My Vegetarians

2013/12/27 Meals: We usually have a vegetarian meal a week. If I have my way its phutu, mfino and speckled beans. Wonderful stuff. The kids love it, but feel obliged to rev me throughout “WHAT!? No meat!? Are we too poor, Dad? This is dodge, Dad! Kinda homeless, Dad!”

Ja Ja! Eat up, I say.

Little shits.

This xmas I picked Tobias’ cabbage and spinach fresh from the garden, boiled it with onions, then drained and added olive oil and simmered with garlic, salt and barbecue spices. Big knobs of butter when served. They gobbled it up after the usual wrinkle-nosed high-pitched HMMMM!? Tom reserves for anything “dodge”. Sometimes I’ll add potato for a sort-of bubble n squeak.

I have to add the occasional green just in case Aitch does peek down from the clouds. Wouldn’t want to get into trouble . . .


puthu – dry mealie meal (maize or corn) porridge;

mfino – spinach or other dark green leaves; in the Free State growing up we called it meroho, Sesotho for ‘vegetable’;

Deja Bloody Vu

Can you believe it? The irresponsibility!

Tom is writing exams, writes five and decides he wants to write the last three when I can invigilate. The others have been invigilated by his tutor Langelihle and another third-year student Rebecca. So we settle on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

Except he arranges for Ryan to come around and the two of them beetle off gallivanting heavens know where and doing heavens knows what. So he only wrote the last three papers on Monday and Tuesday. Bloody hell! Who would DO something so irresponsible!?

Er, actually, maybe his father?

Back in 1972 I had four matric final exams, then a five day break before the last two. Me and Gabba took the gap and disappeared off to his farm behind the mountain after pulling in at the liquor off-sales on the way where he could legally buy grog, him being eighteen. Plus.

Gabba was a great friend to have, he had a car and lived all alone on his farm where he bought and sold cattle for a living – ‘speculated in cattle’ they called it. In matric! Cool! His farmhouse was a half-house. You picked your way over the rubble of the first half and entered by what used to be an inside door but was now the outside door of the remaining half.

We flattened the beer, which made us thirsty so we scrounged around and found a big old glass two-eared flagon of umqombothi on top of the fridge, fermenting quietly. We finished what was in there and phoned Frank on the party line. Frank was another bachelor alone on his farm nearby. What shall we do? we enquired of Frank, knowing that he would guide us wisely, him a few years older. Frank said “I’ve got beer, come!”

We finished that and Frank said “Let’s go to town”. Who were we to argue? We hopped into his car, I think a Datsun 1800 SSS, and roared off to town at terminal velocity, strong and clever. I remember a narrow bridge across a spruit approach and disappear in a blur with a loud WHUMP! in the middle of it followed by half a second’s silence –  airborne.

Gabba Frank car

In town we woke up the barman of the Royal Hotel down near the railway line. He grumbled a bit, but Frank was having none of it so he went off and reappeared with a case of dumpy beers. We then drove round to the R’s home and threw pebbles against an upstairs window. Penny opened the window, shimmied down the downpipe and we were OFF again on the dirt roads to the farm behind the mountain. At high speed. Invincible.

The next night back at Gabba’s place I phoned my Mom on the party line during a heavy thunderstorm and downpour. “Where have you been? Come home!” was the message but I said “What? Hard to hear you! I’ll be coming back tomorrow”. She said “Yes, rather don’t drive in this weather.” I said “Don’t worry, I’m the responsible type”.

I’m sure* Tommy wasn’t up to kak like that, so maybe he doesn’t take after his Dad.


umqombothi – traditional Zulu beer

spruit – stream

kak – mischief

*- not really sure


Mkhuze Peach needs a Balaclava

Later we go on a night game drive in an open vehicle with Patrick, ‘our’ Mkhuze Ezemvelo Ranger. The three of us and a family of four from Durban. On the drive I realise that of the eight people on the vehicle I am the only one reflecting an excessive amount of moonlight from my ‘peachy’ face. Probably scaring the animals.

