Oh, Simple Thing…

…where have you gone?

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to Keane’s Hopes And Fears, but it will always remind me of my… our… honeymoon. I bought an iPod (my first; still got it) about the time of the wedding, but given the hectic business around those matrimonial times, I only managed to load one album onto it before we left. Hopes And Fears was that album: rather apt for a *cough* young couple heading off into the trials and tribulations of married life together.

Thus, this is the first track I ever played on an iPod:

So, while Tom and his chums may be taxiing to their secret streamside woodland hideout, while you may be staring at your computer screen, I am currently (mentally, at least) lying on a beach on an island just off the coast of Mozambique.

Where exactly? Somewhere only I know. Lol.

Meanwhile, in tenuous link central, you may have recently heard the cover version of this song for the John Lewis Christmas ad. That was done by Lily Allen and she – according to the Daily Mail – has brought her “svelte figure” in a “lime green floral halterneck bikini top” to the “breathtaking scenery” of South Africa’s “stunning wine lands.”

She even posted a picture of herself with a big steak and a pair of braai tongs!

The weird thing is, it’s a really SA-positive article, despite being in the Daily Mail, with loads of nice words and lovely pictures.

I know, I’m confused too.

South Africa’s New Baby Lighthouse

Y’all know I have a thing for lighthouses. Fortunately, living near the coast, there are a ready supply for me to enjoy.

One of the ones a bit further away from home is the Robberg Peninsular Light which, as the name suggests is sited on the er… Robberg Peninsular. You may remember the Robberg Peninsular from such hotel room views as this:


Anyway, the Robberg Light has just been replaced and has regained its position as South Africa’s smallest standalone lighthouse. It’s also the highest light in the country, at 129m above sea level. This is much lower than the old and now defunct Cape Point lighthouse (229m) which was shut down in favour of the “new” lower (87m above sea level) lighthouse, because it was regularly shrouded in fog, and therefore useless.


The Robberg Lighthouse is a little less fancy, being solar-powered, unmanned and just 8m tall. Still, as long as the baby of the South Coast does its job of keeping passing marine traffic off the South Coast, all is good.

Back to school, and Dads still don’t care

South African children went back to school today, and Woolworths were quick to send out an email including some great ideas for lunchbox snacks:

lbsDid you get that? Yep – “moms will love them too”. Not dads though. Oh no. Dads want their kids to get as many added preservatives and artificial flavours down them as possible, because… because… well, I don’t know why any dad would want that, actually. 

Perhaps we should ask Woolies.

Because we’ve been here before with Woolworths, haven’t we? But evidently, old habits die hard and Dads just don’t count, even if they’re the ones making the packed lunches each day.

FFS. This isn’t the 1950s anymore. It’s 2014. Get enlightened. Don’t you think it’s about time we stopped stereotyping and used the term “parents” when it comes to those individuals charged with the responsibility of looking after children, instead of continually making the assumption that it’s just mom’s domain – an assumption that’s insulting to both moms and dads.

UPDATE: A tweet from Woolies:

Which is nice.

New Exhibit for Aquarium

Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium has announced that they will have a new predator exhibit open by the end of the year. As regular visitors (and “Solemates”), our family is particularly delighted at this news.


The new exhibit will hold 1.5 million litres of water and will feature – as demonstrated above – a 10 metre long tunnel, made from a single acrylic panel, meaning a seamless window into the six metre deep tank.

It’s going to be spectacular. Cannot wait.

Some of the species will include spotted eagle rays, honeycomb rays, smooth hound and spotted gully sharks as well as Yoshi the loggerhead turtle and Cannelloni the green turtle. “I am particularly excited about the possibility of displaying skipjack and longfin tuna. In the early days of the Aquarium we displayed these fast-swimming fish, but the ragged-tooth sharks ate them! This time they will be safe as the raggies will be in a different display” says Technical Manager Mike de Maine.

We have similar woes – albeit on a slightly smaller scale – with our fishtank at home.

Building work is due to start by the end of this month and it’s hoped that the exhibit will be open by the end of the year.
Follow their progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Taking tea with the President

Number 1 in a series of 1. Probably, anyway.

A nice piece by Robinson Meyer in The Atlantic descibing the day that he was in a cafe in er… America (he doesn’t say exactly where he was), when he was joined by the President. Of the country. The big cheese, le grand fromage, die grootste kaas [That’s enough cheese now – Ed.].

I had been there for a few hours when youthful, vigorous men and women wearing Business Semi-Formal started quietly going one by one among the customers sitting near me. They would crouch, adopt an expression of deep sympathy, and say something. The customer would look a little confused, pick up laptop and coat, and move to another table.

Next to me, cafe staff had made a long table by pushing three smaller tables together. Five Millennials sat around it. They were well-dressed like Ryan Seacrest is well-dressed, and they seemed nervous. The head of their table hadn’t been filled. I had assumed someone important, someone hoity-toity, would be coming, someone like a foundation executive director.

Except, as I’ve already hinted, it’s Barack Obama that turns up to have a chat with them.

Meyer’s account is interesting as it’s clear that while he was (perhaps understandably) overwhelmed by POTUS popping into his local cafe, he is also very objective about the way that Obama “works the crowd”, including the author:

The president makes eye contact with me.
“Great to see you,” says the president.

The president extends his hand while simultaneously pivoting on his right foot.
His hands grasp mine. They feel like the rough surface of your favorite baseball.

Eye contact was broken mid-handshake. His hand trailed his turned body *which has already turned on the pivoted foot.* He greeted a couple across the way from me.

This concludes my communication with the president of the United States.

Obviously, the whole thing is just one big PR exercise, otherwise the meeting would have been held somewhere private, not in a downtown cafe in… America. But that fairly obvious observation doesn’t mean that it isn’t a special or memorable moment for those present. The whole post is definitely worth a read, if just to see how this sort of thing operates.

I do have a bit of a story in this regard as well. Back in the day when I used to frequent the excellent Quod Brasserie on the High Street in Oxford, even on a Friday or Saturday when the queue outside would be down to Longwall Street, suddenly – astoundingly – 3 empty tables would be found. Two of these tables would be taken by… well… as Meyer describes above: “youthful, vigorous men and women wearing Business Semi-Formal”, and a few moments later, in would walk Chelsea Clinton with her friend/friends/colleagues and take the third table.
We would glance across at her over our Bloody Marys and rib-eye steaks, but not for too long, in case the youthful, vigorous men and women got antsy – this was just after 9/11, after all – but she seemed very down to earth and quiet, and thus, so were we.

I bumped into Chelsea at Quod on several occasions, which either indicates that she also has excellent taste in restaurants and she was hoping to see me or that it was just very convenient for her security detail to get her to, in and out of, since it’s virtually next door to University College where she was studying.