6

Weekend In Fabulous Cape Town

We left Struisbaai on Thursday, stopped for a leisurely breakfast, popped into the accountant in Stellenbosch, visited the staff at Fenwick Electric, shopped for dinner and finally arrived at Lisa’s at around 4 o’clock.  The weather was stunning for July and we braaied for supper and sat outdoors till quite late.

On Friday there were a few people we had to see including The Earl’s sister and brother in law, and some business to attend to but we had an hour or two to kill in the afternoon so we decided to go to False Bay Nature Reserve which we haven’t visited for some time.  Winter is not the best time to visit but the weather was lovely and we were delighted with the birds we saw.

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New Welcome Board

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Red-knobbed Coots

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Red-billed Teal

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Cape Shoveler Female

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Yellow-billed Duck

 

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Cape Grysbok

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Blacksmith Lapwing

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White-faced Duck

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Great White Pelican

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Greater Flamingo

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Black-winged Stilt

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White Storks – They should have migrated back to Europe but decided to over-winter.  Sacred Ibis with them.

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Cattle Egret

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Common Moorhen

On Friday evening we joined friends Pat and Tony for sushi.   It was a great catch-up. Co-incidentally they will be in London and Amsterdam at the same time as Laurie and I will so we will catch up with them again there.

On Saturday we popped in to see our old friends Jeff and Annaline and then we went to tea at my sister’s.  Laurie joined us and it was great to catch up with Katja, James and the great nephews too.  We took gifts for the kids and when we left, Mattie said, “Come again and bring more surprises – big ones, please!”

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Laurie and Oliver enjoying the bubbles

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Katja and Oliver enjoying story time

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Mattie shows off while indulgent Uncle James looks on

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Ollie loved the bubbles

In the evening we had a date with six more friends at Jakes on The Common in Noordhoek.  It was lovely but very noisy!

 

But the reason we were in Cape Town was to celebrate the Ninetieth Birthday of a legend at D’Aria Wine Estate in Durbanville.

Hymie is a fisherman and a gentleman.   His passion for the sport of angling caused him to become totally involved in working in all its aspects.   For many years he was PRO for The South African Deep Sea Association.  It was due to his efforts and negotiations that The Hymie Steyn Slipway was built at Rumbly Bay so many years ago.  The Conservation of our Oceans is important to him and he has been actively involved in ensuring that ethical fishing rules are followed.

Hymie’s daughter-in-law organised the surprise lunch for him and when he arrived thinking he would be lunching with a few close friends and family he walked into a crowd of well-wishers singing Happy Birthday to you.  He was clearly moved and later expressed that he’d been totally hoodwinked as nobody let on that this surprise was going to happen.  Two SADSA committee members even came all the way from Durban to celebrate with him.

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Veels Geuluk, Pa – Verassing!

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A very surprised Hymie

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Reprimanding his friends for not telling him!

After the lunch we drove home to Struisbaai, happy to have caught up with so many friends and family and grateful that the weather had been so beautiful.

3

Twenty-One Years of Jay – A Celebration

It was a beautiful day in England on 24 June 1997.   It was the day that I watched you, Jay, my first grandchild enter the world.   It was the most beautiful experience of my life and I will never forget the well of emotion that I felt at the moment of your birth.  I fell instantly in love!

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A very precious bundle

Jay from the time Mommy brought you and Josh to live with us 20 years ago it has been a joy to watch you grow from that tiny little bundle of energy to the stunning young man you have now become.

We have made very happy memories together.  Of course you were full of noise and mischief but there were many more laughs than tears.  Finding you giggling in glee in the bathroom basin was just one such occasion.

Picture2To say that you were a dynamo would be an understatement.  You kept all the adults in the house on the hop and we were all exhausted at the end of each day. Thankfully so were you by 7 pm when peace finally reigned in our home!

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You were the ring leader of all the mischief you and Josh got into but you were always a great big brother.

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The school stage was amazing.  Of course the teachers were all enchanted by your charm and personality.  You could never sit still but nobody could stay cross with you for long.

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First Day at SVPS

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Grade 3 Jay – Narrator in The Nutcracker Suite

Grandpa was your great hero and when you were very little you and Josh hid at the back of his car so you could go fishing with him.  You were not happy chappies when he discovered you and brought you straight back home.  But soon you were big enough to go along and what an excellent fisherman you turned out to be.

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Teen-age Jay with an award-winning yellow-fin tuna

We all enjoyed many outings and holidays together – visits to the cousins in Kokstad, visiting the Cango Caves, fishing adventures in Struisbaai and Kruger with Si and Shan were the highlights.

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Christmas with the cuzzies

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Southern-most boys visiting the Agulhas Lighthouse

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You got to pet a cheetah at The Rehabilitation Center – Spier

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Braaing in the Rain – Kruger Park

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That awesome leopard we saw

Your childhood was full of activity.  You were a keen cub and later a scout.  We rode bikes every day after school and we were luckily enough to live near Fish Hoek Beach.

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Bike Riding after School

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Fun at the beach

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Jay the Cub

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Jay the award winning Scout

The years have flown by and suddenly you are a young man! Happy Birthday Darling Boy.  Mom, Grandpa and I are super proud of you.

 

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Family Celebration at Shipwreck on Saturday Night

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Lisa and Jay 

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Jay and Gran

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Grandpa, Jay and Gran

 

 

4

Catching Up With The Family

On Friday after enjoying a delicious breakfast at our favourite coffee shop, The Earl said, “I feel like going off somewhere for the weekend.”

“Where do you want to go?” I asked.  It was cold and I didn’t relish a caravan excursion.

