Sassy Tom 2012

Sitting with Tom watching Le Mans when he harks back a disgusting snot sniff.
Sis man, I say, digging him in the ribs.
Are you picking on me cos I’m black? he protests.
No, I say, because you’re disgusting.
Us blacks sniff like that, Dad, he says!


Jon asked: How do you argue further along this line?

I said: Too busy laffin to say anything. We both hosed ourselves for about ten minutes!

Solemnish Ceremony

I gathered the kids and said “Let’s go and bury Mom’s ashes with Bella. We’ve been meaning to do it for ages, let’s do it now.”

Her ashes had been keeping an eye on us from the mantelpiece. Now it was time for ceremony.

We trooped down under the trees to the spot where Tobias and I had buried Bella and where we had prepared a hole for the little box containing Aitch’s remains.

I gathered my thoughts and cleared my throat and . . .

“ANTS!” the kids shouted, slapping their legs and running away back to the house.

Ah well, I had a little private ceremony, shaking with laughter. Aitch would have enjoyed that (though she’d have had something to say about decorum).

MiniShova Downhill Ride

Early morning start in Hillcrest for the 35km downhill cruise.


Whizzed down the hill again this year, with TomTom keeping up his undertaking not to whinge once. He didn’t.
And he beat his Dad across the line.


MiniShova (4)
Jess got the family gold, though, tiring of the dawdling boys and zooming off in the last few km’s as always.
Sheila dropped us off in Hillcrest again, and we fetched the bakkie at her flat after the “race”. The steepest uphills are those after the finish – from the Moses MaFIFA stadium to her flat – after breakfast!

You too, TomTom!
You too, TomTom!

Sindi's medal! Well done, girl!
Sindi’s medal! Well done, girl!

Lovely day.
My bum is sore, Dad.


The Hamstring Hop

Absolutely not, I told Aitch. Forget it. I’ll pull a hamstring, I told her. NO WAY.

So I line up for the Dad’s 100m race at Livingstone Primary School. Me and twenty other Dad’s half my age. I’m wearing long pants, long-sleeve shirt and a tie. I’ve removed my leather shoes. Typical delusion of just maybe I can do well at this. After all my time of 11 seconds dead stood for over twenty years and how much can one deteriorate from sixteen to fifty five? Sure, I had probably slowed down a bit, but the question was How Much?

I politely fall back into the second row on the grid to let the pushy okes ahead. There should have been seeding races so I could get pole position AND THEY’RE OFF!

Within five metres I’m four metres behind so I deliver my famous kick and start the dreaded Hamstring Hop. I TOLD her, but did she listen? From the roar of the crowd I hear one distinctive loud peal of laughter rising above all the hundreds of shouting voices.

By the time I finish the three young adonis’ that got gold silver and bronze have already left the podium.

Is Africa for Sissies After All?

I wrote to some of you when I went to the Master of the High Court of KwaZulu Natal to start a frustrating six month process of queuing and waiting to be appointed as executor of Aitch’s estate. I’d been told: Six Months!

The long and the short of that story was I got forgotten outside someone’s door and when the first lady who had helped me saw me (and probably my sad face) she said “Are you still waiting there?” and took me under her wing.
Three hours later I left with the letter of appointment in my hand! Not “We’ll post it”, nor “We’ll phone you” nor “You phone us”. Done and dusted! In my hand!

Yesterday I finally admitted defeat after searching for Jess & Tom’s adoption papers (the ones that say “asof uit u gebore” – ‘as if born of you’) high and low in our upside-down house. I had turned over everything at home, in the garage, at work, at Trish’s Mom’s place, everywhere five times, so I turned with resignation and trepidation to plan B: Apply for replacement forms from the Department of Justice.

I phoned Ms Miya (who I seem to think we dealt with – her name was on a 2004 letter – the only thing I could find) and she said “I’ve moved from that section, but I’ll help you my lovie”!
And she did: She phoned me back in a few hours and said “When can you come and fetch them?”
How’s that!?

I went first thing this morning to the Pinetown children’s court. Walked in at 7.45am and walked out at 7.48am with the forms in my hand!

Very worrying, though. Are we going soft?

Mom, Moz and Morphine

On 24 June 2011, Pete <> wrote:

Hi Jayne

Wanting to get to Mozambique for snorkeling soonest. Trish not well at all and wants to go snorkeling and I’m trying to arrange. Phone +2**2394*002 if you can.

Hope and trust all well with you? And your gang?

