The Mousetrap in Cape Town

I recently went to a showing of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery play, The Mousetrap in Cape Town. The theatre is in Camps Bay which is a very trendy part of Cape Town. There are some very fancy restaurants and interesting bars on the seafront. It was very cloudy so you can’t see the mountains behind Camps Bay very well.

A picture of the shops and restaurants on the seafront at Camps Bay

Camps Bay has not always been such a fashionable neighborhood as it was once deemed too far from Sea Point Swimming Pool. With a beautiful beach and a narrow strip of land between the sea and the mountains, it was inevitable it would become a desirable place to live. This history reflects the history of the theatre, which used to be a flea pit cinema till someone saw the potential to turn it into an intimate theatre.

A picture of some buildings meant to give an idea of how small the theatre on the bay is

We arrived about 20 mins before the show was due to start. There were a lot of people inside enjoying drinks but it looked a little crowded and stuffy for us.  Instead we went for a short walk along the beach front.  There were clouds bringing rain so the sky was spectacular.

Camps Bay Seafront

I kept forgetting to organise the tickets and finally booked about 2 days before the show. By this point there were roughly 4 tickets left for the Thursday showing and we opted for seats at the right side of the balcony. My view was slightly obscured by a light but I could still see the relevant action.

I am not a big Agatha Christie fan and this play was my Mom’s choice. I went because I enjoy the theater. Also I saw this play many years ago in London but couldn’t really remember what happened so I thought it would be interesting to see it again. For me the first act was a bit slow and boring.  Also I found, with such a small intimate theater, the overacting typical of this type of show, a bit grating at times.

My Mom loved the show because it was very typical of Agatha Christie. Although even she commented that parts were a bit dated. To be fair, the show opened in the West End of London in 1952, and has been running continuously since then. The most notable example is how one of the owners of the guest house kept talking about opening tins to make food. I was appalled at the idea until Mom pointed out that in the 1950’s, this was the height of sophistication. No doubt this is why the guests were offered stewed fruit instead of a nice piece of chocolate cake.

Overall I enjoyed the play even if it wasn’t quite my taste. The theatre is in a great location and if I have a chance to visit again I would try to make more of a night of it with a meal or a few drinks.

Christmas and New Year in South Africa

I have been so busy the last few weeks that I have not been able to find time to write some planned posts. Covering Christmas and New Year in special posts this late in January starts to feel a bit sad so I will just do a quick review of the holidays.

This year it felt like Christmas was shorter than usual and I struggled to get into the mood. Part of the reason is that I only focused on planning for Christmas after the trip to Dubai which meant less time for Christmas shopping.  Actually I did a lot more online shopping this year.  Also with IT Guy scheduled to arrive just after Christmas I was more focused on that date.  There were also a few job deadlines in December.  Enjoying a work Christmas function is interesting when you have decided it is past time to move on. 

I am sure many of my Northern Hemisphere readers will struggle with the idea of Christmas in summer.  Regardless of the heat, my family, like many others has a big meal on Christmas Day. Having said that the heat does mean we have the option of doing some of our food on the braai (BBQ).

Everyone who attends contributes food.  This year we had gammon, turkey and beef.  There were two types of potato and two types of gravy.  My sister also makes a lovely pumpkin pie and while we eat it as part of the main meal some might think it is more suitable for dessert.  This year the weather was good so we ate on the patio, spent most of the day in the garden and even swam a few times.  

The weather on New Year’s Eve was warm and sunny.  (Last year it rained.) So IT Guy suggested a trip up Table Mountain.  He has been wanting to go for a while because he really enjoyed our previous visit. He expected to be quiet because it was New Year’s Eve but of course with such good weather the mountain was very busy.  We avoided the worst of the queues up by going in the afternoon.

People queuing to go up Table Mountain

We had a walk around the top of the mountain and were appalled by the amount of litter people left.  I really can’t understand why people would travel to a place of outstanding natural beauty and think it is OK to leave drinks cans on the rocks. We stayed up to watch the sunset and caught one of the last cable cars down.

