Paternoster: A West Coast Paradise

IMG_6139 (754x1024)Rumor has it that on being shipwrecked, Portuguese sailors attempting to navigate the Southern-most tip of Africa would in desperation cry out a Latin “Our Father”, a chilling plea that has given its name to the picturesque fishing village of Paternoster. It is more likely however, that the village is named after Paternoster Row, the London street destroyed by bombing in the Blitz.

Slightly less than two hours outside of Cape Town, on a strip of fishing villages on the sunny West Coast, the whitewashed settlement of Paternoster curves around a small crescent of pale sand.

Although having become popular as a weekend retreat, building regulations have ensured that the aesthetics of the original village remain, albeit more glamorously than in years gone by. Cottages are uniform in their white paint and blue shutters and fishermen and townspeople live in brightly lit houses meandering between weekend homes. This saves the town from the challenge faced by other, less premium popular holiday-home villages of the region – the absolute mishmash of architectural styles and colors, as faux Tuscan villa sits cheek by jowl with mock Tudor mansion.

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Being less precipitous than rainy Cape Town in winter, the West Coast is a welcome haven for those seeking to escape the howling North Wester and persistent drizzle, and while it can get cold, the region is drier than in the city. In the summer however, the South Easter delivering good weather to the Cape blows relentlessly, buffering beachgoers and boats and sweeping sand into every available crevice.

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7 Things* NOT to Say to a Teacher on Holiday: A Rant

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*All these things have actually been said to me. More than once.

1. Wow – it must be great to get all this time off. You have holidays all the time!

Yeah. I do. It’s one of the few perks. It helps me to stay off the scheduled drugs and away from the breakdowns many of my colleagues are subjected to.

2. You only teach [insert subject]? Oh… Okay. Ummm… cool?

In a high school – that’s a good thing. I taught three subjects as a first year teacher, now I get to teach what I graduated in.

3. Teaching must be a great way to fulfil your maternal instinct. That’s why women are so much better at it than men.

Yes. Because of course my passion for pedagogic theory and sustainable grass roots development among young adults has to do with my reproductive organs. Absolutely. As a woman I do not have a brain and therefore my job must be related to childbearing. Damn these shoes are killing me… Do you mind if I stand in this kitchen barefoot?

4. Your students must think you’re really hot. I bet the boys can’t get enough of you!

How exactly would you like me to respond here? “Thank you”? “Gross – I never thought of that”? “I’m glad you’ve pointed that out – no one else has”? My kids keep what they think of me to their selves and hold me accountable for how I teach.

5. Those who can’t do, teach. Ha ha ha – just joking!

Some. And you graduated from high school with the help of…?

6. When I was at school, my teachers… and so I think…

Yes, you went to school for at least twelve years. So did I. That didn’t make me an education expert, it made me a matriculant. My six (and counting) years at several tertiary institutions make me an education professional. When learners go to school they understand how a school works and what their teachers do, but from a child’s perspective, from the view of a client. It’s kind of like thinking you’re an engineering expert because you run past the Brooklyn Bridge every day.

7. I know you don’t get paid well, but it is a part time job.

Uh huh. Part time during the early mornings when I get up to prepare. Part time during the day when I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus by 9a.m. Part time during the afternoon when I coach extra-murals without pay. Part time during the evenings when I contact parents, attend functions and prepare again. Part time during weekends when I work. Part time during holidays when I work. Capisce?


7 really great travel quotes

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Happy Hump Day! Hopefully these will help you to keep dreaming towards your next trip. We are in the process of booking one, and there’s nothing quite like the delicious anticipation!

1. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark T wain

2. “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

3. “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

4. “Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

5. “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley

6. “A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Goldoni

7. “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

Killer Whales in Victoria, Canada: Finding Free Willy

Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada

I’m certainly no wildlife photographer – any self-respecting specimen might like to have a look at these holiday snaps in order to have a good giggle – but I did want to show you how beautiful and peaceful our trip to find “killer whales” (orcas) was. We really loved the fact that our boat didn’t rush up to the whales or try to chase them for the sake of better photo ops (as you can clearly see), but we managed to experience their majesty pretty close up – including a baby with a momma (second and third last photos). In the last photograph you’ll see the impressive Fairmont Empress from the water – Victoria’s pride and joy and our happy haven for the night.

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Nostalgie Restaurant, OUDTSHOORN


all the promise of a sunny Saturday breakfast

Susan (if I tell you that I call her Susie she’ll kill me) and I sat down at a table and looked at each other with smiles of relief. We were both thinking the same thing – thank goodness we were sitting in a beautiful sunny garden about to eat breakfast, instead of running the Cango Marathon, as my superman-dad and colleague were then doing.

