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Last night of honeymoon

Did I mention it’s pretty here?

Resort time

So…the funny thing about being at a resort and doing very little other than lying on the beach (in the shade, obviously) reading between meals is that time rather collapses. It’s been a few days since I posted, but there’s not been all that much going on to put together an update. Here’s my best effort:

On Monday: Andrew went water skiing. In the process, he lost one of his contacts. That’s bad in the short term for obvious reasons, but good in the long term because he’s finally agreed to have his eyes lasered. He also stepped on a sea urchin, which put two spines into his left food. He had to go to the infirmary so they could pull them out. He was much less complainy about it than I would have been.

On Tuesday: We went snorkeling. Which was fun, but my back got a little sunburned despite putting on waterproof SPF 30. Oh well. It’s already just tan, so it wasn’t a real sunburn. We saw lots of cool fish, but the coral itself wasn’t nearly as pretty as when we snorkeled at the Blue Hole near Dahab.

Today (Wednesday): We hired a driver to take us all over the island. We went to the botanical gardens (to see the ivy, obviously). Then we went to The Adventure of Sugar, where we learned more about sugar than we ever needed to know. Also a lot about the history of Mauritius. I, for example, didn’t know this is where dodos had lived. Please can someone genetically re-engineer them? Also that there were no native inhabitants. So that was pretty cool. There was TONS to read though. And, at the recommendation of the BA High Life magazine, we went to the attached restaurant, which was good though the service wasn’t great. Andrew had tuna carpaccio and a local sausage dish. I had an aubergine/mozarella thing and then a dry curry with local venison (was this chicken born on this plate? because if it’s any less local than that I can’t eat it).

After lunch we headed to Port Louis, where we visited an old British fort, and the market, and then took the scenic route over the mountains back to the hotel. Now we’re just chilling out before dinner.


Today I went swimming in the Indian Ocean. My wedding ring slipped off when I was in about 4 feet of water. It fell into the sand and disappeared from view. I tried to reach down and feel it, but I couldn’t find it in the sand. And Andrew was about 40 yards away on his lounger, and there were no clear demarcations of place and there was a decent current going. I didn’t want to shout for him, because I didn’t want people to think I was a swimmer in distress. So I just stood there muttering “fuck fuck fuck” under my breach and hoping he would notice that I was standing there and then come say hi and then go get me a snorkel and mask and I would try to find the ring.

After about 20 minutes, he did. Before he even got to the water’s edge, he noticed the sheepish look on my face, pointed to his own ring, and headed off to the boat house.

There then commenced another 20 minutes of fruitless searching before we all but gave up hope. Andrew stayed in the water and kept feeling around with his feet while I returned the snorkel and mask. The boat house was just closing up, and the two guys running it offered to come help.

By this point, though, we’d trampled so much of the sand (and no doubt been carried downstream a certain amount by the current), so they searched and searched without much hope.

And then they found it. They found my wedding ring. Against all the odds. I gave each of them  €50. I hope they convert it to rupeees before euros are totally worthless.

I can’t really remember anything else that happened today, if you’ll believe that, but I am now thoroughly impressed by Lux Resorts.

One other reason I love this resort: they have enough power sockets.

There are also two sockets on each side of our (very comfortable) bed. Win.


So far on this trip, we’ve not had more than 3 days in one place. This has been good for Andrew, who likes to have new things to do, but it doesn’t satisfy my deep desire to do absolutely nothing. In my daily life I spend so much time doing things (rushing places and moving around and getting sh*t done) that I really do value some down time on holiday. Reading for hours at a time. Maybe going to the gym every morning before breakfast and taking a nap every afternoon.

What’s that you say? It sounds like Oxford? Yes, I suppose you’re right: it does. Remind me again why I didn’t take a fourth year to finish my D.Phil.

Anyway, today we left South Africa for Mauritius. We got up at 6am and Rita took us back to the airport. We hung out in the lounge for a bit, and then went to get Andrew some new sunglasses. The flight was long, but BA gave us each a deck of cards to pass the time, so I’m going to (finally) teach Andrew to play Grandpa’s Game, our family version of solitaire, which is awesome.