“To the kids in Plettenberg Bay!” came his reply.  Well – why not!  It’s a whole six weeks since we saw them last.  And the novelty of having them only five hours away hasn’t yet worn off!

So we rushed home, phoned our son-in-law, packed a bag and hit the road at 10:30 am!

The drive from Struisbaai to Plett is an easy one.   There is very little traffic and the roads are in good condition.  But when we passed through George there was a congestion.  What could be wrong?  The Earl began to get anxious as the traffic police were not handling the situation very well. The road was blocked and the two officers didn’t seem to know what to do.  They were letting a few cars through and only when we got close to them were we told that if we were going further than Victoria Bay we wouldn’t be able to get through. A truck had lost it’s load of beer on the pass.   Sooo we had to turn around and take the narrow, windy Seven Passes Road.   At one point there was a single lane bridge to cross and this caused a huge congestion.  It took us two extra hours to get to our kids.   But such is life and it was all part of the adventure.  Imagine if we’d been in a hurry!   We still made it to Jubilee Farm by just after five pm.

Lauren was teaching when we called our son-in-law so she and Simon only found out we were coming at the end of the school day.  Allan cooked us a delicious lamb curry and had a fire going.   It was, to say the least, a happy reunion.

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A warming curry for supper

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Grandpa and Si in front of the fire – Gramps has the extra warmth of Roger  round his neck

Saturday was a much warmer day.  The sun shone, the sky was blue and there was not a breath of wind.  I was delighted to find that yellow-billed ducks now visit the pond in front of the house.

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This duck called out his joy with gleeful quacks

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Cheddar the cat likes hunting in the long grass and reeds next to the dam

We took the family to town for lunch.  The Table is a lovely Italian restaurant with seating outdoors.

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The Dolphin Statue in Plettenberg Bay

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Lauren and Allan at The Table

Lauren and Allan had delicious pizza, The Earl and I chicken and avo salad and Simon a Blue cheese salad.  Desserts were Creme Brulet and Fruit on sticks dipped in dark Belgium Chocolate.  Yum!

Our granddaughter, Shannon, who attends Glenwood House in George, was not home for the weekend as she had choir rehearsal all Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  So on Sunday we had a leisurely late breakfast  and enjoyed the morning with the family before setting off to George. Shan was with family friends for the day and we visited her there before taking her back to school.   It was lovely catching up with her and The Bakers.   It was also lovely to see Shan’s school and to meet her roommate.  I am so proud of my well-adjusted granddaughter.   It wasn’t easy leaving her much loved St John’s in Pietermaritzburg at the end of last term.  But after only five weeks she is fitting in so well at Glenwood.  You go Shan, Girl!

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Shan and her roommate, Onika

After dropping Shan we went to Great Brak to see more family – Diane and Carey who live on a small holding in the mountains called Rondomooi.  For my overseas readers Rondomooi means All Around Beautiful.

And all around where they live is truly beautiful!

Carey has a workshop on the property where he builds Motor Homes.  They also grow veggies and keep chickens.  Diane is going to start an orchid nursery.

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Eggs from the Free-Range Hens

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Diane collecting eggs

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Kitty keeping an eye on things

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Lettuce growing like trees!

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Carey showing me the garden

We spent a lovely evening and morning with Carey and Diane and at 11 this morning headed back to Struisbaai.  We stopped in Swellendam to refuel with diesel and coffee!

It was a lovely sunny day and we even stopped to snap this lovely rock kestrel

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What a lovely little get-away that was.  When you retire you can do these spur of the moment things!  How lucky we are!

8

Plettenberg Bay – More Exploring

The trouble with having gel nails is that when you’re away from your usual technician for any length of time you have to find someone else to fix them when they’re due for an upgrade!  Google is a great help and this morning a quick search got me making an appointment at Divine Salon for 9:00 am.   One hour later and I was very happy with the results.

Afterwards we decided to try one of the little coffee shops near Central Beach.  The brekkie of scrambled eggs, fried tomatoes and avocado pear was lovely, the coffee was excellent and The Earl enjoyed his cappuccino.

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We can highly recommend La Cafeteria

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It has a great vibe, fun waitrons and today was a gorgeous day if you wanted to sit outdoors

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Coffee is important – and ours was perfect

Afterwards we went exploring.  There are two rivers that attract tourists to Plettenberg Bay – The Bitou and The Keurbooms.   We drive past the former on the way to Jubilee farm so we decide to check out Keurbooms.

We found a lovely beach called Keurbooms Beach which has the famous Enrico Restaurant next to it.   There is a boardwalk linking another beach on the right of the restaurant.  I walked along the beach to the left and then we walked along the boardwalk to see the other secluded beach.    Even though the weather was stunning today we only saw about five other people!    I am sure it is very different in the summer season.  There are some beautiful holiday homes overlooking the beaches.

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Enrico’s Restaurant

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The beach to the right

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African Black Oyster-catchers on the beach

I was upset to see an oyster catcher’s foot caught in a tangle of fishing net and seaweed.

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The Earl admiring the view

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This is what he is looking at

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The Beach on the other side of Enrico’s

After enjoying the beaches we headed to Keurboom’s River.  If you’re into boating this is the place for you.

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You can book a ferry trip or do a sun-downer cruise

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Canoes can also be hired

There was a fair bit of activity on the river.  There are houseboats, ferries, motorboats etc.  It looked like a lot of fun.

On our way back to Jubilee we stopped to take photos of birds on the Bitou River.

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Grey Heron

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We watched a male pied kingfisher catch this fish and give it to his mate.                                                 She is about to swallow it.

 

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A Jackal Buzzard refused to pose on the telephone wire but I got him in flight

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Then he settled into a nearby tree.

