The Biggest Wave

….ever paddled into, allegedly.

I don’t know about that (although I have no reason to disbelieve surfingmagazinedotcom); I just liked the photos:

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There are another 23 of them in the sequence, showing Cape Town’s Matt “Bromdog” Bromley riding the wave in question and then getting thoroughly mashed by the wave in question and its mates here. So go and look.

Incidentally, for scale, “Bromdog” is 6’4″ (193cm). So yes, that is a big wave. Kudos to him for surfing it. Fewer kudos for the nickname though, because taking the first four letters of your surname and adding an animal doesn’t work every time.

I should know. I’ve tried it.

Until next time,
Six “Thoubeagle” Thousand.

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Cape To Cape 2015

Say what you like about the Western… er… Cape – it might have its downsides, but it also has loads of internal Capes: Columbine, Town, of Good Hope, Point, Hangklip, Agulhas, Infanta. And that’s just off the top of my head.

Norway also has a Cape – Nordkapp or North Cape (check out their pseudo Table Mountain). And now, a former SAS (the airline, not the elite British military unit) (I think) is planning to fly from there, to one of ours.

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This is Johan Wiklund, and behind him is his 1935 De Havilland DH-60 Moth biplane. He’s attempting to fly it from Nordkapp to South Africa (specifially the Cape of Good Hope), roughly following the route taken by adventurer and aviator Göste Andrée in 1929.

This appeals to me (as long as it’s someone else doing it). While the plane may be old (and put together by Johan and his friends), there’s a modern twist with GoPro footage, social media updates and you can even follow the flight on our old friend FlightRadar24.com. See below for some details.

Johan set off this week and plans to arrive in Cape Town on the same day – October 24th – and at exactly the same time – 3:10pm – as Andrée did, 86 years previously. It’s touches like that that make this adventure so special.

If this has made the news here in Cape Town, I’ve missed it. But I’m going to be keeping an eye on Johan and his Cape to Cape trip very carefully, and so can you on the following links:

Facebook – FlyingCapeToCape
Net – CapeToCape.net
FR24 – SE-AMO (and recent flight database here – click the little plane logos to view)

The weather is Scandinavia has been pretty awful since the trip started, but Johan has still managed about 1500km and has just arrived in the Swedish city of Gävle (there he is via their webcam, on the grass airstrip, next to the four squat trees), under heavy skies.

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Gävle looks like a really exciting place to be.

Look out for more updates on 6000 miles… over the coming weeks.

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Shining Light

I heard a couple of seconds of this on an online radio promo this morning and I immediately needed to hear the rest. Hopefully, you do too:

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This one was from their biggest album, the 2001 offering, Free All Angels. And if you’re wondering where they are now, well, they’ve subscribed to the great 80s/90s comeback regimen, having released a new album Kablammo! just a few weeks ago.

Who knew?

I’ll give it a listen and let you know whether it’s worth you doing the same (the first single suggests it might well be).

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Z is for…

Phezulu Safari Park was arguably the second most bizarre place we visited in KZN. (More on the winner of that auspicious prize at a later date.)
A mish-mash of animals, posh housing, a curio shop, an apparently traditional Zulu village and a snake park, the reviews on Trip Advisor were divided, from the sublime through to the frankly terrifying. It wasn’t cheap either, so we were taking a bit of a chance.

First up was the tourist-aimed – but still educational – Zulu dancing and village tour. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this was that about 70% of the audience was Zulu. The dancing was good, the story-telling and village tour, interesting. I learned a lot.

The (45 minute) game drive was initially disappointing, but then I had been rather spoilt recently at San Bona. Still, the kids got to see a giraffe up close (real close) and then we headed back towards the reception place, through the larney housing complex. And, weirdly, that’s where all the animals were. We were asked not to take photos with houses in the background, and we did our best to comply, but it was difficult, because literally, that’s where all the animals were. Wildebees, impala and zebra all over your grass: lawnmowing and fertilising in one.

