Free wifi in the Company’s Gardens

Now here’s something exciting. The City of Cape Town has announced that they are implementing free wifi in the Company’s Gardens. Bringing the historic treasure up to speed with modern times, or something like that. The project is run in conjunction with Cape Town Partnership, Iziko Museums and Connected Space (wifi service providers) and you can read the full press release here.

This is the pilot project in which will hopefully be a larger plan to bring free wifi to other parts of Cape Town’s CBD as well. It also goes hand-in-hand with another nifty project in the gardens – one of tree-labelling. Some of the ancient and historical trees in the Company’s Gardens will receive labels and QR codes that you can scan on your smartphone to learn more about the tree in question.

The wifi will cover the Company Gardens restaurant as well as the area outside of the aviary and you’ll get 100mb free per day.

Now we have wifi in public spaces, we have an awesome bus system and trees that are connected to the internet. It seems like Cape Town is just getting better and better. Dig it.

 

Images courtesy of Richard Mortel and Robert Cutts.

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Read local: Passing Visions by Martin John Stokes

With brand new publishing houses, usually come brand new books. An obvious assumption, but a very exciting one if you find out about said brand new publishers while they’re still, well, brand new.

The publisher in question is Fox and Raven Publishing, an independent publishing house that recently entered Cape Town’s book scene. You can read my interview with them to see that they’re pretty fun and planning to bring a fresh, light-hearted feel to publishing.

That brings me to the brand new books and Fox and Raven’s very first published piece – Passing Visions by Martin John Stokes.
Scroll all the way down for a profile of Stokes.

fox and raven publishing

The book

You really have no reason not to read this little thriller, simply because it has only 25 pages. It all plays off inside the office of Indie Golding, a clinical psychologist, and the patient in question is sixteen-year-old James Riley, brought here by a rather disturbing experience.

Needless to say, if I were James, I would also fear the possibility that I have gone mad.

Now what I really liked about this story is that Stokes doesn’t try too hard to make James sound like a 16 year old. He simply tells the story in a normal way, with little slang and  words written out properly. I like that, it lets me decide for myself how the character sounds.

The other thing that I really liked was Stokes’ narrative flow. The story reads easily and he doesn’t cram too many adjectives into a sentence. He simply tells the story and you’re compelled to keep on reading because you’re not bombarded by unnecessary words. I had to look up two words though – lackadaisical and obsidian – but I guess I’m glad to be improving my vocabulary.

I say well done to Mr. Stokes.

Get Passing Visions on your Kindle here

Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 12.29.53 PMThe author

Nickname

Well, generally my name is just shortened to Mart or I’m called Stokes by some of my friends. Prosaic, right? And I have the dubious pleasure of being called The Marinator by a select few. There’s a rather esoteric reason behind that name that I’d rather not go into.

Age

I’m 21 but I’ll be turning 22 come December.

Your most prominent feature?

Oh wow, you’re asking for narcissism here. I’ve got a kind of broken-nose thing going on – kind of like Owen Wilson, but nowhere near as salient. Other than that I’ve got some pretty mean curls that start to show when my hair gets a bit longer.

How long have you been a writer?

I took an interest to writing when I was 16 or so, but I’ve loved books my entire life.

A published writer?

Kind of a funny story in a mirthless sort of way. I was 19 when I published my short story. Joe Vaz from Something Wicked picked it up. At the time it was the only print short-story magazine in South Africa (if my memory serves me correctly), but almost immediately after my story was accepted, the magazine went into a hiatus that spanned quite some time. During their break, they’d switched from a monthly magazine to a yearly anthology – worth the read, I might add, there are some fantastic local and international writers in there and the SW team do an amazing job putting the whole thing together. I had a story published last year and another two this year (the one you would have read, it’s the reason I’m typing this out, I guess) and in the middle of all of this, Joe Vaz and Vianne Venter from Something Wicked sent me an e-mail to say they’d like to put my story in one of their anthologies. So it actually took two years for the story to get to print, although it was accepted ages ago.

Who would you recommend Passing Visions to?

Anyone who’d read it! Horror aficionados, thriller-lovers and perhaps those with a strong gorge. But I think anyone who enjoys short fiction could deal with it.

Best book of your year so far?

At the moment I’m reading a novel by Stephen King; I’m about two-thirds through it and it’s gripped me like nothing has so far. So tentatively, I’d have to say 11/22/63.

Worst book of your year so far?

Tough question. I can’t think of a satisfactory answer, but I read a couple of pages of 50 Shades of Grey and was pretty horrified to realise that it actually made it print. If brevity counts, then most definitely 50 Shades.

