Four Wild Toppies on the Old Coast

Secret Diary of a trip down mammary lane.

It wasn’t that we were actually, y’know, OLD, but . . . well, we needed a break and a brief flashback to our glory days, when the chicks used to hurl themselves at us. Well, that one. In the harbour, remember?
So we piled into a kombi and headed off to the Wild Coast, looking for That Famous Stuff they sell down there, and hoping to rendezvous with the Swedish Hockey team. OK, the Swedish Old Girls Hockey Team, who were rumoured to be doing pre-season training in Lusikisiki (or, as we called it after crawling out of The Shy Stallion shebeen) Lo-squeaky-squeaky.

As we neared the coast there was a lo-ong downhill ahead of us and I stopped the kombi and got onto Abbers’ mountain bike and whizzed down with glee. As I reached terminal velocity I did think Uh-Oh! as I felt the effects of the Black Label kicking in. At the bottom I coasted to a halt. I don’t do uphills.

It was the Black Label by the quart and sweet wine that did it, I suppose, but when we got to the actual coast where the waves break against the rugged shore, we were looking for some action. We needed a break from all the Sixties music we’d been playing, broken only by one awful interlude when Bruce snuck an Amy Winehouse CD into the player! So we lay down and had a snooze.

But Abbers had brought that borrowed mountain bike, and we no longer wondered why. Seems he wanted to get away from the competition and meet up with a longtime connection he had met when salvaging the good ship BBC China which foundered off Grosvenor back when he was but a boy in his forties. Off he went on his own, heading vaguely south, trapping that fiets stukkend.


Check carefully: No hockey girls

When he got back much later there was a distinct whiff of some smoky vegetation about him and the Msikaba mosquitoes avoided him like the plague. We pumped him for information, but all we got was a mumbled “Loose-titty-titty” and the fact that he had not found the now-overdue Swedish Old Girls Hockey Team, but that when we did he dabzed wrestling with the goalie.
Abbers’ head did clear after a few days and he set off fishing so as to be able to answer spouse Les reasonably honestly, give or take; but the fish were having none of it. You could actually see them giving his bait a wide berth and wrinkling up their nostrils.

wikipedia: MV BBC China was a 5,548 GT general cargo vessel. In October 2003 the ship was diverted to Italy while carrying gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment to Libya. In October 2004 it ran aground near Port Grosvenor, was declared a total loss and subsequently demolished with explosives. BY ABBERS! This is true.

——-ooo000ooo——-

trapping that fiets stukkend – pedaling vigorously

——-ooo000ooo——-

Meanwhile, unbeknown to us . . . a few rivers further north, the Swedish ladies K4 paddling team was training on the Umtamvuna:

swedish rowing team

This is true. OK, they might not have been there that same weekend but they did go there! And they were Swedish. And gorgeous.

Msikaba Boys Weekend

Pearls Before Swine

On Friday, August 3, 2012, Pete wrote: You can’t understand teenagers. Whenever I offer to sing to Jess and her friends to save her the cost of tickets to hear Justin Bieber or whoever, she says “OmiGawd, Dad, NO!”
When she’s in the car with friends and I offer to sing instead of listening to their CD’s, iPods, Blackberrys, bluetooth to my speakers, or whatever, I get a loud chorus of “No Thanks Pete!!” and whispered giggles to Jess about her weird Dad.

