Cape Town


picnic site and spread

I suppose I should not really complain about the wintery weather we experienced during most of September, seen as most of our winter was actually pretty mild. Although there were some cold spells we actually enjoyed a pleasant cold season with some splendid days.

On one of those glorious Sundays we decided to pack up a picnic and enjoy the sun on Signal Hill. While Alexander prepared ginger-lemonade in Console flasks I quickly assembled some boerewors rolls (a very traditional South African meat sausage with lots of dry spices in it) with whole-wheat rolls and some of my dad’s home-made kiwi chutney. For dessert I brought along lemon meringue cupcakes I made the day before.

It was such a lovely day and if I remember correctly I even got a little bit of a tan on my arms. In winter!

milnerton market

Heading out of the city on Marine Drive, in the direction of the West Coast, lies the industrial neighbourhood of Paarden Eiland. As with most such areas, this one is not terribly attractive by any stretch of the imagination. It lies sandwiched between the breakwater; that hides a perfect view of the ocean, and the N1 heading to the northern suburbs. It’s the kind of place that I try my utmost to avoid.

It is here on a stretch of open land between the ocean and Marine Drive that somewhat informal market sets up on Saturdays and Sundays. It fits the locale, a motley congregation of scruffy cars, rusty trailers, faded gazebos and large sheets of tarp spread out on the ground. The trunks of cars stand open to reveal home-baked goods or old LP’s, from trailers are sold boerewors rolls, cinnamon pancakes and dried fruit and nuts, anything from fresh fruit to fake Rolexes can be found under the gazebos, and on the tarps are displayed pieces of second hand furniture, kitsch old bits of home décor and battered power tools.

Though it does not sound like the kind of place one would want to visit on a grey and miserable Sunday morning, it is exactly what we did this past Sunday. Although the market sounds miserable, it is a bit of a treasure chest of old South African style and antique pieces if you know what you are looking for. And most of it available for a steal. It is here we picked up an old piano stool I re-upholstered (something for another entry), two camp stools and some retro kitchenware.

Only a couple of traders decided to weather the chilly wind and wet earth to set up their stands, and so the market was sadly pretty empty. But not without some great finds. While stepping over muddy puddles we spotted a set of teacups and saucers. The saucers actually match a plate we picked up at the market months ago. We asked about the price, it was not much, and decided to walk around a bit more and think about it when the trader called us back with a lower offer, the equivalent of US$5. It would have been rude to say no.

cup & saucer

On the way out we picked up a non-descript, yet funky, metal teapot for brewing the leaf tea our friend James left us before heading back to the UK and a little side table. As soon as we got home and washed our new tea items I brewed us a pot of hot Earl Gray, settled down in the living room and enjoyed our new treasures from Paarden Eiland.

xander & teacups* Thanks to X for the pictures of the market, taken on a much more pleasant day earlier this year.

doorway

I would like to start this entry by apologizing for my terrible lack of blogging activity since the end of January, but then again I believe most of you are used to my lapses in writing by now. I know, very lame.

We have been rather busy since my last entry. We arrived in a very windy Cape Town three weeks ago, ready to begin a new chapter in our lives. After spending the past two years traveling around Southeast Asia and the US we decided to move back to South Africa. We missed living somewhere familiar and we have been inspired by our time in the East to start on new projects at home.

We were living with some friends while house-hunting, which turned out to be a nightmare of note. The highlight of these was a particularly nasty Wednesday when we found we were not getting our dream apartment. We discovered that doing freelance work and travel for a living does not make you an ideal rental candidate in the eyes of realtors.

We were getting ready to move in with our friends for good when Alexander finally found a listing on gumtree.co.za that seemed promising. A privately owned two-bedroom apartment in the city bowl, next to the Company Gardens, walking distance to most fun areas in the city and with views of Lion’s Head. We went to the viewing, loved the owner and space right-away and asked where we could sign. Three days later we arrived at our new front door with our boxes that traveled from Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, the US and Northern South Africa. (Look here for some before pictures.)

lions-head-view

After living out of bags and in other people’s homes for the past 8 months it felt incredible to finally have a space that was our own again. Of course our furnishings are still rather rudimentary and we still need to do a lot of work, but slowly we are settling in. We painted, picked up some stools, and even baked during our first week here.

shortbread

Feeling comfortable in our own place has also inspired us to make better use of our new city; climbing Lion’s Head at 5:30 in the morning, going to the Clifton beach and braving the icy waters, enjoying the invigorating Turkish baths and seeing owls getting chased by squirrels in the gardens in the evening. As things start falling into place I will continue to update you on how things are going and what we are up to.