On the Beach

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The holidays are over...

And so the holidays are over, and we're back to the old routine. Happy 2012 everyone!

On January 9th, the eager beavers back at work started making calls. I was roused from my slumber. Today must be serious back at work day because I even got some calls from builders.

How were the holidays? Totally amazing. I feel that actually it was our first "proper" Christmas here, although it was technically our second one. Last year we were very fresh off the boat (plane) and a bit befuddled by it all.

This year, feeling more local, we were much more able to fall into the lazy pattern of the holidays and actually enjoy a period where a city take s a break. And we knew that no one would do anything, anything at all, not even for any amount of money after Dec 15.

My husband's parents were here and my children were lucky enough to spend Christmas with 2 sets of grandparents, so they certainly didn't suffer from any deficit of attention.

Over the holidays, the roads were quiet (with 2 glaring exceptions, see below) and the pace was slow. Cape Town showed itself off in a wonderful light as I played tour guide to my parents-in-law, for whom this was their first trip outside Europe.

The mountain for us as "locals" can still make your heart skip a beat in certain lights as it catches you unawares when you turn a corner. Sadly though, the mountain is part of my husband's commute, I can see it from my garden. In other words, it has become an everyday part of our lives. And so, as my parents-in-law's jaws dropped and ooohs and aaahs fell from their lips as we drove around, it was good to be reminded of how very lucky I am to live in a place of such natural beauty. Interestingly, they also found the food and service generally (shops, restaurants, tourist stuff) to be outstanding.

What I also found quite intriguing was how different Cape Town was to how they had expected. They were amazed at how green and lush it is in places. They said they thought it would be more dry and dusty and, I got the impression, more dangerous. And that made me sad because it just shows the impression that "foreigners" can have and the media bias. Still, Cape Town put on a stellar performance and now has 2 (more) 2 lifelong fans.

There were several things that I learnt over the holidays.

1. Hermanus is a great place for a holiday, not just a day trip. It is very old fashioned but I love that and the pace of life is seriously slow- which is the way it should be on holiday.

2. A day trip to Hermanus on Dec 16 is a stupid idea. I don't know why this didn't occur to me before. Like an ant among thousands of other car ants we headed out of CT, past the brimming service stations and overflowing farmstalls. Still, we definitely felt a part of the holiday buzz, but could have done without the longer journey (kids not really getting the "holiday buzz" part, more vocal on the "this is taking sooooooo long, part).

3. Going to the beach on Boxing Day or January 1 is a bad idea, unless you like to see the entire population of Cape Town covering its beaches. Linked to this, a relaxing scenic drive on Baden Powell Drive on either of these days is a bad idea. Beaches that lie empty for 363 days of the year are unrecognisable, you cannot even see the sand. It's people soup framed by sea and road. Parking is impossible. Actually, correction, when I say parking I mean abandoning your vehicle somewhere that you deem to be appropriate. More or less (leaning towards less) on the verges. So there we sat on Boxing Day, in the mother of all traffic jams (caused by, of all things, a police car that had to be towed- all crumpled- out of the sand dunes-TIA!). It was boiling hot and the crowds continued to surge across the road, weaving between the cars. Children skipped happily although, looking at the beach, I somehow doubted they would be able to find a square inch of sand to sit on. Well-to-do gentleman sauntered along, large watches gleaming on their wrists, click-clacking on the road in very expensive, shiny and colourful shoes, set off by a Hawaiian shirt and big hat. Not what I'd call perfect beach attire, but each to their own. As they walked, they avoided the barely welded together, over stuffed taxis, careering through- one wheel on the road, the other in the sand- while other drivers waved their fists at them. The drive may have not been what we expected, but it was most certainly an education.

The holidays are well and truly over for me. Husband back at work, older daughter back at school. In fact she started Reception yesterday- a source of great delight for her, utter devastation for me. The scene at the playground as I blubbed away was either amusing or embarrassing to other parents. Added to which, my younger daughter had her welcome morning at her preschool where she starts next week. I was thrilled and upset in equal measure at how she took  it in her stride.

So what with being abandoned by my husband and my children, an existential crisis looms. It's horrible. Is this where I have another baby because I can't think of anything else to do? Er, no, thanks so much.

Still, 2012 has started well. Tomorrow, I show around a client of my new relocation company, Move Me To Cape Town and we seem to be getting lots of interest. Hopefully that will do well. And maybe someone will take pity on a rusty lawyer and law lecturer.

Interesting times ahead for me in CT in 2012.

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