Lang Dawid came to visit after decades in the hinterland. Always very organised, he sent bearers ahead of his arrival bearing two lists: Ten new birds he wanted to see; and Three old bullets he wanted to see.
We delivered thirty percent of his bird list: A Red-capped Robin-Chat, A White-eared Barbet and a Terrestrial Brownbul;
Forty percent if you count the bonus male Tambourine Dove that landed in a patch of sunlight, a lifer for Dave.
All this thanks to Crispin Hemson showing us his special patch, Pigeon Valley in urban Durban. Talk about Guru Guiding! with his local knowledge, depth, anecdotes, asides and wandering all over, on the ground and in our minds. And his long-earned exalted status in this forest even allowed us to avoid arrest while climbing through a hole in the fence like naughty truant schoolboys. Whatta lovely man.
Then Dave and I retreated home to my patch in the Palmiet valley, where Tommy had cleaned up, readied the cottage for Dave’s stay and started a braai fire. Spot on, Tom!
One hundred percent of Dave’s list of old paddling mates arrived. Like homing pigeons, Allie, Charlie and Rip zoomed in. So I had four high-speed paddlers in their day on my stoep, race winners and provincial and national colours galore. We scared off any birds that might have been in the vicinity (feathered or human), but had a wonderful afternoon nevertheless, with lots of laughs.
After they left Dave and I had braai meat for supper; This morning we had braai meat for breakfast and he was off after a fun-filled 24 hours. I sat down to polish the breakfast remains and another cup of coffee and as a bonus, a female Tambourine Dove landed on my birdbath:
A tragic consequence of their visit was an audit of my booze stocks the next day. Where before they’d have plundered, this time I ended up with more than I’d started with. How the thirsty have fallen!
Dave’s camera equipment is impressive: a Canon EOS 7D Mk2 body; – https://www.techradar.com/reviews/canon-eos-7d-mark-ii-review – and a 500mm telephoto lens and his go-to, a 70-200mm lens. His main aim is getting a pic of every bird he sees. He shot his 530th yesterday here in Pigeon Valley. So he chases all over Southern Africa ticking off his ‘desired list.’ A magic, never-ending quest: there’ll always be another bird to find; there’ll always be a better picture to try for.
Look it up, Jess. Ooh! It sounds good, Dad, it has alcohol and cream and sugar and eggs and nutmeg! Can I make some?
She does, it goes into the fridge and she disappears off to Folweni. So I’m sitting with a big batch of whisky eggnog in my fridge. What to do?
A few days later I spy the Jungle Oats in the pantry and aha! My Scottish blood rises along with me kilt and I think ‘porridge’ and make a big bowl of steaming hot oats and drown it in cold eggnog and add sugar, eating it the Scottish way: HOT porridge, cold milk, lots of sugar, don’t stir, let it mix in your mouth.
Dad had me in stiches last week….wasn’t sure if he was joking until the second letter accepting the refusal, and Sheila re-inforced it was a joke…..he formally in writing asked to keep a cow here in the greens as milk is costing him too much each month….
Mrs Collett Doncaster
Azalea Gardens Body Corporate
I wondered what he was on about just about a week before:
You know I tried to get Mary to drink milk, but she wouldn’t. We had a cow, we had our own milk, we used to make cream in the separator right there in the pantry on the plot. But no, she wouldn’t drink milk, and isnt it true calcium builds strong bones?
Ah, I see where this is going. Mom broke her hip last year at age 91. Had she only done as he TOLD HER at age 31, no broken bones, QED.
I remember the separator. We called it the yob yob ting. As you turned the handle it went yob yob ting and you could time how fast to turn it by getting into a rhythm. Also the butter churn – I seem to remember the propeller-like paddles inside glass. Maybe like this:
Mother Mary (85 in 2013) went into Pick ‘n Pay looking for smoked hocks to use for making soup.
