The Cape of Good Hope: Day 7 (Friday)

Monday 31 October 2011 (Halloween): 5 years 1 month on … Advantage CBD 

The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
    

Friday                                            Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)

Saturday                                         Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)

Sunday morning                              Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 7 – Friday 7 October 2011

Our trip back to Port Elizabeth was scheduled to commence on Friday. However, we planned to take a leisurely drive and to stop over in Montagu for the weekend. The Ridgways were to accompany us and to act as our tour guide. Unfortunately, it was “month-end” in the accounts department at the Mount Nelson Hotel and Michelle could not go. So Sebastian and almost one-year old Hannah did. (It was amazing to see Sebastian look after Hannah – I never was such a good father!)

After packing and saying goodbye to our flat and The Strand, we left, as scheduled, at 08h30 and headed through Stellenbosch, Paarl, the N1 north through the Huguenot Tunnel and on to our first stop in the Slanghoek Valley outside Rawsonville.

The farm OPSTAL is owned by Stanley and Ria Louw. Stanley was at Stellenbosch University with me when I was an undergraduate student. He was also in Helshoogte and served on the House Committee. He is married to Thomas Moolman’s sister Ria (we had been staying in Thomas’s flat in The Strand.)

Rawsonville has special memories for me. I visited the Moolmans often there (and at their caravan in Gordons Bay when they camped during the summer holidays). I also spoke at Thomas and Marzeth’s wedding in the church hall in 1983 and it was the town where my very first brand new car was written off on a trip back home from Infantry School in Oudtshoorn when I was doing my military service.

But I had not yet visited Opstal.

So we stopped over for breakfast – a big farm one! – and our first wine tasting of the day. Unfortunately, Stanley was in Worcester and we did not get to see him. However, in the midst of preparing for a weekend Slanghoek Valley Wine Festival, we were graciously hosted by Ria.

It set the tone for the rest of the day (as can be seen from the photographs accompanying these blogs!)

Our next stop was the Klipdrift Brandy distillers in Robertson – “met ys!”- and then on to the wine farms along the Breede River valley between Robertson and Bonnivale.

Farm after farm, wine after wine, sip after sip and taste after taste, we moved through the valley and through the wines – the dry and the semi-sweet whites through the rosés and the red Cabernets and Pinotages, and all the other special wines and the cheeses, too, where available!

We visited Bon Courage, Van Loeveren, Excelsior. I’m not sure if it’s the wine or the CBD that makes the names fade into oblivion now.

Each farm has something special – that little extra thing to make it unique – whether it be a cheese platter, a snack, a river cruise, or a donkey cart.

Sean, Phill and I especially enjoyed the opportunity at Excelsior to blend and bottle our own wine – Excelsior Our Own Creation! The challenge now is do we keep it or drink it!

 

Bacchus would have been proud of us. The day moved into a haze of splendour and by late afternoon, it was time to head off to the Spar in Montagu and stock up on provisions for our braai at our overnight weekend guest house in the Koo Valley, north of Montagu.

What a spectacular valley that has escaped me, and I guess many others, all these years.

Most of us, I would imagine, are familiar with the name Koo and Langeberg – being the brand names of canned fruit and vegetables that have graced our kitchens over the years and that we all have eaten somewhere along the line.

Langeberg, of course, means “long mountain”. It’s the range that runs parallel to the Indian Ocean coast all the way from Robertson to Swellendam and beyond. The Koo (Khoisan for “cold”) is a valley between these mountains and the next range that forms the border with the Great Karoo. The road that runs through it links the R62 at Montagu with the N1 at Touws River. It is in this valley that we find the fruit and vegetables that go into those cans!

The scenery is magnificent, and would become even more clear to us on the following day when we ascended the mountain.

In the meantime, in the quietness of the setting sun and the darkening sky, we braaied in front of our cottage at Oak Guest Cottages, and called it an early evening! Saturday belonged to Protea Farm.

