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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 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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The sea water reflecting the blue skies, the cotton wool-like clouds and the shifting shadows caused by the setting of the sun were more than worthy rewards for my successful endurance of the thick Rugby traffic en route. A cheerful crowd of people was assembling, many individuals joined by four-legged friends wagging their tails. I didn’t bring a pet, but I brought my boyfriend and he too looked happy to be by the sea.

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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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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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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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“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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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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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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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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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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“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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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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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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All the year s 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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Thanks to a lift with a mind of its own I’d managed to get a bit lost in the tangled maze of corridors behind the Opera House. It was fun to imagine them on an ordinary working day, filled with a buzz of scales and arpeggios, toe tapping and Kids from Fame-like shenanigans, love trysts and leg warmers. I stopped short of doing a little samba, á la Patrick Swayze, down the length of the deserted hallway... but it was tempting.

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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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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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Contemplating the vastness of the universe has always been a great chat up technique. Since the dawn of speech, men have been making things up about the stars in the hope of getting lucky. So in theory, what with 2009 being the International Year of Astronomy, 2010 should be a baby boomer year .

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We all have days of being Data Deficient, but to be globally listed as such could be rather an insult. Yet such is the fate of the Bryde whale. On further investigation, the implication is not so much that it is naturally blonde but simply that there is insufficient information about the species. This very shy mammal is estimated to number just 90 000 – that’s approximately the population of Hemel Hempstead – sprinkled throughout the vast tropical and temperate waters of the world. There have been more sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. Probably. [Read more...]

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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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I hadn’t gone topless before. How alive it makes you feel to have the breeze caress your skin! How the senses are re-energised by the thrill of the tingling nerves! [Read more…]

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They say it’s a crime to leave Cape Town without having been to Mzoli’s.

This meat “restaurant”, the brainchild of entrepreneur Mzoli Ngcawuzele, can lay claim to being the township spot most frequented by non-locals. It’s in an area of Gugulethu easily accessible by taking one of the minibus taxis on Main Road and, when we arrived around 1pm, the streets in front of Mzoli’s were already jammed, with some people sitting on the sidewalk or hosting mini parties in their cars with the music turned up loud.

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It took a few attempts to convince the fish but by the third try I seemed to have figured it out. Bam! The rod bowed down to the force tearing on the other end of the line. Finally! The fish was clearly not going to give up without a good fight, which was great fun on the fairly light tackle we were using.

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If you look up at Lion’s Head from the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay you might just make out a small patch of not-quite-natural green on the seaward slope of the mountain. With a pair of binoculars last week, you might even have been able to see the form of a hapless English housewife teetering on its brink. [Read more...]

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A township tour is strongly recommended to anyone who recognizes the value of experiencing first hand the everyday struggles of people still living with the resonance of Apartheid.

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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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