Daylight writer or night time scribbler?

Writing is usually the third thing I do when I wake up. The first is stretch. The second is make a cup of coffee.

Real book or ebook?

I own a Kindle and love it to death but still find myself reading more paperbacks than anything else. eBooks do have merit, though. Who doesn’t like the idea of carrying around an entire library in the back-left pocket of their jeans?

Finish a bad book till the end or drop it and find something better?

I’m a firm believer in giving a book a chance. That being said. there’s only so much a person can struggle through. There are countless good books out there and a limited time to read as many as possible, so if the book really isn’t doing it for me, after I’ve given it a chance (and maybe a second one; I’m a believer in those, too), then I put it aside where it’ll most likely gather dust and progress onto what will hopefully be (and usually is) the next great novel.

*Featured image courtesy of Rosmary

How to spend a rainy Thursday afternoon in Cape Town

So it’s been raining the entire day and you were caught in a particularly strong downpour as you walked from the office to your car. Now you’re driving and all you want to be is home.

Don’t go there though. Rainy Thursday afternoons have much more potential.

Drive directly to the Book Lounge in Roeland Street. If it’s after 5pm then you don’t have to pay for parking anymore and, if you’re lucky, the casual car guards haven’t showed up yet. Now you can browse books to your heart’s delight, drink a warm cup of coffee or tea downstairs and settle in one of the deep chairs for a bit of a read. Alternatively, wrap up your day, make your to-do list for tomorrow or (and this usually happens to me) collect arms full of books, spread them out on the table below and take your proper time to decide what you want to buy. In other bookshops I tend to make much more rash decisions because there’s never space to sit.

booklounge market

Now you can go and get some dinner. The Hope Street Market is literally just up the road, but you might want to drive there. It’s a particularly cosy spot, partly because of the warm food and live acoustic music, and partly because the hall is generally packed to the brim with people in scarfs, coats and hoods. The food is hearty, but also readily made. So no cooking, no dishes and no takeaways. Grab a glass of smooth red or a craft beer, try and find a seat (the most challenging part of the evening) and either  meet up with friends or make a run for it and eat your food at home. If you’re planning to sit though, the upstairs area is your best bet.

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Once home, there’s still an entire chunk of the evening left, but unlike the sluggish-series-and-microwave-meal-evening you would’ve had had you gone directly home, you now have proper food and proper books.

So much church, so pretty

Even if you’re not a religious or church-going person, it’s hard to ignore all the intricately detailed and beautiful churches spread out across Cape Town‘s city centre. Like this one, for example. It’s the methodist church on Greenmarket Square and, although it serves as a convenient meeting place on the square, it’s also rather beautiful to look at. It’s a little difficult getting a clear view of the entire church, what with all the stalls, shoppers and coffee-drinkers around, but if you stand right in front of the front doors and you look up, the view is quite something too.

greenmarket square church

Art and books unite – The Shining Girls art show

shining girls

Lauren Beukes is making serious waves. And although I’ve seen her books come out and I’ve seen loads of people reading them, I’ve never actually read any of her novels. Until about a week ago. I just couldn’t ignore the existence of such an influential local author any longer. I’m speedily making my from Moxy Land, through Zoo City and on to The Shining Girls (her latest offering) and I can’t wait to get there.

Not only is The Shining Girls doing incredibly well locally, it’s also leaving it’s imprint overseas. Just have a look here, Wired.com reviewed it.

And now it’s turning into an art show. A whole cluster of local artists are going to work on an exhibition together, each ripping a page out of the novel and doing whatever they want with it. The proceeds will go to Rape CrisisNot much is yet finalised, but artists that have been confirmed include Conrad BotesKudzanai Chiurai,Faith47Joey Hi-Fi and DALEast. The exhibition will run from 6-11 September in collaboration with the Open Book Festival in Cape Town’s fringe district.

Read more on Lauren Beukes’s website.

the shining girls lauren beukes

Sunrise from the Metrorail

With petrol prices absolutely sky-rocketing (and rocketing higher still into the universe) I have decided to start taking the train to work. And it’s been great so far, considering that today is day two of this new mission. Riding in cars also get on my nerves and walking from the station to work allows for a bit of excercise. All in all a few not-so-bad reasons to explore our country’s very old (and sometimes frowned upon) public transport system.

Now it may not be the safest of options for a girl travelling alone, but I’m hoping that constant vigilance will protect me. Phones and ipods shouldn’t be flaunted either.

So on my second day of Metrorail travels, I captured the sunrise through the window. Beaut.

train sunrise

HQ – for the love of steak

Disclaimer: you don’t have to eat meat to indulge in the brilliance that is HQ. Keep reading, you’ll see.

