Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hanging in the hood.

Below Rafiki's, corner of Kloofnek and New Church Street. It used to be Robert's Bar years ago. I loved that bar and I loved Robert. He was the coolest publican ever. He'd ask:"the usual?" and he always got it right. And he wore his sunglasses at night.
Then it became an internet café. A scooter shop. A disappointment really. BUT. Now it's:

We did some epic shopping for salmon yesterday morning. Then stopped here for a coffee. Really good stuff.

Up a few stairs is their bar - The Black Ram. We went back there for pre-dinner drinks and ended up having many a Darling Slow Ale. It became full, full, full. Friends arrived. The people at the table next to us played miniature pool, with tiny little cues.
And then the salmon.
The salmon deserves it's own post it was so good.
But I'm tired.

Beleza across the road has a small shop selling vintage clothing.Why do I love old stuff so much?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday #52.

Two thousand and ten. What a bear market it has been. But through it all there is contact.
Letters and messages and songs.
Spiky blossoms blooming in my heart.
Thank you.

Fortune Telling Cards of the Celebrated 19th Century Card Diviner, Mlle. Lenormand, of Paris.
Good luck and love and long lives to you all. 
Almost time to hit the road and when I return it will be 2011.

Bring. It. On.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

These lazy days.

I saw creamy pale flamingoes from the M5 yesterday. 
A stuffed Santa Claus in a striped deckchair in Retreat, bleached by the sun.
I felt an unborn baby girl's foot pushing against the inside of her mother's belly.
The house smells like cardomom and almonds.
We sip Pimms by the pool.
The mounted police clip clop past and steam rises from the hot tar road.
 This morning someone blows me a kiss at the reservoir and I have a good feeling.
The one where you run and you run and you don't get tired.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tea for two at Nigiro.

Gunpowder Temple of Heaven. Blood Orange. Blooming Richness. Flower Gate. Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls. Spring Rain. 
The menu reads like God's will.

At the back of the Origin shop on De Waterkant there's an intriguing glass enclosure. This is not a smoking room. Welcome to Nigiro. Origin backwards.
 Neo told us that learning the skill of the tea ceremony is akin to learning one of the martial arts. It was a wonderful thing to watch - his graceful hands with sure, slender fingers and all the bits and pieces that fall into place to form this ancient ritual.

 We drank seven infusions of Ali Oolong Mountain tea, watching as the leaves unfurled and became almost new again. Aromas came and went: poppies, hay, wheat, rice, asparagus, candy floss and pencil shavings. With each addition of warm spring water, the brew changed, unlocking new qualities. The final pot was silky and cool on the tongue, almost minty, with the other flavours all still present - like ghosts of their former selves. 
It was easy to imagine those mountains.

A steamed bun filled with pork, cabbage and carrot. Sticky soya. Chopstick negotiation...

Show time: the tight bud opens underwater, like magic. A golden crysanthemum. As the flower blooms, it releases small osmanthus blossoms. The flavours are fleeting and delicate. Caramel and grass.

I ask about red tea and Neo shows us a disc of compacted Pu-erh tea from China. Matured for fifteen years, it's rare and costly, sold by the gram like hash or truffles.

Dessert: a moon cake, to share. Flaky pastry filled with sweet red bean paste. Earl Grey two ways.

We left three hours later, calm and lazy. 
Tried on dresses for an hour.
Thanks T, for a dreamy morning.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Memory Road.

The Agent from Berlin is visiting. We took a meandering drive today - starting in Strubens Road, Mowbray. The wonderful house of Niki and Jude Daly. Niki was my lecturer at Stellenbosch University and is responsible for many of the threads in my fabric. The Agent and I lived next door to them many years ago. We were very young and poor in those days and I remember that we ate a lot of potatoes. At night we'd roam the streets looking for firewood. We had no tv, but Niki's piano would regularly entertain us through the shared wall of the terrace.

