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Author: David Biggs
Cape Town, south Africa 2000
Softcover, 22x28 cm, 160 pages, throughout colour photos
A beautiful introducion to Cape Town: At midday the noon gun booms out over Cape Town, startling the pigeons into a flurry of wings in Greenmarket Square, and old Cape Town residents glance at their watches to check the time. It's a ritual that has lost its meaning in a world of digital watches and radio time-signals, but it is very much part of the changeless traditions of Cape Town, South Africa's oldest and most beautiful city.
Today there are no rock-breaking convicts in the harbour to sigh with relief and straighten their aching backs at the noon-day lunch signal. But Cape Town without the noon gun would be unthinkable. Time was vitally important to the sea captains of old who called in at Table Bay in the days of the three-masted sailing ships. They relied on such time checks in order to adjust the chronometers necessary for navigation. As part of the service provided at the harbour, a 'time ball' was constructed on the hill above the Table Bay Docks to signal the hour of one o'clock. It is still in action today.
For the early European navigators to the Cape, there were no such services at all, of course. They sailed into Table Bay after months at sea, in desperate need of provisions such as fresh water and meat, and wood for their galley stoves. (...) But the beauty of Cape Town endures; in its mountains, its varied and spectacular coastline, its rich flora, and in much of its historic architecture; even modern development has evolved in response to the unique natural beauty here. No wonder Sir Francis Drake described this spot as the fairest Cape in all the circumference of the Earth.