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PROFILE: Bridgette Truter

 

Bridgette Truter

By

 

Shellee-Kim Gold

 

She turned the tables on a gangster who threatened to take her out. She uses money from her own pocket to cook up three-course meals for impoverished school kids and finds shelter for the elderly who sleep outside.

 

Nothing Patriotic Alliance candidate for Ocean View, Bridgette Truter, does is ‘regular’. She even adds a comical element to her campaigning in a garishly-green wig to match her party’s colours. “It’s how to get to ground level with people”, she explains.

The Patriotic Alliance is a voice for Coloured peoples’ concerns.

 

But perhaps Truter’s most endearing, unusual and trustworthy quality is the fact that she’s honest to the core. Even about the most painfully-personal of issues.

Openly the 55 year-old states she has a drug-addicted son and ‘has nothing to hide’.

“People will know I have first-hand experience and can feel it with them”.

 

While humour and honesty may be her campaign strategy by default,

Being nominated as candidate for Ward61/Ocean View came as a surprise to Truter. “ I don’t promise my constituency anything, but when I’m speaking at council I will speak for them,” said the victim of forced removals in Noordhoek in the 1960’s.

 

As an ex police reservist of many years, a gangster recently threatened to take her out. Unlike the majority of her community, Truter was hardly intimidated: “Look in my face”, she said to him. “If you want to take me out don’t do it behind my back”.

Says Truter of the exchange: “They say a dog gets its day. This pig got its weekend”. The gangster landed up behind bars for five days.

 

Like many similar communities, Truter said being a candidate in the largely-unemployed, gangster and drug-infested Ocean View is an opportunity to uplift it. Also a member of the Community Police Forum, she believes ‘standing together can make a positive change’.

 

A Grade 3 teacher at Kleinberg Primary school, her ‘children’s’ well-being means everything to her. She takes money from her own pocket annually at Christmas to cook up a three-course meal, provides gifts and a party pack for each of them.

 

As coach of Kleinberg Primary volley ball team, she also bought a brand new R200 000 Kia truck to cart them around in. Her efforts clearly pay off as the team will represent the Western Province at inter-provincial volleyball for under 15’s in Durban this month.

“We are the poorest of the poor, struggling with dysfunctional homes and this is a big achievement for parents to see their kids moving up in life”.

 

Ex chairperson of the Community Committee for Peace (CCP), Truter also has a weak spot for all people living in dire circumstances. Such as an elderly lady opposite her.

“She slept under the stars on a foam mattress with a piece of plastic over her every night. We found poles, planks, sheets and got a donated wendy house. S he’s warm now”.

 

With her huge heart and humanitarian purpose, the popular Truter’s car sticker summarises it all: ‘My pride and joy is Ocean View’.

 

[This piece first appeared in the Daily Voice in July 2016]

 

 

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CPDOCWONGAMAGIVESGROUPINTRO

 

Shellee-Kim Gold

 

“I was tired of trying to sell my coffee to offices, including government ones, and always being blocked by the lady at the front desk who said: ‘You’ll have to make an appointment with the boss first’.

Then we realized using the word ‘department’ in our name might just help“, said the upbeat Wongama Baleni.

 

And so it did. From then on, the Department of Coffee somehow became associated with a government department and the coffee business had no problem finding new clients.

Located in Khayelitsha at the busy train station shopping hub, the DOC is South Africa’s first township success story in the coffee business.

 

Wongama – one of three co-owners of the DOC and an ex firefighter – is regaling another visiting group with tales of the business’s origins under bright orange umbrellas outside. Their ground level café is in an imposing three-storey high, corrugated iron building in burnt orange for extra impact.

 

Wongama’s business partner and trained barista, Vuyile Msaku is inside their tiny coffee bar chatting to Shawn Mepeni, an ex hotel housekeeper and the third owner. Judging by his relaxed attitude, Vuyile’s order of 18 cappuccinos is clearly nothing to get into a froth about.

CPDOC

Outside, the gathering of Bidvest employees are soaking up the atmosphere and information.

“We get up to four groups weekly of between 10 and 50 people,” says the ambitious Wongama who comes from Khayelitsha, like the rest of the coffee crew.

It includes the University of Stellenbosch’s visiting foreign students.