But she has a soft heart. Yesterday she came to me and said “Dad maybe old people would want to listen to you sing.”

~~~oo0oo~~~

Steve Reed wrote: Want to listen to you sing?  Only old people who are drunk and who are also wanting to sing. I suspect this type of forced exposure to our dubious talents ( though with only the best of  intentions ) would have been responsible for a substantial degree of traumatic stress to our own kid . . . Character building though. 

Anyhow, good to see the SAfricans doing well in the Olympic medals. 

Aussies have brought a bunch of retired sportsmen out to have a go. The pre – Sydney games sports development initiative is now a thing of the past.

Go the ZA’s! . . and good on the Kiwis.

I wrote: Ah, austerity over posterity? The calvinist ideal. Usually used to deny poor people their fair share; but in this particular case I agree with it, I’m afraid. ‘Specially here, where much money is spent looking for medals (and my favourite: building plush, empty, white-elephant stadiums) while people have no jobs, houses or electricity. Even lotto gives money to ruddy sports clubs rather than genuine charities. Bums me.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Back to singing: Fine tradition, drunk warbling.

Steve: One of Australia’s best has yet again done his country ‘proud’ . . .

Australian Olympic rower will offer his apologies to the shop owners whose windows he damaged. Booth will also pay more than $2000 to the owners in a bid to avoid criminal charges. The 21-year-old Melbourne University student was intoxicated during the incident as the team was out celebrating.

The men’s eight rowing team qualified 6th just hours before the incident. The Australian Olympic Committee have little doubt of Booth’s involvement and say he is responsible for all reparations. Many believe the incident has caused embarrassment for the Australian Olympic team. (Me: Drunkenness has cause Aussie embarrassment? C’mon! Get real).

Booth fainted and hit his head at the police station after being arrested. He was then taken to hospital as a precaution. 

And no, they take NO DRUGS…

I wrote: Having once (long ago) experimented with this very same drug, I have to keep quiet at times like this . . .

Steve: Still doing controlled experiments myself. Let’s call it research. 

I wrote: Yep – C2H5OH taken internally . . ongoing experimentation.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Thy Ox and My Ass

On a boys getaway weekend to Manteku on the WildCoast my kombi makes it easily down to Drifters’ camp, though I do think Uh! Oh! as we drive down, Might be interesting getting out!

Uh Oh!

Five glorious days later we pack up and head out. But it has rained and the hill is too much for the kombi. What now? We’re the only vehicle in miles. “No problem” says our Drifters camp manager. “I’ll get some oxen”.

Oh, the shame! My ‘friends’ roar with laughter and start preparing. To lighten the kombi? To attach the tow rope? To clear big rocks away? No. None of the above. TO TAKE PICTURES!!

A ‘helpful’ comrade filled with empathy!
After one false start, where the oxen made a beeline for the river, we’re now aimed right . .

To this day I am reminded of this by these helpful ‘friends’. If I mention any car trouble they helpfully tell me: “Check for ox shit in the axles”.

At the top, it’s payment time: Thanks for your time, your trained oxen and your skill!

R.I.P Barry Porter

BARRY PORTER 18th September 1946 to 27th April 2011

Barry as we’ll all remember him, soaking up the wonders of the big outdoors:

Barry Porter_3.JPG
Photo: Andy Ruffle

A memorial service was held for Barry at the Port Shepstone Country Club.

Dress attire casual – as Barry would’ve liked.

A request for no flowers has come from his family. His son feels it fitting that donations be made to Birdlife Trogons Bird Club in lieu of flowers.

A TRIBUTE TO BARRY PORTER FROM BIRDLIFE TROGONS BIRD CLUB

Friend Colleague Confidant Gentleman

Born in Johannesburg into a family steeped in South Coast history.

Educated at St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown and immensely proud of it.

Reserved, scientific and tempered with technical ability.

Environmentally possessed.

Concluded his education at Natal University PMB with a BSc Agri Degree and commenced a farming career at Hella Hella.

His knowledge of environmental issues was unsurpassed and covered everything from birds to frogs to trees to grasses to game – from common names to scientific names to even Zulu names in which language he was fluent.

The use of this language in regard to Zulu tree names often led to very interesting and vigorous debates between ourselves and our Zulu speaking compatriots. To disagree with him was a complete waste of time, he would just quietly walk away, leaving one to wonder why did we even try and realising that we had not obtained an ‘A’ in that subject.

His knowledge of birds was unsurpassed and he studied avian issues with an undisclosed passion. He was a dedicated member of the Bird Rarity Committee and was always ready to give a fair judgement on all requests. As Chairman of Trogons Bird Club for a numbers of years (under duress) he never appreciated his ability being noticed and he led the club to be one of the most active and productive in Natal (if not the country) and he had the ability to motivate his committee to perform above expectations to the benefit of its members. He served on many Avian orientated committees where his knowledge was highly regarded.

Apart from his scientific knowledge, his technical ability was quite fascinating and he was adept at repairing and studying all aspects of modern engineering.

He was very computer literate and enjoyed all the advantages of its intricacies to the extreme .

The loss of his wife, Lyn, some six months ago left him tragically scarred – a scar that he bore bravely and undisclosed and no doubt had a bearing on his tragic demise.

His passing will leave a void that will be difficult to fill as there are very few people with his reserved manner and willingness to impart their knowledge to others available in this world today.

May he rest in peace.

Your civility and reservedness which endeared you to so many will not be forgotten.

