A-Frogging We Will Go!

Old English nursery rhyme song:

A frog he would a-wooing go,
Heigh ho! says Rowley,
A frog he would a-wooing go,
Whether his mother would let him or no.
With a rowley, powley*, gammon, and spinach,
Heigh ho! says Anthony Rowley.

Like all good nursery rhymes, they all came to a bloody end. Dead, the lot of them, by the end of the rhyme. See all the words here.

Aitch and I enjoyed some lovely frogging outings in our courting days and pre-children days. Sometimes with Barry & Lyn Porter at their three main ‘patches,’ Hella Hella (Game Valley Estates), inland of Port Shepstone (the litchi farm) and Betty’s Bay (which Barry’s father donated to the nation for a nature reserve), but the two of us ‘frogged’ all over the place, filling in data for the frog atlas by ADU at UCT’s Fitztitute. We had a lot of fun doing that. We felt lucky, we had an early GPS.

Mkhuze Mini-Break

Lovely three nights in Mantuma Camp at Mkhuze game reserve in Zululand. Nothing much happened, animals were not plentiful, the grasslands are still sadly bush-encroached, but the birds, insects and plants more than made up for that. So as not to moan about Homo sapiens vaaliensis polluting the lovely hides with farting, phone calls, smoking and loud shutter clicks of the cameras with more computing power than their owners, I have politely refrained from commenting and instead played some games with the rather ordinary pictures I took with my phone and my pocket Canon. Enjoy!

I dunno what he saw in there, but he was making an awful racket for a long time – snake maybe?
  • this tiny little spider on my rearview mirror elongated himself to look like a mini octopus when I came too close –

At last an ele in Mkhuze! I was beginning in the last few years to think there weren’t any left. There must be very few, anyway.

– Chiromantis xerampelina –

At Kumahlala hide, after an hour of being alone and quiet, the Foam Nest Frogs started up a chorus. Took a while, but I found one up on a twig just outside the hide and got a pic of him. I wish I had thought to tape their call – a lovely loud chorus – I’d guess about four of them doing a fine barbershop quartet!

Then I heard a new sound:

– thanks, Cliff and Suretha Dorse on biodiversity focused website

Found a new frog! I went through my frog calls: A Rhythmic Caco – Cacosternum rythmum. I must look for a picture of one. I couldn’t find him in the flooded grass in the waterhole. He is little over a centimetre long, mind you. Another name for them is Dainty Frogs.

Sunset at Masinga Waterhole: The sun sets behind the big old Boerbean tree that was probably already there when I first visited ‘Mkuzi’ in 1965. The hide wasn’t here then. The famous Bube hide was the ‘in place’ then, just a few hundred metres away (north, I think).

– very little water – full of green algae –

Driving out of the park to go home, a bushveld scene. I ”shopped’ in the lily into the foreground, as it was lonely in its own picture with nothing around it. And it was nearby . .

~~oo0oo~~

Like a Bucket of Prawns

I’m off!

Or I thought I was. Packed the hebcooler, the book box, the camera bag – now huge with two tripods and a new spotting scope (the main toy to be tested out at Mkhuze’s hides!). Food. Ice bricks from the freezer, the lot. Having been a critic when Jess forgot things, I went through my mental checklist. Nah, I’m sure I have it all.

Oh, clothes and toiletries. OK. Coffee. Right. Charcoal. First aid kit.

Loaded the whole lot in the car then remembered I had undertaken to get my will signed, witnessed and courier’d today. Did that, then had to arrange a locum optometrist to work for us – quick! before he changes his mind! Did that, then remembered I’d arranged to meet the lady who sold all my furniture for final payment. Did that. Then Gugu texted me: Can the girls come for a swim this afternoon in my newly cleaned sparkling blue pool? That did it.

I unpacked, back in the deep freeze and fridge. I’ll leave tomorrow. Early start. The three young ‘uns had a noisy, fun swim, chips and red cooldrink. Perfect day.

~~o00o~~

1988 Albums

The big old album is hitting the recycling bin. I have recorded all the pictures.

Home after our lo-ong honeymoon and some surprise welcomes:

Also in 1988 we had a big optometry conference in Durban. As part of the hosting committee I produced a daily newsletter. Then I became president of the optometric association at the end of the conference.

Friends at the conference – and an induction (Brauer says they induced me):

I dragged some non-canoeing friends out to the Umgeni Valley. I wanted to see the valley for a last time before Inanda Dam drowned it forever. The river was rather shallow – um, VERY shallow! We dragged for miles!

We visited the folks in Harrismith, clambered the slopes of Platberg and sang around the piano:

Bernie & Karen Garcin got married in Empangeni – George Stainton and I were his best men.

In between all the scurrying we lived in our lovely Whittington Court one-bedroom apartment in Marriott Road, and I think I occasionally did a bit of work. Sheila reminded me that she lived there for two years after we bought our house in Westville.

