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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Comics I'm Missing This Week

Talk about taking advantage of having some internet. This week I'm missing out on:

Astounding Wolfman #21 - Hey, has anyone seen The Wolf Man?
Atomic Robo Revenge of the Vampire Dimension #1
Avengers vs Atlas #2
Dark Avengers #14
Battlefields Happy Valley #3
Black Widow Deadly Origin #4
Captain America #603
Chase Variant
Collection Dans La Marge
Daredevil #505
Devil #1 - Not sure what this is
Doctor Voodoo #5
Dodgem Logic #2
Doomwar #1
Green Lantern #51
Guardians of the Galaxy #23
Hellblazer #264
Hulk #20
Incorruptible #3
Incredible Hercules #141
Incredible Hulk #607
Joe the Barbarian #2
Invincible #70
Marvels Eye of the Camera #6
McSweeneys #33
Punisher #14
Amazing Spider-Man #621
Spider-Woman #6
Uncanny X-Men #521's gonna be a tough adjustment the day I don't work in comics any more...

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 18/02/10

Day 15 and we're into the second half. Trouble is, we've got so much booked in over the next two weeks that it has now become very difficult to do everything we want. Oh well, there are worse hardships. Anyway, yesterday I:

- Got up early so we could drive down to Cape Aghulas, the southernmost point of Africa, and also where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. More beautiful scenery, with a rocky coastline interspersed with white-sand beaches. What I find fascinating about these beaches is that, unlike the golden sand beaches I grew up with, the white sand doesn't get hot (for obvious reasons). So while when I was a kid you had to pick your way quickly across the sand to avoid burning your tootsies, here you can walk through sands that are actually quite nice and cool. I'm not a big beach goer, in terms of lying out on the sand and so on, but I do love good beaches and I love the sea.

- Went down to the rocky shore of Aghulas, where we peered into lively rockpools filled with fish, starfish, hermit crabs and assorted barnacles and mussels. Nice place, although it doesn't have the drama of Cape Point.

- Headed back towards Hermanus, stopping first in Struisbaai for lunch, where we picked up a little more sun than was wise (I'm a beet) and took a walk along the beach, dipping our toes in the Indian Ocean (a first for me).

- Continued driving home, but wanted to head back a different way so took a small backroad, which turned out to be a network of dirt and gravel roads through farming country. Lots of dust, but some lovely scenery.

- Went to the hostel we were staying at in Hermanus. Amazing place, all very nice and clean, with a self-service bar that works on an honesty system, a lounge area that constantly shows movies and a swimming pool, as well as a nightly braai for guests. Even better, our private double room with ensuite was actually just around the corner in a beautiful house that had four other rooms and a lovely rear garden with its own pool. Not too bad for 330 rand, or around £28.

- Walked towards a bar and restaurant that had been recommended to us, which was way the hell out on the edge of town. We thought it would be nice to walk along the coastal path, along the clifftops. It certainly was lovely, but we started at dusk and before long it was fully dark and we were suddenly very aware that anyone could be lurking in wait: the ever-present fear of South Africa! The somewhat overstated fear, I think, but the locals just think I'm naive.

- Went out to said restaurant for dinner which turned out to be a lot flashier than we expected. A group of BBC Food representatives were in attendance, speaking to the chef and manager and so on. Not bad! Even so, two starters, two mains and two bottles of wine only set us back around £50, including a generous tip. Also, as it turns out though we had both forgotten, it was the 5th anniversary of our 1st date, so I'm glad we found somewhere nice to eat!

- Returned to the hostel for a couple of drinks before hitting the sack.

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 17/02/10

Day 14 of the South African holiday! That’s the halfway mark to anyone keeping track, which has gone very quickly and very slowly in equal measure. On the one hand it feels like the holiday is slipping by at alarming speed, but on the other the last time I was in London feels like a lifetime ago. Anyway, yesterday I:

