Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A trip to the Planetarium (and back to my childhood)

One of the myriad things I love about my hometown is the variety of things to do when you have some spare time. No two weekends need be the same in the Mother City when you have the options we are spoilt to have.

On Sunday some friends and I walked down to the Company Gardens for a picnic and spent a happy two hours in the late summer sunshine, eating cheese on crackers and mini muffins and contemplating the flocks of pigeons (some of whom appeared to be stalking us in a not-so-stealth fashion). As Capetonians we often take for granted what is available to us - until my second year of university I hadn't been up Table Mountain in the cable car (at least not since I was about three, and certainly not that I could remember).

We also tend to associate picnicking with Kirstenbosch (which, though beautiful and not to be missed, requires an entry fee). The Company Gardens are almost as scenic, in a European, well-manicured way, and are open to the public. This does mean that you get some riff raff in the gardens, but I like to think it adds to the charm. There is a gorgeous rose garden to visit too.

One of the other forgotten delights of this area is the Planetarium. This I hadn't been to see since I was in primary school, but it is well worth a trip. My friends and I booked to see the Bad Astronomy show (just R20 for adults and R8 for my student buddies), which also allowed us entrance into the South African Museum. So before the show we wandered around, sat in the whale song booth (an aside: whale song is actually quite creepy to listen to - apparently they sometimes use it for sound effects in horror movies), gawped at the stuffed animals and browsed the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

The show itself was entertaining - a little hokey, but all in good fun. As a recovering fan of The X-Files (my sister and I were obsessed in high school), the theme of debunking myths appealed to me. The theatre (?) itself is not as big as I remembered, but that's to be expected. If you want to go yourself, be sure to take a jacket - it is FREEZING in there.

I hope to do more of this in future - exploring the forgotten nooks and crannies of my beautiful hometown. So much to do, so little time!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Broken telephone

I feel how this lady looks. I have spent the better part of two weeks on the phone doing research for a project at work. A project which involves spending an exasperating amount of time trying to extract information about museums in the Western Cape from people who are either a) stupid b) unwilling to help c) not English first language speakers or d) all of the above. I would have thought that having the backing of the Department of Cultural Affairs might lend my credibility some clout, but on the private sector this seems to have the opposite effect.
In the provincial-aided sector, the excuses for not being able to provide information range from "our server is down", to "we have no electricity" to "we don't keep hard copies of financial statements" to "the curator is only coming in on Friday" to "our computer crashed" to "our internet connection has suffered weather damage". There is little more discouraging than spending an entire day on the phone harassing people and having nothing to show for it by the time you leave. It's like my colleague said, it's a particular type of person who can work in government, who has the tolerance for this level of inefficiency and inadequacy. People like you and I would go out of our minds.