Postcards from heaven

People keep coming on here and referring to this big storm which swept through the Western Cape last week and should really have ruined our holiday. To be honest, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that we kinda missed it, leaving us mildly bemused by all the talk of holiday wreckage.
Actually, Arniston was beautiful, sunny and lovely, as this Flickr set will surely testify. Oh sure, it rained and was a bit windy as we drove back to Cape Town, but it really didn’t seem anything too hectic. And it certainly wasn’t anything like the August storm.
So yes, we had a great break. Thanks for asking.

In fact, Friday dawned so beautifully that we felt an assault on the Lion’s Head would be “a good idea”. For those uninitiated in the ways of the Mother City, the Lion’s Head is the (only ever so) slightly smaller lump of rock on the right as you look at the big flat lump of rock.
There’s no cable car here – it’s a tough rocky scramble, scrambling up tough rocks, with your only reward the stunning 360° panoramic views across Table Mountain, Cape Town and the Atlantic Seaboard. It was a hot day and hard work, but at least there were no scorpions in our beds.
Although that was probably mainly due to the lack of beds rather than anything else.

More pictures on Flickr

Tomorrow, we head inland to Worcester and Goudini Spa, where we will relax, recover and rejuvenate in the more seasonable heatwave predicted towards the end of the week. Tough life, hey?


The 2010 story no one tells

I was delighted to read Luke Alfred’s inspired and inspiring piece on the South African media’s view of the 2010 World Cup in yesterday’s Sunday Times, not least because it neatly sums up a lot of stuff that I’ve been moaning about for ages.

You may have noticed that when it comes to the 2010 Soccer World Cup there is an endlessly circulating merry-go-round of stories, each with its own shape and unique place in the system.
There is the tryingly familiar “stadium budget” story with quotes by ex-deputy minister of finance Jabu Moleketi; there is the “Sepp Blatter mildly reprimands the organising committee” story, and the grotesquely amusing “plan B” story with its many denials.

Interestingly, I note that we are not the only ones to suffer with these stories. The plans for Euro 2012 tournament, to be jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine are plagued with the same issues; who could forget that construction for the Athens 2004 Olympics was miles behind schedule (which we’re not) and they still managed to stage a thoroughly successful event? But it’s one of the duties of the world’s press to find the worst in everything and to sensationalise minor events in order to make mountains out of molehills and sell newspapers. And it’s something that the South African press are especially good at.

Soccer City, Soweto

With sport to some extent replacing nationalism (or being one of the ways in which the nation expresses itself in these post-nationalistic times) the stadiums for the World Cup will express the best of what South Africa has to offer as the century progresses.

They’ll become monuments by which the world recognises this country and by which we define ourselves.
In this sense, debates about what they will cost and how they will be used are profoundly beside the point. Despite the threadbare narratives of the present, stories of striking workers and an underachieving national side, the World Cup will be a pivotal event in the history of post-apartheid South Africa, a time that future generations will look back on with justifiable pride.

So besotted are we with the present that we can’t see it now, but over the long arc of time our children will look back on 2010 and tell their children “I was there”.

Alfred makes a good point, but no-one’s listening. There’s more to life than the present, no matter how tough times may be for many in SA right now. One of the major benefits of 2010, aside from the immediately obvious tourism and sponsorship revenue and its spin-offs is a shared national experience which will generate pride in the country. Our kids have yet to be tainted with the negativity running deep in the veins of the South African media and its followers. And it’s the children’s reaction as they view things with that objective innocence which will be the true marker of the success of the 2010 tournament.

It’s my intention to expose my son to as much of the atmosphere and spectacle as I possibly can.
He’ll be 4 years old and just beginning to form his first “proper” memories and I can think of no better time, place or event for him to remember. It’s going to be an amazing experience. Looking back to my own football-dominated childhood, I can only dream about having experienced a World Cup on my doorstep. (Yes, I was born well after 1966, thank you very much!)

Down the line, my son and I will watch rugby, football, concerts and gladiatorial events possibly involving tigers and pointy sticks at the Green Point Stadium. And while each event will be special in some way, the memories of 2010 that they trigger may never be matched.  

Live webcam feeds of Cape Town stadium site


Cape Town “still here”

Following the arrival of the American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt in Table Bay over the weekend, demonstrations by daft environmental groups have stepped up at Cape Town harbour.

