Christmas in Zimbabwe

Alfresco lunch at Christmas time.

Christmas at Chitora reminded me of all those times the family spent together there, I was only sorry that there couldn't have been more of us; but, spread as we are all over the globe, that would be a difficult wish to fulfil.  Christmas in Zimbabwe means summer, alfresco lunches, fun and laughter. This year the summer has been slow to start, with lots of rain. This does means, however that the vegetation is looking very lush and green. I suppose one cannot have everything!

Irene decorated the table for our Christmas Eve dinner

We had our main Christmas dinner, with turkey and all the trimmings, on Christmas Eve, up at the main house. Irene decorated the table, and Sue and Jen provided a magnificent spread. Even Marty helped with the cooking!

Marty checking that all is well with the meal.

Bubby, Flo and Sue ready to enjoy Christmas Dinner

We exchanged presents on Christmas Day

On Christmas Day, Bubby led a short service before we exchanged presents. We had such a happy Christmas, full of joy and camaraderie. We just wish everyone could have been there to enjoy it with us.

Brian, Séan and Tim opening their presents

Bubby and Tammy with Findley

My birthday came shortly after Christmas and we celebrated it with a magnificent farmhouse breakfast, followed by a picnic out on the lands. I felt very special!

My Birthday Picnic on the flat rock, out in the bush.

Jen, Marty and Penny

Irene took lots of photos

Tammy helping Jen with her new camera.

Something quite large has been feasting here! 
These could be the remains of a civet cat


In Loving Memory of Jennifer Calderwood

Jenny as we remember, her with Barry on the left and Polly 
on the right, at Peterhouse Speech Day, November 2009

We were all very sad to hear that Jenny Calderwood finally had lost her valiant battle with cancer. It is so hard to believe she has gone, especially as we had seen her only the previous year, looking the picture of health at the Peterhouse Speech Day.

Jenny was surrounded by the flowers that she loved

Jen's funeral was held in her beautiful garden at the Rector's Lodge in Peterhouse, on December 22. Sue did the catering and was asked to cater for 200 people, she decided that 300 would be more appropriate, but ended up sending out for more supplies as more than 500 people gathered together to say farewell to Jen, even though it was the Christmas holidays and many people were away. The bush telegraph works well in Africa!

Dr Kevin Martin led the service

Gracious Mandengu organised the choir from her church

A duet played for us during the lunch

Sue organised a magnificent lunch


The Wedding at Leopard Rock

The Wedding Party

We first heard the singing of African voices. Then they appeared, striding over the hill in close formation like a Zulu Impi. Lynne in front, supported by her two sons, with her maids of honour just behind, and followed closely by the Choir of Africa University. It was an amazing sight and brought a tear to many an eye.

The Choir of Africa University

Guests waiting for the wedding party to arrive

We had gathered together by the golf course's 17th hole, otherwise known as "World's View", because of its stunning vista. Brian and Lynne held their civil wedding on Thursday in Mutare, so today's celebration was for the affirmation of their vows before family and friends.

Lynne and Brian exchanged vows

Brian engaged a singer to come all the way from Scotland to sing especially for Lynne, as an acknowledgement of her Scottish ancestry.

...in return, the Africa University Choir sang a song of greeting to Brian

As well as the many friends, the wedding brought together four families; Brian and Lynne's immediate families; Brian's late wife, Sheelagh's family, and Lynne's late husband, Dave's family - so at times there were bitter-sweet memories - but everyone was unanimous in that we were all there to support Brian and Lynne in their new life together.

The Coughlan Clan (well, at least those who could be there!)

The ceremony was followed by a sumptuous dinner at the Leopard Rock Hotel with live music and dancing. This was truly a wonderful occasion!

It was so lovely to see the nephews and nieces

There was even an exotic dancer to entertain us

More family fun!

Enjoying Leopard Rock Hotel, Zimbabwe

The day of the wedding, was a day of leisure and golf. Many of the guests took advantage of this amazing course to either play, or just ride around in a golf buggy following the action. Still others congregated in and around the Club House people-watching from afar, catching up on gossip, or simply admiring the scenery.

We sat, catching up with friends and family

...overlooking the putting green where our golfers made their preparations

We watched them teeing off...

