The Price of a Staycation in @CapeTown – some of our top attractions unpacked – Part 1, The Mountain. @TableMountainCa #lovecapetown

My first ever ‘reblog’ – make a note of these excellent special offers for Table Mountain.

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.

 

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

 

Sharing the tourism love

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Last year the New York Times published a travel blog list of 52 places to visit and Cape Town was listed at number one. This is fabulous because of course the NYT is a publication with a huge following. This gave the tourism industry in South Africa something major to brag about and social media mentions must have ranked in the millions.

Today, another list gives the city of Durban the thumbs-up and everyone is crying into their morning coffee that Cape Town is ‘no longer the world’s favourite tourist city’. Huh?? How long was I in a coma for that I missed Cape Town receiving this award? It’s just lists of suggested places to visit!!

Wake up, people! We are NOT the centre of the universe! We receive a huge number of tourists and the stats show an increase year on year – all fabulous news because tourism is this city’s booming new growth industry (and I make my living from tourism!) but we have a long way to go before we beat the likes of Paris and Barcelona and New York and many others that have been popular tourist destinations for far longer than our mere 20 years.

We will grow from strength to strength but we have some work to do on the infrastructure and mechanism of tourism first:

– public transport is still not as handy and frequent as it should be, and it  doesn’t cover the entire region yet. You can’t even get a bus back from Kirstenbosch after the Sunday evening concerts.

– restaurants mostly offer excellent food but good service is not as consistent as it should be. Waiting on tables needs to be respected as a career, not a job for students.

– many wine estates close too early in summer. They’re ignoring the large number of visitors who might want to continue tasting wines between 5pm and 8pm when the sun sets.

– we are not being marketed properly! No-one seems to know how and where the budget is spent and SA Tourism is often accused of not doing a good job.

– the perception that crime is a deterrent. It isn’t really but it only takes a few people to spread a negative perception that tourists are all in danger. Yes, our crime rate is high but no, tourists are not in any specific danger if they just take common-sense precautions, as they should in all major cities.

– the industry is not regulated properly, if at all, and government is not seen as taking it as seriously as it should. A closer look at working conditions and the labour laws would be a good start.

– things that can’t be helped: we’re far away! Far from everywhere, the end of the world, air fares are therefore high, you can’t really nip down here for a week’s holiday.

So let’s not freak out at one list suddenly mentioning Durban as a great place – it is fabulous, we’re not losing anything, and we can share the tourists with that city (where the water is warm enough to swim in) .. and others, like Johannesburg where the country’s only Apartheid Museum is located, and the Kruger National Park which is the world’s most fabulous natural park for game viewing, and the Garden Route which is so aptly named, and the Wild Coast which is still wild and wonderful, and the West Coast which bursts into flower annually and isn’t built-up, and and and …

I was shocked to see how quick some people were to share this article with comments that almost gleefully highlight Cape Town’s omission from the list instead of being happy that Durban gets recognition. South Africans are often accused of self-loathing and this seems to show something like that.

Here’s the blog entry where Durban is mentioned. Note how Cuba is number 2 on the list. Does that make it the world’s second most popular city? I think not! Check out how they compiled the list here. It’s opinion-based for suggested destinations, not a list of places most visited. So Cape Town has never been the world’s favourite tourist city to visit and Durban is still not the world’s 7th most popular tourist city to visit – as one person on Twitter was adamant to state as ‘fact’.

And here are world tourism rankings – actual stats that show which places get the most visitors.

Perspective, okay?

cape of good hope

 

 

Introducing … ‘Doucheplates’

I’ve been observing the increasing number of personalised plates on our (Western Province – WP) roads with alarm. They’re incredibly expensive and yet in this ‘tightening of the belt’ environment there are more and more of them. My opinion is that unless they’re used as branding for a company vehicle, they’re just douchy. A few here and there are witty but mostly they’re a colossal waste of money. They’re not referred to as ‘vanity plates’ for nothing. So, I’m no longer satisfied with sharing them on Facebook, I’ve given them a whole new category in this blog. And here are a few to get the ball rolling.

