Sunday, December 19, 2010

Beach Strolling

On a warm spring day, wind free for a change, we drove out to Milnerton Beach, situated in Table Bay on the Atlantic Ocean side of the peninsula.  The beach provides one of the classic views of Table Mountain and its long white shores attract walkers and surfers alike.  The Benguela current that flows along Africa's western shore ensures that it's only the hardiest (or wetsuit clad) swimmers that brave the freezing waters of this Table Bay beach, in winter anyway.  The exceptions to this rule are children and visitors from inland, the former because they don't seem to feel the frigid water and the latter because of their delight at visiting the sea and coast after a long journey to the Cape.

Three blonds out for a walk.

Joy is a little girl dancing at the edge of the lacy waves.

Ships at anchor in Table Bay.

 This little baby's toes were dipped into the cold water by her father, the first time that this family had visited Cape Town.  Mom wisely opted to sit on the beach with a thick towel to dry off little toes.

The beach attracts small groups of worshippers who arrive in their distinctive white robes to hold solemn, full immersion baptisms below the majesty of the mountain.

One of the most identifiable features of Milnerton is its lagoon, formed where the Diep River enters the sea, with palm trees adorning the lagoon banks.  Two bridges link the island of Woodbridge to the town of Milnerton.  The wooden bridge after which the island is named is  a national heritage site but, but is now closed to foot and vehicular traffic, due the fragility of its construction.  

The lagoon is used by canoeists from the Milnerton Canoe Club which is the oldest Canoe Club in the province.    Paddlers have travelled down the Diep River to the mouth of the lagoon where it enters the sea from as far upstream as Malmesbury.

The Canoe Club has opted to allow some colourful urban art on its otherwise drab concrete walls, no doubt hoping to avoid offensive "tagging"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pink People Carrier

On our way out to Betty's Bay, a couple of seconds after driving past this used car lot, I suddenly registered that I'd seen a flash of eye-searing pink.  Hasty braking and a quick reverse revealed not one Volksie but two!

I know lots of students who would happily give this little cutie as good home.

And I thank you for brightening up my day.

Strand is a town where people are not frightened of colour ...

... and you can have any protein you like, as long as it's beef.   This is braaivleis (barbecue) country.

Boring strip shopping redeemed by the mountains of the Hottentots Holland range.

Looking down on Gordon's Bay, where the flat white sands stretch off into the distance and shallow waves  make this beach an extremely popular picnic spot and provide "nursery slopes" for surfers and para sailers.  Parking is at a premium on a hot, sunny day and only starts to clear after the sun has well and truly set.

Leaving Gordon's Bay and sneaking off a quick shot through the rear window of the car.  The views along the road, with numerous places to pull off and picnic, are particularly popular at sunset.  A glass of wine, something good to eat and the sun turning the sea into molten lava.  Life is good.

My conclusions after a couple of weeks of iPhone photography?  A renewed excitement and enjoyment of my favourite activity.  What the quick little pix and interesting effects do is to make the process more spontaneous and the fun of  fleeting and quirky pix taken from the car beat the hassle of trying to park, set up the tripod, set the exposure etc.  In addition the tiny viewfinder forces you to concentrate on small interesting subjects rather than the grand landscape.  It's not going to replace my DSLR but for sheer fun it's hard to beat this handy little camera with a phone!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Painted Ladies

Last week my sister reported that she'd seen the first Painted Lady this summer, growing near the side of a  road, so on Sunday morning we went in search of these exquisite little flowers.  Undaunted by scorching sun,  a brisk breeze and the knowledge that if we didn't get shots immediately we wouldn't have the time later, we were delighted to find the Ladies in profuse numbers,  along the verges and dotted around the fynbos.

The only way to even attempt to capture the flowers was to shade them from the sun, using hats or jackets, and to wait for the tiniest pause between the flurries of wind.

I was reminded of William Wordsworth's  Daffodils   "tossing their heads in sprightly dance"  Well these little dancers made it extremely difficult to capture any really sharp images.  Perhaps, however, the soft look caused by the wind captures some of the ethereal nature and fleeting life of the blossoms.

If I was painting a picture of all these pink flowers I would use soft washes and sweeps of watercolour  paints...

... but the medium of my choice for these courtyard beauties would oil paints, preferably laid down in luscious sweeps of colour with thick brushes or palette knife.

The textured sandstone walls of the courtyard fill the space with a honey glow, making iit one of my favourite, most sheltered places for flower photography

I can only marvel at the skill and precision of the craftsmen who built these intricate walls.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wildflowers and Dassies

I intended to go for a walk with my SLR as soon as we arrived in Betty's Bay on Friday afternoon. The light was wonderful, the sun was starting its flaming descent into the ocean and the air was crisp and salty.  But then I noticed these yellow daisies clustered around a boulder next to the stairs down from the deck.  And, I thought,  iPhone or nothing! 

As it turned out, I didn't get any further than the front garden.  Such tiny treasures to be found, popping up through the gravel gravel of the parking area.  This is the Sea Rose (Orphium frutescens) with its glossy deep pink flowers.


I'm not great on remembering plant names, apart from the most common ones, but I know this is one of our colourful gazanias, planted by my sister but alas, not enjoyed by her unless she's quick off the mark.  The dassies or rock rabbits (Rock Hyrax) are particularly partial to the buds and flowers and can be seen snacking on them early in the morning.  Later in the morning or afternoon these critters like to lie basking peacefully in the sun although there is always an alert sentry to sound the alarm.

Magenta coloured pelargoniums 

A fountain of green grass.

A tiny red succulent clinging to the unwelcoming surface of a boulder.

A perfect green sphere punctuated by small yellow "buttons" and given some scale by the inclusion of my (recently pedicured)  foot.

 A plant with attitude.

Suddenly, in that few minutes of time which always takes you by surprise,  the dying sun illuminated the landscape in a final radiant pink glow ...

... and sank into the glittering sea.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I've read that some of the World Cup visitors expected to see wild animals roaming the streets of South African cities ...  well no, but I did spot the king of the beasts prowling over a roof top on our way out to Betty's Bay this weekend.

 We arrived just as the sun was setting in a blaze of molten splendour over the ocean ...

 ... bathing the front rooms of the house in golden warmth

... and illuminating the best seats in the house.


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