While some regular local clients who enjoy the DOC’s coffee and free delivery are employees of the Khayelitsha hospital, the Khayelitsha magistrate’s court and the Khayelitsha mall.

 

The trio’s objective was to bring quality, artisanal coffee to townships and challenge their culture’s myths around the ‘expensive’ drink with a simple formula – good coffee at real prices the masses can afford. Offering a range of espresso-based coffees including lattes, espressos and macchiatos, filter coffee is R8,50 and cappuccinos are R13.

Clearly successful, they sell up to 100 cups on a good day.

cpDOC owners-ShaunWongama;Vuyile

“We’ve developed five blends: ‘Station’, ‘Runaway’, ‘Africa’, ‘Mzansi’ and ‘Umlungu’, a light roast”, smiles Wongama, who had his first cappuccino at 22 years old.

 

Tea, hot chocolate and juice are also on the menu, in addition to a range of muffins, including vanilla/chocolate and blueberry for R4 each.

 

Part of how they ‘give back to the community’, the DOC’s weekly Muffin Run involves supplying between 200 to 500 muffins to up to six Khayelitsha crèches.

 

Also wanting to make a difference to economic and social issues locally, the DOC offers barista training to local youth. “Our interns are unemployed Matric graduates who we give a skill to and they receive a travel stipend”, said Bongama, who teams up with organization, Action Volunteers, to find the interns. “We want to help reduce some of the youth hanging around on the streets, doing nothing here”, he adds passionately.

 

Then there’s the community involvement in the monthly open party days, which sees up to 150 visitors arriving. Local artists, crafters, poets, dancers and a DJ all offer up their talents at the DOC. Teaming up with Metrorail in summer, you can even bring your cycle to join the Khayelitsha tour after the ‘Coffee Mob’ fun.

 

Beginning with a laundry business called the ‘Money Laundry’, the trio of 20-somethings have always thought catchy words in business were vital. At least, their mentor did.

“He explained the importance of names and colours in branding yourself in business. If your eyes see colour they will pay attention”, said Wongama.

 

Residents from elsewhere are paying equal attention to the DOC’s other mobile outlets at the Khayelitsha Mall and Phillippi Village.

This month the team launch their fourth outlet in as many years in business.

 

Their new city kiosk marks their official arrival into the Cape’s concrete – and coffee – jungle. With coffee competition around almost every corner in the legendary partygoer’s Long Street, how will the DOC’s brews cater for the more caffeine-discerning palates?

“Free delivery for clients, the same prices and our ‘vibe’ and service will make us different. But the secret will be in our cup”, said Bongama.

[This piece appeared in the City Press on 4 July 2016. ]

 

By Shellee-Kim Gold

 

Five year olds play around bloodied adults with axes through their skulls. Seven year olds are unable to stand in a line, a consequence of post traumatic stress disorder in children.

Others act out trauma by aggressively pretending to shoot passing taxis, hands clasped together.

