As previously said, the weather lately has been so unpredictable in this neck of the woods that it is difficult to know which forecast to believe and we have fallen back on that old standard, looking out of the window. Even that is not infallible. The darkening clouds moving from inland – the bearer of thunderstorms redolent of the Highveld – didn’t seem quite ready to burst, and lower down, the wisps of cloud drifting over the mountain tops gave no indication of what might follow. And so Marge and I set off to walk from Fish Hoek to Kalk Bay, browse a few shops, enjoy coffee and then walk back.
Looking over my shoulder not long into the walk, I could see that the clouds over Chapman’s Peak had lowered and become more substantial, and immediately knew that my decision not to bring a rain jacket had been poorly thought out. Even an umbrella would have been easy to carry. Marge adopted a more positive attitude and refused to accept that it might rain. The sea was blown flat by the northwesterly wind, and a high-speed ferry that plies between Simon’s Town and Kalk Bay sliced effortlessly across the surface. It looked enticing and we determined to do the trip on a similar day in the future – it would be too bumpy in the rough seas that the southeaster brings. The whales have moved on until next year and no dolphins broke the surface, so not much to see along the way except the developing clouds, and surrounding mountains.
We reached our choice of eatery (Lekker) after a little more than half-an-hour’s brisk walking – a far cry from the pace of my hiking group, and Marge is extremely fit. A tiny slab of wood attached to the outside wall served as a table, and we sat below the open windows of Lekker to enjoy an excellent coffee and croissant while watching the always fascinating passing parade. Large drops of rain soon splashed onto the road in front of us and windscreen wipers were swiping the steadily increasing deluge from the passing cars. Despite the rain, temperatures were in the mid-20s and monstrous ice cream cones were clutched in sticky little hands in a stream of school holiday freedom – I have a fear of someone lurching past and depositing their cone on me and so I shrank back against the wall until the danger had passed! A couple of buskers turned up and as luck would have it, stood right next to us and struck up a tune on two guitars. I always admire the courage of those who are prepared to perform in public no matter their skill level, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw a note into the hat and after a short discussion between themselves, they moved off in search of greener pastures.
There was no let-up in the rain and I now had sticky fingers from the jam on the croissant. The toilets were outside up one of those steep little alleyways so characteristic of Kalk Bay, with their leaking gutters and lack of overhead shelter, and I was soaked before I found the toilets. I spied a large aloe in a pot with broad, deep leaves and stupidly dipped my hand into it to scoop up some water. That worked, but I pricked my finger and, unlike Sleeping Beauty who fell into a deep sleep, I bled like a stuck pig. Not noticing it as I walked back through the restaurant to our little pavement table, it was only as I sat that I saw crimson splashes cover the table and saw blood running off my finger as though a main artery had been hit! Marge scrabbled in her bag and came to the rescue with wet wipes, but it still looked like a crime scene for a while until the bleeding was staunched.
It was time to hit the road, or rather the pavement, and face up to the 2.5km walk back into the rain. Marge fortunately gave me her jacket with a hood to reduce the possibility of a wet T-shirt competition and soon the first flash of lightning streaked overhead, followed 4 seconds later by a deep rumble. If you haven’t walked in a thunderstorm, I can thoroughly recommend it. Purest water running down your face, sodden to the skin but not cold and shoes squelching with water – exhilarating! The people in the endless stream of cars passing must have thought we were mad, but I think we had the better deal! We got home with no ill effects except very wet clothes and shoes, and I think the last time I did that was back in the 70s when, as teenagers, we didn’t care about the weather and often walked in the rain – there was no alternative.