounding area is crawling with penguins mating and cuddling and courting and all of it boldly done in full view of tourists, kids included who giggle and ask awkward questions. It’s all about the eggs really. Making eggs, sitting on eggs, protecting eggs, hatching eggs.

We’re so privileged to have this treasure on our doorstep. Many Capetonians don’t have the time to drive all the way down to Simon’s Town but we guides have all the luck, we get to visit them all year round.

My best time of day is late afternoon at the end of my favourite tour.  The light is lovely and casts long shadows, there are less people round, there are more penguins as they come back from the sea all fattened up, settling down for the night.  You can watch the interaction between single penguins clearly looking for trouble as they try to interfere with those protecting their eggs. Here and there a couple will start the process of mating which is hilarious to watch as they rock and over-balance before abandoning the effort, only to try again a few minutes later.

The singletons stand alone – where are their mates? They could be out at sea, they might have fallen prey to a predator, or perhaps they have yet to find one.

The family groups – the young chicks are easy to spot with their grey/brown fluffy down, standing very close to a parent, safe and protected, for now.

Every now and then there is a brief skirmish as a potential interloper is dealt with and a naughty penguin is sent on its way, away from the eggs or the chicks.

I could stand and watch them for hours and luckily most of my clients are happy to do that, too.

penguins long shadows penguins near homes penguins 2

Pinotage and a white mini-dress

CapePoint

The story starts here, at the Cape Point parking lot.

Yesterday I sent my two lovely Russian clients off on the walk that I always recommend to people visiting Cape Point. I told them it was an easy walk, shouldn’t take more than 30-40 minutes, and advised them to not go down to the beach because the walk back up the cliff is exhausting – it’s quite do-able and they’re young enough but I didn’t want them to regret that climb back up, just in case they’re not very fit 🙂

Off I went to drive around and fetch them at the end. 45 minutes later,  no sign of them on the peak. I walked around, chatted to other guides and drivers, took photos of tourists, all the time glancing up at the peak waiting for sign of my clients. They’d be easy to spot because one of them was wearing a white dress.

At some point I did a double take because this awesome car was parked next to me and the driver was standing next to the car. Nosy as I am, I asked the question: why that word on the plate? It turned out that he is the grandson of Abraham Perold, the man who cultivated (invented?) pinotage – South Africa’s very own wine cultivar, and which I am rather fond of. Okay, very fond of. We had a lovely chat about pinotage and the wonders of the grape.

Pinotage

Tours du Cap keeping good company at the Cape of Good Hope.

So, it’s not a doucheplate at all. I approve, I love. The story of pinotage can be read here.

Back to the missing clients. 90 minutes later and still no sign of the white mini-dress. Panic. They fell, they turned back, they can’t call me as I have no signal here, a baboon attacked them, a dassie lured them away. This always happens when people dawdle on this walk while I wait at the bottom – I panic. At the very least I’m going to have to climb up and look for them, at the very worst my clients are injured on a clifftop, or at the bottom thereof.

no client in sight

No sign of clients. They should be visible on the rocky bits to the right or at the top taking selfies.

Eventually they appeared – much relief. Except they weren’t on the path. They went bundu-bashing because they had dawdled and strayed off the path so couldn’t find it again. They were thrilled with their ‘adventure‘ so I didn’t have the heart to tell them that we frown upon bundu-bashing in fynbos. I taught them the word and told them they are free to brag to all their friends.

spot the white dress

Spot the white mini! They came down from the top-left side instead of zig-zagging from the right.

It was a great day all around and here’s a bonus – my client and her gorgeous sunglasses that get tongues wagging. She told me that in London and Moscow no-one gives her a second look but in Cape Town they’re a head-turner. Clearly, we’re more conservative than we like to think.

20150226_171413

Jana at Boulders Beach

 

My first selfie – way ahead of the pack

selfie 1

Full frontal selfie – 2008, cutting edge stuff.

Let me begin by saying I am not big on selfies. I forget to smile,  I look at the camera, and they’re not important enough to bother mastering them. However, trawling through old photos the other day I came across an album showing quite clearly that I was taking selfies before they even had a name. Before smartphones. These photos haven’t been altered in any way – not bad considering how few pixels phone cameras had back then.

I had just got a new phone and I think it was my first with a camera. I went away for a weekend alone so I played. It was a weekend of R&R from a stressful working life so wine and walks on the beach were the order of the day. My cottage was on the beach so in the morning I’d make a cup of coffee and walk on the beach with my coffee – how cool is that? The year was 2008. The location was a tiny village on the West Coast called Dwarskersbos which translates into across candle bush but means a candle-bush being blown over by wind.

It was peaceful, it was cold, I came home relaxed.

beach

The wild Atlantic Ocean.

beach 3

Nothing beats having a long beach all to yourself.

stuff

I still have most of these.

beach 2

Old boundary poles.

styling stuff

Stuff.

selie 3

I suppose this could be called a sneaky shelfie

Bleskop

bleskop

Driving in and out of Franschhoek on the R45 as often as I do, I’ve passed a cryptic sign and small memorial dozens of times without stopping to investigate. Eventually, the other day I pulled over to satisfy my curiosity.

The sign reads ‘Bleskop‘ which is Afrikaans for ‘baldy’. Since the memorial is to honour soldiers from the Franschhoek Valley who lost their lives in World War One, the connection to baldness isn’t clear at all. In fact it’s a complete mystery.

