This and that.....
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Wed 27 Feb 2013 14:06
We have been accused by a friendly correspondent of having seen too little of south-east Asia during our years there. It’s fair comment, although Mags should not be tarred with the same brush, it is I who demonstrated lamentable lethargy and lack of curiosity about the wonders of the region. There’s no excuse really. Now I have to report that very little has been happening here either. As I feared when we arrived, we have got our feet under the table, met some of the locals, joined or re-joined friends from our little travelling village and are now just too comfortable and loath to leave. Fortunately the forecast for the next week is bad.
We have taken a couple of days out to visit Stellenbosch and Franschhoek in the wine making region but, typically, failed to attend a wine tasting and didn’t tour any cellars. However, the bed-and-breakfast accommodation was the best we have experienced, a motor museum was beautifully laid out and surprisingly well-stocked, the towns were pretty and interesting, the countryside pleasing and the food and wines were wonderful. The short excursion turned into a gastronomic extravaganza. At the same time we took the opportunity to visit friends of friends living in Somerset West. We had not met Mary and Stewart before but they were very hospitable, treating us to an excellent lunch and we had an interesting and most enjoyable few hours.
A pair of early Jaguars
A picturesque setting for a collection of motor cars
Just up the road from the yacht club lives a colony of Cape Penguins. I suppose it is weak-minded anthropomorphism but it was absolutely charming watching their communal behaviour. Such an inexpensive and innocent way to spend an hour or two.
1. Emerging from a dip 2. A cape seal sleeping it off
Relaxing before it is time to go fishing again
The wildlife is prolific down here. We have not seen the like since Galapagos
We have just returned our rental car. We had been driving a Polo from a cut-price outfit in Cape Town recommended by a fellow yachtie. The car was not particularly cheap and due to the arrangement of the pedals not very easy to drive. Experts in the cheapest Asian motoring deals will immediately recognise our feelings when we say that throughout this hire period we nurtured in our bosoms the warmest reminiscences and fondest regards for Mr. Din and his fleet in Langkawi. Next time, Avis.
On Saturday we lunched in the attractive fishing village of Hout Bay and motored out to see the Cape of Good Hope. As part of a circumnavigation sailing south of one of the five Great Capes offers another small box to tick. Most of us sail past this landmark at night so as to arrive in Table Bay during morning calms so if we wanted to see it we had to go by land. It is not the most southern point of Africa, Cape Agulhas is, but it is the most famous and all the world was keen to have a look on a summer Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t lonely out there. Mags showed fortitude in braving the Chinese throng in the souvenir shop and bought me a smart shirt with Cape of Good Hope logo. Very fetching it is too, in pale blue. So now I can claim without fear of contradiction to have “been there, seen that, bought the t-shirt.”
The Cape of Good Hope – not the most spectacular but the most famous
The waterfront at Hout Bay has been attractively restored and renovated by a local developer and among other attractions are a good fish restaurant, which we have enjoyed on a couple of occasions, and a nautical antiques shop. Browsing there I found a bunch of ex-Royal Navy bosun’s calls. I have hankered after one of these ever since I was in the Sea Scouts but never quite brought myself to the point of purchase. The knowledgeable shopkeeper assured me they were “very collectable with the original chain attached” and I took possession of a nice specimen. The yacht club in Simon’s Town is tucked in behind one wall of the famous naval base and every morning the workers are ordered about their duties with these evocative calls. I am trying to learn some simple examples but am afraid to practice lest we suddenly discover dozens of dockyard mateys swarming over JJ Moon’s guard rails looking for their breakfast.
That was not the end of my shopping spree. On arrival here in the pouring rain I discovered that my waterproof jacket leaked like a sieve. I am miffed. It is ten years old but a top model from a leading British brand. It has not been subjected to a hard life in the Mediterranean and along the Equator but it might as well have been made of fishing net for all the good it was doing me. With plenty more sailing to come I had to do something about it and was recommended to a man in Durban who, if he hasn’t got the right size or specification in stock, is prepared to make one from scratch. It arrived today, on time and half the price of the equivalent model from the leading brand previously complained of. It is very smart, and if it keeps the water out as well I shall be a very happy bunny.
So, in addition to being a woefully poor tourist I have become a shopaholic glutton. It cannot be because of character flaws, surely? I blame all the travelling, which has probably softened my brain.