 

 

life’s TOO short for …

Friday 28 October 2011: 5 years 1 month on …

My Mother, Doris Lunnon (neé Stanbridge) would have turned 80 today. However, she died as a result of a heart attack on 19 November 1986 at the age of 55.

My Father, Herbert Louis Lunnon, died as a result of a heart attack on 30 May 1976 at the age of 60.

In their memory, please add on as a comment at the bottom of this blog entry, your thought on

life’s TOO short for …

thank you!

  •  single-ply toilet paper (unknown)
  • box wine (Annette Jones)

 Click here for http://www.edlunnon.co.za/content/27

This Is No Micky Mouse Medical!

Tuesday 25 October 2011: 5 years 1 month on … Advantage CBD

In 1975, at the age of 19, I visited the original Disneyland in Anaheim, Los Angeles,California,USA.

I thought and acted as if I was six!

It was just a one-day visit, but it was the most unbelievable experience.

At the time, I recall writing about it in my diary. Where that diary is I do not know – maybe one day I’ll find it in a box somewhere in the garage. I certainly hope so.

In January 1988, at the age of 32, I visited the much larger Disney World in Orlando,Florida,USA.

I thought and acted as if I was still six!

This time it was a three-day visit, but it was the most unbelievable experience.

In October/November 1999, I visited Disney World in Orlando again and attended a course at the University of Disney World.

I still thought and acted as if I was six! This time it was a ten-day visit, and it was the most unbelievable experience.

But, unfortunately, we don’t live in Disney. We live in a harsh world of cruel reality – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Sometimes it’s up, sometimes it’s down; sometimes it’s rough, sometimes it’s smooth; sometimes it’s sunshine, sometimes it’s rain; sometimes it’s laughter, sometimes it’s tears; sometimes it’s advantage ED, sometimes it’s advantage CBD.

Yes, it’s up today and down tomorrow. Hero to zero, they say!

We have witnessed, in the last few weeks, months and years, the downfall and demise of “world leaders” – amongst others, Hussein, Mubarak, Karadzic, Mladic, Ceauşescu, Gadaffi. Even our very own Thabo Mbeki

One of the rides in the Magic Kingdom is called “It’s a Small World”.

As you sit in your travel cart and traverse through the many wonderful routes and ends and countries and scenes of our planet, you hear the words of the song (ad nauseam maybe?):

It’s a world of laughter, a world or tears
Its a world of hopes, it’s a world of fear
There’s so much that we share
That it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all

 
There is just one moon and one golden sun 
And a smile means friendship to everyone. 
Though the mountains divide 
And the oceans are wide 
It’s a small small world 

Another ride puts you in a cart designed to be a blood corpuscle. By means of the wonders of modern technology you get taken on a(n imaginary) ride through the highways and byways of the human body. You travel through the blood circulatory routes, the lymphatic system, the nervous system; you visit the various organs along the way and you just marvel at the intricacies and the wonder of the human body.

I thought that today I should take you on a tour of my body, not because I want you to feel sorry for me, but because I am often asked,  “Now tell me honestly, just how do you feel? … But of course, you look so good …!”

It’s a sort of State of the Nation address. (And, please remember, this state does not remain constant: it varies considerably from day to day and from hour to hour. It improves with peace and quiet and regresses with stress. It gives and it takes … until it leaves you with no more.)

Let’s start at the toes on the right leg and move up.

Everything here is fine – no traffic jams, no congestion, no accidents, no pile-ups. It’s all free-flowing traffic.

The left leg is very different though. The toes are constantly spasming (if there is such a word!) and curling up downwards and inwards. Like a spring that has lost its attachment points, the calf muscle contracts and the leg wants to rest in an L-shape bent at the knee. Any other position is uncomfortable. As the brain loses control over the muscles, they keep on contracting more and more.

Between the knee and the hip there is a constant feeling of pins and needles. The strength in the leg is decreasing and it sometimes just wants to give way underneath me. When walking, it resists being lifted and wants to drag along behind me. Consequently, my limp is becoming more pronounced. My left leg has over-taken my left arm in becoming my most affected limb.