~~~oo0oo~~~

TRIBUTE POSTED ON SABAP2 WEBSITE

I have sad news to report. One of the stalwarts of SABAP2, Barry Porter, passed away on Wednesday after a short spell in hospital. Barry’s contribution to the BirdLife Trogons Bird Club was legendary.
An email sent to me by one of his friends, Carol Bosman, includes this paragraph which helps to sum up all our feelings: “Barry lived for birds and whenever I stayed with him he would take me out to record the various pentads for the Bird Atlas Project. His wife Lyn passed away only five months ago. What saddens me the most, I guess, is the loss of a ‘fountain’ of information as Barry was so well read in so many subjects. Your project has lost an incredibly knowledgeable observer and participant.”
Barry submitted a total of 261 checklists for 77 pentads, mostly in southern KwaZulu-Natal, but extending further afield as well. His first checklist was made on 19 August 2007, right at the outset of SABAP2, and the most recent was on 27 March this year, a month ago. Over this whole period there were very few months in which Barry did not submit a checklist.


He was a regular contributor of interesting comments on fora such as SABirdnet.
On 14 June last year during the World Cup he wrote this email, with the subject line “Soccer Birds”: “I went birding yesterday in the normally tranquil rural tribal lands inland from Hibberdene. I struggled to fill my atlas card, very difficult to hear birds voices – ‘the hills are alive with the sound of vuvuzelas!'”

The birding community and SABAP2 are poorer with the passing away of this passionate citizen scientist.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Here’s a pic by Barry of the Trogons at his brother’s litchi farm. Lyn is in the picture, second from left:

Barry Porter & Lyn - Litchi Syndicate.jpg

The vulture hide at Oribi Gorge – in the feature pic – was named in Barry’s honour. He would secretly have loved that.

I wrote a tribute to Barry here.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Brevity

TomTom has to keep a holiday diary for school. Daily entries. Verbally he can be quite verbose. When a story can be told in ten words, he can take twenty, then repeat them in case you weren’t listening.

So we went shopping and walked for miles in Westwood centre, then drove to the Pavilion, looking for soccer collectable cards and an album. Plus we had Kentucky Fried chicken and a Tab, bought plasters for him and disprins for me. And he listened to music on his headphones in the kombi.

In his diary he wrote: I have soka cards frommy Dad. That was it.

Earlier, we had arranged to go to the Palmiet River* at the bottom of our road.  Aitch was out, so I told TomTom we should leave a note for Mom to tell her where we’d gone.

He wrote a big note. It said – in glossy silver pen: We have gone.

On my insistence he added some detail:

And we well come back

TomTom

*Our Palmiet fossicking turned up tadpoles, mayfly nymphs, baby frogs, freshwater shrimps and little fish fry. Maybe he’ll write about them.

Appropriate Indeed

So I’m dropping off the terrible twins, Ivory Josh and Ebony Tom, at Paula Dean’s Holiday Club, in West Virginia. Or so it sounds when the kids say it. It’s actually Westville Junior.

Josh and Tom

Also Jessie and Londeka, whose visiting her grandma Gogo Regina, our housekeeper,  from Mbumbane.

On the way up the steps I remember, and mumble, that I must fill in an indemnity form for Josh.

No, Dad, we already filled in our Indignity Form, says TomTom.

Appropriate.

Deprivation

Aitch takes the kids for lunch at a Spur restaurant with her folks – Gogo ‘Ona and Grumpa Neil. It’s two days after their joint birthday – they turned 7 and 11, so it was 2008.

TomTom is wolfing down a bowl of ice cream he has FINALLY been able to wheedle out of his Ma. She feels he usually eats a mouthful and wastes the rest, so he has to persuade her before a wish gets granted.

His Gogo watches and comments: “My, Tommy, you’re eating that ice cream quickly!”

Well, he explains, We don’t get offered it much in our home.

Jessie, Annabelle, Tommy, Nathan
– Jessie, Annabelle, Tommy, Nathan –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

Hello Jessica speaking

Jessie answers the phone in her usual polite way:

Hello Jessica speaking how may I please help you?

Followed by wide-eyed silence, then Hello Rita.

Rita had answered ‘I’ll have two pizzas, please. Large, with extra cheese, and a Pepsi.’

