Temporary escape

I mentioned that I had had to leave Cape Town for a urgent trip before we lockdown on Thursday evening.

It wasn’t a decision I took lightly: travel is one of those things that needs to be curbed if we are to stop the spread of Covid-19. But it’s been two months since we’ve been able to get down to Agulhas, and I don’t think we’re going to be able to get down here for probably another two months now, and so I needed to make sure everything was ok at the cottage.

It was… it is. Well, just about. It wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t have come though. We needed electricity putting on the meter, the gutter had been damaged and needed some work. Nothing huge, but nothing you want leaving for however many weeks either. All the minor things that would normally have been done if we’d popped down for the weekend like we used to be able to before real life and sickness and now lockdowns got in the way.

And so the trip was worthwhile and we have had minimal contact with the locals: this is usually a pretty quiet place anyway.

But it was life as usual all the way through – restaurants are open (but quiet), Caledon and Bredasdorp were relatively busy and bustling with shoppers. But not in any way manic.
Struisbaai was also busy – lots of activity in and around the harbour particularly.
In Agulhas, we were the only customers in the 7/11. It was fully stocked, and the guys in there were stocktaking and getting their next order prepared. Nothing out of the ordinary. And that was weird, because normality is now weird.

We walked along the beach here (not Cape Town, so not closed). A few fishermen, same as always. Some birds. Sunshine, light breeze. You wouldn’t know that the world had changed.

Half of me wants to stay here, a million miles from anywhere and seemingly several weeks back from the present. But it will all change. It has to. And I don’t want to be here when it does. This place has always been a perfect escape from the stress of modern, daily life – something it’s proving again right now. I don’t want to see it polluted by reality.

Let me rather return when things have settled – however long that may be.

But right now, I need to get back to the braai. Because some things will never change.

Taking no chances

I’m heading down to Agulhas this weekend, and while I intend to wander along the beach, inhale the fresh sea air and generally de-stress, that will only be once I’ve done all my jobs.

And there are quite a few jobs to do, for this is a maintenance visit.

Things need to look nice ahead of the holidays. After all, there are likely to be visitors during the summer season:

Eina.

The worry is that making stuff look nice and de-stressing will leave very little time for other stuff, like blogging. And there’s an additional issue: unstable internets.

According to the local Whatsapp group, the Vodacom signal there has been a bit iffy of late. Something to do with a digger near Napier. Clumsy bugger. And given that I have no alternatives, it seems safer just to gooi up a blog post in advance so that you guys don’t miss out.

I knew you’d be delighted.

Right. I’m off to pack my toolbox.

Have a great day!

(Beach fisher)men are trash

Much like cyclists, it’s the 98% of beach fishermen that give the other 2% a bad name. The beaches of Cape Agulhas are hugely popular with beach fishermen because of the rich variety of fish to be found there. Consequently, the beaches of Cape Agulhas are also hugely littered with the detritus from this pastime, because of the rich variety of beach fishermen to be found there.

I recently posted this photograph of the literally miles of fishing line that we picked up on a quick walk along the beach in Suiderstrand.

And the fact is that we could have gone back and done it again the following day. Or walked the other way along the beach and collected the same amount again. The waste from casual beach fishermen is ubiquitous, and by far the biggest polluter of our local shores.

But it doesn’t end there. Fishing is a communal activity, and that sort of communal activity in South Africa demands some sort of liquid accompaniment. Thus beer cans and brandy bottles are also left all over the rocks, clearly it being far too much effort to pop them back into the bag you brought them in and drop them into the bin back at the parking lot before you illegally weave your way home.

But it doesn’t end there, either. Because a day out on the beach with plenty of brandy can really get the metabolism going, and so the local dunes are littered with piles of human excrement and bog roll. Never have the services of the local puff adder population been more in demand. One bite on the balls of a crouching miscreant would surely see a massive and immediate drop in this disgusting behaviour.

I recognise that I’m not painting a particularly pretty picture of the area, which is sad, because it is a particularly pretty area. I’m just tired of it being ruined by dirty, lazy, uncaring fishermen, especially when the facilities which mean that all of this sort of behaviour is completely unnecessary, are right there next to where they parked their cars.

And, as ever, SANParks and the local law enforcement are impotent and invisible. Try flying your drone in the National Park though (no, I haven’t) and they’d be all over you like an aggressive lichen.

Right. I’m done. I’ll be clearing up some more fishing line off the beach this weekend, and I’m going to keep this soapbox safely here in case I need to get back on it at some time in the near future.

Which will inevitably happen.

Back soon

Or… “The Importance Of Downtime“…

It’s been a while (actually, far too long) since we were down in Cape Agulhas and it does seem that events are regularly conspiring to ensure that it’s going to be even longer before we can actually get down there again.

This school term has set all sorts of new records for the workload that has been placed on both our kids and ourselves. The optimist in me would like to suggest that next term won’t be quite as bad, but the logical realist in me just laughs when he hears that sort of thing.
“This is the new normal,” he says. “It only gets harder from here.”

Bastard.

The kids’ achievements over the last few weeks have been impressive though. Cub and Scout badges, great marks at school, that Eisteddfod performance, a first “official” 5km run – it all makes it worthwhile. But sickness and business trips, maternity leave (not ours), together with the usual slings and arrows have made for a tough few weeks.

I sometimes feel a bit guilty for taking time out to go to the gym or to play football, but without it, I (and with me, our family life) would be a nightmare. These “time outs” are important, even though sometimes while you’re on them, you feel you should be doing other things. We need to make sure everyone in the family gets the opportunity to grab an hour every now and again, and not feel guilty about it. The time thing is just that: forcing yourself to make time to just stop for a moment, and the attitude is just a mindset thing, but it’s sometimes difficult to overcome.

And now, as of this morning, suddenly even next weekend’s escape seems to be in some sort of jeopardy.

We have to make a plan.
We will make a plan.

Now on Flickr…

…(finally) some photos from the last week or so.

They’re here.

And when they were lined up, I couldn’t help but noticed the sharp juxtaposition between the photos taken in Cape Agulhas last week, and those taken on Table Mountain just a couple of days later (not least the ‘grass-in-the-bottom-left-hand-corner’ pics, top left and fourth middle):

Check out the washed-out, near-monochrome top four, compared with the bright, heavily contrasted, colourful selection below them. But that wasn’t merely my photographer’s eye: it’s a genuine representation of what was there.

Cape Agulhas was sunny, full of vivid blues, greens and whites, busy skies and reflective seas. Table Mountain was the complete opposite: greyscale, dull, grim and sullen. ‘Togging the Victorian infrastructure of the dams on the mountain top was easy in those conditions: the dour, powerful, solidity fitted perfectly with the elemental, moody, unforgiving weather.

I enjoyed the fresh air and the walking on each of the days we were out and about, but it’s interesting to note that I probably wouldn’t have taken any photographs at all had the weather conditions been reversed for the two locations. It just wouldn’t have made sense.

Good job I was there on the right days, then.