Socks from the universe

or maybe just bad housekeeping…:-) I left all my socks at the spa and so I rang a friend and said when he came to visit yesterday he needed to loan me a pair of his as I wanted my last promenade along the mighty Atlantic… A while later I saw lying under the curtain a pair of man’s socks that obviously the cleaners hadn’t found but I had… and as is my way I had to give it profound meaning… that I asked the universe (read my friend) for help (socks) and it provided immediately (someone else’s lost pair)… Now much to my own mirth I am trying to work out the metaphor of socks and the universe as I pack to leave the mother city… filled with gratitude and joy for my magical time here… I wonder what awaits me next – more socks?


I am a woman of ritual and the beautiful thing of my new space is that each morning before the sun rises I walk down to the ocean and for an hour or so wander eastwards along the icy Atlantic and watch as the sun gently rises and changes the landscape… I have this fancy little app on my iPhone to take wide photos 🙂

Cape Town Drivers

At the risk of alienating all my Capetonian friends (and given I learned my driving skills here I feel able to comment)… this city must be home to some of the worst drivers in the world… it appears to be a cross between dodgem cars and dressage for motor vehicles (they often seem to dance unexpectedly across several lanes)… this lethal mix is interlaced with a total disregard for traffic rules, everyone is on their mobile phones and a frenzied desire for speed… When you set forth in your car with all the obedience of a well-behaved Australian you are met by anarchists behind the wheel – and these said wheels range from maseratis and mercedes to stone-dead-stuck-together-with-masking-tape mangled moving things… And then they wonder why the death toll is appallingly high – I think in December last year it was something like 1000 deaths!

Allow for the Unexpected

This is one of the key themes for me of this trip to Cape Town … not to expect but to allow for the possibility… welcome in the unexpected…the mesmerising trip into the bush was nature’s way of again proving this point…So after the cheetahs I just inhaled the magnificent Karoo scenery and didn’t really care if we saw anything… it was so bitterly cold that although I was dressed in 7 or 8 layers I felt like I was being sandblasted with ice and was just happy that I survived every game drive… yesterday just before we left we expected nothing… in fact there was nothing to see… barely a springbok… until magically we watched from close quarters a white lionness pad her way back from a kill to fetch her cubs from hiding… truly exhilarating and unexpected… And so as I come towards the last part of my sojourn at the tip of Africa I will try and remain as present and as open to the unexpected as I can… a lesson I hope I take home to Oz with me…

A South African Paradox

Thankfully I forget how miserable winter weather can be in the Cape – it has poured for a couple of days with such abandon that there are huge waterfalls pouring off the mountain… Today is June 16, a public holiday in memory of the Soweto uprising in 1976 – there is an iconic and disturbing image of a young 13-year old boy, Hector Pietersen, being carried after being shot and fatally wounded after young black school children rioted against having to learn Afrikaans in schools… turbulent times in SA’s history and today is now marked as Youth Day… for lunch we wandered up through the torrential rain to Rhodes Memorial which is set high up on Devil’s Peak with a beautiful (if you could see it) view out over the Cape to the distant mountains… Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of De Beers and a dyed-in-the-wool imperialist, was an important person in this country’s history but certainly not loved and adored… it wasn’t planned this way but I thought how strange to combine Youth Day with one of the fiercest colonialists to grace southern Africa..