- Got up early to do the Robben Island tour. Robben Island was a maximum security prison for political prisoners from the 60’s through until the 90’s. It most famously held Nelson Mandela for 18 years but was also the prison of a number of other notables from the ANC, the PAC and others. After the topsy-turvy boat ride out from Cape Town harbour (a 13km journey), the tour takes place in two phases. First, a bus ride around the island covering its history as variously a supply dump, a prison, a hospital-cum-leper hospice, a military base and finally its return to prison status, first for common law criminals in a medium security prison, then for political prisoners as a maximum security facility built by the original inmates from quarries on the island. Our guide was brilliant, a Khayalitsha resident by the name of (if I recall) Mpkelele, or MP for short. A real comedian and a great guide. I think he must earn a fortune in tips from the Yanks. After this we get dropped at the main prison itself, where groups are given a guided tour by a former prisoner. I never caught the name of ours, to be honest, but he was an interesting guy. Quite no-nonsense, he was certainly able to give insight into the conditions and the mood of the prison. There was a particularly interesting segment where he was asked about why he had been put there, and he quite frankly told us that he had been a soldier for the ANC Youth League in places like Angola and Zambia. He had received his training in Cuba and the Soviet Union and was still very much an old-school communist. Interestingly he did not really become politically aware until he had been interred at Robben Island, where politics was the number one discussion point for inmates, unsurprisingly. He was in the prison when the early drafts of what is now the South African constitution were written, after the liberation of Namibia. So, all in all a very interesting tour and certainly one I would recommend if you’re in Cape Town.

- Hit the road. Headed for Hermanus, a town mostly famous for its whale watching, though we were out of season. But Alex has friends there we wanted to catch up with and it’s still a lovely area to visit, so we drove on down. It’s a fantastic drive, with more dramatic scenery which is pretty standard in this Western Cape area, I’m finding. Only takes a couple of hours from Cape Town, and that’s with us stopping here and there along the way. The town itself is pretty stunning, sandwiched between rocky coastline (though with a substantial beach further around the bay) and smallish mountains which sweep up suddenly at the rear. It reminds me of New Zealand, and that’s not the first time I’ve been drawn to that comparison while I’ve been here.

- Killed some time while we waited to hear from Lana, so we had a quick drink from a place which was actually closing up. One waitress told us that we couldn’t get any food but could have a beer, but the other waiter was quite obviously put out when she told him. He was fine with us, but I think she got the evils good and proper.

- Went to Lana’s house, where we had a very pleasant evening. A lot of politics got talked between Lana's husband Ramone and his father Aubrey, some of which was a bit dubious from my perspective, but a lot of which was really quite interesting. The politics here is just so volatile. Zuma is disliked intensely by a good number of the population, particularly among the whites. Meanwhile young, poor blacks and coloureds, especially men, are finding themselves distanced from the older generation of the ANC, guys like Zuma or Mbeke before him. They’ve grown up without the struggle these guys were engaged in, and although they know about the past, they don’t relate to the older generation. Meanwhile there’s a new kid in town named Julius Malema who is the great fear for the whites here now (and not exactly loved by the ANC elders either, I gather). Essentially he’s a young guy, 28 or so, who was a street kid and so speaks directly to the younger generation. He also has charisma and a populist polemic that doesn’t necessarily hold with the spirit of reconciliation that is embodied in the constitution. Whether or not the ANC will push him forward or try to bury him is unclear, but it’s certainly a lively topic for speculation (and one which I don’t really know enough about at this time to join on). Anyway, the other really interesting thing was the talk I had with Ramone’s folks about their history in South Africa: about the Afrikaans propaganda that began once the National Party took power, designed to institute Afrikaans over English as the main language, and how the English speaking community was actually subject to a lot of regulation as the Afrikaners tried to subsume them. Not something I’ve normally ever heard about. They also talked about the early English-speaking condemnation of apartheid and so on. Anyway, fascinating stuff. We also talked a lot about the idea of coming to live here now, and the consensus seemed to be it might be worthwhile, but you would need to have enough money to start your own business, the drive to make it succeed and a back door just in case things got nasty, or you got sick of the crime and so on.

- Ramone and Lana gave us their bed for the night! They slept in the spare room downstairs. I felt guilty for a while, but not very long. Zzz.

Carry on reading...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Things I Did Yesterday 15/02/10

It's the sweet'n'low version. The in-laws are inbound for breakfast! Luckily yesterday I only:

- Went to church. Yes, yes, I hear you snickering, Bruce. I've no problem with being dragged along to church every once in a while, mainly as an act of politeness. Most modern church services, especially the likes of Presbyterian or COE, are all about tolerance and so on anyway. At least the ones I've been to are. So it's fine, and I always find the differing ceremonial aspects of the different churches quite interesting. Plus it was my chance to meet James, the family minister who I've heard a lot about over the years and who we nearly flew in to marry us. The service was all about love (of course), and the need for the church to embrace the idea of romantic love. Not to be so tied up in the idea of rules governing who can love who and so on. Anyway, it was a nice history lesson in the church's attitude to love, from claiming a pagan ritual for St Valentine (who had virtually no connection to love, but was martyred on the desired day) to the downgrading of Valentine's sainthood status as the church distanced itself from the day and gave it over to the marketing boys (who have long since stripped any reference to Sainthood out of the picture). Pretty interesting stuff, as it goes.