The beagle would have (rightfully) gone bonkers. The guide told us that there was nothing there that would eat you (‘erbivores, in’t they?), but that an irritated wildebees would happily trample you to death. (And we all know about the dangers of giraffes already.)

It wasn’t San Bona (although in fairness, it never claimed to be), and the kids did enjoy seeing the animals at such close quarters. But it was a bit of a weird experience.
As I mentioned above, the reviews do seem to be a bit hit and miss, and that describes our experience pretty well.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you are headed that way, this might just be for you. Or it might not.

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SA in The Guardian

Some reading for you.

Three stories about South Africa have recently made it into The Guardian and then from there, into my sphere of knowledge. None of it is particularly good news, as we are wont to expect from the British press, but equally, none of them are the non-stories we saw before the World Cup, (c.f.  this and this) which we didn’t bribe anyone $10,000,000 to stage.

First up, the “Cape Town’s Death Industry” story, detailing how much of the black population living here in the Mother City doesn’t want to be here once it has died (the population, not the city), and the lucrative business in arranging funerals back in the Eastern Cape for those living – or rather, previously living – here in Cape Town.

“These days, of course, it’s not just miners who live far from home. Families are spread out across the country, but amid this spatial dispersion, the fear of dying far from their point of origin has remained. It is now the reason for a growing industry that transports the dead across South Africa.”

As some of you may know, I was in the Eastern Cape recently, and I can understand why many people are desperate to return there once they have died. Ironically, my coming from Cape Town, I almost died a several times on the local roads, and had that have been the case, I would have wanted whatever was left brought back this way.
Anyway, jokes aside, the piece is a simplistic, but interesting view on the cultural complexity of the death industry (or, as many of us would call it “the funeral business”) in Cape Town.

Then, the dust and radioactive nastiness of Joburg’s mine dumps – a tale of tailings, if you will. Oliver Balch details the health problems associated with the leftovers of Gauteng’s gold rush, the people monitoring it:

A handful of randomised spot-checks reveal the extent of the pollution problem. For example, in a narrow run-off canal immediately opposite Soccer City, site of the 2010 Fifa World Cup final, van Wyk picks out the colours along the bank: red for iron, white for sulphur, green for copper, yellow for uranium, and so on.

And the complete lack of government action on actually doing anything about the situation:

Five years ago, the government identified 36 “priority areas” affected by radioactive acid mine drainage for remediation. Today, not a single one of these sites has a feasible implementation strategy in place.

And then, in a somewhat tenuous link to government stagnation, the Uber issue. The Uber issue is playing itself out all over the world with protests in London, really nasty protests in France and then this, in Joburg:

Internet taxi firm Uber said on Monday it was providing security for its drivers in South Africa after verbal threats from other taxi operators in the latest outbreak of friction to hit the fast-growing company. A couple in the city told the Eyewitness News website that they had seen metered taxi drivers harass an Uber driver, grab his keys and threaten him with a gun.

Yeah, taxi drivers are definitely top three when it comes to SA groups you don’t want to irritate. Also somewhere around the top end of that demographic is Helen Zille. And she has hit back at these claims by Uber:

Despite over a year of progressive discussions with regulators, there is still no clear route to obtaining vehicle operating permits for Uber driver partners. A process that should take no longer than a few weeks has been dragging on for over 6 months and still no operating permits have been issued to Uber driver partners. Yet, it appears that operating licenses have been issued to large metered taxi fleet operators, favouring these incumbent operators.

…in her recent newsletter, which admits that there have been delays – because government isn’t “nimble” – but takes the time to explain why those delays have happened – simply that the rules don’t exist for operators like Uber:

This situation creates a crisis for government. Officials must act within the law. But the law doesn’t envisage or cater for e-hailing services. The result is government paralysis.

Now, the angry, Facebook-wielding, online petition-signing, middle-class mob is a bit mixed up. The last time they got this worked up over something, it was probably about Nkandla and the widespread outrage was probably organised by Helen’s DA. Now they have to choose – beloved Uber or beloved Helen.

No wonder there is sudden silence.

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