Africa, Life

On Being Helpful

Plaintive request from a colleague whose new practice name was challenged by – let’s politely say misguided – colleagues who claimed to have registered the same name before – even though they had never used it, nor had any use for it:

Please come visit me if Classic Eyes puts me in jail … I have my name reserved and they say they have the name reserved ….

—————————–

I’ll paint a box of wine brown and pretend its my briefcase – then I’ll “forget it” in your cell.

Regards Peter Swanepoel

——–

I knew I could count on you.

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Petrea Gaol Visit with Bonteheuwel Briefcase

‘swotfriendsisfor

Life

Pro-fanity

I am pro- profanity. I believe it’s good; I believe they are often descriptive, useful and helpful words.

Like fuck.

When given the old (erroneous) line that people who use swearwords have meagre vocabularies, great comedian George Carlin was indignant. He said “I know LOTS of words. I just happen to like fuck”.

George Carlin

I’m reading a change-your-lifestyle book by John Parkin called Fuck It – Do What You Love. Except he writes it f**k it. I think that’s pointless (he probly did it for commercial reasons. I can understand that. Unlike me, he actually sold a lot of books and if you want to sell on the American market you probably have to sugar-coat reality). Everyone knows f**k means fuck, even the youngsters whose eyes and ears people are ostensibly shielding. I dunno why the acceptance of one and shock-horror of the same thing. f**k = fuck.

While I was writing a book (Yes! Here it is Umko 50 Years) I read another book on river paddling and Rob Gouldie wrote how his exhausted partner nearing the finish of the Dusi Canoe Marathon asked his permission to rest saying “I’m fucked! Can I trail my paddle so it looks like I’m steering?” He also spoke about climbing through barbed wire fences “without hooking your nuts” and how Dusi runny guts had them “crapping through the eye of a needle” and I loved it. I thought that’s how one should write a book, just as you speak. Don’t be fake; Don’t be faux-coy; Don’t be prissy. So I kept the “fucks” and “foks” in my book uncensored. “Customary Paddling Language” I called it when people objected and suggested I use asterisks. I declined. My book would have no f*cks, no f*ks.

I also believe (of course I’m biased!) that people who swear are on average more trust-worthy*, so I think Granma Crews made a mistake in the early seventies in Apache Oklahoma when she didn’t buy a fridge from Stanley Wright. Stan could hardly say a sentence without saying “son of a bitch” “sonbitch” or “sumbitch”. It was his “whatchacallit”. Some people say “Let’s load that baby up” where Stan would say “Let’s load that sumbitch up”. And he was on form the day Granma went to his shop. They had just about clinched the deal when he said his last sumbitch and Granma Crews decided she’d had enough, slammed the fridge door shut saying “Well you can keep the sumbitch!” and stalked out on Stan who was probably left wondering what he had possibly said to get that reaction! Goodness! He had never heard old Ma Crews speak like that before!

Lauren Martin writes in the link below that if you’re feeling down or doing something wrong, fucking good friends give it to you straight – they don’t water shit down! As for all the trust-worthy people who don’t (often) swear: Start now. Increase gradually. I’m trying to.