- Had prep time for a big party being held in the evening. Honestly, the most event-free day of the trip so far, and that was just fine. Just to have enough time through the day to do my blog and catch up on the some reading was very nice indeed. The party certainly required a good deal of work, shifting furniture around getting glasses washed and so on. The Browns don't do these things by halves, that much is for sure. Didn't leave the house all day!

- Had a party. Really, it was an excuse for a lot of family and friends to meet me for the first time, so it wasn't exactly a relaxing affair. Certainly my standard party strategy of finding a spot and setting myself up there for the evening wasn't going to wash. But I had plenty of drinks, good food (great chilli con carne) and everyone was very nice.

- Carried on after most people had left until midnight-ish, then hit the sack, leaving my wife and Barbs (an inveterate party animal) drinking on the deck. I really must call it a stoep, to give it its local name.

Carry on reading...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Comics I'm Missing This Week

Well, missed last week, really. The state of comic shops here is poor. There are two: one of which is tucked away on the first floor of an office block with virtually no signage, the other of which is in a shopping mall out of the centre of town. The former carries virtually no shelf stock (though I did manage to pick up their only copy of the latest Criminal) and the latter, while not much better for shelf stock, only gets a shipment every other week. That one is a pretty decent shop in its way, though, with a good, varied range of GNs. The state of stores for fans in relatively isolated parts of the world like this really does just reinforcve a lot of my ideas about digital comics' inevitable rise. It's all well and good for people in cities like London to doubt it - we really are spoiled for choice - but for sheer convenience how can a guy in Buttfuck, Ohio resist? Anyway, casting my eyes over the shipping list last week, what will I need to track down?

Also, you think I could find Scalped #32 anywhere? Could I fuck. Neither carries any shelf copies of it. See what I mean?

What's this Judge Dredd Mega City One Archives thing? I can't even remember it being offered.
Batman & Robin #8
BPRD King of Fear #2
Daytripper #3
Groo Hogs of Horder #3
Haunt #5 (Sshh! It's my guilty pleasure!)
Hellblazer Pandemonium HC
As an aside, nice to see Hicksville back in print!
Human Target #1
Invincible Presents Atom Eve & Rex Splode #3
Marvel Boy Uranian #2
Newave! Underground Minicomics of the 80's
Nextwave Ultimate Collection TP - Gonna buy me this. One of my favourite series of the past decade.
Phonogram 2 #7
PunisherMAX #4 (silly name for a great comic)
Realm of Kings Imperial Guard #4
(Jesus, this is supposed to be my pared down list! Glad I wasn't working this week!)
Solomon Kane #2
Amazing Spider-Man #620
Ultimate Spider-Man #7
Unwritten #10
Dark X-Men #4
Not gonna waste my time with Hit Monkey. Let me know if it's any good, will you?
Zombies That Ate the World #8

PHEW! Hey, what's Octopus Girl vol 1 doing on the Gosh new releases? Has it been re-released?

Most of this can wait, but if I get the chance later this week I might pick up BPRD and PunisherMAX. And maybe Batman & Robin and Daytripper. Comics here are EXPENSIVE!

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 14/02/10

Day eleven of our South Africa trip! Internet access has been patchy as we've been travelling, so forgive my sporadic updates. Well, patchy internet access and a lack of time to politely do this blog. But I'll try to be better from now on. As usual with these kinds of holidays, I have great plans to get this book read, or do that writing, and as usual I've barely touched it. Still have over half our time left, but I already feel like the end is closing in! Anyway, yesterday I:

- Woke up in Paternoster, a small beach town on the West Coast. We had been a little way down the coast at Yzerfontaine the night before for Jen & Daniel's wedding, which was a lovely do. Alex's mum had booked us the following night in a fantastic B&B right on the beach at Paternoster, with instructions to go to the Noisy Oyster restaurant and to pick up some crayfish on the way home. Well, we didn't have any luck with the Noisy Oyster, as it was booked out (but had a beach-front dinner instead involving the biggest prawns I've had in my life), so our big mission was to get crayfish.

