Over South Africa

You join me traversing South Africa. Bottom left to top right. I’m on a teeny tiny plane, and there’s “lots of weather all over South Africa”, according to the captain.

That’s not good, because we’re also very much all over South Africa.

It has been unpleasantly bouncy so far.

The inflight magazine contains the usual plethora of advertorials: guest houses and safari lodges dominate, but there was a beautiful juxtaposition of an industrial rock crushing equipment supplier across the page from a laser tooth whitening service.

To avoid disappointment (and possibly a lot of pain), please make sure you ring the correct number.

In the same magazine, there’s the usual puff piece about the airline you’re on, and how they’re better than the other airlines. They advertise some of those differences as being “more smiles”, which I’m fairly sure aren’t objectively quantifiable SI units, and the opportunity to “say goodbye to rigid itineraries”.


Is it just me that quite likes the idea of a rigid itinerary when booking travel tickets? I can’t imagine that it is. It’s literally one of the most important things that I’m after.

For example, I’m hopeful that my accommodation for this evening is fairly rigidly booked. It really wouldn’t be helpful for them to be flexible enough to be “just a day out”.

Could you maybe pop back tomorrow please, Sir?

We seem to have finally hit some clean air, over what I’m guessing is the southern Free State. This means that I can stop thinking about flight safety statistics and engineering tolerances as mind-over-matter means of combatting the mentally challenging effects of the turbulence.

Aaand it’s back already. That didn’t last long. Quite bad. Tumble drier on a rollercoaster stuff, if you remember that post about the Christchurch earthquake that I can’t link to right now because I’m 37,000 feet up in the air. (Updated once safely on the ground.)

Really bad now. Not nice. Gasps and exclamations from passengers. I’m being stoic. Who would be listening anyway?

We’re turning. The pilots have had enough. Not back to Cape Town, but presumably looking for a bit of a clearer way around the bumpy stuff. Thank you.

Ok. About an hour to go. Agricultural landscape giving way to mining and industry beneath me.

Time to relax with some chilled electronica (it’s M83 in case you were wondering), stop thinking about that other stuff. and plan those first few shots again.

Looks like if you’re reading this, we made it.

Or at least my phone did.

Well, this looks nice

Away this week, as was mentioned here.

But assuming my flight actually lands, I’m not quite sure how much fun the outside bit of the work I’ll be doing up there will be. Why?


That’s rather warm. I’m especially looking forward to Wednesday, obviously.

On a more serious note, these are shade temperatures. It’ll obviously be warmer in the sun. And there clearly will be sun. I’m wondering how well my equipment (careful now) will cope in this sort of heat. And also its operator, obviously.

Reminder to self: pack sunblock. And air con.

KLM hires private security to get its flight crews to and from Cape Town International Airport

I mean, from their hotel in Cape Town to and from the airport.
Not from Amsterdam. They have planes for that.

I dunno. This might be a well known thing. It might be a very regular thing. But while we were waiting at International Arrivals the other day, we were watching these two guys from a private security firm hovering between the barriers and the doors, doing security stuff.

We were wondering if some celeb like Ant from Ant & Dec or Romanian football wizard Gheorghe Hagi was going to be coming through the magic doors from customs and be whisked away, but it turned out that they were waiting for the flight crew from KL597. And that made us understand that the bus in convoy with the private security vehicle that we’d seen going into the airport earlier was probably the flight crew for the outgoing KL598.

Now, I know that the N2 around the airport isn’t the nicest bit of road – especially at night – but this does seem a bit drastic. After all, the guys from the Air France flight were left to find a completely unguarded bus by themselves. And literally none of the passengers from both those flights had heavies or goons to get them safely to their hotel. Mind you, maybe none of them made it. We’ll never know.

Has there been a specific incident? Was there a specific threat? Or were these guys actually very clever robbers, picking their targets early on and then stealing all their stuff once they were safely on board the bus back to the hotel.

Of course they weren’t. They looked very professional, and as long as any crook was within arms length and there was no running involved, I’m sure they were very capable of capturing and detaining the baddies, as well.

But this isn’t a great look immediately as visitors enter SA. OK, we might not be Oslo-safe, but really, we’re not in Lagos territory either.

I’d love Capetonians thoughts on this. Is this the way we’re heading now? Because I can’t afford private security detail to get me to and from the airport each time I need to get somewhere.

So I guess it’s just as well that I can’t afford any flights either.


Having been in Ireland a few months ago, and having drunk a Guinness in Temple Bar, this just absolutely rang true.

We chose a (slightly) less touristy place nearby, but it was still dangerously expensive. Never convert it back to Rands – it spoils the taste of the drink.

Bit of a moan – Pt.1

Part 2 may follow tomorrow. It may not.

But I’m fully aware that this is a moan. It even says so in the title. I’m not expecting anything to happen about this moan, although it would be nice (and really weird) if anything did.
Sometimes you just need to have a bit of a moan. Get things off your chest. This is one of those times.

Tourism. The lifeblood of the summer economy in Cape Town. Love them or hate them, tourists are plentiful and vital to keeping this country going.
This isn’t the first time I have lived in a tourist heavy city. I was in Oxford for almost a decade and that gets ridiculous numbers thanks to its proximity to London (and the whole of Europe). It’s also about 30 times smaller than Cape Town, so things can get very chaotic very quickly there.

Locally, comparative statistics are a bit difficult to gauge at the moment given the effects of the recent pandemic, but it does seem like the numbers of visitors this year will break all the previous records for people arriving to enjoy all that the Mother City has to offer.

I absolutely recognise the need for tourism as a valuable contributor to our economy.
But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

Still, as with any touristy place, if you avoid the touristy areas, you can avoid the tourists.

Just about…

There are two particular tourist “attractions” here that are seemingly unavoidable, incredibly intrusive and make life all a bit crap for the local residents.

The first is the Red Bus. Yep. I know you get them everywhere and they are a lot of fun. I’ve even done a couple of tours with the kids myself. But wow. Things have exploded recently. I mean, not literally, but…
Our roads are made for getting people from one place to another. When those roads are populated by any number of big red buses going around their two routes – here’s a shot from their “live bus tracker”:

Ah Jesus…

And of course they are deliberately driving at 20kph to give the visitors a nice leisurely view of the city and surrounds: on our suburban roads with 60 or 80kph limits. It causes a lot of congestion and a lot of frustration. Hugely disproportionate to the number of tourists actually using the service.

But that’s really nothing compared to the helicopter tours. Sure, they don’t cause traffic jams or delays, but could there be a more invasive, less eco-friendly way to annoy the local population? When the weather is good, there are no fires and the tourist season is on, we can get one every few minutes, coming over our back garden at (at best) a couple of hundred metres.

I’m not sure at what point the repeated noise, irritation, disturbance and greenhouse gas emissions:

would constitute a “hazard” as in (2)(a) there per se, but wow, if you not only want to have a look at the mountain, but also piss off everyone in the Southern Suburbs while you’re at it, then a helicopter flight is absolutely the way to do it.

Ironically, there’s one going over the house right now as I type, but then, that’s not very unusual.

There is even the double whammy, whereby you can book both these excursions on one single site.
A veritable synergy of local infuriation, at a discount price.
Who wouldn’t go for it?
No, I’m not providing a link.

So. Moan over. Did it turn into more of a rant? Does it even matter? Will it make any difference?

I’m off for a nap. If I can keep the noise out.