Our Cul de Sac

What an interesting cul de sac is Elston Place. Sure there are five boring houses with abelungu in them, and one high-wall complex called Maroela or Marula something with faceless people living in it who don’t know that if you live in a ten-gate dead end you GREET everyone who lives there . . or who drives past.

BUT: We also have four council houses with hordes of kids. THAT’s what makes our road interesting.

Those that visited when we first arrived ranged from three to thirteen, Fezile, Asanda, Katelo, Khanyiso, Michael, boys. Andile, Azokuhle & Minenhle girls. Who exactly they belong to I never fully worked out. But the kids (mine) knew, and shook their head when I asked – yet again. The older ones have moved up and on. They’re now thirteen years older, and too cool for our pool; or our trampoline and jungle gym – both of which are now gone. Three of those now have bambinos already. Kids with kids. I fright for that.

The new generation now is all girls: Lwandle, Amahle, Lisa and Cutie. They worship our Jessie:

– as far as these princesses are concerned, Jess is the Queen of Elston Place –

One house is childless. Occupied by Bill G, ex-Durban Corpse employee who knows everything, especially about how grass and verges should be cut – and specialising in kids’ education: “You must study hard, y’hear? My daughter didn’t play in the street and look today there she is, a doctor.” We’ve never seen his kids, he’s right about that much.

One is Thandi, who works at Woolies and goes to Virgin Active Gym every day, walking her ample bum 3km’s there and 3km’s back (even tho there’s a gym in our nearby centre that she works in – I guess Woolies has her on Discovery Health, and therefore Vitality, and therefore Virgin Gym).

One has a green car and drives her kids to school at Westville Jr Primary every morning. Her kids don’t visit or play in the road.

Lawrence and his young wife and little daughter Cutie. He worked at Nourish Cafe nearby, but they closed, so now he walks to a far-away newly-opened PicknPay near Thandi’s gym.

And we have N and S from Pakistan with dogs that bark incessantly right in my ear when I’m in my bedroom and vehicles that arrive and leave at all times of the day & night. That’s the only real bummer of the neighbourhood. Sometimes I get up and bellow and throw stones until they finally shut the dogs up. They might think I’m bonkers. I KNOW they are. They built a double story on top of their garage then complained they could see into my yard! They finally sold and left after nineteen years in the cul de sac. I actually got on well with them. They just didn’t know how to treat or train dogs. They shouldn’t have had any.

Deo was our Metro cop. It was good to have a Metro cop vehicle in our road with his smiling face in it. But he’s late. Car accident. I thought he’d been hit in the blue & white Metro car by a truck, but his widow Nkosazana came round yesterday dressed all in black top-to-toe including scarf and hat, and filled me in on the details: He was driving his private Nissan X-Trail and hit (or was hit by) a Toyota Hilux bakkie. Neither he nor his mistress were badly hurt, but he “wasn’t right” and was sent back to Westville hospital after a while, then on to Entabeni as his condition worsened. There he died and his wife (who he’d ‘kicked out’ in October) was only then able to get there and try and sort things out. Mistress in the meantime had the house keys and took documents, cellphones, watches and stuff. His Metro cop colleagues believed the wife and took her around to the mistress’ place and got some of the stuff back. Nkosazana needed me to update her CV so she can look for another job as she was recently retrenched from the security company where she was a CCTV operator. Bliksem. Three kids. Around 19, 16 and 13.

Elston Place also borders the 100 acre wood. Actually better, the 100 hectare Palmiet Nature Reserve, and the day before yesterday I saw a new bird at my bird bath: A Yellow-bellied Greenbul.

