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Lesley Cox

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Tibetan Sand Mandala, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (Clock Tower)

Two Tibetan Monks from New Zealand are preparing a Mandala of sand as a special blesing for South Africa

While you are on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, take a walk over to the Clock Tower side where you will find on the first floor, two Tibetan monks making a mandala from sand.  They have journeyed from New Zealand to make a special blessing for South Africa.  Viewing is free, daily from 9am until 5pm and it was incredible to watch these two monks slowly applying the sand to make up this sand mandala of compassion.

You are welcome to join in meditation and prayers at the beginning and end of the day or simply pass by and appreciate the mandala as an incredible piece of work.

Tonight, (February 19), there is a free public talk “How to be Happy” by Geshe-la at the Clock Tower) from 7pm to 8.30pm (you are welcome to bring along a cushion to sit on).

In addition the monks will be visting Oranjezicht City Farm on Saturday (Feb 22) from 11am-12pm.

On sunday Febraury 23 there will be the closing ceremony where the mandala is dissolved, blessed and gifted to the ocean from the swing bridge linking the Clock Tower to the Waterfront.  All are welcome to observe or bring flower heads to gift to the ocean and if you would like some of the blessed sand please bring along a small container. This closing ceremony is from 3pm- 5pm

In addition the monks will participate in the following events:

Saturday March 1: Prayers for World Peace on top of Table Mountain

Sunday March 2: Tibetan New Year Prayers at Kirstenbosch Gardens (bring a picnic lunch)

Sand Mandala


Sitting daily preparing the sand mandala


You can watch the preparation of the sand mandala up very close

This sand mandala upon completion will be dissolved and gifted to the ocean Sunday February 23 between 3pm-5pm



Blue shed craft market at the Victoria & Alfred waterfront is undergoing renovations

Temporary space for blue shed craft market

The traditional craft market in the blue shed (next door to the aquarium) is undergoing renovations and the stall holders have been given a new temporary space.

They are now located in between the dry dock and the blue bridge close to the Cape Grace Hotel.  Access is from either close to the aquarium or on the opposite side it is well-signposted from the food lovers market close to Noble Square.

The blue shed was in desperate need of an upgrade and should be ready by the end of June 2014.

The hours remain the same, open seven days per week from 9.30am until 6pm.


Book of Condolence at the Mandela statue

Signing the Book of Condolence at the Mandela Statue

As I was beginning my tour of the wine region in Franschhoek yesterday I decided to take the longer route via the Victor Verster (Klein Drakenstein) prison and write in the Book of Condolence for Nelson Mandela by his statue.

In addition they are asking visitors to write messages on tiles. The warden informed me that as the condolence books from around the country will be going to the archives, they have decided to ask visitors to write additional messages on tiles and they will build a memorial at the entrance to the prison so that the messages can be viewed by everybody for years.


Mandela statue in the winelands

Mandela statue in front of the Drakenstein prison

If you are travelling between Paarl and Franschhoek along the R301, you might want to take a pause by the Drakenstein prison and admire the statue by well-known sculptor Jean Doyle.  Doyle was commissioned by Tokyo Sexwale to create a tribute to Nelson Mandela for his 90th birthday and be a memorial for his release from prison on February 11, 1990.

Behind the statue at the base of the flag pole are 27 stones to symbolise the 27 years he spent in prison.  The statue lays on black and white tiles (to represent both the white and black activists against apartheid), shaped in a tear drop to represent the tears that have been shed in the struggle.  Barbed wire surrounds the tear drop to symbolise being in prison.

This Long Walk to Freedom Statue was unveiled on August 21, 2008 (his 90th birthday was July 18, 2008)

A year earlier, another statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled in Parliament Square, London.  Mr Mandela is in good company alongside statues of Sir Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.

It took seven years for Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London), Wendy Woods (widow of apartheid activist Donald Woods) and Sir Richard Attenborough to campaign for this bronze tribute.  What is unique about Nelson Mandela’s statue is that it is the only statue in Parliament Square where the person was present at the unveiling.  All the other leaders had passed away by the time theirs were made.




Bronze tribute to Nelson Mandela, Parliament square, London

Huguenot Memorial Museum, Franschhoek

Huguenot Memorial Museum, Franschhoek

Franschhoek has some fantastic boutique shops and art galleries and it is worthwhile giving some attention to the Huguenot Memorial Museum located by the entrance to the monument.

This amazing building is a replica of the Saasveld building which was located in Long street in Cape Town and demolished in 1954.  The original plans for Saasveld were used and the Franschhoek Farmers Association used their time and trucks to fetch as many usable materials from the demolition in the construction of this building.  The slate tiles on the front verandah were from Robben Island,  and the large red tiles in the entrance passage were from Batavia (today Jakarta).  The museum opened it’s doors in March 1967.

