The other ship

While the Queen Mary 2 was taking all the attention in Cape Town harbour, there was another, only ever so slightly less impressive ship docked here as well.

The Picton Castle is a is a three-masted tall ship based in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, but which sails around the world and is currently on its fifth circumnavigation, crewed by up to 40 sail trainees and 12 professional crew members. Here’s who’s on board at the moment – a real mix of ages and nationalities –  and unlike the QM2, everyone is expected to do their fair share of the work, from cooking and cleaning to raising the anchor and keeping lookout.

The ship arrived on the 31st January and is due to set off for Canada in the very near future. Get down to the V&A Waterfront and catch a look at her before she leaves. As you can see, she’s moored up right outside the Cape Grace.

Follow Twisst

If you’re on twitter (and if you’re not, you probably should be) then may I recommend that you follow @twisst?

Twisst is a twitter service that lets you know when the International Space Station is going to be passing your location. And there’s something rather magical about watching it pass overhead, silently and at 27,743.8 km/h (17,239.2 mph). I just popped out to watch an excellent pass this evening and now as I’m writing this, the ISS is over the somewhat vague Somali/Ethiopian border.
Cell C’s woooosh has nothing on that.

There’s other man-made stuff up there too and you can track that – and/or the ISS – using SatTrak.

Watching the ISS is amazing for kids and Twisst gives you all that you need to know – the time of the pass, where it will come over the horizon, how bright it will be and how high up in the sky it will be. You only have to follow them and do nothing else. It’s very easy and completely reliable. The only thing it can’t help with is the weather. And since the ISS is 350km up, clouds will get in the way. (Now crossing Pakistani/Chinese border at 7.41 km/s.)

Just be aware that Twisst takes your location from your Twitter bio, so that has to be accurate for it to work-  as noted on this comment on the site:

I had my location listed as “Dantooine”, an homage to the false location of the Rebel base in Star Wars. After I started getting reports of ISS passes over northern Argentina, I decided to change my location to a set of latitude and longitude coordinates closer to home.

Yeah. Probably best.
(China/Mongolia/Russia/China/Russia and into the North Pacific)

Last football at the Cape Town Stadium this season?

It looks like tomorrow’s game between Ajax Cape Town and Supersport United may be your last chance to see football at the Cape Town Stadium this season. As the Ajax website states:

This is probably the last football game at the Cape Town Stadium for the season due to the numbers of events lined-up for the Stadium so we urge our fans to come and enjoy the “Gees” with us before we move to other football venues within the Mother City.

Which is sad, because nothing really matches the Cape Town Stadium for watching football. Instead we’re going to find ourselves at windy Athlone or tumbledown Newlands. And it’s also ironic that we can’t watch football in our “white elephant” football stadium because it’s so booked up for other stuff. Whingers, take note.

Anyway, Ajax are going out with a bang with a full on Family Day experience, so if you were erring on the side of staying at home –  don’t.
Tickets from Computicket are priced at R40, R60 and R80 and there is going to be plenty there for the kids, including an inflatable 5-a-side court, the Coca-Cola Gig Rig and a warm-up match between the Cape Legends and the local media.

I will be taking my boy along and then there will probably be ice cream for at least one of us at the Waterfront afterwards.

Gates open at 13:30, the warm-up match kicks off at 13:40 and the (actually rather important) Ajax game starts at 15:30.

Don’t miss out!

Big Boat coming

If my sources are correct – and my sources are very rarely wrong – then at about lunchtime today, the Queen Mary 2 should be heading into Cape Town for a brief stop. This won’t be her first visit to the Mother City – she was here back in March last year.
Although no longer the world’s largest cruise ship, she remains the world’s largest ocean liner. I wondered if an ocean liner was a bigger version of a pond liner, which is one of those plastic sheets you put down to make an integrated frog haven and drowning hazard in your back garden. But apparently not.