We arrived and my cheapness paid off, since the group transfer I bought ahead of time actually ended up being a private transfer. I’m very glad we didn’t rent a car, because the roads here are awfully narrow and full of people and animals. So that worked out.

Something else that worked out? The resort we had booked burned down (oops), and so they gave us a choice of 4 other hotels to stay at. A quick tripadvisor search led me to the Beau Rivage but since then it’s been refurbished and brought under Lux Resorts as the Belle Mare. Turns out it’s pretty awesome, even though we seem to be the ONLY gay couple here.

Rather boring evening. We went to dinner at the resort’s Indochinese restaurant (wait? dinner was included in our room price? sweet!) and then sent off our dirty clothes to be washed, and now we’re about to watch Portlandia.


A bit of a downer

Brief update today. It was our only full day in Johannesburg, so we made the most of it by sleeping in until 10. We went to breakfast on the terrace (fruit and then pancakes for both of us). The view over the northern suburbs was lovely. Then we went to the gym. Then Keats came and picked us up and we went to a cafe called Vovotelo in Parkhurst. Andrew had a pizza with ham and brie. I had a lamb burger. Both were delicious.

After lunch we called a taxi and headed to the Apartheid Museum, which as (a) very very far away and (b) a bit of a downer. It was actually really interesting to learn more about the historical antecedents to formal apartheid, and shocking to understand the dereliction of duty by the Liberal government in the UK that passed (and stood by) the 1909 South Africa Act. Between that and the 1911 Parliament Act, Asquith may have just surpassed Thatcher as my least favourite PM of the 20th century.

Anyway, after the Museum we headed back to the hotel, where we met Keats and drank the wine we’d bought at La Motte on Tuesday. Then we headed to Wombles for dinner, where we were met by our friend Julie. Andrew and I both had fillets; he had cajun calamari to start and I had a salad. We had some very good wine that Keats ordered.

Now we’re heading to bed since tomorrow we have to get up at 6 to fly to Mauritius for the last leg of the honeymoon. It’s going so fast!

Onward to Joburg

So begins the penultimate leg of our honeymoon. Today we flew from Cape Town up to Johannesburg. We’re here for two nights before we head to Mauritius on Saturday.

We got up at about 8 and read for a little bit before packing and then heading to breakfast. We’ll miss Franschhoek a lot, but move we must. Our only complaint, in the end, was that the A/C in our room didn’t work all that well, so it was hot sleeping. First world problems. Sigh.

Anyway, we drove back to Cape Town airport and listened to a Savage Love podcast. Always enjoyable. That said, it served as a reminder of why, next time we rent a car on holiday, we’ll get something with a rather bigger engine. It would have been nice to have been able to accelerate enough to pass people.

When we got to the lounge, we each had a massage. That was nice. And then we hung out until our flight, which was pleasant and relatively empty. On the approach to Joburg we flew through/into a really cool thunder storm.

Johannesberg is much much greener than I expected. Our friend (and coworker) Julie recommended a driver for us, who took us along to the Westcliff Hotel, which is awfully nice in an old-worldy sort of way. Bizarrely, they thought we had booked two hotel rooms (we hadn’t). On the plus side, they knew it was our honeymoon and we had a bottle of bubbly waiting for us in our room when we got there…we also had a nice card addressed to Mr & Mr House (win!). Anyway, the room is nice, and the view is lovely, but the decor might not be exactly our style:

Andrew went to the gym, and then Keats came and met us at the hotel and helped us drink the bubbly, and then he took us to Thomas Maxwell in Parkmore. The food was very good, but Andrew wasn’t feeling so hot, so he didn’t eat much. He had a salad with halloumi to start, followed by a rabbit & sausage pasta. I had gazpacho and a fillet. Keats had steak tartare and something else I obviously wasn’t paying enough attention to.

