Farewell South Africa

Sean, Jane and Shannon 

 We have spent the last two weeks relaxing with Jane, Sean and Shannon while we make ready for the next leg of our trip. Jane really does live in a lovely spot, right next to a nature reserve. The only problem is the pesky monkeys that continue to plague her. Two cheeky monkeys even came into her kitchen and ripped open a new packet of apples and made off with two of them. Our final engagement here is to go Shannon’s Nursery School’s end-of-year concert before saying our farewells to Jane and family and flying to Jo’burg for David’s reunion lunch with some of his school friends from Chaplin (also Ian Smith’s alma mater). Then on Monday we say our final farewell to all our family in Jo’burg before leaving for Australia. Before we fly we hope to see Suzi in passing as she is flying in from Buenos Aires just before we fly out. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in South Africa and would like to say an enormous thank you to all our friends and family, both here and in Zimbabwe, for giving us such a wonderful welcome and for looking after us so well. We’ll be back!!!!


Hello and Goodbye to Family and friends

What has Shannon seen?

It was this monitor lizzard!

Jane, Sean and Shannon joined us on the farm in Boston for the weekend. Unfortunately all our plans of walking in the Berg were dashed with the dismal weather. Nonetheless, we had a relaxed and happy time together. The day we left the farm was warm and sunny as we said our goodbyes to Dave and Barbara. We so enjoyed our visit with them that we were sorry to leave.

On the way back to Jane and Sean’s house, we stopped off in Hilton to have lunch with some very old friends (in years not age) from Peterhouse in Zimbabwe. We last saw Penny and George and their sons, Will and Jo, in 1989 – the year we left Zimbabwe. We were also pleased to meet Georgie, their lovely daughter, for the first time, together with, Bernadette, one of Will’s friends. The lunch was perfect, beginning with a smoked oyster paté, for which I had once given Penny the recipe, followed by perfectly cooked fillet of beef accompanied by dauphinoise potatoes and an exquisite salad; with a raspberry bomb (another Peterhouse recipe) to finish – perfect! Penny always had an eye for detail and yet again it was flawless! The wine flowed freely and the conversation was non-stop as we alternated between reminiscing and catching up with current news. Truly a precious moment to be savoured! Thank you all so much! I am so sorry that we never got around to taking that photo!

The following day, David and I accompanied Jane and her niece Amy to Shannon’s school to watch the Catrobatkidz End of Year Awards Ceremony. We were treated to a delightful display of the work they had done during the year. Catrobatkidz is a preschool children's physical development programme that is designed to equip them with the skills they will need for future physical activities. It was obvious that the children were enjoying every minute of their display!

We were so proud to see Shannon receive her medal and her Certificate of Achievement Award. Now both our granddaughters have medals! Jessica also has one, for gymnastics.


Highmoor in the Drakensberg, South Africa

Highmoor in the Drakensberg

I actually completed a four-hour hike! Fortunately, the car did the climbing as it carried us up the foothills of the Berg to Highmoor below Giant’s Castle. Highmoor (as its name suggests) is a vast moor on a plateau in the mountains. The weather was glorious and everywhere we went there were masses of wild flowers of every hue – Dave and Barbara were in their element photographing and classifying the plants! Although we didn’t see much variety of game, there were plenty of buck about and also a troop of Baboon – who were, luckily, moving away from us and into the valley. Having once had a terrifyingly close encounter with a Baboon, I try to stay clear of them!

This is me on Highmoor (Avis, do you recognise your hat?)

I even managed to climb up here for lunch!

I made David test this bridge before I crossed!

On Sunday we all went to lunch with Jane, Sean and Shannon. She served a magnificent lunch and we went down to her dam afterwards to watch the Weaver birds trying to build their nests while the females tore apart those that didn’t meet their exacting standards. Barbara spotted a Monitor Lizard and Shannon claimed to have seen a dolphin – although the rest of us were a little sceptical!!