The Dalys' are moving to the seaside in the new year and today they had a studio sale of illustrations.
How difficult it was to choose!

A lucky girl is getting this one for Christmas.

These came home with me:

Also, a gift of his beautiful book, "A Wanderer In Og". Thank you Mister Inkman!

As always, I was rather distracted by bits of the house.

 And while passing through Observatory afterward, the distractions continued.

We ended up at the Biscuit Mill for a bite. I'm not one for the herd feeling, but the coffee was very good, as was the cider and the flatbread.

Liked the cardboard plate,
impressed by the crepe man's array of half finished Nutella.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Librisa Spa at the Mount Nelson.

I've always loved the Mount Nelson Hotel. Mostly I visit for work meetings or to dress some or other set. We've transformed the ballroom so many times - it's perfect for period pieces. When you come to the Librisa Spa, however, you feel like a guest and a guest only - what with the slippers and the thick white robe and the fresh juice. The assumption is made that this spa is more expensive than others, just because of it's location, but it isn't. I paid R350.00 for a forty minute massage. This includes use of the sauna and plunge pool and as much juice and tea as you could possibly want. After treatment, you're encouraged to get your bearings by lying down in the conservatory. This is a wonderful thing in itself - big windows, a waterfall, huge tree ferns and banana palms.

Thembi's massage was the business - I hope her hands are insured.
I asked her to focus on my neck, back and shoulders, but she also worked on that pressure point at the base of the thumb. Sneaky. And painful as a loose tooth.
She used rose essential oil from India. 
I think I'm hooked.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cape Town New York

These are my parents, dining out in New York City. I'm there too, three months new, waiting to be born. They were staying with friends on the North Shore of Long Island, in the village of Great Neck. My mother remembers trekking out to the city in the bitter cold, visiting the Statue of Liberty, walking down the stairs of the Empire State Building. This is how she ends a post card to my eldest sister: "We are enjoying the T.V., which is in colour."
New York calls to me. It pops up everywhere. I trawl the internet, friends send me links and it feels as if all the interesting people in the world live in Brooklyn.
Let's do a meaningful comparison:
 Cape Town has a land area of 2,499 square km (965 square miles) with a population of 2,893,251 and a population density of 1,158 people per square km (2,999 per square mile)
Cape Town is about three times the size of New York City, but has 5.25 million fewer inhabitants. That puts about 23,000 fewer people in my particular square mile.

My pond feels so incredibly small right now.
Hello New York. See you soon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I stopped by The Palms to say hello to a very dear friend of mine from way back. She's making sandals at Missibaba's workshop. She let me try on a belt that made me feel like Wonder Woman.

Missibaba is well-known for her very covetable bags. 
Beautiful colours. Intricate detail. Meticulous finish.
Need I say how impressed I am?

And the cowgirl in me loves the long fringes.

On my way out, I met a brand new little person.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Keepsake #5.

A few years ago, someone I don't know very well sent me this origami water lily. It travelled on the dashboard of a friend's car and arrived on my birthday. I'm still touched by the gesture - this is such a fragile thing for a man to make.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shoot day nine and the beauty of it.

An eleven day car commercial. Roads, leaves, dust, tar and number plates. It can be a macho affair and sometimes you have to search for the beauty. Yesterday it wasn't difficult. We started on the Foreshore and just after dawn, the light turned magical.

At midday we moved on to Darling Street. I remember shopping at Wellington Fruit Growers with my mother when I was a teenager. We'd buy pasta, cheese, Smyrna figs, dates... Now it's the Eastern Food Bazaar.

Not fine dining this, but it's tasty and really cheap and entertaining. I always have the same thing when I come here: butter chicken, naan, dhal. Yesterday I wasn't eating but became enthralled by the chaat stand. I made some new friends and they thought it was a very strange thing - this woman photographing their food. They offered me a taste here and there, delicately, with tongs. When I told him that I was part of the lot blocking the road, he asked: Are you from Hollywood?

Around the corner, big lights and dust devils.