The Zimbabwe Chronicles Part 7

Our sojourn in Zimbabwe was rapidly coming to an end. At Tim and Flo's, we relaxed and watched rugby and cricket (yes, even I did!!!). I also had a chance to look at some of Flo's wildlife photos - absolutely stunning! On Saturday morning we went to look at Flo's latest project. She is renovating a house where her Harare offices will be based. Here is a photo (below). Next year I will take another when the house is complete. As you can see, it is a mammoth task!

That evening, Tim braaied for us again. It is so lovely to sit on his veranda on a balmy evening and relax over a few drinks and great food. He also cooked breakfast on the braai the next morning - delicious!

Breakfast on the veranda with Séan, Tim, David Theresa and Flo.

Tim and David enjoy their full English breakfast!

Eventually, the dreaded moment came when we had to leave. Tim dropped us off at the airport for our journey home, Getting through the formalities was very quick - there was hardly a soul there! The vendors in the departure lounge were crying out for business, but their goods are severely overpriced. I suppose, if you have been dealing in trillions, US$50 doesn't look like much!

David in Harare airport departures lounge.

Elizabeth Coughlan


The Zimbabwe Chronicles Part 6

The Chairman of the Board of Governors makes his opening remarks.

We were thrilled to be invited to Peterhouse Speech Day, especially when we discovered that the guest speaker was none other than Neil Jardine! We arrived in time for morning tea on the chapel lawn, and met many old friends before proceeding to the chapel for the ceremony.

Lunch in the Rector's Garden.

Rodney, June, Neil and Pru

Speech day was as we remembered it from all those years ago. The staff and dignitaries processed in, while the choir sang Vita Nostra. Then we all sang the national anthem, 'Siimudzai mureza wedu weZimbabwe', before the Reverend George Martin said the opening prayers ...and so it began ...it was almost as we had never been away! The Rector, Jon Calderwood, gave his report; the boys were honoured and prizes given; Neil made a cracking speech, followed by an excellent speech by Takudzwa Mandiwanza, the Head Boy; the choir sang, 'Bawo Thixo Somandla', a traditional song ...and suddenly we were singing the school hymn and it was all over!

Barry, Jen and Polly

Graham, Liz and Simon

Jon, with David.

Fortunately, we were among the guests invited to lunch at The Rector's Lodge, where we were all wined and dined in style. It was such fun meeting old friends and reminiscing. It was over far too soon and we had to depart for Harare where we were to stay with Tim, Flo and Séan.

This is the new block, opposite the chapel, in Peterhouse.

This is where we used to live when we were at Peterhouse.

Elizabeth Coughlan


The Zimbabwe Chronicles Part 5

Terry and Sue's home at Chitora

The next morning, surprise, surprise! No Zesa!! Breakfast was great though. Afterwards, we said farewell to the Inn on the Vumba and stopped off to say goodbye to Lynne, while Sue went to Brian's house to check things were OK after the wedding. Finally, Sue arrived with Lindsay and Brian and we were ble to say our goodbyes to all of them. (Lauren, Steven, baby Findlay and Brian William had left, with all their Aussie guests, for their African experience.)

Sue's lovely garden at Chitora

Sunset over Chitora.

We drove back to Chitora with Margy and Bernard to enjoy Terry and Sue's hospitality. Unfortunately, Margy and Bernard were leaving next morning, We were so sad to see them go. We, on the other hand, had a wonderful time staying with Terry and Sue. Every evening, David and Terry would run up the Kopje, while Sue and I went for a walk around the farm (or what is left of it after various people have claimed parts of it for themselves).

A view of the kopje.

Sue does a wonderful job for the local Africans. She has a virtual clinic in her house stocked with all sorts of medicines and bandages that are generally unavailable in the country (sourced from abroad at her own expense, and those of her friends and relatives). Many Africans cannot afford the hospital fees and so would go untreated for their ailments if it were not for people like Sue. The school that Terry built is now on land occupied by another person who does not want to be associated with it. Terry, and a neighbouring farmer, pay all the school fees of the 210 children enrolled there, as well as providing uniforms and all the resources. Zimbabwe would be a far sadder place without people like Terry and Sue.

Terry's tobacco crop is coming along nicely. The tobacco barns are in the background.

This is the grotto where Mum and Dad Coughlan, Sheelagh, and Jen Timms' Mother are all laid to rest. The stone on the right bears all the plaques, while the logs are seats for quiet contemplation.

Elizabeth Coughlan


The Zimbabwe Chronicles Part 4

Following the reception at Leopard Rock, the family and close friends all drove down the mountain again to Brian's house in Mutare. On the way down, we passed some zebra in the road - rather odd as they are not usually found up in the Vumba.

Once down at Brian's the party continued with Séan as barman - and a very good barman he was too! The tables were all set for the lunch, but the food was delayed as there was no ZESA - again! But we didn't mind, as we just carried on partying while we waited. Finally we sat down to eat and listen to the speeches before partying on again! Then came the cutting of the cake and time to dance. Everyone was in good humour and we only left to find our way back up to the Inn on the Vumba when the Aussies started jumping in the pool!

Lauren and Steven cut the cake.

Mmmm chocolate cake!

We're not too old to rock 'n' roll!

We danced the night away!