There’s a lot of beauty found in simple things. I’m talking uncluttered, but masterful. Simple, yet brilliant. And that’s exactly what you’ll encounter when you spend an evening at HQ. Loosely based on a French dining concept, Headquarters specialises in one thing and one thing alone.

Steak.

Which means that they’re good at it. I would much rather eat at a place that knows a lot about one thing than a little about a lot of things. So here’s how it works:

First, you get a warm welcome at the door and you’re shown to the lounge and bar area where you can have a quick drink while you wait for you friends. It was a Monday night when we went and Mondays mean live music from a Bob Marley cover band. They were busy setting up, the fire was blazing and we were soon nice and toasty.

HQ Cape Town-2

Now you go to your table. These are stacked quite close together, but it’s not bothersome at all. In fact, it created quite a cosy, friendly feel.

HQ Cape Town-4

You look down at your menu.

HQ Cape Town-5

Yup, that’s it. There’s a separate drinks menu, but this is stamp is only thing resembles a food menu in here. Makes for much less clutter on the table.

Now you can spot the other tidbit of information on the table – two-for-one Mondays. Score.

HQ Cape Town-6

Next up, the drinks come and you’re asked only one food-related question: How would you like your steak? That gets written down on your table. Like this.

HQ Cape Town-7

Now there’s a bit of time to drink, chat and enjoy the music which is just loud enough so that you can groove along to the songs, but soft enough so that you don’t need to strain to chat to the other people. It’s all very well balanced.

HQ Cape Town-8

The food starts coming. First up is you starter. All of these are the same and they’re just perfect to get the taste buds ready.

HQ Cape Town-9

And now, for the main treat – a quality slice of steak, with butter and herb sauce and perfectly crispy French fries. These are what I would imagine gourmet McDonalds fries would taste like – extremely delicious. And the steak? Well, I’d say it’s close to perfection.

HQ Cape Town-10

Now vegetarians, don’t fret. Except if you can’t stand being surrounded by so much meat, you can enjoy a delicious mushroom substitute with the same fries and the same yummy sauce.

Just as you get about halfway with this impressive plate of food, the waiter comes by with a large dish and offers you more sauce and more fries. Yes! That just happened! So a good idea would be to get going on your fries before they come around so that there’s space on your plate for another proper helping.

Now you can order a spot of dessert if you feel that you can handle it. I couldn’t, but the creme brule on the table next door did look rather delicious.

And that’s it! Two hours later and my tummy couldn’t be happier.

HQ Cape Town

HQ

100 Shortmarket Street,
Heritage Square
021 424 6373
www.hqrestaurant.co.za
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Opening times:

Monday – Saturday
Kitchen serving 11h30 – 22h30
Bar open till late

Cafe Frank – not just a café

Café Frank has been around for a while, but it’s often overlooked as a coffee stop because of the ever so popular Jason’s just across the road. I only discovered it because the queue at The Hatch promised at least 10 minutes’ waiting time which I didn’t have that morning. So I went to Cafe Frank’s hatch, and subsequently to sit inside and eat. Now I’ll keep going back. There’s just so many things to try.

The inside is simple. There’s long, light-wood benches and tables and walls of shelves stocking yummy eats and drinks for a quick lunch. You order at the counter, paying, tipping and getting all of it done. Then you can sit back for a chat or a good read. I love the high stacks of Rolling StoneWired and Time Magazine just sitting there, waiting for you to stuff your brain with new information. If you can’t stand reading something that’s printed on paper, there’s always the free wifi to keep you occupied.

The food is wholesome and without fancy frills. Apart from the pastry-based breakfasts (everything is baked fresh and lined along the counter, tempting you to forget those healthy eating habits), there’s also the very delicious and colourful looking yoghurt, muesli and fruit to indulge in if you manage to stop yourself. Lunches are either decently filled ciabatta’s and sourdough sandwiches, plated chicken/salmon/quiche and salad, soup of the day or a wide variety of filling salads.

Going on a picnic? Stop here on the way and pick up a fresh, delicious picnic box.

Not keen to cook and less keen for takeaway? Pick up a take-home dinner on your way from work.

They really have all your meals covered, and deliciously so.

cafe frank  cafe frank-8
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cafe frank-5  cafe frank-4  cafe frank-3 

Café Frank

160 Bree Street (corner of Bree and Bloem)
cafefrank.com
info@cafefrank.com 
021 423 0360

Opening times: 

Monday – Thursday 07:30 – 18:00
Friday 07:30 – 17:00
Saturday 08:00 – 14:00