It was indeed an interesting morning.  Next time we come to Plettenberg Bay we will be a bit more informed about the best places to visit.

 

 

 

7

Plettenberg Bay – The Kids’ New Home – Exploring

How amazing it has been to see our kids happily adapting to their new lives here in Plettenberg Bay.  Lauren has been to meet a few colleagues at her new school, set up her classroom and has Simon’s uniform sorted.  Tomorrow they start their first day – Lauren to teach a class of 22 Grade 2s (what a pleasure) and Simon to finish his final primary school year.

The Earl has been busy doing handyman stuff around the house and I have enjoyed the wonderful new kitchen so much that I’ve done a lot of the cooking!

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Grandpa busy with his screw-driver

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Me in kitchen heaven

On Friday Earl and I took Lauren and Simon to George.  The excursion was to find school shoes for Simon and the only ones that would do were the Woolworths brand.   Plettenberg Woollies could not oblige and nor could Knysna so it ended up being a two hour but scenic drive the the larger town.  It was shopping paradise and we managed to complete it all in time to meet our relatives, Diane and Carey, for lunch.  They drove the hour from Great Brak to meet us.  It was a really good bonding time for us all.

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Diane, Simon, Lauren, Carey

The weather has been pretty awesome.  At this time of the year it can be iffy.   Jubilee Farm is in the mountains so gets a bit of mist but it doesn’t last all day and we’ve had some really sunny clear days.

On Sunday it was glorious so Allan and I took a long up hill and down dale hike while the others followed in the Everest.  I found it somewhat exhausting but totally awesome.

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One of the dams we discovered

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The Everest negotiating the steep track

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Shan, The Earl and Allan admiring the dam

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A view towards the farm house

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Yet another dam

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Hosting a lone yellow-billed duck

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Allan and Shan walking across the lands which will be good for the cattle

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Breath-taking view

Today was another glorious day but rain will follow as a berg wind was blowing.

Lauren had to go to school for a few hours, Allan took Simon to get the remainder of his uniform and we met up at The Lookout Deck for breakfast.

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Lookout Deck – Plettenberg Bay

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The View  over Lookout Beach

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Steps to Gina’s secluded little beach

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Shan and I had Baby Benedicts – (spinach and mushroom)

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Simon fancied the savoury/sweet French toast with bacon and maple syrup

After breakfast the family went off shopping while we explored a bit of Plettenberg Bay.  We used often to visit the Beacon Island Hotel in the old days so it was a bit of a trip down memory lane.

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Sand Art on Central Beach

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Sunbathing is fun when you’re made of sand

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African Wildlife on the Beach

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The Beacon Island Hotel in the background of Central Beach

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Central Beach

 

We had a  very brief thunderstorm – not unexpected after all the heat. After the thunderstorm we sat out on the deck and enjoyed the view while Allan had a business meeting in the dining room.

It’s so great seeing our kids settling in and enjoying their new home – and we just love it too. They’d better watch out – we will be visiting frequently in the future!

 

9

Plettenberg Bay – Our Kids’ New Home

A new chapter began in the lives of our middle daughter and son-in-law when they moved from their small holding in Kokstad to a farm in Plettenberg Bay just before the Easter Weekend.   Leaving was a huge wrench as they’d had a very happy 20 years there.  But things change and there comes a time when opportunity demands you move on.  Allan has a new business venture, Lauren starts a new teaching job at Plett Primary, Simon will complete his Grade seven there and Shan starts at Glenwood House in George next term.

For us it means that visiting each other becomes a whole lot easier.   A two day road trip has now been reduced to five hours!

So with caravan in tow (we plan to go to Addo afterwards) we departed from Struisbaai at 8:30,  popped in to an appointment in Bredasdorp at 9, had breakfast and hit the road at 10:15.  We made two half-hour stops en route and arrived at Jubilee Farm at 3:30!   The added bonus is that we take in the beautiful Garden Route to get there.  It was such a stress free trip.

Of course we kept in touch as we travelled and Simon was at the farm gate to greet us when we arrived.    He ran ahead toward the house where the rest of the family were waiting.  And wow – what a difference.  Their home in Kokstad was lovely but very much smaller with its  three bedrooms, one bathroom, small lounge/dining room and a very tiny kitchen.  There was an outside office/flat and laundry and the garden was stunning but now they have five enormous bedrooms, three bathrooms – two of them en suite, a huge kitchen, walk-in pantry, scullery and laundry.  The living area is open plan and has panoramic view across the valley and the huge double garage has a door leading into the house.

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Lounge, Dining Room and kitchen have flow to each other but are still separate

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View

Right in front of the house is a small dam where Simon fishes regularly.  There are also several other big dams on the farm one of which is just a short walk away.   All of them are stocked with bass and blue gill.

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Simon is in his element

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Right in front of the house

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Lauren and I took a walk so see what the guys were catching

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At the big dam

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Grandfather in Heaven

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Simon’s Bass from the bigger dam

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Doggie heaven

Lauren doesn’t know herself in her new kitchen.   And I had a wonderful time making the salads and dessert for their 20th anniversary dinner.  Earlier in the day we’d all gone into town to shop.  Lauren got prawns from Robberg Fine Foods, cooked them in garlic butter and served them on a bed of Basmati rice.   Delicious.

 

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Lauren cooking prawns in her enormous new kitchen

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The anniversary dinner

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Twenty Years of wedded bliss

 

 

0

Warm Hospitality in Kokstad

It’s summer  in the Southern Hemisphere and in KZN you would expect the weather to be super hot!  But there has been lingering snow in the Drakensberg and Kokstad was  gripped in some winter-like weather for over a week. Thankfully it’s warming up now and yesterday, instead of complaining about the cold, we complained about the heat!

