The last few days really sum up what it is like living in South Africa. The highs, the lows and the chaos and calmness in-between these polar opposites.
We had plans this weekend to go away to the wine lands a few hours outside of Cape Town. We were invited to a charity function in Somerset West on Saturday night and we decided that as it would finish late and we would want to have a drink, that we should rather stay over. We booked in for the night to NH Lord Charles Hotel.
We had understood that the function was black tie and neither Norm nor I had sussed out what to wear by that morning when we needed to pack. Norm has a tuxedo as well as his kilt so he thought he would be fine. I had in my mind a long silver silk skirt and top I wanted to wear. When we got up on Saturday we tried them on. My skirt was too big and the top was unflattering. Norm’s tux jacket fit fine, but his dress shirt and his trousers were a bit big. The trousers also had an old fashioned wider cut than the narrow style of men’s trousers now. But as it is Cape Town, we figured there would be all sorts of attire there and we were not wrong.
I dragged a dress I bought many years ago for a black tie event in the UK out from the depths of my cupboard . It is tea length but it is heavily beaded and so beautiful that it is acceptable as evening wear. I had not been able to fit into it in years, but I kept it because it was so expensive and my daughters have worn it for several 1920’s themed events. I thought, ‘let me just see how tight it is’ and tried it on and it fit me perfectly! I think it is looser than when I bought it many years ago. I was really chuffed about that but that meant I needed tights and I had none. We needed to stop at a shop somewhere on our journey.
We had a coffee in bed and then got up and showered and packed to go. The dogs mooched around staring at us with big sad eyes, when they see a suitcase they know exactly what is coming and they do not like it one little bit. Even though they love Vanessa and Robyn our house sitters, they love us more.
We packed the car and hit the road, dropping off a house key to our house sitter and then stopping quickly for me to buy some tights and get some cash and then we were on our way. Traffic was not bad at all and we were there in no time.
After we checked in we waited in the room for the bellboy to drop off our bags and then we headed off to the lobby to get a bite to eat. We were so surprised to find that the pub was called St Andrews pub! Norm was born and raised near St Andrews so we had to snap a pic.
We grabbed a seat in the lobby and ordered a drink. The lobby was very stylish and bright with cool sofas and chairs.
Our friends attending the dinner also arrived and joined us and we all ordered some sandwiches to tide us over until that night’s dinner.
Little did we know at that time the sandwich was far better than the dinner we would have later.
We all went back to the room to relax for a few minutes and get dressed and then Norm and I headed off to find the ballroom.
The ballroom was huge and there were loads of large tables set up but it was very well organised and we spotted our names on the board outside and easily found our group. There were 23 tables of at least 8 to 10 people each so it was a large crowd attending. We got settled in and poured a glass of wine and waited with great expectation.
As it was a charity fund raiser for Gabriella Centre, there was both a loud and silent auction on that evening and Norm and I wandered around looking at the items available but most were a bit too rich for our blood. The items mostly ranged from leather goods, wine, art, makeovers, and trips. There was a trip for 10 people to go on safari, complete with 5 air conditioned chalets. You still had to get all 10 of you there but if you had the cash this was a bargain of a prize!
The dinner was served buffet style. Strike one as I detest a buffet, especially at a function where you end up queuing to dish up from a mauled over vat of what is often overcooked food. The food was not very good. The meat was fatty and tough, the pasta overcooked and the chicken pie had a crust that tasted like it was made of Plasticine (aka playdough to you yanks).
But this event was not about the food, it was about raising funds for Gabriella’s Centre. Gabriella Centre is a Residential and Day Care facility for children and young adults with profound Physical and Intellectual Disabilities, such as Cerebral Palsy.
There were 2 different entertainment acts booked. The first was South African icon PJ Powers.
PJ Powers is a name that most South Africans over the age of 40 all know. My kids had never heard of her, nor did Norm and I know much about her other than the ‘World in Union’ song she sang for the 1995 Rugby world cup.
The South Africans seemed to love her and really enjoy it. Norm and I thought she talked too much and in quite a rambling fashion so to those of us who are not familiar with her history it was hard to follow. But she has a great voice. She had a famous drummer called Barry Van Zyl doing her percussion. Barry lives in Hout Bay but he has a great CV and has played with some amazing artists.
We had understood it was black tie but today I see that it says the dress code is ‘Cocktail’. Well that explains the men there in jeans and trainers! In Cape Town whatever the dress code, there will be someone who rocks up in jeans. If summer you may even get some shorts. Fashion has predominately passed Cape Town by. This was also evident by the number of women with bouffant 1990’s hair. You know the slick down the front and bouffant up the back style that was horrid back then? It is even more horrid now.
Anyway, I am not being very charitable. Norm and I made the effort and he was in a tux and I was in my beaded frock. The lighting was pink and so all of us have a rosy glow in my pics.
After PJ finished performing they held the auctions. There was so much money raised, it was brilliant to see the bids climb so high!
After the auctions finished they had a band called The Rites come on to get us all up for a boogie. They were such fun. They played loads of party songs to get you up and on the dance floor. Norm and I danced and danced to most of them. They were not a band you would pay to go and watch perform as they were not technically perfect, but they had soul, heart and enthusiasm and so we had a blast.
