Friends of ours who live in Green Point invited us for an impromptu Good Friday lunch at their new apartment. From their balcony, we had a lovely view of the new stadium – I still tend to call it the Green Point stadium, because it’s more or less in the same place as the old GP stadium that was demolished a few years ago. Apparently, though, its official name is the Cape Town Stadium.
“Green Point is the birthplace of soccer in South Africa – the first recorded public game was staged on the Common there in 1862. It was not a game of football that modern fans would recognise – it was played by ‘Winchester’ rules which allowed handling of the round ball.
This early ‘friendly’, between “15 officers of the army and a like number of gentlemen in the civil service” – both sides wearing long ‘knickerbocker’ pants and bobble caps – ended in a 0-0 draw.” (PDF document)
I get the giggles just picturing what that match must have looked like! It sounds delightfully entertaining!
The area around the Stadium is called the Green Point Common:
“Formally ceded to the City as a recreational area by King George V in 1923, the 80 hectare Green Point Common has mixed recreational and sporting precincts. On the Western side the Common has been reconfigured into a landscape 12.5 hectare urban park. The park contains walkways, landscaped green areas, water features and ponds, and a walking, cycling and jogging track.” (PDF document)
A paved walkway is currently being constructed from the opposite side of the stadium across the Green Point Common, past the
Mouille Point lighthouse Green Point lighthouse, and down to the Green Point/Sea Point promenade.
The beautiful red-and-white
Mouille Point lighthouseGreen Point lighthouse dates back to 1824, and is thus the oldest operational lighthouse in South Africa:
“Completed by German builder Herman Schutte in 1824 to curb the frequency of ships running aground off Table Bay, it originally had two fixed lanterns that burned nine litres of oil every night. The lighthouse was electrified in 1929 and, to this day, its light is still visible from a distance of 25 nautical miles. Until the 1850s, Mouille Point was used as farmland and livestock grazed on the neighbouring Green Point common – then a soggy vlei but currently under construction as a Soccer World Cup stadium.” (Cape Etc.)
This lighthouse is also famous for its foghorn, which emits a low, eerie hooting sound when the fog rolls in from the sea and obscures visibility. The sound can even be heard from far away in the City Bowl.
“Because of the foghorn the lighthouse has been given the nickname of “Moaning Minnie”. Green Point lighthouse has witnessed many a ship wrecked on its doorstep with the latest wreck happening in 1966 when the SS Seafarer ran aground during a gale force northwest storm. Fortunately no lives were lost as helicopters from the Ysterplaat airbase were able to lift people off the stricken vessel and land them safely on the beach.” Turtle SA)
Beyond the lighthouse is the so-called Sea Point Promenade, an ocean-front walkway that runs almost all the way from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront to the far side of Sea Point. It is very popular among walkers, joggers, roller bladers, and dog walkers. On stormy days, the waves sometimes crash and foam over the balustrade, making it a little unpleasant for walking – unless you enjoy getting unexpectedly drenched by ice-cold sea water!
The construction of the paved walkway across the Green Point Common forms part of the new Green Point Urban Park Development. If you are interested, you can read more about this on the FIFA 2010 promotion pages of the City of Cape Town here, and a nice summary of the design of the stadium and the new 12.5 hectare urban park is contained in this PDF document.
As Blew-girl really need a brisk walk in the fresh air to work off all the excitement of receiving visitors, we decided to explore the new paved walkway a little. It’s not, er… strictly speaking, um… open to pedestrians yet… so don’t tell anyone… shhhh!!
A canal runs all along the paved walkway. Actually, there appear to be a LOT of little pools and pretty canals, crossed by cute stone bridges, dotted about this new urban park. I’m sure it’ll look totally enchanting when all the work is done.
The waterbirds seem to be delighted with all the new water features, and they’ve already moved in and chosen their breeding and nesting spots.
Some of the birds can be pretty noisy and downright chirpy and rude when they’re proclaiming their space! And if you happen to get too close to their nest, the parent birds may divebomb you. So be prepared!
