OPEN LETTER TO WESTERN CAPE

There is an old saying: “a fish stinks from its head.”
I approach you as the problem I am presenting here, affects the economic viability of Cape Town and the Western Cape, just as it impacts negatively upon tourism. I also approach you as I am exasperated by the attitudes experienced from the City of Cape Town, in particular by Executive Mayor Patricia De Lille and Alderman Brett Herron. I am not even willing to discuss this with them as their handling of these and related issues in the past had led to em contacting the parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport as well as the former Transport Minister Dipuo Peters directly. I have received excellent assistance from Min Peters and I honour her for coming to the aid of people at street level.

I also place on record an uncalled-for arrogant attitude from Premier Helen Zille and I will explain this further down this communication. Sufficient to say that, after her unsolicited arrogance in abusing disabled people, I have no respect left for her and I have asked her to lead by example in showing President Zuma how to resign. Like a good African political leader, she clings to her position even after the voters clearly showed that she had overstayed her welcome. We will re-visit this issue later, as stated. Her being partisan and using disabled people to manipulate votes was in particularly bad taste.

With the help of Min Dipuo Peters and a senior official at Department of Transport , called Allison, we tackled many problems related to MyCiti BRT as, at local government level, a lack of clearly defined leadership was as evident then as it is evident now. My wife and I did bring about several changes in the system and I assisted a lot, worked without being paid and finally stopped doing it as, in my poverty as a disabled person myself, bad health caused by said poverty caused me to rid myself of a terrible burden.  I was working for free while government pays millions to outsourced consultants; my own health was suffering badly and I wasn’t prepared to let my own health further deteriorate.  At the time, my very obvious diabetes remained undiagnosed and therefore untreated, causing all manner of related complications.

All the while, I had to deal with Brett Herron, who remained elusive, unapproachable, never responded to emails and caused me to become so frustrated, as with Patricia De Lille and Helen Zille, that I finally made a very difficult decision and went to see Mr Tony Ehrenreich of Cosatu. If the supposed good guys lacked in integrity and acumen, what other options were open to me?

An unrelated unprotected strike followed about two months later and then I suddenly had a call from Brett Herron – who ran out of a Council Meeting to call me, creating the impression that he must have thought that I had something to do with the strike!  That would be an absolutely ludicrous assumption as I certainly had absolutely nothing to do with that. When I met with Mr Ehrenreich, my request to him was to take up the issue with Patricia De Lille and Brett Herron.  All of a sudden, Brett Herron knew where to find me.

Just a few MyCity case studies:

ATTEMPTED ARREST AT THIBAULT SQUARE STATION

I boarded the MyCiti bus at Stadium Station and proceeded to Thibault. Upon my departure, my MyConnect card still worked perfectly but failed inexplicably along the way. Upon arrival at Thibault Station, security staff attempted to ARREST me.  I broke free and met up with my wife who was waiting there for me. In pain (I live with disability) we made our way on foot to Civic Centre where were seen by a senior official on the 14th floor. Said gent sent me an email later, in thick red capitals, saying that I should “accept Jesus Christ as your saviour and stop worrying about nonsense.”

FINES IMPOSED BY ERRATIC VALIDATORS

Upon so many occasions, my wife and I were fined when dates on validators on buses and especially at Stadium- and Thibault Stations were set incorrectly. This is where Brett Herron, as an lawyer and officer of the Court, made a rather stupid mistake in lying to me in writing. He stated that the fines imposed upon my wife and I were being treated differently and first had to be investigated before refunds could be made, a process riddled with administrative hurdles. He stated that other passengers were refunded immediately – which was yet another lie. This is why I have absolutely no respect for him. Furthermore, I have suggested so many times to him that he should, like Manne Dipico did, roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty until problems are solved. He chose to delegate and then issue carefully worded statements to blame others, excusing himself and his administration from any misconduct, leaving end users to deal with three sub-contractors. Even Professor Joan Hambidge, in a letter in the media, hinted at the City of Cape Town as The Forwarding Department. (“We have forwarded your complaint to anonymous” who will die on duty and File 13.)

On July 4 or 5, 2014, we were left in pouring rain, the worst storm during that season, at the V&A Waterfront because we were fined and could not travel – on the eve of our wedding anniversary.  I became very ill as a result and only recovered by early September that year.

REFUSAL OF SERVICE

The conduct of MyCiti is despicable and, as you can imagine, damaging to tourism as we still regularly see tourists rejected and told to walk! Between Camps Bay and Hout Bay, between Derde Steen and Blouberg…..recently between London Rd and Queen’s Beach, elderly tourists were made to walk….as were others from across Tafelbergskool to Adderley!!  Or the various white tourists down Orange- or Loop Streets who were refused access while they had flights to catch, only to see how black people were allowed to travel to Civic Centre to load mover points!  Open discrimination!

