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I’m the type of person for whom the distinguishing feature of a car is its colour. I empathise with the girl at a dinner party who, when asked what kind of cars she liked replied, offhandedly, “Oh any old thing so long as it gets me from A to B” only to later discover that she had been speaking to Ayrton Senna. [Read more…]

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“Cancel all your plans and come – the weather is perfect.” That was the extent of the phone message.

Suddenly the light-hearted idea of a fun activity for the indistinct future had become the dauntingly solid reality of the present.
During the journey my thoughts rollercoastered between abject fear and mounting excitement. All of which could account for the number of times we got lost finding the place. But eventually we were in the halls of Skydive Cape Town.

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For all the adrenaline, beauty and culture on offer in Cape Town, for true inspiration you can’t do better than to head to the townships. Most people assume that these are places of crime and squalor which should be avoided at all costs. But go with the right guide and you’ll find that behind the rows and rows of shacks that line the road from the airport there are real life stories full of proud, positive and caring entrepreneurship.

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Just because Brad Pitt and Nicolas Cage have done it is not a good reason. But it helps. I’d had an invitation to go shark-diving, and it occurred to me that if the sharks didn’t show up, it might be nice if there was a celebrity on board to gape at instead. [Read more…]

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The Clay Café consists of a long warm room (there’s a fire on cold winter days) with shelves along one side piled high with raw pottery – plates, bowls, mugs, fairies, the options are limitless. On the other side are paints, paintbrushes, sponges, stencils etc… All the makings of creative happiness.

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“Ooh I’m not sure actually. Looks a bit nippy.
Maybe we should wait a bit.
See if it warms up.
(Pause)
Let’s ask Gladys… She was in earlier.
(pause)
… See what she says.
(pause)

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No doubt you remember the episode of Hart to Hart when Mrs H gets kidnapped by the baddie. Held in a room with a glass wall, she uses her large diamond ring to cut her way through the glass to freedom. It is surely the perfect example (note to husband) of just how useful diamonds can be in day to day living. [Read more…]

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The Pink Flamingo cinema has established itself as a regular feature on the weekly Cape Town scene. A small open air rooftop venue, it plays popular classics such as Dances With Wolves and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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Rounding a precarious bend I hit an unexpected dip in the rough road and was thrown forward in the saddle. Feeling sheepishly amateur, I looked up to see the shape of the inscrutable trail boss silhouetted against the late afternoon sky, one foot up on a rock, motes of dust swirling around him as the sunlight streamed across the mountaintop. [Read more…]

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Acutely aware of my own mortality I teetered on the edge of a sheer cliff-face, face green and legs trembling. It astonished me that I should have volunteered myself into such a situation. It seemed so easy while in the depths of pregnancy to promise that one day I would abseil down Table Mountain. But now that day had come. [Read more…]

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Now these are jaw-droppingly huge animals, growing up to 18 metres long and weighing as much as 80 tons. 80 tons! We can only marvel at how on earth these incredible creatures launch themselves out of the water but when not one, but two of them leapt out in unison everyone on the boat was drenched through and instantly addicted.

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“I love the smell of Cape Town in the morning.” I haven’t even seen Apocalypse Now, but I know the line well enough to misquote it. I spoke gruffly, with a dodgy American accent. I couldn’t help myself – I was in a Huey, the iconic combat air vehicle and star of so many films, and I was revved up for a Combat Mission flight. The rotors were settling into steady whump whump overhead, and the sound system was playing The Doors’ This is the End. [Read more…]

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Riding High

When my school needed to raise money for, say, a new set of gym mats we would normally have a School Fete or perhaps a Bring and Buy Sale. Or we might collect milk bottle tops and tin cans and the teacher would put a big cardboard thermometer on the wall so we could see just how far we still had to go. [Read more…]

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All the years of sitting badly, slouching on the couch and not stretching before going for a run came back to haunt me as I felt sweat starting to trickle down my cheek. How on earth can sitting in one position be so exhausting? Our instructor (or Acharya as they say in Hindu) got up and walked around the room, and on passing me softly whispered, “Nice flexible body.” Hooray! Obviously I wasn’t doing as badly as I’d thought.

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“The first exhibit of its kind in South Africa, the I&J Exhibit holds 1.6 million litres of seawater, stands 6 metres deep and includes a 10-metre long tunnel. The first thing I did as I walked into the tunnel was to gaze up through the glass as a giant guitarfish floated across the sky.”

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It’s funny what we’ll do for an adrenaline rush. Recently I was telling some clients about my abseil down Table Mountain. Their eyes lit up when I whispered, “I nearly died I was so scared” and they couldn’t book themselves in fast enough. [Read more…]

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However intimidating motorbikes, leathers or facial hair might be, no-one could possibly deny that Harley-Davidsons are damn cool. And I have ridden one! [Read more…]

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Lonely and neglected, Candy was sitting in a dark corner of a Chinese army depot when Tim Clarke first set eyes on her. Instantly smitten, he resolved to make her acquaintance. He was sure that, given time, he could coax some life into her and restore the pride and vitality she’d clearly once enjoyed. [Read more…]

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It had been a big gig at the castle the night before, and leaping around to the pumping sounds of Prime Circle while downing vodka shots had seemed a good idea at the time. Less so now as I found myself rinsing large chunks of raw meat under an industrial tap in a converted container.

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I once had a client, a charming Essex girl, who asked me where she could buy clothes in Zanzibar. I explained that within the nearby villages she may be able to buy the local material, but there were no clothes shops or tailors to be found. She looked at me blankly and said, “No, sweetheart. Cloves. Like the spices, innit?”

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