Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Weekend in Cape Town was, as promised, interesting...

Steph flew down on Thursday morning as she had some business meetings to attend to. I only flew down on Friday as I was only supposed to have one discussion about a large retailer who wanted to talk about some consulting.

As it is, my meeting was cancelled by our internal contact down there, but I was buggered if I was going to cancel my trip to look for a house. Management don't (yet) know that my meeting was cancelled, but I'll cross that bridge if/when I get to it.

I did, however, have another meeting.

On Wednesday, out of the blue, I get a phone call from a personnel agency saying they saw my CV on the web (which I'd forgotten about) and it fits what they may be looking for for a client of theirs and would I mind relocating to the Western Cape if I got the job? DOH! "It's your lucky day", I told the lady, "As it happens, I'm flying to Cape Town on Friday morning to look for a house as we're busy emigrating (as I call it) down there at this very moment". Once the sounds of shock and awe had subsided on the line, I said to the lady that I would be willing to get together for an interview while I was down there. More shock and awe noises. So we set up some time on Friday, at noon, for an interview.

I arrived in Cape Town, a little after 9am having got up at 5am to get a couple of things done for the animals and to get showered and shaved to look my best for the interview. Steph was waiting at the Drop'n'Go for me, but still had to walk around to the terminal to get me cos the whole place is in an upheaval at the moment while they "improve" the airport for the upcoming World Cup in 2010.

We drove through to Tableview, quite a nice area, where we had a short drive around and then breakfast in Bayside Mall at a little coffee shop. At around 11h30, I left Steph at the hairdresser to have some lowlights put in her hair ("I'll only be an hour") and I headed off in anticipation of getting lost looking for the interview offices.

I got there at 11h35. The office was literally 1km from the mall.

I made an early appearance, thinking I'll use it to make a good first impression. Whether it did or not, I don't know, but the interviewing lady was surprised to see me so early. She called in a colleague, who obviously had more experience in the industry than she did as he asked most of the questions. We chatted about work, some regulation stuff, and obviously some chit-chat, for about 40mins upon which they said they'd get back to me within a couple of days. As it is, they sent me a load of documentation to fill in so that they could do background checks and advised that their client would be making a decision pretty soon. So, it sounds good on that life and a new job all in one go, what a pleasure.

After that, I went back to the hairdresser for Steph and ended up sitting there for almost another 2hrs while she finished her 1hr lowlights (3.5hrs in total). When she eventually walked out, I had read all my new fishing magazines and was just about to get up and go for a walk but instead we went for a drive to look at some houses and stopped at a fish'n'chip takeaway (I know now to never go to that chain again...yuck) for a little snack.

We saw some nice houses and we saw some absolute crap, places I wouldn't even allow our dogs to stay in as their kennels are cleaner.

At around 4pm, we made our way into town to The Southern Sun Cullinan Hotel, where we were staying for the two nights of our trip. Steph had stayed with a friend of hers the night before to cut down the expenses.

We chilled out for the rest of the afternoon, checking various estate agents for house rentals and where each of the suburbs was located so that we could look at different options. We both phoned a couple of agents and set up appointments for over the weekend, at which time it was time to shut down the laptops and go out to dinner with Steph's friend and another mutual friend of theirs (a chatty Irish woman) that Steph had also been introduced to when she was there for the couple of months recently.

For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was good food even if the wine was a little too expensive even for Cape Town. All told, the bill came to R850 including tip and two bottles of wine. Steph said we'd pick up the tab, but in the end, I did.

We dropped the two ladies off at their respective homes, quite close to each other and headed back to the hotel for a peaceful night's sleep.

Not being used to the bed and soft pillows though, I was awake at around 7am and got up to put the kettle on, after which we showered and headed out to look at some more houses. Steph woke up with the flu, which she was convinced she got from an oriental guy sitting close to her on the 'plane who had sneezed and sprayed all over the place. I joked about hoping it wasn't bird flu, but she was really miserable the whole weekend thanks to that twat.

We had breakfast in the Tableview Primi Piatti, which wasn't bad, and watched the guys kite-surfing on Blouberg beach. The wind was howling, so they were having a ball. In the bay was the US Navy's USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and from where we were sitting a couple of miles away it still looked imposing. It is believed to be the length of three rugby fields, about 300m long.

Around 11h30, we made our way down toward Hout Bay and got stuck in some traffic which delayed us a bit. I was getting a little nervous as we had not seen anything we really fancied and whose owners would allow our three dogs and cat, and I know how long it can take to find a place suitable to live in, even if it is for a short period. We called an agent in Noordhoek, which is about 30mins from Cape Town on a bad day enquiring about a place we'd seen in the newspaper and she advised that that place had been rented, but she had a couple of others we could look at if interested.