OVERLOADING OF BUSES

So many times, especially over weekends, residents of Green Point, Sea Point, Bantry Bay and also De Waterkant had NO bus service as the 114 service was taken away for very long over weekends. Buses coming from Hangberg or ImizamoYethu were laden to the hilt, often with passengers even sitting on the dashboard, squeezing in between validators to do so. This happens to this day, despite the 114 buses having been reinstated after much lobbying.

Buses coming from Atlantis, Du Noon or TableView are often so overladen that passengers cannot disembark in time at their appropriate stations. This is a service that was subsidised R22,50 per seat in 2015 – according to a MyCiti official – who blamed me for the cost, also accuse me for “turning this into a political issue.”  It is not my fault that they run at such heavy subsidies yet still operate vehicles that were falling apart even when new, or rusting away around door mechanisms, or not suitably ventilated in our hot climate. (Metrorail, by comparison, gets subsidised twenty CENTS per passenger, still run reasonably well despite disinvestment by government and lack of protection from security forces.  They only became overladen after the PUBLIC destroyed more than 101 carriages.)

UNROADWORTHY BUSES

  • Door mechanisms literally falling off.
  • “Black boxes” failing, frustrating passengers. One driver forced the vehicle from High Level Road near Braemar Rd all the way to the last stop before turning right towards Queen’s Beach – where it finally died and blocked all vehicular traffic during rush hour!
  • Drivers communicating ONLY in isiXhosa with passengers, not informing others whether they should disembark and walk or wait for a replacement bus.
  • One bus on the 261 route took about two hours from Adderley to reach Salt River bridge. Overladen, without proper ventilation.

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST DEAF PASSENGERS – CASE STUDIES

30 or 31 October, Waterfront Bus Stop, approximately 15:00

Two tourists from the UK, both hard of hearing, wanted to buy new MyConnect cards.  As they could not find their way there from the other side of the V&A Waterfront, I took them there. Because of their margin of deafness, the already tedious process of buying NEW MyConnect cards took longer than usual and passengers queuing for service became rude and insulting, telling the “old white people to hurry up, we have buses to catch.”

Friday, October 27, 2017 at approximately 19:30 – Adderley Street Station. We were four travellers returning from Simon’s Town via Metrorail and we had a very pleasant return journey.

The cashier was playing on his smartphone and not attending to passengers who wanted to transact. My own wife’s orders were carried out incorrectly; she has some difficulty hearing and had to be satisfied with the divided attention from the cashier who randomly attended to some seemingly pressing issue on his smartphone.

Our fellow traveller, a (retired yet called back into service) Police Inspector from the UK, tried to load mover points and he is hard of hearing, as is his wife. The cashier still paid more attention to his smartphone and the visiting policeman had a hard time hearing, as thick glass separates him from the cashier, with NO intercom service! How do MyCiti officials think we can hear a man sitting in an insulated armoured glass box?  The transaction to load mover points for him and his wife took very long.  Two black men then came, surrounded him from both sides and grabbed him; he thought he was going to be killed! His wife also was in shock, fearing for their lives!  The black men then said “the old white man spent too much time, we want to be served now.”

Meanwhile, I called upon security, who was nowhere to be seen and presumably at the north end of the bust station. There were no other MyCiti officials in sight! When the security guard finally arrived, he was agitated and I thought that he was going to physically assault me. I need to state clearly that this has to be a RACE issue as he was in no way treated with disrespect, or intentionally offended. He was angry because of his EGO – he was, in his own words, “too busy with something else to come and help.”

Friday, November 3 2017 around 11AM, Adderley Street Station

I went to load Mover Points but found that my MyConnect card, that was still used the previous evening and in credit, simply wasn’t recognised by the validators. The cashier on the Heerengracht end of the station spoke to me through the thick glass but I couldn’t hear a word. Passengers behind me became agitated and wanted me out of the way, so I told them that I am hard of hearing. He said I had to walk to Civic Centre (I have limited mobility!)  My wife and I had an appointment elsewhere and could not fit in a walk to Civic Centre.  A few minutes later, my wife arrived and I informed her of the problem. She had a hard time negotiating a solution with the cashier on the Absa Bank side of the Adderley bus station. People got annoyed when I called 0800 65 64 63 as I talk loudly, being deaf to some extent myself.

