Busy down here

Agulhas is busy. Really busy

I recently heard someone remark the other day that Cape Town seemed quieter than usual over the holiday period this year. I’d noticed that too.
Not here though.

We only arrived in Agulhas yesterday, but wow: it’s busy. Really busy.

Even the internet is overloaded and slow like if you were at a concert or a sports event, or just on Cell C.

I’m sure that I have mentioned on here sometime previously that it’s really difficult for businesses to cope with this once off seasonal demand.
Cape Agulhas is a wonderful place, but you have to want to come here. It’s not somewhere you reach accidentally. It’s not near a big airport or transport hub. It’s not on the road to anywhere else (in fact it’s a good 100km-plus off the road to anywhere else). It’s a trip you have to decide to make. And so the two weeks or so around Christmas is the only time this place sees any major action.

That’s just how I like it, of course: it’s why we spend so much time here. But it does make it very hard work for the tourism-related businesses here to make things work. Fifty weeks of the year, they are just trying to survive on the meagre scraps provided by a trickle of geographically-curious visitors; but then they are expected (and required) to upscale for the annual invasion of the Christmas fortnight. The campsites are full, the towns are buzzing, the queues are… noticeable.

And the local restaurants have invested and really stepped up to the challenge this year: the wine shop now has a wine bar and does picnics, the fish and chip shop – an institution – has built a posh extension and can seat many more people, the Twisted Fork has rebranded as the Crafty Pig (and I even saw customers in there), Seagulls has renovated its downstairs restaurant area, Pot Pouri is now huge and has a double-storey gift shop, and Zuidste Kaap has done absolutely nothing, because that’s just how they roll.
With the investment comes a degree of risk, of course: the fish and chip shop was packed today, but on a drizzly Tuesday next July – probably not so much. But I’m sure that the owners and manager of these businesses have taken all this into account when making their decisions. And I’m delighted to say that they were all happily making hay yesterday.

I need to go to bed now, to mentally prepare myself for the very real possibility that that there might be someone on my beach tomorrow.

I haven’t dared to warn the beagle. But then it wouldn’t understand anyway.

How to save money on property

Cape Town property prices are regularly described as being “like, fully out of control, bru”.
If you’ve already got your foot on a rung of the property ladder, that’s not something that will really bother you. Maybe you might even consider it good news. But if you’re yet to move into property ownership, then that first step can seem ridiculously far out of reach.

This is widely touted as a problem which is new to Millennials, but only by anyone who never tried buying anything decent in Sheffield (or anything at all in Oxford) on a microbiologist’s wage in the 1990s.

Just saying.

So, you want to find a way of getting more for less, and who can blame you? Everyone loves a bargain. Step forward then, some high school girls from the Sacred Heart College (SHC) in Geelong, Melbourne, Australia.

If you are looking for an affordable home in your preferred suburb, it may pay to find the street with the silliest name.
House prices on streets with silly names are significantly lower than houses on nearby streets, a study by Victorian school students has found.

(That’s students from a state in Australia, as mentioned above, not from the late 1800s.)

Working with staff from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the University of Sydney and a Melbourne real estate agent, the girls analysed house sales on the streets over the past 47 years.
They found that property prices in streets with silly names were about 20 per cent lower than properties in the normally-named roads.
As the report notes, that amounts to a $140,000 saving on a median-priced Melbourne house.

That’s R1.4m, which (after some rudimentary calculations) also tells us that a median-priced house in Melbourne costs R7m and kinda puts those wild claims about Cape Town back into some kind of perspective.

The students identified 27 streets in Victoria with silly names, including Butt Street, Wanke Road and Fanny Street.

STOP SNIGGERING AT THE BACK!

I’m rather busy at the moment, so I don’t have chance to follow up on this in too much depth right now, but there’s a De Cock Avenue in Deurdrift:

And a Dikkop Close in Pelikan Park:

And I even found a Fanny Avenue in Joburg:

The biggest issue with that last one being that not only do you live on Fanny Avenue, you also live in Joburg. (Also, “Lung Candy, Norwood”?!?)

I don’t know if the house prices in any of these roads are lower than their local peers, but if you are looking for a way to knock a bar off your first (or next) house, then this would seem to be the best way of going about it.

Thank me later.

Xmas 2017 John Lewis ad out

This year, it’s all about Moz the Monster. Hashtag: #MozTheMonster

Summary: little boy meets monster, fails academically due to immediate infatuation leading to poor time management and self care, turns life around after a mysterious Xmas gift intervention changes his circumstances.
A demonstration of utterly terrible parenting throughout, and quite clearly an analogy for the scourge of illicit drug use in adolescence.

But all’s well that ends well, hey?

The music is Golden Slumbers (yes, a Beatles cover), is by Elbow and is the best bit about this otherwise disappointing two minutes which allegedly cost £7,000,000 and 7 months to make.