We got home in time to make a brief appearance and my neighbor’s house party. It was a lovely evening for sitting in the garden with a few drinks until midnight. Although it was busy at times I really enjoyed Christmas and New Year.

Breakfast, Gin and Classic Cars

On Saturday we decided to head to one of the local wine farms for breakfast.  There was a time when the main thing to do at the wine farms was wine-tasting but these days there is a lot more going on.  This particular wine farm includes a Big Cat Sanctuary, a petting zoo and two restaurants.

The restaurant we chose has tables outside overlooking the gardens.  The children in our group had fun running in the gardens and exploring although they were happier with a grown-up nearby, which gave me a change to get some photos.

The place offers a good choice of breakfast options, more than just posh versions of an English or a Continental breakfast.  Most of us had the Eggs Benedict which was very tasty, when it finally arrived.  While the food was good there is room for improvement with the service.

Eggs benedict for breakfast

After breakfast we decided to have cake.  Once again, I went for a chocolate cake.  I do have a particular weakness for chocolate cake even though most places struggle to make a nice moist version.  I would say this chocolate cake was very average.  I’m glad we decided to share because I could not have eaten a whole slice on my own.  The raspberry coulis on the baked cheesecake was very tasty.

Given the slow service it was getting rather late by the time we had finished eating.  Of course it was not the sort of place where people expect to rush and we took turns walking round the gardens.  We even watched part of a wedding and they certainly have a good wedding venue.

Wedding venue

Then time for some gin.  The gin bar offers a wide range of local craft gins and is in the classic cars showroom.  They have a range of jaguars which can be rented.  I have seen pictures of people drinking gin at the table, I wonder how you make that happen.

Classic cars jaguar

You can choose to have a single glass of gin or do one of their tastings.  They have a wide range of South African craft gins to choose from.  I’m not sure how I feel about being told they were impressed with my knowledge of craft gin.  In a gin tasting you start by trying the gin neat.  At this point I found the gins too strong and could only taste a slight difference in the spicy gin.  Then they add garnish to bring out the flavour except they still tasted pretty much the same to me.  Maybe because two of the gins were very similar.  After adding tonic water and ice the drinks tasted much better. I found the pomegranate gin a bit strange because of the combination of sweet and sharp flavours.    In the end I bought a bottle of the naartjie (applies to tangerines, mandarins and satsumas) gin because I thought it was nice and refreshing for the summer.

South African craft gin

I am looking forward to another chance to visit this wine farm.

Another visit from IT Guy

‘They gave us Thursday off so I took Sunday and Monday as well and my flight lands at 6pm tomorrow’ (Friday).

‘Wait you mean tomorrow?’

And so IT guy’s next visit to Cape Town in August was confirmed.

 

When we first talked about the next visit the idea was for me to go there.  Then he suggested that he was thinking of coming to Cape Town at the end of the month.  It seems there was a Muslim holiday at the end of August but the dates are only confirmed close to the time because it depends on the moon.  He was waiting to see what dates would be announced as holiday for private companies.

Typically this coincided with the deadline for an important project report.  I had sent the report to my boss for his comments on the Wednesday so I was waiting to see if he would require more changes.  On Friday morning the boss emailed to say the report was submitted so I figured it was safe to head out for an hour and sort some things for IT Guy’s visit.  Of course as soon as I left he called to say there was a problem with the submission and I ended up agreeing to sort it when I got home.

There were a few problems with the submission and for a while I thought that I was going to have to sort it on Monday.  I really didn’t want to be thinking of work after IT Guy arrived.  Just as I was stressing an email came through from my work colleague asking for stuff.  It wasn’t clear what she wanted and I started to stress about getting it done before leaving for the airport.  In the end I managed to submit the report and accept that I could not help my colleague.

It was later while I was at the airport waiting for IT Guy that I realised I always find some reason to stress before seeing IT Guy.  Perhaps some if it is down to seeing IT Guy.

