It takes only a little imagination to think of a time when Cape Town was completely different: perhaps when the streets were cobbled, and the docks still beaches. When there were no streetlights yet, no electricity. Slavery and pirates! Even though this Cape Town is so very foreign, it’s not hard to envisage. One might say it’s easy to imagine how things were different a hundred, two hundred or three hundred years ago.
Consider this beautiful description of Camps Bay and The Glen by Mrs L.G. Ross in 1861 upon her visit to Cape Town: ‘There is a fine fir wood behind the house, which ought to be a great blessing during the approaching hot months, and where we retire every morning after the gentlemen of the family have driven over to Cape Town on business … blinking at the flies and drinking in the quiet beauty of the scene. Such colouring! – such shifting shades of green and purple, – such very green waves and such very white sands; such very bold, big black rocks and boulders – breaking the skyline, and causing the spray to be dashed over them in lofty sheets of vapour, – that one’s eyes become fairly dazzled with the excessive purity of the fresh air and sunshine!’
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to how it was then. A few days later Mrs Ross writes: ‘Yesterday afternoon we took a glorious
stroll up the hills behind us and – so over to the Round-house (sic) Gardens – (which are famous for their almonds and fruit trees, and a great resort … on high days and holidays). In the course of our walk we gathered heaps of wild flowers … Then, just as the sun was about to dip, we sat down to rest on the margin of the Upper Kloof Road and then witnessed such a glorious sunset as I shall never forget.’