*The Science of Swearing

*People Who Fucking Curse More Actually Make The Best Fucking Friends

~~~oo0oo~~~

Birds & Birding, Family & Kids, Travel, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Softie

I’m off on a four-day weekend to Ndumo, abandoning the kids. Charles and Barbara Mason have very kindly invited me on their regular annual trip.

Leaving for school today, Tom spots we’re alone, no-one in earshot.

Gives me a big hug, leans his head against my chest, “I’m going to miss you Daddy. Don’t get hurt.”

Then he looks me in the eye with a grin, “Don’t get drunk, don’t get high, don’t get the munchies” he says and saunters off to school.

Ndumo was great. Dry but lots of birds around camp and the pans walks beautiful as always.

20150817_064220

Special sights:  Skeins of gyppos and spurwing overhead; A thermal of pelicans soaring; Retz’s & white helmetshrikes, nicators, tinkers, honeyguides and honeybirds, a trogon, robins, apalii, ‘peckers, spoonbills wading, glossy ibis, lots of others.

A glimpse of a suni in the sand forest was special too. Lots of crocs, heard the hippos but didn’t see them.

There are seven huts at Ndumo and there were 14 people plus me, so friends Charles and Chris moved an extra bed into their bungalow, shipped their wives off to the next door chalet and there I was, the newly-minted pensioner among the established pensioners. And probly the best-behaved. This lot had known each other for far too long and were teenagers all over again. Dermott Beck from Bergville in the 50’s knew the Reitz’s and had been operated on under chloroform by Dr Frank Reitz in Harrismith – as had I some 12yrs later!

Luckily a lone lady camping in a pup tent on her way to Mocambique joined us – making me only the second-youngest in camp.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Pre-launch instructions

We are able to do

I finally managed to contact Ndumu main office on 035 591 0058 and spoke to Bongani as Mr Chris was off.

Also cell numbers (never answered!!!) 072 672 8508 and 082 799 1491

Bongani suggests that we bring our own water 5 – 10 litres per person / couple as they do not always have enough for sale – we are able to boil water for drinking if supplies run out.

We are able to do a Pongola bird walk, a pan walk to Shokwe or Njamithi, the rhino walk area has been very dry but depending on the rain situation we may be able to walk there.

Take comfortable shoes, hats, water bottle, sweets, binoculars, camera, bird, tree or flower books, reading matter

Cost of Landrover trip: R240

Cost of walks R120

Cost of trip in own vehicle with game guard +- ????

In the past we’ve tried to do at least an early morning and an evening game drive during our stay, but it is optional (usually one a day) or however many you wish to.

Enjoyable to do a walk a day.

It is also lovely to just sit in the camp and watch the birds.

Please bring your OWN TORCHES

Can stop at an Ultracity / or Mkuze for lunch if you wish on the Friday

The previous times we’ve been at Ndumu we worked in pairs overseeing the catering etc per day which enables us all to have ‘time out’.

We used to buy the food for everyone and costs were shared – but the past two times we allocated meals to the 4 people overseeing the catering per day and we all took different items. It worked well as we each have a fridge in our unit to store food.

There is a cook and washer up who are quite adequate – Jabulani and Ginger. If you prefer you could do some pre-cooking at home and the cook could do the rice / potatoes / vegetables / salad or whatever.

Those on duty need to give the cooks the meat / vegetable etc before we go off for walk or landrover trips in the afternoon. They need to be requested to make a fire on the ‘braai night’

Whoever is providing the dinner for the evening also provides the serviettes, dessert or chocolates and candles if so desired.

Lunches – simple – suggest either cold meat or tuna mayo / salad / rolls / cheese or whatever (can use ‘heat and eat’ breadrolls or ciabatta)

THANKS FOR PAYMENT RECEIVED AGES AGO

For 1 chalet for 2 people: Fri and Sat night R700 per night x 2 nights = R1400

Ditto Sun and Mon nights R560 per night x 2 nights = R1120

Total = R2520

ie per person for the 4 nights R1260 or per couple R2520

The cheaper 2 nights are with pensioners discount.

Not sure if anyone has arranged to go to Tembe Elephant Park after Ndumu or for a game drive whilst we are at Ndumu – distance from Ndumu probably 35 minutes travelling

Tel: 039 – 9732534 0826 512 868

Spoke to Claudette (Westville) 031 – 2670144 who does the accommodation bookings.

Info R35 per vehicle R30 per person if in 4 x 4 able to do a ‘self drive’ otherwise to book at least 24 hours before with Claudette –

Cost R800 for landrover / for 8 – 10 persons and R100 per person – would be met at the gate. Drive 11am – 2pm

HAVE A LOOK AT TEMBE WEBCAM OR ZULCAM ON THE INTERNET – BEST TIME BETWEEN 11AM AND 3PM WHEN THE ELEPHANTS ARE AT THE WATER HOLE.

Please – none of the above is cast in stone and we are all flexible and open to any other suggestions.

Many thanks,

Chris

Aitch, Birds & Birding, Motorcars_Automobiles, Nostalgia, Travel, Travel Apache OK, Travel USA, USA

Oklahoman Honeymoon

As I settled in the seat of the Delta Air plane en route to Texas and the Gulf I read in the newspaper that the one thing I did NOT want to be doing was flying over Easter.