Isolated Ocean View

Isolated Ocean View

Welcome to Ocean View, a township wedged between Cape Town’s picturesque and pricey southern suburbs of Kommetjie and Simonstown. It is also where at least 30 people have been gunned down since December last year in gang-related violence – most of them purportedly innocent bystanders.
Ocean View is home to 30 000 people, of whom at least 60% are unemployed, say community workers.
The latest crime statistics show that there were 26 murders and 231 drug crimes reported there between April 2014 and March 2015. But community workers and residents say the violence took a turn for the worse shortly after several drug kingpins were jailed between November last year and January. After that, hits were put out on each others’ families.
Residents say it’s never been this bad, and lunchtime shootings having also begun.
Young adults have been the hardest hit emotionally and psychologically.
Local grade three teacher and Community Police Forum member Bridgette Truter says her “school kids are so afraid they don’t know what to do next”.
“Their smiling faces from last year are all gone”.
Making the transition from childhood to adulthood is complicated enough, but when you’re 12 or 13 years old and the external war zone becomes internalised, the effects are far-reaching.
Johann Kikillus, a counsellor for Soteria Ministries who’s been in Ocean View for six years says:
“We’re sitting with a major problem here and are at that point where we can lose an entire generation. It’s like a war zone – your psyche’s going to get very badly affected”.
Kikillus, who has previously worked at Pollsmoor prison and in other gang and drug-infested areas, made some alarming discoveries in a recent snap poll of young adults conducted in February this year.
The poll was conducted in groups and by a show of hands and comments made by 136 Grade 7 students at Kleinberg Primary School, and around 160 Marine Primary pupils.
While 90 Kleinberg pupils had seen a murdered body, 63 had witnessed a shooting. Most of them had also witnessed a shooting in a park or a public space.
“I also asked them what the number one thing on their mind was. All of them said they’re afraid they’ll go home to find their parents or family shot dead”, said Kikillus.
“After some parents were shot dead earlier this year, I asked the students how many of them couldn’t sleep, cried without reason and couldn’t go and socialise with friends. Every single hand in the class went up”.
Yet only one student had sought out a counsellor to speak to. Talking about your problems is perceived as a sign of weakness in Ocean View.
Like any working class community in South Africa, playing in the streets is a part of the culture, but many children can no longer do so. Before, parks were places to meet friends, but now Ocean View’s are overrun with drug dealers who fight each other. Getting caught up in the crossfire of “tik koppe” is par for the course.
Though sometimes their aim is quite deliberate.
Abdul Karriem (14) was sitting right next to his 17-year-old sister near their Aster Court flat off Leo Road when she was gunned down on July 18 last year. Aneeba was killed by a “friend” who had wanted a relationship with her.
“Okay, you don’t want me. Now you’ll see what I’m going to do”, said the friend, Abdul recounts. Then he pulled out a gun and killed Aneeba instantly.
Abdul relays the story unflichingly; disconnected, unemotive.
“I’ve had two counselling sessions but don’t want more,” he shrugs. He’s dropped out of school, become aggressive, has sleepless nights and has become a loner.

Abdul(left) and his family at the spot of sister Aneeba's fatal shooting

Abdul(left) and his family at the spot of sister Aneeba’s fatal shooting

Abdul’s story is not unusual. But his aunt, Hajira Karriem’s, list of family shooting tragedies surpass the norm, even by Ocean View standards. They include the death of her own son.
Shafiek Karriem was chatting with some friends in an open field near his house when he was gunned down last year. He worked as a gardener and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shafiek had celebrated his 31st birthday the day before.
Hajira’s other nephew, whom his family has asked not to be named, was also shot and killed last year. The fourth and only family member to survive a shooting – and who currently walks with a bullet in his back – is her husband’s nephew who lives with them. The man who asked not to be named was standing outside a shop, drinking a colddrink, when he was shot last month.
Far from broken, the 54-year-old is “not afraid of anyone or anything”. Unusual, as most Ocean View adults live in fear and intimidation. Hajira Karriem maintains neither her late son, teenage niece or nephew were involved in either drugs or gangsterism.

Hajira Karriem points out the site of son Shafiek's shooting

Hajira Karriem points out the site of son Shafiek’s shooting

Her open, chatty nature is a sharp contrast to that of her pretty 15-year-old granddaughter, Yumna Karriem, whom she constantly prompts for responses to my questions.
“Do you know how many children in your class have experienced a family member being killed by a gun?” she asks.
“I don’t know” is the reply.
Her grandmother prompts her.
“I don’t have friends,” Yumna responds.
Every other question is met with stony silence and a vacant expression. It’s as if I’m holding a gun to Yumna’s head myself.
Clinical psychologist, Dr Nokwanda Khumalo, says numbness and disconnection are ways of protecting oneself from the horror.
“Disconnecting could be a form of dissociating in this context. Cutting yourself off from others allows you to survive day-to-day among teenagers born into a subcontext of trauma and hearing about it regularly from family and neighbours.”
And when a loved one is murdered in front of you?
“For teenagers experiencing that degree of trauma you’re unable to process such a situation, immediately dissociating parts of your consciousness. However, triggers will keep surfacing”, says Khumalo who sees traumatised patients daily.
Symptoms such as flashbacks and nightmares, such as those Abdul experiences, loud sounds, smells or even a car hooter could set off the trauma.
Trauma also affects both memory, concentration and the capacity to think. “It affects the ability to process things and thinking gets slower or becomes stunted in some way”.
Khumalo says younger children can “act out” experiences, illustrated by a group of pre-primary schoolers shooting “air guns” at taxis whenever they drive by.
Kathy Cronje, chairperson of the Ocean View Community Police Forum and a trauma debriefer has first-hand experience of this.
One notorious group of aggressive seven year olds fixate on their favourite movie, Chucky. “They run around as a pack and are left to look after themselves”.
A gruesome scene illustrating Ocean View’s abnormal normal occurred late last year near Marine Primary school when a man was discovered with an axe in his head, gushing blood.
“Five and six year olds were playing nearby.
“Uncle, are you okay?” they ran around him, asking repeatedly.
“A towel was produced which a woman wrapped around him. And with that, the children went straight back to playing,” said Cronje.
Teacher Truter regularly urges her students to run home when they see a dead body.
“The children run toward the body instead. It’s like a spectator sport, with some of them taking pictures of it for Facebook”, said the grade 3 teacher and volleyball coach of Kleinberg Primary school.
Truter is one of the first to know who’s been killed, where and when.
“When we see a flare going off at night or hear a car or motorbike revving very loudly, it’s someone letting the community know a shooting’s happening.”
During the first and second school terms of this year, three student protest marches against drugs were held and Kleinberg Primary, Ocean View Primary, Marine Primary and Ocean View High all became involved. Truter helped organize some of them.