Cooking, Rugby and Departures

Who would have thought that my wonderful birthday prize of a Cape Malay cooking course with the enchanting Cass Abrahams would be a lot more than a Babotie (which is a delicious quintessentially Cape dish of mince and spices covered in a savoury custard)…. in fact it was like I walked into someone’s life as a witness to their story… her daughter got married on Sunday and is soon to be spirited away with her new partner and her three-old grandson to Bristol, and Cass’ son returned to England while I was there and watching the heartache of a mother farewelling her son was a little overwhelming – the story of South African migration has touched all colours and creeds… her delightful husband is part of the Western Province Rugby administration and we spoke about my dad who he remembered as a front-rower from Villagers – I felt quite teary hearing the names of men I remember from some distant past of my dad’s rugby-life… and of course in case there weren’t enough threads, Cass had worked with my friend’s late dad on creating an aloe chutney … so in amongst these stories… I also cooked in this grand dame’s kitchen – Babotie, Butter Chicken bathed in cumin and coriander, a fish marinated in freshly ground spices and then soaked in lemon, and a noodle and sago dessert that had the hallmarks of comfort food swaddled in kassia and cardamon… a cherished day today 🙂

An Academic Visit

I went off to my old alma mater today, UCT… nothing really seems to have changed… maybe the demographics… when I was there in the middle of Apartheid it was a mostly white bunch of students… thankfully that has changed but they still sit around on Jammie Steps eyeing the talent and making some effort to attend some classes… unfortunately my fave canteens from 100 years ago… red level (where average joe from the humanities came) and yellow level (where all who’s who of left wing thinking hung out) no longer exist – so we wandered down university avenue marvelling at how young everyone looks… I wanted to sit in on my friend’s lecture… he said I would be bored… I think he meant I was too stupid to understand 2nd year Chemistry… I think he was right… My friend’s a professor in the Chemistry department at UCT and given I have never done any sciences, it was an eye-opener to see people in lab coats and protective glasses, enormous magnetic machines and centrifugal equipment and everywhere a really peculiar lingering antiseptic smell… he showed me around the chemistry department and our final stop, the scariest, had an enormous explosion last year in the middle of the night when some chemical blew up and destroyed the entire area which is currently being refurbished… I’m not sure the lab coat would protect you…

Our Shadow

This is something close to my heart… I wonder why the same pathways are walked blindly by most of us and as we point fingers at all manner of things outside ourselves, often the heart of it lies within… hidden with momentary glimpses on this dark and unwanted part of ourselves… the truth is much more hearty and robust… when we open the door and let the sunlight in and begin to own all that we don’t want to, all that makes us feel uncomfortable and often all that makes us feel overwhelmingly sad.. then we have the opportunity to become healthier and more content with our lives… this morning I felt gripped by my shadow side and sweating during my yoga class I began to feel more welcoming of this darker part of me… for all of us, this week heralds a full moon in Scorpio which is directly opposite to the sun’s position in Taurus… an opportunity to reflect on our shadow and maybe allow a chink of light to cast its disinfectant – we need to embrace the polarities of both our light and shadow…


Does this mean I am officially once again a Capetonian… my entire world is based on the weather and what it is doing to the mountain today and whether the wind will drop or the clouds will lift or the balmy day will stay as angelic… A gale force wind battered us on the weekend in Rooi Els… but there is still nothing more fabulous than sitting in the sunroom gazing across False Bay at the outline of the Peninsula etched in pink and purple with the setting sun… and today after waking to a magnificent-Table-Mountain-cablecar-see-the-whole-city day… it bizarrely changed just as we drove to the cable car station… this astonishing fog rolled off the Atlantic… not down the mountain as it usually does but sort of across the whole city… and so instead we spent a magical day in Kirstenbosch protected from the fog… and it was quieter, gentler and more evocative of many moons ago… I sat at Lady Anne Barnard’s bath and remembered how excited I was as a child to stumble on this green, cool spot in the gardens… Strange to be a visitor with a long history but nonetheless a blessed and infinitely grateful visitor…

Something reassuring

Probably the thing I missed most when I left South Africa was the pungent smell of the Atlantic… the Pacific always feels gentler and never gives up an ocean smell and I long for that even 20 years later – there is nothing more evocative for me than the smell of the seaweed and the icy waters – it is so beautifully affirming of my childhood memories… At night I can hear the foghorn when the mist rolls in from the cold current… and well before the day loses its heat and sun you smell the Atlantic and know that in the morning you will wake to a grey and misty day…