One thing we’re not complaining about is the warm hospitality of the Kokstad friends and family.   I don’t know what it is about this place but everybody is incredibly friendly.  Perhaps it’s the beautiful environment in which they live and their relaxed lifestyle that causes them to be warm-hearted and kind.  Most of the people we know here live on farms or small holdings and they are surrounded by beautiful mountains, streams, trees and have amazing gardens.   Some might say that small places are friendlier but that’s not always true.  Some small places are very cliquey and it may take years to be made to feel welcome there.   Here in East Griqualand, we have found, you’re made to feel one of the family immediately.

So while the weather has been chilly we’ve been visiting.   Thanks to the Clarkes for a lovely morning of catching up on their amazing four-month adventure off-roading through Africa with their two boys.   The pancakes for tea were scrumptious, thanks Bryan.

The Flemmings had us over for dinner which was delicious. And sitting before their roaring fire was wonderful.  Rose, your roast dinner was to die for.

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Rose whipping up a Master Meal

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Anti-clockwise from front – Neil, Rose, Lauren, Shannon, Allan, Simon, The Earl

Of course we have been catching up with the extended Stone/Mackenzie family too.  We reminisced about spending so many Christmases together when we were still raising our own kids. They’re all grown now with kids of their own and what a great bunch those kids are.

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Just a few of the extended family who popped in for tea

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Barbara and Andrew’s cottage on The Farm

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An outhouse used as an office and guest flat

Our kids went off for a golfing weekend to Pennington this weekend so we were left to our own devices.  On Friday we had lunch with Barbs and Andrew and yesterday another of our clan arrived from Bloemfontein so we went to The Farm to greet them and have family braai.

Soon after the Bothas arrived, The Earl invited the kids to go to the dam to fish.  I knew the Mackenzie boys would not hesitate.  Rebecca, however, is a girlie girl and I expected her to decline.  How wrong I was.  “I’ve got my fishing rod,” she said.   “Are you sure?” said Mom.  “I don’t think we packed it.”  “Of course, Dad did!”  she insisted and went off to fetch it.

So off the merry little band went.   How delighted we all were when they returned with two fat bass – both caught by 8 year-old girlie girl Rebecca!

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Becca with her Bass

While the fisherfolk were off adventuring the rest of us enjoyed Barbara’s shady garden.

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Caleb decided that the fishpond would be a good place to cool off.

The Earl cooked the bass as a starter before the braai.  The kids insisted that they would not be eating fish – but all of them did!  Becca only had a tiny bit but got a bit of scale so that put her off!  The others were back for seconds.

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Becca trying some fish

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Little Emma loved her sisters fish

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Seth said no way was he eating Bass – but here he is enjoying it!

The Earl had some willing helpers with the braai.  Aiden and Seth helped chop wood.  Henk has some braaing skills of his own and saved the day when the wood wouldn’t burn.  The food was delicious and the bonding even better.  And what a perfect evening it was after all the cold weather we’ve been having.

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Getting the braai going

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The essential Boerwors

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Henk grilling the steak and chops

2

Sibling Reunion at Gariep Dam – Part 1

When my grandsons were very young we explained their relationship to me like this.   Granny:  Jay and Joshua, when Mommy and Aunty Lauren were little they had another mommy.   Her name was Colleen.   But a sad thing happened.  She was sick for some time and then she died when they were only 10 and 12 years old.

Jay:  Oh – is that her in the picture in Mommy’s room?

Granny:  Yes.  You can imagine that it was quite a sad time for Grandpa and his girls.  But then Grandpa decided that he needed a new wife and a mommy to help look after the little girls.  So he asked me if I would be come and be with them. And I said, Yes – I would so he became Lolly’s new daddy and we became a blended family.

Jay’s eyes widened and a big smile broke onto his face:   “Lucky for you, hey Gran!”
Of course I thought it was lucky for all of them but my precious little lad gave me a new perspective on the whole situation!   After all what did I get?  Two ready made little girls who brought great joy to my life and grew up to give me some adorable grandchildren.  He and his brother along with their mommy lived with Granny and Grandpa from infancy till their late teens – How lucky were we??

Not only that – I inherited a whole family on their maternal grandmother’s side who drew me unconditionally into the family and never questioned their brother-in-law’s choice of new wife and mother for their nieces.  Yes – Lucky for Gran, indeed!  Thirty- four years later I still feel very, very lucky.

Colleen had four siblings – Barbara who has just turned 70 and lives on a farm with Andrew in Kokstad, Kwa-Zulul Natal;   John who lives on a wine estate with Karly in Stellenbosch, Western Cape;   Shirley who along with Eddie has lived in many places in the country but now lives in Bloemfontein – Free State;   And the baby sister Diane who lives with Carey on a small holding at Great Brak River near George in the Western Cape.  As I mentioned we all have a good, close relationship and try to see each other as often as possible.  But being scattered  around the country makes it difficult for all the siblings to be together at the same time.  My Goodness even when siblings live in the same city it can get complicated.

John came up with the brilliant idea of all of the siblings, which included The Earl and me, to meet somewhere neutral to celebrate Barbara’s 70th birthday. This message was passed from one to the other but no actual plan was in place.  I was worried  – we’re old – some of us have health issues – the distances are vast – where would we find a venue that suited everyone.  I asked the question and everyone had a different idea.   “Who is organising it?” I asked.   “Would you?” came the reply.     “Yes!” I agreed.