That floored ole Jess. She’s still giggling about it.

~~~oo0oo~~~

– Rita Jess & Aitch –
– Jess & Reet –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Heartfelt Appreciation

Jessie’s Thank You letter to Dizzi:

December 11th, 2008 by bewilderbeast

Jess n Tom got well spoilt for their birthday.

Jessie wrote a thank you note to her favourite GoodGodParents:

Thank you for the ABBA singstar you are the best and the best.

And I’ve just sung Summer Night City it is the best song I’ve held.

And I’ve also sung

And I Can Dance With You Huney

If you think it’s funny

Does your Mother know that you out?

Thank you John and Dizzy (Dizzy you are the best)

Love you Lots, Lots, Lots, Lots

from your best girl in the world

Love you so much

You best girl

Jessie Swanepoel

Dizzy

JHON

Happy Wand Dec 2009 (391)

  • Dizzi leading Jess astray –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Not Now, Ma!

Aitch takes a weekly reading session at Livingstone.
Usually she reads in the class and each kid gets a turn to come to her and read while the rest get on with their work under the teacher’s supervision. She slips Tom’s book near the top of the pile so he can get his reading done early and stop watching her reading with the others.
She gives him a discreet hug as he walks up to her to which he stiffens awkwardly, turns his shoulder and glances to see if his mates are watching. He does NOT want to be teased!!

This week for once the reading was outside the classroom, and Mrs Button sent the kids out one by one.

SO: TomTom climbed on Aitch’s lap and gave her a huge hug, snuggled down and read both his books to her with full concentration!

Aitch’s grin was still fixed on her face hours later.

You can venture forth boldly and independently . .

– but it’s nice to have a safe haven . . . –

~~~oo0oo~~~

50. That’s fifty. Five zero. FIFTY! Eish!

Aitch doesn’t mess around. Suddenly a big marquee was pitched on the front lawn. What’s that for? I ask. We’re having a party, says me wife. Oh. OK. So tip-toe’ing discreetly past my half century mark is not going to happen?

Nope.

So I help the guys lay down a dance floor; and I carry chairs. And I carry chairs. Do we need so many chairs? I ask. Carry chairs, I’m told.

Then a minibus arrives and musical instruments are carried out – a trombone, a saxophone and a guitar – and one of the guys looks familiar. Big, braces, white hair. Mario!? I say / ask in amazement. Yes, says he in an Italian accent. What are you doing here? I ask, onnosel-y. He just smiles. I spose he’s used to that.

Mario Montereggi! When he’s not marshaling his Big Band, he runs a trio, Music Unlimited, for small events: Him on trombone, a guitarist and a saxophonist.

– Mario Montereggi’s trio –

WOW!! Aitch certainly does NOT mess around!

The theme was Africa, but Brauer thought it was Out of Africa, and of course he took it literally. You know how he is . .

– Aitch put it all together – she was much younger’n me –
– the sax player charmed the kids –
– especially TomTom –

Instead of a solemn speech full of half a century of carefully censored praise . .

– Terry and Pete exaggerating –

Terry and Pete sang a song full of scurrilous exaggerations – and duped the rest of the mense into singing the chorus! Everyone knows Billy Joel’s Piano Man tune . .

– Brauerr song PFS 50th –

Then Jonathan and Aitch said some words and I had to correct everyone and put them straight.