Anyway, despite Andrew not feeling great, it was a very nice meal.  Joburg…jury is still out. It seems one must drive everywhere in this city, and that’s one of my least favourite things, but the food was great and it’s wonderful to see Keats.

So so high

I’m a morning person, but there are limits. We got up at 4am today to go hot air ballooning. Andrew, being worried that we WOULDN’T get up at 4am, set an alarm and a backup alarm even though the woman who runs Wineland Ballooning promised to give us a wakeup call to let us know if the weather (read: wind) would allow a flight. She was good to her word. Phone call at 4am.

We drove to Paarl in the darkness, listening to the In Our Time on Marriage. We met at the Hotel Grande Roche, and drove from their to the launch site. We got to help put the balloon together. Or: Andrew helped and I took photos.

I’m going to lay an irrational prejudice out on the table right now: I have a strong belief that ALL hot air balloons should be a combination of blue, red and yellow. Green can sneak in sometimes, but not too often. Our balloon was grey and pink and yellow. Aesthetics aside, we had an amazing flight. We saw the sun rise (twice), we got high enough to see over one line of mountains all the way to Cape Town, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, and the wind changed on a few occasions so we got to see different things immediately below us. Our intrepid guide told us we got to about 3,200 feet above the ground. Which was pretty cool. I didn’t at all feel afraid of heights, the the basket thing was smaller than I had expected. Once we get the pics from the good camera loaded onto a computer, I’ll add some shots from the balloon.

After ballooning we went back to the Grande Roche for breakfast and bubbly. Standard breakfast, though I had scrambled eggs and Andrew had an omelet with ham and cheese. Then we went to Fairview, a winery WITH GOATS. We (obviously) did the joint wine and cheese tasting, which was great.

From there we headed back to La Petite Ferme, where we had lunch again. Again, it was great. Andrew had the brie salad and then venison medallions. I had pork belly followed by the bobotie. We had a bottle of their own bubbly, which was unlabled and fantastic.

We mostly dozed after lunch, but Andrew went for a run before we headed to Le Quartier Francais for dinner. We didn’t get our act together in time to eat at their flagship The Tasting Room (next time), so we headed to the Common Room instead. It’s small plates. That’s a food delivery mechanism we generally avoid, but we very much liked it tonight. For drinks I had a homemade ginger beer (delicious and fermenty) and Andrew had a giant strawberry daiquiri, and then we each got a beer. For food, we shared the following:

  • parmesan french toast with spanish cured ham & preserved limes
  • fish pops with chakalaka ketchup
  • satay spiced squid with peanuts and coriander (GREAT!)
  • pan fried prawn croquettes with rough tartare sauce
  • fried parmesan gnocchi with spiced aubergine and spinach (so good we ordered a second plate)
  • springbok meatballs with apple mustard
  • saucisson sec with pickled vegetables
It was pretty great. now we’re back home reading on the patio, and being sad about leaving Franschhoek tomorrow.

Franschhoek may be paradise

I’ve always wondered whether I prefer a mountain village or a beach town. This morning that was settled decisively in favour of the mountain village. It could be an unfair battle, since the view from our room here at La Petite Ferme is breathtakingly beautiful. But our view from The Clarendon in Cape Town was lovely too. But a view of the ocean is all rather uniform: look where you might, it will resemble the rest of the view. The valley and mountains in front of us offer more variety:

It may also be the mountain air that I like so much. It was lovely and cool this morning, and even though I didn’t sleep that well last night, I was up by 7am. Andrew got up soon thereafter, and went for a run, this time down into the valley. He tells me there was less traffic, which is good because I’m learning to worry in preparation for motherhood.

After another quick swim, we headed to breakfast. We both had lots of fruit (etc), and then a fritata with parmesan cheese and red onions. It was good, but the view really upstaged the breakfast. Once we were done eating, we met John, the head of the family that runs the vineyard and winery, and who started it all 30 years ago. He gave us a tour of the grapes (which included him asking me all sorts of questions that I had prepared to ask him (sigh), and of the cellars (which I really enjoyed), including letting us taste wines out of the casks (so so exciting). Then we went back up to the bar and tried a wide selection of bottled wines, and had a good discussion about screw tops.