Whether or not they’ve had any impact on the drug lords they’re appealing to, is anyone’s guess.
But this doesn’t divert from the trauma students live with daily.
Last December, one little boy on his way home from Kleinberg Primary learned that his father had been shot dead. The newly-wed father had been gunned down with his wife and their friend in a triple shooting.
Despite all this, Kikillus has proved there are possibilities for generational healing from trauma.
His visiting psychology students from the United States in March this year were able to make positive changes on coping with trauma in the community.
But he’s the first to admit he cannot do it alone. “These kids need some type of government intervention to succeed.”

All images (except the last) the property of City Press Newspaper

[The piece first appeared in the City Press on 3 July 2016]Ocean View Youth at Shop


Resonating With The Beat

Resonating With The Beat

 

By

 

Shellee-Kim Gold

 

Calling all techno trashers, happy hippies, indie indulgers, cosmic chillers and anyone else for whom the Rezonance Festival has become an annual dance pilgrimage.

 

Everything from psytrance, techno, progressive and electro to drum and bass, dub step and ambient will wow you at this multi-genre music festival. Keeping you company at the hilly Contermanskloof venue in Durbanville will be an array of psychedelic canopies in crazy colours and creative designs above you and lush green grass beneath your feet.

 

After 21 years of perfecting the four-day outdoor festival from it’s beginnings as a trance party, Rezonance gets it right on many levels.

 

This year’s theme is ‘The Journey’. With performances staged across four arenas with names such as Misfits Meadow and the Chill Temple – so you know where you fit in – the artist lineup is bound to blow your body and brain away once more.

rezonance4

For newbies, organisers describe Rezonance as ‘the perfect place for reckless abandon and general mayhem’ and where you can ‘expect mud-stomping…and debauchery’.

 

Security is slick and volunteers everywhere help to ensure everything runs with well-oiled professionalism.

 

You can camp it up in your own tent or join the tribe at the magical Sacred Arrow Tipi Village. Tipis sleep four, supply mattresses (sans bedding) and you can park near your tent. A minimum of two nights is required and costs R890 per night.

Go one level up the camping rung and the Bell Tent Village will provide tents with mattresses, sheets, tables and more.

However, if you can only get your beauty sleep on a real bed between four walls, opt for one of the plentiful, surrounding guesthouses.

A cheaper alternative – which leaves you with more boodle for the other festival offerings – is to bring your camper van.

 

All the usual entertaining elements are present at the Festival, including the flea market with its zany clothing, jewellery and festival-styled paraphernalia. Vegetarians will bliss out on the great Food Court choices available, including divine-infused Hare Krishna chow and exotic Indian treats.

rezonance3

Rezonance doesn’t do day passes and tickets will set you back between R590 – R680, depending on which of the numerous outlets you purchase them from.

 

If communing with cool sistahs and bruthas in celebration of a One earth family is your kind of Trance-mission, you won’t want to miss out on this mother of a gathering.

 

rezonance2

Villa By The Sea

 

by Shellee-Kim Gold

‘Being here makes me feel like royalty’ is how guests often describe their stay at Kennedy’s Beach Villa in Onrus River, a few minutes drive from Hermanus.