– after Jon and Aitch spoke I had to leap up to defend my reputation –
– good peeps gathered –
– PFS 50th –

~~~oo0oo~~~

onnosel – not clever; dof

mense – good people

Binoculars

We once had a robbery. In 2005 at 10 Windsor Avenue.

We got home to find the place ransacked. Waddaya mean “How did we know?” – when Aitch was there we were fairly tidy!

Turns out Aitch’s jewellery (including her sapphire & diamond engagement ring) was missing, which was no biggie – she didn’t even replace much once the insurance paid us. AND her Zeiss binocs! Now this was a bigger deal! She loved her binoculars and used them A LOT.

Years earlier at 7 River Drive she had decided they had been stolen and I said “No, we’ve just mislaid them”. After a long time I had to concede: “OK, they probably are gone, but we may have lost them.” I hate saying “stolen” unless I really know that!

Well, they turned up about two years after they first went missing – in the back of our socks shelf!! ** blush ** . . .

But this time they really were gone and SO:

She got a brand new pair of Zeiss Victory FL T* 8X32 ‘s!!

Zeiss 8X32 Aitch's

UNFAIR!

Mine are 10X40’s – lovely, but a generation older. Lens coatings not as good and not nitrogen-filled and sealed to the outside world like Aitch’s new ones are. They have a story of their own:

I bought them around 1984 for R1800 having refused to pay R750 a year before as that was outrageously expensive! I loved them and they did me proud, but in 1997 I decided reluctantly to have them serviced by Zeiss. The rubber covering was loose and the eyecups were tight. The optics weren’t as sharp as new either. I was very reluctant to give them to Zeiss as they were a bunch of incompetent beer drinkers in my view. They were useless in their service to optometry, the other labs beat them hands down on service and quality. So I decided what I’d do is personally go to the head office in Johannesburg (JHB) and hand them to the MD and go with him to the technician who would be in charge. I forget the MD’s name, maybe Winnefeld? The technician was Thomas Provini. We arranged they would be given back to the MD who would phone me and on my next trip to JHB I would collect them personally. DO NOT POST THEM, I instructed / pleaded. I trusted the post office as much as I trusted Zeiss!

They sent me a quote by ‘telefax’ – Two new cups R120; Dismantling and cleaning, repair focusing system, glueing rubber protection onto it, cleaning of all lenses and final inspection R558. Total R678. Not small money those days, but the price of the binocs had kept going up as the Rand weakened, so I said yes please.

I forget how long they were meant to take, but when that time had gone past and gone longer and no word from Zeiss, I phoned the MD. My binocs ready yet? What? Didn’t have a clue. Bad sign. I reminded him of everything we had agreed on and he said Ja Ja he would get back to me. He didn’t. I phoned again. He still didn’t know. I started jumping up and down, cursing the day I had handed them in. I should have trusted my instincts and never gone near them! Then a lady phoned – a Mrs Adams, I think. The MD chickened out of doing the phoning himself, the rat fink.

‘We posted them to Port Elizabeth.’ WHAT!? Why? ‘Oh, we thought you were from Port Elizabeth.’ NO! My arrangement was Do NOT Post Them. Let me speak to your damn fool MD. He was unavailable and remained unavailable till I flew to JHB and confronted him. ‘Oh, but we thought you were in PE!’ ‘And anyway,’ he blustered, ‘Someone signed for them, so we have done our part.’ Can you EFFING believe it?

The stupid incompetent beer-swilling bastard had lost my precious binocs and was trying to dodge responsibility! Eventually I had to pay R1850 and got a new pair. SONS OF BITCHES!!

I still have that 1997 pair, but I use mainly Aitch’s newer 8X32’s.

No doubt about it, as we used to joke as students, Zeiss ist Scheiss!! We didn’t know it then, but it was true.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Album Safari 2003

Trish (Aitch) and 5yr-old Jess made a paste-and-cut album when we got back from our trip to five Southern African countries. I found it lying around so thought I’d photograph it and paste it here as a gallery. Click on the first pic and it will open full size, then scroll through the 43 pics in the gallery. Hope you enjoy.

Annie and her Sherpas summit Mt aux Sources

Mt aux Sources, winter 1998. Sheila organises a gang to summit the peak. Lots of people. Sheila can organise!

Ann Euthemiou brings two strapping nephews as sherpas to haul her four-poster double bed and duvet up the chain ladder.

I hand out my special paklightna snacks at all stops on the way up.

Once up the chain ladder, Sheils insist we camp in the most exposed spot on the escarpment, where howling gales lean our little dome tents at 45° angles. Aitch went to bed before me to stop the tent from rolling away! I had to brave the gale a while longer to finish the Old Brown sherry. Late at night Doug n Tracey Hyslop fight off imaginary ‘intruders’.

MtAuxSources (3).jpg

Next morning we find out why Sheil had insisted on the spot: That’s the sunrise view from our tent. Hmm . . OK Sheila, but what if it had been cloudy!?

This is why Sheila made us camp in THE most exposed spot!
– sunrise between the Eastern Buttress and Devil’s Tooth –

On top I collect reciprocal snacks from all and sundry who carried heavy packs up all the way up, while I had lightened mine.

MtAuxSources (1).jpg

Chilly, windy, glorious mid-winter morning.

Wasn't hot. Aitch still huddling in the tent!
– Sheila brung Old Brown sherry – Doug & Tracy Hyslop and me –

Peering down at the Tugela Falls – one of the highest waterfalls in the world:

– me, Sheila and Bets Key in front –

Here’s what the falls look like in a fly past by some enterprising glider pilots:

HFC berg gliding

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

It might not have been on this trip, but on a trip up to Mt aux Sources I saw an interesting fly hovering at a flower. I had a good look, memorised him and went searching the internet. Here he is (or a close cousin):

I found a wonderful site – an Aussie Michael Whitehead who does research in Australia and in South Africa. He has some beaut pics of proboscis flies like this one – called Prosoeca ganglbaueri.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Hover flies are also fascinating.