The Earl and I looked at the map and decided that Gariep Dam in Free State should be it.  I sent out the email and within minutes I had a positive reply from everybody – Yes they would all come and yes the venue was fine.  My chief concern was for Eddie who has been undergoing intensive chemo and would not be strong enough to travel too far.  It would be only an hour and half for him and Shirl.   Those of us in the Western Cape would have the longest distance to travel but we would do it in two hops.  John and Karly would stop at Karoo National Park. Earl and I would pick up Diane and Carey at Great Brak.  Barbs and Andrew would also do it in two shorter hops and they were happy with that.

Well last week was when it all happened and I am happy to report that it went off extremely well.  The only dampener was that Carey could not join us.  Just before our week away was due, a fire broke out in the forest surrounding their property.  Diane and Carey helped save a neighbour’s house and were on the verge of being evacuated themselves.   By the time we arrived on Sunday afternoon, the fire was still burning and thick, black smoke hung chokingly in the atmosphere.    Carey was still very worried.  “Take Diane,” he said. ” And if things improve, I will drive up on my own.”    Just behind Carey’s work shop, where he builds motor homes, is a forest of gum trees.  If they went up in flames, his livelihood would be destroyed.  I am happy to report that the fire did not reach the farm but only because of the vigilance of the property owners and the fire fighters.

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The first view of the forest fire as we approached Rondom Mooi

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Fire Fighters at work at the edge of the pine plantation

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The wind just needed to whip this up into a frenzy

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Too close to Rondom Mooi for comfort

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Looking into the smoky distance from Rondom Mooi

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In spite of the fire, Carey entertained his grandsons who just loved the tractor/mower

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Daniel takes the wheel – Sit down Matthew!

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Watch out – I’ll run you down!

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Wow!  This is fun

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Now it’s Matthew’s turn

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Bella – My favourite of the Rondom Mooi dogs.

On the Monday morning the smoke still hung threateningly over the farm and after taking a drive to see how things were progressing, Carey decided that he definitely could not join us.  So leaving at 9:30 and stopping in George to shop for provisions and to have breakfast we continued over the Outeniqua Pass, then through the Karoo via Graaff-Reinet to the Free State – arriving at Forever Resort Gariep at 5:00 pm.

The Karoo’s semi desert landscape has a stark beauty of it’s own.  I just love the colours, the flatness and the koppies that break the eternal nothingness.
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The never-ending Karoo road

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A typical Karoo scene with the windmill in the foreground

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A Karoo Koppie

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A splash of Autumn Colours.

Everybody was already there when we arrived and it was a perfect evening. We set up our squatter camp next to John’s Mount Nelson on wheels and then everybody came down from the rondawel to braai with us.

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Our view of Gariep Dam

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John in charge

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Andrew, Barbara and The Earl

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Diane, Karly, Eddie, Shirl

The purpose of this gathering was to celebrate Barbara’s 70th which was in February but then there were 2 other birthdays too – Shirl turned 63 the day before we arrived and andrew turned 82 the day we left.  So I got Rachel from my favourite coffee shop to bake a big chocolate cake with Happy Birthday and the ages iced on top.

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Happy Birthday to Shirl, Barbara and Andrew

Travelling didn’t do the icing any good but it tasted delicious – best chocolate cake this side of the equator!

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Everybody listened politely as I waxed lyrical

We were all so excited to be together.  It was not easy for Eddie who is very weak but he made the effort and bonded with each of us.   Shirl was also recovering from foot surgery but never complained and gently supported her hubby, Andrew has had a few health issues but wouldn’t have missed this gathering either. Karly was the life and soul of the party in spite of recovering from recent surgery herself.   Wow – I love this bunch of positive people.   Nothing stops them enjoying everything that life still has to give!

To be continued ……..

6

Sunday visit to Arniston

Cara and Shaun cooked us a wonderful breakfast on Sunday morning and we discussed what everyone would like to do on their last day.   Swimming and/or body surfing was on the list so we suggested packing cossies and heading off to Arniston where we could also include a visit to The Waenhuiskrans Cave.  The Earl and I secretly hoped to stop to see a bird or two but time was of the essence so we didn’t stop for too many.

 

You can only get into the cave at low tide which Earl said would be at 14h00.   We were a bit earlier than that so we explored the area a bit and then went for a swim.

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Shaun and Cara with Casper

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Be careful Cansu

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Lolz and Cansu watching the surfers at Otter Beach

 

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Casper also wanted to swim

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Cold – but lovely once you’re in

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Fun jumping the waves

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Recovering from a dump!

The boys did some body surfing and the girls some tanning and then we dried off and set off to see if the cave was doable.

The last time I did it with friends it was spring low tide and looked like this.

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Easy to make your way along these dry rocks

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Not so easy when you have to wade through the tide that is not quite out yet

I decided not to risk slipping on the route to the cave just in case I fell and had to deal with weeks of recovery – not a good idea at my ripe old age.  But the young ones being more sure-footed bravely went ahead.

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Shaun the gallant gentleman giving Cansu a hand

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The Earl watched from the top of the cliff and yelled out directions

To get to the cave you have to go through a smaller one and then crawl through a tunnel.  The kids missed the way at first but Earl was watching from the cliff and gesticulated frantically until they caught on that they’d gone to far. Cara found the tunnel and in they went. As I wasn’t there I couldn’t take photos but these are some from a past trip.

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Inside the cave

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The opening to the sea

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The crawl through tunnel

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Was this Hayley?  I called her name but she could not hear me above the crashing waves

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She was a braver woman than I  – It was indeed Hayley and we had a lovely catch- up when she returned.

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Our adventurers returning

The young ones needed to get back to Cape Town so we decided not to have lunch at the motel which was busy and we would have had a long wait to be served.

On the return I had to yell for The Earl to stop as I spotted a Denham’s bustard – a bird I have to see when doing this drive!

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We saw very little else in the way of birds but it was still and most enjoyable excursion.

