Family & Kids, Home

Home Invasion

It’s holidays!! yay. They’re short. YAY!!

So I get this: “Dad – May 7 people pls sleep over?”

Home Invasion

So I put my foot down and Negotiated Tough. We settled on six total.

Then one arrived by bicycle and one’s Mom dropped him off. So I ended up only catering for eight meat-eating 13-and 14-yr-old noisy, farty boys. Just as Tom had asked for in the beginning (no doubt having told them Yes right from the start!).


20151003_180813[1] The braai fire

Poor Jess!

(Sunday I got rid of three of them and then I had five referees playing rugby in the pool. Loud shouts of “Played On!” “Offsides!” “Release!” “High Tackle!” “Use it!”)

Family & Kids, Sport, Travel, Travel Africa

Fishermen’s Tales

Two avid fishermen, Lungelo and me went down to the sea. Or to the Umtamvuna River at The Old Pont. Lungelo and I were not the avid ones. That was Tommy and Ryan, passionate, persevering pêcheurs.

20141218_145446 Fishermen in blue.

20141218_135959  20141218_140025 

Luxury accommodation on the banks of the Umtamvuna.



Besides the river fishing I also took them to the rocks near the Port Edward lighthouse.

20141219_185433  After the rain the front recedes

Lovely sunsets and one rain squall – with the boys’ tent left wide open, so the second night they had a bit of a damp night. The fishermen latched on to many, many fish, most of them BIG and desirable (yeah, right!). But they landed far fewer – and smaller – ones. Crabs plundering their bait gave them hours of amusement. All but one fish (used for bait) survived their endeavours I’m pleased to say (pathetic bunny-hugger that I am. Or is that guppy-hugger?).

Family & Kids, Life

Boys n Girls in the Movies

Took three 12yr-olds to the movies on Friday night. They asked me to disappear before they got spotted with me – ruin their reps, I would.
So I wander off to my man cave substitute, Exclusive Books and wait, surplus to requirements.
They walk in bright-eyed a few hours later.

The movie? Oh, the MOVIE!? Ja, it was good. They’re bursting to talk, but they’d probably arranged “Don’t say nothing”< and I get non-commital grunts.
It couldn’t last. There were GIRLS! Some not even from their school, and some taller than them! They sat near these chicks and in front of them and spoke to them and they took the sweets the boys offered them! And it was a 16 movie, that’s why they needed me away before they bought tickets. But it’s fine, they let them in no problem.
Oh boy . .

Family & Kids

Wheels and Status

Car spotting and car bragging is a (very) competitive sport at Tom’s school. Every day I hear tales of Ferraris and Range Rovers taking kids to school and the sad lament of what the isikoroskoro we drive means to his standing.
We usually park far from the school (I let him walk the last few hundred metres) but yesterday I parked right outside the gate and poor Tom got bust: His mates spotted the Ford Ranger double cab. Worse: It’s only 4X2.
This morning we parked far away again as he told me they ragged him mercilessly. “We saw your Dad’s Bhugatti, Thomas!” they said with great delight.

the wish Bhugatti–   reality Ford

– – – – – – 883Kw                                        103Kw

Ah well, he has inflicted pain, he has to learn to take pain.

Africa, Family & Kids, Free State, Vrystaat, Life, Nostalgia, School

A Slow Walk, My China

Way back in around 1962 Donald Coleman and I walked home from school. The Harrismith Kleinspan School.

It was about a mile and we set off around 1pm. When we got home we got the “Where have you been!?” treatment. Apparently it was 5pm already and getting dark and cold. Well, we wouldn’t have known and anyway, we’d had a lot to talk about and Donald had a box of matches, so we had stopped and made a little fire of plane tree leaves in the sandstone gutters of Stuart Street. These gutters used to channel water from Platberg to town according to Blanche Hawkins, local historian.

Fast forward to 2014 and 12yr old TomTom asked me if he could walk home from school today. It’s about 4km and school ends at 2pm. When I got home at 5pm he had just got in and Cecelia and Carla had been worried: “Where had he BEEN?!”

