Wednesday 17 June 2009

The Western Cape

With the clouds and rain forecast to clear after our first weekend in Cape Town we decided to get up early on Monday morning to head up for the views from Table Mountain. As we drove clear of the highrise buildings of the city we had a crystal clear view of Table Mountain for the first time since we arrived.

The highlight of Table Mountain for the kids is the cable car ride which takes you to the top. Once on top we were pestered with “can we go back down now” from the kids (to which the answer was “do you know how much it cost us to get up here?”). We had a very short walk on top, where it was quite cold, and enjoyed the views down to the City and Harbour before retreating to the cafe for refreshments and riding the cable car back down. We also took a quick drive to Signal Hill,another of the major hills in the city, where we enjoyed more spectacular views and some warm sunshine.

On another day we went out to Melkbosstrand (north of the city) to visit Ann and Rod (Dean's parents). The last time we had visited them was when Nicola was pregnant with Luke. We spent a relaxing day with them at their house and took a little walk down to the nearby beach. Rod and, particularly, Ann are really great with kids and the boys all quickly felt at home. We also saw Ann and Rod again this week when they came out to visit us at our vineyard guesthouse in Stellenbosch where we visited a nearby Cheetahs park and went out for a lovely lunch.

The other highlights of our time in Cape Town were a half-day trip to Robben Island, one time island-prison home of a number of high profile political prisoners (most famously Nelson Mandela), and a road trip down the Western Cape to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. On the road trip we tried to re-create the route we took on our last visit (which wasn't quite possible due to road closures) including a lovely lunch stop in Simonstown and a visit to the African Penguins at Boulders Beach.

When the rain returned again at the weekend we took refuge at the Cape Town Book Fair (which opened on Saturday) where Joe and Luke got to meet Noddy, who gave them lots of free books. Peter, being too old for Noddy, hid at the back of the room and read several Ben 10 books. Peter also bought his favourite Percy Jackson book at the fair (one he has borrowed and read twice before from the library!).

On Saturday afternoon we moved on to a new apartment out in the wine region of Stellenbosch for three nights. We were worried that it might be a disappointment after the beautiful place we had in Cape Town, but while it wasn't quite at the same level it was nice and, best of all, the boys had a bed each. Saturday and Sunday were a washout but on Monday we finally got to see the scenery and managed a couple of decent walks around the vineyard. On our morning walk we were followed by the farm dog which Joe soon named Scrufty. In the afternoon the boys insisted that we try to find Scrufty before we headed out for our walk, but sadly he was nowhere to be seen. Luke suggested that instead we might be able to find a cat to go walking with us (again no luck there). It was a nice place, but next time we hope to visit when the weather is better (and the vines are full of grapes).

Our next stop is Johannesberg/Pretoria and is the last before we head back over to Scotland.

Photos from The Western Cape are here and from Robben Island here.


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