The End.

~~~oo0oo~~~

abelungu – pale, formal people

cul-de-sac – (from French for ‘bottom of bag’), no through road or no exit road, is a street with only one inlet or outlet – a ‘dead end.’ Not that we’re calling our street a dead end!

– princess Lisa and Queen Jess –

Sheffield Beach Tribal Gathering

When I found them they were huddled together like Vaalies on a beach. Oh, wait! They WERE Vaalies on a beach. I should have taken a picture of Brauer’s beach outfit: A double-padded fluffy anorak. Sort of a Tshwane Tshpeedo. And a hoed.

We soon scurried off the dreaded sand in search of lunch. In their defence, it was blowing a gale. I kindly took them on a guided tour of – what place was it? – and then speedily straight to Canelands overlooking ve beach.

Back at the cottage:

– ‘thinks’ – is this old top in an anorak in pain? What’s that noise? –

Their cottage overlooked the beach from on high and despite being grandkid-infested, was very pleasant except for the absence of beer.

Perched high on a cliff, it puzzled me. I thought I remembered our cottage back in 1980 as being right on the beach . .

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

. . and then I remembered: It was Blythedale Beach in 1980. Not Sheffield . .

Sat, Feb 12, 2011(Newser) – An asteroid all but buzzed Earth on Friday, NASA has revealed. The asteroid, known as 2011 CQ1, passed just 3,405 miles above the Earth’s surface as it hung a sharp turn around the planet. That’s the closest near-miss ever recorded, beating a record set by a rock in 2004 by a few hundred miles. The asteroid was just a meter wide, small enough that Earth’s gravity would affect its course, in this case bending its path 60 degrees. Not that there was any real danger if the asteroid had veered into Earth’s atmosphere . . OK, they’re starting to talk nonsense so we’ll cut them off there.

Me: Brings to mind the heroics on Blythedale Beach when we single-handedly (the other hand was holding cheap liquor) fended off the comet which was threatening planet Earth at the time. Whether it was the coleanders and coriander and spatulas or the alcohol fumes from our breath that caused it to veer away is a moot point: Bottom line is it BALEKA’d and the planet was saved.
Funny how little credit we have got for that over the years. Maybe we fell asleep at the medal awards ceremony . .

Steve reed wrote: Jees – I had [almost] forgotten that heroic weekend. I now recall the collander, and making do with some pretty substandard alcohol [probably not a GREAT wine as in 4 Hillside]. Also I recall some of us may have slept on the beach. Bulletproof days. Was that Filly with us as well as her friend whom I remember clearly was from Marandellas in Zim. Wait! A flashback:

‘Comet – it makes your breath small clean;

Comet – it tastes like gliserine.. ‘

Of iets. Not sure that I want to remember too much more…

Me: So many flashbacks! Maybe as the brain cells die, those old pickled ones gain more prominence? Maybe the flashes are vitreous detachments? Surreal. The sales jingle for comet continues:

‘Comet! It makes you vomit

So take some Comet

and vomit

Today . . ‘

Hooligans. I was innocent. I fell amongst thieves . .

But its all true. You can check the 1980 newspapers: How many comets hit Blythedale beach that year? NONE. Not one.

OK, so our comet – probably 8P/Tuttle 1980XIII – may have been further away at 37,821,000km, but it was 4500m in size, not a puny 1m rock. So it’s still a good thing we were out there all night shaking our fists at it, daring it to approach.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

The next day the weather improved, so I claimed some credit: ‘Did you get the good weather I prayed for for you guys?’

Brauer: You clearly have a more direct line then this bunch of unbelievers.

The sun shone down on them. Smiling grandkids, happy windloos days. Actually I hadn’t actually prayed. I pulled some strings. As St Peter I have connections, so I called on the Roman god Venti and the Egyptian god Amun about the wind. Together, they delivered. Bacchus was unable to help with the wine situation.

Fecundity

When we got to River Drive in 1989 we were warned it was a fertile zone and if you weren’t careful babies would start popping out all over. This was from the Lellos who had produced three offspring there; the Greenbergs, two; The Hockeys, a few, Donna was the only one around then; the Howard-and-Dofs, three boys; And there were others. We were blissfully child-free and at least half of us were determined to remain that way.

Then the Naudes arrived and produced two boys but we had stood firm, determinedly child-free ’til 1999. When we left that river in 2003 we only had two children, having managed to sell three others after fattening them up and putting a smile on their faces.

In Elston Place there was a swarm of children; The pool was always overflowing. They all soon learned the gate code and the place was like a railway station. And nothing has changed in the thirteen years we’ve been here. Here’s the latest crop with Jess – who turned eight the month we arrived here. She goes down the road to visit most evenings:

