Driving broadly southwest out of Cape Town we are heading for Hout Bay. We are booked into the Chapman’s Peak Hotel, which will prove to be ideal on many fronts.
Our route will take us along the coast road, along frontages with some very smart properties at Bantry Bay and Camps Bay. I notice that there are extensive kelp beds and it seems that, unlike native shores in the UK, the kelp is visible throughout the tidal cycle. We arrive at the hotel and check into our rooms. We have views from the balcony into Hout Bay. The restaurant is well-known for its Calamari, and has a large terrace with views across the bay, beach and valley. Calamari at The Chapmans Peak Hotel was voted “one of top 20 things to do in Cape Town”. Seafood platters and steaks are also popular items. We ordered Calamari for dinner that first night; it was the best we had ever eaten.
The following morning Charlotte and Teddy knocked on our door and suggested we pull our curtains. Behold a sandy bay, with a few walkers enjoying the early morning tranquility of a sparsely populated beach. CJ, Ted and I went down to the coffee shop, bought a carry-out drink and walked the sands as a pre-breakfast treat. There was an isolated rock just offshore, with large blue sea anemones attached but which was encircled by a potentially treacherous moat, masked as it was by the turbid water. Too deep to approach that morning I intended to investigate on another occasion. Were the anemones this species?
Ted and I walked barefoot at the water’s edge, watching the wavelets as they came, gobbling up the sand grains, and scrabbling up the beach. I am minded now of John Betjeman’s poem ‘Beside the Seaside’:
“And all the time the waves, the waves, the waves
Chase, intersect and flatten on the sand
As they have done for centuries, as they will …
When England is not England, when mankind
Has blown himself to pieces. Still the sea,
Consolingly disastrous, will return
While the strange starfish, hugely magnified,
Waits in the jewelled basin of a pool.”
Nick watched us with his camera from the balcony of our room ……..
At breakfast we were greeted by the owner of the hotel, Carlos, who has been in business here for fifty years. He tells us that his calamari is world-renowned, that the Clintons visited the hotel specifically to dine on it some years previously. The roads round about had to be closed off during their visit, apparently.
Before we head off for the day some of us check out the outdoor pool, it’s a bit chilly!