Great, inspiring and peaceful places to read a book publicly in Cape Town: The Company Gardens - originating from the when the first Dutch colonisers arrived here in 1652 - is most likely my favourite; it's probably one of the most democratic spaces in the city, where class, racial and especially ecomonic differences are mostly, in my mind, swept beneath the compost heap.
Or, perhaps, it's an illusion that I like to buy into, especially in a city where the chasm between the have-nots and the haves seems as great as the silent void between earth and Mars. Here no-one, suprisingly, chases the beggars off the scores of wooden benches where they slumber beneath the trees and The Mountain: I've never seen a single person harassed here, nor made unwelcome.
I'm often drawn to this cool and nourishing heart of Cape Town. Especially because there is so little greenery and so few trees in Woodstock. To sit in the shade, or to sprawl on the lawn in front of the national art gallery, or the SA national museum, reading, while between-the-pages watching the world leisurely going by.
That's even when the table cloth gets laid upon Table Mountain, like it was last Saturday afternoon. It's a sure sign that it’s southeaster time…the infamous 'Cape doctor' has been known on countless occasions to rape and plunder the city for days on end. It was exactly this gale that fanned into destruction the terrible fires that have destroyed enormous swathes of the peninsula since the weekend.