It was a lovely evening so we decided to head for a collection of restaurants on the beachfront.  We went to a place that does good African food.  It turns out that the set menu special is not as good as the main menu.  It seems this is definitely one case where the reduced price reflects a reduced quality so the food was good but not great.  Apart from the food it was a really nice evening.  Great to be able to see each other again and have a proper face to face chat.

After a few stressful weeks and a very stressful day I was able to start to relax and enjoy some good company.

Heading back to Cape Town

Finally the last installment of IT Guy’s visit in June.  A combination of short posts and the time job hunting means it has taken a long time to cover this, long enough that there has been another visit from IT Guy in the meantime.

I realized when I started to write this post that the last post on this story ended rather abruptly.  No doubt because I was rather tired and stressed about my dental implant.  I briefly considered changing it, but I think picking up the story from where we left off is better.

After watching the movie we decided to head out and get some food.  I decided it was my best chance to get dressed up.  One thing I am finding with this long distance relationship is that it can be difficult to make time to get dressed uo to go out.  When he is here we are together all the time and this means we are generally out doing something during the day.  So by the evening we are tired and often go with a lazy meal solution.

We ended up going back to the same restaurant as the night before.  The food looked good, there was not a lot of choice at the hotel restaurant and there didn’t seem to be many other places.  While there was some life in the restaurant on the Friday night we were the only guests on the Saturday night.  I think we were also the only people in the hotel on the Saturday night.  I guess weekend visits to small South African farming towns is not common in the winter.  Plus there was rugby on so many people would have stayed home to braai (BBQ) and watch the game.

Most of the smaller farming towns are dominated by the Christian church.  You can generally find the down centre by following the church spire.  It also means that pretty much, unlike the bigger cities and towns, everything is closed on a Sunday.  So we decided to head slowly south and back to Cape Town.

Our first stop was Citrusdal.  Strangely enough this is a major area for growing oranges.  Also everything was closed.  We tried to stop at Die Sandveldhuisie which is described as a quirky little art house.  Certainly it looks very interesting from the outside but it was closed.

The next stop was a farm-stall.  This particular farm-stall was well recommended in a local travel magazine.  They do the most amazing light and fresh chocolate cake.  Then on to the winery we tried to visit a few days earlier.  This time we managed to do our wine and our wine and biltong (dried meat) pairing.  We also managed a tasty late lunch.  Then home where we chilled out in front of the cricket.  IT Guy really likes cricket.

Sadly the following day it was time for IT Guy to leave it was a rather sad and stressful day.  We had a really amazing time and looking back on the photos I can see how the relationship evolved over the week.  I have a photo of use together on his first full day in South Africa looking rather awkward together in comparison to the last few days where we were much more comfortable with each other.

So it seems that by the end of this holiday the relationship was going well and a good chanced to learn more about each other.

 

 

 

Spa Day with a Friend

Given that things are going so well with IT Guy, it means I don’t have many dating stories to share.  So I trust that you will enjoy more lifestyle and travel stories because I do enjoy blogging.  My trips are not sponsored so no company names are provided.

I do enjoy a day of luxury and pampering so where better to go than a local Spa with a friend or two.  We have tried a few places in the past but decided that this one just outside Stellenbosch is a good choice.  They have recently updated their facilities and the price includes access to their swimming pool and sauna facilities.  The Spa is part of a local wine farm and hotel so you can easily walk across to their Deli for some wine-tasting and food.

We decided to start at the Deli for a mid-morning snack.  I had the scones.  Something I had been craving since they ran out on my last visit.  It was really tasty with freshly baked scones, with generous servings of homemade jam and clotted cream.  Better than many of Cornish cream teas but then perhaps it is not fair to compare a little coffee shop with a luxury hotel.

Then we headed over to the Spa itself.  Stopping for a few photos along the way.

We arrived early enough for to have some time in the sauna and a swim.  I even spent a bit of time in the Jacuzzi.  When the weather is good there are cushions on the loungers outside so you can chill and enjoy the view with a drink.

Jacuzzi time

Then off for a pampering session.  I had my nails done a well as a facial.  Well it was a few days before IT Guy arrived.

We finished off the day by heading into town for some tasty Lebanese food.