- Had breakfast at a tiny little cafe that did an extremely tasty farmer's sausage omelet, then struck out for the Post Office to get a permit for the crayfish. Most people just buy the crayfish without one, but the fines if you get caught are huge, not to mention that they can confiscate your vehicle. It's all a dodgy enough exercise anyway, with guys wandering around the small town with shopping bags of crayfish, most of which seemed long dead. We wanted live ones and were recommended by the B&B proprietor to get them direct from the small fishing boats as they came in to shore. We had scored ourselves a lidded bucket for the job and everything.

- Was informed at the post office that Paternoster no longer issues licenses, and we would need to go about 20 minutes down the road to Vredenburg to get one. Racing against early Saturday closing times, we got to Vredenburg, got the application form, and stumbled at the first hurdle. Alex no longer has a valid South African ID book, and you needed an ID number to apply. Not South African? No crayfish for you. Oh well, we tried anyhow.

- Decided, given the lack of crayfish for an evening bbq (braai, I should say), we would instead take a relaxed route back home, stopping for dinner somewhere along the way. We drove inland and soon hit the wine-growing regions. South Africa, I'm not sure that I've mentioned before, is a beautiful country. Rolling, dry farmlands backed by dramatic mountain ranges, or sometimes just stretching out into massive plains, gave way to green, lush winelands, dotted with boutique towns full of wine shops and restaurants. We stopped for lunch at one of the earliest of these, Riebeek-Kasteel.

- Had a steak roll for lunch, then went shopping for a little wine. Tasted a few Riebeek wines, settling on the Shiraz Reserve and the Pinotage Rose, as well as their award-winning port. All sounds very swank but it actually came it at less than half the price we would pay for same in the UK. Had a little wander, then hit the road again.

- Decided to make for Stellenbosch, another wine town, but also a big student town with popular boarding schools (one of which Alex attended) and a university. We had originally thought to do Stellenbosch as an overnight trip, touring around the vineyards and getting sozzled, but decided to just check out the town on our way home, effectively giving us two more days in Cape Town (which we were looking a little thin on).

- Hit Stellenbosch, which is like some weird picturesque little mid-America town, all leafy boulevards and a thriving, cute-as-a-button town centre. Not to mention bustling bars, which we toured a couple of. The student population is immediately apparent: you would think you had stumbled into a small town Logan's Run scenario. All in all the vibe is wonderfully pleasant, but eerily unreal. Everyone was watching the Super 14 games in the bars. I forget that rugby is so huge here. I barely see any evidence of the S14 in the UK, but it's everywhere here.

- Went to Mug & Bean, a coffee chain that does bottomless coffees and gave me a glorious 10 free minutes of wifi. Enough to book tickets for the Robben Island tour on Tuesday and to check my emails for the first time in days. Trust me, with the cost of roaming data network charges in this country, I can wait.

- Went to Spur for dinner. The hell with all those interesting small restaurants: we wanted ribs! Alex goes on about Spur all the time. It's a very cheesy, American-styled steakhouse, renowned also for burgers and ribs and so on. We had it on our list of things to do, so took advantage of cheap ribs night to save a little money after our ridiculous splash-out the night before. What can I say? It was very tasty and didn't skimp on the portions; much better than the slightly anemic version that London has at the O2 centre.

- Headed for home, including a ridiculously thorough service station visit. Petrol, water, window cleaning water, oil, tires. It's been a number of years since I've been anywhere that hasn't gone over to self-service at the pumps. But SA is a very labour-intensive place. Wherever you go there is someone with a job you wouldn't normally see around: from parking attendants (official and unofficial) who watch your cars and wave you in and out of your car parks for tips, through to the road gangs, who operate in groups of 10 on jobs that would employ 2 in the UK. Of course the secret is that they get paid peanuts. There is a minimum wage here, but it's the equivalent of about 60p/hour in a country where a beer at a downtown bar will set you back around £1.50. It doesn't take a genius to see SA has big problems, but the solutions are going to be tough on everyone and slow to implement with any real lasting effect. A legacy of poor education for the black and coloured (a demographic here, by the way) communities as well as imbalances of wealth and privilege are not easily surmounted. But at the same time the problems are not as simple as one, I must admit, kind of assumes from the outside. Politically it's a complicated place. Corruption is widespread (though being cracked down on), and the divisions in society extend far beyond simple black and white. Tribal differences, traditional vs democratically elected leaders, anti-immigration sentiment, the state of the squatter camps: all these things and more are political hot potatoes represented by parties who often are more interested in furthering their own careers than solving any real problems. It's a pretty screwy place, and that's without even looking at the crime and security issues, but it's also a wonderful one. Without even considering the natural beauty, the mish-mash of culture, the colour and vibrancy of the place is infectious. Shit, and I haven't even seen any lions yet.

