Dancing on Camps Bay Beach
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Snaps: Rose-picking at Chart Farm

For the longest time now, I’ve wanted to visit Chart Farm in Wynberg to wander among the roses and – best of all – pick a selection of my own to take back home.

But, on one condition: that my mom could come along, as her love for these fragrant blooms runs deep and connects with a tender nostalgia for the birthdays of her childhood in Piet Retief. Born on the 16th of November, my mom’s celebration of life falls slap-bang in the middle of peak rose season, which also happens to be most spectacular in the highveld areas of our country.

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A morning of making flower crowns

“Gardeners and florists are the happiest of all the professions … nearly twice as happy as people in more prestigious and better paid jobs.” – Professor Paul Dolan, UK Economist and Behavioral Scientist.

It was this random little nugget of information I happened to stumble upon during one of my daily wanderings around the internet that sparked a latent creative passion – the deep-seated and unfulfilled love of making pretty things with flowers.

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sunset, sea point, cape town, sea point promenade, africa, south africa, travel
lions head, lion's head, cape town, hiking, south africa, wally's cave, table mountain

Lion’s Head: two alternative routes to try

It’s a strange compulsion we Capetonians have – this need to conquer Lion’s Head. Not once. Not twice. But as many times as we possibly can.

At the crack of dawn. As dusk settles over the city. By the light of the full moon.

There’s a mountain in the middle of the city and we shall climb it. We shall climb it till our feet would follow the path even if our eyes were blindfolded. And we shall Instagram every attempt and share our pics on Facebook too.

I guess it says a lot about our need to reconnect with nature, but when you’re battling crowds just to get a view… it kind of defeats the purpose.

So, how about taking a route less travelled next time?

Here are two I can highly recommend:

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Snaps: Summer in Cape Town

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On top of Lion’s Head. We set out at 4pm one Wednesday afternoon in search of Watchman’s Cave… and ended up climbing all the way to the top!

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The view from the top of Lion’s Head really is spectacular. Let’s never forget that. 

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Did you know that Signal Hill is known as Vlaeberg in Afrikaans? I never did!

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Sea Point sunsets <3

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One morning in early December, I headed to Clifton 2 long before any crowds could descend. As I lay there soaking up the sun, I suddenly felt something brushing against my hip. I almost swiped it away, but luckily I looked first and saw this beauty just chilling there. What a surreal moment of perfection. 

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Glen Beach at dusk

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Glen beach

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Last paddlers coming in at Glen Beach

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The 12 Apostles bathed in light

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Clifton 2 before 10 am

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Mass yoga and meditation on Camp’s Bay beach. 

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My favourite nursery – Montebello in Newlands

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Saluting the sun on Camp’s Bay Beach.

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Beach meditation and the 12 Apostles hiding away under a fluffy duvet. 

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A short list of things I saw on the Sea Point promenade lately that made me smile

The other day I felt a little cooped up in my flat after a long day of working from home and decided to go for a walk along the sea. I also happened to have had an awfully ‘fat day’, so the intended stroll snowballed into a spontaneous jog-walk combo (to my surprise), measured in landmarks – from the Winchester Mansions Hotel to the seal-shaped bench {walk} from the far side of Three Anchor Bay to the big glasses {walk} etc.

While huffing and puffing along, I somehow still managed to catch snatches of conversation, pretty scenes and poignant interactions that made me smile (and even cry a little bit on the inside) at how very saturated with life those ephemeral moments in-between are.

I’ve written about my love for the Sea Point promenade once before, about my deep-seated fascination with the unfiltered expressions of humanness that play themselves out there and decided it was time to share some of my most recent observations.

So, here’s a short list of the things I saw on the promenade the other day that squeezed my heart:

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Cape Town’s best second-hand bookshops

There’s something magical about second hand book stores, isn’t there? It’s like a whole bunch of parallel universes came together and converged on a single, usually quite pokey and dusty, point on some unremarkable street corner.

Apart from all the stories held together by each tome’s spine, it’s like hundreds more cling to the covers, sometimes leaving traces of the homes and hands that have cherished them in cryptic messages – names, dates, congratulations – on the title page.

It’s a serendipitous sort of art, second-hand book shopping, and one which should be practiced with the utmost patience and ample time to spare if you want the correct volumes to find their way to you.

So, whether you’re well-versed in the whole process, or maybe just started grappling with the idea, we thought it good to compile a list of our favourite Cape Town spots to look for previously loved books.

Tommy’s Books, Long Street

Squeezed in between bars, clubs, designer clothes shops and restaurants, you will find one of Cape Town’s most famous and well-loved sites: Tommy’s Book Exchange. Established in 1969, this quintessential dark and dusty book store is stuffed with treasures that will woo even the most snobbish bibliophile’s heart. Sadly, in the past year or so, Tommy’s has shrunk to less than half its former size and now shares the space with a variety of curios from across the continent.

