Cabbages and things

by Jac Dowling

No, this isn’t about my latest trip to Food Lovers, Checkers and Spar, even though I have been known to visit all three on the same day, armed with shopping bags and credit card. Our Saturday Farmers’ Markets are packed to the gills with home-grown ‘organics’, home bakes, pork pies (without whiskers) @ R25 a slice and so on and so forth. Lovely things – but I was taken to a new project in Cape Town’s Company Gardens : plots of magnificent veggies and herbs have been established in what might have been the original place chosen by the Dutch East India Company.

The beds groan with compost and everything that a self-respecting vegetable could possibly want, and the result is predictably excellent. Rows of bright, strong spinach, frilly lettuce, beans interspersed with rocket, basil and the rest; mint and flowering whatnots, all edible and an absolute feast for the eye. A pebbled leiwater canal runs through the centre of all this, again possibly where the original water course might have been. I wasn’t around in 1650 with a gps, so I can’t be absolutely sure. Just a wee bit before my time. Surrounding all this munificence are the famous rose beds, on the verge of bursting into flower and, just beyond is the restaurant – accent being on the rest bit.

There’s nowhere I know quite like this peaceful setting, where one can relax with a friend, good coffee and a humungous breakfast. Quite simply, it’s a lovely place to be and there’s no rush.

The rest of the day was taken up with an interesting Irma Stern exhibition and another mounted by William Kentridge which had me bug-eyed since it deals with the concept of time in space, light years and . . . things. Absolutely fascinating especially as it involved moving images on three walls, with wooden working models down the centre of the gallery – moving in tandem with the images: fortunately it was dark in there so my state of non-comprehension went unnoticed.

West Side Story at Artscape, was a thrilling climax to an exciting day. A friend conducted the Cape Town Philharmonic and me oh my did they give the music a blast. It was an absolutely stunning performance, from all aspects and, at the end, the entire opera house rose to its feet and roared! I’m still experiencing outbreaks of goosebumps.

It was a truly memorable family time even though we didn’t actually find any cabbages per se, or perhaps they were having an insecure moment under the lettuce. But I shall return. There’s research to be done at the SA library, on microfilm which, on three of the machines, involves twiddling knobs. Fortunately it’s just a breath away from the restaurant – and cabbages and things.


5 thoughts on “Cabbages and things

  1. jac says:

    Oh Sue – you found THE car! it was a real old banger and made plenty of siren noise…thanks.

  2. Sounds awesome, Jac.

    • jac says:

      What – the car or the garden Penny?! if you google cape town company gardens vegetable project there are some interesting pics and the whole story. Apparently it’s a reconstruction of the original VOC garden – and it’s stunning.

  3. Susan says:

    Jac, that sounds lovely. I always enjoyed time spent in the Company Gardens whenever I visited Cape Town back in the 80s. It was a welcome relief after the rush and scurry of Joburg. To be able to sit in the gardens amidst all that lush greenery and have tea and scones with jam and cream was such a simple pleasure, but balm to my soul.

    (My quests to have tea and scones with jam and cream in Joburg always seemed to be thwarted because no matter where I went the cream was off or they were out of jam or the scones were stale. Joburg coffee shops and small lunch time restaurants just never seemed to “get it” – it was like something out of a bad TV sitcom. Maybe they’ve improved since I left. I hope so.)

    Cape Town never disappointed me with lack of tea and scones!

    The first time I saw one of the little grey squirrels in the Company Gardens I couldn’t believe how tame it was; how unconcerned about the pedestrians as it went about its own business.

    Interesting to hear that Cape Town has reconstructed the vegetable garden. What an unusual project – will have to google it too.

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