Category Archives: Cape Town

How Green Was My Valley

Vineyard 1

How Blue Was My Sky.

Vineyard 2

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These are untouched photos of a vineyard in the Western Cape. In the first photo, the mid-morning sky really was that blue.

How Green Was My Valley is a novel by Richard Llewellyn, written in 1939. 

 

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The Blue Train

Kalk Bay Train Restaurant 1

Step back in time, to an era of elegance, where you could travel in style and luxury.

Kalk Bay Train Restaurant 2

Sit comfortably on padded chairs while you wait for your food.

Kalk Bay Train Restaurant 3

There is plenty to choose from the scrumptious menu.

Kalk Bay Train Restaurant 4

Or take a look at menus from past journeys under the glass top table.

Kalk Bay Train Restaurant 5

Nowadays this old railway carriage serves as a restaurant and stands alone, next to the tracks where trains still run.

It is where I always stop for lunch whenever I visit Kalk Bay.

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This is for Blosslyn, who requested photos of the Blue Train.

 

Sea Mist

Sea 1 Muizenberg

Haiku 86

See through the sea mist

Distant mountains all around

Vast open ocean

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This is a coastal view of Muizenburg from part way up the mountain on Boyes Drive.

Sea 2

The sky looks cloudy in the distance, but this is not fog. It was a hot windy day and what you see is a heat haze.

Sea 3

The wind whipped up the sea, producing white horses.

Sea 4

This is the view from the parking lot at Kalk Bay. The train runs right along the coast towards Simonstown. Today the sea looked green, but usually it is as blue as the sky.

 

All Hail

Hail!

Haiku 71

All Hail! Little stones

Dancing on my patio

So rare yet welcome

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We had Hail!

It is quite rare for the conditions to be just right for it to hail here in Cape Town. However, after a storm raging all night at the weekend, we got this brief hailstorm in the early morning. It was great to watch the little stones bouncing on the slaster.

It seems we are getting our July weather after all – but in August!

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post script: The weather is odd right now. When a cold front passes bringing rain, the temperatures drop right down. It was 9 C reaching a high of only 11 C when it hailed, which is cold for CT. But the sun, when it comes out, is hot!

The sun has been returning for two months already. It is higher in the sky, much warmer than it was and around for longer in the day. It is very pleasant for Little Monkey and I to take a walk after a rainstorm, when the air is fresh and clear, and the sun warm on our backs. 

 

Day Zero – Now What?

Raindrops

Basically, Day Zero will not now happen in 2018, and probably not in 2019 either. Day Zero: the day the taps would be turned off in Cape Town, if the dam levels fell to 13%. See Day Zero and Day Zero – Update.

Weekly Drought Monitoring

This is because Cape Town received some rain this winter, mostly in May, with a little in June, virtually none in July (which used to be our wettest month!) and some this August, as you can see from the graph above.

Dam Levels 20 August 2018

The dams have just reached the 60% mark I was hoping for. Hooray! (You can see in the graph above that for this week in 2017 the dams were only 32% full!)

This puts us out of the danger zone for a while. The water should last us over the upcoming long, dry, hot summer months, until the next winter rains can be expected in May 2019.

However, all water restrictions are still in place and these are severe. Each person is allowed only 50 litres of water a day. Drinking water cannot be used for any purpose other than drinking and household requirements. You are not allowed to wash your car, water your garden or top up your swimming pool.

You can use grey water (dirty water, such as water already used for washing clothes or dishes, and unsuitable for drinking) to flush your toilets or water your garden.

Dam Levels 2014 to 2018

So what was all the fuss about then?

Well, if Capetonians had continued to use water at the rate we used to do, which was about 1.2 billion litres a day, we would definitely have run out of water (some time back in April this year). We now use about 500 million litres a day; a significant reduction.

There had to be “scare tactics” and strict regulations made. People who refused to reduce their water usage were heavily fined and had water metres fitted that would shut off the water supply to their property after their allotted amount was used up for the day.

If people had not been woken up to the facts and that queuing for water would be a very real possibility, most people would not have saved enough water. Sadly it is just human nature. “It rained yesterday therefore we have water.” “If there was a problem they’d switch the water supply off.” etc

What irked me in all this was the world view. I felt the rest of the world was pointing fingers at Cape Town and saying, “How could they be so stupid and not plan for this?”