...and again as they walked off up the fairway

...closely followed by another set of golfers

A picturesque water hazard


Leopard Rock Hotel, Zimbabwe

Leopard Rock Hotel

We finally arrived at Leopard Rock Hotel, which is looking quite splendid after its recent US1.8 million refurbishment. This hotel, 32km from Mutare and high in the Vumba Mountains, is one of the best-known hotels in Zimbabwe. Since the year 2000, the 1657 hectares of hotel grounds have been declared a Game Reserve, and include one of the finest golf courses in Africa.

The View

We all congregated for drinks on the course, with stunning views over the Burma valley. There was quite a hike to the venue, but Irene managed to hitch a lift on a motorbike - her first ever!

Irene arrives in style

It was glorious, sipping sundowners, meeting up with old friends and family, and watching a dramatic sky as the storm clouds gathered.

We met for drinks on the golf course

Brian with his sister, Barbara

From the left, Terry, Rebecca, Daniel, Lindsay and Dale

 Biddy and Margy

Sundowners were followed by a sumptuous dinner in the club-house. 

That night there was the most almighty thunderstorm, with such frequent lightening and deafening thunderclaps that we might just as well have been in the middle of a war!

Drifters: The Last Resort

 The sign at the entrance to Drifters, 
on the Harare to Mutare road.

We said goodbye to Harare and drove to Rusape to meet up with Terry, Sue, Daniel, Margy and Bernard on our way to Mutare and Leopard Rock. Terry planned that we should stop off at Drifters on the way. For the uninitiated, Drifters is featured in the book, "The Last Resort: A Zimbabwe Memoir", by Douglas Rogers. It is an account of ordinary life for blacks and whites under Mugabe's dictatorship. Sometimes funny, and sometimes poignant, it documents the struggles of his parents to hold on to some of their land in the face of the, often violent, so-called 'land reform' programme in Zimbabwe.

Sue and Bernard arriving at the Poacher's Pub on Drifters.

 The rickety ramp, leading up to the Poacher's Pub

All our family has read the book, mainly because David's sister Sheelagh, brother Terry, and brother-in-law Brian James are mentioned in the book. So we were very excited to be visiting the place we had read about. Unfortunately, I was suffering from an extreme bout of travel sickness as a result of travelling along the bumpy, windy roads in the back of the Merc; but I still managed to get some photos.

The happy barman standing under the sign that says,
"Welcome to the Poacher's Pub"

 Enjoying a drink at Drifters

 We were amused by the lampshades made out of straw hats.

Leaving Drifters, we headed in convoy for Leopard Rock Hotel, where Brian and Lynne's wedding takes place on Saturday December 18th. I was only half surprised when we were cheerfully waived through all the road blocks and never made to stop once - even when entering Mutare, where the ZANUPF conference was being held! Obviously, white people are seen as no threat these days!


First Stop Harare, Zimbabwe

Our flight from Istanbul to Jo'burg went to plan, and David and I were able to meet up with Margy and Bernard in time for our flight to Zimbabwe. On arrival in Harare, there was a slight hiccough when the electricity failed, causing the baggage carousel to stop before we had secured our cases. But as no one else seemed too perturbed, we all just hung about until power was restored and we were able to leave the airport - welcome to Zimbabwe!!! Outside, we were met by Candiss, waiting to take us home to Tim and Flo's, and Terry, Lauren and Brian William, waiting to take Margy and Bernard back to Chitora.

Flo's garden was looking beautiful

There have been good rains in Zimbabwe this year and Flo's garden was looking very lush and green. This is such a tranquil spot that, if it wasn't for the far distant hum of city traffic, you could be deep in the countryside. We slept really well while staying with Tim and Flo, lulled by the sound of crickets, and the occasional tree-frog.

During our forays to Borrowdale Village we were really impressed by the vast range of goods for sale, even more than last year. It seemed that there is nothing you can't buy in Zimbabwe now, although at a premium. The American Dollar is still the main currency, although I have never seen such filthy notes anywhere else in the world - especially the one dollar notes - they were so disgusting that we didn't even want to put them in our wallets, and we were forever washing our hands.

I was intrigued to see this old post box in Borrowdale Village, 
dating from Southern Rhodesian days

We also visited Goliath Safaris' new premises. Last year, Flo showed us the building she was renovating to house their Harare offices. It has been transformed, as you can see from last year's and this year's photos!

 Flo's Offices 2009

 Same premises transformed, 2010

On Thursday night, Paddy and Irene came to dinner with Vic and Gwen,with whom they were staying. We had such an entertaining evening, everyone was in such good spirits. On Friday we began our journey to Leopard Rock in the Vumba, stopping off at Drifters, but that's another post.

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