Another of our frequest visits to Hella Hella. And a visit to the Hills on Melrose farm, Mid Illovo.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Reed-Swanepoel Criminology

On 2013/06/19, steve reed wrote:

Just had a criminal come into the practice and scoop up six Oakley sunglasses and run for it. Dropped one on the way out. Seventy year old Genevieve let him have her shrillest STOP THIEF! and did a ten metre dash after him. Yours truly emerged from the testing room and did . . NOTHING. Well, maybe I did a half-hearted five metres in the general direction well after the incident, but hadn’t a clue what to do.

A lady out in the car park did though. She saw him hot footing and took his number plate when he drove off. At least someone was ‘speronsible’ as Zunckel would put it. Problem is, the cops have got their hands quite full out that way, what with a couple of shootings, murders etc.  
What IS this place coming to?

pete swanepoel wrote: Hey! Some action. Jolly good! (Another Pat Bean-ism).

I think what you did was EXACTLY the right thing. Delay, go slow, emerge cautiously, look concerned, ask after the staff’s well-being, call the security ous.

What!? Physically apprehend the culprit!? Not a bliksem. You think he sterilises his knife? Uh uh.

Standing instructions to my people: You hand over EVERYTHING. You let them have the lot. Everything. Don’t look them in the face. Tell the insurance.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Steve again: Agree the thinking thing to do is let the poor old shoplifters take the stuff. What are you actually going to DO wif dem if you do perform a perfectly executed ankle tap in the shopping centre or car park? Lie on top of em?
BUT Genevieve! The Slovenian! She is different! She would have gone after him! We have good laughs however. She is teaching me about Slovenian cooking. In a previous life she was a commercial caterer. Brings me dubious bits of food to try and I have introduced her to Mrs Balls chutney with which she is most impressed. 

~~~oo0oo~~~

‘Speronsible’ reminds me of Zunckel on the crossbar of my bicycle on the way to the golf club (while the school wished he was playing tennis and me rugby), singing “Let the spidnight m-ecial , line a hell of a lot of shite on me”

~~~oo0oo~~~

1987 Photo Album

(I have captured the thick old album here and elsewhere, and discarded the paper version in my big cleanout as I prepare to leave home).

We joined Max and Paula Posniak at Giant’s Castle in the Drakensberg; Aitch joined the Porters on Barry’s Dad Harold Porter’s old farm, which he bequeathed to the nation.

We got engaged. I’d forgotten what a thing it was? I threw out tons of cards Aitch had put in this album. I kept these copies of the people pics here. Steve and Wendy Reed hosted a lekker party at their lovely home in Sterling Crescent in Durban North, kind (and brave) people.

We went to visit Aitch’s folks in Bloubergstrand.

October 1987 – Natal got hit by huge floods. Here’s the Umgeni at Blue Lagoon: Island gone! Lyn wrote to us while they were cut off by the floods at Hella Hella.

Sheila joined us on a mountain biking camping trip to Cobham.

Canoe polo was great fun for a while. A highlight was when the mighty Natal C team beat the fancied-themselves Natal A team! Yay!!

We visited a Zululand bush camp affiliated to Mala Mala – Malachite Camp, they called it. Unfortunately it didn’t last long. We enjoyed some fun frogging there!

Another of our many trips to Zululand reserves:

Fun slalom weekends, this one on the Umzimkulu river.

I was paddling less races, but still doing trips:

The 1987 Umko Marathon got me a job pulling flotsam and jetsam out below No.1 rapid as rescue boat for my club KCC. We stayed on at the farm after the field had departed downstream.

Bernie and I took some novice paddlers to the Umgeni (NB: Some Umko pics mixed up in here)

Frogging and frog atlassing was a fun interest – still is.

Wedding coming up in 1988. We had a small guest list, so we had a ‘pre-nuptial party’ at Kingfisher CC’s lovely clubhouse where we got dronk with chairman Allister Gordon-Peter’s permission. That’s him on the chair shouting ORDER! ORDER!!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Sold!

I just sold my longest-lived-in home. We’ve been here sixteen years. Here’s my sequence:

First home Whittington Court. I forget how long, but bought as a bachelor, then Trish moved in ca.1986.

.

1989 we bought our first suburban home in River Drive in Westville. Stayed there fifteen years.

– 7 River Drive –

Then we rented Ian Whitton’s lovely home in Windsor Avenue Westville for about two years.

– Windsor Avenue –

2005 we bought here, ‘to be near the schools.’

