As autumn cloaks the vineyards, oak-lined streets and mountain slopes with her multi-coloured coat in shades of red, gold and brown, the wonderful summer holiday with my children here in South Africa is but a blissful memory. They are back in Banbury, England and I behind my trusty computer beavering away.
With two radio scripts, three magazine articles and the community newspaper to put to bed over the next few days, I am loathe to push the memory of long, idyllic summer days into the hidden recesses of my mind, but must if I am to be at all productive. Sigh. Back to the stark reality of the world of journalism.
Eating out in a restaurant is fairly inexpensive at about R48 for a steak meal, R60 for fillet, R38 for most fish dishes, R80 to R120 for crayfish (lobster) and R48 for calamari. Family outlets such as Wimpy Bar, Steers and Spur are cheaper at about R22 to R36 per person. A 750ml bottle of white wine costs between R8.95 and R40. Red wine ranges from R16 to R95. Of course there are vintages that will cost you an arm and a leg in any currency! Footwear and clothing are quite inexpensive. Regular visitors to our shores arrive with the minimum luggage and leave with suitcases straining at the seams!
Now, on to the more expensive items. Almost every family in South Africa has two cars, as our public transport system is just about non-existent. A Fiat Uno motor car costs R55 700, VW Citi Golf - R63 450, Ford Fiesta - R72 180, Audi 4 - R218 000, BMW 5-series - R341 000 and C220 Mercedes - R287 000.
While here on holiday, the children bought a house in the historic town of Stellenbosch, in the heart of the Cape Winelands. To give you an idea of property prices, a compact three-bed roomed house with a small garden will costs about R290 000, a bigger 3 or 4-bedroomed house with separate lounge and dining room, study, two bathrooms en suite, swimming pool and expansive garden, can cost between R480 000 and R900 000, depending on the location - among the vineyards, against the mountain slopes, with or without a sea view or simply in an ordinary setting. Of course, if you buy a spacious home (mansion) in an elite suburb or one with magnificent sea views, it can put a serious kink in your life savings probably between R1.5m to R4.5m! (Like the property owned by Charles Spencer, where he and his ex, Victoria, set up house).
Flat rentals range from R800 to R1 600 and houses from R1 200 to R3 500. I hope this will give you some indication of what you can get for your pound sterling when you visit or perhaps invest in the jewel of South Africa - the Western Cape. Over the past five years or so, Cape Town has become one of the top filming locations in the world and it’s not unusual to see big names like, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Val Kilmer, strolling along the beach or at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. It is also the favourite holiday destination of muso’s like Madonna, Britney Spears, Whacko Jacko, Jon Bon Jovi and my all-time favourite, Cliff Richard. The closest I have come to a celeb neighbour, is horse-lover Tatum O’Neill who owns a stud farm just five minutes from where I live. Remember when she was married to Super Brat John MacEnroe?
My favourite BBC chef, Alan Coxon, brought his family over, including his parents, for their first visit to our “world in one country”. They spent a few days on a game farm and at South Africa’s version of Las Vegas - Sun City - as well as on a wine farm in the Franschhoek valley (about 25 miles from here) and on to Cape Town. The family returned to Evesham, but Alan stayed behind to film “Coxon’s Royal Feast” for the BBC and, as the title suggests, guests on the show will include King Goodwill Zwelethini of KwaZula-Natal, whom Alan met on a previous visit, and other African Royalty. As for me, well, it’s a sweltering 34ºC and I think a dip in the cool Atlantic ought to revive the little grey cells. Better make the most of it while there are still a few sunny days left. Come on over and join me!