March desktop

Belatedly, I know. But I couldn’t find anything worth desktopping and I don’t want to give you rubbish, so I had to wait until I took this photo this weekend.

Twilight on Suiderstrand beach on Saturday evening, with the waves gently rolling in onto the pebbles as the sun sank slowly, but surely, into the South Atlantic. (f/8.0, 6s).

This one was edited in the new version of Picasa (v3.9) which has some lovely new features to play with and is becoming more like Instagram every day. Meanwhile, Instagram is “very soon” to be available for Android. I’ll certainly give it a go, but I’m still a huge fan of Vignette for Android.

You may also enjoy previous desktop background suggestions from January and February.
And there are a few more photos from this weekend here.


We’re going to pop down to Agulhas again this weekend. Not for any reason other than getting some fresh air and some sunshine and avoiding some cyclists. Actually, I made up that last one, but it’s an excellent added benefit.

But it looks like the Agulhas area will also be very busy, because it’s the annual 5spesie fishing competition there this weekend. Last year even the outlying villages in the region were packed enough with large Afrikaners in large double cabs (that car park is usually completely empty). This year looks set to be even bigger, with prizes worth over R150,000 up for grabs.

The event, described on the powerpoint-designed flyer as “Net ‘n lekker Boere Jol” (literally “Just a great Farmer’s Party”) sounds like a celebration of fishing and Afrikaans culture. So that’s braais, brandy and bad music, then?

Yep. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Things kick off at 5pm this evening with a bring and braai, progressing (after a bit of fishing from 5am) to a massive finale tomorrow evening including:

21h00 – 22h00 Happy Brandy hour. Dubbel Mooiuitsig Brandewyn – R5


21h00 – 24h00 Musiek en Dans – Eggos Orkes van Bonnievale en Christelle (Gratis vir borge / hengelaars, hul familie en vriende)

A rough translation for those in the UK: “Dubbel” = “Double”; “Brandewyn” = “Brandy”; “R5” = “42p”.

And for use on Sunday morning: “Eina” = “Ouch”.

The Music and Dance with the traditional Afrikaans “Orkes” from Bonnievale (and Christelle) is free for sponsors, fishermen, their families and friends. Which seems like reason enough not to befriend a fisherman this weekend, just in case you get invited along.

Hopefully, the fishermen will be happy to share the beaches with my kids, who will be looking for (literally) smaller fry in the in the rockpools.

See you Monday. (Although by the miracle of modern technology, new posts will appear here on Saturday and Sunday).

On South African Seaside Homes, Part One

Warning! This Post Contains Some Bad Language.

For years now, those South Africans who can, have taken their money and invested it in often hideous second homes by the sea. Freed from the constraints of day-to-day urban dwelling, they let themselves go in every way, shape and form, resulting in the architectural ruination of towns and villages which have the misfortune to be near a beach. One can see this phenomenon at work in Yzerfontein, in Pringle Bay, in Betty’s Bay, Rooiels, Onrus and Hermanus. When you see the abominations which have sprung up in these places, you are instantly thankful for the draconian planning regulations which are robustly enforced in our cities.

There’s a lot to be said for letting yourself go in a second home. It’s a chance to relax, to unwind, to escape. But rather leave that until after your second home is built. Put in that vulgar bar that your wife won’t let you have at home, drink too much and eat unhealthily every time you go there, but at least wait until the external building work as been completed before “expressing yourself”. Please.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some beautiful second homes out there as well. But you’re going to be hard-pressed to find them amongst the ugly escapism of what apparently passes as good taste for the average South African second home owner. Each to their own, of course, but damn, your own is ugly. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to get some snaps together and show you what I mean.

But in the meantime, here’s one that was made earlier.

This is a recently completed holiday home in Suiderstrand, Western Cape. It’s not my taste, but it’s certainly not as bad as some. However, what the building lacks in character and downright horrendous appearance, it makes up for in the name.

Remember in that first paragraph, where I said that people seemingly found the need to let themselves go rather too much? Well, in my humble opinion, this guy has let himself go way too far.


Because yes, the owner of this particular property has chosen to name it “Sir Fukalot”:

(Sorry Mum)

When I saw the sign, words failed me and in documenting it here today, words are again failing me.

What do I know? Maybe it’s a big sex advert or something. It can’t be a house name though, can it? Because there are a number of stages that one needs to go through to get a house name plate onto a wall. You have to firstly come up with the name. It’s at this point that I have already failed when it comes to “Sir Fukalot”. I’ve named a website, two kids and a cottage and I think I’ve done ok. And one of the reasons I think I’ve done ok is that none of those four things is called “Sir Fukalot”. Not one.
It’s not something that even crossed my mind when I was considering suitable nomenclature for any of those things. Or anything else, for that matter.

But hey, that’s just the first step. Then you’ve got to get your idea past anyone else who has a stake in the property. And if I had come up with the name “Sir Fukalot” for our holiday home, which I wouldn’t have done anyway, I would then have to tell my wife that I thought that naming our holiday home “Sir Fukalot” was a good idea. I wouldn’t do that, either.

Wife (amazingly) placated and agreeable, you then take your idea to the signmaker. “Hello, Mr Signmaker,” you say. “I’d like you to attach the words “Sir” and “Fukalot” in chromadek to a distressed piece of scaffolding board which I will then have mounted on the outside wall of my holiday home, so that everyone passing will know that the building is henceforth to be known as “Sir Fukalot”?”

To be fair, the signmaker just wants to make some money from the crazy Afrikaner.

And then you have to have the balls to put it up. And to use it in everyday conversation:

“Yes, please deliver the sofa to Sir Fukalot in Suiderstrand.” or
“I’m hoping to leave a bit early on Friday as we’re going to Sir Fukalot for the weekend.” 

Although I presume that having gone through the previous steps, these last two won’t present much of an obstacle.

I shall, as promised, document some unfortunate examples of how not to design and name a second home by the seaside in the near future. There may already be a tumblr account set aside for exactly that purpose.
And as I mentioned, there will be plenty of places which are architecturally worse than this one.  But I will struggle to beat “Sir Fukalot”  for sheer brass neck when naming one’s seaside design disaster.

Weekend summed up

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and so in an effort to save time and to get to bed sooner than I might otherwise have done, please enjoy the thousand words on our weekend away as depicted by this scene from Struisbaai beach yesterday morning:

That’s my girl on the beach, my boy in the waves, an invisible kite-surfer and blue skies forever.

Yes, it might be ever so slightly out of focus, but that was almost certainly down to sea spray on the lens, an over-abundance of sunlight and quite fitting given the two bottles of decent merlot I polished off the previous evening.

Long weekend

Because the kids are off school on Monday (it’s half term) (for a day), we’re taking the opportunity to enjoy a long weekend at the cottage.
Hopefully the weather will be better than the day I took this photo.

Amazingly, the day in question was 24 short hours after Midsummer’s day and everyone was wondering whether we’d actually get a summer at all.

You can view the photo on black here.