Naval Tales and Dogs With Sea Legs
greetings fellow discoverers - well, as warm as one can get in this
miserable Cape winter - and welcome to another edition of Discovering the
Cape. My humblest apologies for the lateness of this month's newsletter.
My inbox has been bombarded with a deluge of emails, up to nine and
counting, demanding answers for my absence. These past few weeks I have
been on a secret reconnaissance mission, checking out a little tourist gem
which many of my friends (and people who would like to be my friends) have
recommended. Let's pay a visit to Simon's Town.
Your Quintessential English Seaside Town
Simon's Town has a distinctly British feel to it, with Victorian architectural design dominating the main road. This is no surprise, as it was established as a British naval base in 1814 which it remained until it was transferred to the South African navy in the 1950's, it has remained a navy town to this day. The Simon's Town naval base regularly has open days, allowing people to snoop around the boats and assortment of other naval machinery, which can be quite exciting if that sort of thing interests you. As a strapping young lad, I had always harboured secret fantasies of joining the navy - being able to sit back in my rocking chair many years later and enthrall my grandchildren with tales of wild adventures on the high seas and the weird and wonderful locations I'd visit. Of course this was before I developed an uncontrollable fear of sea water (thanks to that Steven Spielberg and "Jaws", they have a lot to answer for). Also my weak stomach meant I would never be cut out for the sea life (I regularly get sick on the seashell ride at my little nephew's annual fair) but nevertheless, the dreams still remain, so it was quite enjoyable being up close with a large ship.
The Story of Just Nuisance
While walking around for a bit I arrived at Simon's Town's Jubilee Square, and noticed a statue of a life sized dog. "How strange," I thought, pondering the history of the stoned canine. I noticed a ancient looking man hobbling up the road and, being that ancient looking people are such doyens of wisdom, asked him about the peculiar landmark. This proved to be a bad move though as the gentleman, who I now know collects rare stamps and regularly gets his toenails cut by his loving daughter, held me in a conversation for the good part of an hour. The good news though is that I found out about the mysterious dog.
Apparently it goes by the name of "Just Nuisance", the only dog ever to hold rank in the Royal Navy. Able Seaman Just Nuisance, R.N was enlisted in the British navy on 25th August 1939, and quickly became something of a legend before meeting his end on 1st April 1944 after a motor vehicle accident (some say that he jumped out of a moving vehicle). The canine cadet is buried on the mountain overlooking Simon's Town, his grave which is still maintained by the SA Navy is a popular stop off for tourists.
The full Just Nuisance story can be found here: www.simonstown.com/tourism/nuisance/nuisance.htm.
A Town With Loads of History
Old man Collingwood also told me that Simon's Town was named after Simon van der Stel, which sharply contradicts the views of my mate Dave Simon, who for years has claimed that the town was named after his great great grandpa Jeremiah Simon, who won it during a high stakes game of dominoes. I vaguely recall hearing a similar tale during high school history (about Simon van der Stel, not grandpa Jeremiah) so I'm leaning toward the old gentleman's version of events.
Plenty For Visitors to See And Do
Simon's Town is a lovely spot for tourists, and there are a number
of little trinket shops as well as a craft market which will always grab
the attention of foreign visitors. There is also an abundance of hotels,
bed and breakfasts, and quaint guesthouses ideal for someone either
visiting the country for the first time, or a battle-hardened local
looking to spend a few peaceful days away. There is a beach nearby, a boat
charter company as well as kayaking service, so there's certainly plenty
to see and do. I remember there being a little penguin colony nearby, I
don't recall seeing it this time around but I'm sure it's still there.
(Those little penguins really crack me up, I wish I could take one as a
There's actually quite a bit to do in Simon's Town, you may find that you'll need to spend more than a day there to actually see and do everything. A little warning though - if you happen to cross paths with an old man rambling on about King George V stamps, turn around and run.
Until next month then.
The Caped Discoverer
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