Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
The smooth road from Camps Bay leads us for 4 km past an extensive piece of hillside on the left, covered mainly in natural vegetation, with rocks and waves on the right. Most people are amazed to learn that all this land, more or less up to the 300 m contour line is owned by one man, Kasper Wiehahn, through his company, Oudekraal Estates (Pty) Ltd. Kasper (or Cassie) is fighting a long and losing battle to develop this land. The latest word is that the Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled against his bid to build houses on the slopes because there are important Muslim tombs there. But Cassie is appealing, and it will be many months before we finally learn the fate of this land.
In case you are worried about Cassie and his valuable white elephant, you don’t have to worry too much: he did inherit a lot of other land from his father that he was able to develop. So this ou is not short of a few bob.
Near one end of his land is the Twelve Apostles Hotel which has an interesting history. If you have the strength, go to the incredibly long address below to read all about it: http://www.tiscover.co.za/za/guide/5za,en,SCH1/objectId,IND38281za,curr,ZAR,parentId,ACC20692za,season,at1,selBlk,RBLOCKBLK,selElem,BKE32Wza/intern.html
If you do you will note that the writer of the piece believes in keeping his text entirely free of apostrophes. This is ironical because the hotel’s signboard finds it necessary to announce the establishment as the “The Twelve Apostles” – with prominent quotation marks (just in case we were expecting to see Peter, Thomas, Judas and the rest sitting on a rock and staring back at us). Another little irony is that only one of 12 peaks behind the hotel is named after an actual apostle. Judas is the lucky one.
If you want to see a rather nice pic of the hotel with most of the 12 peaks behind it click on: http://www.12apostleshotel.com/
Near the top of the hill after the hotel is the village of Llandudno, which allows no shops or trading establishment to be built on its hallowed turf. It is named after a Welsh town renowned for its Victorian and Edwardian architecture, and two crappy-looking beaches (in my opinion).
Our Llandudno is noted for its rather crappy architecture (in my opinion) and a beautiful white beach with excellent surfing. Actually the architecture isn’t all crappy. I’ve got an ad in front of me of “Probably the most dramatic and unique home in South Africa.” According to Helen, when I phoned her a few months ago (local number 073 337 6122), it’s still going for the original asking price of R51-million. It is perched on an enormous granite boulder, has 10 bedrooms, and “stunning 360-degree views”.
The last time I used this beach was on a first, and last, date many years ago. The attractive young lady in question asked the sort of question no red-blooded man minds hearing: “Do you mind if I go topless?”
Naturally I had no objection. But when we went for a swim the topless one was caught by a current and dragged away. I appealed to two husky males nearby for help. We were most decorous in our rescue efforts and did not grab anything we shouldn’t have. Nevertheless the lady was not amused, and displayed a distinct lack of gratitude. I was left with the impression that somehow it was all my fault . . .
Beyond Llandudno, if you know where to go, is a nudist beach called Sandy Bay. In the days when we had a conservative Christian National government the police used to love staking out the place during the week in their black rugby shorts. Then on Sundays, when many bodies were on the beach, they would round up a group of nudes, allow them to get dressed, and cart them off to Hout Bay police station. There they would be permitted to sign an admission of guilt form and pay a fine. A brave few refused to do so, and had to appear in court.
In one court case, months later, the policeman when questioned could not remember whether the young lady in the dock had been lying on her back or her front. “But she was definitely naked, your honour.”
After a few such farcical court cases, many brilliant cartoons in the Cape Times, and a change in government, the nudists were allowed to sunbathe in peace.
At the top of the hill one looks down on the valley of Hout Bay. This means “wood” or “timber” bay, and was called this by Jan van Riebeeck, the leader of the first Dutch settlement in South Africa. He said this valley had the finest forests he’d seen anywhere. Then he and his men proceeded to cut down all the trees and use them for building a fort, repairing ships and for firewood. Now the only trees there, apart from a few milkwoods along the beachfront, are from other parts of the world, especially Australia.
After a while Van saw the error of his ways and stopped his men from cutting down all the trees on the other side of the mountain. Thanks to his magnanimity some rather nice examples of natural forest can still be seen on the mountainside above the lawns of Kirstenbosch Gardens.
(This is all taking a lot longer than I thought it would; but we’ll get round the bloody peninsula eventually.)
I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. – Willa Cather