Oddballs, Then and Now

Its gone wimpish! Actually Oddballs is still a wonderful, more affordable way to see the Okavango Delta and this post must be taken with a pinch of salt; My tongue is in my cheek;

This is classic “The Good Old Days was better” bulldust.

When WE went ca. 1990 we had to take our own food! But because there’s a 10kg limit on the Cessna 206’s and because one has to take binoculars, a telescope, a tripod, a sleeping bag and books:

Jess Zululand Course Books

I exaggerate, these were Jessie’s books for her field guide course last year, but still: weight. So we took very little food. At Oddballs we bought their last potatoes and onions and then we pitched our tent. Not like these wimpish days when the tent is pitched for you on a wooden deck with shower en-suite!! We were like this:

OddballsOkavango (14 small)
Good Old Oddballs

Communal showers:

Yes, actually, Oddballs IS a luxury lodge!

Nowadays New Oddballs is soft and squishy:

New Oddballs
New Oddballs

Here’s Aitch in the Old Oddballs Palm Island Luxury Lodge – and the wimpish new arrangement!

 

Luckily, the rest is still the same! You head out on a mekoro with a guide who really knows his patch:

OddballsOkavango makoro

You pitch your own tent on an island without anyone else in sight:

OddballsOkavango Squirrel Camp

And you enjoy true wilderness. When you get back, Oddball really does seem like a Palm Island Luxury Lodge:

Oddballs (5)

There’s a bar, there’s ice and cold beer, gin and tonic. You can order a meal! And – NOWADAYS! – a double bed is made up for you, ya bleedin’ wimps!

Go there (or here) NOW!!

WWAD

What Would Aitch Do? Tom and I had cause to ponder this deep question last night. I saw these cups in the sink. They were there because the usual twenty cups were all used and washing a cup just to re-use it is unthinkable.

I said, ‘Tom, rather don’t use these cups m’boy’ and he said mildly, ‘OK, Dad’ – employing the proven tactic of humour the old bugger, he’ll soon forget about it.

So I paused and said, ‘Actually, I wonder: What do you think Mom would have said about you using that cup?’ ‘Oh, definitely Don’t Use It, said Tom.

I agree then, I said, but I wonder now, peering down from her cloud, if she wouldn’t say ‘WTF, Life Is Short, Just Use it!’.

Tom pondered. ‘No’, he said, ‘She’d say Don’t Use It’.

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*update* They’re in full circulation now. Just cups.

Ocean Cruise 1934

Janie & Lizzie Swanepoel

I told Dad I’d taken the kids on a boat trip to Maputo and he remembered his two older Swanepoel sisters Janie and Lizzie going on a trip from Maritzburg to Durban by train then to the same city in Moçambique by ship back in 1934. The city was called Lourenco Marques back then and the ship was called the Julio or Giulio or Duilio or the Giulio Cesar, he said.

Oupa would have organised the train trip at a special rate or free, being a railway man! This is where he worked:

pietermaritzburg-railway-station-natal1

Dad remembers the whole trip costing them seven pounds each, all in. Here’s a ticket from the Giulio Cesare in 1923, the year it was launched:

ticket-ss-giulio-cesare

I went looking and found – as so often – that Dad’s memory was good. Maybe the Grundlinghs and Solomons know more about this trip? What an adventure it must have been for the girls! Dad said he was worried sick they wouldn’t return! He was eleven years old.

Here’s the ship’s service history:

The SS Giulio Cesare was used on Genoa and Naples to South America voyages but also served North American ports. Until 1925 the SS Giulio Cesare and the SS Duilio were the two largest ships in the Italian merchant fleet.

In November 1933, the Giulio Cesare was reconditioned and made ready to serve on the Mediterranean – South Africa Service.

giulio-pc-2

A feature of this ship was the Club situated on the boat-deck, with a bar. The ship also featured a saloon dining room, galleries and a ballroom. Second class was situated amidships. Talkie apparatus were also fitted to the ship and a long-distance wireless telephone was also available.

Tourist class accommodation was situated astern and also had several public rooms. The tourist passengers shared an open air swimming pool with the 2nd class passengers.

guileo_brochure_pool

Name:

SS Giulio Cesare

Namesake:

Julius Caesar

Owner:

Italia Line (Navigazione Generale Italiana)

Port of registry:

Italy

Route:

Italy-South America & Cruising

Builder:

Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Ltd, Newcastle-on-Tyne, United Kingdom.

Launched:

7 February 1920

Completed:

March 1922

Maiden voyage:

1923

Homeport:

Genoa

General characteristics

Class:

Ocean liner

Tonnage:

22,576 grt

Length:

636 feet

Beam:

76.15 feet

Depth:

66.3 feet

Decks:

4

Installed power:

  • four sets of geared steam turbines manufactured by Wallsend Slipway

  • six boilers D.E. & four boilers S.E. creating 220lb of steam pressure by Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Company Ltd. Newcastle-on-Tyne

  • 21,800 shaft horse power

Propulsion:

Quadruple screw

Speed:

20 knots

Capacity:

Total passengers: First Class: 244 Second Class: 306 Tourist Class:1800

Notes:

Paintwork: White hull and upper works ; Boot-topping green

    • Funnels white with red and black tops and narrow green band

Her fate:

During WW2, SS Giulio Cesare was chartered to the International Red Cross for a time before being laid-up in the port of Trieste. She was sunk there by Allied aircraft on 10 July 1944, along with the SS Duilio.

