Category Archives: Cape Town

Clouds!

Cotton Wool Clouds 1

Haiku 222

As empty as clouds

Cotton wool brain, stuck inside

Corona effect

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Cotton Wool Clouds 2

I was watching these fluffy cotton wool balls drift by one morning, as I sat outside having my cuppa. Though these particular clouds would not bring rain, we’re doing all right in Cape Town this year.

The dam levels are at 99.7%! Can you believe it?

These water reserves have to last us over the coming hottest summer months, until the next rains fall, a good six months away.

Three years ago in 2017, after lower than average rainfall several years in a row, the dams were at 37.6%. The levels dropped as low as 19% before we got rain.

Back then the whole world was pointing fingers at Cape Town and saying we would be the first major city to run out of water, on Day Zero.

Cotton Wool Clouds 3

I am very happy that we did not run out of water. By drastically rationing and re-using water, we averted disaster. The people of CT still do this, which is why the dams have filled up again so quickly; it’s not as if there have been really good rains recently. In fact, 2019 was quite dry; but by collectively altering our behaviour, we have triumphed.

So I could watch these fluffy clouds serenely, knowing that though they will not produce rain, the dams are already full!

 

A Winter’s Tale

Egyptian Geese on Rooftop

Haiku 216

Winter’s not quite done

Freezing rains and gale force winds

A sting in the tail!

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What are you two Egyptian Geese gossiping about? The cold snap? Yes, it hit out of the blue and the temperatures plummeted. But you’re alright. Feathers are incredibly warm!

There’s been snow on Table Mountain and temperatures of 2 degrees Centigrade recorded. Brrr Even the local resident Dassies on the mountain were rather confused by it all. – See here in a Local news clip.

Our coldest and wettest winter month here in Cape Town used to be July. Now it seems to be August. Still, at least it means that all the cold rain is filling up my swimming pool – and the dams, which now stand at 88.7%.

This is enough to last us through all those dry summer months to come.

I don’t mind the cold and the rain; it won’t last. Already the sun is hot when I go outside, even though the air is freezing! Such a conundrum here in South Africa. A cold country with a hot sun!

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post script: For those of you who are interested, the variegated plant with purple flowers that I posted on Friday is actually a Periwinkle, Vinca major ‘Variegata’. Scooj got it and many others had good guesses.

 

Anticipation!

Camellia Bud 1

Haiku 204

Camellia Buds

Branches laden with bounty

Anticipation!

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Camellia Bud 2

It may be the middle of winter here in Cape Town, but this is the time of year that my Camellia really flourishes.

Camellia Bud 3

I’ve recently posted a photo of a large camellia flower, but the buds are enormous too –

Camellia Bud 4

Already weighing down the branches, even before turning into those massive flowers.

Camellia Bud 5

In between the severe Cape winter storms, these sunny days are idyllic.

Camellia Bud 6

And my large Camellia bush is a very welcome splash of pink in the green garden.

 

Yellow

Yellow Honeysuckle

Haiku 200

Low hanging sunshine

New flowers and golden leaves

Winter’s all Yellow

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Yellow Syringa

The colour of winter in the Cape:

Yellow honeysuckle enticing the Sunbirds’ return; Syringa berries and golden leaves ready to fall; Apple Tree leaves, capturing a sunbeam;

Yellow Apple Leaf

All these make a glorious golden winter time.

 

post script: Here’s a lovely acoustic clip of Donovan singing his iconic hit “Colours”, beginning with the line Yellow is the colour of my true love’s hair.

 

Winter Solstice 2020

Poinsettia 1

Haiku 198

Winter Solstice morn

The shortest day of the year

Sun now returning

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To be honest, I can hardly say that the sun ever really left! Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate, with very mild winters.

Poinsettia 2

Here I’ve photographed my Poinsettia in a little morning mist. The plant is a good 6 metres (20 feet) tall, so basically a tree. I have to shoot from underneath and with my arm high above my head to try to capture the red leaves, technically called bracts.

Right now my garden is full of plants and shrubs in bloom.

The Sunbirds have returned to the Honeysuckle; the Camellia is filling up with large pink blooms; and of course, the Poinsettia is a lovely splash of red in a mostly green world.

Poinsettia 3

Still, it takes some getting used to, after growing up in the North of England, where you had real winters!

Also, most of my Readers live in the Northern hemisphere, where you will have just experienced the Summer Solstice and your longest day. Hopefully you have many more summer days to look forward to!

 

Masked Bandit!

Masked Bandit

Haiku 196

Covid Chronicles

The Masked Bandit Rides Again!

Or just leaves the house!