Earthlife Africa spokesperson Keenen van Wyk said that although there wasn’t much they could do to stop the vessel from entering South African waters, they would protest outside the harbour as soon as the carrier arrives.

“Having this big nuclear vessel in our waters poses a danger and threat to humanity,” said van Wyk. “There are no safety precautions in place. Anything could go wrong, and then the people in the Western Cape are at risk.”

I can assure the concerned world population, including Keenan van Wyk that despite the presence of this nuclear-powered monstrosity in our waters, Cape Town is STILL HERE. This should actually come as no surprise: I have briefly researched the USS Theodore Roosevelt and it seems that it has a long record of not exploding in cities all over the world.

I figure that this must be just good luck since according to Earthlife Africa “there are no safety precautions in place”. Either they have just had a whole heap of good fortune or they have just got some really well-behaved uranium.

For the record, the USS Theodore Roosevelt is moored in Table Bay, about 15km south of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station just up the coast which, in a show of solidarity with the big warship, has also not exploded today.

ADDENDUM: 6000 miles… wishes regular reader G(asinB) a speedy recovery after his recent surgery and will raise a glass on Saturday regardless! 🙂

The Perfect Storm?

It’s Spring Day tomorrow in South Africa. The unofficial start of the good weather that will last through until next July, allowing us to enjoy braais, beers by the pool and some dreadful home performances by the nation’s cricket team. But winter had one last throw of the dice and scored a lucky 7 with a particularly evil cold front which came through on Saturday afternoon. It was pretty nasty, as the SA Weather Service warned us:

Gale force westerly winds (35kt/65km/h) are expected in places over the Western Cape on Saturday. Strong-gale to storm strength winds (in excess of 80km/h) are expected along the Western Cape Coast. Very rough seas with destructive waves in excess of 7m, coinciding with spring high tides, are expected along the Western Cape coast. Heavy falls of rain are expected in places over the western parts of the Western Cape on Saturday. Very cold, wet and windy conditions are expected to set in over the western parts of the Western and Northern Cape Saturday evening. Snowfalls are expected over the western high ground of the Western Cape as well as the south-western high ground of the Northern Cape from Saturday evening into Sunday morning.

Lovely. Thanks for that.
I did pop out on Saturday afternoon, but after almost dying on a tree-lined stretch of road near our house when large chunks of the trees started lining the stretch of road around my car, I declined to go out again.
Until this morning, when a promise of decreasing wind, together with a hint of sunshine and a morbid curiosity to see what was left of Cape Town tempted us down to Mouille Point and Three Anchor Bay.


Stormy scenes at Mouille Point: see more at flickr (and videos too!)

The worrying thing was that these pictures were taken about 4 hours before high tide – and a spring tide at that. I’m due back in Sea Point on Tuesday and I will be very interested to see if it’s actually still there.

Want more pics? Click here.


Plans for the Koeberg Interchange

One of my more popular posts is the one where I describe the roadworks taking place on two of the major routes around Cape Town. I don’t know what this says about how interesting this blog is, or indeed how interesting its readers are. All in all, it’s pretty disappointing.

Anyway, at the time that I wrote that piece, details weren’t readily available of the planned improvements to the frankly horrifying junction of the N1 and the M5. But, as any traveller who has recently experienced the joys of Koeberg Interchange – or as the locals call it “F*****g Koeberg Interchange” – will have noted, some grass has been dug up and some mud has been created: construction has begun and we must all be patient.

It’s a virtue…

But what exactly are they constructing? Well, some helpful civil engineer found MS Paint on his PC and had a bit of a play with a picture of Cape Town taken in 1983. And here’s what he came up with:

Koeberg: Soaring bridges

It truly is a thing of beauty, isn’t it? Much like the construction at Hospital Bend, they seem to have taken everything into account and just flung heaps of money at it. Which is no bad thing. My one concern is that “Phase 1” bit in the top corner. Could it be that this junction will never be finished, destined for continual upgrades and improvements? It already seems like they’ve been going for ages and all they’ve done is sunk two holes for bridge supports and cut some bushes down – interestingly, I note – nowhere near anything on that picture above.

There’s more detail to be had on the CapeTalk site, including some rather natty artists impressions of the finished article. It looks like it actually might work. Problem is, we’ve still got another 2½ years before we get to find out…