Our kids well – just rattled.


Love Pete

———- Forwarded Message ———

Re: Delayed response Re: Where you?

Hi! I am helping out at a Lodge in the Vilanculos area over the Xmas period – so may not reply promptly to your e-mail!

All is well however!

J —

Jayne Janetzky


So I make a phone call


On 25 June 2011 09:31, Pete <> wrote:

Hey Jaynee J !!

So good to chat to you again. That CAN DO approach! Love it. WhattaPom!

We’ll fly at a moment’s notice and I’ll do EFT as soon as you tell me.

The one fly in the oinkment will be PAIN. Let’s hope! Morphine is said to be amazing, so here’s hoping.

(Aitch says “Morphine has always meant dying to me, Koos!” Well, it has to all of us, hasn’t it? )

Speak soon P


Subject: Re: Delayed response Re: Where you?!

Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2011 10:46:10 +0200

Hi my darlings

Well of course its a CAN DO. For you guys we kill bulls and marauding elephants!!!

Have a self-cater chalet lined up (nice) ….price being negotiated …..

LAM cheapest airline especially if you book on line.

Morphine – whatever gets you through the night Trish – is alright, is alright!!!!!

Waiting for you guys – bring jerseys!!! XXXXX


Well, it didn’t happen.

Aitch ended up in hospital for a night, which ended up being four nights – ‘Just to rest.’ Actually, I thought the herceptin had affected her heart, but my good friend cardiologist Dave said no – but he looked very worried – the look on his honest face made me realise we were near rthe end – and sent her to our other friend Mike the pulmonologist, who checked her in. She was quite chirpy when we visited, but tired and in pain.

Then she came home on the 1st July – THANK GOODNESS – and spent her last four nights in her own bed, fussed over by us. No more pain thanks to morphine prescribed as she checked out of hospital.

She died early morning 5 July 2011. Last words; ‘Thank you. Love you Koosie!’


Fietsry in the Karkloof

So we enter the 19km event at Karkloof on our pushbikes. Me n Jessie.
Aitch n Tom are going to do the 10km.

We head off and Jess does well, stays on her bike on some gentle uphills, no pushing.
Riding up one hill after 4 or 5 km we hear a whooshing sound, and a wheezing and a loud shoosh and huh and a muttered curse and I realise its not a train or a wind turbine, it’s an oke saying “Spekkies – howzit?”. Young David Hill, peaking this early. He’s let himself go, as they say, since last season when he did Tuli in Botswana and was a shadow of his former self, and is paying the price. Finds his bike has lost all its former zippiness.

We rode together a while, but then gravity took over and off went Hill downhill at an ever-increasing speed on his high-tech multi-shock softail plenty thousand Rand special just when Jess ran out of steam and decided to chill a bit.

MTB Dave Hill

Hill’s bike

After another few kays I realised I was probably leading my category and was in for a podium finish and a prize: First SLOBO home (Seriously Lazy Old Bald Optometrists division). Jess was OK on the downhills (if rather cautious) and slow on all uphills – including some sections of “Dad, come back and push my bike for me”. Even so, I thought I had the win in the bag and was rehearsing my acceptance speech when, with much creaking and panting, an OLDER, BALDER optometrist pulled up next to me and called out “Swanepoel!”. It was young Graham Lewis, who, although MUCH older than me, was probably competing for my crown! I tried to delay him but he was eager to move on, so – although I could have blown his doors off – I let him go (on his twenty year old, unsprung bottle store delivery fiets, with his knees whizzing past his ears his seat was so low) as I had to wait for Jess. Ah, well, silver medal, I thought.

MTB Graham Lewis

Lewis’ bike

Meantime, back at the 10km, Aitch was waiting for 24yrs of trouble on six legs – Tom and the Bainbridge twins Peter and Philip. And waiting, and waiting. Hordes of cyclists passed her as she looked back in vain. Fifty, sixty of the slowcoaches they had been ahead of went past. “Have you seen three little boys?” she eventually started asking. Someone had: “I saw three little guys lying down in the grass near the drinks table chatting away” said an observant soul. Back went Aitch to roust them out and get them back on their wheels. “We were talking, Ma” was the explanation.

Just before prize-giving I had a thought and scurried over to have a quiet word with the officials. “First SLOBO home: Swanepoel” came the announcement over the tannoy system, and I stepped onto the podium to receive gold – to tremendous applause. Lewis had been disqualified, and quite rightly so. He’s running the Comrades ultra-marathon again this year, which quite clearly ruled him out on the important “SL” part of the category. Justice had prevailed.