INJURIES ON MYCITY

  1. My wife sustained seemingly permanent injury to her foot when the MyCiti bus braked suddenly while it was speeding downhill from Llandudno towards Oudekraal.
  2. My back was injured when a passenger bumped very hard into me from behind, hitting me at the exact spot where I had undergone surgery.
  3. My neck was injured on October 16, 2016 when a bus driver closed the large doors of one of the biggest buses on me and I had seen my doctor fairly recently; I still take pain tablets daily. Lawyers refuse to take my case because I am indigent but I have not lost hope; their shall rise one with a heart to defend my cause against MyCiti. I need to be compensated for pain and suffering as, many nights, I can hardly sleep.

Do you really want tourists to travel on MyCiti bus, then?  Think again!  This letter is going to my blog to warn them off!  It is about time that someone with a spine (even a damaged one) makes a real stand against these atrocities.  2019 is round the corner, my vote is undecided but I know who NOT to vote for!

OPINION

The MyCity bus service was touted as a wonderful system when public opinion was invited.  It was said that it would be easy to load credit or buy MyConnect bus passes. We have now had eight years proving the opposite, with a leadership blaming others and not accepting responsibility or being accountable. A leadership spending much effort in issuing carefully worded statements to make themselves look good and make all else look bad.

Tremendous damage is done to tourism and it really is time that real action is taken to control the damage done to the industry, as hotel owners, guest houses and other stakeholders suffer, it will of necessity impact upon job creation, etc.

NOW TO HELEN ZILLE

For many months, the Golden Acre’s escalators leading towards the Cape Town Station were out of order and repeated many times, yet Metrorail (who operates on adjacent premises) received the blame. We complained at Metrorail Infomation Desks but was referred back to Golden Acre. With no responses forthcoming, I then contacted Patricia de Lille, who never responded. I also contacted Ms Erika Du Toit of WCAPD who invited myself and Brett Herron along.  I did not have access to transport and couldn’t attend.  Brett Herron found the station to be accessible, in his opinion. But there was a problem!  City of Cape Town blocked of the ramp access leading from Strand Street Concourse, thereby (unthinkingly) blocking off disabled access. As the escalators were also not in working condition, disabled people were now forced to first cross Adderley Street, then down St George’s Mall and back to Adderley Street, also risking dangerous traffic conditions to access Cape Town Station or other businesses in that precinct.  I did not expect from Brett Herron to really understand what the problem was.

img 20160929 wa0004

Does it apply to herself, perhaps?  You decide.

In desperation, I contacted Helen Zille via Twitter and my tone was submissive and very polite. She immediately reacted by making me look stupid, ridiculed me, called me clueless…..asking if I didn’t know that it was a Metrorail problem!  My reasonable expectation was that she would use her influence to find a solution, instead she and some Twitter friends chose to be arrogant cyber bullies. When I presented her with a letter from Golden Acre management that the Strand Street Concourse construction work was a CITY OF CAPE TOWN project, she went silent and point blank refused to apologise.  She also said that “disabled people should vote for my party in 2019, then we might look into the matter.”

Such ludicrous arrogance is lewd, being a cyber bully is lewd. As she refused to apologise, i promised her that she may be autographing her book in which she praised herself, but that I would be writing the final chapter on her behalf. Just to lend some actual truth to who she really is.

HOW I FOUND A SOLUTION TO GOLDEN ACRE – STRAND STREET CONCOURSE PROBLEM

At just past 8pm on a Saturday night, I traced the cell phone number of former Minister Dipuo Peters, the then Minister of Transport. She responded by saying “leave this to me.”  Within minutes, I received a call from a gentleman called Mthura Swartz, a senior manager at Prasa, very humble, polite and not even telling me that he was the former CEO of Metrorail Western Cape! (I would find that out almost a year later, from an unrelated student!) Mr Swartz took the matter in hand and by that Thursday, the first escalator was running!

SUMMARY

While there is a rather obvious lack of clearly defined leadership in the offices of Brett Herron, Patricia De Lille and Helen Zille, the problems continue, racist attitudes marr the service delivery by MyCity “rapid ” bus service, discrimination against passengers with disabilities is rife and this contingent of society really is marginalised by sometimes lewd, arrogant leaders who, in my opinion, should resign from office, as we deserve better. When I confronted Helen Zille, her immediate reaction was to go for the jugular of Jacob Zuma, demanding his resignation! Her arrogance, delusions, lack of leadership with integrity, is a guarantee that disabled people will remain discriminated against as long as she and the others mentioned are still in office. I really think that the disabled people of South Africa should take Helen Zille’s mention of the 2019 elections seriously – and vote for a party that really takes care of them, and not try exploiting them unfairly for votes. Her comment was in rather bad taste and her ability as a true leader clearly is in deficit.

