Africa, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal, School

Our Special Road

The little uns in our cul de sac from a while ago are big now, and new little ones are making their presence felt!

Thabiso (Tabs) and Andile are big now – all senior primary school longs, shirts and ties; while little Lisa heads off for her first day of ‘Big School’ (pre-school)!!

Michael – starting school 14 years ago when we got here, now driving his Mom’s car – sent the pic.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal

Kelso Rocks

Go to bed early and be up early guys! That’s Tom, Ryan and Ziggy. They want to go fishing in Kelso on the rocks in front of Tom’s happy childhood haunt Happy Wanderers.

So they get to bed at 2am and I have to roust them at 5:45am. C’mon, move! We drive off at 6:20am and get there in an hour. They go fishin’ and I go for a peaceful breakfast in Scottburgh, then birding and butterflying. No pictures, though, nothing would sit still. Luckily Ziggy took pickishas of them . .

They even catch. Shad and an eel. The eel gets released, but two shad are brought home against my wishes. Too late, by the time they get back to me they’re dead. But Dad, they’re legal and we want to have them for lunch!

I take them a mid-morning snack which is accepted with huge cries of welcome and relief like they were dying of thirst and starving. I have to interrupt Tom and tell him to write a book about the tough time he had in The Struggle!

More surprises: At the end they go for a swim in the waves and even Tom goes in! Amazing. Tom got wet in the sea! – and he wore shorts! ex Africa semper aliquid novi ! On the way home they’re bubbling over with excitement and chuffedness and tall tales and heroics and what-they-would-have-done stories.

We’re talking so crazily and over each other and laughing and shouting that I don’t see the cop till he jumps right in front of me and flags me down! Yes, YOU, he indicates. It didn’t feel like I was going fast, but I spose it never does.

I pull over in front of a big truck they have also flagged down and haul out my licence and wait. They’re all over the truck, write him a ticket and walk back to their camera. The truck pulls out past us and the passenger shouts to us in isiZulu: ‘They pulled you over for nothing! Go!’

So we go.

~~~oo0oo~~~

As I write there’s a happy fish braai happening outside my office window:

Later: The fresh shad was succulent and delicious! Ziggy is a qualified chef and she seasoned it to perfection! I told the fellas to take notes . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

While waiting for the fisherfolk, I lurked in the coastal bush shade.

~~~oo0oo~~~

A few days before, Ryan’s Dad Andy had taken them to Durban harbour, where they caught a tiny little smelt:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal, Motorcars_Automobiles, Nostalgia, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Sheila at Fugitives Drift Lodge – Sit Still!

Sheila worked at Fugitives Drift Lodge with David and Nicky Rattray for a while and met many interesting people and characters from all over the world. She should write about the weird folk she met – the judges and military men and colonial types and rich folk and historians and chief constables and all the other titles the Breetish Empire invented.

While there, she organised for the five of us – her old Swanie family from Harrismith – to have a family weekend there with her as our guide. One afternoon she took us out to the Isandlwana battlefield in a Landrover and got lost. Her sense of direction was imperfect, but she was unfazed and soldiered on like a lost Pom fleeing a battlefield. She had the Buffalo River on her left (or was it right?) and was headed in a direction she thought might get us somewhere sometime. Don’t panic.

– start of the fugitives trail at isandlwana –

So we’re bouncing over the veld, Sheila driving the ponderous old Defender, and our 85yr-old ‘ole man’ sitting in the back getting fidgety.

After a while the bouncing got to his ancient bones and he groaned and – forsaking the old stiff upper lip – moaned about the bumpiness – sort of a geriatric ‘Are we there yet?’

Sheila whipped round and said, “Keep quiet and sit still. Don’t make me come back there and sort you out!” then grinned triumphantly and crowed, “I’ve waited fifty years to say that!”

– isandlwana –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, KwaZuluNatal, Life, Nostalgia

The Reindeer got . .

Mother Mary stumbled a bit through her 2019 rendition of Jingled Bowels . .

She wasn’t up to her usual high standards. When she finished she turned to Sheila, who was filming her, and said: ‘The Reindeer Got A Puncture!’

I wondered if the reindeer hadn’t got . .

. . stuck into the champagne??

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, Free State, Vrystaat, KwaZuluNatal, Life, Nostalgia

A Fascinating Case History

I took Mom to the ophthalmologist in Pietermaritzburg. She’d had some visual phenomena and her description of a curtain falling over her vision against the wall made me decide she must be seen right away. My good friend and colleague Owen Hilliar gave me the duty roster and I phoned the surgeon on duty – Dr L – and arranged to see him Sunday morning 08:30.

What a nice man! He listened to her stories. Unlike her usual eye man, Dr A.