 

 

 

12

The Long Road to Struisbaai

Since our ‘holiday’ in Italy, The Earl’s health has improved, we’ve sold our Sun Valley Home and had a great holiday with The Rural Family in Kokstad.   There was a hiccup with chest pains in Kokstad but they were caused from Fly Fishing and not his heart!   However, it did prevent us from taking our grandchildren to Tala Game Reserve.

Once that settled down it was time to return to the Fiefdom of Struisbaai.  We decided to take it slowly and take the scenic Garden Route.

6 January 2017

It was raining again this morning.   We were up and packed by 5:30, went to say farewell to the family and then hit the road.

We stopped at Stone Junction in Maclear for breakfast.  It was lovely.  We had eggs, bacon, pork sausage, mushroom and tomato. The coffee was good.

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Delicious Breakfast at Stone Junction, Maclear, Eastern Cape

Our next stop was Queenstown where we fuelled.  The roads were not too bad but we had to look out for cows, goats and donkeys.  The scenery was stunning.

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img_2674We arrived at Casa Mia near Addo Elephant Park at 15:30 had some coffee and rusks and a bit of a rest then went to dinner at Lenmore Family Restaurant about 5km away.   We met a young family – Mom, Dad and five-year-old Noah from England.  They were on a round the world trip.   Tomorrow they’re doing Addo and we gave them some advice as to where to go and what to do.

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Saturday 7 January 2017

The alarm woke me at 5 and I had no trouble in jumping out of bed to ready myself for a day in Addo Elephant Park.   I was not anticipating too much as we were there just a couple of months ago and the sightings were average – no big cats and nothing unusual. But just being in the park again would be enough for me.   We packed our picnic breakfast and set off in high spirits.

It was 6:00 am when we entered the main gate and were slightly put out when we were told that reception would only open at 7:00 and it was there that we had to get our day passes for the game viewing area!  Never mind – we could have breakfast at Cattle Baron  and eat our picnic for lunch – no such luck – The Baron opened even later!

So we went to the waterhole and enjoyed the birds then got our day pass, had a coffee at Barons and set off to find what we could find.

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The Egyptain Geese were feeling frisky

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A good start to the morning

By 10 o’clock we had photographed some lovely birds, kudu and zebra.

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Ant-eating chat

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African Pipit

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Lone Buffalo

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Beautiful Male Kudu

 

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Malachite Sunbird in transitional plumage

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Southern Boubou

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Karoo Scrub-robin

But what we really hoped to find were the Bat Eared Fox cubs that everyone on The Addo Facebook page was raving about.  And we were in luck – a single car was parked on the side of the road to Carol’s Rest and pointed out the den to us.  We spent half an hour enjoying their antics and taking photos and soon there were several other cars joining in the fun.

 

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After that we headed up to the Zuurkop Outlook.   “Look at all the dung beetles and worms on the road,”said Earl  trying hard not to run over any of them.

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The mighty dung beetle cleaning up the landscape

At Zuurkop we hopped of the car and were joined by a few other tourists.  We got chatting to a Mom and daughter, saw some elephants a short distance away and I lingered to look,  a few feet away from Earl while he chatted to some people.  My back was to him and when I heard him call to me to look at something. I turned around and my heart almost stopped.  He was teetering backwards in the most alarming way – I ran – and as he fell I heard a gurgling sound, his eyes rolled back in his head and he dropped flat on his back – out cold.   Crazy thoughts raced through my head – he’s dead – what am I going to say to the girls, I’m not ready to be a widow – I have to get him breathing again – I pinched his nose, put my mouth over his and started blowing what I thought was life back into him – not holding out much hope that it would work – what the hell did I know about CPR – nothing! Suddenly he shook his head, giggled and said, “What’s going on. I’ve just had the most beautiful dream.”                                                                                                                                              I freaked out – “You fainted – I thought you were dead!”

“Keep calm,” said a soothing voice, the lady to whom we had been chatting.  “If you’re calm he’ll be calm.”   I found out later that her name was Ayshia.  She put a pillow under Earl’s head and it was then that I realised he was bleeding.   I ran for the first aid kit, couldn’t find the wipes so Aishia gave me hers, I cleaned it then put a plaster on his wound.  We checked that he wasn’t hurt and he insisted that he was fine.

“I just bent down to pick up a worm to show you,” he said, “I did feel a bit light headed so I must have passed out when I stood up.  I really am fine now.”

Well – it’s not normal to just keel over like that.  I wanted to take him straight to a doctor.   He agreed to let me drive and after we both calmed down I got behind the wheel and drove to reception to get names of doctors.  Not helpful at all – You have to go to Port Elizabeth, they said.

So we drove back to Casa Mia and Earl said his neck was sore.  He just wanted to rest.  I massaged him with Traumeel and gave him an anti inflammatory.   I then asked reception hostess for the name and number of a doctor.  She suggested a practice in Kirkwood.  The reply from them was – the doctors are going off duty now you must go to outpatients at the hospital.

Earl thought he didn’t feel up to driving anywhere. He just wanted to rest.  I allowed him to do this but after consulting with our Jeffrey’s Bay friends who we were due to visit the following day we decided to go straight to St George’s Hospital Outpatients just to be on the safe side.

It was about 3 o’clock on this Saturday afternoon when  we arrived at the hospital. We parked the car and trailer in the street and a car guard offered to give the vehicle a wash.  It really needed it so we agreed.  It cost us R100.

Earl was ushered straight into the emergency room and given an angiogram. I remained behind to fill in forms and it was half an hour later before I was allowed in to see what was going on.  The staff were amazing and after Italy we were delighted that everybody spoke English!!!   A young lady doctor with the gentlest bedside manner broke the news – “I have spoken to the cardiologist and as your husband is a high risk patient he would like to do some more tests and so he must remain in hospital overnight.”