When is Easter? I asked the stewardess. “Tomorrow” she chirped brightly.

Change of plan Aitch, I announced: We’re going to Oklahoma instead of the Gulf. I explained and showed her the newspaper (airport congestion, overbooked flights – us on a cheap Delta pass). Aitch had been dreading going to Apache: “They’ll all know you and I won’t know anyone and I’ll feel left out and . . “

But now she had to face her fears. As soon as we landed at Dallas-Fort Worth we booked the next flight to Lawton OK, heading back north instead of carrying on south. There was just enough time if we scurried. Aitch decided she’d skip the loo and go once we were airborne. Mistake.

It was a little narrow plane like this, two seats a side, a narrow aisle, no airhostess, no loo. Ooh!

delta-small-plane

We landed in Lawton after dark and she made it. We set off further north for Apache in a rental car. Apache: My hometown for a year as a Rotary exchange student in 1973. Arriving on the Patterson’s farm outside town we saw a ‘yuge’ SA flag waving from the flagpole! Jim had borrowed an oversize flag from the SA consulate in Houston to welcome us!

Jim & Katie Patterson, the loveliest couple in the whole of the USA were just the same as ever!

Apache Patterson Lunch (1)
Apache Patterson Ranch_cr

They welcomed us with open arms in to their beautiful and comfortable ranch house and it was as though we hadn’t been apart for fifteen years (during which time I had received exactly two letters from them. “Well, Peter” said Jim with his crooked grin and twinkling eyes, “We didn’t want to flood you with correspondence”).

ApachePattersonRanch (11)

Katie took Aitch on a night drive in the pickup looking for owls. Both girls were suitably lubricated plus they took extra stocks of their tipple. They had the windows down and were hooting weird owl calls and hosing themselves. When they returned they were laughing uncontrollably, leaning against each other for support. They had seen a possum snuffling around and Aitch was fascinated – she always LOVED the little night creatures. Katie followed it offroad into the fields, keeping it in the headlights. When it stopped she manouevred so it could best be seen and whispered to Aitch “Shall I kill it?” She was surprised at Aitch’s distraught look of horror. She twigged: “No, no, not the possum! I meant the engine!” They collapsed laughing when they both “saw it” and were still laughing helplessly when they got back home where Jim and I were watching ‘the ballgame’ – Basketball I think; OU I think.

…………..

Jay Wood & Robbie Swanda come for a barbecue; Robbie wears my Optometry rugby jersey (that I gave him in 1984, then regretted doing so! My only one!)
Jay Wood & Robbie Swanda come for a barbecue Robbie wears my Optometry rugby jersey, number 8
Jim unwraps the winter covers - Early for Aitch
Jim unwraps the winter covers early for Aitch

Jim even unwrapped the Caddy convertible from its winter covering weeks earlier than usual and presented her with the keys. Aitch drove as far as the gate and then said ‘I think you must drive now Koos.’

All I got was this old tractor that I had driven for Jim back in ’73.

Here's what I get to drive (memories of 1973)
Here’s what I get to drive (memories of 1973)

OK, in fairness, he also gave me the keys to the Chevy Suburban you can see in the background with the door open. Which was so much fun I missed the Rotary meeting! Now THAT was embarrassing! Unforgivable! Everyone was forgiving / understanding (‘well, you ARE on honeymoon, after all’) but that REALLY was a major gaffe! Damn! Fifteen years later and ten thousand miles away I have ONE meeting to remember and I forget it! *blush!!* We were out in the countryside and I just clean forgot. We did see a lot of birds that day.

Well, our five day trip to Apache stretched to a week. Wherever we went all I got was an elbow in the ribs as the local inhabitants shoved me aside and crowded around Aitch. Every now and then one would mutter over his shoulder at me: “Now you look after this gal, boy! Y’hear?” Aitch’s dread of going to “my” hometown had turned into a reluctance to leave “her” hometown!

After ten days I sat Aitch down and said “Now listen girl, we still have things to do, places to go and people to meet. We can’t stay in Apache forever!” She was having a ball, revelling in the attention and she and Katie were getting on like a house on fire. I suspect on all their jaunts when they would breeze off in the Lincoln saying “Ya’ll stay home and watch the ballgame, y’hear?” that Katie was teaching her how to manage me and telling her how she managed Jim. Aitch obviously soaked up the lessons! It was Katie who had asked me as a seventeen year old back in 1973: “Peter, who do you think chooses the marriage partner?” Following my confident (wrong) answer she put me straight, telling me how, when Jim arrived for his first day of work at the bank in Oklahoma City she had turned to her friend and announced “I’m going to marry that man!”

So it was very reluctantly that Aitch agreed that I could book for the next leg of our extended honeymoon. On, northwards, to Ohio to see Larry.

Canoe & Kayak, Nostalgia, Sport, Travel, Travel Africa

Tugela Gorgeous – Boats & Bosoms

Bernie Garcin (Bernie and the Jets), Doug Retief (Doug the Thief), Dave Walker (Lang Dawid) and me at Fig Tree Sandbank campsite, one of the planet’s most beautiful spots.

