The Photo Archives

I hardly ever carried a camera back when I was beautiful and had just the one chin. “I’m video’ing it in my head” I would say.

Of course now I’m really grateful other people carried cameras and I could get pics from them. Even in the days when you loaded a roll of film in the dark and wound it on by hand frame-by-frame some people carried cameras. I salute them!

And I admit I would grumble when they said “Stand closer together” “Smile” “Hang on! Just one more!”. Of course some people would think they had put in the roll of film when they hadn’t and all our posing (“poeseer!” remember SanMarie the game ranger’s joke?) was in vain. Yes, I’m thinking of you Taylor. He posed us in various ways on a buffalo carcase and when we eagerly asked for the photies weeks later (they had to go off “for development” of course) he had to sheepishly admit he hadn’t had a roll of film in his steam-driven camera.

Anyway, my memory of that moment was much better than his pic would have been: I remember a bloody carcase with glistening red meat still on the bone and lion prints around the sandy scene. We were posing looking over our shoulder, worried the lions might chase us off their prey at any minute. When later we did get a pic from someone better organised than Taylor the truth was far more mundane. The photo spoilt a good story.

Wilderness Walk.jpg
Intrepid non-photographer on the left with empty camera

So although I do have some slight regrets I still think I was generally more “in the moment” than many camera-occupied companions over the years – and I saw more birds. Anyway, my memories of what happened are usually far better than boring reality. Usually I play the starring role in them.

Once I met Aitch things changed of course and we had a fulltime photographer in the house. The years from 1986 are well documented. Then the kids arrived and the number of pics went through the roof. Thank goodness for digital! Even now when we drive through a game reserve Jess will say “Mom would have said ‘Stop! Go back!’ and you would have to reverse and she’d take a picture of a flower, remember?”

With cameras as ubiquitous as they now are all this smacks of days gone by. I was prompted to write this post when I read this yesterday: ‘If a millennial goes to a beautiful place but doesn’t get a photo, did they ever really go?’…

To end, some advice for Taylor:

Life like Camera.jpg

Here’s a graph showing camera sales in 1000’s since 1933:

Camera sales.jpg

Time Scurries

Hate it, but it’s true: Things fade. A month late on our annual tribute. Six years now. Don’t worry, you still do occasionally cause changes to the way we do things, and “But Mom said . . ” is still used to some effect!

Mom stops to dish out energy bars after all our non-pedalling!

Jess still regularly asks if there wasn’t more we could have done to save or cure Mom. When she hears of a new treatment for some or other disease she’ll ask “Why didn’t they do this for Mom?” I explain the difference between bacteria and viruses and cancer to her each time.


I shoulda said Gosh! Or Darn!

Jaynee J had a luxury courtesy suite at Centurion Park cricket ground and she invited us to watch a game. The Springboks / Proteas were playing someone in an international test match. 2001, so Sri Lanka, maybe.

Also: Jayne called it a ‘champagne suite’ and – as always – she had laid in enough stock for a siege. Or a rainy day. And that day Centurion Park was not like this:

Centurion cricket ground

I had great fun watching the people. Especially a guy in the next-door Telkom box, scanning the crowd with powerful binoculars, looking for girls. Whenever he saw someone watching him he’d say “I’m looking for my sister”.

We had to take two year-old Jessica along and it wasn’t really her thing. It rained off and on, so we were indoors with guest barman Johnno, who was intent on quality control and sampling. Aitch and I took turns amusing Jess and keeping her out of the adults’ hair. Here she is puddle-jumping behind the stadium:

After a while (cricket matches carry on and on and when you think they MUST be finished – surely? – they stop for tea) I had to feed and change Jess and decided to take her back to Jayne’s home. Change of scenery and a break for the adults.

On the way back to the stadium, freshly-fed and -wiped Jessie strapped in the car seat behind me, I missed the freeway offramp to the stadium. Didn’t have a clue how I’d get back to the stadium now, so I was kinda tense and focussed and fuming – what if I missed Jayne’s famous lunch? – until I finally figured it out and managed a tricky u-turn after the next offramp and got back on track. Finally I could relax.

“Pete?” came a little voice from behind me. Yes my love?



Oh, boy . . . . .

Fame! Riches! The Life of Aitch

Hey, they’re making a movie on the life of heart surgeon Professor Chris Barnard.

Sunday, 3 December 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the world’s first heart transplant, so they obviously want to cash in on that.

Aitch worked with him till he retired. On 14 December 1983 she went to his farewell (she wrote it in her diary. CNB – Christiaan Neethling Barnard):

Aitch Diary (2)

Aitch & Barnard at the heart-lung machine
Barnard & Aitch

I wonder who they’ll get to play Aitch? Maybe Olga Kurylenko, Bond girl in Quantum of Solace?

Olga Kurylenko Bond girl

And I wonder what percentage we’ll get of the gross earnings? Surely they won’t cut the kids out of the proceeds?


Barnard wrote a book One Life. If I wrote a book on Aitch I’d call it One Wife.


Syd Sellars’ Success

Aitch loved Syd Sellars. They got on like a house on fire. She was doing marketing for the De Marigny & Lello group of optometrists in Durban, Ballito, Stanger, Scottburgh, etc and Syd did all her printing. They would put their creative heads together and design new logos, letterheads and adverts.