The memorial is small and simple with an inscription of only a few names. I’ve tried to find some more information but very little seems to be known about it. One entry on a memorial online forum claims that the soldiers died in Flanders Field and another search result was a blogger as puzzled as I am about the history. I’m also curious about the date – as far as I know WWI ended in 1918 but this memorial shows 1919.

Clearly this memorial isn’t of much current interest to anyone – aside from the lack of info to be found, there’s the sad state of the surrounds … glass, plastic, broken fence, weeds .. shame on Franschhoek for not looking after it. The gardeners at the Huguenot Memorial, which has an immaculate garden, could spend a few minutes there once a month and make a huge difference.

I emailed Franschhoek Tourism to get more information but they have nothing beyond what I found online. They gave me a lead to get more info but I’ve heard nothing from that contact.

How strange is that? Someone cared enough to build it but no-one seems to have cared enough to record it. It’s highly probable that the descendants of the men listed are not around otherwise they would surely ensure that some care is taken.

 

bleskop mess

 

UPDATE 20 February: I received a reply from the Drakenstein Heemkring, a historical archive group, who also have very little information other than the 2 online results that I had already found. They did mention, however, that since the names on the memorial are all English, the men may have been associated to the Anglo American farms in the area, i.e. the Rhodes Fruit Farm.  The mystery continues!

 

 

Beware of the snake!

 

snake sign at cape point

This is my chill spot at Cape Point. If I have a few minutes alone I park myself in the shade to do some people-watching. I especially like to watch the reaction of tourists walking by who notice the sign. Invariably they look at me strangely, wondering why I am sitting so casually where I am clearly surrounded by dangerous snakes.

What they don’t realise is that the sign tells you to not go wandering into the bushes, that’s all. Snakes are not likely to come out of the bushes where there are many people and noisy vehicles. Snakes are more scared of us than we are of them. Snakes will not come and attack a human for no reason (they’re snakes, not mosquitoes). Snakes will only harm you if you bother them, like for example standing on them when walking. If you walk in the bush or mountains you need to stay on the path and not tread gently – this is one time when you must walk firmly so that the vibrations warn snakes to stay away. Most snake bites happen to dogs because they don’t read blogs or snake advice and are inquisitive.

Now you know where to find me at Cape Point and you can stop worrying about snakes.

This snake story is also worth a read.

 

The apocalypse is almost here and I refuse to panic

sunset

In a total blackout would we still appreciate sunsets?

According to the fear mongers, i.e. the media, Twitter and Facebook, this country is about to be pitched into total darkness. Our power shortages need no introduction but last night the gutterpress announced that government has been briefed about how they should deal with total darkness (something I would hope they, and all other countries, have because if not then we’d be attacking them for not being pro-active); and at the same time it emerged that the US Embassy in Pretoria has a plan to evacuate its employees when the lights go out (all other embassies have one in place and why has no-one asked about the US citizens? Why only the embassy staff? Doesn’t that tell you it has nothing to do with the current Eskom issues?), This has catapulted the interwebs into complete panic, mostly annoying me because of intelligent people not asking the right questions. Add to that the resignation of the head of the Energy Commission and it’s nothing less than Baked Beans 3. Or is this the 4th time around? I lose count.

Baked Beans One was in 1994 when SA voted in a government led by a black man. Many thought the entire country was about to be plunged into chaos and civil riots, it was the night of the long knives blah blah, so all (white) retarded racists rushed out to stock up on baked beans and candles. It took years for those tins to be finally used up and of course the candles came in handy in 2008 when the power shortages started. And why baked beans anyway? If you’re planning on spending a few years barricaded indoors why would you stuff yourself on a food item that makes you fart? Why not peas and meatballs? We didn’t have Twitter and Facebook back then, otherwise I’m sure the question would’ve been addressed.

Where are the #hashtags anyway?  If it’s not trending for at least 3 consecutive days, I don’t believe in it. Just ask Zelda. I’ve even seen people comment how nice it would be to have some power. Say what? We’ve had very very little loadshedding since it was announced a couple of months ago! It’s all talk and no dark.

What do journos ask themselves in editorial meetings these days? It used to be: what’s relevant, what’s the truth, what do people need to know about? Now it’s: how do we get extra clicks to our site? And it works, of course, because it’s so easy to prey on fears.  Oh and look, the opposition has advised us that a total blackout would be catastrophic! Well, duh, didn’t we know that? Has it occurred to anyone that the fear is to the opposition party’s advantage because they can use it to moer government??

It’s not helping that loadshedding is on then off then on again … I’m no expert but it seems obvious to me that if we were on the verge of a total blackout, loadshedding would be a daily thing for real, not just a threat. But panic is fun. People who can’t be bothered to spread messages of outrage over racism, homophobia, abuse of women and children, etc., are quite happy to spread the message of gloom and doom and conspiracy theories. Priorities, people!!

Anyway.

If this is the era of pitch darkness I’m ready for it. Bring on the apocalypse. I’ve seen Mad Max a few times, plus a whole whack of other post-apocalypse movies, and I’m well-trained. I actually like movies like that, as dumb as they are, so I paid attention. I’ll miss the internet and I’m not sure how I’ll recharge my electronic cigarette but I’m sure I’ll manage.  We can go back to bartering for goods, we can braai every night, I might even lose weight, and I live within spitting distance of a few excellent wineries. I have a decently stocked bookshelf and will re-read everything. I’ve taken stock of my candle supply, including the big ones kept in the bathroom. We’ll go to bed early and rise with the sun. If California can survive it, so can we.

Now, go and switch off those unnecessary lights and feast your eyes on a tranquil view while you still have a functioning internet connection. And don’t panic.

cape point

 

Disclaimer

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.

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