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To describe a valley as ‘nestling’ is a little trite, but this village – just over an hour north east of Cape Town – is bordered on three sides by mountainous nature reserves which are often topped by snow in the winter. Many of the whitewashed houses have heritage status and the roads are lined with trees. On clear nights, the stars are so bright from here that it is possible to make out the centre of the galaxy. Peacocks wander down the road and everybody greets each other. Yip, it’s a little slice of heaven.

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Cape Town is cooking and my otherwise pale and blotchy legs are now complemented by orange streaks of fake tan. In this regard, I remain resolutely British. True Capetonians blossom in the summer. Endless lithe and perfectly bronzed bodies roam about, relaxed and laughing. Even their hair remains shiny and tangle-free whereas mine sticks out in small frizzy clumps where I’ve repeatedly got it caught in my sunglasses. [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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It took helicopters and stuntmen to deflect me from my purpose, but I merely arched a cynical eyebrow and strengthened my resolve. But darn it, the second attempt was also foiled… by none other than Dr Viacheslav Koloskov and his international henchmen. Bah. [Read more…]

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Abandoned by FIFA after a steamy month-long romance, a jilted South Africa has taken to bed with a tub of rum’n’raisin ice cream and a tearstained copy of He’s Just Not That Into You. The government has denied accusations that a flirtation with the International Olympic Committee is “…blatantly a rebound”.

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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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I like to think everyone has those days when a gentle stroll amongst the shops turns into a cross-eyed, hobble-legged search for a loo. Just the other day I found myself once again misjudging my essential tea/bladder ratio in the middle of Greenmarket Square.

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An event held on a school sports field generally holds promise of little more than a ponderous brass band and a tombola manned by an Enthusiastic Father. But Camps Bay High School is no ordinary venue. And the event was, well… the restaurant equivalent to winning a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory.

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Well we’re half way through the World Cup and I’ve got vuvu ear and a beer belly. The ear is not from the noise but from whacking myself with the damn thing as I tried to negotiate the portaloos at the Fan Fest. The beer belly has appeared all by itself.

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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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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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The photo on his website shows him sprawling in an oversized chair, glowering at the camera, mastiff lolling at his feet. As if the tight white jodhpurs and gleaming leather boots don’t indicate clearly enough his apparent freshness from the polo field, there is a pony grazing behind him and a saddle slung over the white post-and-rail fence. His hair is slicked back and, you guessed it, his blue shirt is unbuttoned to the navel. He even has the faintly ridiculous name – Dijonne du Preez. Oh come on. [Read more…]

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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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“And in about 500 yards the road should take a slight bend to the left,” my father informed us, one cigar-stained finger tracing our route along the map as we topped yet another breathtaking mountain pass. [Read more…]

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We were still at the polo farm* and the unaccustomed exercise along with the heat and the wine were beginning to make me hallucinate. At one point I could have sworn I saw Baroness Thatcher slip into the house behind us. And yet… that unmistakeable hair, the power suit, the pair of sensible yet elegant heels disappearing through the door… I moved a little closer and could hear a distinctly low-pitched, enunciated voice giving orders. Surely it couldn’t be? [Read more…]

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I was once reprimanded for talking in Ronnie Scott’s – an earful from none other than beehive-topped Mari Wilson herself. But, though scarlet with embarrassment at the time, I still feel that the perfect atmosphere for listening to jazz should be like Rick’s Café in Casablanca… a smoky, low buzz with a just streak of rebellion running through it.

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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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