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  • Shelley Dark

11. Walking Tour of Cape Town

photo courtesy Cape Grace Hotel

The Cape Grace Hotel is known for its wonderful staff - so wonderful in fact that our darling friend Jo Dallamore said she once tested them out by asking for a treadmill in her room - which was duly delivered and installed while she was briefly out of the hotel. Very impressive! Nothing is too much trouble.

It's in a perfect position on the waterfront - access is through a manned security gate, on its own quay, secluded from the hustle and bustle of the Victoria and Albert waterfront area which is swarming with tourists.

Our rooms face west towards the ocean, with a view of the working harbour, dry dock and the Silo Hotel. Those amazing prismatic windows in the Silo Hotel glow at sunrise and sunset and at night when the lights are on. The architect Thomas Heatherwick intended it to symbolise a lighthouse.

On the other side the Cape Grace has an equally appealing easterly view over the yachts in the marina and Table Mountain.

The interior references the Cape: its history, flora and fauna, with antique and vintage objects, maps and furniture.

The kitchen in our apartment.

Our living room.

It's a long corridor!

The chandeliers all reference the area - this one in our room has a bird's nest, crockery, beads.....

Monogrammed linen....

Fruit and other yummies...

A very big balcony.

And a view towards the V & A Waterfront.

There's a series of shallow bowls in the hotel entrance, all containing stunning displays of proteas and other native flowers.

The breakfast room and its contents didn't disappoint either!

But we were on a mission first thing this morning: a tour of the CBD with art historian Kate Crane Briggs. English by birth, Kate worked in the art world in the UK until in 2010 her architect husband's job brought him to Cape Town. Then she started Culture Connect, the only art and design tour business in southern Africa. What a find for us!

We were to meet her at 9am at the studio of the delightful Pierre Fouché, a Cape Town artist who works in both huge scale and also tiny crochet and lace-making. In a street quite close to the CBD, we climbed a few flights of stairs into his light-filled room, the huge picture window filled with a view of Table Mountain. As he poured tea for us, Pierre said he has to face away from it to accomplish any work!

Pierre uses nails to hold his work in place. He graduated in Fine Arts from the University of Stellenbosch and has achieved world recognition with his truly astounding work. He's done residencies in Paris and Basel, where he was befriended by a Swiss octagenarian lace-maker.

She gave him this tiny piece of lace - a peacock. The work is so fine it's hard to believe any human person could make it.

​It's formed the inspiration for this sketch and his latest commission: six huge panels of peacock green crochet, to be hung at a local winery, with a lace representation of man and peacock suspended in the middle. It's going to take until the end of next year to finish.

One of his framed works on the wall.