Submarine

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I’m used to seeing yachts and other types of pleasure craft in Hout Bay but not submarines so this one caught me by surprise yesterday and I had no answers for my clients. Obviously it’s some sort of exercise by the navy but why they chose Hout Bay is a mystery. I don’t even know if it’s one of ours because I’ve only ever seen grey ones in Simon’s Town.

I would’ve liked to see the sub in the company of this bloke whose telephoto lens the size of a small lighthouse was actually useless at Boulders because he was too close to the penguins. It didn’t stop him from taking lots of photos and laughing off all the facetious comments that everyone was making. He advised us that it weighs a ton and that he isn’t a professional photographer. I think he’s compensating.

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#RhodesMustFall

Rhodes

This is not the statue at the university. This one is in the Company’s Garden. Note the raised arm – he is pointing north and the caption reads: ‘Your hinterland is there’. His dream was to control the whole of Africa for the British Empire. Not half ambitious or greedy, much?

I’ve been engaging in the most delightful (not!) debates (and observing others) on Facebook  about the current debacle raging in Cape Town and Grahamstown. Briefly, students at the University of Cape Town are demanding that a statue of Cecil John Rhodes that stands large and dominant overlooking the playing fields should be destroyed because he was an imperialist racist who abused black labour to enrich himself. The detractors of this request are claiming that he gave his land to the city and one of many things built on that land is the university itself, as well as a scholarship founded with his fortune. The protests have spread to Grahamstown where the students want the name of the university there changed from Rhodes University.

There’s a whole lot more to it of course and it’s complicated, as are most similar issues in South Africa, but it has raised a level of consciousness on certain topics that I think is welcome.

There’s white privilege (a concept that many who benefit from it refuse to acknowledge), there’s ignorance of history (usually a choice by those who prefer denial), there’s racism, there’s theft of land from indigenous people, there’s the after-effects of colonialism, and much more. But what is quite revealing is how issues like this serve to bring racists out of under the rocks where they rightly belong. The issue is, of course, more about transformation than a statue but ignorance of history makes people think that black people in South Africa should just be happy they finally have the vote and should all ‘move on and forget the past’. Never mind that the worst of the past is still in their faces, day in and day out, such as the statue in question. Here’s a summary of the events of the past 3 weeks (with a photo of the UCT statue shrouded by students) and here are some quotes that show what a monster he was.

My favourite comment is this (from Africa is a Country):

“In calling for the statue to be removed then, activists are not only addressing the hidden divisions of labour that sustain academia on the backs of black bodies, they are critiquing the raced, classed an[d] gendered dimensions that shape access to education in South African society. Challenging whiteness at UCT is not to suggest that individual students are to blame for the absence of transformation, but to point out that millions of black people in this country find themselves in a position where even gazing upon the statue of Rhodes is a remote possibility. It is to point out that economic inequality remains heavily racialized and gendered, and in order to transform our universities there needs to be a greater recognition of the structural violence that black people continue to endure as they send their children off to dilapidated schools in far flung rural areas with few employment opportunities once they finish. There is a long history of student occupations setting off a chain reaction of social protest. Throughout history students have acted as catalysts of struggle, as they often feel the impacts of economic and political change most acutely. In South African history, they have also been the ones willing to take the risks required to advance emancipatory struggles. “

And my favourite #hashtag comment is: ” #‎RhodesMustFall exists precisely because of the type of people who think it is a protest about a statue.” If you don’t understand that then you don’t understand much at all.

I personally don’t believe the statue should be destroyed. It should be moved elsewhere and used, with other symbols, to explain and place colonialism and racism in its appropriate context. This could in fact be a perfect opportunity to contextualise the issues. Cape Town does not have an apartheid museum (something I deplore constantly and find hard to explain to tourists who don’t have the opportunity to see the one in Johannesburg) but this could be the perfect starting point for something similar in this city.

I know some people don’t like it when I write about issues like this but that’s too bad. It’s a reality of our daily life in South Africa and avoiding/denying it is your choice, not mine.

Silverhurst, on the wild side

Another of my regular walks with Vida is Silverhurst, also part of the Constantia Green Belt and next to the upmarket Silverhurst gated community. But we walk on the wild side, next to the stream, where the trees and plants grow wild, where the roots trip you up if you’re not looking and where a dog can do what doggies do – run and sniff and swim and meet other dogs. I’ve got loads of pics taken there but these were all today.

making friends

Vida making a new friend.

chase me

This is Vida asking me to chase her.

vida swimming

Vida’s pond – today it warranted swimming around twice.

glasses plus250

If anyone is missing a pair of +2.50s, they’re here. From the dirt on them I suspect they’ve been buried under leaves for a long time.

stripped bark

This is fresh so must have broken off recently.

piles of dead stuff

There are great big piles of branches all over the place, ready for collection. I wish the council paid as much attention to the branches and leaves and garbage that collect in my street, only 3 kms away, but never get collected.