I was devastated.  Stupid thoughts raced through my mind. Where would I go?  We had a trailer – where would I park it – how would I get it off the car.  I have no sense of direction – I will get lost in Port Elizabeth.  You would swear I hadn’t dealt with worse in  Italy!

I heard Earl say to the doctor –“Can’t I just take my wife to a B&B and come back later?”

No – she said.

It must have been the fainting episode that had put me into panic mode.   I felt like I was falling apart – my arms and legs didn’t belong to me, I had to take control of them and instruct them what to do. I had to gear my mind to the right thinking paths. I had to assure my husband that I would cope!

I heard myself say, “I will be fine, Darling.  I can tow a trailer – nothing to it.  And I will find a B&B with space to park it!”

The doctor said, “You can ask the nurses at reception for if they know of accommodation nearby.”

But I started googling.   A few minutes later the doctor reappeared.  She handed me a slip of paper – My fiancé’s parents have a B&B in Summerstrand.  They have space for your trailer and will help you unhitch it.

Wow  –  The Lord once again sent an angel to our aid

I rang the number and made the necessary arrangements.

After getting lost for an half an hour because I entered the address into the GPS incorrectly, I finally made it to the B&B a mere 10 minutes away if you have your mind functioning correctly.

Bev met me at the gate.  “You must be stressed out,” she said and gave me a comforting hug.  Another one of God’s Angels.  She told me she had been a nursing sister and had looked after her own dad who was a heart patient too.   Her stories were most reassuring and she told me that St George’s was an excellent hospital and that E would receive the best care.

After settling myself in I walked to the shopping centre just around the corner and had a glass of wine and some sushi at Taste of Asia.

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I felt much calmer when I went back and was able to contact the girls to give them the news.

Sunday 8 January 2017

I was confident that Earl would be discharged today.  I phoned the hospital and they said, “Your husband had a good night. No pain and no dizziness when mobile.  The doctor still needs to see him but we are don’t see any reason for him to remain another day.”

So I cheerfully packed him some clothes and made my way to Life St George’s arriving around 10 o’clock.   When E saw me he said, “Why have you brought my clothes? I sent you a text to tell you I have to stay another night.” The Port Elizabeth doctor needed to consult with the Cape Town doctor and as it was Sunday it would have to wait till tomorrow.  “Oh, I’m sure that he will let you go and you can stay with me at Le Fishermans and then see him in his rooms tomorrow.”

We got into conversation with the 2 other women in the ward.  They were convinced that they were going home today too.  “I’m not staying here another minute,” said the one next to the window.  “Neither am I,” said the one across the way.   Nobody’s going to make me shower at 4 in the morning again!”  They dug in their heels and prepared for battle against the great doctor.  The staff who were in and out, looked on with knowing smiles.

Earl was first on his list. I introduced myself.   “So your husband has been picking up worms and then keeling over unconscious,” he said.  “Yes, he is not in my good books at the moment.”

He asked me my version of the story and then checked the dosage of his medication.  He said to stop taking the Cardicor so now all Earl needs to take is Pritor for blood pressure, cardio aspirin and Crestor for cholesterol.

I asked him if Earl could be discharged and see him in his rooms tomorrow morning.  He was appalled – “Absolutely not,” he looked at me in horror. “I need to monitor this man’s heart!”

“But I thought everything was fine.”

“No it’s not.  There is something strange about his cardiogram”  He spoke to the attending staff member – “how was he last night?” – and he looked at the chart. “No irregularities” said the nurse.   But he wanted to see if the strange thing came up again and he wanted to know if it was a new phenomenon or whether it had been seen on his angiograms before.  That is why he needed to speak E’s cardiologist in Cape Town.

He then went to speak to each of the other patients in turn.  Each of them begged to be discharged.  He wasn’t having any of it.  “Doctor, I promise it won’t happen again,” said the one old duck.   “O really,” came the reply “and how did this happen in the first place?”  “I don’t know, Doctor.”  “And neither do I so that’s why you’re staying so I can work out how to fix you!” And that was that.

When he left and the nurse returned to check on the patients, she smiled and said – so you’re staying, you’re  staying and you’re staying!
I said, “Now ladies – I hope I can trust you with my husband.”

“Ha ha,” said Mrs wont’t shower at 4 am.  “We’re too weak to do anything.  Your husband has more energy than either of us – can you trust him with us!”

At 11 I left and went to the coffee shop for breakfast.   I phoned each daughter to break the news – Laurie – Oh no man – now listen all this travelling around has to stop.  You have to make dad take it easy.  No more travelling for the next six months!”

Lisa – “So hasn’t the bypass worked?”   “Yes it has darling. This is something new.”  “Oh well then it’s good the doctor is doing something about it.”

Lauren – “Oh dear – How are you handling it? Are you taking strain –  Don’t worry – it will all work out.”

After several long conversations I finally drove home.   On the way the phone rang.  I stopped to answer.  A friend of mine when she heard I was in Port Elizabeth asked her friend who lives nearby to contact me.  I also knew Brenda when she lived in Cape Town so it was great to hear from her.  We arranged to meet for coffee later in the afternoon.

So after I’d visited E she collected me from Le Fishermans and we went to the Beach Hotel which was wonderful. We sat on the deck on comfy couches and chatted and chatted.

 

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Thanks for a lovely afternoon, Brenda

Monday 9 January 2017

I packed up but left everything in the room and by 8 o’clock I was ready for breakfast.   I was the only guest there and Bev provided a delicious meal.  I started with Greek Yogurt sweetened with something delicious she makes herself.   I added some fruit to this.  Then she asked how I would like my eggs – medium – and it was served with bacon, tomato and fried zucchini – fabulous.  The coffee was excellent too.