R.I.P Barry Porter

BARRY PORTER 18th September 1946 to 27th April 2011

Barry as we’ll all remember him, soaking up the wonders of the big outdoors:

Barry Porter_3.JPG
Photo: Andy Ruffle

A memorial service was held for Barry at the Port Shepstone Country Club.

Dress attire casual – as Barry would’ve liked.

A request for no flowers has come from his family. His son feels it fitting that donations be made to Birdlife Trogons Bird Club in lieu of flowers.


Friend Colleague Confidant Gentleman

Born in Johannesburg into a family steeped in South Coast history.

Educated at St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown and immensely proud of it.

Reserved, scientific and tempered with technical ability.

Environmentally possessed.

Concluded his education at Natal University PMB with a BSc Agri Degree and commenced a farming career at Hella Hella.

His knowledge of environmental issues was unsurpassed and covered everything from birds to frogs to trees to grasses to game – from common names to scientific names to even Zulu names in which language he was fluent.

The use of this language in regard to Zulu tree names often led to very interesting and vigorous debates between ourselves and our Zulu speaking compatriots. To disagree with him was a complete waste of time, he would just quietly walk away, leaving one to wonder why did we even try and realising that we had not obtained an ‘A’ in that subject.

His knowledge of birds was unsurpassed and he studied avian issues with an undisclosed passion. He was a dedicated member of the Bird Rarity Committee and was always ready to give a fair judgement on all requests. As Chairman of Trogons Bird Club for a numbers of years (under duress) he never appreciated his ability being noticed and he led the club to be one of the most active and productive in Natal (if not the country) and he had the ability to motivate his committee to perform above expectations to the benefit of its members. He served on many Avian orientated committees where his knowledge was highly regarded.

Apart from his scientific knowledge, his technical ability was quite fascinating and he was adept at repairing and studying all aspects of modern engineering.

He was very computer literate and enjoyed all the advantages of its intricacies to the extreme .

The loss of his wife, Lyn, some six months ago left him tragically scarred – a scar that he bore bravely and undisclosed and no doubt had a bearing on his tragic demise.

His passing will leave a void that will be difficult to fill as there are very few people with his reserved manner and willingness to impart their knowledge to others available in this world today.

May he rest in peace.

Your civility and reservedness which endeared you to so many will not be forgotten.



I have sad news to report. One of the stalwarts of SABAP2, Barry Porter, passed away on Wednesday after a short spell in hospital. Barry’s contribution to the BirdLife Trogons Bird Club was legendary.
An email sent to me by one of his friends, Carol Bosman, includes this paragraph which helps to sum up all our feelings: “Barry lived for birds and whenever I stayed with him he would take me out to record the various pentads for the Bird Atlas Project. His wife Lyn passed away only five months ago. What saddens me the most, I guess, is the loss of a ‘fountain’ of information as Barry was so well read in so many subjects. Your project has lost an incredibly knowledgeable observer and participant.”
Barry submitted a total of 261 checklists for 77 pentads, mostly in southern KwaZulu-Natal, but extending further afield as well. His first checklist was made on 19 August 2007, right at the outset of SABAP2, and the most recent was on 27 March this year, a month ago. Over this whole period there were very few months in which Barry did not submit a checklist.

He was a regular contributor of interesting comments on fora such as SABirdnet.
On 14 June last year during the World Cup he wrote this email, with the subject line “Soccer Birds”: “I went birding yesterday in the normally tranquil rural tribal lands inland from Hibberdene. I struggled to fill my atlas card, very difficult to hear birds voices – ‘the hills are alive with the sound of vuvuzelas!'”

The birding community and SABAP2 are poorer with the passing away of this passionate citizen scientist.


Here’s a pic by Barry of the Trogons at his brother’s litchi farm. Lyn is in the picture, second from left:

Barry Porter & Lyn - Litchi Syndicate.jpg

The vulture hide at Oribi Gorge – in the feature pic – was named in Barry’s honour. He would secretly have loved that.

I wrote a tribute to Barry here.


Hair Today

Years ago I wrote about my hairdresser then. She had more to do than my hairdresser now.

I went and saw her one day and realised I’d chosen the wrong time. Fergie was getting married to the porky ‘prince’ and all the ladies were glued to the telly, ooh-ing and aah-ing.