The heavily-featured teak panelling that proliferates in the Lagoon Villa purportedly came from the first post office in Simon van der Stel’s 17th century Cape Town. While the grandeur of the Louis XIV queen-sized bed, majestic busts and art works are all in keeping with the refined living of the old world. This charm is one of the reasons accounting for the venue’s popularity amongst honeymooners and anniversary celebrants alike.

Interior Charm

Then there’s The Beach Suite. As different from the Lagoon Villa as chalk is from cheese. Light, airy and roomy with panoramic vistas over the Onrus River and the beach, the Baroque-styled interior is decked out in mellow sand and creamy tones, blending with the exterior.

And talking decks: you’ll be delighted to find the very spacious one attached to The Beach Suite has majestic mountain views and a sunken jacuzzi. Here, you can scan the seas of the Cape Whale Coast for those gentle giants in four-star style and with a glass of your favourite in hand.

Sensual Pleasures

Exploring just slightly further afield, the Onrus River begins where the Beach Suite’s lawn ends. Walk another 20 metres and you’re walking the sands of Onrus beach. Essentially, this means guests have their own private beach.

If all that’s not private and romantic enough for you, honeymooners and Lagoon Villa guests can take advantage of the venue’s signature treatment : an open-air milk bath in the middle of the Milkwood forest.

Owner Ymile Kennedy first caught onto the body-revitalising idea while in Bali and decided to Africanise the treatment for her guests. Using her special secret blend, immersing yourself in the antique milk bath experience here has become akin to a rite of passage for romance-seekers. Guests take to it like a duck to, well, a milk bath.

Forested Luxury

The word ‘private’ is one which ex politician Ymile uses often to describe the appeal she’s created here and attributes her success to. The other is ‘having the best butler in 22 years in the hospitality industry’. Guests clearly agree.

Whatever it is, Kennedy’s Beach Villa’s reputation has attracted all manner of celebrities, politicians and industry CEO’s. They include ex Miss Universe and TV presenter, Michelle Mclean, Idols’ Heinz Winkler and India’s High Commissioner.

Hideaway Villa

 

 

Junior Animal Talker

Talking to animals is completely normal for this 10-year-old

Matilde&Izak

Animals express emotions and demonstrate a depth of compassion and wisdom through this telepathic child, writes Shellee-Kim Gold

“He’s not coming back this time but he is healthy”. I breathe a sigh of relief after hearing this news about my beloved young black tomcat, Avalon. It’s been more than a week since he left – again.

 

It’s taken Grade Five student, Matilde dos Santos, to ease my anxiety. Yet the reserved young lady has never even met him in the furry flesh.

 

Olive-skinned Matilde has discovered all this and more from Avalon’s brother, my 10 year-old tomcat who’s photograph she’s been gazing at while chatting to me telephonically. Her contact with my older cat has been telepathic.

 

Gifted in the art of animal communication, the young brunette has been able to engage telepathically with animals since she was six years old.

“I walked past a dog and heard a voice. Eventually I realized it was coming from him. Talking to him felt normal”, she recalls.

 

Since then, her inner world has been populated with the ‘voices’ of a host of animals, including cats, dogs and goldfish. After doing an animal communication course, Matilde’s confidence went forward in leaps and bounds.

 

Discovering what ails animals is top of mind for Matilde. Since her goldfish died recently, the remaining one has told her that it’s lonely and ‘needs a new friend in the tank’.

 

“I connect to animal by looking directly into their eyes and sending my message in pictures and words. I do that with my heart and brain. Then I hear a voice or see pictures back from them”, explains Matilde seriously.

 

Telepathy is best described as mind-to-mind communication. It’s the most natural form of communication between all species – except humans, who’ve largely forgotten the practice consciously.

 

We’re stroking a cream-coloured camel at Kommetjie’s Imhoff Gift. Izak’s 30 years old and by all accounts he and the three other resident camels have a pretty cushy job.

Nontheless, Izak sometimes feels saddled with the bulk of the workload due to his even temperament. Bush rides carrying humans between their humps are especially popular on weekends and school holidays.

 

“Sometimes he needs a break and on quiet days he just wants to relax,” Izak tells the attentively-listening Matilde, as I bombard her with questions about how he arrived at this location and where he was born.

