Have you ever spent a Sunday near Cape Town on a clear blue balmy day? What beautiful, beautiful country!
We were picked up at 9am this morning by the wonderful Jimmy in his company car. And the adventure began again!
First stop, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden which we had nearly to ourselves so early in the morning. We've been sitting quite a bit on this trip so it was wonderful to stride out in the fresh morning air. The garden snuggles against the eastern base of Table Mountain. No matter where you walk, it's looking down at you.
The boomslang (meaning green tree snake) bridge is a new addition, winding over the canopy of the trees below. It's an interesting vantage point, but I'm a little squeamish about heights, particularly if I can feel the walk beneath me swaying even just a little and vibrating under its load!
Garden beds are laid out in vast lawns with taller vegetation defining discrete areas. The proteas and ericas are flowering at the moment.
We enjoyed the useful plants area. Did you know that about mother-in-law's tongue?
Or about the leaves of the flapjack?
This sculpture by Dylan Lewis of a wild cat is so at home here. We'll visit his studio in a couple of days.
So many of our common plants like the osteospermum call Africa home.
Jimmy tells us that later in the day it will be very busy with hikers on the trails and families picknicking.
As we left the gardens, we drove along Klaasens Road with its grand houses.
We stopped at Groot Constantia, the oldest wine estate in the Cape. Commander Simon van der Stel of the Dutch East India Company arrived here in 1679 with his children. Estranged from his wife, and interested in viticulture he was awarded this land.
The estate is surrounded by white washed walls, and already people were having tea and coffee in the sun. It was a glorious 23 degrees today!
There's a long rectangular pond at the back of the house, crossed by a small white-washed bridge.
The back of the house
And the tasting rooms.
The Kalk Bay shops were fun, but I only had eyes for the floral displays and these crazy black petunias!
One beach we saw was wild and scary while most like Muizenberg with its colourful huts were great for families and paddling.
Earnest knew his wine!
Harbour House Restaurant at Kalk Bay had been recommended to me by several people who know or live in Cape Town. It's in an old building right on the water at the marina and breakwater, overlooking the ocean and specialising in fresh line-caught fish.
Our reservation was for 1pm, upstairs against the glass, on the right (for your booking reference!). Can you believe the day!
I wanted to try the local oysters - just the one, with pickled red onion and lemon on the side. It was small, cold and delicious!
We both had a starter of tempura prawn with avocada and salsa, japanese mayo with a little chilli. Excellent!
We shared two main courses. One the Mozambique langoustines with aioli, grilled to perfection with the meat tender and moist.
This freshly caught line fish was kingklip on a garlic mash with beans, spinach, and a poached egg on top, encircled by basil-flavoured salsa verde. Perfecto!
As we ate, we drank a glass each of the Stellenbosch Graham Beck bubble made from chardonnay and pinot noir by the méthode champenoise. I think they call it the Stellenbosch method!
A seal came up on to the rocks below.
The sun was shining, the water was impossibly blue, waves were crashing against the building sending spray into the air. Then a whale breached out at sea, and all seemed right with the world!
After lunch we drove past Fish Hoek and went cross-country to Noordhoek Beach and on the nine incredible kilometres of Chapmans Peak Drive. In parts the cliff face overhangs the road in what seems an impossible cantilever.
It was cut out of the cliff face during World War I and has been upgraded in recent years. It's sometimes closed during really high winds.
It's very reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast with dramatic vertical rock faces and winding curves. It's a popular shooting location for car advertisements and the site of two cycling events during the year.
On our way past we called in at the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Camps Bay.
The desk very kindly allowed us to wander - this is the fountain outside the spa.
The apples looked inviting!
The manager saw us and invited us to look at the preparations for a wedding tonight, complete with clear polycarbonate chairs looking for all the world like crystal. As we left, the guests were arriving, dolled to the nines.
A while ago looked out the window and it was nearly dusk. That's the Silo Hotel where we were treated right royally last night.
Which reminds me I've still to tell you about Friday and Saturday here in Cape Town. We toured the CBD, saw Bo Kaap, the Neighbour Goods market and the Waterfront. We visited the most remarkable artist's studio. He works on a grand scale with crochet and his present commission will take a year and a half.
We've had two wonderful restaurant experiences at the Shortmarket Club and the Pot Luck Club which I know you'll enjoy too. And you'll be wanting to see and hear the fabulous capella choir in Gugulethu. I have to edit the videos, and I just don't have time. All of that is still to come. I'll have to catch up when I can.
Let me tell you about our arrival at the Cape Grace on Thursday night and our brush with fame.
We'd spent a total of seven hours in the car that day including a drive around Durban, and two hours flight. You know how when you are dead tired sometimes, everything seems ridiculously funny?
After being jammed like sardines into a Mango Airlines plane, we sighed as we sank into the seats of the luxurious car at Cape Town airport. The central console in the back seat was full of toys: mints, water, hand sanitiser, hand cream, perfume, spectacle cleaner liquid, cloth, aerosol can of refreshing face spray. Like children in a lolly shop we opened everything, laughing and exclaiming. I'm sure the driver Sziki thought we'd never been in a car before, which made us even sillier.
At the Cape Grace entrance, three doormen sprang into action. We shook each one's hand as they introduced themselves. I particularly liked Progress.
A very earnest and correct young man named Keagan welcomed us formally, waving elegant hands and keeping tightly to a well-rehearsed welcoming protocol.
He would be delighted to offer us an upgrade from two normal bedrooms: a two-bedroom apartment : dining room, sitting room, big balcony, kitchen. There was one problem: one of the bathrooms had the shower over the bath. Would we care to accept it? Radiance and I looked at each other and laughed. Everywhere we go remarkable things have been happening. We'd be delighted to accept. He laughed too. He was starting to relax a little.
Helen was looking at the open guest book in front of her. Remarkably, I wondered out loud if there were any movie stars staying at the moment. Apart from us. We both laughed at my bad joke. So did Keagan.
He offered to show us the library where complimentary port and sherry is served in the afternoons. We followed him through the doorway where he stopped abruptly. We concertinaed into his back like in a Keystone Cops movie and started laughing again. He turned and shepherded us out again into the hallway.
There's a movie star in there, he whispered. I just want to warn you so you won't be surprised. I'll just do the normal tour. We were immediately intrigued!
Inside the library again, he began indicating facilities. We both looked around nonchalantly. I wanted to laugh at the Inspector Clouseau theatricality of the situation, but I remained poker faced.
A man with a familiar face was sitting on a corduroy sofa, listening to a younger woman in pink. He was about seventy, with shaved head and moustache. He was awfully familiar, but I couldn't place him.
Keagan completed the tour. Back at the reception desk I asked, Who is he? His face is so familiar! Helen answered, quite seriously, It's Doctor Spock. I'm still not sure who she meant and I think she was so tired that she doesn't know either, but she immediately realised her mistake and the three of us burst out laughing.
Keagan wrote on a piece of paper and pushed it towards us.
Sir Ben Kingsley.
Of course! Schindlers List. Ghandi. Oscars, Grammies, Baftas, Golden Globes, the lot.
There was lots more silliness when Keagan showed us our room and we tossed for the good bathroom. We're now best friends. When we walk in he exclaims, oh my favourite guests!
Until tomorrow night buddies, lala kamnandi (Xhosa for sleep tight)