Our first day in Cape Town had involved some fairly heroic drinking and a brief foray from our Tamberskloof hideout down to a coffee shop and Lebanese restaurant on Church Street. It even involved me wandering off into the twilight past the Congolese security guards and their night-sticks with an injunction to 'go uphill' to get some more cigarettes for our host. Trouble was there was 'uphill' in two directions. Needless to say I returned triumphant and alive. The evening got later and later and all effects of the 10-hour overnight flight were banished by the heavy dikvoet (thick foot) Cape red we were drinking.
Nevertheless the next morning after an excellent breakfast at the Cafe Puka, which has views of Table Mountain to die for, we embraced the road in our rental VW Polo with 200,000 km on the clock. We were soon on the De Waal Drive and M2 to the UCT (University of Cape Town) campus to pick up the rest of the party and head out on the Cape.
We drove over the Chapman's Peak road, checked out Monkey Valley, looked at Scarborough beach and had a fantastic lunch at the Cape Farmhouse on the advice of a nice guy in a pick-up.
It turns out the farm and its main building are almost as old as the Cape Colony. The story goes that the first owner of the farm, Johannes Soblee, was aboard the HMS Holland, a Dutch frigate, when it was wrecked near Olifantsbos Point on the 11th May 1786, on a voyage from Holland to Java. The farm, called Wildskutbrand, was granted to Soblee by the then Governor of the Cape, Willem Van Der Graaf. The deck of the ship Holland was used in the construction of the ceiling of the Farmhouse and the curved profile can still be seen today.
The farm sits in the most pleasant of surrounding in a valley watered by a spring, protected from the south-easterlies by high bare hills, and with beautiful paddocks and ancient oak and gum trees topped off by two handsome bay and black horses. The Cape Coloured staff were charm itself and it is a great shame that the Farmhouse has become embroiled in a planning dispute that forced it to close down over the winter and lay off its staff.
It is also really worth checking out the Red Rock Tribal African artefacts shop on the site. The whole buying and selling of traditionally made artefacts is a fraught ethical issue, particularly when you see the intense labour and skill that goes into the making of them - see the video on basketmaking on this site.
By now I was slightly doolally with the after-effects of last night's dikvoet Cape wine and the very strong sunlight. We pulled into the penguin car park and walked the long boardwalk directly into the sun. The boardwalk goes through thick bush and on either side we started to see penguins puttering about outside nest burrows.
Once through the turnstile the vista opened up giving fantastic views of False Bay- presumably so-called because the south-easterlies blow right into it and have mashed many a ship on the treacherous lee shores.
We bought some basketry and a small helicoper made by Sibusiso Mbhele, who has become a figure of controversy in his own Kwazulu-Natal community for his success with making planes from old tin cans and for his South African and UK 'boosters' who would make him a phenomena in the contemporary art world. (See the acid review of the book about him in the Library Journal at Amazon UK and this review of a London art show of - not his work - but 'art' photographs of his work by Koto Bolofo.
We eventually motored along to the entrance to the Cape of Good Hope section of the Table Mountain National Park but decided to come back and pay the R80 x 4 entrance fee when we had more time.
So we turned right onto Plateau Road and stopped to take a few photos of the sea at Smitswinkel bay and the impossibly small boats - that looked Portuguese - pulled up the beach before heading down into Simon's Town and the penguins.