Hard work saying goodbye. I had to sweep the stoep again. Petrea and Louis had the small matter of bringing their Weber braai (my two non-Weber braais have gone off to Tom and Jess – I am braailess before I’m homeless), lots of steak, freshly home-made sourdough bread, peri-peri chicken liver in a large cast-iron pot, crockery and cutlery, bread board and knife, steak board and knife, ice, a large beaker of lime unt soda with fresh mint leaves from their garden and deck chairs; And Louis brought his hat; Jules brought delicious snacks; Sheila brought six bottles of white and three of champagne; Charles and Barbara brought beer and snacks and their delightful selves;
I had to do the rest.
Jolly good fun. Perhaps ‘Maritzburg’ will let us have another of these gatherings. After all, it has only been 120 days, waiting for ‘the paperwork’ since I sold my home.
For fifteen years I’ve been warning those Aussies that their time will come.
Well, it came. Don’s Tree Felling moved in (onto my neighbour’s property, conveniently for me) and did away with six big Bauhinia trees, the Australian camelfoot – Bauhinia variegata, I think. Don had dropped the biggest, oldest, leaning-est one a few years before, when the neihgbours then, Suboohi and Nasim Choudhry had said Whoa! This thing is threatening us!
My neighbour Phindi was a star – she allowed Don’s team in and let them get on with the job. I had prepped her a month ago that I wanted to drop all the trees that were looming threateningly over her driveway and a corner of her house, and she was all for it.
Down came the trees to a cacophony of sound. For some reason I hadn’t thought they’d be using chainsaws! HATE chainsaws, so maybe its good I didn’t think of that. Aaargh! How can I complain about noise if I’m making it!? Oh, well, one day only and after this its back to me and my manual bowsaw.
They carted off the flotsam and jetsam, all gathered on Phindi’s driveway, poisoned the stumps, left some trunks as hidey holes for snakes, mongooses and lizards, and peace returned; Followed by a bit of genteel sawing and puffing by yours truly, as I cut down a few left-overs, plus a bougainvillea and a bottlebrush with me bowsaw. Once a tree gave suddenly while I was a-pulling and I landed on my back staring at the sky.
Then the celebration! A double celebration: My first house guests – OK, garden guests – since lockdown; and the birth of a new grassland. ‘Cos that’s what’s going to take the place of that corner of jungle.
To make it special I invited hooligans. I had thought we’d have a wee bonfire, which I prepared, full of the late Brazilian bouganvillea; a modest requiem after the banishment of some Aussies and the rebirth of natural grassland. But Louis Bon Phyre had a different level of celebration in mind. And so he got close to the pagan roots of many a Western tradition:
Before they arrived I reminded them that I take our current virus very seriously and insist on masks. The bottlebrush was allowed a last little requiem moment in one of Aitch’s many vases. This one by potter A Kirk.
I forgot to make supper, but we all had a lot of wine, especially Petrea.
Such a pleasure to meet weirdos who prove I’m normal. Friends Petrea and Louis – speaking of weirdos – cracked me an invite to an early morning visit to Bill Oddie’s house in David Maclean Drive to spot some twinspots. To do some twin spotting.
Actually Roger and Linda Hogg’s home – what a beautiful garden! I didn’t take a picture, damn!
Now, looking at birds is normal, of course, as is drinking good coffee. Here are some of Roger’s bird pics. No, I’ll show you the weird part later. His daughters must die of embarrassment. I now can prove to my kids how normal I am.
Here’s the part that pleased me:
Here’s the real Bill Oddie, a crazy Pom. I got to know about him when Aitch bought me his ‘Little Black Bird Book’ cos she agreed with his assessment: ‘Bird-watchers are tense, competitive, selfish, shifty, dishonest, distrusting, boorish, pedantic, unsentimental, arrogant and – above all – envious’.
And here’s an embarrassing discovery: I’ve seen lots of twinspots, but I thought this one in Roger’s garden was a first for Westville. When I went to add them to my life list, I saw that I’d twin-spotted twinspots in my own garden! In 1999 at 7 River Drive!
Petrea’s response was sharp, as always: ‘How wonderful to suffer from Sometimers. Every bird is a lifer! And anyway, ‘normal’ is a setting on a dryer.’
British birding – we should realise how lucky we are!
Just a week later the twinspot occurrence turned into an infestation. The Lellos sent pictures of a female in their garden, a kilometer downstream. So now there are twinspots upstream and downstream from me, and I’m on barren bend!
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.
When you’re trying with little success to rid your place of stuff and when the stuff fills a double garage and at least one room, with other rooms a bit crowded, you should not accumulate any more stuff, but I can explain.
There was a damsel in distress. I was on my horse. She asked ‘would you?’ What was a gallant knight errant to say? Or to do? There’s only one thing a knight can do in such circumstances:
Actually quite chuffed: Check those armrests as drinks platforms: These are practical, serviceable, lekker chairs. And comfy.
I do suppose Louis knew Petrea was divesting them of assets while he was far away in Gurugram . . .
This acquisition is made worse as just the day before I was rolling my eyes at my Dad (96) who in one breath was stating his absolute determination – ‘this time’ – to get rid of stuff; and in the next breath was mulling over buying two new armchairs for the room he wants to add on to his house ‘for her (that’s Mom Mary) to sit in the sun as the room will have big windows.’
Right. Alone in a three bedroom house with Mom now in a home, he thinks what he needs is an extra room and two new chairs.
knight errant – a medieval knight who traveled around doing brave things and helping people who were in trouble – Cambridge
knight – a man given a rank of honour by a British king or queen because of his special achievements, and who has the right to be called “Sir”
medieval – related to the Middle Ages (the period in European history from about 600 CE to 1500 CE)
special achievements – usually helping said king or queen keep their ill-gotten gains
Low-key at home. Jess did it all herself; drew up lists, hired lights, organised a DJ who brought her own equipment; we bought some stuff; we bought booze. Jess invited a few good friends round, and so did I.
The oldies came early, we had a slide show on Jess from the early days. I was being a bit Nervous Norman, so thank goodness for hooligan friends. First the Lodders added their usual mayhem. Then star Lydia our Gautengaleng student friend stepped forward, deciding things were a bit quiet for a 21st. She took over the bar, mixing cocktails and getting the kids to pour them down their throats. The party was launched!
The adults disappeared except me in the background. Jess and her gang had a lovely evening with their favourite music and lots of chatting. Later, some boys arrived drunk but peaceful and friendly, and joined in. At eleven a neighbour complained about the music. I told him ‘just relax till midnight.’ – mea culpa, I had forgotten to tell the neighbours about the party! At midnight the DJ’s mom arrived to fetch her, they packed up and peace returned to the Palmiet valley.
I don’ believe it! In a high-wind storm the beautiful big old fig tree which made the corner – it was THE feature of that whole block! – at the top of our road fell down!
I stopped to look, and Jess and Sindi spotted each other. Sindi came running across from Juke’s Pizza where she was working. Typical high-energy Sindi, a run, a hug, much to tell:
Here’s the worst part: Seems we don’t have any pics of the old tree standing! We’d taken it for granted and now it’s gone! Petrea, whose optometry practice looks right out on the fig had pics after it had started falling but none of the fig as it always was.
I searched my albums and found ONE pic of it standing earlier this year – but barely visible in the dead of night! You can catch its outline way in the background between Lungelo and Tom’s heads:
It’s a big loss to the wildlife community. They need all the stopovers, shelters, roosts and feeding stations they can find. And now one is gone.