Norm for good service

Boy away on school camp.
Girl takes full advantage of parents’ undivided attention, asks if we can do dinner.
Of course we can.

Dad checks menu online.
Dad reads the small print.
Never read the small print.

Small print too small for you? Here’s what it says:

Gratuity Policy
We hereby respectfully advise that gratuity is not included in our main prices. The norm for good service is 100% of the total bill. The payment of gratuity is entirely voluntary and the amount is based on the quality of service.

Did I miss something here? Not since the Waterfront branch of Cape Town Fish Market conveniently informed tourists that ‘in South Africa, we routinely tip twenty percent’ has there been such a blatant attempt to rip restaurant patrons off.

But even the pisspoor CTFM kept it vaguely reasonable. This is completely off the scale. And at a restaurant where a 3 course meal plus wine will set you back ±R400 per person, it’s no wonder that the parking lot is full of Audis and Beemers – that’s clearly how the waiting staff get to and from work.

Constantia Food & Wine Festival

I’m tired. This afternoon brought with it much activity and when your right leg is incapable of much activity, you take the strain. Thus, I am strained, and was it really worth it?

The Constantia Food and Wine Festival promised much, but delivered little. It was poorly organised, poorly stocked (many places had run out of food by 5pm) and very expensive (R360 for the family to get in). The kids’ section was underwhelming, there were too few toilets and the queues for everything were ridiculous.

Thankfully, the company was good and the wine (and the beer, although Keg King ran out of some of that as well) was excellent. But we soon realised that it was too irritating to have to wait in line for ages just to get 25ml of red in the bottom of your glass, so we bought bottles and avoided the crowds – and the exhibitors. Which isn’t how it should be.

So this one will go down as being remembered for the views, the booze and the queues for the loos.

As a learning experience, it worked. We’ll save our time and money next time around.

Clarification: Mark from Keg King says (via twitter) that he never ran out of beer. But when I went to buy beer from him, I was told of my first two choices (of four on offer): “We don’t have any of that”.
I’m happy to clarify here that they hadn’t sold out of those beers, they just didn’t have any of them.


Remember back in January when I described an evening out at Societi Brasserie? Of course you do.

Societi Brasserie claimed that evening to be in “Constantia”, where it isn’t.
Now, for those of you outside the Mother City, wikipedia describes Constantia as:

an affluent suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, situated about 15 kilometres south of the centre of Cape Town

and that’s a perfectly reasonable representation of the place. It’s green, leafy, pleasant. It’s posh. And that’s why people want to be there. Not least the ANCYL, who earlier this week named Constantia as one of the places that they wanted land:

Yozi singled out Constantia and the Rondebosch Common as land that could be given to the province’s poor.

(you may remember Yozi from this post about extra holidays) (but I digress) (often).

Constantia is sought after. Having the name in your address adds an extra 25% to your house price and a certain something to your standing. And perhaps that’s why so many places claim to be there, when they’re actually somewhere else. If we choose to believe these places, then it’s not hard to see that Constantia, like the Universe, is expanding. I’m calling this phenomenon “Conspansion”.
And I saw some more of it while eating steak at the Hussar Grill last night:

Yes folks, Steenberg Village is now in Constantia. Not Westlake (where it is) or Tokai (where it’s near), but Constantia.

That’s Conspansion right there.

How quickly is this Conspansion taking place? Well, here’s a handy map to help you out:

If you look towards the top left of the map, then you’ll see Constantia labelled clearly as “Constantia”. That’s where Constantia is and where it’s been since the mid 1600s.

You may then note its progress south, to Nova Constantia and Belle Constantia, the latter of which I found first reference to in a document from the 1850s. I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and it seems to me that the rate of Conspansion was about 1km in two centuries. That’s about 0.005km per year.

Let’s consider now the period from 1850 to January 2012, when I was at Societi Brasserie. So about 162 years in total, and Constantia expanded by about 3km. That’s a conspansion rate of 0.019km per year – about four times as quick as the previous two centuries. The warning signs were there – we just didn’t see them.

Until now.

Because last night, as I mentioned above, I noted that Constantia has now expanded as far as Steenberg Village – a further 700m south from Societie in Tokai… er… Constantia. 700m in 7 months.

Suddenly, we’re faced with the terrifying scenario whereby conspansion has not only topped the threshold level of 1km per year, standing at 1.21km per year, but also that the rate of increase is an incredible 6268.42%.
“Ish just got real”, I believe is the appropriate modern terminology.

If Conspansion continues unchecked at these rates, soon all of the peninsular will be Constantia. Forecasts as to what exactly will happen then are mixed. While some experts believe that Conspansion with stop at Cape Point lighthouse in Constantia, the majority suggest that we will witness an ever faster Conspansion moving eastward, beginning with the gentrification of Retreat, Lavender Hill and Mitchell’s Plain before Nyanga and Khayelitsha are swept up in an all encompassing Constantia.

Tony, Yozi – stop with the protests and marches. Stop with the violence. Just be patient. You don’t need to come to Constantia – Constantia is coming to you.

This isn’t just service delivery, it’s suburb delivery.

And by my reckoning, it’ll be there by February next year. Just in time for Valentine’s Day. Lovely.
Then we can all be friends and neighbours. And you can stop stoning cars on the N2 in Constantia.

Please forward me any examples of Conspansion so that I can update my database accordingly. 

False Bay view

Some weeks there are too many pictures on this blog. But this hasn’t been one of those weeks and there are words everywhere.
It’s time to remedy that situation.

I grabbed this image from the upper slopes of the Groot Constantia Wine Estate on the evening that my boy was meeting Father Christmas and as the sun set across the Cape Flats.

It seems that I still have my fascination with dead trees.
I’m not sure that this is a good thing.

Constantia crab

I’m still wondering about that crab we saw yesterday. Under a car. In Constantia.

Thing is, I always thought crabs lived near the sea. (Apart from Coconut crabs, that is.)
And this was some distance away from the sea.

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and worked out that the most accessible sea to Alphen Drive is about 12.4km away.

The route the crab may have taken up the M3.

There is sea nearer than that as the crow flies, but it’s over a massive mountain and anyway, crabs can’t fly.
And bearing in mind that this crab was only about 8cm across, that 12.4km is the equivalent of you or I walking to the moon.

So what exactly was this crab doing under a car in Constantia?
Do we get land crabs in South Africa? In Cape Town?
Or was it just on holiday? Constantia’s Green Belt is very pretty.

Google has been unhelpful and I’m not exactly sure who else to ask. Especially after some of the results I got when I searched for information about “crabs” on the internet. Goodness me.

I’m quite sure that’s not the kind of thing you’d find in a nice suburb like Constantia.

UPDATE: This tweet leads me to look into Potamidae spp. A-ha!