Two delightful ladies behind the butchery counter looked at her curiously when she asked for smoked hocks.
“What?” they asked “Smoked ‘ocks?”
“Yes,” she replied, “Smoked hocks.”
“No, sorry, we don’t have smoked ‘ocks.”.
“But I bought some here last month and made the most delicious soup!” Mary protested mildly.
The two of them looked at each other, turned to Mother Mary and the one said decisively, “We have never had a smoked ox in this shop.”
Friend Rita in Cape Town remarked: Reminds of the time I ordered two de-boned chickens. When I went to fetch them, the ladies at the cash desk were having a big discussion about my chickens. Eventually, one said, ‘Madam, we can’t let you have these chickens – they are flat!’
The conifers are a wonderful group of trees including pines, yellow-woods, redwoods, junipers, cypresses, larch and spruce trees.
From the bark and sap of the pine one can distill TURPENTINE; and
From the berries of the juniper one can distill GIN. – . . . sort of . . .
Juniper berries are actually modified pine cones, but fleshy and edible.
Gin was first mentioned in the 13th century (in Belgium – called jenever) and the first recipe for gin was written in the 16th century.
For all our lives we’ve had to drink London Dry Gin.
Now we can drink JOBURG DRY GIN!
Now, don’t tell anyone, but gin is actually distilled from ANYTHING and then that clear spirit is just infused with juniper berries to make it taste (slightly) better. It’s cheap! Shhh
The way they ‘infuse’ it is to sommer bliksem whatever they’re adding, into the container holding the gin (called ‘bathtub gin’); or to go fancy by sort of ‘steaming it with the botanicals.’ Right!
Gin was REALLY popular in London around 1750. Cos it was cheap, it was loved. So much so that there were 7500 ‘Gin Joints,’ and being drunk was called being ‘gin-soaked’ and gin was called ‘mother’s ruin’. In Victorian times Gin made a comeback in ‘Gin Palaces.’ Same thing, but slightly higher-toned.
The poms in India had to drink quinine to stay alive. Being poms, they mixed the quinine with gin.
It tasted awful but they persevered. They’re poms.
Someone began mixing the powder with soda water and sugar. That was a bit better, and thus a basic tonic water was created. That way the poms drank more gin.
The first commercial tonic water was produced in 1858.
So: The mixed drink “gin and tonic” originated in British Colonial India when the British population would mix their medicinal quinine tonic with gin. They’re poms, see.
So remember: IT’S MEDICINAL.
To make Pink Gin or Pink Tonic: Simply add Angostura bitters, a botanically infused alcoholic mixture, 44.7% ethanol, gentian, herbs and spices, invented by a German doctor in the town of Angostura, Venezuela on the banks of the Orinoco River.
Always cook with red wine, taking care not to spill any on the food.
Peel and cut a potato into four; Peel and cut an onion into four; Rotate them in a microwave.
Cut a pork chop into small cubes. Be guided by your superstitions here, use another animal or tofu or soya or kale if you have to, but for best results, stick to what I say: Cut a pork chop into small cubes.
Cubes into a pan with yesterdays pan fat; fry till browning.
Add salt. Gulp some wine.
Add potato and onion and brown. Brown the stuffin the pan, nê.
Add some cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped.
Put a lid on it. I often say that when people are gaan’ing aan like this: Put a lid on it. Another favourite saying when my gast is flabbered: Dis my gat se deksel.
Chop up some spinach and green beans. The spinach I bought off the back of a bakkie downtown. R10 a bunch, dark green, delicious, did wonders for me – whatever dark green leaf vegetables are meant to do for you? It did it for me. Mainly, leaves me (geddit? leaves me . . ) with lots, cos the kids turn up they noses.
Did I mention this is a recipe for one bachelor whose kids would rather die of hunger than eat this stuff?
Steadily add wine and I find it helps to imagine your favourite TV chef while cookin’.
So imagine your favourite chef . . . No, its Nigella.