I repeat again: It Did Not Rain!

2014 was fine, dams 100% full.
2015 less rain, but still fine.
2016 less rain again, but OK.
2017 hardly any rain at all!

As you can see from the graphs above and below.

Ten Year Graph of Dam Levels

Water Augmentation Projects were in place before the drought struck, but not for the immediate future, rather for 2020 to 2025. These projects are still underway with more proposed. Large desalination plants are very expensive! Water is being produced already, but nowhere near yet, to the 500 ML needed per day.

Water Augmentation

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By now everyone is used to the small amount of water they’re allowed to use daily here in Cape Town.

But it would be nice to take a shower for more than 90 seconds or have a bath in more than 2 cm of water!

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post script: The graphs shown here are for the week beginning Monday 20 August 2018. You can visit the City of Cape Town website for current information.

 

I Hate Winter!

Little Monkey

Little Monkey’s rebuttal to my last post.

Poor Little Monkey!

She is a Sun Dog and really hates the cold, damp, windy winters of Cape Town. So she puts herself back to bed in the kitchen and waits for the sun to return.

Lucky for her, our winter is short. (Like this post!)

 

I Love Winter

Raindrops 1

In case you hadn’t noticed yet, I love winter here in Cape Town!

I realise I am in the minority in this, as most Capetonians prefer the summer heat. However, I’ve always found it too hot and humid here in Cape Town in summer. Growing up in the freezing North of England I am used to the cold; proper cold!

If you’re too cold you can always put on another jersey.

If you’re too hot, what do you do? We don’t have air-conditioning in our house (and neither does anyone I know).

All you can hope for is some breeze. And there are many summer days here when there isn’t a breath of air. You sit outside under the trees and drink copious amounts of ice cold drinks and just survive till evening and a slight lowering of the exhausting day time temperatures.

One year in March temperatures in Cape Town reached 40C. This was excessive and rare. And also sweltering!

I love wearing jeans and a jersey and a scarf. I have a special Comfort Jersey, which is baggy and thin and I love it to bits. I look at it longingly in summer and practically live in it in winter.

The only trouble with winter here in CT is that most of the shopping centres are heated, so I find myself stripping off layers and walking round in my Tshirt, sweating!

Raindrops 2

It can be jolly cold first thing in the mornings, especially when the sky is clear and there are no clouds to keep the heat in. It’s a damp sort of cold. These are the mornings when I walk Little Monkey wearing gloves and a scarf and I can see my breath billowing out on front of me. The nice thing is that I can walk her any time of the day in winter and not be incinerated by the sun! In summer it has to be early morning or late afternoon, avoiding the sun as if we were vampires!

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So how cold does it get in Cape Town?

Monday was about the coldest we get. A large storm front had passed through Cape Town, bringing heavy rain, with floods in some areas, and snow on Table Mountain* and in areas to the north.

When it snows on Table Mountain and the winds blow over that, it gets jolly cold. So, yeah temperatures may only drop to 8C, but it is a biting cold.

I do have a little heater, but never use it the whole of winter. It’s stored somewhere gathering dust. We just put on more clothing if it we’re too cold.

Also, the first thing I do every morning is open all the windows and doors. I like to have fresh air to breathe. The temperature on the barometer in my lounge this morning was 11C.

But in a few days the sun will be out again and it will heat up to 22C outside.

Raindrops 3

Of course, I am waxing lyrical about winter here, because we have had three dry winters in a row. In the old days it would rain just about every day for three weeks at a time and you got heartily sick of it. Everything was damp; you had washing hanging inside on the clotheshorse for days before it was dry enough to put in the tumble dryer. The kids never got to play sport at school, as every afternoon was rained off.

But now, even if it did rain like in the old days, I would still welcome it, because we really need the water and it would break the drought.

Meanwhile I am very much enjoying not being hot!

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The photos show respectively, raindrops on the window with my poinsettia outside in the background and the last one is rain falling in Little Monkey’s water bowl on the stoep.

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*Table Mountain has its own little ecosystem and climate. There are about as many plant species on Table Mountain as there are in the entire British Isles. There are over 2200 species of flowering plants on the mountain, 90 species of which are not found anywhere else in the world. Click on the links for more info, or simply google Table Mountain.