Monday 5th July

I woke up at about 10.30am, and got straight into editing the matches I was behind on…namely, most of them so far! The fire was still burning in the log burner in the dining room, so the room was warm and actually (shock horror!) quite cozy, as I started things off. Simon had just woken on the camp bed in there, so we had a bit of breakfast as I flicked through my pictures in reverse order, starting with the most recent match between Paraguay vs. Spain. I put on some of the downloaded albums I’d managed to obtain over the last couple of weeks, thanks to the stadium WiFi,, including Kula Shaker’s new album and Eminem’s new one too.

Louise came round from her house nextdoor (as she tends to every day) so I immediately asked her if she might have, or have access to, a pair of boots I could borrow to walk up the mine dump hill next to Soccer City for the GV I wanted to do, with the city skyline in the background. She scooted off and came back 10 minutes later with just what I needed…sorted! I planned to get over there for about 3pm, giving myself enough time hopefully to climb the hill and set things up in the daylight.

When we got there, Joe decided he was up for the climb too, so we off we went, trying to find how to get in behind the fence that was partly enclosing the hill itself. Initially, with no idea how to begin our ascent, we approached a workman next to the site who informed us that there was no way of going up the side we had planned on attempting. His English wasn’t great though, and his suggestions weren’t all that clear, so we nodded, smiled, and then ignored his every suggestion, aiming for the spot that we first assumed would give us a route up. And so it did…behind the fence we walked, and up the first slope we walked. It became clear that there were tiered tracks all around the hill, flattened out for lorries or tractors…something that could take on the sandy ascent with little trouble. We compromised between our options of following the trails (potentially right around the hill) and taking the direct route up (involving steep climbing and potentially high falls)…we walked around the tracks until we saw a clearer route up, and then climbed up onto the next level. We repeated these steps until we finally made it to the top about 30-40 minutes later. On a few occassions, we checked behind ourselves, having spotted the workman who we’d ignored earlier following in our footsteps…as it happened, it was entirely innocent and he soon disappeared from view.

When we reached the top, the size of the plateau that we’d seen on Google Earth became clear…it was massive. With the weather looking ever-more depressing, Joe and I walked across to the west side of the hill from which we were able to look down on the houses of Diepkloof in Soweto. This was quite a spectacle…more so in person, as I struggled to get across the scale of the area in a photo. As the sun crept through the clouds and shone down, I spotted an empty football pitch and recomposed to include it in the frame…this worked nicely, when a small spot of light landed on the pitch but nowhere else.

We spent a good 20 minutes or so in that side of the hill, before dusting ourselves down and walking back over to the eastern ledge to look down over Soccer City, moving along it enough to have the Johannesburg skyline in the middle of the background behind the stadium. Different pictures were taken at different times, each portraying a different mood. The ultimate hope was to have a perfectly-lit stadium in the foreground, at sunset or at night, with a perfectly-balanced skyline in the distance, but thanks to FIFA and the Soccer City organisers, it wasn’t do-able; they’d illuminated half of the outside of the stadium, but some of the unlit area was viewable from where we stood, and this ruined any chance of a nice symmetrical image.

We shot some pictures anyhow, as if there wasn’t a problem, mounting the camera at one stage on a small tabletop tripod I usually use behind the goal for slow shutter speeds.

By the time we were done, having wanted a night shot, it was now pitch black, so we packed our bags and began our descent, with just the free torches we’d received in welcome packs to guide us. In just 20 minutes, we were back in the Touran and on the way home…exhausted, slightly disappointed, but glad to have given it a go.

For dinner, we returned to Ocean Basket, the seafood restaurant just down the road at Brightwater Commons. This time, I opted for the scampi with tzatziki dip to start, followed by a Linefish fillet for my main course. Spot on…and to bed we went.

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