We, my family and I, celebrated the New Year in Cape Town albeit from different perspectives. We had a leisurely dinner, all together, on the waterfront…..actually I need to re-phrase that sentence….we all ate dinner at the same table, in a beautiful setting, whilst all 4 of my children were permanently on their iPhones making social arrangements for their midnight rendezvous. At one point there was a dilemma when one of their best friends had a three-line-whip to stay with his family at a sedate dinner party and they debated whether they should swing-by and kidnap him. However we managed to persuade them that it was quite normal for families to want to be together as the new year dawned and not to encourage him to start the new year with a family fall-out. Meanwhile we respected that our own children (aged 21 – 34) would not see the need to stay with their aged parents to watch the fireworks and so they were soon whisked off by an Uber to some field in a vineyard where, with 4000 of their closest friends, they drank the new year in and we did not see them for 18 hours!
Meanwhile we, husband, eldest son (whose What’s App had failed to link him up with his planned party mates) and I returned to our Airbnb house on a wine estate and saw the new year in surrounded by wild life (Baboons and Guinea-fowl amongst many others in our garden), under a star filled sky with a chilled glass of local bubbles and happily wished the old year farewell and greeted the new one with renewed optimism.
2015 has been a s*** year for our family as we lost both my mother and the 26 year old son of some very close friends and I know we are not alone in thinking that it was not the best year so it will therefore not be difficult to improve upon. Hence we ended up by breaking with tradition and flying to the southern hemisphere for some South African hospitality and much needed sun.
It has been the most incredible holiday, not only because it was wonderful to spend two weeks as a family which, as our children grow older, is becoming increasingly difficult to organise, but also because Cape Town has provided a great back drop for all of our holiday needs. The sun has shone, on some days a little too relentlessly, the food and wine has been exceptional and the English pound has bought us more rand than we could spend.
However we still find the South African society hard to accept, the huge divide between the two classes, rich and poor, as there does not seem to be a middle class, has not improved since our last visit 8 years ago. Last time we were here the worry was what would happen when Mandela died, that emotional milestone having passed, the focus is now on what will happen when Zuma’s presidential reign eventually comes to an end. It is and has always been an unstable country but a beautiful one with a warm and welcoming people.
The house came with a housekeeper, Gertrude, who arrived every day at 9a.m. and even on the days when the buses did not work and it took over 2 hours to walk from her home to ours. My husband quickly stepped into drive her back and forth. Gertrude lives in a township, 250 metres from a very wealthy community, in a shack which she shares with her two children and many other family members. She has not seen her husband for 15 months as he is still working in Malawi, her home country. Gertrude has the sunniest disposition and never fails to greet us with an enormous smile. So if there is something that I can take away from South Africa it is Gertrude’s attitude to life, to be happy and enjoy what we have and have no envy of others who maybe have more.
Happy New Year to all of our readers.