– Elston Place – sold! after sixteen years –

The feature image is Elston Place after our 2012 revamp.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Madagascar 2008

(the album has been discarded, here are all the pages for posterity):

– l – r: Dickie, Claire, Bert, Sonja, Tanya, Pete, Trish, Jessie, Tommy – where’s Mowgli? –

~~~oo0oo~~~

The Art of the Game Drive

I gave a talk in the Kruger Park once called The Art of the Game Drive. It was magnificent, complete with exciting sightings and livestreaming. Pity was, I had an unappreciative audience. Well, they were from behind the boerewors curtain, so . . you know how they are.

It almost sounded like they had a pet monkey with them, as they kept muttering Ari Aap as I drove them serenely in quiet splendour and exquisite comfort in my VW Kombi 2,1 in subtle camouflage blue and white. But you won’t believe this, when I stopped to examine old poo there was audible sighing. Philistines. The talks are still wildly popular* but I notice none of that particular batch were ever repeat guests. And I mainly have repeat guests.

*Jessie has been a repeat guest dozens – scores – of times. She can appreciate the Art of the Game Drive. Specially if she has her phone, her music and noise-cancelling earphones with her.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Vandalism!

First I un-jungled.

Then I de-trailered.

‘Tis vandalism is what it is!

2021 and we all ‘know’ you have to manicure a garden cos ‘people won’t buy a wild garden!’ Fuck me, the world is fucked.

My shame is I went along with it when I know I should not have. And we – mankind – have known since the 6th century BCE that we should not ruin our environment. But still we do.

Yeah, selling my home of the last sixteen years.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Mary Poppins

‘They gave us supper early. We were saying, Soon They’ll Feed Us At Three.’ I said, In this cold weather if it was me I’d say to you all at lunch: Eat Up! Your Supper’s Ready! so I could get home early. She had a good laugh at that.

‘I played the piano at supper.’ Oh, good. What did you play? ‘The piano’ she says mischievously and laughs. The she sings, ‘Lady of Spain I adore you – right from the night I first saw you … ‘

We would dance to this in the Masonic Hall. Folk dancing. Also to When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. And a Welsh dance and a Scottish reel.’

For Girl Guides I had to play a March for my piano badge. Mrs Steytler said I was playing too fast, the girls marching couldn’t keep up. Then I had to play God Save The King, we were still under the monarchy then, in the Commonwealth. And Elizabeth has gone to hospital for the first time.’

Well, she’s 93, I said, same age as you. ‘Oh, I thought she was Pat’s age, older than me, and Margaret was my age.’ I think she’s 1928, same as you, I said. While we were talking I checked. True’s Bob, Mary was right, Mrs Queen is two and half years older than her. Pat’s age. I was foolish to contradict her. What do I know about poms?

I saw her in Boksburg, you know. She was keen to get back home to the only boyfriend she ever had. Philip.’

~~~oo0oo~~~

Sell

Another chapter begins. I’ll be leaving the home I’ve lived in the longest in my life – sixteen years. The kids were eight and four when we moved in.

How hard can it be, right? You sell, bank the cash and drive off into the sunset. So I called Aitch’s friend and colleague in her four-year stint as an estate agent, Pam.

Pam, You Know What You’re Doing, You Come And Do This.

So you know what she does? She gives me a list as long as your arm! You do this, then you do this, then . . she’s as bad as Aitch was!

So she tells me: Sell your furniture; sell your books; sell the many wall hangings which haven’t hung on a wall for ten years since Aitch went; Fix the cracks, the windows, the doors, the ceilings; Paint – a lot; Rip up those carpets; New light bulbs;

Yes, Pam.

Mow the lawn – WHAT!? Now you’ve gone too far!

Hell, if I didn’t do all those things for us, why should I do them for strangers? Cos you want to sell the house, Pete.

Oh

Sold!

I decided I’ll never get this done, so we put the house on the market “as is” – its called voetstoots in South Africa. And on that very day we got two offers for the full asking price. A week later their finance was approved and so I asked ‘Must I Leave Now?’ No, they said, it takes about three months before you’ll have your money! Damn!

Now it is very real and I sat Jess and Tom down and broke the news. They picked what they wanted from the house, a truckload went off to Tom’s rented rooms:

Jess wants less, but the other fridge and microwave will go to her.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Aitch Art

I have spoken about Aitch being an art connoisseur before, here and here. I have also referred to the possibility that I might have philistinian tendencies; or plebeian judgement.

Some months after she died in July 2011 I found a parcel very well wrapped up and secure; cardboard, brown paper, parcel tape and well bubble-wrapped inside.

Inside were two beautifully framed botanical prints by an artist I had never heard of – Ha! of course I hadn’t. But Aitch had! . . and an invoice.

I gasped: HOW MUCH?!!

Just two and a half months before she died she was still investing in things she considered were beautiful; and would go far and grow. Given time.

Bless her.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Trying to sell them not so easy. So far I’ve had an offer of R1000; no reply from the gallery she bought them at; another art gallery said “try an auction house.” I’m gonna keep them for when I get a new place one day. Then I’ll hang them up and ignore them again.

More on Sibonelo Chiliza here and here and here and pictures of a few of his works here.