Bloody ‘Royal Family’ mania!

I can come back later, I offered.

No, its fine, she fibbed and set to trimming my locks, out of view of the Pomp-ing Ceremony.

Have you seen!? she asked in her pronounced Affies or Dirkie Uys accent.

No, not really interested, said anti-monarchist me.

Ag, Saah-ra looked so beautiful as she stepped out of the cart, she gushed.


– home hairdresser with Tiger –

Now my CURRENT hairdresser is something else. Saw her yesterday. Much less to do, but hey!

Presses her boobs against me; Stands with her thighs on either side of mine; Pats me tenderly; Fusses over me; Quite a performance. And charges me nothing! FREE haircuts for me.

Course, I’m married to her . . .


Panjo Still Roaming Free – and I know why!

28 July 2010 – Groblersdal

A 17-month-old Bengal tiger has caught the attention of the whole country after somehow escaping from his owners’ Ford F250 bakkie on Monday night. He is now roaming about somewhere between Groblersdal and Delmas – which is very far from Bengal!

His owners’ Goosey (51), and Rosa Fernandes (45), hope he will arrive at their smallholding at Endicott near Springs on Wednesday, though how he will do that without GPS they don’t say. Oh, and the Fernandes don’t have a permit for the tiger.

According to Rosa, anyone who spots him should point a stick at him and say “NO!” or give him some chicken to eat. Tiger 101.

If the permit-less tiger is spotted, people are asked to phone the local police station immediately, says Sersant Wilson at 082 8** 4***

Well! No wonder they can’t find it!! Everyone knows a tiger is STRIPED, fgdsake!

I can just see Sersant Wilson’s konstabels tip-toeing thru the bush, seeing Panjo and saying voetsek as they continue their search for a spotted creature!


For a little while the whole of South Africa knew where Groblersdal was. Sort-of: That place you must avoid; there’s a tiger on the loose! One old fellow, when warned there was a tiger around said, yes, he knows, that’s why he’s carrying a stick. It’s not cos he can’t walk without a stick!

Panjo was finally found on the farm Swartkoppies in Verena. The tiger’s spoor had first been picked up by tracker Johnson Mhlanga from Singita Lodge in Mpumalanga, then by a tracking dog called Zingela. The dog’s owner, Conrad de Rosner, works in Sabi Sands Game Reserve, where the animal is used to track wounded game.

– Zingela – hopefully he was also given some chicken –

So Panjo didn’t find his way home to Endicott near Springs; he had to be fetched and driven there. I hope he thanked Zingela.


Floating Shelves

Defying gravity, the shelves hover . . or to paraphrase the famous Douglas Adams –
“They hang in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”

No brackets, no trusses, no nails. No visible means of support. They’re just . . . THERE.

Oddly, they did not get rave reviews from various lesser carpenters. Envy, perhaps?



Aitch is in Bloemfontein in a new rental Toyota Yaris. She’s working.

Feeling peckish, she drives to a take-away, but she can’t find the button for the window, so has to open the door to order and receive her double cheese burger (while the cat’s away the cat will play!).

Later she searches again. Where on earth have they hidden the window button? Not on the door, not on the console. Next stop is a hospital and there’s a boom, so she stops beforehand and conducts a thorough search. Doesn’t want to be caught at the boom with cars hooting behind her.

Oh! Here it is. Attached to a handle with a round knob on it and you have to actually go round ‘n round and wind the thing MANUALLY! Using your whole arm!

Who would have thought?! Whatever will they think of next?

Aitch window winder


TomTom has to keep a holiday diary for school. Daily entries. Verbally he can be quite verbose. When a story can be told in ten words, he can take twenty, then repeat them in case you weren’t listening.

So we went shopping and walked for miles in Westwood centre, then drove to the Pavilion, looking for soccer collectable cards and an album. Plus we had Kentucky Fried chicken and a Tab, bought plasters for him and disprins for me. And he listened to music on his headphones in the kombi.

In his diary he wrote: I have soka cards frommy Dad. That was it.

Earlier, we had arranged to go to the Palmiet River* at the bottom of our road.  Aitch was out, so I told TomTom we should leave a note for Mom to tell her where we’d gone.

He wrote a big note. It said – in glossy silver pen: We have gone.

On my insistence he added some detail:

And we well come back


*Our Palmiet fossicking turned up tadpoles, mayfly nymphs, baby frogs, freshwater shrimps and little fish fry. Maybe he’ll write about them.