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.
But I don’t let this put me off. Every once in a while I have to tear myself away from my desk (oh so reluctantly) and venture out into the public eye. There is so much going on in Cape Town at this time of year from sandcastle building competitions to drumming sessions, bungy-bouncing to carols by candlelight, that it would be a crying shame not to take part.
But the highlight for me was the Vodacom Jazz on the Rocks festival. Too newly a mother to be there last year, I’ve been wanting to go since hearing about the first event in 2004.
Part of the Table Mountain National Park, Oudekraal is just a five minute drive south of Camps Bay, hidden from the road and accessed by steps which lead down and down under the shade of trees to a little sandy beach. Large boulders shelter the bay from the wind and waves so that at times the calm water appears almost crystal blue. For the Jazz on the Rocks event, a stage is constructed above the rocks, jutting out into the water against a backdrop of Lion’s Head and the Twelve Apostles mountain range – superb.
This year again for two days from morning to sunset South Africa’s top jazz musicians shook their stuff on this stage. As true jazz should, it cut through all barriers of age, culture and language. My eye was particularly caught by one old Keith Richards look-alike who rolled up his jeans to dance and dance with his grandson at the edge of the water. The sponsors had thought of everything: not only was there a fully stocked bar but there were people handing out sun visors and there were lifeguards to keep an eye on the children. I’m not one for large crowds, but although there were reportedly 3 000 people there it simply didn’t feel like it. Each group had plenty of room to spread out and children ran between them all, scrambling over the rocks and splashing around in the water.
Armed with sun cream and picnic blanket, smoked salmon dip and crackers, piles of sweet grapes and left-over birthday cake I felt I had pretty much everything. I’d even brought slices of lemon for our gins and tonic. But again, my South African friends put me to shame with their tent shades and wine coolers and their beach wear that not only fitted but looked nice. They are just so used to this sort of thing. They don’t even have an deep-seated urge to scoff all the food quickly in case it rains. Or is that just me?
Ah well, there’s another New Year’s Resolution…
Happy New Year to you all from a cooking Cape Town,