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:
Drop goals were four points and tries were three in those distant days. I like that the one side was “smarter with their feet” . . and that that beat “pretty passing”.
I’m a nurture over nature fella, but a century later Ginger’s great grandson repeated the slaughter of the Michaelhouse girls . .
Aitch thought she’d do nursing after school; very soon found out that wasn’t her, so she tried blood confusion. Well, that’s what I would say and she’d correct me: ‘Transfusion, Koos!’ Bit better, but then she discovered cardiovascular perfusion. Now that she regarded as a career! She loved it.
About ten years later she left for her first job in the private sector, pharmaceutical sales. 1985 – the year I met her. She excelled in sales. Soon I was reaping the benefit. One of her first rewards was a trip to Phinda private game reserve.
Soon after, we got married. I mean, hello-o . .
Phinda Fauna and Flora
Phinda Private Game Reserve is home to an incredible diversity of mammals. Predators like cheetah, leopard and lion are tracked on a daily basis and visitors stand extremely good chances of seeing them. The territorial white rhino favour waterholes and wallows. Herds of elephant and buffalo move throughout the reserve and are easily spotted
An impressive 378 bird species are recorded. Rudd’s apalis, Neergaard’s sunbird and pink-throated twinspot are endemic to the Maputaland region. Lemon-breasted canary, southern banded snake-eagle and grey waxbill are characteristic of the coastal plain. Among resident birds in the Sand Forest are Narina trogon, African broadbill and square-tailed drongo.
Thomas Tommy Swanie junior was slightly hypermetropic for years but now he has finally inherited my fine genes and is now -0,75. Slightly short-sighted.
Like me, he can also see into a lot, read between the lines, has great insight – and while his foresight is still developing, he has strong hindsight where he can very clearly see where things were not his fault but someone else should be blamed.
I’ll nab a shot of him wearing his Tommy Hilfiger frames . . . in the pic above he’s fooling around in Mkhuze game reserve with my minus fours, saying the usual ‘Gawd! How do you see through these things!? Oh, there you are, with one eye I can see clearly!’
Steve replied: I can picture him giving you the inscrutable eye over those frames. Question: Did he first take a fancy to the Tommy Hilfigers, then make the discovery he could not see very well? Any chance he learned the art of accommodating a constant 0.75 to affect the outcome?? I know my daughter had that tendency. She loved a bit of extra minus while I felt I was committing a crime against the memory of Frank Duro. One day working for me in Auckland NZ she ordered her own pair (‘yes please I will have those with extra minus and a multicoat – the expensive one’). She celebrated her milestone when reaching -2.50! By then she was living away from home and found an optom that would give her all the minus she wanted – as long as she paid.
Me: Ha! Jurgen Tolksdorf taught me to be less scared of minus, especially if they have exophoria. Or was that euphoria!? Anyway, Duro himself would have re-assured you that ‘Alice’s Rectum’ . . ‘alles sal regkom.’
I’m a bit skeptical of the current big we must combat myopia thing. We’re glued to screens close-up, low myopia is no problem. I’d hate to have been hyperopic. I believe in combating high or increasing myopia, but moderate myopia is often an asset, in our close-up world. I tell moderate myopes your eyes are fine, your vision is fine, your near focus is fine, it’s just your far focus that’s out; relax, enjoy.
Later: Now Tom is astigmatic: -0,75 cyl. He’ll need to check before he goes for his learner driver’s licence, then we’ll put new lenses in his ‘old’ Tommy Hilfigers. Speaking of which: No sign of any interest in getting his learners! Talks of driving at 300kmh but no real urgency to start. Amazing. I couldn’t wait!
Here’s an older Tom in his Tommy Hilfigers:
Jess is in hiding. Six attempts at her learners has deflated her. Anyway, they both walk far distances, take taxis and use ride-hailing apps bolt (taxify) and uber, so maybe that lessens the pressure of getting your licence? Also, Dad’s taxi . .
alles sal regkom – all will be well; or, ‘all will come right’
It actually happened. How often have we joked about it but every now and again you get a real live one. I sent an email to a colleague:
I’m checking Gran’s eyes; today – five minutes ago. She’s 75 and has a fly and a cobweb running around in front of her one eye the last couple days. Grandson insists on komming saam, to sit in the room while I check Ouma out. Huge oke, like 6’4″ and 120kg, so who am I to argue?
Just when I’m about to tell Gran she should see an ophthalmic surgeon to rather be safe, he pipes up from the rear dark corner where he has sat quietly up till now:
‘Doctor lemme arse you this: Why’s my arse so sensitive to lart?’
My colleague replied with a similar tale:
I have two Afrikaans gay men that visit me in the practice … both now in their 70’s; fight like cat & dog but they are really good together.
