Seven Years Today

You would be SO jealous if you were watching down from your cloud right now. The kids are in SUCH a good space. They’re a pleasure to be with. Sure, they give me a bloody hard time often and sure, they manipulate the hell out of me but they love their Dad!

May this last a few more years and then may they depart and start sending money home. Hey, we gotta aim high.

We miss you and talk about you lots still.

2003Apr kombi tom dizzi gayle jess trish 2
Two sober kids in this picture – champagne on the shores of Lake Sibaya

Oh, and Sambucca has gone grizzly about the gills and eye sockets. Past grey, her muzzle is now white. Also her eyesight ain’t what it used to be and she’s deaf. Otherwise she’s fine. Still manages to fool one of us into feeding her twice by promising earnestly that she hasn’t eaten for DAYS, when someone else just fed her. She has recently discovered her bark (I think that’s about all she can hear now) so she has gone from a silent snoozer to an enthusiastic barker who can only be shut up by tapping her on the shoulder and signalling SHURRUP! That causes her to bounce around with glee saying “I KNEW there was someone here! So it’s you!”

 

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Also, we found this in the garage this week: Sambucca’s pedigree! You hid it! So this is why she cost us R2000 when all our previous dogs had come free or with a R20 note tied on their collar!?

Sambucca Pedigree.jpg

So now we know Sambucca was born 23 August 2006. Twelfth birthday coming up, greybeard!

Good God Father!

Just because I’m not a good Godfather doesn’t mean I can’t have a good Godson. In fact I have two. Here’s an excerpt from the life of one: Gary Hill spent a few magic years as a MalaMala game ranger! His complete final blog post is here. Here’s a brief excerpt, featuring just four of his amazing photos.

Gary Hill pays tribute to the animals he encountered at MalaMala

As guides at MalaMala, we often feel as though we are personalities in an ongoing wildlife documentary. Following the journeys of the animals as they move through their daily lives is a tremendous privilege and an experience that will not be easily forgotten. The script of the documentary cannot be predicted. Every excursion into the bush reveals dramatic discoveries, and one is constantly engaged in a roller-coaster of emotions.

During my time as a guide, I have been lucky to witness some incredible sights. I have always said in the blogs that to see any of these animals is amazing, and the interaction between the species is really special. This is the ‘MalaMala magic’, and it is always out there waiting to be found. There have been too many fantastic sightings to share, but I have been sure to record each and every one, no matter how seemingly insignificant, in my journal and have tried my best to keep a photographic collection.

Lions: The Selati pride gave us a sighting of a lifetime when they brought down a kudu bull in the Sand River, in broad daylight and in plain sight for us to all see.

 

Young-lioness-launches-upon-the-kudus-rear-Gary-Hill

Following the movements of the powerful Manyelethi males has been incredible. They are a formidable coalition that are likely to dominate for the next few years. To shadow these four beasts as they move on a territorial patrol, or to have them roar in close proximity to the Land Rover, is a humbling experience.

The-Manyelethi-male-moves-through-the-Matshapiri-River.-He-is-my-favourite-of-the-brothers-Gary-Hill

Leopards: It is unfair to single out one species as a favourite. However, there is nothing more spectacular than a leopard. Their beauty is astounding. Their hunting ability astonishing. And, their cunning and intelligence is tangible. They have individual characters, and have been my favourite animal to view. The rich history and heritage of the leopards of MalaMala makes these animals even more fascinating.

Ostrich-Koppies-female-Gary-Hill

As a guide at MalaMala, you are a small part of a such an efficiently run camp. Thank you to all the staff of the camp who make everyday routines run so smoothly. MalaMala is a world class destination, and that is due to all your hard work. I would like to thank all the rangers for playing such a huge role in my experiences. We have become great friends and I will miss being part of such a dynamic team. I have crossed paths with many wonderful guests along the way and it has been a great pleasure sharing the magic of MalaMala with you all!

Gary Hill

Ranger – MalaMala Game Reserve
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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.

Old Geysers and Wheelchairs

Me ole Mum has slowed down somewhat. Walks with a walker now. But she’s still young – only turns 90 in September. We were discussing mobility this morning as she had a friend visit her who ‘can hardly walk’ according to Mom. ‘It took ages to get her into the house from the car and then just as long back to the car’ says Mom. ‘I told her she should get a walker like mine’ she said.

I said she should actually get a wheelchair. Makes it easier for everyone. Mom fully agreed. I said ‘For example: If you and I were to leave your house, walk down the driveway, cross the road and then walk back, it would take us ages with you and your walker. With a wheelchair I could whizz you there and back at normal walking pace’. Absolutely, she agreed. Quite right.

‘So shall I get you a wheelchair?’, I asked.

“OH GOODNESS NO! FOR ME? I DON’T NEED A WHEELCHAIR!” she said emphatically.

When we’d stopped laughing we agreed: Advice is only good in the giving. Taking advice? Not so much.

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Come to think of it, over my lo-ong career of listening to old bullets I wonder if I ever heard a one of them say “I need a wheelchair”. Nope. Not one. Just like I don’t think I ever hear a single old goat say “I think I need a hearing aid”.

What’s that!? Speak up, please.

Yay! Fathers Day

Breakfast at Badgers in Helen Joseph Road with Jess and two of her mates. A large greasy soulfood brekker on a windy Durban morning. I was made a present of the bill, too.

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Tom and a mate went off to have a haircut. On their return they offered me their Fathers Day pressie: A large braai with them doing everything including the buying. I just had to pay. I saw them get a bonfire blazing and some time later this evening a plate was marched in, loaded with beef short ribs and boerewors with a token vegetable teetering on the edge: a chicken wing, braai’d golden brown.

I shoulda taken a pic but I only remembered halfway through. Delicious! Washed down with Cardboardeaux – a 2018 vintage.

Jess also made a card:

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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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Accurate Reporting

In the 2016 rugby season I wrote:

Affies came to Westville this past weekend and SLAUGHTERED us. I don’t think we won a single rugger match. Our firsts lost 65-0.

Today the local free rag arrived and I caught a glimpse of the sport heading and did a double-take:

“Westville slays Pretoria giant”

Turns out only the hockey received any coverage in the paper!

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In true journalistic tradition I sent the headline, and not the rugby news, to my full-of-Elon Pretoria Boys High Old Boy china.