Bain of Harrismith

My granny Annie had an older brother Ginger. He was the oldest of the seven Royal Bains and a great sportsman. They owned the Royal Hotel and were not to be confused with the Central Bains, who owned the Central Hotel! This old report was reprinted in the 1997 Hilton vs Michaelhouse sports day brochure: Continue reading “Bain of Harrismith”

Fogg's Folly

or Destiny Castle 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 beContinue reading “Fogg's Folly”

Careful Where You Step!

Recording and reminiscing; with occasional bokdrols of wisdom. Possibly. Random, un-chronological memories after marriage, children and sundry other catastrophes. My pre-marriage blog is vrystaatconfessions.com. Bachelorhood! Beer! River trips! Beer! bokdrols – like pearls, but handle with care

Annie’s Kings and Queens

(this blog is about happenings, disasters, surprises and chaos since I caught marriage and kids. But every now and then I re-post a story from my blissful, trouble-free, beer-fuelled bachelor days blog. Here’s one): I joked that my gran Annie thought ‘the queen’ was also the queen of South Africa. Elizabeth Two, not Pieter-Dirk. AndContinue reading “Annie’s Kings and Queens”

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 –Continue reading “A Fascinating Case History”

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 rockedContinue reading “Earning Her Keep”

A Mystery Unraveled – Platberg Report

A guest post! A more factual and detailed report on this day by Nigel Hemming. This year’s Mystery Tour took us to Harrismith in the Free State where, amongst other things, we were to visit the Platberg Nature Reserve (PNR) and take a drive up to the top of the mountain before descending partway forContinue reading “A Mystery Unraveled – Platberg Report”

Likin’ Lichen

On our trip up Platberg one couldn’t help seeing all the lichens about; especially prominent on rocks, but also on the plants, especially on the ouhout, Leucosidea sericea and on the old oaks where we old okes had lunch. Lichens are fascinating. Coincidentally a day or two after we got back from Platberg, a postContinue reading “Likin’ Lichen”

Swinburne, the Lost Valley and Nesshurst

First we went to Swinburne, to Jenny (Mapp) and Steve Cleverley’s Hound and Hare on the far bank of the Wilge River, across the old 1884 sandstone toll bridge where we had launched a canoe journey many years before; There we watched a bunch of large blokes with odd-shaped balls shove each other around, playingContinue reading “Swinburne, the Lost Valley and Nesshurst”

The Descent of One Mans

Charles Darwin wrote The Descent of Man. I’m going to write far more briefly and light-heartedly about The Descent of One Mans Pass. His is 900 pages long and has sex in it. Mine is one page and only has suffering. It was Barbara’s fault, of course. She was the instigator and in a fairContinue reading “The Descent of One Mans”

Holy Harrismith 2

Harrismith had the biggest influx of people in its history recently. Well, that would be my guess. I don’t think even the Rhino Rally ever brought in THIS amount of people! I mean those rowwe hard-drinking okes fit a maximum of two people on their vehicles . . . . . whereas I would guessContinue reading “Holy Harrismith 2”

Holy Harrismith 1

An Israeli city tired of being confused with Nazareth, the iconic city next door where Christians believe Jesus was raised, is hoping to change its name, a spokeswoman said Wednesday. Just three kilometres and a ten minute drive separate Nazareth Illit from its famous neighbour. “Oy Vey! Residents kvetsch they’ve had enough of people, includingContinue reading “Holy Harrismith 1”

The Goatitudes – 4. Bear Witness

The old man gets The Witness delivered to his gate daily. He has fetched it at the gate at around 5am for decades. His 96yr-old legs started protesting against this chore so he recently roped in the kid next door. For R20 a month the kid now hangs the packet it comes in on theContinue reading “The Goatitudes – 4. Bear Witness”

Explorers 6. Delegorgue

Louis Adulphe Joseph Delegorgue (1814-1850) – French hunter, naturalist, collector and author, was orphaned at the age of four and brought up in the home of his grandfather at Douai, where he largely educated himself and was introduced to natural history. Though he had inherited enough to be well provided for, Delegorgue joined the merchantContinue reading “Explorers 6. Delegorgue”

Religulous Reminiscing

When Mom turned ninety schoolfriend Mariette van Wyk Greyling wrote and started a long, rambling and nostalgic back and forth between us, paraphrased and embellished here: She wrote: Goodness, you all look so good. I simply cannot believe your dad is in his nineties. He looks exactly the way he used to look when weContinue reading “Religulous Reminiscing”

Victor Simmonds, Artist

Dad: “Victor Simmonds was a lovely chap and a very good artist. He was a little man, grey, a lot older than me. What? How old? Well, I was probably 35 then and he was grey. He was probably 50. He lodged with Ruth Wright on the plot next door to ours, Glen Khyber. IContinue reading “Victor Simmonds, Artist”