We leisurely ordered cappuccinos and perused the comprehensive options, bewildered as to what to order from the vast array of ostrich dishes, wraps, sandwiches, traditional breakfast meals and Afrikaans specialities.

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flowers and lanterns and food, oh my!

Oudtshoorn, a small town in the Klein Karoo desert with a remarkable Boer War history, feels much farther away from Cape Town than its paltry five-hour drive. Famous for its ostriches and their by-products (big eggs used as decorations and strong enough to withstand a human’s weight, delicious meat and flawless leather), the town is also home to the Cango Caves where one can marvel at gravity-defying stalactites and stalagmites in vast underground caverns.

While there are plenty of places to eat on the main stretch of the town, Nostalgie stood out for its colourful garden decor, white lanterns (and proximity to our hastily found parking spot). The service was friendly and while the food took some time it was freshly prepared from local ingredients, generously portioned and – to our tired city wallets – astonishingly reasonable.

Then, having eaten brunch, perused the store’s vintage clothing and bought some of the farmstall goods, we took the triumphant runners back for lunch! We’ve both decided to go back soon.

a traditional stoep - lost in time

a traditional stoep – lost in time

12 Apostles Hotel Anniversary: then & now

Seven years ago Craig and I were married at Suikerbossie, overlooking Hout Bay. After we left the (morning) wedding, we arrived at the 12Apostles – starving and ready to jump in the pool. Yesterday we went back for lunch.

Then (7.3.2007):

The pool hasn't changed

The pool hasn’t changed

Neither, thankfully, has the view

Neither, thankfully, has the view

But we sure have!

But we sure have!

And so has the Leopard Bar decor!

And so has the Leopard Bar decor!

And now (16.3.2014):

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John Kani’s MISSING: A Review

Thankfully not a Neeson-type thriller (we became nervous each time someone stepped out for a ‘walk’), the title of Kani’s Missing…refers to being missing in action in South Africa’s new democracy – an examination of exiled struggle heroes who fail to be called back by the new dispensation.

Danford, Kani, Ngaba and Ntshoko - cast of 'Missing...'

Danford, Kani, Ngaba and Ntshoko – cast of ‘Missing…’

Having been kindly invited by the Baxter Theatre as high school English educators, my friend and I, with our husbands, escaped the end-of-term marking frenzy and ventured out, despite having almost succumbed to the thrill of an early night in. We’re glad we did. The theatre was emptier than expected, even for a Wednesday night, with less than half of its seats occupied; the crowd diverse and appreciative.

Kani’s first since Nothing But the Truth (2002), Missing… by the veteran actor and playwright has moved from previous themes of struggle to question the fates of exiled ANC members who find themselves still in exile after living through it believing that they would one day fulfil a vital role in South Africa’s democracy. Having once asked Mbeki, a personal friend, whether it was possible that struggle heroes in exile had been ‘missed’, Mbeki had replied that it was indeed possible.

Protagonist of the play, Kani’s character Robert Vuyo Khalipa, lives a comfortable life in Sweden at the end of the 20th century with his rich and loving Swedish business icon of a wife, Anna Ohlson (Susan Danford), and Swedish-African daughter Ayanda (played by Buhle Ngaba). He seems to have everything – except to have realised his post-apartheid ideals of ‘home’ – a central thread through the play. Every day since Mandela’s release Khalipa has waited for the call that would take him home – back to a cabinet position where he would be recognised for years of sacrifice and have a part in building the rainbow nation. When Mbeki becomes president, his sense of hope is renewed and the agony of his waiting intensified. The absence of the phone’s shrill tone becomes an unwelcome presence, with the family little realising that a call, if it came, would threaten their happiness further.

Although predominately a tautly written script it perhaps needs further editing. At times it tends to preach, or to state too explicitly the emotions of the characters which tends to rob them of spontaneous feeling. Also, although Kani seems to become Khalipa entirely and Danford’s Swedish accent is, to the South African ear, utterly convincing, one can’t help but feel that the roles of Peter Tshabalala and Ayanda Khalipa are at times over-acted – as if Apollo Ntshoko and Buhle Ngaba are trying too hard to enunciate their words and gestures to an audience hard of hearing. However, as the play premières its first few weeks in the Cape, one must bear in mind that Kani has recently suffered from a debilitating back injury, cutting down on crucial rehearsal time and forcing the postponement of the play’s opening. 

Gut-achingly funny and at times awkwardly tense, the play uses broad South African themes of intercultural romance and offspring, expectations of the role of wife, friendship, betrayal and post-apartheid corruption and disillusionment to achieve a range of emotions in the audience.

Missing… runs in Cape Town until the 29th March. Book at Computicket.