Elizabeth Coughlan


The Zimbabwe Chronicles Part 3

This is the only picture of me in my wedding finery, complete with fascinator! 
Here, David and I are with Ruth and her two daughters. Terry is in the background.

Gradually, everyone arrived at Leopard Rock and we made our way to the ninth tee, where the wedding ceremony was to be held. Steven and his brother, Mike, waited by the magistrate's table as the guests gathered all around. Finally, Lauren arrived in a golf cart, driven by Brian William and accompanied by Lindsay, who looked stunning in a long red dress.

Lindsay looking stunning.

Dennis walked Lauren down the aisle strewn with flowers.

Lauren looked beautiful in a chocolate-brown dress and carried strelitzias as her bouquet. The magistrate conducted the ceremony and everything went smoothly - except when Mike handed over the box with the rings. When Steven opened the box it was empty. After a moment of sheer panic, Mike said, "Oh, are you looking for these?" and took the rings out of his pocket. The rest of the ceremony went without a hitch and the MDC choir sang beautiful African songs in celebration.

Steven's moment of panic as he discovers the rings are missing.

Presenting Mr and Mrs Cox.

The choir sang beautifully

Afterwards, we all made our way back to the club house for refreshments. Brian William took pity on his old auntie and drove me back in a golf cart. We stayed at the club house socialising for a couple of hours, before the family and close friends drove down the mountain for the wedding lunch at Brian's house in Mutare.

Brian, Brian and Lindsay.

The reception at the club house at the Leopard Rock Hotel.

Elizabeth Coughlan


The Zimbabwe Chronicles Part 2

Following lunch at Chitora, we all drove to Brian's home in Mutare, where we found Brian, Brian William, Lindsay, Lauren, Steven, baby Findlay, a lot of Australians - and chaos. Flo immediately took charge of Findlay, while the rest of us tried to help in some way, but, Sue, the wedding planner, was rather stressed so we didn't stay too long. We left to visit Lynne instead. What a lovely person she is!

Flo amuses Findlay, while Lauren and Sue look on.

Karen is amused at the efforts to put up a shade tent.

Brian, Paddy, Tim and David sneaked off to watch the Grand Prix while chaos reigned!

Sue showing signs of despair!

Lynne with Sue

From Lynne's house on the golf course, we finally drove up to the Inn on the Vumba, where we were to stay. Unfortunately, there was no Zesa! ZESA stands for the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and it has become a noun, as in, "There is no Zesa!" or, "When is the Zesa coming on?" So, dinner that night was by candlelight - very romantic! The electricity came on again at about 3 am, but was off again, just when we needed to wash and dry our hair the next day. Fortunately, Christine, the manageress, had promised to turn on the generator if there was no electricity.

Our candlelit dinner at the Inn on the Vumba. Along the left from front to back: Sue, Karen, Kathy, Flo, Tim and Me. From the right from front to back: Terry, Paddy, Bernard, David and Margy. Séan is missing, as he kindly took the photo.

Tea arrived at 6 am and David and Terry went for a run and a swim. I had a bath (no showers!!!) and washed my hair in the hope that Christine would hold to her promise. Finally, at 7:30 am the generator kicked into life and we all managed to get to breakfast at 8 am all ready coiffed.

After breakfast, we all dressed in our finery and, at 10 am departed for Leopard Rock Hotel and the golf club house, where we were all to gather ready for the wedding of Lauren to Steven.

Elizabeth Coughlan


The Zimbabwe Chronicles Part 1

We were picked up at Harare Airport by Tim's driver, Lovemore, as Tim and Flo were on their way back from Mana Pools where Flo runs Goliath Safaris. Their home in Harare is lovely and the garden shows Flo's artistic touch.

Flo's garden. I love the little warthogs on the left!

All sorts of imported goodies are now available in Harare.

The next day (Friday), Tim, Flo and Séan had business to deal with, so David and I drove to Borrowdale Village. What a transformation! When David was there two years ago, The shops were empty. Then, in Bon Marché supermarket, all David could see were bottles of imported Zonnebloem wine and nothing else. Now, the shelves are groaning with all sorts of delights. People want for nothing - as long as they have access to the necessary American dollars. Unfortunately, huge swathes of the populous have no way of acquiring American dollars. They can buy nothing and can only resort to bartering, begging or burglary to survive.

That evening, we had a delicious braai, cooked by Tim. It was such a jolly evening as we caught up with each other's news.

Flo has added photography and writing to her other artistic skills. Her wildlife photos are stunning. Some of her latest show a lion kill that happened only a few metres in front of her. It is an amazing sequence of images.

On Saturday we relaxed looking out over Tim and Flo's garden. It is wonderfully tranquil and a twitcher's paradise. Tim has identified more than 70 different species of bird visiting their beautiful oasis in Harare.

On Sunday morning, we left Harare for Rusape where we were to have morning tea, followed by lunch, at Chitora, Terry and Sue's farm. There, we met up with Terry, Sue, Kathy, Karen, Paddy, Margie and Bernard. It was lovely to be at Chitora again as we have had many family gatherings there in the past - and I hope there will be many more to come.

Farmhouse teas are serious business for Paddy, David and Tim.

Séan, Karen and Margy relax in the garden at Chitora.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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