I trust that a sober look, a passionate plea for effective, positive administrative and political change won’t fall on deaf ears. I also plead that MyCiti’s management be taken away from the City of Cape Town and handed to National Government, or to see Golden Arrow’s traditional, efficient services restored – they never displaced poor people, evicted them, etc.  Golden Arrow Bus Service has always been the friend of Capetonians – we want our friends to convey us from A2B. Perhaps the public should rise up and petition against the disrespectful, oppressive leadership and and inefficient administration.

Enough surely is enough!

IMG_20170910_140304

Police Vehicle Straddling Several Disabled Parkings at Bayside Mall

 

Advertisements

Abuse

She is the wife of state president in Africa. It is August, Women’s Month – a great time for a first lady to hit a model with a kettle chord. What an un-Grace-ful act that was; will the women’s rights activists please rise?

I live amid a lot of verbal and emotional abuse. If I had to keep record of every negative comment, insult, rude remark, I would be a busy man indeed. It is stupefying to see the abuse hurled at men, at other drivers, at bosses, colleagues, family or friends. It is violent even if not physical.

A charismatic Christian counselor recently said, repeatedly, that all men are immature and cannot deal with their issues or get angry when confronted. I am not sure that she is capable of taking any form of constructive criticism herself, though. See, one cannot dish out what you cannot take yourself.

My own idea is that men are much more mature and usually aren’t even bothered by the little things that upset most women. Men aren’t blind to their environment but would generally only respond to what really matters.

I am also blessed, being married to a pioneer spirit, a strong pillar, a really upright woman with the kindest, softest heart. We hardly ever argue and, after thirty years of marriage, we are still madly in love. The Lord blessed me with the absolute best, others have to make do with second. Yes, she is the soft, strong queen of my heart. Homemaker, entrepreneur, artist, miracle worker, motherly and spiritual. Yes, the wife of Proverbs 31 shares my space.

In this month when abuse against women is often the topic of discussion, I would like to present another angle to this. Why not, for spicing things up, debate abuse, verbal or otherwise, by women?

Why not talk about abusive women who hit their boys because of their anger at grown men? Women who lay the foundation of having boys growing up to beat their wives – because of the resentment they may have for abusive women. In such a case, issues needing to be dealt with, but who will have the discerment to understand what it is about?

How many man withdraw into themselves, into sports, man caves or even pornography – just to avoid having to deal with the sharp tongue of an ungodly, abusive woman? As such abuse is evidence of the absence of the Spirit of God. Like Eve in the garden, the seeds of the Antichrist showing its vulgar head.

It is August. A cabinet minister hit women at a nightclub. We don’t know the full story, we don’t know what they did. What we do know is that he was at least mature enough to apologise and resign from his office.

Apart from my own wife, I have very seldom seen a woman mature enough to be accountable, accept responsibility. I was ridiculed and bullied on social media by the premier of my province and she refused to apologise when proven wrong.

I really think that society could afford taking a closer look at the abusive nature of the feminine types around us, see how they can hit at men in so many ways, only to turn and gloat in playing victim.

Several men had been arrested on false charges lain by women and perhaps government should start prosecuting them for perjury. It will teach a few Eves to behave and not use brute force to assault men.

In the work situation, two thousand men work together in harmony – as a former career soldier, I have seen it. I have also seen and experienced the abusive of women in the workplace. In a professional workspace, I have seen one woman hit a pregnant colleague in the bellow, resulting in an aborted foetus. Yes, they can talk about afterbirth while eating cake or discussing the intimate specifics of a period while having dinner! That is gross, gross, gross.

The first lady sought diplomatic immunity while being brazen enough to show her face at an international summit, same as my own premier who is not even ashamed after having been disgraced in public after something stupid she said on Twitter.

It is still August and it is still a disGrace.

Let the real women remove the Fake Eve from society. She has overstayed her welcome.

 

Dam Empty

December 2015 was the hottest and driest in over a century. When one has grown up in a family of civil engineering constructors, dam builders at that, water awareness is in your bone marrow.  Warnings about a severe drought coming was ignored because the political leaders don’t listen to people.  In the process, the very lives of roughly four million people, also the economy that sustains them, have been placed at risk. A potential humanitarian crisis in the making.  I see this neglect as irresponsible and bordering upon criminal – to me, it makes Apartheid look small.

Our water reserves – the safe kitty in the life bank – was splurged on luxuries, not essential needs. Our leaders, in their acute ignorance, defied logic by letting dams run dry while there was a very clear pattern of reduced rainfall.

I so many times drove through poorer suburbs and saw how people collected water from a central tap, then leaving it wide open while purified drinking water was running down the streets, the next person carrying a plastic container still many metres away.  Be it such a water waster or the wealthy person watering the air above his lawn, wastage is wastage and a senseless act.

