Election faces

I think this sums things up.

ed-balls-2  _82854713_boz
On an unexpectedly good night for the Conservative party, it looks like the end for Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and (possibly even, at the time of writing) Nigel Farage. After a tight election, during which campaigning was anything but exciting, widespread Facebook sharing of the political beliefs of various comedians, actors and musicians seemingly mattered not. What a shame.

The only downside is that now we have to put up with the pitiful calls of how unfair the FPTP system is (as if we didn’t all know that was the electoral methodology we were using) and the bias of the newspapers and the allegedly low turnout and and and… and how the NHS is dead and buried now (although that hasn’t happened in any of the previous 40 years that it’s been around under a Conservative government).
Just for the record, I worked in the NHS under a Conservative and a Labour government and both of them treated it with equal contempt. In fact, the only major difference that I could see was that we had a lot more infections in traumatic amputation wounds from the “45 minutes to WMD” Iraq war under the Labour government.

Anyway, it’s done. The winners will crow, the losers will whine.
At the end of the day – that’s how democracy works. And yes, it looks like a much better system when you’ve just won.

2 Comments | Tagged , , | Posted in annoying people, elections, in the news, politics, positive thoughts, uk

Western Cape Number Plates

Here’s a comprehensive guide as to where in the Western Cape those two and three letter C codes belong. Why not print it out and take it along on your next (Western Cape) road trip to amuse the kids, the wife, or the (intelligent and literate) beagle? It’s also useful as a tool to work out where hitch-hikers want to end up.

TBCPRPl(click it for bigness)

From this map, you can see how the curse of generally poor and overly aggressive driving has leached from CY into CF. CF is a particularly thin area, and thus it seems likely that CL will soon be affected. They’re already mostly drunk on the heady mix of fine wine and Afrikaans in Stellies, and I fear that the curse of the CY may be altogether too much for the roads to handle.

Leave a comment | Tagged , , , , , | Posted in cape agulhas, learning curve, this is south africa

The Inside

This appeared on a random iPod playlist of mine just now and – given where I’ve been this weekend – I thought I’d share it. It might already be 5 years old, but it’s still sounding fantastic.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Ironically, this video for The Inside is filmed on The Inside of a cooling tower. But if you’d have been a 6000 miles… reader back in March 2013, you’d already have recognised that, of course.

Leave a comment | Tagged , | Posted in music, this is south africa

Brian’s Walk and OMG HOW MUCH?!??!

After being away for the long weekend and the rigours of the kids’ Science Week to prepare for, plus a myriad of bugs to grow in the lab, I’m only finding time to catch up on the other blogs I read. Top of that list, as regular readers will already know, is BrianMicklethwait.com.
Post lurgy, and with Spring in the London air, Brian took us on a walk along the Thames to Battersea. He took some great photos too, as you’ll see when you click on that link. But it was the seventh one that stood out for me:


Firstly, I should note that this isn’t as “nice” as some of the other images. But just because it’s not showing “the river… adorned by bright reflections” or “world class roof clutter” doesn’t mean that it’s not a valid photo. It’s taken to share information rather than because it’s pretty. It’s something I find myself doing more and more too – photos of the blackboard shopping list in the kitchen or details of a show or something else I see on a poster for later investigation. Quick and easy.

But if you’re in SA and you’ve looked at that seventh image, then you’ll have seen why is stood out for me.

A 516 square foot, one-bedroom apartment, for £1,400,000.

Look out! Here comes the conversion:

That’s 47.94m² for a cool R25,474,034.59.
Twenty-five. And a half. Million. Rand.

‘Ow Much?!???!!??!?!

I recognise that we’re not comparing apples with apples here. I recognise that this is prime London real estate, but let’s just see what R25.5 million would get you over here, shall we? I popped in at leading SA estate agency Pam Golding Properties for a quick look.

Well, if we’re going down the apartment route, why not buy this place?

367417_H_11   367417_H_2
It’s over seven times the size of the London offering, has 4 en-suite bedrooms, overlooks all four of the beautiful Clifton beaches and comes with two (count them and weep) two parking bays. You’d also have R500,000 spare cash to buy a nice outside table, which would put you one up on the current owners.

But apartments are so boxy, aren’t they? Especially when, for the same money, you could buy your own BOUTIQUE WINE FARM AND EQUESTRIAN ESTATE:

     413637_H_2   413637_H_6
At 42,505 m², the property size is a mere 887 times the size of the Battersea flat, (although the actual living area is just 17 times the size). That pool is 11m long though, meaning that it’s about the size of the R25.5m London apartment. But what else do you get?

With majestic mountain views as a backdrop and entrancing vineyards gracing the surrounding slopes, one could imagine you’re in the south of France. Enjoy the romance of your own award winning vineyards (Savignon Blanc, Merlot, Shiraz and Viognier), without the labour if you wish, as it can be leased out.
Constantia Nek Farm graces a valley on the back slopes of Table Mountain National Park with a large home, several stables and 3ha of vineyards. Riding in the restricted Orange Kloof area of the park is allowed with a special permit.
The Property also includes a granny flat, two large sheds/workshops, extensive parking, three garages, large spring and perennial stream fed dam, and adjacent staff quarters on the Houtkapperspoort side of its Southern boundary. Amenities include an 11m pool with electronically operated cover and solar heating and heat pump and large, cool wine cellar. The grounds and vineyards are irrigated via a seven station computerised underground system.

And again, you’d still have R500,000 spare for a nice outside table.
Or you could look at the Thames from your shoebox. It really is your call.

Like I said, I know that I can’t legitimately compare these properties. But with London prices and frankly terrifying exchange rates, it makes for an interesting – and, as an ex-pat, rather distressing – juxtaposition.

Still. Where would you rather be?

2 Comments | Tagged , , , , | Posted in economic issues, from the blogroll, that's a bit mad, this is south africa, uk

Night shot

Actually: Night Shot (And Some Thoughts About ‘Togging On A Game Reserve)

Sifting through the several million photos we took at Sanbona, I think I’ve managed to kraal a significant but reasonable number of them into a Flickr album. Some were easy to include, some less so. But I use Flickr so that I’ve got a record and a memory of what happened, rather than to show off my photographic prowess. Using that second method would have taken a whole lot less time. What the group ends up with is a combination of the best shots and the best of the rest – it’s not always easy to photograph uncooperative wildlife. For an example, only 1 out of every 100 birds of prey that I see is facing me. Unless I don’t have a camera with me, of course. Then they all face me. Bastards.
That said, we were lucky enough to get very close to a lot of stuff, including cheetah, elephants (twice), rhinos and lions (and even a semi-cooperative bird of prey at one stage), amongst other things. So there are plenty of them.

But while you’re out and about looking at these things, you have to remember to make a decision: do you want to experience the animal there and then, or do you just want photo memories of it?
For me it was a bit of both, and so once I’d grabbed a couple of shots, I stopped and just watched, observed and listened (albeit with the camera ready to shoot again).

Obviously, you can take a bit more time over the shots of things that don’t move.

We also used our phone cameras while we were away. Firstly, so that we could email the kids something each evening and secondly (and photography snobs may want to look away now) because you can actually grab a decent shot every now and again. Oh, and it enables you to do things like this while someone else is using the “real” camera.

The place we stayed at was amazing. The setting was amazing. The staff were amazing. The food was amazing. The ranger was particularly amazing. It was, as you might expect, having read the previous five sentences – an amazing experience.

You can endure enjoy the full Flickr album here.

2 Comments | Tagged , , | Posted in flickr, learning curve, positive thoughts, this is south africa