According to Wikipedia:

A cruise ship is a passenger ship used for pleasure voyages, where the voyage itself and the ship’s amenities are part of the experience, as well as the different destinations along the way

whereas:

An ocean liner is a ship designed to transport people from one seaport to another along regular long-distance maritime routes according to a schedule.

So now you know. And this particular ocean liner is heading into the seaport of Cape Town after crossing the South Atlantic from the seaport of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and the seaport of Montevideo in Uruguay. Tomorrow evening, she will set sail for the seaport of Durban, passing the really tiny village of Port Elizabeth on the way.
From there it’s a completely unhectic schedule of Mauritius, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Phuket, India, Dubai, what’s left of Egypt, Italy, Monaco, Spain and then back to New York via Southampton.

Hellish life, hey?

I’ll be popping down to the Cape Town harbour to get a couple of pictures on my way to the football tomorrow, so look out for them. In the meantime, you can look out for the 15-storey, 151,400 ton, 345 metre long boat next to the Waterfront.
I doubt you’ll miss it.

6000 recommends…

Launching a new category for 2011: 6000 Recommends, in which I tell you what I’ve been up to and why you might want to try it too.

Surprise early exit from work this evening, which gave me chance to tear the wife away from her date with her other man, Jim (or whatever poncey way he spells his name) and whisk her off for a quick glass of wine and a chicken spring roll or two at Caffe Verdi in Chelsea Village. (Click the link to see the inspiring Google streetview image).
This used to be a bit of a dive but

After a major 2010 renovation the Verdi has become one of those few bars where even ladies can feel comfortable going alone. Soon the bartenders remember your name and preferred drink and locals smile and give you a friendly ‘Howzit’! The inside is cosy and is reminiscent of a local English pub with its fireplace, dark mahogany bar and wood effect tiled flooring. The outside courtyard is sunny, light and spacious and an ideal spot to celebrate a birthday or special occasion with friends and family. Well behaved dogs are welcome, and it’s many a dog walker who detours from Maynardville Park for a quick one on the way home!

I’d agree with at least some of that. Most of the locals seemed too busy watching the cricket to smile or give me anything, but that was fine and we enjoyed a well-priced glass of Excelsior Sauvignon Blanc and a draught Amstel, served in the pretty courtyard amidst annoyed cricket fans. We didn’t see any dogs, but that was also fine because I’m not a big canine fan anyway.

I quite like the place, although I would say it was more Chelsea (no pun intended) Wine Bar than local English pub. Still – with Amstel, Castle Light, Guinness and Windhoek on tap and having noted that it’s well within walking distance from Chez Nous (and staggering distance back again), I think we might be spending a bit more time there in 2011.

And while I’m getting all recommendy on you, how about the Red Toolbox range?

I love this.

These are woodworking projects for father and son (or, I guess, mother and daughter) (or father and daughter) (or… oh – you get what I’m saying).  They’re actually aimed at kids from 8 years and older and their parents (or legal guardians) (ok, I’ll stop it now), but I’ve been making a little jewellery box with Alex (4¾), which he’s going to give to his sister. OK, so he doesn’t actually do a lot of the work, which involves sawing wood and hammering tiny nails, but he does feel involved:

Red Toolbox creates the perfect environment for parent child bonding, surrounding fun-filled construction games for kids. Parents and kids work together as a creative team, learn from each other, communicate and achieve real-life accomplishments. Parents are offered the chance to get closer to their kids, spend more time with them and share their guidance and support while enjoying the mutual satisfaction of their tangible accomplishments.

We’re taking it slowly – a few steps on the well-written instruction sheet each evening – and it’s actually looking quite good. Once it’s completed, Alex intends to paint it in pink and yellow (Kristen’s favourite colours) and I have no doubt that we’ll then move on to another Red Toolbox project for him – perhaps a gogga box.

The range – including tools and workbench (which are nice, but which you really don’t need) – is available from Builder’s Warehouse and while they may seem quite pricey, you don’t just get the decent product at the end of it (and you won’t get a ready made jewellery box for much less than R100), but it’s also a really cool project to do together with your little ones.