Cape Town’s most infamous star

The Castle of Goodhope

Cape Town’s most infamous star

From any elevated vantage point overlooking the Mother City, you will see a building that is arguably the most important building of our colonial past. Nestled like a yellow star next to the expanse of the Parade, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving example of the Dutch East India Company’s forts they constructed in the 1600’s in their quest to dominate the route to Asia.

The Castle Of Goodhope

Still keeping watch over our city

It is an interesting monument to our past, especially because it is still in use and there is a constant hive of activity with official business mingling with visitors arriving to learn a bit of our history. A history that is still in the making some 347 years after construction was started as explained by the new Chief Executive Officer at Castle Control Board, Calvyn Gilfellan when we recently popped in to visit him in the oldest administrative office in South Africa. Continue reading

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SA Vodka FestiFAIL

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No doubt many Cape Tonians were, like us, looking forward to attending Cape Town’s first annual Vodka Festival. We put on our good shoes, pulled on our coats and started steeling ourselves to go out into a cold and rainy Cape Town Wednesday (30 October 2013). Luckily though, some of us are glued to our Twitter feed and we were notified via a profusely apologetic tweet that the event had in fact been cancelled. Our first thoughts were “oh, must be because of the riots that had been going on. We’ll go tomorrow”, but it later became evident that the entire festival had been cancelled. Continue reading

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The Wembley Tap

The Wembley Tap craft beer bar opens in Cape Town

The Wembley Tap open to Cape Town skies

It’s been a long time coming and we’ve been bugging them weekly to find out when, but it’s finally here! The Wembley Tap is now open!

On 24 October 2013, we were the eagerest beavers in Cape Town and rushed down to Wembley Square on McKenzie Street for the 16h00 opening of Cape Town’s newest exclusive craft beer spot and became their first official customers! The guys were rushing around to get everything ready in time for the craft beer hoards who were clock watching and counting down the seconds until their work day was over. Jason, the brain behind this new watering hole had been at the police station all day to fix a last minute error ensuring that his liquor license was valid and the guys were still frantically making up furniture and writing on the blackboards on their tap wall. So we really got to see the official opening! Continue reading

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Travelling around MyCiti

myciti get readyOctober is Transport Month in South Africa, and in Cape Town, we are constantly reminded of it not only because the MyCiti buses are already whizzing around but also because of all the construction that is going on along the new routes that will connect our city.

I have been very impressed with the MyCiti Bus Service as my boys (aged 10 & 13) make use of the MyCiti almost daily to get to their school in Parklands, as well as the couple of times that I’ve used it to get to Table View or back to town. It’s a cheap, efficient and pretty relaxed 30 minute trip that I’ve had very few complaints about, but did have questions that I posed to DA Councillor Brett Herron: Mayoral Committee Member Transport for Cape Town prior to the latest buzz around the Khayaletsha line delays. Continue reading

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Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition

President Nelson Mandela turned 95 this yearThis year, former President Nelson Mandela celebrated his 95th birthday and although this man has had a really tough couple of months in terms of his health, he continues to be a big inspiration to so many of us in South Africa and around the world.

Cape Town has a special relationship with Madiba. It was this city that he would look towards during his 18 years as a prisoner on Robben Island, and it was on the steps of our City Hall that he delivered his first speech to the world on the day of his release. It’s very symbolic that a city has two such distinct views with both Apartheid AND freedom being represented so strongly. This is what strengthens us and why it is so fitting that we are the Cape of Good HOPE.  So it’s only apt that we host an exhibition of Madiba’s relationship with our city, focusing not only only his time in prison, but more importantly highlighting many of the personal moments he shared with Capetonians and international celebrities under the shadow of Table Mountain as a free man and our beloved president. Continue reading

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Oldest bang in Cape Town

The view of the noon gun over Cape Town

Banging over Cape Town since 1806

Things change over time, but one thing that hasn’t even changed its time is the Noon Gun’s firing. As the name suggests, this 18 pounder smooth bore muzzle loaded gun has been fired every day (except Sundays and public holidays) since c. 1806 bar one or two instances. 65 204 times to be exact (30 September 2013). These are the oldest guns in daily use in the world!