Three plastic (or ‘tupperware’) Perception Dancers and one Quest in 1984 and 1985 – we went both years. In those early days old-timers would still mock plastics, saying ‘tupperware keeps turkeys fresh’ but we knew the joy of not having to schlep fibreglass patch kits along and just smiled!

At the time Greg Bennett was sponsoring and competing in, a motorised rubber duck race down the Tugela (sacrilege!!). In ’84 he had Jerome Truran as crew, in ’85 Rip Kirby. We used Greg’s bakkie to get to Ngubevu.  Who fetched us at Jamieson’s Bridge?

On one of the trips bare-breasted maidens flashed us. We saw a Landrover parked on a hill on the left bank, then saw some swimmers in the river, who ducked down as they saw us. As we passed two of the girls popped up their lily-white tits to huge approval. They were like this except the water was brown. And they had no cozzies on:

Tugela boob2

The current swept us past them, but the mammaries lingered on.

Four-man Hole was soon after that and I crowded into a Bernie-occupied eddy straight after the drop and punched the nose of my Quest into his ribs. Being Bernie he didn’t even wince, but I knew it had hurt.

Overnight at the duck race camp the sponsors Lion Lager thought we were competitors so their beautiful beer hostesses liberally plied us with ale. OK, lager. When they ran out I rummaged in the boats and found wine papsaks we used for flotation and squeezed out the dregs. Karen the gorgeous, voluptuous newspaper reporter (remember the days when they wrote stuff on paper?) covering the event for The Natal Mercury held out her glass and as I dispensed I gave her the patter: “A good wine. Not a great wine, but a good wine, with a delicate bouquet”. She shook her mug impatiently and said endearingly “I know fuckall about flowers, I’m in it for the alcohol” and I fell deeply in love. My kinda dreamboat lady in shape and attitude. She was like . .

Cleavage

Dave too, was smitten as one of the comely lager hostesses joined him in his laager and treated him to sincere sleeping bag hospitality above and beyond the call of duty, ending the session with a farewell flash of delightful décolletage as she kissed him goodbye in the morning.

She was like . .

Tugela beermaid

As we drifted downstream we sang:

The landlord had a daughter fair – parlez vous

The landlord had a daughter fair – parlez vous

The landlord had a daughter fair

Lily-white tits and golden hair

Inky Pinky parlez vous

We sang to the resident goats:
I ain’t afraid of no goats

We sang (to the tune of He Aint Heavy . . . ):

Hy’s nie swaar nie, hy’s my swaer

.

Ah! Those wuz the daze!

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

This should actually be on my pre-marriage blog vrystaatconfessions.com

Aitch, Family & Kids, Life, Travel, Travel Africa

Madagascar

I never really learnt to be circumspect. I tend to blurt. So what would you like to do now your second chemo spell is over, Aitch? We’d gone snorkelling at Mabibi on the Zululand coast after the first. A six hour drive in a 4X4.

Where? The Great Barrier Reef? But that’s in Oz, m’dear! You do? Um, what I meant to ask was: What, reasonably-speaking, would you like to do?

So I scurried off to do my homework. Costs, flight times, travel time to the reefs, what we could afford. With trepidation I showed her two alternatives: Oz vs Madagascar, where we would live aboard a yacht, plopping overboard to snorkel whenever we wanted to.

Phew! She chose Madagascar and LOVED Madagascar. “My BEST holiday ever!” she enthused afterwards.

We shared the boat with a delightful English couple, Dickie and Claire, with their two blonde girls Sonja and Natasha. Easygoing and relaxed, it was a blissful getaway. The crew, too, were wonderful folk, chilled and capable. And good chefs!

aitch-snorkel-wide-9

It was Aitch, so homework was still done, naps were still taken:

Nosy Iranja in the Mocambique channel:

My Best Holiday Ever!!

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Sport, Travel Apache OK, Travel USA

Football Turnaround – So Glad You Could Leave!

Played football in Apache Oklahoma in ’73 for the Apache Warriors. The coaches did their best to bring this African up to speed on the rules and objectives of gridiron. We played two pre-season warm-up games followed by five league games. And lost all seven encounters! Myself I was kinda lost on the field, what without me specs! So here’s me: Myopically peering between the bars of the unfamiliar helmet at the glare of the night-time spotlights! Hello-o! Occasionally forgetting that I could be tackled even if the ball was way on the other side of the field!
At that point I thought: Five more weeks in America, five more games in the season, football practice four days a week, game nights on Fridays. I wanted out! There was so much I still wanted to do in Oklahoma and in preparing for the trip home. I went up to Coach with trepidation and told him I wanted to quit football. Well, he wasn’t pleased, but he was gracious. We were a small team and needed every available man, how would they manage without me?
By winning every single one of the last remaining five games, that’s how!!
Coach Hulett won the Most Improved Coach Award and the team ended up with one of their best seasons for years!
I like to think the turnaround was in some small way helped by the way I cheered my former team-mates on from the sideline at the remaining Friday night games!

Apache Football after me