Parliament Hotel

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Poppies and taffeta. Those were the vivid images my mind conjured up when we drove past the Grand Parade on our way to Parliament Hotel for a night on the town. Dinner and theatre at Richard’s Supper Stage and Bistro, to be enjoyed with the luxury of staying over at the cosmopolitan Parliament Hotel. No fuss. No pain. No driving.

As we rounded the corner I could hear the flower sellers calling out “A-rand-a-bunch! A-rand-a-bunch-madam!”… and my mother carefully selects the best bunch of Iceland Poppies. Bright and fragile and fragrant. She counts out the coins and gets a toothless grin for the extra silver amongst the handful of copper. Cape Town flower market… the best memories of my childhood visits to The City.

We stopped in front of Parliament Hotel and I stepped onto the pavement of a busy street in Italy. Listening to the conversations of handsome men and stylish women. People hustling by. “Welcome back Ms Holtzhausen!”. That feeling of belonging. Of good old-fashioned hospitality. I am home. Pure bliss. Not only do they remember my name. We get to stay in “our room”. Spacious, clean, comfortable, modern wood and leather. The perfect base for a night on the town.

Too soon it was time to leave for Richard’s Supper Stage and Bistro. Having seen their show a couple of times, I was eager to experience Kaapse Stories (Cape Stories) again. And I was not disappointed! I was welcomed back with open arms. Pa Joe and his family. Blood and not!

Richard’s Supper Stage and Bistro is warm, welcoming, vibey and red taffeta. The one I secretly pressed against my cheek while my mother touched the silk and admired the voile. Rolls and rolls of material on the Grand Parade. I smell the rain, feel the sun and hear the cars swishing by. Row after the row we browsed through colours and tallied over sheerness. Were lured back to the dark red taffeta. The true Kaapse Stories of an era long gone.

The music. The stories. The Kaapse kultuur (Cape culture). Brilliant! We laughed and cried and cheered and danced. And we ate. From the Cape Malay starter to the chicken-and-prawn curry. We savoured the beef fillet and devoured the medley of South African desserts.

What a pleasure to leave Richard’s Supper Stage and Bistro on a high and your only worry is what you did with the room keys. No fuss. No pain. No driving. Only a hot bath and sweet dreams away from morning. And breakfast.

Breakfast is a merry affair. We reminisce over songs and scenes and smells of saffron and sage, dragging our heels to prevent the imminent goodbyes. This was a night to remember.

We leave the mountain and parliament and empty Grand Parade behind. As I roll up my window I am certain I heard a voice cry… “A-rand-a-bunch Madam!”.

By Marinda Holtzhausen

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