About fifty years ago when The Beatles were still The Quarrymen, a Pom family Wimbury hopped on to the mail ship in Pomerania to boldly go forth and do work in the colonies for the Great White Queen.
On board that ship was an 18yr old nubile South African on her way back from a gap year – before they were called gap years – in Europe. Especially Italy where she learned some Italian, some Italian cooking, and did you know Lyn had a magnificent opera singing voice? The Pom family and the Seffrican lass hit it off on board and soon the Wimbury family of England met the Payn family of Hella Hella on the banks of the mighty Mkomazi.
Meantime elsewhere a Joburg architect called Porter was making a good living and buying farms. One of them became the Harold Porter Nature Reserve in Betty’s Bay. He sent his son Barry off to PMB varsity to get a BSc agric and then bought him a farm on the right bank of the Mkomazi opposite the Payns. His farm had the imposing Hella Hella mountain on it. They called it Game Valley Estates and stocked it with nyala, impala, zebra, wildebeest and blesbok to add to the bushbuck, duiker, warthog, reedbuck and oribi that were there. That was the only time they ever stocked it.
Well, Barry had a Landrover cabriolet and wore long socks and Lyn wore dresses so it was inevitable. They spotted each other across the mighty Mkomazi, their eyes locked and the two families were united in a river dynasty, solving the problem of parts of Barry’s farm being cut off from him and him having to traverse the Payn land to get to Ottos.
Except not really, as Barry and the Payn parents had quite a prickly relationship, kinda like porcupines meeting and sniffing but not embracing. So the farms were never united, Barry would grumble about how they didn’t appreciate the value of game fencing and when Mrs Payn put the farm up for sale and Barry could have negotiated they never got round to discussing a price and Trevor English bought it for a good price and Barry STILL had the prickly feeling of having to traverse someone else’s land to get to the other half of his farm! And English didn’t appreciate the value of game fencing.
Barry stayed at Otto’s at first, so his and Lyn’s eyes actually probly locked while he drove his Landie across their lawn, not trans-river. Once they got wedlocked they moved up to Highover.
Where they had a little porcupine – rescued when a Ford F150 did a caesarian section on its Mom at 65mph. It used to scurry around in the walls of their house between the corrugated iron and the rhino board inner walls. They also had Warren there and we bumped into him by chance a couple years ago and together we checked out the ruins of the house where he was born 40 years prior.
Meantime Barry and Lyn built a new house at the foot of the Hella Hella, and the little Wimbury baby girl was growing shapelier and shapelier and she went nursing at Addington where the Weermag had sentenced a newly-knighted luitenant in the Medical Corps to hard labour: “You arre herreby sentenced to live in Doctorrs’ Quarrterrs and test eyeballs, including those of the 600 nurses ensconced in the Addington Nurses Res”.
What could I do? I obeyed. One of them was called Richenda Wimbury and she said you must come with me to a farm called Hella Hella. I took a peek at her legs and said OK. And so I met Lyn and Barry.
Later Richenda moved to Wentworth hospital where she met a cardiovascular perfusionist that she introduced to me and my friend Bernie the Jet. That was Aitch and the rest of that part of this tale was history.
In 1988 Aitch and I got married at Hella Hella. We had been frequent guests and would continue to visit often for years to come. The farm meantime had been declared a National Natural Heritage site. It was going to be the first marriage on the farm, but a Pee Aitch (professional hunter) and his chick got excited one night around the braai fire and suddenly got married. Technically, you could call that a shotgun marriage, right?
KCC’s Andre Hawarden made our wedding invites, complete with named rapids on the Dusi, Umgeni and Umko in case any guest wanted a paddle on the way to our wedding!
We started raising kids around 1997 and that led to less visits. Later Barry & Lyn sold the farm to a consortium led by a local estate agent who – finally – united the two Hella Hella farms into one logical unit, doing what I wished Barry could have done decades earlier. Of course it’s always easy with someone else’s money! Oscar Wilde said “Advice is wonderful stuff – in the giving”.
They bought a lovely unit in a complex in Umzumbe and Barry hit the trail, traveling far and wide on birding trips. Their son Warren was selling big trucks nearby; Barry’s brother’s Litchi Farm was close – outside Port Shepstone; McDuff, the younger son did heavy duty diving (oil rigs n stuff) all over the world; Lyn got busily involved in local orchid society – ‘The Akward Society’ we joked – and other affairs.
After Aitch’s first chemo in 2007 we went to Hella Hella for the first time since those days, staying in the lovely new cottages next to The Approaches. We woke up one morning and there was a big furry creature on Aitch’s pillow. It was her hair!
Then in 2011 Lyn died of breast cancer, Barry got a leg infection and died, and Aitch died – also breast cancer. February, April and July.
Recently a vulture hide in Oribi Gorge was unveiled: The Barry Porter Vulture Hide. Barry would be delighted its not just called “Barry’s Hide”. It’s called The Barry Porter Memorial Vulture Viewing Hide.
He made us a tool to dig up plants. Plant-digger? No. Porter’s Powerful Patented Plant-Pincher. And an intricate bird feeder: Barry’s Bizarre Balancing Bird Bistro. Both had neat labels on them with those descriptions.