Which reminds me of the inimitable Barks who every holiday would cackle Haw Haw Haw Haw! After asking the question (again) and providing the answer: Where is Friderichs going these holidays, hey, hey? He’s going to Nigel. Haw Haw Haw Haw!
So Naai-Gella Awesome it is.
Keep lifting the lid and then at the right time toss in the chopped up spinach and green beans, never forgetting to keep steadily adding wine. Careful not to slosh any onto the food.
Add salt and a big knob of butter for the last round. Put a lid on it. The right amount of salt is the amount that makes it taste best. Did I mention this is health food? It is. Mental health.
Then eat it accompanied by sufficient more red wine. I actually licked the plate.
The 1812 overture was belting out in the background with real cannons. I hope they scared the neighbour’s incessantly-barking mongrels.
gaan’ing aan – blah blah; fit a cork
dis my gat se deksel – literally, that’s my arsehole’s lid; blow me down
bakkie – small pickup truck
Other domestic chores included cutting down a big Australian Bottlebrush tree
. . and putting its flowers in one of Aitch’s old vases as a requiem:
You can tan me hide when I’ve died, Clyde, and hang it up in the shed. ‘Cos I have developed a quite – not a very, but a quite – thick skin. I meet Bruce for a beer at The German Club, which has become a bit more like an Old Rhodesians Club. This is some years ago.
I think Bruce phoned ahead and asked to speak to the chairman. The man who’d answered said ‘Chairman? Ve’s all blutty Chairmans HERE!’ I think he did, but I’m not sure.
I’m with TomTom who sticks out a bit in this euro-centric, deathly pale, colonial atmosphere. There are some stares. Tom has a blue lollipop which he pops into my empty beer bottle and raises every now and then for a suck, which looks like a swig! Ah, well, we’re used to stares.
Hell, in the years since then its got way more challenging and my skin has thickened even more. I have an Epic Epidermis. Since I became a Mom, I have loitered around many a lingerie department asking store ladies to please measure Jess and make sure she gets a good bra fit. I have discussed panty sizes with skeptical shop mamas. I am quite used to ‘Ja, Right!’ looks . . I just give a huge smile, make a joke, ask nicely, act matter-of-fact. Most people are just fine. Some are simply magic and ‘adopt’ Jess and take her under their wings for a brief while. They’re the STARS!
Where they act weird I just let it go. It’s like a duck’s water off my back.
Driving through the beautiful Eastern Free State you see many flat-topped sandstone kopjes like these. But suddenly you say, ‘What’s on top of that one? It’s a CASTLE! Can’t be. But it is!’
Truth is, you knew it would be there – as you’ve been invited to visit it – to be at the dress rehearsal dinner, where the resident chef is going to present his first full meal to a small group of discerning – and two not-so-discerning – guests, courtesy of King and Queen of Destiny Castle, Mike and Denyse! So like the Grand Old Duke of York, you drive up to the top of the hill . .
. . where you’re welcomed and taken inside, up the spiral staircase, past the knight in shining armour, to an antechamber where the drinking can begin . . see the thickness of the castle walls! We’ll easily withstand a siege here.
On to dinner, where Aitch and I feed the kids first so that they can be asleep when the ribaldry begins. Once they’ve had their fill we shoot two bears, wrap them in the skins and soon they’re snoring.
Let the feasting begin!
Bottles are smashed open and revelry ensues . .
Common ground is found: Hey! We’re both bald! No I’m not! Oh, now I’m not . .
For once, it seems I was the photographer. After dessert we repair to the rooftop to gaze at the heavens through a telescope, and drink another toast to life, to life, l’chaim!
Good friends, great hospitality, lovely food – and of course, lots of vino!
. . and so to bed
What a stunning amazing place – a dream started by someone decades earlier, then realised by Mike and Denyse Fogg.
I’m guessing the ZF on the pics is Zena Fogg – thanks Zeens!!