Thursday, February 23, 2012

Birthday at the Beach

A summer late afternoon at the beach, one of those rare evenings when the weather is perfect, the lightest breeze, warm but not blistering sunshine, blue skies and Table Mountain keeping an eye on everything. It’s a late birthday celebration for one of our girls’ friends, who has the misfortune of a January birthday: too soon after Christmas to get in party mode, still the summer holidays so often away camping, yet she yearns for a proper birthday party with her friends. Her birthday pressies were given weeks ago, so this outing to the beach is by the way of a late birthday picnic – six girls plus a few random brothers.

We’ve been checking the weather forecast all week to catch the right day – for a place that is all about beaches and sunshine, Cape Town summer offers comparatively few perfect beach evenings – the wind blows too often and too hard, putting the sand into sandwiches, sometimes offering a free exfoliating treatment as the South-Easter whips the sand along the beach surface blasting your legs in painful abandon. This time windguru came up trumps – light breeze and perfect temperatures forecast  for Sunday, a small window amid the winds of the rest of the week.

Photo by Patrick Heathcock

From jumping in the waves to jumping down dunes, the girls were constantly in motion, stopping only occasionally to delve into the picnic.

Photo by Patrick Heathcock

With half of the day to prepare I’d decided to go beyond sandwiches and made some mini-quiches. I love the crisp pastry and creamy filling of quiches and mini ones get more crisp pastry to savour. I often don’t bother with them, because they are a bit fiddly, especially if you blind bake them. This time I googled for a bit and found plenty of people who don’t bother to blind bake – one recommended putting the rolled and cut pastry in the freezer for ten minutes before filling and baking. It worked perfectly, the pastry turning out light and crisp. My food photograph leaves a lot to be desired, being taken in situ on the beach, but it gives an idea! The quantities for one 23cm quiche recipe were just right for making 12 mini quiches in a muffin tin, with the pastry rolled out as thin as possible. These ones had onions, spinach, feta and a touch of nutmeg in.

The rest of our picnic was thrown together – the loaf of bread was still hot from the oven – too hot for sandwiches, so I just chucked the butter, jam and cheese into the cool box along with the bread board and bread knife. There were some leftover potatoes from last night’s braai which became potato salad and that was it. Perfect food for the beach.

Photo by Patrick Heathcock

And then there was the birthday cake.

The icing on the cake was a visit from two horses who happening to be taking their riders for an evening trek along the beach and stopped to greet the girls – they learned the names of the horses but not their riders....!

As the sun dipped close to setting, the air grew chill, the sand lost its heat and, to much protest, we packed up before the official moment of sunset – the only trouble with a Sunday evening outing is that grown-ups suddenly start remembering about school on Monday before it’s over!


  1. Oh, Kit... what a magical day, and what magical pictures! The one with the horses is absolutely dreamy.

    "putting the sand into sandwiches" - PERFECT!

  2. Love the photos and your writing gives me a vicarious experience. What a PERFECT birthday for your daughter. I love "random brothers" and learning the horses names but not the riders. A truly memorable day.

  3. Just popped over from Ditdit in France after seeing your table mountain comment. I have cycled the Argus cycle tour about 14 times, those views are amazing. That last photo brings back so many memories. I love France, but there is certainly a large part of my heart sitting in Africa. Enjoy your summer while it lasts. Diane


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