Every city and every culture in the world has its own story. Often these stories are based on history and often they are based on fictional characters that lived a long time ago. Cape Town is no exception and has a wealth of incredibly interesting tales that enriches her history. Once you arrive here you will immediately notice that Cape Town is a city filled with history and culture.

One of our most told tales is that of Table Mountain and its ‘table cloth’. If your English learning travels bring you here during the summer months you will most definitely see what is meant by this. When the South-easterly wind is howling look up at the mountain and you will see that it is most likely covered in thick cloud, resembling a tablecloth laid over the top. According to our local folklore this is not purely a weather condition, this is the result of a man challenging the devil!

Van Hunks was a well-known Dutch pirate who had come to Cape Town to hang up his pirate boots and retire peacefully in this newly colonised city. Done with pillaging and sailing the seas Van Hunks settled for a quiet life enjoying the fruits of his labour. One such thing being smoking his pipe. (He was known for his great ability to smoke his pipe endlessly.) One of his favourite retirement activities was to head up the mountain and find some peace and quiet while puffing away, admiring the panoramic views of Table Bay. On one such day Van Hunks was surprised to find he was not alone, a hooded stranger had joined him. The stranger asked if they could smoke together, which Van Hunks saw as the perfect opportunity to boast about his skills. For hours, the two sat side by side huffing and puffing as it slowly turned into a battle of endurance. Van Hunks was a proud man, a stubborn man and refused to give up even he started feeling unwell. He noticed that the stranger was struggling too, which fuelled Van Hunks to keep going. The stranger was not happy that Van Hunks was doing so well. In fact, he was becoming enraged that Van Hunks was as good as he had boasted. By this time the entire top of Table Mountain was covered in thick grey, smoke, making it look like a table cloth had been laid gently over it.

Van Hunks noticed that the stranger looked very strange indeed. Two tiny horns on either side of his head peeked out from under his hood. The stranger glared at him with fury in his eyes and in an instant both men disappeared, never to be seen again! Or maybe not never, on a windy day in Cape Town if you do notice the cloud covered mountain, spare a thought for poor old Van Hunks, forever embattled in a smoking contest with the devil!

Personally, I prefer this version of why the mountain gets covered in ‘smoke’ to any weatherman’s explanation. Watch this space for a few more tall tales about Cape Town and Oxford.

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