– they worship our Jessie –

Three of these are kids of the older kids who used to swim in the pool when we first arrived!

Here are some of the early-days kids with a young Jessie leaning back:

Elston Place gang (2)

Mkhuze Peach needs a Balaclava

Later we go on a night game drive in an open vehicle with Patrick, ‘our’ Mkhuze Ezemvelo Ranger. The three of us and a family of four from Durban. On the drive I realise that of the eight people on the vehicle I am the only one reflecting an excessive amount of moonlight from my ‘peachy’ face. Probably scaring the animals.

I’ll have to get meself a balaclava.

Image

Oxpecker collage
Oxpecker collage

 

On Safari with a Bushman – 1. The Decision

We’d been meaning to go for ages but, you know – procrastination.

The idea of a long road trip up north is a common dream and – like many Saffers – we planned to do it ‘one day’: A “safari!” – a Swahili word meaning just plain journey. Probably originally from the Arabic سفر (safar) meaning a journey;

Then one lazy day at home in 2003 I read a lovely interview with an Austrian bloke who had traveled down through Africa on his own from Vienna to Cape Town on a motorbike. The journalist interviewing him asked him about the trip, his adventures, his highlights and his challenges. He’d had a fun time.

The journo then looked down at his bike and said: “Hey – this is a dead-ordinary street bike! What on earth made you choose this bike for your African safari?”

“Choose it?” he said “I didn’t choose it. I had it”. That did it! I got up right there and then and started pacing around. ‘Acting strangely’, according to Aitch.

Within a few months of reading that Wake-Up! What Are You Waiting For? call we had hopped into our white VW kombi petrol 2,3i 2WD with 195 000km on the clock and headed north.

Bluetts Spaggiaris Visit (7)

Two little problems: While procrastinating we had adopted Jessie, now five, and Tommy, now 22 months old. But what the heck, even after we’d modified the kombi it was still a six-seater. There was room for them!

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

Saffers – South Africans

I shoulda said Gosh!

Jaynee J had a luxury courtesy suite at Centurion Park cricket ground and she invited us to watch a game. The Springboks / Proteas were playing someone in an international test match. 2001, so Sri Lanka, maybe.

Jayne didn’t call it a courtesy suite; she called it her ‘champagne suite’. Jayne Janetsky could POUR, and – as always – she had laid in enough stock for a siege. Or a rainy day. And that day Centurion Park was not like this:

Centurion cricket ground
– internet picture –

It was like this:

Jayne J Champagne Suite Centurion Cricket (2)
– me telling Jessie “See love, this is cricket: Not much happens” –

This led to puddle-jumping with Jess behind the stadium:

I had great fun watching the people. Especially a guy in the next-door Telkom box, scanning the crowd with powerful binoculars, looking for girls. Whenever he saw someone watching him he’d say “I’m looking for my sister.”

We had to take two year-old Jessica along and it wasn’t really her thing. It rained off and on, so we were indoors with Celebrity Guest Barman Johnno Green, who was intent on quality control, sampling and plying. Boobs and Booze. Aitch and I took turns amusing Jess and keeping her (mostly) out of the adults’ hair.

Jayne J Centurion Champagne Suite

After a while (cricket matches carry on and on and when you think they MUST be finished, surely? – they stop for tea) I had to feed and change Jess and decided to take her back to Jayne’s home. Change of scenery for her and a break for the adults.

On the way back to the stadium, with freshly-fed and -wiped Jessie strapped in the car seat behind me, I missed the freeway off-ramp to the stadium. Didn’t have a clue how I’d get back to the stadium now, so I was kinda tense and focused and fuming. What if I missed Jayne’s famous lunch? Finally I figured it out and managed a tricky u-turn after the next off-ramp and got back on track. Finally I could relax.

“Pete?” came a little voice from behind me.

Yes my love?

“FUCK!”

“FUCK FUCK FUCK!!”

Oh, boy . . . . .

Racial Profiling

While staying in friend Ian Whitton’s lovely cottage outside Stanford, near Hermanus, we visited the mission town of Elim and its mission station, tsurts (church) and watermill:

hermanus-elim-stanford-1
– that store –

In the village we stopped for some cooldrinks. The family decided to stay in the car as I ducked into a little village store. A line of little kids were sitting on the pavement leaning against the wall all in a row outside the door, watching me. Their backs against the green wall.

Four-year-old Jess changed her mind and ran after me, grabbing my hand as I drew level with the local gang. Where they’d looked at me rather disinterestedly, they now perked up. One dug her mate in the ribs with her elbow and exclaimed excitedly: “Kyk! Sy’s ‘n Hotnot!”

