Cape Town. Day off.
Opened my curtains to reveal blue skies, sunshine and a sweeping view of Table Mountain. Good start to the working week. Actually it wasn't a start to the working week at all as this turned out to be a bona fide day off. I was also delighted to note that I was feeling almost completely human for the first time since my descent into hay fever (or whatever the hell was going on with my head in Johannesburg.)
There was an outing in the works to a top-notch winery. It's one of those stellar book-nine-months-in-advance places, but Smasher had managed to pull strings as the owner's dog is Flemmish, or something. It sounded fantastic, but having just got back to 100%, embarking on a full day's wine-drinking in the sun seemed a tad foolhardy. I gave my apologies to Smasher and crew, no doubt emitting a strong odour of burning martyr as I did so.
By way of compensation I decided I'd do the trip out to Robben Island, site of Nelson Mandela's imprisonment. There was a boat leaving at 3pm, which would give me plenty of time, so I strolled the short distance to the V&A Waterfront. The sun was blazing and for a while I felt like I had been transported to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, one of my very least favourite parts of my former home town. En route I ran into Darren, one of our security chaps who had also managed to score a day off. He volunteered to join me on the trip to Robben Island but on arrival at the terminal we were disappointed to learn that it was it sold out for today.
Determined to have some sort of tourist experience, we went instead to the aquarium. It's fair to say that, by any stretch of the imagination, this isn't one of the great aquariums (aquaria?) of the world but it was very enjoyable and it's always a joy to spend time amid what must surely be the earth's most bizarre creatures (excluding the U2 crew, ho ho). If you try to see them with fresh eyes, the various aquarium tanks house the wackiest living things imaginable. It's completely sci-fi - extra-terrestrial jellyfish, crustacea straight out of Alien, kelp forests from Avatar, creatures looking like Jabba the Hutt, that space-tube in Dune, and a mad, expansive, floaty-looking thing that bore a striking resemblance to Lady Gaga. The clown fish are my favourite, amphiprion. I've no idea why, but they induce an irrational happiness in me, and this place had loads of them.
Later on, back at the ranch, I found myself a spot by the pool and finished off my book. I've been reading The Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller - a jaunty, laugh-a-minute memoir of growing up as a minority German family under Ceausescu's brutal regime in Romania. Needless to say, it's heavy going but the writing is genuinely remarkable. Its disjoined structure has a way of conjuring an atmosphere almost like poetry. It really is quite something, though I'm not sorry to have finished it. Not exactly beach towel material.
I ended up also having dinner with security Darren at a pretend sushi place back at Fisherman's Wharf (the food was fine, though a rather limited range of fish and no Japanese beer, a situation akin to an Irish pub with no Guinness). We were seated at a table outside, from where we were able to wave at the many members of our touring party who wandered by; lampies, rigger Dion, even Paul McGuinness who paused to ask our waitress if they had uni (she had no idea what he was talking about).
We rounded out the tourist day with a go on the ferris wheel, realising only after boarding that this was a slightly pointless exercise after dark. Strolled 'home' & turned in early. I've been listening to the Jonsi album from last year, which I'd kind of forgotten about. I saw him play at Latitude and it was one of the best (non-work) gigs I've seen in a very long time. He played in a tent with no production, just a band dressed as extras from Shrek and the most animated drummer since Clem Burke.
Very happy to be feeling human again.