 

“Far away in a desert and I see men in long dresses ( the Muslim ‘bisht’). He was taken from his family quite young and his best memory is when he first saw his mother.

When he was coming here his breathing felt quite weird to him. He was inhaling sea air and he was afraid”, conveys Matilde about the camel’s foreign experience.

 

Not only do animals feel emotions, but demonstrate a depth of compassion and wisdom. Such as when I ask if Izak has any message he’d like to share with humans.

“Do not pollute this earth and that will help animals and humans to function better”, he says through his junior translator.

 

Matilde, who’s favourite school activity is canoeing on Zeekoevlei, attends The New Muizenberg School, a Waldorf-orientated home school. Like most 10 year-old girls she’s instantly drawn to the animal farmyard’s cute, cuddly rabbit den. However, they’re a little too fearful to communicate with and hop away.

 

A sow’s in a state of anxiety a few enclosure up. She’s mom to eight, tiny black-spotted piglets. But she’s in no state to stop for a friendly chat with Matilde. “She’s unhappy and afraid the black boar-father’s going to hurt her piglets. She doesn’t like him sitting with them”.

 

Matilde doesn’t think telepathy with animals is exclusive to only a few human beings.

“My mother told me never to give up with my communication and my father said ‘believe’. I think all humans can do this. They just need that belief”. Her mother, Sandra, is open to the concept of reincarnation and her father, Arnoldo, is a masseur and a Reiki healer.

After he taught Matilde Reiki, a hands-on energy healing method, the junior Doctor Doolittle-in-training has enjoyed a seventy percent success rate in healing animals.

 

A gorgeous black mare and her chestnut-coloured colt offspring are nuzzling our outstretched hands at a horse farm I visit regularly in Noordhoek. Dolphins and horses ‘who have something unique’ are amongst Matilde’s favourite animals.

Horsing Around

I ask whether they remember me. The chestnut colt’s nodding vigorously.“ Yes, and you’ve improved from the last time you were here with them”. Only I would know what that meant as I was in a chaotic personal state then. According to Matilde and like humans, horses nod their heads to affirm something.

 

Horses, say Matilde, chose to be born in captivity but they all want to know what it’s like to be free.

I ask about their other lives and the mare says she had a quick life as a butterfly and has also been a cheetah in north America where she escaped humans hunting her. But the life she loved best by far was as a racing horse in Europe.

 

We’ve visited with horses who’ve previously been pigs and rabbits, a rabbit who’s been a camel and a camel who’s been a dolphin.

 

The million dollar question is how is Matilde able to discern the difference between an animal’s ‘voice’ and her own imagination?

“I know the difference between my own voice and brain and the other voices in my head,” says Matilde with fierce certainty. Her confidence takes belief to the next level – knowing.

 

Arnoldo begins hounding her for telepathic help on house buying.“Ask the horse what figure we should offer on the house we saw last week.” He gets a favourable response and smiles broadly.

 

Do you pick Matilde’s brain all the time, I ask him.

 

“Yes, we have to exploit her talent, after all”, he jokes.

[This story first appeared in the Sunday Times on 5 June 2016]

http://www.timeslive.co.za/sundaytimes/lifestyle/2016/06/04/Talking-to-animals-is-completely-normal-for-this-10-year-old

Entrance to the Grande Dame

THE MOUNT NELSON HOTEL – Cape Town’s Grande Dame

 

What does the Dalai Lama, Prince Andrew, singer Alicia Keyes and author Agatha Christie have in common? They’ve all been spotted at Cape Town’s ‘Grande Dame’ of hotels, the Mount Nelson.

 

Fondly known as the Pink Lady to locals and nestled in the lap of Table mountain, her colonial luxury has been celebrated by royalty, politicians and celebrities alike since her birth in 1899.

mount nellie 4

A famous Cape Town institution is the hotel’s High Tea. This is a serious ritual of the most indulgent kind. And one not to be missed. On offer are teas from just about every tea-growing country of the world and edibles, such as local ‘Melktert’(South African milk tart). In keeping with the colonial theme, there’s also cucumber and salmon finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream, amongst the many sweet and savoury delights.

nellies tea time

Afterwards, you can walk your tea off in the hotel’s nine acres of lush garden, cool in the shade of Table Mountain or make use of some hydrotherapy in one of the Mount Nelson’s swimming pools. Or perhaps a little tennis on the Grande Dame’s courts?