Two very different forests in South Africa

Hiking at Bushman's Nek, uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park

Dave and David wanted to do a 12 kilometer hike from Bushman’s Nek to Garden Castle in the uKhahlamba National Park (needless to say I passed!!) Barbara and I did, however, join them for the first 2 Km or so, the first part of which was up hill. (I found that quite hard going) Then the ground was fairly flat for a while (which I must confess was rather more fun) but suddenly I saw the ground descending steeply in front of me. I reasoned that what goes down must come up again when one is retracing one's steps, so I sat on a rock and watched the hikers disappearing into the distance (see photo) while I enjoyed the stunning view and waited until Barbara decided to return. There really is something spiritual about sitting alone on a rock on the top of a mountain in Africa! We eventually made our way back to the car and drove out to visit with Meri and Neville, some friends of Barbara’s who farm in the area. We had a merry lunch while they caught up with news of Boston and then drove to Garden Castle to pick up two rather tired, but happy hikers.

 Dave admiring a particularly interesting tree

Lunch again, this time at the Pickle Pot, just outside Boston; (You will gather from all these lunches that the diet has been completely abandoned!) after which Dave guided us through an indigenous forest and identified the trees for us. Inside the forest was very quiet, apart from the bird song; and one was aware of rustling in the bushes, although we never actually saw any game. After lunch we went to visit Al, Susie and baby Noah at their home in Pietermaritzburg for Susie’s birthday tea, in honour of which Barbara had made the most decadent Bar-One muffins and a delicious fruit cake.

The following day we went to see how the MOTH’s two-day Bass Fishing Competition was going. (For the uninitiated, MOTH’s means the Memorable Order of the Tin Hats.) The competition takes part in various dams in the area and in one of the dams is a tagged fish worth 10 000 Rand to the person who catches it. Of course, no one knows which dam it is in and this year no one found it (much to the relief of the local farmer who sponsored it!) We visited the dams in the Mount Shannon Plantation. This is an enormous area planted with pine trees and, after watching the fishermen for a while, we decided to walk down the fire breaks between the trees – much easier than trying to walk amongst the pine needles on the forest floor! We even saw a buck break cover and dash across in front of us - the magic of Africa!


The Midlands Meander, KZN, South Africa

Goats at the Swissland Cheese Factory on the Midlands Meander

We are back on the farm in Boston with our friends Barbara and Dave and we have hardly stopped to draw breath since we arrived. The day after our arrival, Dave, David and I drove along the Midlands Meander. We bought goats cheese from the Swissland Cheese Factory (probably made from milk from the same goats you can see in the photo) and then visited the Ardmore Ceramic Art Centre.

 This centre was established to encourage African artists to express themselves through ceramic art. As you can see, some of the works are extraordinary and – although not to everyone’s taste – are very striking!

Our next stop was to buy chocolate from the Belgian Chocolate Shop. After this indulgence we had lunch in the Caversham Mill Restaurant. The mill dates back to the early 1850s and was the first water-driven mill to be erected in Natal.

Unfortunately, the original mill was destroyed when the Lions River flooded in 1987, although some of the machinery (together with the original millstones) can still be seen. Our lunch was first class and we sat out on the deck of the restaurant watching the waterfall and the antics of the weaverbirds – that is until it started pouring with rain. We then repaired to the inner rooms to finish our meal as we watched flying ants pouring out of their nests. How on earth do flying ants fly through the pouring rain?

On Friday, Dave and Barbara had arranged to meet up with some of Barbara’s German relatives who are vacationing in SA, so David and I went back to the Midlands Meander to try to buy some hand-made leather shoes to replace the ones he was wearing. We visited the Groundcover Leather Company, where we had bought his shoes four years previously, but unfortunately they had stopped making that particular design and David didn’t like the others. We tried all the other shoemakers, but nothing suited! Now he has decided to wait until we get to New Zealand to buy shoes. (Please note all our friends in NZ!!) However, all was not lost as we had a delightful lunch at Old Halliwell Country Inn, which dates back to the early 1830s. We were the only diners that day and were treated royally.

Press Centre

Press Centre
I couldn't resist this one!