As I child, sitting quietly listening to conversations of the adults, afforded me a fairly good general knowledge and an understanding of how life works. Sadly, children are given electronic games and sent to play on their own, removing society’s corporate IQ from the next generations. Perhaps this is why senior officials of the City of Cape Town pardoned themselves by stating “there was no way that we could see this crises coming.”

Of course, they were so very wrong! The signs were very clear yet they lacked the insight of traditional wisdom.  City people who don’t understand nature. Scientists sometimes don’t see what basic people living close to nature, do.  To the latter, it comes natural, as they are experienced observers of natural trends. For example, scientists don’t understand why whales do “tail hopping” yet common fishermen do. In the same way, even farm hands saw the drought coming but, even in 2017, Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia De Lille, said that there was “no crisis.”

A tad over four million people live in the Western Cape of South Africa. Not just the City of Cape Town, but those living in rural areas also make use of water from, for instance, Vogelvlei Dam.

Coming from a culture where one stood upright in a bowl and washed down with a jug, where cars were sometimes dusted and not washed, toilets were only flushed when solids were deposited it has always been hard to see how water was wasted in suburbia. Water sprinklers on lush lawns, with taps opened too wide, maybe also with the usual wind blowing, up to ninety percent of that water ended up in the atmosphere!

Purified drinking water get used to flush toilets and water gardens. So many homes have swimming pools. Then, Cape Town’s water comes from mountains fairly far away from the city. When it rains in Cape Town, it doesn’t necessarily also rain in the catchment areas of our major dams.  These are:

  • Theewaterskloof  (a dam my late grandpa envisioned and proposed, planned but it was built after his death)
  • Vogelvlei Dam that also provides water to much of the Swartland and West Coast
  • The two Steenbras Dams
  • Wemmershoek Dam
  • Berg River Dam

The general level of ignorance as far as understanding water is concerned, is astounding. It seems that people show very little interest in their life-giving water and just assume there is much more, out there, somewhere.

IMG_20170711_172059

Section of Theewaterskloof Dam, July 11, 2017 – Photo credit P. Louw

Large expanses of where water used to dominate, now meet the eye. People are fooled into thinking there is no problem when they, as we did on June 9, 2017, drive across the Theewaterskloof Dam wall and see some water. To the untrained eye, it looks fairly good but then the observers most likely don’t know what the dam should have looked liked if much fuller.  As water flows into the dam, water levels don’t only go higher but also much, much wider. As hundreds of hectares now lie exposed, imagine the volume of water presently not in the dams.

The sand is too wet to be dredged out at this stage, as it forms an aquifer that also holds in water and protect it from evaporation.  Even deepening the dams won’t resolve anything, for these reasons:

  • The inlet to the water pipe is at a fixed height and water below that level simply cannot flow into it. The pipeline gravitates into a tunnel which cannot be lowered, so there would be no way to lift that quantity of water into the pipeline.
  • It would remove the sand holding the last bit of water
  • Moving that amount of earth would take many years, time we don’t have
  • Where will the mountain of soil be taken to?

Many people have arguments about water, but here is what needs to be done:

  • Ban the many swimming pools, lush gardens and car washes
  • Create a parallel system and use treated waste water for use in gardens, toilets, etc., while drinking water is supplied separately.
  • Step up water savings projects, in so many homes leaking toilet valves, etc., waste millions of litres of water per day. Go from house to house and cut off water where wastage is encountered, be totally strict.  Instill in people a fear as it is too easy to pay a fine.
  • We have the ocean around us, desalination for industrial use is much cheaper than producing drinking water; provide much of the drinking water from the Atlantic ocean that surrounds Cape Town and beyond.
  • Use aquifers but bear in mind that these will also dry up in the end.
  • There is no guarantee of ample rain; indications are that more drought is to come. Teach children at school, at tertiary level, educate the public. Inspire people to become water wise. Educate, educate, educate.
  • Policing water usage has never been done effectively; we need to see radical change in this.

About the springs and rivulets around the city, a Facebook user was advised as follows by the City of Cape Town (reprinted with permission.)

“Please be advised that the City has been aware of these springs off the Table Mountain range and has been utilising some of them in various forms for decades. The City is currently applying to the National Government to use these springs more extensively, and if this application to further harness these springs is successful, they will be used to offset the demand on our potable water resources, for the benefit of all residents.