As tour rounded out, we got John’s advice on what other wineries we should visit that day. He sent us to Stony Brook (even smaller than La Petite Ferme) and Le Motte (much much bigger: as John said, we should see how the other half live). Stony Brook was grand. The woman who runs the place with her husband helped us taste about 7 different wines, and we liked several of them quite a lot, so we bought two cases to be shipped up to to London for us. Le Motte was an altogether more formal affair. Prim young women efficiently moving you through the offerings, very helpful if we had a quesiton, but not the type of place to sit back and have a chat. That said, we bought two bottles from them (a Shiraz and a Shiraz-Grenache blend). We’ve been delighted to discover that Shiraz smells like a locker room…in a good way.

We then headed back to La Petite Ferme for lunch, and I’m delighted to say that the food was an equal match for the view. Andrew had Ostrich Carpaccio followed by Bobotie, then chocolate tart. I had a deep fried brie salad followed by rabbit stew, and then milk tart. We drank a Viognier from their cellar and a good desert wine with our puddings.

Since lunch (which we finished at about 5pm) we’ve mostly been reading and napping on our giant wonderful patio. We have to get up tomorrow at 4am to go hot air ballooning, so we’re going to bed as soon as it’s cool enough to sleep.

To the wine country (A guest blog from Andrew)

Anthony has grown bored of all this blogging so I shall write up what we did today. After a final breakfast at the guest house (I got the french toast again, and Anthony had the scrambled eggs), we packed and then headed to the beach in Capt Town one last time, to Clifton 3 (where all the gays go). We rented chairs and an umbrella, and lazed about for a while — being a Monday morning it wasn’t super busy. After reading and napping for 2 hours or so we took a quick swim in the freezing water and then headed to Long Street for lunch.

We had a complete parking fail — after getting out and going down the street a bit, a number of unsavory types were lingering around our car, having seen all of our luggage in the trunk, so we decided to be safe rather than sorry and drove over to Kloof Street and parked somewhere a bit safer. We had lunch at a bakery called Knead, where I had a chicken curry pizza and Anthony had a Spanish breakfast pizza (with chorizo, eggs and onions). The pizzas were delicious, though we ate them at separate times because at first they brought Anthony a spinach and feta pizza, which he wouldn’t stand for.

On our way out of Cape Town, we stopped at the Rhodes Memorial, a massive stone amphitheater thing lined with lion statues and centered on a statue of Cecil Rhodes.


We paid our respects to ‘Uncle Cecil’ (he did lead Anthony to Oxford, where we met) and started on our way to the wine country. Our destination was Franschhock, a very lovely town about an hour to the north and east of Cape Town, known for its vineyards and delicious food. On Adam’s recommendation, we stayed at La Petite Ferme, a working winery with 15 guest rooms and an amazing restaurant. Our room in the Manor House had perhaps the most beautiful view of any place we’ve ever stayed at.


After unpacking, cracking open of a bottle of La Petite Ferme wine, taking a quick dip in the pool and a nap, it was late enough in the day for me to go for a run — I headed out of Franschhock up the mountain, and while the narrow roads and sharp turns were a bit dicey when cars were passing, the views were spectacular.

After my run and a shower we headed into town and had dinner at Ryan’s Kitchen (on TripAdvisor’s recommendation). We weren’t disappointed — we had the tasting menu with paired wines, and there were lots of unexpected but delicious pairings (berries with goat’s cheese ice and olive oil powder — actually really really good). The full menu:

The Chef’s Appetzer…from the lab


Smoked Snoek “Smoor” Mousse
with frozen cucumber cannelloni, seaweed, miso-apple vinaigrette, wasabi meringue
2009 Mullineux Family Wines ‘Kloof Street’ Chenin Blanc


with seasonal asparagus, smoked potato and pistachio dukkah
2010 La Bri Chardonnay


