I’m not sure if everyone there was having one on one conversations about living in Cape Town while we were up on the mountain, but I had several. And the general consensus was that while living in South Arica certainly has its challenges, we’re very lucky to live in our little bubble in the south west corner and so privileged to live here and to be able to enjoy experiences like our overnight trip. Having a national park on my doorstep isn’t a new thing for me: I’ve had it when living in Sheffield and Newcastle, and while I don’t use it as much as I might, living in Cape Town has reminded me how much I missed the opportunity to get out and about while living in Oxford (ironic since that is arguably the least urban – and certainly the smallest – place I’ve ever lived).
Anyway, as you might have gathered by the posts on our brief overnighter, we had a pretty amazing time, and it’s reaffirmed my project to get fit again so I can do more trips up the mountain.
We’re back down off the mountain after a splendid 24 hours away, filled with fun, laughter and incident. Thunderstorms and shooting stars, skinny dipping (allegedly, at least) and a Cape Cobra encounter.
There will be a time to tell you about the exhausting hike up there in the ridiculous heat, to speak of the fireball in the kitchen, to elaborate upon the gentle 4am rain shower that meant we had to move some mattresses, and to explain how we discovered that Cape Spurfowl don’t eat lettuce.
But that time is not now, because I am completely knackered.
I did manage to get some photos edited and will be doing a Flickr upload tomorrow.
In the meantime, this:
A view over the lights of Cape Town as the cloud rolled in from False Bay. Better bigger and on black, but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow for that. [UPDATE: Here it is]
My office is hidden in the bottom corner of the house, protected from the sunshine by several trees and several other bits of building. In winter, it can get pretty cool in here, given that it doesn’t see any sun at all. In summer – most especially on days like today – it offers a merciful release from the heat. I was up early to take the boy to A Thing and it was 27oC at 7:15 this morning. It’s clearly going to be a scorcher, as promised.
I have thus retreated to my office, where I have placed the beagle’s bed, so that it too may enjoy a little respite from the ridiculousness outside.
There is a TV in here for the footy later, and there is – of course – my giant beanbag for comfort. No fridge, but the bar is just there [points yonder], and that holds the promise of plenty (or more) cold beers.
It all seems so long ago now. In a galaxy far, far away.
But it was actually less than 3 weeks ago when the boy wonder and I stood on the front stoop at Suiderstrand and tried to find Comet Leonard somewhere in the vast Western skies over the South Atlantic Ocean.
A little route finding via instructions on the internet and a bit of good fortune, and there it was (sort of) in plain view. Kind of about that far [indicates an approximate distance] across to the left at about 10 o’clock from Jupiter.
Don’t bother looking now, of course.
Things will have moved.
We tried a million (only just an exaggeration) different ways of photographing it, fiddling with the ISO and the shutter speed on most every shot, and given that the wind was PUMPING, the locals had the place lit up – appropriately enough – like a Christmas tree, and we didn’t have any specialist equipment like a tracking mount and the like, I’m fairly happy with the results. A little tweak here and there in Lightroom has made a difference too.
Here are a few of our efforts:
Both at 211mm | 6s | f5.6 | ISO 6400
Yes, some streaking because of the exposure length required to get enough comet action, but actually, that only serves to make it look like it was moving very fast. Which it was of course (see below), but this isn’t whizzing in and out of the stars like you see in a movie or a cartoon. And yes, those two above are crops because even at 200mm, it’s still just a tiny smudge in the sky:
200mm | 8s | f5.6 | ISO 8000
In fact, even at 150mm (the widest my chosen lens could get) you’re still getting quite a good zoom on the thing. I should have taken a shot of the whole sky. The more I think about it, the more I realise that we did well to find it, let alone shoot it.
150mm | 2s | f5.6 | ISO 16000
A quick wave to (and a wish upon) the photobombing shooting star on that one.
Many people (with or without better equipment than me) will have taken many better shots of Comet Leonard, but I don’t care. We went out after dinner, stood in the relative darkness and the northwest wind with a tripod and a basic DSLR and took photos of a little 1km diameter ball of ice travelling away from us at 254,411 kph (70.67 km a second!!) and already 106,909,845 km distant.
We were in the pool again until after 9 this evening. That’s why this blog post is so late. Sorry, I know you’ve been desperately hitting the refresh buttons on your respective browsers.
Is this January hotter than previous Januarys (Januaries?), or is it just our collective imagination?
Anyway, while we were cooling down this evening, floating and gazing at passing satellites, I realised that I need to get a photo of the pool at night. I mean, I’ve already done that here, but I’m thinking of chucking the drone up to get a proper overhead, rather than one from the bedroom window. When I read this, maybe I’ll remember.
In that post above, I suggested that the pool light was a gimmick, and it is, but it’s a damn cool gimmick, and nightswimming (which deserves a quiet night; I’m not sure all these people understand) is made much more fun by being lit from within.
The heat and the floating have left me a little tired, and I suspect that I will be heading up for an early night ahead of the first full week of school…
Or I might end up watching the Spanish Super Cup final.