In addition to further exploring options to utilise the springs around Table Mountain, the City has been studying the deep aquifer underlying the Cape Folded Mountain Belt (which essentially runs from Vanrhynsdorp to Mossel Bay) for more than 10 years to determine the best possible sites to be able to extract water viably and with minimal impact on the environment. This water will be abstracted to augment the potable water supply. We are nearing the end of the exploratory phase and are about to enter the pilot phase which will help us identify and confirm the locations and design of future production wellfields. The City chose to adopt a precautionary approach to the project in order to ensure that the integrity of the environment was not compromised. The allegation that ‘the municipality is sitting on this resource and busy arranging business interests to take over the management of some of these springs for private gain’ is pure fiction. The National Department of Water and Sanitation is the custodian of our country’s water resources, and ultimately decides on how water resources can and should be used by municipalities, agriculture and all other users of water.

The claim that harnessing this spring water could have prevented the water crisis is also unsubstantiated. The City’s studies show that the yield from these springs is not enough to offset the current drought. For example, the Oranjezicht spring source (mentioned in the post) flows out at approximately 2,77 million litres every 24 hours. However, this varies according to the season. Unrestricted peak summer demand from the City’s residents is currently approximately 1,05 – 1,15 billion litres per day. In order to preserve our water over the coming summer, we need to reduce this to 800 million litres per day – a reduction of 250 – 350 million litres. As such, even if the water from these springs had been licensed, it would not have made a significant difference. The suggestion that there is no ‘real’ water crisis is not true, and is very irresponsible during the current severe drought being experienced in the Western Cape and other parts of the country, in which the successful adherence to water restrictions is critical to ensure that our water supplies are protected. Thank you.”

We really need to start taking our water seriously and become educated on this subject.

Magic Carpet Ride on The Blue Train

Our reservations were confirmed via email and we were also sent Guest Information Forms to complete and return to the friendly bookings officer. They ensure that they can contact your next-of-kin or anticipate medical conditions, food allergies, etc. Special dietary requirements are taken care of individually. Impressive efficiency.

A few days later, we made our way to The Blue Train Lounge where butlers awaited is, greeting us friendly, welcoming us to The Blue Train, while taking care of our luggage. A soft carpet bearing The Blue Train’s logo led us into the lounge, where we were registered at the Concierge Desk, by two very friendly and helpful ladies. We then were invited to take our seats in the plush lounge area, tastefully decorated.

IMG_1448

A gentleman called Collen appeared and offered us coffee or juice, or we could have had some sparkling wine if we so desired. Soon, the ever friendly F&B Manager Leon came to greet us; we have met before as this wasn’t our first journey on The Blue Train. Also, Financial Manager of The Blue Train, Mr Francois Geldenhuys, came to greet us as also he was no stranger. Friendly faces, a hearty welcome. Africa is renowned for its hospitality; The Blue Train certainly is a window to the soul of Africa.

We were the first to arrive and had a second coffee while guests trickled in – our own group consisted of six guests including my wife and I. Our journey would be short as we were here to expose stakeholders from the tourism industry to the superlative service on board The Blue Train. Next to arrive was Siphelo Guwa, a videographer who agreed to film our journey – this also wasn’t his first experience of The Blue Train, having been part of a film production team on board this magnificent train some time prior. The social media marketing guru’s arrived next. They are Marinda Holtzhausen and Marius De Vos of Cape Town Bookings, who also own the contracts to market various regions of the Western Cape. Finally, Richard Valentine of the Fish Hoek Valley Museum joined our group. He is involved in promoting tourism in the South Peninsula and is an accredited tour guide as well.

By the time that all guests had arrived, we were formally welcomed to The Blue Train, by Train Manager Lethabo Vilikazi. She explained the “house rules” and then we were taken in groups by our assigned butlers to our suites. Our butler was Angela; she was our butler on our first journey as well and there was a good reunion with this impressive lady.

I made my way to the Observation Car at the rear, hoping to take video footage of our departure from Cape Town Station. Great was my surprise when I noticed that we were already under way. The movement of the train only became perceptible as speed gradually increased. Table Mountain, followed by Devil’s Peak, sailed past like silent ships on the ocean.

Of course, our group are all active on social media and we took to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter almost right away – and a little frenzy ensued. Before long, the shock and surprise of friends elsewhere made room for their inquiries: “How do we book to travel on The Blue Train?”

She gracefully wafted through the northern suburbs of greater Cape Town, found her way through the vineyards, orchards and dairy farms until we slipped past Simonsberg to the right, Paarl rock to our left, where wider spaces welcomed us with open arms as we skirted the edges of the Swartland, home to wheat and sheep farms. We passed a few Anglo-Boer War blockhouses and the wind turbines at Gouda, from where the train made her spectacular passage through the Nuwekloof en route to the Wamakers Valley and the Witzenberg range of Tulbagh, on to Wolseley where we soon crossed the Breede River, flanked by two more of the historical British blockhouses.