uprooted stump

This uprooting must have been spectacular.

vidas field

I call this Vida’s Field. The minute we arrive at this section she runs and frolics like crazy because she can still see me from far away.

georges tree

George’s Tree. George passed away in 2010 so we can assume this tree is 5 years old. It’s looking nice now that the surrounds have been cleared but for a while it looked half-dead.

roots

Believe it or not, these are tree roots.

big tree

This is one eucalyptus tree and it’s massive!

bridge new

New bridge.

very old retaining stones

Very old retaining stones on the opposite bank of the stream.

silverhurst pond

Our lovely walk runs along the Silverhurst Stream and next to the fancy-schmancy Silverhurst gated community. They have this lovely pond with ducks and geese but today there was no sign of birds and of course the dogs that live here are probably not allowed to swim in the pond. It’s much better on the outside, in the wild.

silverhurst house behind bars

One of the bigger homes but the sun was shining so not well photographed. They have electric fencing, cameras, 24 hour security and metal fencing. Nice and safe but we prefer it on the wild side. I know the dogs on the inside look at Vida with envy.

March lilies

Lone little March lily. I think I might plant some in my garden, they’re pretty but a bit odd for not having any foliage at all.

 

Naked chefs

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Such a pity that in South Africa chefs don’t have the habit of leaving the kitchen and going into the restaurant dining room to chat with diners to check if they enjoyed their dinner.

 

A little retro adventure

chappies net 2

Chapman’s Peak

Today, out of the blue, I was asked if I wanted to go for a motorbike ride with someone I’d never met. Yeah yeah, I know, but it’s a Facebook thing and it came about after a long debate on art. I jumped at the chance because it’s been years since I rode a bike, and after some discussion about jackets and boots (it’s over 30 degrees today so this didn’t sound right but ‘safety first’) I was ready and waiting at the gate with my camera. I had visions of selfies in the rear-view mirror like so many other people seem to manage easily, but those are not as easy as you think.

So, off we went to look at the burnt-out mountains. First we sped off down the motorway towards Ou Kaapse Weg at over a zillion miles an hour.  I held on very tight. We stopped twice to take photos and look around. We went over Chapman’s Peak which has reopened despite what I think is considerable danger of falling rocks. After out first stop I was comfortable and let go of  Marius. I held the handy bars at the side and even leaned back gently against the container-thingie. Totally cool!

Downside of riding a bike: The clothing. The jacket I wore weighed a ton and made me very hot when we were not moving. The helmet soaked my head with perspiration. The gloves are as thick as a mattress so there’s no chance of holding a camera. Getting on and off is a very graceless affair with rude words.

Upside of riding a bike: You see more than from inside a car, much more. Fuel consumption is way better than a car.  Nipping in and out of traffic and getting up Ou Kaapse Weg in minutes is a joy. People look at you but they can’t actually see you under the spacesuit. The road really does come up to meet you, especially going around the bends of Chappies and that hairpin bend on Ou Kaapse Weg, but you can close your eyes.

Silvermine

The desolation of Silvermine.

silvermine 2

Check it out! The ‘boney’ in question BMW 1200, because when it comes to bikes, size does matter.

silvermine seed looking for a home

This little seed was rolling around looking for a home.

silvermine new life

Life sprouting already.

silvermine sign

This sign ..

silvermine sign not burnt

and this sign … why has this one survived?

silvermine other photog

We weren’t the only ones taking photos.

silvermine false bay

In the background, Muizenberg mountains where it all began.

chappies net

Chapman’s Peak. The nets are still there but have been heated so much that they need attention and may not be strong enough to hold large boulders.

chappies still beautiful

Chappies still manages breathtaking views.

selfie

There we go, the perfect selfie.

 

We can see clearly again

alphen 10 march

What a pleasure to see the mountains clearly again and to not have the stench of fire in ones nose while walking the four-legged wonder.

Last week was hell. Mountain fires, the hottest day in 100 years, driving through smoke, smelling smoke all the time. It’s not over yet because the mountains are still burning in Jonkershoek near Stellenbosch, and other regions, but the Peninsula is back to normal, whatever that is.

If you’re on Facebook check out these excellent photos from the Silvermine area (only part of the 6000 hectares that burnt last week) – fire is always so photogenic.

My previous entries about the Tokai Manor House and ghost received hundreds of hits last week because there were rumours that it had burnt down so people were Googling it like mad. It has not burnt down, it is still there. The surrounding plantation did burn however, and a few houses in Zwaanswyk.

And of course these fires didn’t actually fit in with my planned tours but some improvisation around clients’ special interests helped a bit, and I even landed up being a guide in my own old neighbourhood. Check it out here. I’ve just received awesome feedback from them so clearly I did something right.

Ok, enough blowing my own trumpet; it’s wine o’clock and the garden needs watering – I have a special way of combining the two.

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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