A perfect triptych of Cape days. Wednesday, glorious, Apollonian sunshine, the reasoned orderliness of vines and farmlands. Thursday, grey fog over the False Bay coastline, gulls wheeling over white deserted strands, mist and cloud clothing the mountains. Friday morning a pencilled-in, penetrating, thirst-assuaging rain and, licking the cliffs and beaches on the way back into Cape Town late in the afternoon, a bruised, complaining sea, greenish yellow and mauve, white spray flung back in the blustery north-wester. Joyce’s snot-green, scrotum-tightening sea.

This has been very much a working visit, with research meetings in Cape Town and the inaugural conference of the South African Society for Engineering Education, where I yesterday presented the preliminary analysis from my research for the Engineering Council, taking up most of my time. Yet it has been impossible not to be aware – as I have been, acutely – of the landscape and seascape, the sometimes aching beauty, of this familiar and very different part of the world. Not without its own problems, it nonetheless offers a quality of life to people like Rob and me which simply does not exist in Gauteng, and is not merely absent, but expunged, from Johannesburg.

So, while I went about thinking of engineers and engineering, and fretted a bit about work and income, and took my mother out for dinner and brunch, and wondered about the move to Toronto and what it might mean, my eyes and my heart kept returning to Cape Town.

If we stay in South Africa, if and when we return – should we move back here?

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