Guests indulged in an array of snacks and treats, to suite even the most discerning palate. Even so, it soon was time for brunch, something we sincerely enjoyed as Master Chef Bobbie Wessels and his team are renowned for performing magic in the kitchen. Already, a less opulent cousin of The Blue Train goes by the hashtag #GoodFoodTrain. What shall we call this delightful dining experience, progressing almost imperceptibly yet at 56 MPH across the southern reaches of Africa. I have thought of the title #GlamTrain but, then again, the timeless class of this train is more of an understated thoroughbred.

I will rather show you photos of our meals as words won’t do justice. My crumbed Camembert with Cranberry Sauce was followed by a hearty soup and then the main course arrived, beef sirloin hiding a little blue rock cheese surprise to tantalise the taste buds. During all this time, our eyes feasted on the beautiful Boland mountains, vineyards, we passed Sedgwicks, home of the famous Old Brown Sherry as well as no less than five different brandies. Wine cellars, horses, farmsteads passed us silently as we enjoyed our dessert – mine was a sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. All too soon, our journey came to and end at Worcester, where we were given lovely certificates of remembrance and a rather nice ballpoint pen each, with The Blue Train’s logo inscribed on it. We thanked and greeted Lethabo and David – he is the manager in charge of the bedroom suites.

Our magic carpet ride was over and we made our way back to #LoveCapeTown

Insolence

Yesterday, we were parked opposite the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. I parked in such a way that I could easily get out of the parking, with the rear of the little Polo almost on the edge of the parking space. I do this because I have a problem with my neck, following an injury on one of the city’s new busses, some time ago. I don’t want to crane my neck as I almost always have a terrible headache ever since.

Suddenly, a young female (the term “lady” would be overtly generous) drove in with her scooter, parked it sideways in front of the car, leaving me no space to exit. Even before I could get out of the car, she disappeared from sight. By the time my wife had returned from her shopping, the scooter driver was still missing.

Note: it was in my demarcated parking space that she had intruded. Also, I paid for that parking and, if I had to stay for longer, I would have had to pay even more. We are not wealthy people, me living with disability. I also do not own the car and object to an added risk of possible damage, as was quite real in this case.

I started searching in nearby stores and asked if anyone knew where the scooter driver was. In one store, a young female admitted that it was her scooter. I politely asked her to remove it so that I could leave. That is where things started going south. Already in the wrong in terms of traffic law as well as moral principles, she found it necessary to chirp at me, telling me there was enough space.

As I am a retired soldier, we have our way to deal with obstacles, so I gave her a choice to remove it her way or I could remove it my way. I then left and went into the car. She came out, followed by a white male with graying hair, who came and banged at the car’s window. He also obstructed my path by standing in front of the car as I had tried to drive off. I nearly missed him.

This is typical of the arrogance we see in Cape Town and, with seven traffic officers to a shift in a city with over four million people, imagine the chaos on our roads!

When I reported this to the City of Cape Town, they were unhelpful, as usual.

Recently, a march was held to try oust the State President. Most South Africans have become arrogant, insolent and self-righteous. They do as they please and turn on anyone opposing their bad ways. It gets blamed on the President, on the blacks, on the ruling party, while nobody else seems to want to take responsibility for their own lives.

And the City of Cape Town will forward my complaint to the relevant department, where it will disappear and be forgotten. Nothing will change, as little or nothing had changed for the better over the past decade.

Then I am in the wrong for getting angry at this?

Within an hour, a similar situation presented itself; I am on the case of the errant driver, he was reported to his bosses as well as to the Traffic Department. And I was smart enough to post his picture on social media.

Since Cape Town cannot police its own streets, we citizens will need to step in and restore order ourselves. Perhaps time has come for a national traffic department that will have teeth.

Harbourview – Kitchen Magic

A cheerful family visit. Lots of fun, laughter, joy and bliss. As in the good old days, on the wide, open veranda and a lazy ocean shimmering below. Food and drink in abundance, people smiling, chatting, enjoying the feast on the tables.

March is such a wonderful time in the Cape, when winds die down a bit and the sultry, balmy days arrive before the lovely winter come to passionately take us into spring. We love every day, regardless of weather, as we have learned to dress in the right attitude. And, if you don’t like the weather, just a minute…. see, it has changed already!

So, there we were on a Saturday, late March 2017. We were seated at our favourite spot, overlooking the yacht basin below and the naval harbour beyond.

We sat watching the guests arrive, some in larger groups, others just intimate families. The decibels increased a little as food and drink went past us, to waiting tables. Tall, golden beers with frothy beards to softly kill the thirst of the weary traveler. All served with that array of natural smiles that seem to be the corporate trademark of the Harbourview Restaurant in Simon’s Town. As that is the lovely, close family we were visiting.