I’ll have to get meself a balaclava.


Oxpecker collage
Oxpecker collage


Urgent Phone Call at Work

I’ve left the kids alone at home, so when the ladies at work say “He says it’s urgent!” I take it.

It’s Tom.

Dad! We need to get a lamb roast and rosemary and garlic and small-cut vegetables to roast. It’s a slow roast and we don’t have any rice or lamb stock in the pantry!

OK Tom, we’ll go straight to the shops when I get home.
My 12yr-old has been watching a cooking show on the box.

Tom chef.jpg


Terry wrote:

Oh that is super funny!! Alone as in NO adults at all?


None. Cecelia on leave. Tobias is only Mon Wed Thurs.

So far they have been boringly safe and haven’t set anything on fire. It’ll come . . .

Under a previous regime I’d have been in trouble . .

As I would have been for Tom losing lots of skin and getting a huge heat rash when he fished topless all day the first day at Happy Wanderers. Aitch put more sunblock on them in a week than I have in 2,5 years.


Hey its not cool to be too black, I hear!! Loads of sunscreen or she will haunt you!!

We’re all so aware of that, but remembering to do it . . .

Tito Mboweni’s son got picked up by the cops for being too black! I imagine that happens all the time. We’re very aware of that, too!

Kids are watching old Bill Cosby DVD’s (over & over until they know all the words OBH!)
Quite striking how they have chosen all the actors in it to be light-skinned – some to the point of whiteness! Bill himself is by far the darkest of the “Huxtable family”!

The funny thing is I “met” Bill Cosby in 1969 when an exchange student from upstate New York came to Harrismith. He brought a vinyl LP with him:

cosby LP.jpg

Here I am 45yrs later listening to my kids listening to Cosby.


And my kids and I always said Bill Cosby was just a dark Pete Swanepoel 😀


This was 2014. Now all our Cosby stuff has been destroyed before discarding it. Sad, but he’s history in our books

Mkhuze Peach

Date: 13 January 2013

We stopped in at the Hluhluwe Spar to buy provisions on our way further north to camp in Mkhuze. Busy, crowded, more basic than city Spars, we gather our stuff and pay at the till.

As we cross the road to the bakkie, Tom looks up at me, lugging his Spar plastic bags:
“You realise you were the only peach in there, Dad?” he asks.
“People were thinking ‘What’s that umLungu doing in here?’ he says.

Actually, I think they were wondering why that umLungu takes so much cheek from that umfana.


umLungu – dignified pale person

umfana – precocious, insolent younger person


Jessie, and Jaynee’s Fairies

Jess saw fairies in Jayne Janetsky’s Gauteng country garden way back around 2005. Jayne had little fairies and fairy lights among the fascinating boulders hidden in an indigenous forest copse. Also hanging from the branches and around the pond. Jess has always remembered them and still refers to them from time to time, years later. So it was a lovely surprise to get this email from Jayne – now living in Mocambique:

2017/05/26, Jayne Janetzky wrote: Thought Jess may like to look through a book I wrote for grandson Tyler – it’s about the faeries she remembers.

Talented daughter-in-law Ansobel did the illustrations!

Jayne Faeries Book_2

Wonderful! I replied. And the best part of all – It’s ALL TRUE! I was there, I saw it! The great big rocks, the pond, the fairies themselves! The lights! Jess will love it.

I found an aerial view of Jayne’s cottage and its magical garden.

Jayne's The rock

Here I arrowed the cottage with the (really, genuinely) magic adult veranda where liquid flowed and wondrous meals were served. The popping of champagne corks was an everyday sound here – now that is truly magical! Also 1. The flat rocks which made such an interesting feature in the front garden; 2. The magical forest with a trail through it past high boulders and a pond, every nook and cranny with fairies and fairy lights and candles! Jaynee knows how to do theatre!


Adults who do things that kids never forget are magic adults.