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Jess and her Tummy Mummy

Jessica & ThembiJessie’s Tummy Mummy Thembi became a good friend thanks to Aitch and her conscientious follow-up and ‘adoption’ of Thembi.

Aitch nurtured her and encouraged and empowered her. She arranged classes such as computer and sewing courses; she had her teeth seen to and hugely improved by the state orthodontists at Addington and King Edward hospitals.

Once a month she would take Jessie – and me and Tom sometimes – to meet for lunch with Thembi when we would also take her supplies and goods to sell; Jessie loved those lunches. She and Thembi would gossip and giggle and point at people walking past commenting on their looks, dress, gait, whatever. Scandalous! They loved it!

Once we took her back to Port Shepstone so she could show her Mom and Gran that Jess was fine.

Thembi's Mom and Gran
Thembi’s Mom and Gran seated

Thembi met a guy who was very good to her and was very happy but tragically she then contracted AIDS; Aitch pitched right in and arranged to meet the lady doctor in charge at King Edward and saw to it that Thembi got her treatment on time. She sickened rather quickly though, and grew weak.

Jess wrote to her when I visited her in Addington:

Thembi card frm Jess Jan2010

She died in Addington hospital. I took her boyfriend and brother Dumi in the kombi to buy a coffin and then to fetch her body; then arranged for them to get her remains – and themselves – to Port Shepstone.

 

 

‘Samiracle

Its amazing that old oke in the middle is still ALIVE!

In that photo you see 150 years of contact lens practice, lecturing, innovation and expertise. It’s clear from the way their specs are carefully centred that these okes KNOW their contact lenses!

Sid Saks on the left started practising as an optometrist around 1958, Brauer in the middle around 1978 and Des Fonn on the right around 1968 (I’m guessing, but it’ll be close).

Des lectured me in contact lenses; Brauer was in my class actually, so maybe he isn’t THAT much older than me – but definitely older; Sid mentored us when we ventured into private practice – me over the phone occasionally, but Brauer needed direct supervision. In fact, in order to get a job Brauer married Sid’s daughter.

A recent booze-fuelled reunion in Pretoria – Des visiting from Canada.

 

Geographical Catastrophe

Jonathan something Taylor studied geography. I’ve forgotten his middle name but it’s one of those Scottish throat-clearing exercises: MacLachlan, Kindrochart, Och Aye, MacKechnie, Donnach, Ag Man, Neachdainn, Murderdoch, something.

None of us had studied geography, so trustingly, we bowed to his superior knowledge and would leave all matters geographical in his capable hands and would even ask him “what rocks are those?” and other searching questions from time to time.

Until the night he organised the Night Of The Full Moon. Apparently (I wasn’t subjected to this faux pas) much was made of being in the right place at the right time: A restaurant with a raised perch and a view due east where the magnificent spectacle of the shining (reflecting, not glowing, remember?) orb rising above the horizon over the Indian Ocean as the sun set in the west would be seen by his awe-struck companions. A table at the window. Don’t be late!

Well, this happened:

no moon rise

The light you see on the water is the restaurant’s lights. The only moon that night was under the Scotsman’s kilt!

 

Lost Talent

I’ve lost my beautiful singing voice! All of a sudden even I don’t think I sing wonderfully anymore! The kids have never thought so, philistines, and will ask me after the opening bar “Please don’t sing, Dad”. In fact I’ve used it as a weapon: “Want me to sing to you?” sometimes gets them to behave pronto.

Even the neighbourhood kids give a resounding NO THANKS PETE! when I suggest I sing to them in Italian instead of putting Nicky Minaj on the car stereo.

Aitch was the only person who ever said “I love it when you sing” but then she also called me “My handsome oke” so I pinch-of-salted her compliment. She would always ask me to sing “the evening song” when we were driving after dark: Kris Kristofferson’s “Best of all possible worlds”. Of course that’s mainly  gruffly mumbled, so that helped.

Of course I used to sing beautifully. The teacher who trained the seunskoor in Harrismith Laerskool  said so. I was a soprano and looked down on the altos who, though necessary as backup, weren’t in the same league as us squeakers. One directly behind me used to bellow in my ear: ‘Dek jou hol met bowse off hollie!’ FalalalaLA lalalala’

One day the discerning teacher Juffrou Cronje, chose me to sing a solo in the next konsert.

Then tragedy struck! My balls dropped. They handled it very diplomatically. By ignoring it and cancelling practice. The konsert didn’t materialise (co-incidence? Surely they didn’t cancel a concert just because one boy suffered testicular descent?) and by the time the next one came around I hadn’t been banished – just consigned to the back and asked to turn it down.

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Terry Brauer wrote: Oh Pete I am STILL laughing! But never let the kids be the judge of whether you can sing! They are just embarrassed by most of what we do anyway.  🙂

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Oh well, there’s still a lotta drinks that I aint drunk . . .

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