Africa, Aitch, Canoe & Kayak, Family & Kids, Life, Nostalgia, Travel USA, Wildlife, Game Reserves

DIY Bush Wedding

I don’t do DIY. I was going to say except for our wedding, but on reflection, I also did that the way I do everything: Stand back and watch as others do it all, while trying to save money.

What I did do was buy the booze and fill Mike Lello’s Isuzu Trooper and trailer with it and drive it out to Barry and Lyn’s farm Game Valley Estates – or just Hella Hella – on the Friday. Lots of rain, muddy roads. It had been a wet summer following the huge September 1987 flood.

Wedding Hella Hella Isuzu Trooper.jpg

Like most bachelors when they do fall, I headed off cheerfully to meet my fate, all my own advice forgotten, marching singing to the gallows!

Luckily Saturday cleared up. I always sing ‘The robots change when I go thru, the clouds dissolve and the skies turn blue, and EVERYBODY loves me baby – – – what’s the matter with you!?

And the clouds did dissolve . . It got Sunny. Then Hot. Then Scorching Humid Sultry.

Wedding Hella Hella (4)

Barry’s old 4X4 Ford F150 gave people a tug up slippery Hella Hella Pass so they could get to their lodgings at the nearby Qunu Falls Lodge. The Brauers, the du Plessis, the Reeds, the Schoemans, the Stoutes, the Stewarts. The Hills live nearby. Family stayed in the concrete A-frame lodge on the farm.

Wedding Hella Hella.jpg

The sauna was pitched on the lawn under the Hella Hella mountain.

The beautiful Hella Hella Kop

The Porters were linked up to ESKOM but just because ESKOM has arrived does not mean that when you throw a switch with a flourish that anything will happen.

And so it was on our wedding day that ESKOM was feeling a bit off that day and we were without krag, power, lights and fridges.

Enter David Hurle Hill !! He roared off in his bakkie and fetched a huge diesel generator on a trailer. David is a Drrrillerr and will drill you a borehole. In fact his company motto is ‘On The Hole Our Work Is Boring.’ He linked up and threw a switch with a flourish and nothing happened. She was not wekking, as David Hurle Hill would say.

Enter Enea Spaggiari!! All the way from Italy via Kenya and Petit outside Benoni. He climbed up onto and over and under the trailer and fiddled with wires and threw a switch with a flourish and Let There Be Light! Music! and Cold Beers!

Wedding Hella Hella (3)

Iona coaches her daughter: Make all the big decisions, but make him think he made them . . . Aitch: Ha Ha I already do that . . .

Wedding Hella Hella (7).jpg
– plotting –

Then the usual stuff, the ominous music Tun Tun Ta Da!; The father of the bride having second thoughts; Guys thinking hm hm hm; Ladies smiling; Aitch saying – ‘Honour? OK; – Obey? Are you mad!?’ and so on:

Wedding Hella Hella-001.jpg

Then The Lies! You just can’t trust some people. Ten years prior to this I had done a very good job being his best man and if he had paid attention he’d have learned something. Like, to stick to the flattering truth and not tell scurrilous alternative truths that nobody wants to hear. At least nobody called the object of your attentions wants to hear them . . .

Brauer spinning yarns

Followed by The Truth, plain and unvarnished:

Wedding 1988 speech.jpg

At last, we could change into shorts and relax and party. Later came The Getaway:

Wedding Hella Hella Getaway Car.jpg

We wore getaway kit appropriate for our honeymoon. We were headed for Deepest Darkest America.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

On the Monday friend Allie Peter flew over Hella Hella in a helicopter and took pics of Rapid 5&6 looking downstream and then back upstream:

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Twenty Five Years Later – 28 Feb 2013

—– Original Message —–

Crazy, innit! 25yrs ago today Aitch and I got hitched down in the Hella Hella valley in a fun DIY game farm wedding.
She made it to 23yrs of married bliss (OK, she might have had something to say at this point . . ) and one month short of 26yrs together. We celebrated that 25yrs-together milestone in August 2010.

Thinking of all you good peeps that made our wedding so memorable – that’s the bachelor days before, the day itself, and the 25yrs since!