Every day sitting in my office, I lose track of how much time has elapsed in my day. Until noon that is, when the sound of the gun blast echos and reverberates over Cape Town. Some days it sounds muffled and far away and others, like it’s at the end of the drive. Today, I got up close and personal with these beauties who was cast in 1794 by Walker and Company and experienced first hand what a canon blast from a few meters away feels and sounds like. Continue reading

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Celebrating the heritage of the Cederberg

The sleepy town of Wupperthal

The sleepy town of Wupperthal

It’s very easy to bitch about South African government and all the things they do wrong. We all have our eyes peeled for when its officials stumble, and sometimes fall, but there is much that does go on that we need to be grateful for, and sing praise about when it is due.

One story in the making is happening in a little gem of a town nestled deep in the Cederberg mountains. The town of Wupperthal was established in the 1830’s, set up as a mission station, and there the community have continued to exist in relative isolation. It’s a kidney jarring, trip to get there, over a dust road that I would probably not have explored if it wasn’t to go to the launch of Phase 3 of the Donkey Project, created to allow the locals to benefit from their stunning surroundings in a self sustainable way. Continue reading

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A Master of his Craft: Alex Emsley

Sweets for my Sweet

Sweets for my Sweet

Sometimes you walk away from a meeting so blown away by feelings of inspiration that it’s like fireworks are going off in your head and everything around you just sparkles. I thought I could just leap up and fly after seeing my first Superman movie in the early 1980’s. Well today I feel like I could sit down behind my canvas and paint like a master after spending the morning with hyper-realist still life master craftsman Alex Emsley at his home in Vredehoek.

He doesn’t define himself as an artist. More of a craftsman who creates objects of beauty with his hands and one who feels fortunate that people appreciate his work and buy it. “On some level, I might actually prefer the label of craftsman to artist – it comes with less baggage and emphasizes the undeniable link between what I do and what other artisans do: labouring to create an aesthetically pleasing artifact which will be sold as a commodity.  If that makes me a blue-collar worker then so be it.”  If there are 2 certainties, it’s that Alex is such a humble guy who still blushes at praise and, in my mind, he is probably one of the most talented artists around today. Continue reading

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No relief from “flabby” City Council

Our view of the city

Our view of the city

One hopes that if you ever get into a legal dispute that not only the law, but also the enforcers of the law will come to your aid and that justice will prevail. But this isn’t always the case, as the law is very complicated, and often it is about how much money and time you have to fight it, as to whether you will feel that the law was on your side. We are involved in a fight that has been going for 17 years (with no end in sight) with the law and feel severely let down by the City of Cape Town (“This city works for you“) who we expected to uphold the very laws that they created.

In 1992 land high on the slopes of Devils Peak, that had belonged to the SABC, was going to be developed and during the process of subdividing the erven, certain restrictions were created and made law, not only for area now known as High Cape, but also the extension of Pinoak Road where our house had been the last house on the street for many years. A City of Cape Town Ministerial Representative stood on our balcony and designed strict height restrictions for the surrounding area, as well as footprint controls which determined how much of each property could be covered in concrete. The High Cape was built as a development complex, while the properties in Pinoak Road were sold off as individual stands. This is where our trouble started. Continue reading

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Smoke in the city

Holy smoke!

Holy smoke!

Last Sunday, as I sat with a morning coffee, I noticed lots of smoke coming from what looked to be the direction of the Good Hope Centre and my first thought was to call it in to the Cape Town Fire Services, but I needed a better look and so, got my camera and zoomed in.

It wasn’t that clear at first until the slow chug-chug sound of an engine drifted up the mountainside and the plume of smoke’s source started moving. It was the Atlantic Rail locomotive that was belching smoke into the Sunday morning air and I managed to catch a few shots before it disappeared. It got me thinking: I haven’t been on a train for years. Continue reading

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