… enjoy the party! Put on your dancing shoes… Cape Town welcomes yoOUuu!! To borrow the words of a local song ….
I wanted to share something of myself with you, greatly truncated of course, but this part of my life was as much a journey through time as it was through some of the most colourful and beautiful landscapes of South Africa. Landscapes I want the world to know about, landscapes that deserve mention and a visit, even if it is only virtual.
To facilitate this, I have cunningly inserted links to web pages which will provide you with more information about each of these very wonderful places in our beloved country; I shall try to restrain myself and save some of my favourite South African holiday destinations for future blogs…..
Cape Town is a magical place; it inspires and draws people to it and I too succumbed to the lure of this city.
Whilst growing up in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the occasional June/July school holidays in the Western Cape in the city of Cape Town, affectionately known as our Mother City. These holidays are amongst my favourite childhood memories. Of course those months are winter in the Southern hemisphere and I remember those particular holidays were spent in crisp, invigorating weather exploring the city that lies at the foot of Table Mountain. I loved it and it was a childhood dream to live in Cape Town one day.
When I finished school I went on to study art. From there I went on to work and work and then not work and then find work in the Eastern Free State.
One hot summer day in early January 1990 (and only two days after an emergency operation), I packed as many of my worldly possessions as I could squeeze into my 1982 White Mini 1275E and drove the 700 kilometres to an area I had never visited, never thought to visit and certainly had no desire to live, not realising it was to become my home for the next two to three years.
Living in the Eastern Free State was to be one of my greatest and most awful experiences all bundled into one. No, this detour was certainly not planned, expected or remotely considered at any point in my life. I left there with more than I could ever have dreamed of and a lot wiser to pitfalls of human nature. The beauty of the area is something I carry in my heart always, it is truly spectacular.
I moved back to my birth town but with nothing to look forward to and more responsibility than I could manage in such a small space (it is not a big city at all); I did what I always do in a corner. I looked outwards and upwards.
I decided I wanted to study further and in a field completely unrelated to art so I applied to two universities, one in Cape Town and the other in Stellenbosch. We put our home of twenty seven plus years on the market with a view to moving to Cape Town no matter what the outcome of my applications. We sold quickly and found a lovely little replacement home in the quiet, warm cul-de-sac of a safe and peaceful suburb of Cape Town; positioned roughly midway between both universities we would be covered for any eventuality. As luck would have it, I was accepted by both, so I had to choose. Both are beautiful, popular universities and both provide a sound education for their students, but that view from the mountain slopes was more than I could withstand…
I was content. I was studying, not what I had originally planned to study, but it didn’t matter I was doing my first degree at a beautiful university in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
At this time my son was almost three years old and being both a full time student and a full time single mother whilst all three of us (self, son and mother) lived off my mothers’ pension was not easy, so I took on work in addition to studying. I worked nights and also tried my hand at realty, which I hated. Nothing seemed difficult or impossible though because I was living in the city I now consider my home town. Each day I awoke, I had the view of that beautiful mountain; well I had to walk out of our front door into the cul-de-sac, but it was there.
Weekends could be quiet, adventurous or activity filled. I found Cape Town easy to navigate when driving, quickly finding my way about the city and its outlying areas. As long as I knew where the mountain was in relation to my general position I could never get lost.
We frequently travelled to Somerset West and Gordons Bay to visit friends of my mothers. We sighed every time we drove to or through Stellenbosch or when we visited the picturesque Franschoek Valley, passing magnificent winelands en route.
Stellenbosch was about forty-five minutes or so from where we lived and my aunts’ Bed and Breakfast in Noordhoek on the other side of Cape Town, not far from Simonstown, took much the same time to traverse.
There was always Hout Bay for visiting too or the magnificent concerts in the park in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on warm summer evenings; yes indeed everywhere was beautiful, everywhere was accessible and everywhere was Cape Town. It was truly a series of unfortunate events that led to my leaving Cape Town and it is also one of my sons greatest heart aches. We will return one day, it is both his hometown and mine; where else could we possibly live in South Africa but the one place we call home, Cape Town.