One was a hairdresser and the other worked for the railways.
The railways fella complained to me, ‘My arse hurts when I read …’
My mind turned south and I was tempted to reply, ‘Maybe ask K__ to back off until after you’ve finished reading.’
Translations if you ain’t a Seffrican:
ouma – gran
komming saam – accompanying gran into the consulting room
For years before 1989 I wanted to see a Bufftail – a Buff-spotted Flufftail. I heard plenty, but saw none. First at Hella Hella; Then in 1989 we moved into our first home in Westville and there was one in our yard! We heard him all the time!
But still I didn’t see him. It grew into an obsession. Seeing this little day-old-chick-sized bird was a real desire. I stalked around the garden, lying still for ages as he stopped calling whenever he detected my presence. I lay at the nearest window with a searchlight, bufftail calling within metres. All in vain; the bird’s caution and patience far exceeding mine.
I’ve written about my quest before. We stayed in River Drive for fifteen years and have been in Elston Place for thirteen. Here we also hear a flufftail but not as often nor as closeby.
And now a friend moves in to a new home and – less than two years after moving in – films this from his balcony:
Aargh! Rob Davey!
Here’s the Bufftail hoot again – from xeno-canto.org – sharing bird sounds from around the world:
. . and here’s one to show how small they are – thanks, birdlifetrogons.blogspot.com
*** I haydid – is a Friderichs-ism. Bobby – from ‘Slunnin – used to say ‘I haydid!’ in mock displeasure when things went skew-wiff. Eg: ‘I haydid when my fridge gets carried out the back door!’ – another divorce . .
“Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after a pandemic will seem inadequate.” Don’t panic, but do prepare.
Here’s why everyone should self-isolate:
So if you’re wearing a mask at work right now; or telling your workers to stay home and work online; or insisting people wash their hands often; you’re going to be mocked if nothing much happens. If all hell breaks loose, no-one will give you credit; Later they’ll say ‘We all did that,’ forgetting – or choosing to forget – that they did not – until much later; and they’ll ‘forget’ that they initially mocked your ‘over-reaction.’
We humans are weird. Try telling a hugger not to hug. Or a handshaker not to clasp paws. Why? Oh, just to reduce the chances of transmitting a disease. You may cause mortal indignation. Later it’ll be, ‘Why didn’t you TELL me!?’ or ‘I stopped hugging quite soon.’ Our memories work overtime to show us up in a good light.
1/ Get your flu shot. Reason: To save health-care resources for others in need.
2/ Make sure you and your household are prepared for a period of self-isolation or quarantine lasting two weeks, or perhaps longer.
3/ If you develop symptoms of a cold or flu—even mild symptoms—please stay at home. Don’t try and impress by coming to work while you’re sick.
4/ If a member of your household becomes ill, stay at home – you and her both.
5/ Let’s all start practicing more restrained physical interactions, and thus set good examples not only among ourselves but also for our colleagues and friends. That means skipping hugs and handshakes, for the time being. Instead, you might put your own hands together and bow your head slightly to greet or congratulate someone. Or maybe an elbow bump, if you really must make contact.
6/ Prepare now to stop your work on short notice.
7/ Be prepared to cancel your attendance at gatherings – scientific conferences, work, academic or social events – as new information arises. Even if an event organizer decides to push ahead, you don’t have to go. Think about not flying – or delaying purchases of airfares until an event is closer in time, given the current uncertainty.
9/ And maybe the hardest advice of all: Practice good personal hygiene. Cover your mouth with your forearm or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze unexpectedly. (If you know you’re sick, then you should have disposable tissues handy. Use those to cover your nose and mouth completely, and dispose of each tissue after one use. If you find yourself coughing or sneezing repeatedly, stay home, avoid contact with others. Wash your hands thoroughly after you’ve touched shared surfaces, especially before eating. And most difficult of all, avoid touching your own face. This coronavirus can survive for hours as tiny droplets on surfaces, which we may inadvertently touch (“fomite transmission”). Then, when we touch our mouth, nose, or eyes, we can infect ourselves.
10/ Get your news from trustworthy, reliable sources. If it becomes clear that infections are spreading locally, or even if you are just concerned about that possibility, then avoid crowded public venues.
11/ If you do isolate yourself, whether because of illness or concern, make sure to maintain frequent social contact with your family, friends, and the lab via phone, email, or whatever works best for you. Don’t let physical isolation and loneliness make you feel miserable. We are all stronger together, even if we might have to be physically apart.
“Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after a pandemic will seem inadequate. This is the dilemma we face, but it should not stop us from doing what we can to prepare. We need to reach out to everyone with words that inform, but not inflame. We need to encourage everyone to prepare, but not panic.” — Michael O. Leavitt, 2007, former Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Interesting: How do they test for COVID-19? Labs use a molecular biology technique called RT-PCR to detect the virus genome in a patient’s sample. This technique targets specific regions of the genome and allows labs to distinguish it from other viruses. This is real science done by real scientists – the ones who develop vaccines. Please read about them, and read their work (eg. here) and not the rubbish written by know-nothing “anti-vaxxers.”
Kosi Bay is a wonderful place and the campsites are superb. Good birding and great habitat. It’s an estuary system comprising of four lakes – Amanzimnyama (dark waters), Nhlange (reeds), Mpungwini and Makhawulani – the system is connected by meandering channels and fringed wetlands before it runs into the Indian Ocean via a shallow channel and estuary. Kosi is one of the most beautiful and pristine lake systems on the African coast. A boat excursion from Lake Nhlange to Lake Makhawulani is a scenic meander through the reed channels, offering an opportunity to snorkel along the mangrove banks,.
So if you want the full Kosi experience you ideally need a boat. Fortunately for us, on one of our three trips there in 2002 / 2003 good friend Greg Bennett lent us his boat. The freedom this gave us, plus the knowledge of the area provided by a local guide made all the difference.
Jon Taylor joined us. His RAV4 was feeling intimidated by my mighty kombi, so we kindly let it do a little work . .
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!!
There’s a lovely old sandstone cottage in the Lotheni Valley, one of the Drakensberg / uKhahlamba’s beautiful valleys. We had some great adventures with good friends and our kids up there.
As an adult retreat it’s my idea of paradise: no electricity, no cellphone reception, no wifi. Peace. Plenty of hot water, a gas stove to cook and boil water on, candlelight, a lovely fireplace, cozy inside. Luxury. Long-suffering friends the Adlams, Taylors and Abercrombies, all blissfully child-free, would tolerate the disruption our two – who were aged from about one to about thirteen over the ten years we went there – could cause. I think they loved it! I know they loved the brats and were very kind to them.
A great spot for fishing, birding, botanising or sitting with a G&T and gazing into the distance . .
Adventure in Yellowwood Cave
It had been years since I’d slept out in the ‘Berg and I was pleased when Gayle and Grant readily agreed to spend a night in a cave in 2011. Aitch was feeling a bit weak, so decided to stay in the comfort of the cottage. It was May already, so getting a bit chilly.
Settling down for the night on the hard floor of the cave I gazed out through the yellowwood tree branches at the night sky, ablaze with a million stars. I was just thinking ‘It’s been too long, this is the life! I’m in paradise!’ when a small voice piped up next to my ear, ‘Daddy I don’t like it here.’ Oh, well, she may not repeat the exercise, but I doubt she’ll ever forget it. Jessie lay on my one side. Tom on the other side in a double sleeping bag we shared. At least they were warm.
Getting Bolder on Bikes
Fun with Aitch
Once Ma took the kids off up the mountain trail, to give the fishing and reading adults ‘a piece of quiet,’ as TomTom used to say for peace and quiet.
Another Piece of Quiet
We snuck the kids off to have breakfast one morning in the kombi soon after they woke, to allow the adults to sleep in. Good birding opportunity, too.
The first part of our 1988 honeymoon was highly organised and efficient. We flew into Orlando Florida, were taken to a hotel and from there ferried to DisneyWorld while there, by bus or steamboat. Seamless. Aitch had organised it.
I was a bit ho hum, but guess what? Aitch was right to insist: these pics came in very handy ten years later when we adopted kids! They were briefly impressed.
Times’ up! We escape. What have you organised? asks Aitch. Um . . I’ll find a rental car. And, um, I’ll find a nature reserve. Where will we stay tonight? Um . .
Then let’s fly to Miami and go to the Everglades! I suggest, and we’re off. Our Delta Airlines pass is valid for sixty days.
On to Big Cypress
We drove back to Miami – next stop San Francisco . . .
Fresh out of that Hole in Wyoming we landed in Seattle and immediately headed for the hills. Or the sound. Puget Sound. I’m a bit allergic to cities, so we picked up a little rental car – would you believe a Toyota Tercel, with all-wheel drive and six forward gears . . what? I’ve said this before? OK, I did enjoy those cars.
We drove onto a ferry in Anacortes and disembarked on Orcas Island. We looked for a place to stay. I had something in mind – the thing I usually have in mind: cheap. And we found it, right on the other side of the island. Ah, this is good value, I thought. Aitch was fine with it. She liked the laid-back friendly approach they had. We were determined to avoid boring same-old places and anyway, she was always a great sport and tolerated me and my frugality. Hey, it was a lo-ong honeymoon. We had to stre-etch things. This was week four of our 1988 honeymoon.