I knew where he’d been. His journey was double mine and he’d taken one less hour. Why, he’d almost hurried home! And no matches, so how could I complain? You have fun, my boy? I asked. He’d stopped en route to buy a pie, a packet of jelly tots and an energade drink.

New Schools ! (2).JPG


Feature pic: Me, Anne, Donald & Sheila in Platberg’s shadow

Africa, Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Food, Home, Life

Good Fencing with Good Neighbours

Its the Westville fair and the Chinese crafts are on full display.
Tom has wheedled some extra pocket money and has made a fine investment: A BB Gun. Plastic pellets.
But a much better one than the last one Dad, this one’s metal. (The plastic gun lasted one day).

Right TomTom, you know that a gun is ONLY for shooting at a target, right?
Yes, Dad.
You set up a target, put your eye protection goggles on and make sure no-one’s in harms way, right?
Yes, Dad.

Pring pring.
This is your neighbour the lawyer speaking. Do you know YOUR SON is shooting at MY DOGS? Well no, actually, I didn’t know that. I’ll be right over.
The boys are nowhere in sight so I call them out and present them to the neighbours: the lawyer, the wife and the adult son, get a confession and an apology and dismiss them.

Is that the end of it? No. Bitch Kvetch, Blah Blah
Well, I say with a smile, boys will be boys.
Well, I never did anything like that, he says.
Well, I certainly did, I say, and with all due respect your dogs DO bark incessantly and are extremely annoying. Never mind the fact that there are a few too many of them. Still smiling.

Well, says the vrou: THESE KIDS play outside the gates and the blacks walk past and make the dogs bark.


Firstly, I say with a much broader smile creasing my dial, chest out and going red in the face, these aren’t “the blacks”. They’re OUR NEIGHBOURS, and they’re walking HOME;
Secondly, these kids have every right to play in the street and on the pavements. I’m grinning, I’m teasing them.

Ooh he says, we’re not racist, when I go to the townships the dogs there bark at me cos I’m white.
Kak cover-up, but nice to see you batting for the old bat. She herself makes no attempt to explain her “the blacks”.

I repeat, Let’s just understand very clearly that these kids have every right to play RIGHT in front of your gates. Up to one millimetre from your gate. And YOUR responsibility is to keep your dogs in your yard and not let them run out and menace the kids. One of the girls is absolutely terrified of them. And her Dad happens to be a Metro cop and I will join forces with him in seeing to it that you are held responsible if your dogs do ANYTHING to my kids or the neighbourhood kids when out of your yard!

Bloody hell!
Well, according to the law I have the right . . .
I am not a lawyer but I’ll tell you right now your dogs should not be out of your yard. Period. I get the kids off the streets as often as I can, they play at our place most days, so let’s just work together, okay?
And anyway, nice weather if it doesn’t rain, and thanks very much for calling me and I apologise again for the plastic pinging of your puppies and let’s be adult about all this as we’re stuck with each other as neighbours. Kay?

Big smile hopefully covers up my eff you thoughts and we withdraw.

We still wave at each other.


Later: I was telling friend Stephen in Aussie about the seven barking dogs on my one side and the two barking dogs on my other side.

He said:

As you probably know, one thing about not living in SA is that mysteriously the dogs do not bark. Except our neighbour’s when there are workmen [tradies] around. But he can only keep it up for about one and a half minutes. A very old labrador. Our other neighbour gets irritated on the rare occasion that the dog barks. So he sits out on the deck and shouts “shuddup”.  Then the dog barks more.

She thinks it’s me shouting. And when I try to have a chat to her about this, she disappears. I will have to collar her sometime. Or as they say here, “bail her up”

This evening I had curry and an ice cold beer on my new stoep with my children checking out the birds; especially the black flycatchers with their two fledglings; them all black, the babies black with lotsa russet scallops and streaks – and their gapes still yellowish.
A kingfisher with a cricket in his beak, then a big praying mantis.
Complete peaceful silence. Not a sound. No shouting, no barking. Hey! No barking! The dogs are actually quiet for a change.
Hopefully they all fuckin died.