Some restaurants have a quicker staff turnover than they can flip over an omelet. Not at the Harbourview, oh no, here they stay! It seems that especially one lady called Noleen comes in when off duty. It is always a good sign to see people who are internally motivated, inspired and happy.

Owner Linda Wiltshire is a most agreeable lady. Linda is a really inspiring person who adores her crew so much. I love seeing a business owner involved, passionate and informed.

PicsJoin_2017327193743941.jpg

Invited to a frothy cappuccino, made of great gourmet coffee, we extended our conversation until time came to snap some shots of sundry items of interior decoration.

A marine setting it is, with all sorts of military paraphernalia coming together rather nicely. Of course, Harbourview being in Simon’s Town, the legendary Just Nuisance also stands guard at a door. Etched into the glass, that is.

We ordered Dry Lemon and my “darlingmost wificle” selected a roast chicken salad. I settled for a smoked salmon one. As this was for starters, we were slightly taken aback by the sizable portions that arrived, rich in colours, textures and tastes. I have to deviate a little.

At some posh restaurants, supposed “chefs” show off their skills in commercial art by drawing food on one’s plate. People who come laden with money order it, stare at it, sip at drinks, swipe a platinum card and leave the sometimes untouched little Picasso job to the cleaners to dispose of. Haute cuisine is bad language in my home. We are Saffers, we eat for a living. Don’t mess with our food!

Back the salads. Never show fear in the face of adversity, so we assaulted our incredibly picturesque salmon or chicken. Freshest ingredients, all oh so perfect! As in the past, Harbourview’s chef’s team produced something almost magic from the kitchen. In fact, I did hint at Tanaka that his black magic was quite obvious. The large dollop of Danish feta found a welcoming party in me and the first battle was over. The memory will be lasting, as even food we ate upon previous occasions still remain fresh in memory, if not the palate.

Guests at a neighbouring table ordered prawns and I could not resist the temptation to ask if I could photograph it. I introduced myself as a travel blogger and aspiring food reviewer. “Oh so,” the one lady said and introduced herself as a renowned French food photographer and critic! Oh my, I walked into the dragons’ lair in my absolute ignorance. Sensing my apprehension, she soon gave me a few quick hints on how to photograph food. Her husband and other friend were very hospitable and accommodating as well. What a pleasant experience in the end! This was so kind of them and the expert never let me feel uncomfortable. The prawns, as you can see, are top class but I must say that my own photo taken with the flash looked better, so here it is!

PicsJoin_2017327191054597

Then our main dishes arrived. My better half had ordered a wild game curry served cutely in a three-legged pot. She later described it as “the best curry I had ever eaten in a restaurant.” Of course, I had to taste a sample (or six) and found it quite to my taste as well.

My own was a 300g beef fillet served with fries and a fresh salad. It also came with a most delectable cheese sauce, which I treated as a side dish so as not to infringe upon the superior tastiness of the fillet. Soft and tender, grilled to perfection, sending my taste buds fighting for position. As I have said, I think there is magic practiced in Tanaka’s kitchen.

All good things come to and end and so did our main course. We greeted our empty plates with a sense of loss but were soon consoled by the ever attentive Noleen who brought my wife a slice of that legendary Malva pudding. Now I need to say here that we as Afrikaners will fight to our very last drop of blood for a spoonful. Any adversary is best advised to not come in between us and our Malva pudding.

I am a brave man and offered my wife half my cheesecake with the unspoken expectation to get a mere morsel of her Malva pudding. It paid off and I had a few crumbs to taste – but the cheesecake, in turn, is the best I had ever eaten. It really was tasty, the texture perfect, the balance between sweet and sour just about divine. (I never order cheesecake but wanted to review theirs. After all, there IS Malva pudding in the house…..) Having straddled six decades, there did come a day when I could say that a cheesecake was more than “nice.” Oh, I can become poetic about this one, wax so lyrical that you may think I get paid to write this. But I honestly do not charge for these reviews, so I was not bribed or influenced. Coming from me, the accolades bestowed upon the cheesecake are “awethentiq.”

Culinary Seductress Noleen appeared like a genie from a bottle and tried to entice us into more indulgence, to which I said that I would order anything with “bed” written all over it. To awaken us from an impending post-dinner sleep, we were soon served with cappuccino to end the day where it started.

We came full circle. Harbourview’s lovely silly kitchen banter, jovial mood and leisurely ambiance will keep the wheel turning, as full circle isn’t full stop.

But why take my word for it, go experience it for yourself!

PicsJoin_2017327192213473

A Little Something To Take Home