On arrival I suggest you ask the staff to play the introduction video (lasts 12 minutes) and gives a perfect summary of the history of the French Huguenots.  Afterwards you can stroll through the museum and get a feeling for what life must have been like for these 150 French Huguenots who arrived at the Cape between 1688-1700 and their contribution to the Cape culture.

The Huguenots were French Protestants who suffered persecution from the Roman Catholics and were forced to flee France in the 17th century.  Many were skilled craftsmen and professionals who would have arrived at the Cape with only a few possesions.

The museum in open Mon-Saturday 9am – 5pm and Sundays 2pm-5pm with an admission fee of R10

Half price sunset special after 6pm at Table Mountain

Cable car, Table Mountain

There is a half price sunset special for the cable car running until December 20.  Tickets can only bought from the counter at Table Mountain from 6pm, and as the last car down in 8pm you will be able to enjoy two hours on top.

As many South Africans like to take advantage of this special for their families to visit Table Mountain, visitors begin forming a queue from around 4.30pm.  So international visitors who have already purchased their tickets online in advance often find that around 4pm can be an excellent time to visit Table Mountain and walk straight on to the cable car and it will not be so crowded on top.

The busiest time for Table Mountain is the morning and it can be very hectic when the cable car has been closed for a couple of days due to strong winds.

It is always worth checking in advance whether the cable car is running before setting off.  Either call Tel 021 424 8181 or check their website

Haas – coffee shop in Bo Kaap

Bunny Chow at Haas, Rose street, Bo Kaap

This bunny chow is probably one of the best I have ever tasted and enjoyed at Haas in the Bo Kaap.

There are many theories as to the origin of the Bunny Chow but the one I like best is that it was created as lunch for the Indian labourers working on the sugar plantations in Kwa Zulu Natal in the middle nineteenth century.  The bread acted as a container for the curry and could be enjoyed for lunch with the curry.  This Bunny Chow at Haas was only R58 and could easily be shared by two people if you have a lighter appetite.

Also one of the stops on the Gourmet walking city tour offered by Pam McOnie of Cape Fusion Tours, Haas is not only known for their menu, but in particular their quality coffee and setting.

Quality coffee is important to me and at Haas they have their own small coffee bean roaster and a variety of blends.

What really does it for me is the quirky setting with a variety of styles of seating area and unusual crafts for sale.

Haas is open Monday to Friday 7am – 5pm and weekends 8am to 3pm.



Haas coffee shop, Bo Kaap


Haas, Bo Kaap




BoKaap – Street food

Wardia sells her freshly prepared Cape Malay snacks in the Bokaap

I am a big fan of Cape Malay food and an even bigger fan of street food, so I was delighted when Pam McOnie of Cape Fusion Tours stopped here as part of her Gourmet food city walking tour.

Wardia offers freshly made samoosas, vetkeok with curry mince, chicken pies, mini pizzas, cup cakes and Cape Malay Koeksisters.  All her food is freshly prepared and she sells it from Rose street (around the corner from Atlas Trading and opposite the Bo-Kaap museum.

Wardia can be found selling this delicous food from Wednesday to Saturday from 8am to 2pm.  I bought samoosas and a chicken pie.  The rest of the group enjoyed the Cape Malay koesisters and vetkoek with curry mince.

Highly recommended and very reasonably priced.  Once you have tried her food and would like to order directly, perhaps for some home entertaining, Wardia can be contacted on 072 268 5287 or 021 904 4717

Food lovers keen to explore the historical aspects of Cape Town with emphasis towards local cuisine should consider a Gourmet food walking tour with Pam McOnie of Cape Fusion Tours 083 235 9777



Samoosas, cup cakes, vetkoek with curry mince and mini pizzas

Historical Photos of Cape Town – Exhibition at the National Library

Historic Cape Town Photo Exhibition at National Library, Company Gardens

If you want to know what Cape Town looked like 100 years ago, get yourself to the National Library at the base of the Company Gardens.

Lenses & Shutters as Witnesses is presented by the National Library of South Africa & the Cape Town Photographic Society and showcases  many unique historical images, plus a dispalay of the various photographic processes used in the nineteenth century.

My favourites were the photos of Adderley street, Strand street (showing the Grand Hotel, which today is Woolworths).  Plus some great images of the pier close to the Waterfront.

The exhibition has free entry and as it is located on the second floor of the National Library opening times are Monday – Friday from 9am -4pm with Wednesday being 10am – 4pm.

This exbibition is really worthwhile coming to see when you are next in town and is running until March 31, 2014.




Cabinet with images of Adderley Street