The night finished after midnight and we all happily wandered off to our rooms a bit tipsy but smiling. We had plans to meet at 9am the next morning for breakfast.
Despite the many vodkas I had that evening I could not get to sleep. I watched 3am go by and think I slept about 4 hours in total. I missed my own pillow and my snoring Pomeranians I guess.
We went down and had a lovely breakfast with some of the group we had dinner with. There was a whole section of different breads and pastries, a section with yogurts and toppings, a section with fresh fruit and juices and even champagne. There was a chef to make an omelette or whatever egg variety you wished for and next to him was a whole counter of cooked foods being kept piping hot in bain-maries. There was scambled eggs, bacon, sausage, halal food, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and hash browns. The service and the quality of the food was top notch. If they ran out of anything you just had to mention it and it was promptly restocked.
After breakfast we packed up and hit the road. Norm and I had decided to take our time getting home and go for a drive as we do not venture to that side of Cape Town very often. We drove to Stellenbosch and had a drive through town looking at all of the historic buildings but most of the shops were shut as it was Sunday so we decided not to stop. We drove through a national park and then up a mountain pass and then headed to Paarl.
As we drove along we spotted the Franschhoek Wine Tram tootling along the road on the train tracks next to us! We have wanted to do this tour for a while now so we will plan that adventure soon. Basically it is a hop on hop off tour around the wine farms in the area.
Norm seemed to know where he was going so I just relaxed and let him drive us about. He did seem to be looking for some place in particular however and eventually he turned into Drakenstein Correctional Centre. I saw the signs and wondered where he was heading (is he going to lock me up?) and then I looked up and saw the statue of our beloved Nelson Mandela.
The prison is famous for being the location where Nelson Mandela spent the last part of his imprisonment for being a political terrorist. We showed our solidarity and support for Madiba and the horrors of apartheid.
We tried to take a selfy with us both in it but the sun was coming at us and I was blinded.
Yeah, that did not work out too well. Sorry Madiba, no disrespect intended.
We decided as we were so near to see if we could get a table at Fairview as we love their Goatshed restaurant and philosophy on food. We were given a lovely seat outside. It was cool but sunny and perfect weather for dining alfresco.
Norm was a bit in the sun but as it was cool he could cope. Isn’t he cute?
We had a perfect view of the goat tower where the goats can trundle over a bridge from their pasture to climb and cavort.
Norm chose the Gammon sandwich: Smoked gammon slices, pickled cucumber, sweet mustard, tomato for R84. This looked divine and when I saw mine I was a bit jealous.
I am a pulled pork fanatic and so I ordered the ‘BBQ pulled pork, baby leaves, tomato, pickled cucumber & fried egg’ for R88.
It was not at all what expected when it arrived. The fried egg was a surprise as I had not read past ‘pulled pork’ in the description and the pork was chopped rather than pulled. It was also covered in a sauce, so I guess that was the ‘BBQ’ part of the description.
Once I got my head adjusted to what I was eating I got stuck into it. It may not have been what I expected, but when I removed my expectations and just ate it, it was very nice indeed! The pork was more like gammon than pork roast and it had a lot of fat on it but it was very tender and cooked perfectly.
We were surrounded by nature and fabulous views. I felt a bit like Cinderella as there were squirrels climbing above and around us on the vines and there were loads of tiny birds hopping on the tables and drinking from the trough of water that runs around the patio. I would not have been surprised by the appearance of a Fairy Godmother or a pumpkin.
After we finished our lunch we had a walk around the farm and a visit to the notorious scarecrow.
It was a lovely day and a perfect end to a fabulous weekend.
On Monday I woke at my usual time and feeling a bit tired I headed into the city for work. As I got to the roundabout just outside of the police station I noticed some strange things going on around me and ahead of me was chaos. As I pulled into the roundabout a taxi pulled in behind to block me moving back out.
There was a large 4×4 in front of me and he obviously saw clearly what was happening and he drove over the centre divider and went around the roundabout on the wrong side of the road, entered the other road on the wrong side of the road and managed to escape the protest. I then cottoned on to what was happening and went into panic mode. Honey I was almost holding onto Mr 4×4’s tail pipe and I stayed right with him, shrieking and swearing loudly in my car, willing to drive over whatever or whomever got in my way. This is the same roundabout where they often throw bricks through driver’s windows so it is not a place to linger even in times of peace.
After I got to work I read this post: “The blockade at the Imizamo Yethu traffic circle is allegedly as a result of Hout Bay-Wynberg Taxi Association drivers being threatened with guns in the early hours of this morning, Monday July 30. Sources told the Sentinel that drivers from the Codeta-aligned associations threatened Hout Bay operators with rifles and other firearms. These operators then rallied other Hout Bay drivers, who immediately blockaded Main Road in an attempt to prevent the alleged perpetrators from leaving the area. There is a heavy police presence on the scene. Attempts are being made to bring a negotiation between the two taxi groups.”
By the time I came home, peace was restored again.
So in a matter of days my experiences ranged from fabulous to terrifying. That pretty much sums up life in Cape Town. Whatever happens, you will never be bored.
Until next time, kisses from the (rather bedraggled) Kitten xoxoxoxox