Years later I saw Syd again. He was shocked to hear of Trish’s passing. He would SO have liked to have shown her this:

After 30 years in the corporate world Syd is now doing what he loves best: Teaching children fine art – and it’s rewarding him mentally and financially! I LOVE success stories!

He also exhibits and sells his own art, while his wife Laura helps run the business, being the organiser for Syd the creative.

Isnt that a lovely story!?

100 years

Well, twenty nine anyway. Me n Aitch would have been married 29yrs today!  A toast and good memories! We were together 26yrs, married 23, and I got 34yrs of kids value out of it (19 plus 15)! Add all that together = 100yrs.

Jeannie Stewart, Aitch, Jane ___ and me - at 7 River Drive Westville

I had a hard time as she would gallivant with handsome young bucks on Harley Davidsons when I wasn’t looking:

Aitch at home!!

Aitch was a secret biker chick in her day. She went to the Buffalo Rally:

and she was into convertibles:

and into taking photos to mock me:

Gardening for Birds n Frogs n Butterflies n Goggas

Aitch learnt the joy of indigenous plants on the Bluff in 1985 when at Wentworth hospital. Ian Whitton, friend and cardio-thoracic surgeon, indigenous gardener and nurseryman extraordinaire took her under his wing. She also learnt from indigenous guru horticultural landscaper author visionary Geoff Nichols; Collected seeds (and swopped them for plants) for Enver Buckus at Silverglen nursery; Worked for Geoff Caruth at Geoff’s Jungle indigenous nursery; She joined BotSoc (now the Biodiversity Society) and got very involved, especially in the annual big plant sale, working with Sandra, Wally Menne, Jean Senogles, Dave Henry, Diane Higginson, etc; She spent fifteen years “botanising” (as they called it) with Barry Porter on his and Lyn’s Hella Hella game farm. We went there at every opportunity. It became our second home. They would roam the farm spotting and photographing plants and flowers, occasionally digging up one for culture with Porter’s Patented Plant Pincher**, a handy device Barry had welded together to make extracting small plants easy and non-destructive. Barry taught us to use Eugene Moll’s tree-ID book using leaves to ID the trees of Natal.

Our first property was 7 River Drive Westville, already mostly indigenous thanks to Mike and Yvonne Lello. On the banks of the Mkombaan River, it was paradise unfenced. We rooted out invasives and aliens and planted the right stuff as directed by Geoff Nichols. On his first visit he told me sternly, pointing ‘over there’, to “Get rid of that inkberry”. You know how Geoff is. Right. Sir! A month later on his next site inspection he said “You haven’t got rid of that inkberry!” Oops! True. So I undertook to do it that week.

A few days later I set to with my bow saw, sawing off all the branches and then cutting down the 100mm trunk just above the ground, Then I garlon’d that and composted the bits n pieces. Phew! Done! Finally!

A month later Geoff was back. “Who the hell cut down the tassleberry?!” he bellowed. And “You STILL haven’t got rid of the inkberry!” I never lived that one down. We planted five tassleberries to make up (they have male and female trees, so that was best anyway). I am pleased – relieved – to report they did well over the next fifteen years!

Aitch didn’t mind a bit of attention, so when our garden was chosen to be on display for Durban Open Gardens she blossom’d n preened and was in her element! She LOVED showing people around the garden and re-assuring them that it was quite safe* even if it did look a bit wild (in fact she kept the entrance and path to the front door and pool very tame and civilised and trimmed so as not to scare people and put them off wild gardening. The hidden parts of the garden could go wild and host the 112 species of birds we recorded in the garden over the fifteen years we lived there. For 32 of those species we saw nests or fledglings).

We put in a bird bath outside our bedroom window and plumbed it with a fine hose and left it running with a fine little spray of water which ran constantly for fifteen years. I could control the fine trickle from a specially fitted high tap from inside the bedroom. The birds loved it. Me too.

*In fifteen years we saw one Natal Black Snake, one Brown Water Snake, a few Herald Snakes, a resident House Snake, regular Spotted Bush Snakes, tiny Thread Snakes, a couple of Night Adders, and that was all. None of them really dangerous.

**Barry also made us a bird feeder, which he called Barry’s Bizarre Balancing Bird Bistro.

One year we decided to make a large pond by damming a little stream that flowed though our garden into the Mkombaan. It came to be called (by Aitch) “Koos’ Folly”. In my defence, Nichols was involved in the planning. We built a substantial dam wall next to the Voacanga on the bank, covered in bidim felt and strong and long-lasting, creating a deep pond about 8m X 4m in size. Which the first flood filled up to the brim with silt. One shot. Pond now a shallow little mudflat with most of the flow passing under it underground. Don’t mess with watercourses.

Some murdering had to happen. There was a mango tree in the grasslands and a fiddlewood behind the house. I bow-saw’d and de-barked and felled. Then I garlon’d. That would sort them out. Well, only years later did I finally get rid of the last shoots that kept sprouting. I developed a genuine respect for their kanniedood properties! A massive syringa on the banks of the Mkombaan I just ring-barked and garlon’d. No cutting. Two years later it crashed down across the river, bank-to-bank, forming a bridge you could walk across.