Cheers!

Lotsa love – Pete – and now Jessica & Tommy!

BTW, Lyn and Barry Porter of Hella Hella also died in 2011:
Lyn in January – also breast cancer; Barry in April – hospital infection; And then Aitch in July.

~~~~oo000oo~~~~

Dave Hill: I remember it well – I ‘nipped’ home to fetch my generator when the power went off.

Pete Stoute: Remember the week-end like yesterday! Struggling up the other side of Hella Hella to the Qunu Falls hotel in the mud and rain – Dave Hill saving the day with a BIG generator.

Will have an extra glass of vino this evening – great mates and good times.

Sheila Swanepoel: Those pics are great. What a wonderful record of a very special day.
I remember the incredible heat and how you, Pierre and Pete sneaked off and changed into shorts straight after the ceremony. And how the phone kept ringing in the middle of the ceremony in the house.
Linda was flower girl, Robbie was so proud of his brand new red “tight”

Wedding 1988 Linda Robbie (1).jpg

. . and Jeff kept putting off going to change, saying that he was charge of the antelope on the spit – he dithered for so long that there was no time to change and that pleased him no end.
Bess & I sneaked down to the pool for a kaalgat swim and found Iona had beaten us to it!

Steve Reed: Will always remember the weekend; a great occasion. I think it was thanks to Mike and Yvonne in the 4×4 that we traveled safely back through the mud to our lodgings. Fond memories – raising a glass tonight to all of you!

I remember Brauer chasing a tight deadline speech writing – wise.

Pete Brauer: Damn. Been holding my breath during this stroll thru memory lane hoping that no-one noticed at the time or that no-one would still remember that poor last-minute effort.

Terry Brauer: Steve nothing has changed! PB has his own website called lastminute.com

Steve Reed: Speech was excellent. Not many can compose a wedding speech while putting on a tie with the other hand. Besides, Swannie probably tasked Brauer with the job as he was getting dressed himself.

Terry Brauer: Yip Brauer remains an orator of note and Swanepoel continues to notify me he is coming to stay usually on the day when he lands in Pretoria – 😀 Those old dogs ain’t gonna learn new tricks but love them both! T

Pete Swanie: I had prepared well in advance.

Wedding Hella Hella Groom scribbles truth.jpg

Brauer procrastinated and ignored my two rules: Keep it short; and NO LIES.

Wedding Hella Hella Brauer scribbles lies.jpg

Pete Brauer: If I stuck to the latter rule the first would have fallen into place quite easily.

Tanza Crouch: Thinking of you, Aitch, Tommy and Jessy at this time. My spider days at Hella Hella are very special to me and Aitch, Barry and Lyn were very special people.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Turn up the volume:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Family & Kids, Travel Africa

Stan the Staffie

Our first dog TC was the product of a romantic liaison – a match made in heaven. Staffordshire Terrier Stan Hill jumped Jack Russel Terrier Mouse Hill and she produced a litter. Dave and Goldie’s Sir Stanley Staffordshire of Melrose Farm in Mid-Illovo was a semi-handsome, tuxedo-clad, white-gloved, almost-pedigree Staffie who’d lost his papers but we were assured he was in the country legitimately. And they knew who his Mom was.

tc-from-melrose-farm.jpg

The Hills once took Stan on holiday to hoity-toity Plettenberg Bay where they met people with a very stressful holiday job: To look after a fine pedigree Afghan bitch on heat. Big responsibility to keep it away from all lesser dogs and avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

afghan Plett

Well, good luck with that with Stan the Man around. When they looked again, there was Stan on the beach, publicly locked in holy matrimony with the long-haired beauty. Something like this (Staffies are known more for their enthusiasm than their class):

Staffies_R_Gross

A legend in his own lunchtime was Stan.

=========ooo000ooo=========

Now read just how faulty memory can be! Here’s the details from someone who was there: Stan’s owner, Dave Hill:

nice
It was actually at Mbotyi on the Wild Coast and the femme fatale was a nubile young Spaniel sent there with the owners’ mother because she was on heat!
Bad idea!
Stan left our cottage after supper every evening only coming home late late late.
One morning we couldn’t find him………..so we went a-searching.
