Mad dogs and Englishmen

I always say I live in Cape Town because of the general lack of extremity in the weather. Every year we go through the inevitable heat waves of January and February and the gales of winter that batter the coastline, and yet still we regard Cape Town as temperate. There can be few more avid weather forecast followers than me, placing all my faith in the Norwegians who are remarkably accurate in their predictions down to the last millimetre of rain. Yet even they can err on the temperatures, with the vagaries of the topography of the Cape Peninsula having the greatest influence on same.

It was on the basis of a Norwegian forecast of 22 degrees C that I joined the flattish hike through the greenbelt encompassing Grootboschkloof and Pagasvlei which has plenty of shady trees offset by long stretches of hot tar roads. The sun warmed our backs as we headed south along the M3 with accompanying hiss of tyres on tar and it was a relief to turn into the meadows at the mandala garden. Cyclists were out in force, as always expecting us hikers to step aside from the narrow track rather than detouring into the grass, despite our right of way. I hear that in the UK cyclists have been advised to ride in the middle of the road as a safety precaution – one can only imagine the road rage that will result from vehicular traffic.

The temperature was not unbearable and an occasional breeze wafted over ahead of an approaching cold front, but it was by no means comfortable and we all took advantage of those marvellous invention, the cloth that keeps you cool when wet and flicked to lower its temperature. I have a water bottle with spray that I squirted liberally over my head and face and anyone who was willing, but even that evaporated in no time. The stream running through the greenbelt has not dried up but gave no succour to Foxy, our fluffy companion who loves nothing better than a swim on a hot day.

Our refreshment break took place in the pleasant surroundings of the Kramat of Sayed Mahmud at the end of summit way, after which we returned to the greenbelt for the final stretch along the road. By now we were ready for a return to the cool airconditioning of our cars but they were a few kilometres away. As we crossed the road, it must have been apparent that this group of hikers were weary, as cars in both directions gave way immediately! I made it my mission to get from one shady tree to the next in as short a time as possible and so got maximum benefit of the exercise, which I badly need. When I first started hiking, a member of the group said that he just put one foot in front of the other and tried not to think of the distance or the terrain, and today was one of those!

Nearly 7km in 31 degrees C. Definitely mad dogs and Englishmen! But lovely nevertheless.

(Photos: Brian Moore)

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