Archive for South africa

03 Jan 2013

Happy New Year

1 Comment South africa

 

South Africa is a land of colourful contrasts: magnificent tree-lined avenues with high-walled many-roomed mansions to shanty towns; a tin roof held down by bricks, a couple of windows, power if you are lucky. Smiley happy people, razor wire, armed response, guns. Gleaming, just-washed BMWs and Mercs, poor people on every street corner begging, holding open bags to collect rubbish from said vehicles in exchange for a few rand. We caught the shiny new high speed Guatrain to avoid the crazies on the roads over the Christmas period where the December road death toll reached a staggering 1207 people, only to be reprimanded by the security guard for chewing gum.

 

Christmas Day chaos

 

A dusty bottle of red ... Thanks Santa

 

We spent a few timeless days over Christmas staying with Jo, and H and Andrew, Joan and Francios (and Luke and Zoe). Safe in Jo's lovely garden cottage, we chatted and read, took tea in the garden, fumbled with keys, remotes, and security grills (It's a Jo'burg thing), walked Paddy, explored the funky gritty downtown streets of Johannesburg, dined at Ghandi's former house and visited the excellent, but emotionally overwhelming Apartheid Museum.

Whisked out of Jo'burg at light-speed with Alexa and Paul and entourage in tow. Magaliesburg for a night with Tom and Jeanette, a mass offloading of children and parents and excess luggage … and then it was just Paul and Alexa, Paul and Gill, Alice and I … bliss!

 

 

 

Nungabane Game Lodge in the middle of the Waterberg for a few nights of luxury. After Jo'burg with its pumped up security, edginess borne out of poverty, Nungabane is a breath of fresh air. We can leave our doors open and our windows unlocked. There is nothing out here to hurt us … just a few lions on the prowl, leopard stalking, rhino charging, elephant stampeding, scorpions, jackals, hyenas … ahhh the freedom, the serenity. We see in the New Year by declaring it must be New Year already somewhere in the world and kill the lights at 11pm.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Happy New Year all … all the best, Al.

23 Dec 2012

Prynnsberg Estate 1881, the gathering

1 Comment South africa
 
 
 
 

They arrived in groups; first the Lloyds and the Scholtzes, then Al and his entourage. Mighty fine vehicle, Nissan Micra, the height of style and class. Then came the Kellys. They moved en-masse. The gentle clink of ice against aluminium tumblers, gin and tonic, yin and yang, under the mighty rock, watching the sunset, pink clouds, lightning bolts piercing the horizon. Then more lounging back at the house on the long veranda overlooking the lawns, awaiting the dinner bell.

Clang, clang, the dinner bell rang. Al and entourage raced for a spot at the long dinner table. Candles and petals and fine silverware. Cloth napkins folded in glasses. The scramble for food. Multiple conversations. Red wine. Pudding.

 

 

 
 
 
 

After dinner, after the maddening rush, hands across stomachs, groaning, sated, there was another rush to the bath house. Hot water filled the four claw foot baths, steam clouds rose to the skylight. Naked bodies under candlelight. Soaking, soaking, soaking — then off to bed.

In the morning, more of the same. Breakfast fit for kings outside on the veranda. Then lounging, reading, snoozing, while the children played and dogs mooched lazily. Cups of tea and rusks. That newfangled coffee contraption.

Long walks down to inspect the polo field, admire the horses and take in the views. Afternoons in the billiard room, the green baize caught in the sunlight. A quick dip in the pond which had become a pool, or was it the other way around — pour me another G&T will you?

The late arrivals, the Hooles, anyone would think they had come by horse and carriage. Everyone hid behind doors and in cupboards, except the servants who provided foil for our deception, and we welcomed the Hooles with much fanfare.

Thunderstorms, rain, hail, sunshine — it was one of those weeks where we had it all.

The womenfolk chatted, flitting from topic to topic, without pause for breath or interruption, seamlessly carrying on from where they left off seven years ago, while the men, gentlemen that they were, nodded and tried to keep pace, but we're always several conversations behind the thread. They huddled together for solidarity.

One night we fired up the talking pictures, MOVIES I think they are called (silly idea, it will never take on) and projected onto the large flat-faced rock. We sat outside under blankets huddled close, under the stars and watched and listened, amazed.

And then as soon as it all began, it was over — even Gatsby would have been proud.

 

 
 
 

 

17 Dec 2012

Sticky sweet tale

1 Comment South africa
 

We left Bethlehem like four wise men, bearing Boerewors, Biltong, Koeksusters and Gin (gifts for our stomachs). Whoever had the bright idea to let Alice carry the Koeksusters ought to be shot! She took one look at the long and knotted sticky sweet syrupy pastries and in her delirious state dived in mistaking them for long lost relatives. We drove onwards yelling at Alice don't touch anything and then left her in the car to crystallise while we visited Lionsrock Sanctuary for abused animals.

We watched a harrowing video showing lions being kept in deplorable conditions in closed down zoos, circuses, or abandoned as undesirable pets in eastern-bloc countries — maltreated, malnourished and extremely upsetting to watch. We then watched the rescue effort to recover these animals and bring them to Lionsrock. Lastly, we went on a game drive and later a walk on an elevated platform walk above the lions, where we observed them feeding and lazing contentedly in the sun. The sanctuary also houses abused leopards, other cat species and even bizarrely a couple of tigers. It was great to see them looking so healthy although I suspect they may have simply traded one circus for a slightly larger cleaner healthier better equipped circus where they are still the subject of spectacle.

 

 
 
 

 

When we returned to the car Alice had devoured all the Koeksusters and emphatically denied anything was wrong, or in fact that there were ever any Koeksusters in the first place. We must be imagining it, maybe we left them in Bethlehem she said. It was only when we arrived at Golden Gate National Park and realised she was stuck to the seat, that she finally fessed up. Silly girl!

We spent two days in Golden Gate National Park; fending off Baboons trying to climb through the windows of our cottage, listening to the birds chirp, watching the sunset as it snaked its way around the tops of the mountains, eating our Boerewors and Biltong, drinking our G&Ts and hiking in the mountains … absolutely amazing. I'll let the photos tell the story.