Cycle tour unites

Picture Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency

One of the good things that resulted from the Cape Town Cycle Tour was how the event brought different generations together.
Youthful dads accompanied their kids to keep an eye on them. Elderly fathers found sons and daughters insisting on riding on either side for safety.

Fit grans gained new respect from children and grandchildren through the shared experience of old and young being in the fleet of 30 000 competitors riding 109km in the world’s largest timed cycle race.
I heard of a middle-aged dad whose son had promised to come from England to accompany him when he celebrated his 21st race in 2018.

He kept his word and this inspired his sisters to fly to Cape Town to watch father and son riding together in what became a wonderful, but all too rare, family weekend.

Even watching the event formed a bond for various generations as they darted from one vantage point to another to wave encouragement to a parent or offspring. I recall the first time I stood on the “Bridge to Nowhere” over the M3 at the end of Tokai’s Lismore Road, watching wave after wave of cyclists approaching.

They were riding frighteningly close to each other, almost like trained fighting troops on parade.

As they passed under the bridge, the air displaced by their mass made an unforgettable whoosh that all but reduced me to tears.

The organisers came in for praise not only for bringing in from up country the drinking water and ice used along the route but also for the speedy way they cleared the roads littered with paper cups, instead of sachets, discarded at the 14 essential water stations.

Inevitably the three deaths cast a deep shadow over an otherwise magical day for the competitors blessed with near perfect weather unlike the gale in 2017.

Sadly even the rule that all 
riders undergo a thorough medical examination to ensure their fitness could not prevent these tragedies. Speed kills, they tell us, and sadly it often does and in different ways.

Riding your heart out on a bike, en masse, is one of them.

Here mousey mousey

When our pilates teacher mentioned she had seen a little mouse in her kitchen and wondered where she could hire a cat, I refrained from offering her the use of our humane mouse trap. I recalled what happened the last time I did just that.

Friends made a device for use at our Langebaan cottage where we had a problem of field mice becoming trapped in a holiday house between irregular visits. The result was an awful mess in cupboards and on shelves as the mice hunted for food.

The trap uses “irresistible” peanut butter and a “blokkie” of dried dog food to lure a hungry mouse into a narrow metal box.

This movement causes a flap to come down so containing an unharmed mouse in a safe space till it is released far from the kitchen the next day.

I was boasting to a visitor how successful the trap had proved to be but when I opened the drawer under the sink to show her the device, I was hit by the awful, identifiable smell of dead rodent.

I’m ashamed to say there were the remains of a long dead mouse which had died of starvation in our so-called humane trap.

Water instead of wine

I was startled to walk into my favourite corner shop for bread and milk to find all the shelves of wine bottles replaced by rows and rows of bottled water. Had the drought crisis suddenly worsened? Nope. The liquor licence needs to be renewed and till such time as it is, no more alcohol may be displayed or sold.

I gather that getting a licence is not as simple as renewing your car licence. There are all sorts of conditions that have to be met, such as the distance from a school or a church. It’s quite a business and rigorously controlled.

Call me Ikea

If you’ve ever wondered how the Swedish chain Ikea got its name I can tell you, courtesy of a copy of the Daily Telegraph left by our recent English visitors.

Ingvar Kamprad, who died on January 27 aged 91, was the idiosyncratic and austere boss who founded the company which pioneered affordable flat-pack furniture.

He used the initials of his name I and K, then inserted the E and A of the farm and village where he grew up, and so Ikea was born.

It turned him briefly into one of the richest men in the world, yet he dressed casually, flew economy class and told his 150 000 staff in 41 countries, to “call him Ingvar”.

In 2004 his wealth overtook that of Microsoft’s Bill Gates, thanks partly to the slide of the dollar against the Swedish krona.
However, current estimates of his fortune vary from $47 billion to a humble $4 billion, according to how much of the ownership of Ikea he was believed to control.

When visiting family in Italy I have spent several Sunday mornings walking around their huge local branch of Ikea admiring the clean-cut contemporary furniture which looks oh-so-easy to assemble.

However, I heard that many a buyer had to call in a local carpenter for help in putting together a wardrobe or table. But they never learnt a lesson.

A couple of months later they were back at the store buying more.

Of times and tides

Time and tide waits for no man, it is true, but it’s the women that cause the trouble.