I then dashed off to the hospital with high hopes the The Earl would be ready for discharge.  I was allowed in but when the doctor arrived was asked to wait in the foyer.    But all was well. The two cardiologists had consulted and they concluded that the strange pattern in Earl’s cardiogram was normal for him  – so no further intervention needed. The fainting was simply due to a fluctuation in blood pressure when he stood up too quickly.

So after 2 nights of excellent care – in English! – we went back to Le Fisherman’s, hitched up the trailer, bade farewell to my amazing hostess and headed to Jbay.

We had a great time with our friends there and the following day stopped at Great Brak for a visit with relatives.  We are now back and settled in good old Struisbaai!

 

 

 

 

0

An interlude in Port Edward

Hilton invited us to spend some time with them at their holiday home in Port Edward while we’re here in KZN.  We needed to take Lolz to the airport yesterday so we decided to stop over with them on our way back.

King Shaka International Airport is a three hour drive from Kokstad so it was a crack of dawn start on a beautiful clear day.   We were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and had a golf cart come by and give us a lift from the carpark to departures.  It took half an hour for Laurie to get through the bag drop queue and then we went to Mugg and Bean for breakfast.

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Bag Drop was busy!

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Brekkie at Mugg and Bean

The drive from the airport along the South Coast of KZN is one of the most beautiful in South Africa. It has a subtropical climate and everything is intensely green.   The old railway line is still in existence for industrial use but sadly no passenger trains use it anymore.

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A mix of traditional and modern housing

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The railway next to the sea

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A very scenic route

In 1979 I stayed with a friend whose family farmed in Boston.  At that time I had no connections with anybody in KZN!  Together we took the train from Durban to Port Shepstone – a beautiful scenic ride which took about six hours.   Another friend collected us from there and took us to Port Edward.  I still have amazing memories of the mud huts in which we stayed, the trees and the unspoiled beach.   Returning there this year to stay with Hilton and Glynis was a thrill.  Progress of course, is inevitable because those thatched, mud huts which nestled on 640 ha of pristine land, bordered by two rivers and one of the most unspoiled beaches in Southern Africa, have been replaced by The  Wild Coast Sun Hotel and Casino.  Heather’s husband, Gundi, also remembers the site, as he too spent many family holidays there.

Although a lot of development has taken place, the beaches are still unspoilt and it is a delightful area in which to have a holiday home. Hilton and Glynis have one close to a small beach where the kids can mess about in rock pools, there is space for the boat and tractor that pulls and launches it and there is also a pool.

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They usually have this beach all to themselves

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Glynis and the dog

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Just watch out for grass snakes before getting into the pool

Soon after we arrived we went down to the Ski-boat club which overlooks the main beach.   We enjoyed a drink and then returned with Nathan who had just been discharged from hospital and was a little tired.  Recently Hilton and Gareth entered a species competition and they and Earl returned to attend the prize giving.  And Gareth was thrilled to get R2000 in prize money!

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Gareth posing with photos of past catches that line the walls of the living area

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An old landrover is what is used for most of the driving around Port Edward

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Hilton at the wheel – even the windscreen is missing

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It’s a really fun ride

In the evening we went to the spectacular Wild Coast Casino for dinner.  It was busy and full of gamblers but we enjoyed wandering around the place and the restaurant, Chico’s was lovely.   For a set price they serve soup, Mongolian stir fry, roasts, seafood, vegetables, cold meats and salads and a variety of desserts.   You may help yourself and eat as much as you can manage!  We had an amazing evening.

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Chico’s

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Lit up for Christmas

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Tropical Fish in the ponds

This morning we were up very early and met another niece Heather and her hubby Gundi for breakfast at Bobbie’s – which also overlooks the main beach.

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Gundi, Heather, Glynis, Hilton and me

Afterwards we went for a walk along the beach.   The swimming flags were up and a good number of life guards were on duty.  Once again we thoroughly enjoyed our morning bonding with our younger relatives.  We are very keen to visit them there again in the future and when Earl is stronger Hilton wants to take him out to sea – the KZN way!

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View from Bobbie’s

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The sea was 20 degrees C – Hilton said it was cold but it was not!

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Life Guards keeping a close eye on the bathers

It was an hour and a half drive from Port Edward back to Lauren’s.   We took the short cut which involved a game of “dodge the pothole” and watch out for pedestrians, cows and goats but once on the N2 it was smooth going again.

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Tonight we are having a quiet evening and may or may not stay awake to see the New Year in!

1

Share Your World Week 52

This is the last Share Your World of year.   Thanks Cee for the questions.

What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?

Chocolate Mint without a doubt.   Magnum on a stick is my best.

If you were to treat yourself to the “finer things” what would you treat yourself to? 

I’ve always fantasised about having a lady’s maid to do my make-up, hair and nails. I find these tasks such a bother and I beauty appointments to the last minute when everything is already out of control.

Have you ever been drunk?

No – I am a social drinker and fussy about what and how much I have.   When the wine doesn’t taste good anymore I stop.

Complete this sentence: My favorite supposedly guilty pleasure is… 

People close to me are reading this!  I love it if there is nobody at home making demands on my time – is that a guilty pleasure?

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

I am grateful for my rural family with whom we have been staying over this busy festive season.  I am specially grateful for our middle daughter who has organised space for all 1o of us to stay, prepared all the meals, done her usual ‘farming’ chores and remained calm and cheerful throughout.   All this after the busiest and most stressful term of the school year.

Next week I am looking forward to more special time with the Rurals.