~~~oo0oo~~~

Islamic Fundamentals

When Aitch died it was two Muslim Moms that stepped forward and calmly and without fuss saved my butt. They re-organised their lift club to include me and kept me informed of what was happening at school. I did the morning ‘deliver’ school run every third week, while they shared the afternoon ‘fetch’ school run between them, insisting I needn’t do it as I was working and they were home Moms.

Then every year they’d give ME presents “to thank me for my help”! Five and a half years they just sorted me out, reminding me of events, juggling times when needed. We were all flexible, swopping times as needed by any of us in special circumstances.

They were fundamentally fantastic.

Thank you Sarah and Katie (Saarah and Katija)!

 

Miffed

My old man has very little interest in his own birthday and has maybe remembered about 10% of my birthdays, and those with the old lady’s prodding. He also has remembered ZERO percent of my kids’ birthdays (they’re both 11 December, he’s 15 December).

So for his latest birthday I was away out of cellphone comms with Jessie at a game reserve. Then I needed to phone Tom and went to where I found signal and did so. I had remembered the old man’s birthday so for the old lady’s sake, I phoned. It was the day after the actual date.

“I’m most upset and disappointed with you. You forgot!” he says as she hands him the phone (he’s joking of course).

So I said “Hell, I remembered 93 of them. I thought to hell with the 94th.”

He thought that was hilarious.

Can’t Stand Prosperity

Trader Horn spoke of a fellow down-and-out in the Joburg doss house – a traveller who “made good money but couldn’t stand prosperity”. Whenever he made a commission, he’d go and get foolishly inebriated.

My TomTom has a problem with prosperity. Jess will hoard her pocket money but Tom must spend his with urgency. But how lucky am I that his idea of a splurge is to take his Monday pocket money and walk to the shops and return with a thick steak, fresh herbs and rocket, a brick of butter and coarse salt? He’ll hurry home with his loot, cook up a storm and sit down and eat it happily. He may not finish it and he definitely won’t eat our supper after that, but he’s as happy as larry.

This time it was pasta with a freshly-made herb and tomato sauce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
– Tom and the pasta packet –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Did You Got a Licence?

Dad, asks TomTom, When does this licence expire?

We’re sitting outside a nightclub at 11pm and he’s asking while we’re waiting for the last of the boys so we take home all eleven that we brought (yes, ELEVEN).

Dunno, let’s check, I say. I know he’s interested as we were once bust in Lesotho for an expired licence and he doesn’t want that to happen again. Those okes with guns made him nervous. Me too. Soon after that they had their 2014 coup!

September 2015, I sigh.

