Saturday, June 13, 2009

Winter in the Western Cape

It's pouring with rain, deluging down on our tin roof, interrupting the satellite signal broadcasting a tense cricket match between South Africa and the West Indies into our sitting room. The boys leave, clad in waterproofs, to find a house with a better signal. The girls bake rusks. Youngest is itching to get outside again. She has just taught herself how to ride a bike. This morning she at last triumphantly gained the necessary balance and confidence and keeps saying to all who will listen, "But it's so easy!"

While the rusks fill the house with that comforting smell of baking I download the photos from my camera. A reminder that winter in the Western Cape can be pretty benevolent despite the torrential rain today. This was last Sunday:

I found Youngest out on the lawn in her dressing gown, at 10 o'clock on a midwinter Sunday morning, playing with her toy horse by a bright yellow gazania.

And it was warm enough to sit reading a book on the lawn in the sun, cup of tea and daughters to hand. Later on we played Monopoly, which revealed itself to be a horribly mean and capitalist game that veiled the weekend relaxation in tears, as our son acquired Clifton (Mayfair in the UK) and proceeded to build hotels and ruin his two sisters, who had to sell the houses they'd so proudly acquired and mortgage all their properties. This was the first time we'd ever played to the bitter (and it is bitter) end. Monopoly might well find itself pushed to the back of the shelf in favour of Pictionary and rummy. I can't cope with the stress!

A baby tortoise was tempted out by the sunshine this week. The girls rescued it from an upside position on the stoep, probably left there by a dog. A satisfying crunchy bush snack for a border collie. He is no bigger than an egg, with bulgy baby eyes. He peed all down us, refused the apple we offered, and then scarpered into the restios at top speed on his thin legs when we released him further away from the house, in the hope that the dogs wouldn't find him again. We last saw him wedged firmly into a maze of restio stalks. Let's hope he's warmly tucked away in the sand today.

Next weekend is our Midwinter festival - we're hoping for a clear night for our bonfire, lanterns and sparklers. It can rain all it wants to this weekend though. The fire is lit, the satellite signal now producing roars and cheers from the sitting room and the rusks are baked.


  1. South Africa looks beautiful! And I envy you the turtle. If you ever run across another one, they love dandelions and romaine lettuce.

  2. I love those sparkling winter days. Thanks for your beautiful post and pictures, and also for the warning about Monopoly - we won't succumb!

  3. We're sure to run across more tortoises, Mary, we have loads of wild ones in our area, but only occasionally see one as young as this. We have some huge Cape Mountain tortoises in a paddock and they love apple, but this little wild one had obviously never come across it before! We don't have European dandelion here, but I'm sure there are loads of wild leaves he loves, and in strawberry season we know they adore those, as we often find big tortoise bites taken out of them!

    Charlotte, we used to think Monopoly was good for their counting and money handling skills,and they loved buying properties and getting rent. But it's a bit close to the bone in the era of the credit crunch and the whole concept of bankrupting the others in order to win turned the game slightly sour on me!

  4. Stunning pics! I love the fact that you do a Midwinter Festival - sounds amazing!

  5. i love the way you express on word!!

  6. That's a great "scene of the moment." Even during your winter season, it doesn't look so bad down there--wish our winters were like that.

  7. Kit - you would have loved being here on Sat eve... our Anglo/Swedish neighbours hosted a mid summers party complete with pickled herring and snapps!
    Much singing in Swedish preceeded large hangovers!

  8. That's one of the beauties of a South African winter - when there are mild days, it is absolutely glorious! Love the little tortoise too - glad he didn't turn into a canine canapé ;-)


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