Lamb and Apple Bobotie
with tumeric and coconut ‘spoom’
2008 Stony Brook Camissa Red Blend


Summer Melon Slushpuppy


Sous-Vide Beef Fillet
with crab-tomato butter, confit onion and crust
2006 Mont Rochelle Syrah


Franschhoek Berries and Olive Oil Powder
with goat cheese granite, cassonade sugar
2010 Nederburg Noble Late Harvest


Fresh Mint Tea & Petit Fours
Rooibos tea jelly and custard, Malva pudding and beet caramel, Turkish delight

After which we headed home and went to bed. I am getting used to this ‘not working’ thing.

Like a sandblaster

Today we took a beautiful drive, but we also got sandblasted and ate at a place that sounds like an American all-you-can-eat buffet.

Having been regularly thwarted by clouds in our efforts to visit Table Mountain, today we decided to head south. First we had breakfast at the hotel–have I mentioned the view is Amazing?

Breakfast at Clarendon Bantry Bay

Anyway, after breakfast we began our journey down to the Cape of Good Hope. We were unwilling to rush, though, so we decided to head to the beach first.

The people at the Clarendon had warned us that, as the last day of summer holidays, the beaches were likely to be chock full of families and young people. Sub-optimal, right? Well we figured a way around that: nude beach! Well, kinda. We mostly went to Sandy Beach, just outside Llandudno because it’s a 20 minute hike from the parking lot and therefore almost empty. And it was, in fact. There were maybe three dozen people on a huge beach, plus 4 or 5 surfers.. Yes, some of them were naked. We played it cool, but the water played it COLD. I’m really looking forward to Mauritius next week, where the water won’t make me think I’m suffering hypothermia the moment I touch it. Mostly we were at the beach to read, which we did. I finished one of the many LRBs in my backlog, and Andrew read a New Yorker.

The only downside was the winds. At times it felt like we were being sandblasted. And sand ended up in everything. The reading materials, my bags, my ears, my leg hairs. Swimming there didn’t do any good, and it’s taken two showers since I got back to the guest house to rinse off all the sand.

After about 3 hours on the beach we’d had enough. We packed it up and continued southwards. We stopped briefly in Hout Bay to get petrol, then drove the amazingly beautiful Chapman’s Peak Drive. We ended up in Noordhoek, which (thanks be to god) is a foodie haven. It was about 2.25, though, and last lunch seatings seemed to be at 2.30, so we made a snap decision to go to Foodbarn.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Foodbarn sounds like a chain of US buffet restaurants that charge people $12.99 to eat as much as they can from a trough. We thought so too. But the menu and the look of the clientele convinced us otherwise. I had a glass of viognier, amazing calamari, and ____. Andrew started with a cucumber & mint salad with fried halloumi and tallegio followed by _____.

We left very happy and ready to see some penguins. So we headed to Boulders Beach, where we got ice cream (yay!) and saw HUNDREDS of penguins. It was almost impossible for Andrew to tear me away from the beach, but then I saw a penguin with only one leg emerging from the water. It was one of the sweetest, saddest things I’ve ever seen, watching it hobble up the beach. Andrew pointed out that it’s obviously fully grown and it’s obviously not a new problem for it, so it’s surviving just fine, but it did slightly remind me of li’l brudder.

From thence we headed to the Cape of Good Hope. The sign in the parking lot said it would be a 90 minute hike, but it ended up being closer to 45 minutes. Are we fast? Are other people just really really slow? Did we take too direct a route? We may never know, but the view from the southernmost rocks was pretty amazing. And I was only a little bit scared of heights. We saw some wild ostrich type things, but no baboons (sad face). Then we began the long drive home.

Andrew finally got his chance to jump rope, and I read some stuff. Then we went back to Beefcakes for a goodbye hamburger. I had their vodka burger, which was delicious. Andrew had some other burger I can’t remember. Our waiter was shirtless and looked like he should have been on the cover of Men’s Health. Poor guy.