- Got in, had a couple of drinks while I sucked up internet access like a hoover (Alex and I sat on the balcony, me on my phone, she on her DS, not talking at all), then hit the sack. Was woken around 12.30am by someone screaming about how they were going to kill the pigs if someone called them, had my usual paranoid imaginings that someone was breaking in (not helped by blustery winds), then eventually drifted back to sleep.

Carry on reading...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Comics I'm Missing This Week

More for my reference than yours, but from this week's stuff I'm gonna have to catch up on:

Boys #39
Conan the Cimmerian #18
Criminal Sinners #4
Demo Vol 2 #1
Echo #19
Ghost Riders Heaven's on Fire #6
Invincible Iron Man #23
Realm of Kings Son of Hulk #1
Scalped #34 (though I may pop into a shop here and pick this up. Some things I can't wait for)
Siege #2
Sweet Tooth #6
Ultimate Comics #1
Wolverine Weapon X #10
Berserk Vol 33!

So, that's it for this week! Not necessarily all the things I would normally check out, but there's not much point trying to catch up on the things I would normally just flick through. A few things in this week's delivery that have been on the verge of me giving up on have had their marching orders this week, and I imagine there will be more of that over the next few weeks. Nothing like having something unavailable to you to make you realise how little you miss it when it's gone. If you think I've made some glaring omission, do let me know!

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 07/02/10

Day four of our South Africa trip! But yesterday I:

- Sorted out access to the wireless here at Jane & Nick's house. Which reminds me, I should mention something about this place. The house is in a part of town called District 6, a sector that was bulldozed in the '60's during the process of forcibly moving all the non-whites out of central Cape Town into the Cape Flats townships. District 6 was a very diverse place, your classic dive part of town where people, both local and international, tended to wash up. Of course, this also made it something of a cultural hub, with a vibrant sense of community and culture. There was supposed to be redevelopment immediately after it all got leveled, but it never happened due to an international outcry over the action (this was of course before the height of SA's international pariah status). To this day, much of it is empty scrubland, still with the original rubble sticking up here and there where it hasn't been completely cleared. Unfortunately this is mainly down to bureaucratic bullshit, as various political interests want to get themselves involved, tying it all up dense red tape. So, very little development has gone on. A few terraces of houses have gone up as a part of a resettlement project, but that has been very stop-start over the last 20 years.

Jane & Nick's place is on one of the few terraces of houses that wasn't demolished, and sits on the bottom slopes of Table Mountain with a great view over the working harbour. It's a two-level place, with the master bedroom and office downstairs leading onto a small courtyard, and the upstairs containing guest a bedroom & bathroom, leading into a fantastic open-plan kitchen and living area which goes through to a sun-catching balcony that capitalises on the view. All very nice and airy, but with enough dark wood and features that it would still feel very cosy in the winter. Of course, like most places here, it's surrounded by walls that are topped with metal spikes. The walls are actually quite nice, done in a way that gives the whole thing an almost villa-like feel. The metal spikes? Not so much. Still, I do need to keep reminding myself that as much as the security measures are far more prevalent, there's still nothing here I wouldn't be seeing in places about London. Except for the security company signs on the houses promising Armed Response, of course. Anyway, on with the day!

- Alex abandoned me! She went off to her friend Jen's hen do while I with Jane & Nick to a masonic potjiekos competition. Basically a charity fundraiser where the various masonic lodges around Cape Town (one of which Nick is a member of) compete to cook the best potjiekos: a kind of layered stew that is slow-cooked in a cast-iron pot which is left in hot coals for a number of hours. It's a traditional Afrikaans thing, and the food is rather nice. Strange to be hanging with the masons, though. Mainly ex-pat Brits (and one German) who are effectively running the equivalent to the Lions or Rotary, only with more elaborate rituals. The whole thing just feels a little like a boys own adventure club, but they were all nice folks with good, charitable aims. I was asked by one if I was a mason. No, I replied, to which I was told "Not yet, anyway." At last, my dreams of holding the secret reigns to the world are drawing closer to fruition!