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This was in the early days, when we went from Level 5 Lockdown – not allowed out to exercise, to Level 4 – allowed to go out between 6 am and 9 am. As it is still dark in Cape Town till 7.30 am and very damp in winter, this is not the best time to be out walking!

Still, my makeshift face mask, a silk scarf, worked very well; both in adhering to the regulations and in keeping some of the damp air out of my asthmatic lungs!

I have since made my own face masks, out of a linen tea-towel, which are very comfy and allow me to breathe. It is mandatory to wear a cloth mask any time you leave your house and to keep a distance of 2 metres from anyone else. Your hands will be sprayed with hand sanitizer at every single shop you enter and trolleys and baskets wiped down. Cashiers sit behind perspex screens or wear protective visors or masks. Counter tops are sanitized regularly.

We’re now at Level 3 Lockdown, so can exercise outside any time. More businesses have opened; alcohol is on sale from Monday to Thursday, but still no cigarettes.  Kids are beginning to return to school, starting with only the 13 and 18 year olds.

So of course, with increased movement, the stats are rapidly rising. It is now definitely winter; a massive storm has just swept through the Cape, bringing so much rain there have been floods. Flu season is upon us, but maybe with all the masks, sanitizing and social distancing, the flu won’t be too bad this year!

As of going to press, South Africa has 58,568 confirmed cases of Corona, of which 33,252 have recovered and 1,284 died, in a population of about 59 million.

 

Autumn

Autumn Leaf in Dog Water Bowl

Haiku 193

Single golden leaf

Floating in the water bowl

I guess it’s Autumn

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One swallow does not a summer make, nor a single snowflake winter, but in Cape Town, a solitary fallen leaf does make Autumn!

Autumn and Spring are so brief here that you have to look at the calendar, rather than the weather or flora, to know what season it is.

Although there is a chill in the air, during the day it is warm and pleasant, usually around 20C, (26C on Wednesday!); what I would call a nice Summer’s day in England!

Right now in my garden, I still have roses in bloom, as well as the honeysuckle, plumbago, hibiscus and frangipani. The camellia is absolutely covered in buds ready to unfurl into massive pink flowers.

So yes, one golden leaf fallen from the grape vine is as good an indication as any that it is actually Autumn.

After all, the 20th of next month is the winter solstice!

 

Happy New Year 2020

Sunrise

As the sun sets on 2019 and rises on 2020, I’d like to wish my WP friends all the very best for the coming year.

Thank you for your friendship during this last year and here’s hoping the coming year will be a good one for you all, with health and happiness.

Here’s to a great 2020.

Cheers from Scifi.

Happy New Year!

 

The Dark Ages

Angel Chimes

We have load shedding again! It has been Stage 4 for several days, meaning scheduled power cuts of up to 2 1/2 hours, 3 times in 24 hours.

Last night they announced it was going to Stage 6. There are jokes about this online: namely that at Stage 6 a man from Eskom comes round to your house and blows out your candles!

Mostly people work round the power cuts. Knowing the times beforehand means you can plan to some extent. It is still extremely annoying though. The other night our power went out at midnight and came back on at 2.20 am. The neighbour’s alarm went off both times, waking everyone up!

Your day becomes divided into 2 hour allotments. Either you have power, and watch the clock counting down with anxiety and dread, till it is switched off; which can be anything from on the dot, (mean!) to 13 minutes past the hour, as today, giving you the momentary false hope that maybe they’re not cutting your power!

Or you are sitting in silence and perhaps darkness, anxiously waiting with anticipation for the power to be returned. This can be from 10 past the hour to half past the hour, by which time you are beginning to wonder if they have forgotten about you!

It is not too bad here in Cape Town, as daylight in summer is from 5.30 am to 8 pm. Johannesburg, 1400 km farther north, only has daylight from 5 am to 7 pm. Believe me, they will notice that extra hour of darkness at night!

Also, I feel sorry for those who work online. Even if you do have power, the internet is slow because other places are down. Service providers try to re-route your connection, but there is still a bottleneck.

I even feel sorry for businesses. This time of year they make enough money to see them through the following year. In an already struggling economy, many businesses will fold next year.

Why is the power supply still so bad in South Africa?

Ageing power plants and equipment; poor maintenance and repair;  mis-management; lack of planning.

Well, the purpose of this post (OK I had a good moan!) was just to let my Readers know that I am struggling to keep up with my Blog, especially commenting on yours. So if you don’t hear from me as much as usual, at least now you know why.

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“In vain have I struggled. It will not do.”*

*Can you guess who said this and which book it is from?

Sunbeams will be sent to those with the correct answer, which I’ll put in my next post.