Address: 130 Long Street, Cape Town CBD
Tel: 021 424 7675
Business hours: 08:30 – 17:00 (Monday – Friday), 08:30 – 14:00 (Saturdays), Closed on Sundays

Proseworthy Collectable Books, Long Street Antique Arcade

If rare items are what you’re after, popping in at this small store on the Wale Street side of Long Street’s famous antique market is definitely worth your while. I once picked up a volume of Sir Richard Francis Burton’s legendary translation of A Thousand and One Arabian Nights for only R75. A real bargain!

Address: 127 Long Street, Cape Town, CBD
Tel: 021 423 3810
Business hours: 9:00 – 4:30 (Monday to Friday), 09:00 – 14:00 (Saturdays), closed on Sundays

Cathedral Books & Bric-a-brac, St George’s Cathedral 

Located on the premises of St. George’s Cathedral, just around the corner from the main entrance, this tiny shop is a marvellous scratch patch of incredible items from yesteryear. Apart from a healthy selection of second-hand books, you will also find anything from old cameras to records to porcelain dolls and everything in between.

Address: 1 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town CBD
Tel: 021 424 7360
Business hours: 11:00 – 13:00 (Tuesday to Friday), 09:00 – 12:30 (Sundays) Closed Mondays and Saturdays

Mabu Vinyl, just off Kloof Street

Name sound familiar? This little shop just off Kloof Street gained world fame last year when it was featured in the acclaimed documentary Searching for Sugarman, as the very place where owner, Sugar, started his huge search for Sixto Rodriguez. While the overwhelming number of records is certainly the main attraction, Mabu also houses an intriguing collection of second-hand books as well as CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes and videos.

Address: 2 Rheede Street, Gardens
Tel: 021-423-7635
Business hours: 09:00 – 19:00 (Monday – Friday), 09:00 – 18:00 (Saturday), 11:00 – 18:00 (Sundays)

St. Georges Mall book stalls x2

There are two fantastic temporary book stalls located along St. George’s Mall pedestrian walkway. The larger of the two can be found in the section between Castle and Strand Streets, behind the Adderley Street Woolworths. This one has a wide variety of genres, including an impressive array of esoteric and religious reading. Their classics section also yields some gems at times. Unless its raining cats and dogs, you will find the tables set up and ready to sell from about 09:00 till about 16:30.

The smaller can be found between Shortmarket and Long Market Streets, just behind the St Georges FNB. While it may not have as many books on display as its competition just down the road, you are bound to find something rare and wonderful with every visit. Their selection of Africana and South African writing is quite impressive and (here’s a little secret), they are definitely the cheapest second-hand book option in the whole of Cape Town. You will find them there on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, weather-permitting.

CAFDA Book Shop, Regent Road, Sea Point

CAFDA is a registered child protection Agency, which works to reunify families in the disadvantaged communities surrounding Cape Town. One of the ways in which they raise funds is through selling second hand books. The CAFDA Book Shop in Sea Point is large and airy and very well organized. While you’re likely to pick up the latest light reading chick lit, you’re just as likely to find some rare volume of Shakespeare’s collected works. There is also a CAFDA book shop in Cavendish Square.

Address: 18 Regent Road, Sea Point
Tel: 021 434 6149
Business hours: 09:00 – 17:00 (Mondays to Fridays), 08:30 – 13:00 (Saturdays)

The Book Shoppe, Tokai

Like CAFDA, the Book Shoppe in Tokai has steered clear of the stereotypical dim and dusty feel. Instead it’s flooded with light and there’s lots of space to move around. Here you will find practically new second-hand books and only very well preserved older volumes.

Address: Tokai Junction Centre, Corner of Tokai and Main roads
Tel: 021 713 1528

On the outskirts:

Bikini Beach Books, Gordon’s Bay 

Just a warning! If you aren’t fond of chaos, best drive on by. However, if the challenge of finding something super special among the many crooked stacks and towering shelves appeals, you will probably be rewarded handsomely!

Address: 41 Beach Road, Gordon’s Bay
Business hours: 09:00 – 21:00

Pringle Bay Books, Pringle Bay

Located in the attic above the Country Shop, Pringle Bay Books has a well curated and carefully selected collection of second-hand books for sale. Their selection of natural science, fauna and flaura and history is worth a good pore over, but if you’re more of a fiction fan, there’s more than enough of that too.

Address: Peak Road, Pringle Bay
Tel: 082 899 7195

Oupa se Boeke, Kleinmond

If you’ve taken up Exclusive Books’ 101 Books to Read Before You Die challenge, this unassuming book store in the middle of a coastal town is set on making the task easier for you. You will find copies of the list put up here and there in the shop, and there’s a whole shelf dedicated to the volumes mentioned. Apart from this, you will also find an impressive array of historical fiction, poetry and Afrikaans literature.

