Mid-winter in Cape Town and an unseasonable, sweltering 29 degrees. There’s only one thing for it: Plant yourself squarely in front of a serene shoreline (which one, we’ll leave up to you), preferably on top of a towel and with the optional respite of an umbrella.
What else to bring? Firstly, even though it’s winter (or maybe especially, since your skin is close to translucent and susceptible to burning), medium factor block that smells like summer, allowing for total immersion into this brief season swap. You’ll certainly need some cooled water, a piece of fruit or a meaty snack, a lazy novel that says ‘I read often but I’m not pretentious’, and possibly the company of someone you’re comfortable enough with to fall asleep while they might be talking.
Now we can relax. Breathe in the briny air and bask in the glorious sunshine. There is no wind whipping up the sand and hurtling it at your body, no icy gusts that threaten hypothermia. It isn’t that faux-heat which gently caresses your skin, leaving you unsatisfied and with goosebumps. It is the unreserved and unabashed UV onslaught that sees beads of sweat gathering at your hairline after five minutes and the rest of your body glistening with a filmy cover. It’s enough to get you to your feet and into a determined trudge down to the water – where the air always seems about ten degrees cooler, five meters away. You falter briefly at the touch of the cold ocean, but the clear, turquoise shallows look so appealing and you know the cardinal rule of visiting the beach on a day like today: Always get in the water.
The process is over fairly quickly, and you emerge refreshed and revitalised, ready for another ten minutes of sweating and squint-eyed reading. After a couple of hours you start to notice the places you missed with the sun block. Under inspection from your comfortable friend, your entire face seems to be one of them. And that’s your cue to pack up shop and head to a desired watering hole, just to take the edge off. Don’t forget to watch the sun go down. It’s either a spectacular display of pink and orange, or a hazy enigma with a solitary red ball squashing itself behind the horizon.