Lo and behold! right on the main beach, in front of quite a crowd was young Stan the Man in flagrante delicto with this young virgin Spaniel.
In flagrante delicto in dogs, as you know, means dog-knotted.
When Stan saw us he belted up the beach with the damsel stuck fast around his underbelly!
My solution of course was to pick em up hurl them into the water which caused great mirth and unknotted them.
We often wonder about that liaison and the end result . . . . .

Kind regards,
Dave
Africa, Birds & Birding, Food, Travel, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Limpopo Lepadi

I joined Jenny & Tabs Fyvie for a lovely week in the bush at their luxury lodge in Botswana. Right on the banks of the Limpopo river – a wonderful setting. Their friends from their days in the lowveld Johan and Elsa were there, and other shareholders from the Eston district, Pete & Bruce.

Wonderful wildlife, including two leopards; Great birding including a lifer: a white-backed night heron hiding out in daytime. The bird pics are all off the internet.

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Weather changeable, hot and dry or warm and wet. Cool nights. October 2013.

We had a wonderful time, with only one minor catastrophe: The bread was not completely square; it was slightly buckled and squashed from being thrown in the back of my bakkie. Tabbo survived that thanks to Jenny’s laughter.

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

I sent these images – pinched off the ‘net – to interested friends after I got back. Some of the birds that fluttered down to drink at iMbuzi waterhole in Limpopo-Lipadi reserve in the two hours we sat there. What a feast for the eyes!

Plus, some of the nyonis seen in camp:

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Drove back from Botswana in just under 12 hours. Long time since I did that. Pressure from the kids to get home, so I resolved to keep moving, but overnight with Pierre in Harrismith, or with my folks in Pietermaritzburg if I got sleepy. But I didn’t. I just kept trucking, stopping regularly for a walk and a bite and coffee.

Got a huge welcome when I got in! “Daddy we MISSED you!” No cellphone comms in the bush!

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

I wrote to Dave Hill: I haven't told you yet that we had a 
long discussion about you (rolling cars, Hartebeespoort dam, etc)
He replied: Hi spekkies. I knew it would be dangerous letting you 
loose with those rubbishes. I bet they were full of heinous lies 
about me. You of course were mum.
.
Me again: No! I had nothing but praise. Which they laughed at.
Trevor, Pete, Butch and Bruce. Pete and Butch dishing the dirt on you 
about rolling cars and choking Linda Lovelace. Funny how some things stick in your throat memory.
~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~ 
photographersdirect.com (this site has since disappeared)
shutterstock.com (royalty-free thumbnail pics)
Family & Kids, Travel, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Long Drive to Kruger Park

On Tuesday, April 9, 2013, Pete S wrote:
Drove twelve hours from home to Hazyview on Thursday. Then eleven hours back on Sunday. 1750km in all, with plenty of road repairs on the way. ‘Stop-Go Controls’ where the road narrows to one lane in places. Plus plenty of stops for juice, snacks and leg-stretching for the hungry hordes. Both of them. OK, all three of us.
Madness.

But the two days we spent at Sabie Park were a real chill. Just us and Dave Hill in a wonderful corner of the bushveld on the Sabie River at Kruger gate adjacent to the KNP. Big Al’s Lodge, he calls it. We gazed across the river at eles, buff, waterbuck and hippos in the park coming down to the beautiful Sabie river to drink.

Next time it’ll have to be for longer, though.

——–
On 2013/04/08, steve reed wrote:
There is just nothing, nothing, nothing to beat sitting watching the other side of a riverbank with binocs, a beer and a savoury snack. It has to be an African river. I have tried it in Aussie and it’s not anywhere near the same.
S’ true!

============
I agree. I can lurk like a crocodile. Even better if one of the companions is restless and feels the need to braai nearby. I can smell the smoke, watch me birds and eat when told to.

I need to fix my telescope now. I missed it there.

============

Inside the lodge:

and outside:

Sabie Park.jpg

 

Aitch, Family & Kids, Sport, Travel Africa

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.