So for a case history on this wonderful 91yr-old qualified nursing sister, and myopic glaucomatous pseudophake, Dr L now has the following information:

There are patterns in my vision on the walls and on the ceiling. Like the patterned ceilings in Granny Bland’s house in Stuart Street in Harrismith. I was born in Harrismith see, and did my midwifery in Durban. We went to Durban as we thought maybe we’d meet some nice boys there. Dr L’s eyes widen and he looks at me. But I met my husband in Harrismith; he worked for the post office and he got on very well with my mother and she told me ‘Peter Swanepoel is taking us to the Al Debbo concert in the town hall.’ My grandfather built the town hall; and he sat between me and my mother and that’s how we met. Unfortunately his good relationship with my mother didn’t last. My grandfather and his brother were stonemasons from Scotland; they built all the bridges for the railway line from Durban to Harrismith; What? OK, Ladysmith to Harrismith. When they had been in Harrismith a while they said ‘We like it here; the air reminds us of the old country,’ so they stayed and built a hotel each, the Central and the Royal – but first it was the Railway hotel – every town had to have a railway hotel. Then they changed the name by royal decree to The Royal Hotel. Or with Royal permission. The one brother had seven sons – she holds up seven fingers in front of Dr L’s face – and the other had nine. NINE – holds up nine fingers. And only one of them had a son. Dudley. He was a bit of a sissy – here my eyes widen – but he had the only boy. Thank goodness he then had sons to carry on the name, although one died in a bike accident. Now Granny Bland had five sons and only two of them did anything; one died of malaria in East Africa. Bertie, I think. When? In the First World War; the others just hung about, didn’t do anything even though they had been sent to very good schools. Hilton or Michaelhouse, one of those; I mean, what did my father know about farming? Nothing. His father just bought him a farm and sent him farming. He tried sheep, that was a failure.

Erm, I interrupted . . No, don’t worry, the dilation will still take a while says Dr L.

See, he wants to know, says Mom and carries on. I was proud of her! She was on a roll! We even found out the Shetland pony’s name was Suzanne.

Anything else about your eyes, he asks when she pauses for breath. Just the patterns and colours on the walls and ceiling, says Mom – no mention of the ‘curtain’ which had made me arrange the appointment in a hurry. And this time she didn’t say she has to remove her son’s glasses to read. Oh, and Oupa Bain went blind; I can remember the older children reading the newspaper to him.

After peering in and then checking V/A’s 6/36 and 6/18 and pressures – low, Dr L re-assures her all is well in her eyes and the patterns may be happening in her visual cortex.

We’re free to go, with huge relief. No trip to Durban. I’ve been nil-per-mouth since midnight, so I must remember to drink lots of water to catch up, says Mom happily.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Africa, Family & Kids, Free State, Vrystaat, KwaZuluNatal, Life, Nostalgia

Earning Her Keep

Monica said ‘Don’t worry Mary you needn’t play today,’ but I protested: No Way, you have to play! How else will you earn your keep? So she gamely fired up her stootoot – isithuthuthu – and beetled off to the dining room where her friend ‘Mauritius’ was in her wheelchair, waiting for supper.

She rocked straight into Somewhere My Love, so fast that I missed it. I video’d her next song, ‘It’s Only Words’ (what’s it called?); and she said ‘Supper Time’ but I pleaded One More Please; Play for your supper.

What was that? I asked at the end of it. ‘Deep In My Heart’ she said – and then I’m so sorry I stopped filming, as she said, ‘It’s by Sigmund Romberg from The Desert Song’ and she told me more, that I can’t recall, but that ‘it was beautiful; very special’ I do remember.

I went looking . . .

Deep In My Heart - Sigmund Romberg

Ah, here’s the trailer: You can see why Mary would have loved it back in 1954! Many of the songs are familiar; she played them; the reel-to-reel tape played them; and the Goor Koor sang them – all in the lounge at 95 Stuart Street in the Free State village of Harrismith!

And then the best song: The Drinking Song from The Student Prince! Sung in the movie by Mario Lanza.

~~~oo0oo~~~

By MGM – movieposter.com, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14713237

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17693554

~~~oo0oo~~~

Later: For xmas day sister Sheila gave her a santa hat and she thumped out Jingled Bowels with more enthusiasm than accuracy. Realising this, watch what she says to Sheila at the end:

– “the reindeer got a puncture” –
Africa, Family & Kids, Life

Birthday!

Ninety Seven in the shade.

– last xmas with great-grandie Mary-Kate –

I didn’t take a pic so this one will have to do – taken by Sheila when he was a mere 96. He was very restrained today: he waited a good few minutes before mentioning the H word. Then he relented: ‘When people say Hau! Ninety Seven!? I say, Just three years and I’ll be a hundred,’ he said.

And then he told the tale of the old man at Pick n Pay: He was bragging about how old he was, with his white hair and white beard. How old are you, kehla? I said to him. He puffed his chest out and said dramatically, SEVENTY SEVEN! I said Sit Down Umfaan. I’m NINETY seven. Hau! Hau! Hau! he said, shaking my hand a hundred times.

~~~oo0oo~~~

hau – goodness gracious me; gosh

kehla – old man

umfaan – little boy

hau – swear!? that’s amazing! you don’t look a day over eighty seven

~~~oo0oo~~~

Here’s a more recent pic – in Azalea Gardens Pietermaritzburg, going through Sheila’s old photo albums.