This trip was notable for the worst lunch ever: Jess usually makes a great lunch. Fresh rolls, mayonnaise, freshly-sliced tomatoes. This time she had plastic rolls, viennas – and chicken viennas at that – and tomato sauce. Ugh! She has undertaken to work with me in raising the standard.
Camping at Mabibi in Zululand with the kombi – and Taylor with his puny little JEEP.
On the way I pretended (!) to get stuck to give the JEEP owner an ego boost:
. . which reminded me of Ursula in Dr. No . . Me and Ursula were like twins, ‘cept I wore less clothing and had something useful in my hand . .
Ursula Andress did it in 1962 in Dr. No; Halle Berry paid homage in 2002 in Die Another Day; and I trumped them both in 2003 in Lake Sibaya.
Already Tom’s memories are mainly The Legend of Mom, more than real memories. Jess remembers far more. So Tom had lots to say today about Mom. Jess was mainly quiet. As most years, Dizzi and Jon came round to clink a glass in your memory. Jess set a lovely formal table with flowers from the garden – and even a table cloth! I only remembered to take a pic after it was all over.
We had a medicinal G&T as we had all just been to sort-of malaria areas – me n Jess to Hluhluwe, Dizzi n Jon to St Lucia.
A quick one-night trip to Hluhluwe saw very good birding but Jess was disappointed as the animals were in hiding, possibly due to the big fire which burnt the first day and through the night.
She’s spoilt, though, as she still saw twelve species, all good close-up views including an elephant where she immediately said ‘Reverse Dad, we’re too close!’ and a crocodile, a monitor lizard and a grass lizard – seen below on the tar road, trying to escape the fire. They can hardly move if not in grass, with their tiny little legs. I picked it up and placed on grass and it immediately whizzed away, ‘swimming’ in the grass.
Can you spot the leaf caterpillar who’s trapped in the leaf and is trying to call for help but can’t spell?
The little Canon camera did its secret video thing, recording in the background while you’re taking snapshots. It’s weird, but I quite like it:
The biggest surprise sighting this trip was probly the sight of me braai’ing. I left catering to Jess and she bought some really weird stuff: Charcoal, firelighters, matches and lamb chops. What could I do? I braai’d.
Off to the ‘Berg with the kids. To a hotel! A real hotel! The Cavern in the foothills of the Drakensberg. At last their Dad listened and took them somewhere they didn’t have to cook and clean! (This was back in 2012).
They loved it. Especially once they worked out one of the secrets of the place: If you gave any hotel employee your room number, he or she would give you anything you wanted under the sun. They had discovered the key to endless riches. They loved it. They no longer needed me. All they needed was to quickly invent their first signatures. When I said I was going off on a hike, did anyone want to come along? No! Go! Enjoy yourself Dad, BYE! They watched impatiently as I packed my rucksack with lunch and binocs and books. Go, Dad!
Movies, the pool table, tennis, drinks at the pool – all ‘free’!
With them happy in civilisation it was up to me to enjoy the hills and valleys, wildlife and – especially – birdlife.
This long-tailed grass lizard looks like a snake as he whips through the grass after grasshoppers. But look closely at his body:
The next day I encouraged a bit more action. With some trepidation these townies went horse-riding.
The other secret was mine: a secret rendezvous with a buxom lady I had met many years before.
Hereditary traits can be passed on so strongly. And then sometimes not at all.
Take my daughter Jessie. In some ways she’s the spitting image of her Dear Dad: She’s kind, she’s funny, she’s thoughtful, she can crack me up with some of her observations on life. I love the way she teases me – gentle and just a few repeated themes which are well-known, thoroughly old and reduce us both to weak laughter. She especially loves the ones that sometimes catch me off-guard and get a rise out of me. ‘Dad, can we get a kitten?’ occasionally elicits my knee-jerk response Never Jess. They Eat My Birds! instead of the correct response Sure My Love, But You have To Get Six Of Them, Otherwise They Get Lonely.
But in other ways I don’t know WHERE she gets things from.
Like tonight she came to me and said ‘Dad, getting drunk is such fun!’
I mean, from where . . . I almost gave her a lecture but I was too busy hosing meself. So much so that she said ‘Dad! What’s so funny!?’
I reminded her about the time – not so long ago – when she asked the out-of-the-blue curveball ‘Dad, Why does tequila make you vomit?’
I think my favourite Aitch Art piece hanging on our walls was the Pear Tree ceramic. I broke it.
Oh well, we’re going to buy . .
One box of wine
Two packs of beer
Three sticks of glue
Seven . . . . dancing . . . . girls
and hold a –
Party-y in a Pear Tree
And we’ll fix it – yep. Louis is going to be the GluMeister, I’ll keep it lubricated, and Petrea will bring a semblance of order.
Update: A preliminary Cocktails and Curry evening has been held in which a Mak Martini was drank; also a cream vodka with mint sprig; and a medicinal flu jab consisting of one part gin one part vodka one part vermouth and freshly squoze lemon and orange, garnished with a slice of lemon and topped up with Little Miss Muffet’s whey orange juice from Tropika. Oh yes, and some practice glueing was done by the Glumeister.
Who also made the curry, fresh from New Delhi, the gurugram district. It was delicious, spicy, tasty, filling, warming on a chilly evening. Jess supplied dessert: Baked cheesecake, dark chocolate, double-thick cream; Then strong filter coffee in zebra hide cups.