So I’m in the queue for my licence for the third time. The first time I sat next to an old toppie. He musta been 60 if he was a day. He was timing the transactions. Average seven minutes per person and there were 17 ahead of me, so I would have been late for work, so I left. The second time I was making good progress when I overheard from the counter “where’s your proof of address”, so I left.

This third time I have all three papers. For the bakkie, the trailer and Jessie’s scooter – those two expired in 2014! And I have my proof of address, my ID card and money.

But not enough. I had R430 and the bakkie alone is R620 so I’ll be back a fourth time with more cash.

Hell is going to be like this. Queues.

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

.

pic of a more recent disk added later

(Adult eyes only) A Holiday Not to be Repeated

The recipe: Take a 5-star hotel. Fill it to the brim: Every bed occupied – 2700 people. Add 760 staff.

Then lock the doors. Lock all the exits.

They call it a luxury cruise, and people queue to go on one. They queue and they queue.

Queue to get through customs; Queue to present your ticket to get aboard; Queue to change your money to their money; Queue for meals; Queue for drinks at the bars.

Hell will be like this.

But the kids enjoyed it.

Comedian Tim Vine nailed it: “I’ve just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I’ll tell you what, never again.”

Oh Dear, What Can The Matter Be?

Two Teenagers Got Locked In The Lavatory

They Were There From Monday to Saturdee (well, Monday 8pm to 9pm anyway).

Jess and Jordie went to the bathroom together (don’t ask – teenagers) and that was it. With Aitch-like burglar guards the window was out of the question. I tried all sorts of levering and hammering and twisting and shoving and what-have-you but no go:

Had to phone the locksmith.

He came in and smashed out the innards of the lock by brute force and levered it open with a curly-shaped hook. Took him three minutes.

Everybody Knew They Were There (they hollered!).

~~~oo0oo~~~

Hluhluwe again

Flying ants, black rhino, wild dogs and a magic unidentified raptor.

Plus impressive thunderstorms, pelting rain, dry stream beds that ended up running merrily. The Hluhluwe river changed from dry sandy bed to quite a brown torrent between Friday night and Sunday morning.

I thought ‘Augur Buzzard’ as I stopped the car just outside the reserve cattle grid gate on the main road. Three raptors were soaring in the wind welling up from a little ridge on the north of the road, right overhead.

Pale leading edge, rust-coloured trailing edge, black ‘fingers’; A falcon-like head pattern (yet not quite) and the size of a YBK or a marsh harrier). Soaring and diving spectacularly. Saw the underside mainly. Upperside I think brown-ish. Forgot to take a photo!! Foolish!

A coucal bubbling in the rain, then listening intently till his mate or rival called then immediately hunching and bobbing into his call (The girls said “Look Dad: he’s laughing!”.

Yep, three teen girls. Who were most impressed by the buffet breakfast and most unimpressed by the massive thunderclap that banged right overhead in the wee dark hours of Saturday. “Dad, I thought the thatch was going to catch fire!” says Jess. And by the lack of wifi.

Samango and vervet monkeys with babies, bushbuck, nyala, duiker, impala, zebra, francolin, longclaws, lots of buffalo, a dozen white rhino; Two eles right at the roadside each munching a tree for breakfast; Baboon; a hippo out of water; a few giraffe.

20151122_093711

 

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

The Urgent Impatience of Youth

. . and the Wilful Slackness of Old Toppies.

Soon after 16:44 yesterday Tom found me in Sportsman’s Warehouse.
“Dad! Why do you wait so long before you answer me? I whatsapp you and then you take AGES before you respond!”
Oh! How long about, TomTom?
“Hours! Or maybe ten minutes or more.”

Let’s check, shall we?

I show him the time sequence below: Three minutes total.

In his defence:
1- he was wanting me to check out a new speaker for his Rap Noise and it was really important and urgent – and he suspected I was going to say No! And he NEEDED it because today they’re travelling in the bus to play KES in Joburg!
2- he did look sheepish when he realised the enormous delays were in his head!

Impatience2 crop