ISSUE 20, January 2007
Editorial
Historic: Dr Thomas Barnardo - children's saviour
Travel: South African journey
London Gala Evening: Royal Masonic Variety Show
Centenary Celebrations: Scouting's milestone
Quarterly Communication: Speech by the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech by the Pro 1st Grand Principal and Report of the Cttee of General Purposes
Library and Museum: Facets of Fraternity
   Specialist Lodge: Internet Lodge - Masonry on the Web
Special Events: Spamalot and the Alternative Hair Show at Grand Lodge
Freemasons' Hall: ADelphi System - A computer revolution
Mark Master Masons: Duke of Kent at 150th anniversary
Breeches Bible: A Lodge locker's secret
Masonic Arboretum: Planting an idea
Education: Events and The hoodwink
Masonic Charities: RMTGB and Grand Charity and Legacy appeal and RMBI and NMSF
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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The trip to Cape Town, covering approximately 1,000 miles, took a day and a half with a stop-over in Kimberley, a mining town that came into being with the diamond rush of the 1860s. Although mining no longer takes place, the Kimberley Mine Museum has recently been undergoing a multi-million pound transformation to include an historical representation of what the town looked like at the time of the diamond rush. Original buildings have been transplanted onto the site as well as ones made to appear as if they were.
    The atmosphere on the Blue Train is very laid-back, and not in the least bit as romantic as I had expected. The scenery on the first day is mainly of farming country and flat and uninteresting except for when we passed Camphors Dam, a nature reserve and home to thousands of pink flamingos.
    The next day, however, once we had passed through the Hex River Valley, the outlook became more lush and interesting. When we saw a range of mountains in the distance, we knew that we were finally arriving in Cape Town.
    Our hotel, rather than being in the centre of town, was at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which turned out to be one of the busiest and liveliest places in the city. Because of security, the best restaurants are often located in the shopping malls. Here there are several malls, with a good choice of places to eat. Being by the sea, the fish is very fresh and of top quality, although we also found the meat excellent. Eating, even in a top restaurant, is considerably less pricey than a comparable one in England.
    Table Mountain is one of ‘the’ sites. Apparently watching the sunset from the top is a must. To get there, however, you have to take a cable car, and it can be rather windy. In preference, we took a boat trip to Robben Island, which gave us a panoramic view of the mountain with Cape Town nestling at its base.
    The island, preserved as a national monument and museum, is where Nelson Mandela among many others was imprisoned during the apartheid years. Guides on the island are former prisoners who provide first-hand accounts of life as it really was. The number of visitors is restricted, so it is important to book in advance.
    Outside the city there is much to see, and hiring a car is a good investment. The beaches in town are not recommended, but in the surrounding area there are several options. However, in most cases swimming is restricted because of the water currents, and the possibility of sharks.
    Boulders Beach in Table Mountain National Park is known for its thriving colony of over 3,000 penguins. The beach is apparently OK for swimming, although for seeing more than the odd penguin you actually have to go to neighbouring Foxy Beach, where a viewing walk has been built.
    If you happen to be in the area in September, which we were, it is worth making the trip to Hermanus. The coastal road on the drive there provides stunning scenery as well as being the opportune time for whale-watching. We had thought that we might see the odd one or two from a distance, but in fact we saw quite a few with the whales near enough to the shore to not need binoculars. A gentleman whale crier announced every sighting, although as this was virtually all the time, he just let out a loud cry every so often.
    Forty minutes drive inland, we stayed the night at the Blue Gum Estate on the slopes of the Klein River Mountains, which is a heaven of tranquillity. Our room had its own veranda with sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. There was a log fire which was lit at night. Although the weather is beautiful by day, at this time of the year it gets chilly at night. As well as having its own swimming pool, there are also bicycles for guest’s use.




Penguins at Boulders Beach in Table Mountain National Park

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