The paved walkway abruptly came to an end when it reached one of the canals. It seems that not all the bridges are in place yet. 🙂 I really like the look of the stone walls – it makes the walls look kinda old (in a good, solid, long-lasting way), rather like the massive stone walls of the Cape Town castle. In the far background of the photo you can just see the top of Devil’s Peak peering over the lower slopes of Signal Hill.
This is one of the stone bridges that has already been completed. I think it looks kinda rustic – and I really liked the colours in the photo below – the brilliant blue of the sky, the deep, calming green of the golf course, and the earthy browns of the stonework.
As you can see, the sides of the canal are still under construction, as are the various walkways. But it promises to be a very beautiful natural space in the midst of our bustling metropolis.
On the slopes of Signal Hill straight ahead are the houses of Green Point and Three Anchor Bay; the small but steep-sided peak of Lion’s Head can be seen in the far distance on the right.
I read that this new urban park will also host “a biodiversity showcase garden and an eco-centre to promote sustainable living”, once all the hullaballoo about the FIFA 2010 World Cup has subsided (PDF document). I hope that’s going to happen, because it sounds like an excellent idea.
We turned around and walked back towards the gate at the start; here we turned sharply right, and trudged over a muddy construction site, and up onto the re-designed Metropolitan Golf Course.
This is a 9-hole, 74 par course. Sprinklers were twirling and whirling on the fairways, sending a spray of water into the air and irrigating the wide expanses of lush green grass. Luckily, we managed to time our walk in such a way that we didn’t get sprayed at all.
I was intrigued by the different types of grasses used on the golf course. An extraordinarily fine type of grass was used for the putting greens, while the grass on the fairways was definitely coarser, more like the buffalo grass we have at home. Look:
Isn’t that interesting? If you know what kind of grass that is, please let me know?
We walked past a cluster of buildings housing South Africa’s oldest rugby club, Hamiltons. It was founded in 1875. Incidentally, there is also the Green Point Cricket Club, which was founded in 1897. Other sports clubs who have facilities here include athletics, cycling, tennis and bowls.
And we saw some white tent-like structures, which are probably used for traders and markets, although I’m not sure about that.
There used to be a regular (every Sunday) informal market around the old Green Point Stadium, with street sellers touting their wares at up to 400 stalls; it was very popular among tourists, who liked to buy all kinds of African curios, woodcarvings and sculptures here.
During the construction of the new stadium, the market had to be temporarily relocated (City of Cape Town website). It seems to have been re-established here, though, now that the construction work has been completed, but I haven’t visited it in yonks.
We followed the newly constructed meandering paths across the golf course and through an underpass beneath a road.
It was somewhere around here that Blew-girl suddenly discovered a large stick.
We think it’s one of those stakes the workers use to stake out or measure where walls or fences or such-like are to be built. Hopefully they won’t miss this one too much when they return after the Easter weekend.
“Look,” she says, “it’s a really heavy stick. And it’s MINE.”
“Well,” she asks, looking back curiously, “are you not going to follow me? Don’t you want the BIG STICK too?”
Blew trots on ahead.
She disappears in the distance. She knows the way home, and we’re walking too slowly for her.
We aren’t quite ready to go home yet, so we wander off the main track and across the golf course. Blew catches up with us and trots alongside us… although she remains determinedly out of reach.
“No,” she says, “you can’t take away my Big Stick! It’s MINE, and I shall carry it.”
“Ooof,” she sighs. “This stick sure is heavy. I need a little break in the shade. You go on without me. I’ll follow you just now.”
Brave little Blew-girl – so faaar away.
“Hey,” she says, eyeing us, “what’s wrong with you, don’t you want to play with my Big Stick?”
Finally, we wander back to the start. Blew has found a tree and is waiting for us in the shade.
“Yay, you’re here! I’m really happy to see you,” she beams. “Come stand in the shade with me, my stick is soooo heavy.”
“Well,” we suggest, “you could always leave it here. You don’t have to carry it all the way home.”
“What?!” she scoffs. “No chance! You just want me to leave it here, so that you can play with it. I’m going to hide it from you!”
Blew promptly runs off to hide her stick in the dense grasses and bushes lining the outer edge of the golf course.
“OK,” she pants, trotting towards us, “let’s go home. I’m thirsty.”
What a personality! She is just such an entertaining dog. I love her to bits!