This is not what I signed up for

It’s Christmas. The festive season. Holiday time.
Call it what you want, but down here in Cape Town, we also call it SUMMER.

However, the weather this SUMMER has not been very SUMMERy. Rain on and off over the last week, temperatures peaking in the low 20s, cool winds blowing in off the Atlantic and making us all miserable.

This is not what I signed up for.

I signed up for SUMMER where I could be outside in the sun. Playing in the pool, lounging on a…  on a… lounger. Not running across car parks trying to stay dry. Not wearing LONG TROUSERS. IN DECEMBER.

It’s annoying other people too. Like the staff at Pick n Pay Liquor in Constantia Village, who were feeling anything but festive this morning. Opening ten minutes late, snapping at customers who knocked on the door pointing out it was after 9 o’clock. My breakfast plans were rapidly becoming brunch.
Seriously, rarely have I seen a group of individuals give less of a toss about anything. Everything was too much trouble.
And it was grey and raining. Coincidence? Well, yes, possibly, because they might well be like that all the time.

But anyway – back to my main point, which is that SUMMER hasn’t arrived in Cape Town yet. Will it ever arrive? After all, we went through a few years when winter never turned up.

I’ll make the best of it, of course. I mean, what choice do we have? But I’d much rather be at risk of sunburn than of hypothermia.

And so I googled the weather for the next seven days. And… well… I mean… just look at the state of this:

EIGHTEEN on Christmas Day? I’m going to have to wrap my kids up in  swaddling cloths. SEVENTEEN on Boxing Day? No wonder the shepherds want to come in from the fields: it’s pissing down out there.

And don’t tell me that it would be colder in the UK. Of course it would. It’s meant to be. It’s WINTER and it’s all evocative and romantic, innit?

This is not what I signed up for and I am understandably very unhappy.

Longest day 2018

It’s tomorrow, if you find yourself south of the equator. Which we are.

Cape Town enjoys a remarkable 14 hours, 25 minutes and 5 seconds of daylight tomorrow, with the sun rising at 05:31 and sinking below the Atlantic horizon at 19:56 in the evening.
That’s a whole 4 hours, 32 minutes longer than on the June Solstice.

It’s fair to say that you’d have to have blinked (literally) to miss the change from today though, because it was only a fraction of second shorter. That’s because the summer solstice for us has actually slipped into the early hours of the 22nd (coincidentally 22 minutes after midnight to be exact, for the purists out there).

Things go badly wrong on the 23rd though, with a massive 3 seconds shaved off our daytime, as sunrise creeps later a little more quickly than sunset does – and it’s all downhill down there until midwinter. By the the 28th, we’ve already lost a whole minute!

The latest Cape Town sunset this summer is 20:01 on the 7th January.

And the sun is closest to us on 3rd January at 12:50 – a mere 147.100 million kilometres away: Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’99: wear sunscreen.

Meh: Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.

Summer is coming

Not for us, of course. Winter is on its way for us, as indicated by the cooler evenings and later sunrises (which are already sitting at 0645, meaning that we get up very much in the dark). No, I’m obviously referring to the Northern hemisphere, which has been struggling with snow, ice, cold days and colder nights for the past few months.

A time for happiness, then?

Well, not for everyone, no. Because, as we’ve covered before, summer brings leaves to the trees and leaves on the trees block those views which you want(ed) to photograph.

But never has the displeasure at the approaching onset of foliage been expressed quite like this:

I think I see some leaves, even in this photo, evergreen leaves, attached to the tree on the right as we look. But there was, today, nothing like the visual ruination that will engulf everything in a few months time, turning intricately pleasing urban-rural counterpoint into a big old smudge of rural tedium.

There will be photographers of the pastoral persuasion who will have precisely the opposite opinion to this. But they can keep on taking photos of trees with leaves, without anything beyond being masked, obscured or hidden. No-one is stopping them. But in just a few weeks, Brian and his fellow (Northern) city-based ‘toggers will, once again, have to seek out new tree-free spots in order to fill their quota of images of entirely visible skyscrapers.

Current Affairs

It’s actually quite hard to blog when you’re not watching the news, reading the twitter or doing anything except planning your next week off work. Thus, I don’t have any incisive insight into the current state of affairs in SA or the world in general, because I actually don’t know what that state of affairs is right now. Look, based on previous experience of these sort of things, it’s probably not great. But if you were here for that sort of cutting edge opinion, then you’re going to be sorely disappointed. (Spoiler: you were going to be sorely disappointed anyway.)

Instead, I bring you a photo of a butterfly (I’m no expert, but I think that this one is an Acraea horta), taken this morning while walking the beagle (us, not the butterfly) in Newlands Forest.

It was a nice walk in the shade of the trees, and we all had fun. The beagle was less impressed when it got bathed when we got home, but cheered up a bit when it got fed. It’s worth remembering that a beagle’s favourite food is anything.

The rest of the afternoon will be spent preparing for a trip down to Agulhas for New Year, during which time you can probably expect shorter, photo-filled posts on here, increased Instagram activity and the already bulging Summer 2015 album on Flickr to swell even further. I’m determined to relax, drink beer, walk on the beach and listen to some music – sometimes all at the same time – while I’m down south.

Come live vicariously through 6000 miles…

P.S. The game last night finished 4-0. I was finished long before then though.

More like it

Today was a good day. Blue skies, sunshine, swimming pools and a bit of Stellenbosch.
There were strawberries, there was brandy (good brandy), and there was wine (my favourite wine, nogal). Later, if the stars are to be believed, there may even be very nice Asian food. And in between, there was even time to get some photos up onto Flickr.

It would seem that the summer holidays are well and truly underway. And I’m quite happy about that.