Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Meet me at the Aerial Ropeway!
So says Louise Ahrendts, heroine of my new book, The Girl from Simon's Bay.
And I am standing - on a very windy day! - close to where she would have met David Horrocks, by the middle landing stage. The ropeway was built in the early 1900s to move supplies, staff and patients from the West Dockyard in Simon's Town, up to either the Royal Naval Hospital, or to the Sanatorium which sits at the top of the mountain. It took 15 minutes from bottom to top, and you rode in a rather elegant cable car which looked like a wooden gazebo. By the time Louise and David met there, the ropeway was no longer in use because a road had been built to the Sanatorium. Only the metal pylons remain.
I think the locals must have regretted the ropeway's passing - imagine what an exciting journey it must have been! And what spectacular views! There's a lovely story about the specific siting of the Sanatorium. It was apparently built right at the top of the mountain in order to make it difficult for recuperating patients to go down into town and make merry in Simon's Town's pubs!
And what of Louise and David? What came of their meeting?
It was 6 months since he'd left and four months since his letter.
And now here he was, sitting on the ledge by the aerial ropeway, staring at the thicket of warships clustered within the dockyard. I was above him, on a path I often followed. If he didn't turn, he wouldn't see me. If I turned and went back the way I'd come, he wouldn't see me either.
I waited, one moment willing him to turn, the next willing myself to be sensible and go back...