30 December 2011

To my sort of geekdom

I'm still a very minor typography and lettering geek but I have high hopes for the future.

But whatever the outcome of my efforts, I'm pretty sure I won't tire of interesting, old book covers.

Najaar by Abraham Hendrik Jonker, as seen at Stellenbosch Antiques, a shop which naturally has a blackletter typeface for its name.

(Yes I made a snooty face when I said "blackletter"—nevermind that I usually have to wiki these things before I'm sure of my facts.)

Kalk Bay

We made a girl outing to Kalk Bay in Cape Town yesterday.

The world, as Norbert Wiener once remarked, may be viewed as a myriad of To Whom It May Concern messages. The significance of this statement becomes apparent when we recognize that everything that exists and happens in the world, every object and event, every plant and animal organism, almost continuously emits its characteristic identifying signal. Thus, the world resounds with these many diverse messages, the cosmic noise, generated by the energy transformation and transmission from each existent and event.

That is to say, Kalk Bay is full of shops which are full of things that will appeal to women who enjoy browsing.

While every thing and event contributes to this cosmic noise, each emits its identifying message and also has a highly selective receptivity for only a selection of these multiple messages, while indifferent or insensitive to all others.

And that is to say, it's definitely a good idea to leave the men at home.

Fun things to look out for in the pictures include what you're not aloud to take into the station or onto the train, and some hand painted signs. You'll also see some shots of the very extensive Whatnot and China Shop, of which I also made a brief video clip—you can't really sum the place up in pictures.

If you're going to visit Kalk Bay, strongly consider using the train. We didn't have any major traffic issues because we came and left earlier than many others—read: hipster kids, but since the main area of shops and restaurants doesn't span much of a distance and the station is at the centre of it all, it would've made more sense to go the public transport route. Next time!

Oh! And try cinnamon ice cream. What could be more Cape Town? Hello, spice route. (Just try to ignore the girl scratching around inside her mouth right before she serves you... I know, right?)

Quotes are from "The World as a Communication Network" by Lawrence K. Frank, as included in Sign, Image and Symbol (London: Studio Vista Ltd, 1966, p.1). This book and others procured from the excellent Quagga Rare Books & Art.

29 December 2011


We visited the Vergelegen estate in Somerset West yesterday. I'm not even sure where to begin. We went around the gorgeous rose garden before we had lunch at the adjacent Rose Terrace Bistro. Afterwards we marvelled at the majestic camphor trees and peaked inside the rooms of the homestead, all filled with antique furniture and interesting paintings. We then longed to open the books in the amazing library collection, and enjoyed even more garden spaces. Well worth a visit!

P.S. My aunt enquired, and artists are welcome to draw or paint in the gardens. Staff only need advance notice if big groups intend to visit. The library collection is also viewable by appointment, though it's probably better to contact them around March next year when the tasting room has moved out of the library into its new building.

P.P.S. It's R10 per person to enter the farm.


I promise I won't bore you with any details surrounding my Christmas. These pictures happen to be from Christmas day, but they have nothing to do with the event and everything to do with some good views of my hometown and some of the public sculptures that have been installed all over. You can read more about them on 20 Stellenbosch: Two Decades of South African Sculpture.

Pardon my complaints in the captions about my pocket camera, the Canon PowerShot A3100 IS. This camera refuses to focus when you've zoomed in on something. What is the point, I ask you!?

Speaking of captions, a note on the first one: "Post-colonial paradise".

Sometimes walking around here is a bit surreal. Palm trees, bright bougainvillea flowers, all these colours etched against the burning blue sky. And all the luxury around you, but if you were to simply float a short distance in another direction you could be surrounded by an environment that's completely different. This is just an odd country.

28 December 2011

Icing sugar

Truth be told I'm skipping my recent visit to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and fast forwarding to when I was taking the train to Munich to get a plane to come home to South Africa.

The sun was coming up just as we pulled out of Stuttgart and the roofs of houses and pointy steeples of churches were black silhouettes against a golden orange sky. Later I was enjoying how the villages and fields seemed to be sprinkled with icing sugar, the first real snow of the season. That's what this little clip is.

So I'll do a proper Rothenburg write-up at some later stage, and from the next post on it'll be all sunny skies and rose gardens. Don't we all just love those?

26 December 2011

Ludwigsburg & Stuttgart

Forever the backblogger. Here are a few pictures from when we visited the Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart Christmas markets.

01 December 2011


Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

So I've scanned the Wiki. And here I was thinking it's all about eating chocolates from little holes in a piece of cardboard with your favourite character on it.

But speaking of eating, here are some pictures of the Christmas markets that we've seen so far. On Saturday afternoon we went by the Böblingen market and had some sweet treats (I'll concede that Nutella on a crêpe is—in fact—pretty amazing), but as it was otherwise uneventful we continued from there to get more practical shopping done. In the evening we visited the Ehningen market which on the whole seemed more gloves-knitted-by-granny rather than scarf-imported-from-China, but either way we just partook of the deliciousness and skipped the stuff.

On Tuesday I ran into the Stuttgart market by accident and wandered around admiring the intricate decorations on the roofs of the stalls. I was also really excited to finally meet a random Japanese person. She said something to her child in the stroller and I spun around to accost her in Japanese. We had a quick chat. That's about it.

I'm sorry to be all unexcited by the markets and Christmas here. Clearly Germany invented everything that people love about Christmas, but I find the merchandise generally uninteresting and I've just come to prefer my family's philosophy on the matter. Gifts are for children. Christmas day is for eating together. Unnecessary shopping is to be avoided. As Stephen Colbert put it, "we are once again spending money we don't have on things we don't need to give to people we don't like". He then proceeds to show shoppers mobbing each other at big sales.

Personally I look forward to some quiet post-Christmas shopping for things we do actually need. Until then I'll just stick with enjoying the Glühwein, thanks.