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Must admit I almost wet myself when I saw this one. So many possibilities.

20141128_135450

Whatever this means. Many doucheplates are enigmatic to the viewer but of course there’s an explanation if you have time to waste finding the owner.

20141128_170043

Sex Violence Nudity?

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I did a double take for this one and as luck would have it, someone was sitting at the wheel so I asked. It’s the owner’s name. It’s not the business name though so it’s borderline douchy with a touch of wit.

 

I am 4 rhinos, are you?

rhinos

Today I am breaking my rule of using only my own photos – it’s for a good cause.

You’d have to be living in a cave to not have heard that the world’s rhino population is fast dwindling. At the current rate of poaching (killing, butchering, murdering) these magnificent creatures will soon be extinct. Future generations will have only photos and movies and will ask why we allowed this to happen.

Sadly, there are people in certain cultures who believe the horn of a rhino has beneficial purposes and/or is equal to Viagra. This has never been proved to be correct. Even if it was correct, let’s just assume, then there would be better ways to obtain the powdered horn than to butcher a harmless creature and leave it bleed to death, often in front of its young.

The government of South Africa and the WWF are trying to convince certain countries’ governments to cooperate in fighting the war against poaching rhinos but it’s a long battle and might be too late. It’s a huge task to change the firm mindset of people who have blind faith in something and who regard its use as a status symbol. These people will pay large sums of money for a small quantity, and they take advantage of poverty to pay poachers peanuts. It is always the poacher who lands up behind bars, not the real culprit. The next animal on the list will be elephants.

23 September is World Rhino Day and the WWF is asking everyone who cares to raise awareness and pledge support by tweeting as much as possible with the hash-tag #iam4rhinos.  Click on this link to see the progress … the red shows how many tweets have been reached.

I am a cynic with little faith in blind awareness campaigns. That’s why my Facebook page will never show those absurd cancer and depression/whatever posts – they serve no purpose and are just a waste of time, and the implied blackmail that ‘only true friends will do this’ is a big no-no.

But this rhino awareness campaign has touched me. I have seen photos of butchered rhinos bleeding to death, I have heard the sobs of game rangers who find them, and it has to stop.

If you have a twitter account please go and tweet a few times – do it for the rhinos, not for my friendship!

#iam4rhinos – are you?

This is why I hate food shopping

A few of my friends don’t understand my hatred of grocery shopping. I usually wait until there’s nothing left to eat before I stock up again. Running out of toilet paper is usually a sign that I need to venture to a supermarket. Or running out of wine, which is as essential to civilised living as is toilet paper.

Supermarkets are horrible places. Mainly because of other shoppers who don’t behave nicely and bring their screaming brats.

The thing is, the older I get the more grumpy I am getting at being ripped off by food manufacturers. My pocket is tighter than ever these days so I am very aware of what they, the manufacturers who are also feeling the pinch but are greedier than I am, are doing to squeeze more and more profits.

Lately, I’ve taken to complaining on consumer websites and/or directly to manufacturers and retailers because whinging about it but doing nothing is a waste of time and just gives them permission to continue. I can also vent here.

Today’s irritation is a packet of biscuits that seem quite well-priced when you see the size of the box but when you open it (at home, with a cup of tea, like me, now) you realise you’ve been duped because the contents are half the size of the box. HALF!! Obviously, I should have looked at the weight but very few people do that. And that’s why they get away with it.

So here’s the pic and I wish you could see how grumpily and hard I am typing. This biscuit company will hear from me.  Along with the pasta company whose linguine breaks into a million tiny pieces once cooked – I’ll spare you a photo of that.

I feel better now, thanks for listening.

Look, it's not even half the packaging, it's LESS!

Look, it’s not even half the packaging, it’s LESS!

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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