Previous John Lewis Xmas ads destroyed on 6000 miles… may include:

2016 Buster The Boxer
2015 Man On The Moon
2014 Monty The Penguin

Norm for good service

Boy away on school camp.
Girl takes full advantage of parents’ undivided attention, asks if we can do dinner.
Of course we can.

Dad checks menu online.
Dad reads the small print.
Never read the small print.

Small print too small for you? Here’s what it says:

Gratuity Policy
We hereby respectfully advise that gratuity is not included in our main prices. The norm for good service is 100% of the total bill. The payment of gratuity is entirely voluntary and the amount is based on the quality of service.

Did I miss something here? Not since the Waterfront branch of Cape Town Fish Market conveniently informed tourists that ‘in South Africa, we routinely tip twenty percent’ has there been such a blatant attempt to rip restaurant patrons off.

But even the pisspoor CTFM kept it vaguely reasonable. This is completely off the scale. And at a restaurant where a 3 course meal plus wine will set you back ±R400 per person, it’s no wonder that the parking lot is full of Audis and Beemers – that’s clearly how the waiting staff get to and from work.

Goodbye Lily

So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, adieu.
Adieu, adieu, to “yieu and yieu and yieu”.

That last line by some distance the worst lyric in musical history (and there’s a lot of decent competition out there).

But this morning, an email from Lily. (Never mind the fact that I unsubscribed from their mailing list ages and ages ago.)

Lily are no more. 

Here’s the full story:

Antoine and Henry here from the Lily team. When Lily set out on the journey to create a flying camera over 3 years ago, we were determined to develop and deliver a product that would exceed your expectations.

In the past year, the Lily family has had many ups and downs. We have been delighted by the steady advancements in the quality of our product and have received great feedback from our Beta program. At the same time, we have been racing against a clock of ever-diminishing funds. Over the past few months, we have tried to secure financing in order to unlock our manufacturing line and ship our first units – but have been unable to do this. As a result, we are deeply saddened to say that we are planning to wind down the company and offer refunds to customers (details below).

We want to thank you for sticking with us and believing in us during this time. Our community was the drive that kept us going even as circumstances became more and more difficult. Your encouraging words through our forums and in your emails gave us hope and the energy we needed to keep fighting.

Before we sign off, we want to thank all the people who have worked at Lily, who have partnered with us, and who have invested in us. Thank you for giving your all, nights, weekends and holidays, in the effort to deliver a great product.

After so much hard work, we are sad to see this adventure come to an end. We are very sorry and disappointed that we will not be able to deliver your flying camera, and are incredibly grateful for your support as a pre-order customer. Thank you for believing in our vision and giving us the opportunity to get this far. We hope our contribution will help pave the way for the exciting future of our industry.

Sincerely,
Antoine and Henry
Lily Founders

Lily tried to make something that no-one had ever managed to make before: a drone which film your adventures while it followed you around, filming your escapades in luxurious HD, but more than that, a portable drone which you could pop in your pocket and take anywhere. (That description just for those of you that struggle with the definition of ‘portable’.)

It looked good. It looked like something I was after, and thus, following some degree of due diligence, I dived in. As did over 60,000 others, yielding more than $34,000,000 in revenue.

But despite a huge uptake, the process was fraught with problems. Reviews of the product test shots were less than complimentary, although the Lily guys always had a reason and a fix and buyers were kept well informed as to the latest developments via email. It was this excellent communication policy that kept me going, despite the delivery date being moved further and further out. Then – 18 months into a 10 month process – they decided that they couldn’t deliver to SA and the alarm bell, tired of being overused and ignored fell off the wall. I pulled the plug.

I’m not surprised that they are struggling to find funding. If they were at this stage 2 years ago, there would be no issue. But things have outpaced them: the good news was that while Lily were struggling with hardware, software, camera, funding and shipping issues, other companies were moving on in the background. DJI had (finally) seen the gap in the market and moved all their existing Phantom technology into a portable drone: the Mavic Pro. Notably more expensive than Lily, but also packed with more features such as 4K video, obstacle avoidance and actually existing, mine arrived last week. Even if Lily were still going, I’d not have their drone yet. And it’s nearly 2 years on from my order.

I’m sad. Lily were trying to do a good thing, it just didn’t work out. As with any start-up, the mountains they had to climb were huge. The issues with the technology are a bit beyond me, but perhaps their biggest error was repeatedly promising too much and repeatedly having to backtrack. Another player in the market would have been great, (especially as Parrot are also struggling) but perhaps it was their idea and the interest it generated that prompted the development of the Mavic Pro. So, for that, thank you Lily.

Hopefully, there are positives that the Lily team can take out of this experience: their communication strategy should be one of them. I’ll keep an eye on what they are going to do next, because I have (more) high hopes.