- Came home after taking a little too much sun (I lost the hat I was lent, which I can only assume was blown away when put it aside for a moment), and had a little mid-afternoon nap. I normally abhor losing any portion of the day, but hey, I'm on holiday. So I dozed for a little bit, then got up and did some writing. Settled down with a paper looking at the real estate sections (amazing what you can get for your money here, even with the weaker pound), then watched some of the right-wing revenge-wank that is Taken, which is actually a very well-made action thriller with Liam Neeson. Basically the morals are: don't trust anyone that isn't American; Europe is a hive of corruption and villany that wants to sell your daughters to dirty Arab-looking businessmen; I'm not paranoid about these things, you're just naive; and of course the US secret services are the best trained killing machines in the world, capable of mowing through the ranks of any number of lowlife foreign scum. Fun film.

- Alex arrived home and we went out to meet some old friends of hers, one of whom was just in town for the night. This involved going to some suburb I don't know by way of a slightly terrifyingly underlit motorway. Anyway, went to a pleasant restaurant which did great gourmet pizzas (steak, jalapeno & feta for me) and had a catch-up. Well, Alex had a catch-up, I had a meet'n'greet.

- Drove home (thanks to the magic of Tom Tom, for which we bought a South Africa map before we left the UK), sat on the balcony for a bit, having a drink while watching the city lights, then hit the sack.

Carry on reading...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Things I Did Yesterday 06/02/10

Today is day three of my time in South Africa! Also, the first blog post I've done in a while. So bear with me, as I describe how yesterday I:

- Woke up around 9am with a hellishly sore throat. I was a bit worried that maybe I had caught something off the plane, but in reality it probably had more to do with the red wine I had stayed up drinking the night previous combined with some fine log-sawing snoring. A couple of paracetamol and a Strepsil soon put paid to that.

-Lovely morning, with a faint haze hanging across Table Bay which soon burnt off to reveal a beautiful, sunny day. Had some toast and coffee.

- Alex and I walked into town, which I enjoyed. Cape Town is very much a driving city, but I love to wander in new places, and there is plenty to see. There's such an interesting mix of poverty and entrepreneurship in the streets. Everywhere you go people are sleeping in parks, or begging. You can't stop at traffic lights without someone coming up to your car window asking for money or trying to sell you batteries or somesuch. But at the same time, we walked past a shipping container that had been hooked up to a generator and turned into a small convenience store, and I've seen around town a couple of times now rag'n'bone men operating with a horse and cart, the latter jerry-rigged out of a car chassis. It's a very odd place here, but there's certainly always something to look at.

- We went to a jewellers downtown to look into getting an engagement ring made for Alex. She's never had an actual diamond ring, but would like one. Her current ring is a simple silver ring with a piece of paua embedded in it. Anyway, the prices of rings really do knock me on my ass. We might get something made using existing jewels though.

- Collected a pile of tourism brochures and then jumped on the city tour bus. Interesting tour, highlighting the mix of history and geographical beauty that makes this place so striking. I can't overstate that latter point: Cape Town i, bar none, one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to. The mountains are endlessly fascinating, changing their aspect throughout the day as the light changes, and shaping the clouds the lap over them. From every angle they look different, too, and can't help but catch your eye wherever you are in the city. The beaches, while not really my thing, are quite something. Even without taking into consideration the white-sand stretches themselves, the actual bays they occupy are beautiful.

- Went down to the waterfront and had a late lunch, accompanied by a few beers. Very nice waterfront development. I must say, there's something about the waterfront that reminds me of Sydney. The harbour itself isn't as striking as Sydney's, but it feels very similar in terms of the outdoor dining and drinking with live music wherever you went. To be honest, I'd forgotten that it was a Friday night. I bought a pair of flip-flops too, for 230 Rand. Which is about £20. They're very nice, but I do miss the days of The Mighty Pound, where I could roll into any country confident in the knowledge that my super-currency would allow me to live like a king. Oh well, they were good days while they lasted.

- The weather, by the way, has been very pleasant. Mid-20's, dropping overnight to the late teens. The wind hasn't been too strong, either. Very nice, though I'm warned it may well get a whole lot hotter.

- Went out to dinner with Jane & Nick to a steak restaurant in Camps Bay, another gorgeous stretch of coast. Had myself a 500g t-bone steak for the equivalent of around £11 (though Nick generously paid). Maybe this pound ain't so bad just yet.

- Had a dial-a-driver take us home, then sat on the porch looking out over the bay while knocking back wine and rum'n'coke. Then suddenly it was 1am. Whoops!

Carry on reading...