Years later I read a Lonely Planet review: There are resorts, and then there’s Doe Bay, eighteen miles east of Eastsound on the island’s easternmost shore – as lovely a spot as any on Orcas. By far the least expensive resort in the San Juans, Doe Bay has the atmosphere of an artists’ commune cum hippie retreat cum New Age center. Accommodations include campsites, a small hostel with dormitory and private rooms, and various cabins and yurts, most with views of the water. There’s also a natural-foods store, a café, yoga classes ($10), an organic garden and special discounts for guests who arrive by bike. The sauna and clothing-optional hot tub are set apart on one side of a creek.
Ours was a cabin. We paid $10 for the night. Camping and the dormitory were cheaper, but hey, I’m no cheapskate. Our cabin was called Decatur and was luxuriously made of packing cases and a double layer of plastic sheeting in the windows. Cosy and warm. Seriously.
We’d seen a sign ‘Hot Tub’ on the way in, so we went looking. Walking down the path to where the bath house overlooked the Pacific, the sign said ‘suits optional’ and we realised that meant bathing suits, so we happily hopped in naked as we were the only people around.
Getting ready to leave, Aitch froze and I started laughing: voices, coming down the path! Aitch ducked back underwater, as we were joined by two couples who shucked their clothing and joined us. The view as they clambered down the steep metal stairs! You almost had to avert your eyes. We had a long chat, they were from Seattle and ‘South Africa? Optometrist? Did we know Rocky Kaplan?’ Well, actually I did know of him. ‘Well he has reduced my short-sightedness so much; I’m now only wearing a three eyeglasses!’ OK.
By the time they left up the steep metal stairs – the view! you almost had to avert your eyes – and Aitch could finally emerge from the steam, she was wrinkled like a prune.
Then it was back on the ferry, island-hopping our way back to the mainland. Next we were headed for Texas, the Gulf of Mexico! New birds and warmer climes. Except we wouldn’t get there . . .
We flew into Jackson Hole from San Francisco. Change in temperature. I was still in short pants – had to change pretty quick! This was week three of our honeymoon, so we were into the groove: Fly in, find a car, then look around for the best places to visit and find cheap lodgings near there. Aitch was better’n me at that. She’d actually look and weigh up options.
Soon I was warm. Toasty, in fact, as I was sitting – still in short pants – in a Toyota Tercel! A little all-wheel-drive station wagon with four doors and a barn door in back. The four wheel drive system included an unusual six-speed manual transmission with an extra-low gear. It could be moved from front- to four-wheel-drive without coming to a full stop; That was nifty. The 1500cc engine produced 71 HP and awesome torque – more than ample with that light body. I had a SIX speed gearbox on honeymoon in 1988! Formula 1 cars only had five at the time. Plaid seats, two gear levers, four pedals and an advanced 4WD monitoring / information system were standard. Trish asked me, ‘Who do you love more? Me, or this one-week rental car!?’
I cleared my throat . . um, YOU – in a Toyota Tercel!
Then we found the Antler Motel. I said I LIKE the look of this place. She said ‘You’re only looking at the price.’ How do they do that? Only married a couple weeks and already she can see right through me!
We found out we were too early for Yellowstone – the road was still blocked with a wall of snow and we were turned back well short of the park boundary. Still, the view was breath-taking. All the way on our left the Grand Teton mountains loomed, disappearing behind cloud and then fully revealed as the cloud cover cleared from time to time. All around was deeper snow than either of us had seen before and on our right were rivers with Trumpeter Swans. And a moose!
One evening we went to the elk winter refuge, and enjoyed a sleigh ride on which we saw a grouse in a tree. Grouse, swans and elk in the wild – things I’d read about all my life, and here they were! I was chuffed. Also, being married . .
Also, I had read Thunderhead as a ten year-old. About a horse in SE Wyoming. I loved that book and also My Friend Flicka (Thunderhead’s mother), which I read next. Those books’ descriptions were all I knew about Wyoming, but it was enough to want to get there. Plus the attraction of Yellowstone (which I could have checked if it was open before we flew in!).
Every stream I came to I’d get out and search. Then I saw it: A Dipper – at last! It flashed down onto a rock next to the current – and dived underwater! I’d spotted a dipper! I’d read about these little songbirds for years – and here was one doing what they do: hunt underwater!
What a honeymoon! A. You, my dear; B. The Dipper; C. The mountains; D. That Toyota Tercel.
That night in our cozy motel room my sternest critic suggested I was thickly settled:
Wait! Did I show you a pic of our Toyota Tercel? It was all-wheel . . what? oh ok
Next: On to Washington State . . . we have a ferry to catch.