Address: 2nd Street, just round the corner from Pudding & Pie bakery

Bounty Books, Napier 

So, the chances that you will end up in the tiny town of Napier by chance, are pretty much zero. However, if your travels take you through there for some reason – maybe on an outing to the Southern tip of Africa or so – keep your eyes peeled for the bright orange building next to the main road. Here you are bound to make the most incredible finds and pay next to nothing.

Tel: 072 642 3357

*Originally published on News24 Travel

Full moon cycling

I’ve always had a thing for the moon. Especially the full moon, hanging out there in the ether like a large paper lantern that rose and rose and rose… and then decided to get stuck just there where it could watch over our little billiard ball planet. Sometimes she seems to get lonely, and decides to wake me up, reaching through the smallest crack in the blind with her luminous grey-white rays to say “Oh, oops, I woke you up… sorry! But seeing your eyes are open now, let’s chat.” Kind of like a cat.

Last night she didn’t wake me up as usual, because you see La Lune wasn’t lonely and also not bored. She had the company and amusement of 900 bicycles navigating their way through the Mother City’s darkened streets.

And I was steering one of them.

It was my first #moonlightmass and I have to tell you, it was even more riveting than my usual sunset cycles in Sea Point.

Starting in the atrium-like area below the Green Point circle, close to the stadium, we wended our way toward the Waterfront, then took a sho’t left to Mouille Point. Rode on past the red-and-white lighthouse, the putt putt course and the world’s third largest maze, all the time breathing in fresh sea salty air. Back to Somerset Road and on and on and on, over Buitengracht, up Long and down Loop, till finally we all came to a stop at Greenmarket Square.

It was a motley collection of cyclists: old and young, hipster and businessman, some kitted out to the tee and others (like myself) still wearing the day’s clothes. Even Mrs Zille joined in the fun.

And the bicycles! Oh the bicycles. Mountain and road, cruiser and BMX, pink, blue, black, white and many shades of green. There were even a couple of skateboarders, one girl being towed by her friend.

I’m thinking of making it a regular thing, so please come and join me next full moon! Check out the Moonlight Mass website for more details.

Here are some pics. They kind of suck, but what’s important is that you can see it’s dark and that there are people with bicycles. Or what?

Snippets: Sunset cycles in Sea Point

They always say that at the close of a day, it fades. But in Sea Point, just the opposite seems to happen. Instead of gently waning, the day seems to reach a surreal crescendo of saturated blues, stark salmon pinks and oranges the tint (or is it tone) of ripe summer citrus.

It’s this seductive sky that always beckons, winking, calling me to come out and play. So I do. And so does everyone else.

The serious joggers with their sculpted arms and calves, and the beginners in their ill-fitting gear – plaid shorts, flapping shirts and skating shoes. The tired-looking new moms pushing prams filled with wriggling bodies, waving arms and wide awake eyes. A dad strolling patiently as his pint-size, pink-clad little girl with her bobbing ponytail and flower in hand chats happily away – probably giving mom an end of the day breather.

 

The dogs, all rushing about in a multi-sized confusion of wagging tails and tongues, flapping ears and glazed eyes, some picking out an almost invisible ball among the grass and diligently dropping it at a far-off owner’s feet.

The lovers, blissfully unseeing, unaware of the carnival playing itself out all around. An occasional old man staring out to sea – unreadable emotions etching themselves ever deeper into the lines around his squinting eyes.

Then there’s the intriguing couple at the bus stop whose uncanny punctuality, not to mention dress code, always makes me reel with a Truman Show type of Dejavu: a clean-shaven middle aged man wearing a dark button-up shirt tucked into tight black bootleg jeans, a pair of boots short only of a shiny pair of silver spurs and to top it all off, a velvety black, gold-trimmed cowboy hat; next to him, his lady friend (or maybe wife), a Liza-Minelli-lookalike perfectly groomed in a tight-fitting top-to-toe ensemble of rich fabric and dark colours. Which bus and where to? I can’t help but wonder.

But of all the people on the promenade, there is only one pair I would actually shuffle my schedule to see: the frail-looking old man playing his inconsolable bagpipes while his ever-adoring consort watches from a bench close-by, a pair of faerie people, more ancient than they look or maybe indeed much younger than we’d even know.

Whisps of tragic notes wafting on the wind had led me to them on that first fateful dusk, but even when the music was resonating loud and clear, so close I could feel it rattling in my bones, they were nowhere to be seen. And then I caught a glimpse. Through the holes in a hedge I saw him on the corner of a lawn, pouring heart and lungs into his nostalgic song, and she sitting serenely on a nearby chair, eyes closed head lifted just so.

No such shyness tonight, however, as I came across them in plain sight: him standing tall and proud next to a Palm Tree and she on the wooden park bench with a little brown blanket arranged across her knees. I watched him play for a while, letting the notes penetrate my chest and rise up to my head. I watched her watch him. And watched how when he stopped playing she got up, shawled her shoulders in the throw, and met him half way. Then I watched as her arm hooked into his, and they slowly edged their way back home, as if time were irrelevant and night held no threat.