Naturally, swe wanted to look at as many places as we could in the short time we had, so we took down the addresses and punched them into the GPS. It is such a nice drive from Cape Town over Ou Kaapse Weg into Noordhoek, which we had to take as Chapman's Peak was closed for maintenance (again). Looking at the house at No. 10 Partridge Road, we liked what we saw and, as a bonus, it was empty whcih meant we could move in anytime basically (if we took it). We called the agent and she agreed to meet us at 14h45 as she was at the doctor, also with flu.

We had some time to kill, so went for a drink at The Nag's Head pub, located just at the start of the Chapman's Peak drive. Noordhoek is famous for its horse-y people (hence the pub name) and lifestyle and you can often see people taking their horses for a trot along nine-mile beach. I was dying for a pint of Bosun's Bitter as we can't get it in Shit Towne, but they didn't have it wither, so unless there's some good live music going to be played there, I won't be back too often. A colleague of ours, who lives in the neighbourhood, has already given me the name another pub, The Red Herring, where they definately sell Bosun's so that might just become my "local".

It was just a short drive back to Partridge Road, so we took it slowly, already getting into the Cape Town relaxed way of doing things, and we still arrived about ten minutes before the agent. After introductions, she opened the gate to the property and we immediately saw something we could live in. A decent sized garden, big enough for the dogs, enough trees and a high enough wall for the cat to climb in to get away from them, as well as a three bedroomed house with a seperate granny flat and double garage for us. AND NO BURGLAR GUARDS!!!!

We chatted with the agent, had a look around the house and agreed that this was where we wanted to be, even if it was for a short period while we settled into the Cape way of life. It was a perfect place to start.

All three bedrooms have laminated wood flooring installed and the rest of the house is tiled. It might be a little cool in winter, but at least we don't have carpets to worry about with dog's muddy paws. The two bathrooms are both big enough to put a single bed in each and still have some space left over, and there is a seperate laundry. The only thing the kitchen doesn't have is space for the dishwasher so that might have to go into the laundry, but the owner has to replace a counter top where the sink wasn't sealed properly so maybe she'll be good enough to put a tap connection in there at the same time.

Anyway, the good news is that we told the agent we wanted to live there and she said that it shouldn't be a problem, pending the paperwork which she would email to us on Monday morning. I was ready to sign a deposit cheque for her, there and then, if it would secure the place for us.

Happy that it was a done deal, we took a long drive around Cape Point through Simons Town and stopped the car in Kalk Bay to watch some whales frolicking about 300m offshore. Fuck Hermanus if the whales come this close here! In Hermanus we had to get on a bloody boat to go and see whales this close (mind you, it was a booze cruise, so it was kewl too). Steph was really starting to feel lousy now, so we headed back to the hotel and settled in for the night, ordering room service which was lousy too.

On Sunday, we got up and packed our stuff, then headed off to Salt Restaurant in the old Ambassador Hotel in Camps Bay for breakfast. Steph originally wanted to go there the night before for dinner but the flu drove her to bed rather. She wasn't feeling much better, but seeing as it was our last day in Slaapstad, I thought it might be a nice touch. I used to make the Ambassador's pub my first stop whenever I went to Cape Town on business, as it used to have a great pub overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, from where you could watch the sun go down over the water. It was also six stories above the water's edge, which made an added attraction. Now, however, the pub is gone and they've put this Salt restaurant in its place...a turn for the worse, in my books, as I won't be going back there too much anymore either. The restaurant is really upmarket in atmosphere and you could see that some of the patrons weren't short of a few bucks. And here was me, sitting in my "friends don't let friends fish sober" least it got the thumbs-up from the gay maitre'd...

After breakfast, we drove out to Somerset West area and to see what Gordon's Bay was like. Needless to say, with the wind blowing hard enough to literally take the ice cream off your cone, we decided that we wouldn't ever like to live there. The homes looked pleasant enough, some of them anyway, but the howling south-easter wind was enough to turn us against living there forever.

Our drive back to the airport was in silence, showing that we were at least satisfied with what we had achieved in the short time available. The only, and last, difficulty we had was at the airport itself. We were supposed to take off at 15h50, landing in Shit Towne 2hrs later, but a "technical delay" caused our 'plane to only get into the air just before 8pm. By the time we got our luggage in OR Tambo airport (OR WHAT?) and got home, it was almost 22h30 and we were both knackered from having to sit in Cape Town airport for so long.

Anyway, it was a good weekend, and we now have one more goal out of our way...

Here's a Google Earth photo of the area where we'll be living and a line showing how far we are from the beach...anybody jealous yet? And not to forget, there'll be plenty of place for the Kosi Fishing Team to come down and bunk on the property...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I was walking...

...past the mental hospital the other day, and all the patients were shouting, '13...13....13...13.'

The fence was too high to see over, but I saw a little gap in the planks and looked through to see what was going on.

Some bastard poked me in the eye with a stick.

Then they all started shouting. '14...14...14...14....'.