 

The more sedentary may want to take directly to their well-appointed, five star hotel suites. While marble bathrooms and walk-in dressing rooms are features of the Superior Suites, nothing beats the luxury of the Presidential Suite with its antique furnishings, crystal light fittings, private lounge and enviable views of Table Mountain from the balcony.

Ambling In the Nellie's Gardens

Evening entertainment could best be started at the stylish Planet Bar. Here you can clink glasses with Cape Town’s stars…twinkling above!   Then choose from one of the hotel restaurants to savour some local delicacies, such as smoked crocodile or Namibian red crab.

 

Numerous international Best Hotel awards have paid homage to Cape Town’s luxury Mount Nelson Hotel. To see why olde worlde grace and charm have no competition when it comes to the ‘Grande Dame’, check in to the website at http://www.mountnelson.co.za for a long, luxurious stay.

 

THE ONE&ONLY SPA


Once I had an assignment with a very tight deadline where I had to endure almost a dozen alternative healing modalities in around five days.

Yeah…right, I hear you say. Hardly anything to endure! Yet, it was. Because I nearly burned myself out, almost cracking up from a seriously-intense ‘alternative’ overdose, with almost no spaces between to integrate them all.

 

But I know exactly where I would have gone for self-restoration and nurturing back to balance if it had been in existence then. And that’s the One & Only Spa at the Cape’s V & A Waterfront. Tthe lushly-landscaped Spa Island is an oasis of serenity, with this luxury Spa’s cornerstones being unwind, restore and elevate.

 

one&only2My personal, ongoing favourite treatment is anything associated with head massage. Probably because mine’s so masochistically abused on a daily basis.

And here you can choose between the Unwind Signature Experience’s scalp massage ending or the Elavate Signature Experience. The Thai-influenced latter uses stretching, rhythmic pressure and rocking to release muscle tightness, before ending with a head massage.

 

I’ve always fantasized how decadently-different a Spa date (with someone you already know pretty well!) would be. Because this is a Spa that caters fully to the couple. You can hold hands while having a double massage and walk around joined at the hip while sweating up a storm in the steam room, sauna or under the ‘experience’ showers. Which are all complimentary here, along with their signature iced and hot teas. Even better news: March is the month of the Love Spa package.

one&onlyspa

There are Spas, and then…there are Spas. If it’s not clear already and you want to know why Spa Magazine and Spa Finder respectively called this one the ‘best’ and ‘favourite’ Spa in Africa, you’ll have to go along and find out.

 

CONSTANTIA UITSIG

 

You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re far from the madding crowd when you choose Constantia Uitsig Estate’s restaurant for lunch or dinner.

Finds like these   – just 20 minutes from the city centre – are all part of the hidden gems that are the Cape Town experience.

 

After all, where can you find a working wine estate-cum-hotel-cum-award-winning restaurant? Which, also   provides some of the most spectacular surrounds and sublime mountain views on offer in the city.

La-Colombe-462x346

To top it, you can savour your every decadent mouthful from a table inside or outside at this Constantia restaurant. All depending on the weather, of course. Inside you can appreciate the passage of time in what was once the estate’s original homestead.

While outdoors, a visual feast of another kind. Here you’re entertained by vineyards, exquisite garden and birdsong under the cool of colossal trees.

Being a vegetarian, I’m always on the hunt for ‘vegetarian a la different’ dishes. Anything that’s innovative, seriously creative and has the right amount of visual appeal are criteria that gets my juices flowing.

 

Offer me brinjal in any form, at any time and my discernment takes a dive. Thus the Melanzana alla Parmigiana here is usually my favourite (and only) starter.   Ditto the Crème Brulee. Any restaurant that can successfully add their unique signature without messing with a traditionally turned-out, perfect brulee has my vote!

Cuisine is Mediterranean Provencal at Uitsig and for carnivores there’s everything from roasted Karoo Lamb and Beef Fillet, while fish lovers can opt for Norwegian Salmon and Sole.

 

The Constantia Uitsig restaurant is synonymous with special occasions. It’s the type of venue that has romance practically built in. You’d be more than happy being proposed to here.