Moving upwards, the bladder is affected and has obviously, like the muscles, lost its elasticity. It fills and doesn’t empty properly and is prone to infection.

Oh shoot … I have to go again …

… and again …

At least, I get to sit down on the throne and have found it the best place to sit. Because the gluts in my left buttock are atrophying, the act of sitting becomes more uncomfortable. But, a toilet seat works well, so I’ve taken to sitting on a portable covered seat, and that works … at least for the moment!

From bum to chest: My diaphragm and lungs are weakening. I am breathing shallower than before and get out of breath quickly.

Now, let’s do the arms and hands, going down the right side first. My right arm is about a year behind the left side as far as the regression is concerned. All that is visible is the wasting away of the muscles, especially in the hand and fingers, and the curling up of the fingers (just like the toes!) However, despite the very slight tremor, I can still control my right fingers.

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to lift my arms, with the left side being much weaker than the right side. The left fingers (where it all started!) are the worst, with very little voluntary controlled movement left. The ring finger, like the corresponding toe in my left foot, is the very worst. The tremors in all the fingers have become more visible. The muscles are wasted. The arms want to rest crossed on my chest.

 My left arm is difficult to lift and to move from point to point. It often needs the guidance and support of the right arm. Bear in mind that I am left-handed, so the effect is even more pronounced.

For the first time, this week, I have experienced just a little pain in the upper arm.

My shoulders are drooping and curving in, together with my upper torso.

Swallowing becomes more affected. Last week, a humble little pea got stuck in my throat. I thought I was going to die, but, eventually, the pea was coughed out! I’m going to have to learn to eat slower and chew better.

Then there’s the eyesight. My depth of perception is affected and stairs especially pose a challenge.  I have to look increasingly downwards to negotiate walking. My eyes are also taking time to adjust from far sight to near sight. From reading a book to watching the TV (or vice versa) takes a while for the eyes to adjust.

Eventually there’s my brain – the various parts of it: some working and some not!

This is the seat (?) of my problem. The manufacturer of the dopamine has gone on strike and production is limited and affected – as are the departments that control my short-term memory, my ability to plan and sequence, my temperature gauge, my sense of taste and smell, and my ability to absorb and execute instructions, and to spell and work with figures.

There is a pall of haze that hangs over my head – whether from the disease or from the medication. It’s like being in a constant state of hangover (not that I would know, but I’m told that’s how it feels!!) Sometimes, like a morning mist, it burns off and lifts for a while – what a gift to enjoy.

The more those parts of the brain in charge of the above regress, the more “that part” which controls me and my will-power has to be strong, resolute, firm, determined and unwavering.

“That part” has also not been working all that well over the last two weeks.

 But, we’ll get there again. 

 

The Cape of Good Hope: Day 6 (Thursday)

 

Monday 24 October 2011: 5 years 1 month on … Advantage CBD 

The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
    

Thursday                                        Trip to Robben Island

Thursday evening                          Drinks at Forester’s Arms in Newlands (Old Greys)

Friday                                             Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)

Saturday                                         Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)

Sunday morning                              Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 6 – Thursday 5 October 2011

In June 2010, when we last visited Cape Town together as a family, we booked to visit that icon of the South African apartheid era, Robben Island and its infamous prison where Nelson Mandela and many others were imprisoned – our South African version of San Francisco’s Alcatraz! (Robben, by the way, comes from the Dutch word robben meaning seal, of which there are many on the Island.)

I have visited Alacatraz (in January 1988) when Grant Lloyd and I toured the USA, and I have visited Robben Island before. In my student years at Stellenbosch, the prison authorities organised dinner dances in the prison hall, and it was a novel evening’s entertainment. We would drive from Stellies to Cape Town harbour, cross the open Table Bay waters by ferry to the Robben Island harbour, disembark there, and then be transported by bus to the Prison Hall.

Music was provided by the prisoners’ band and the prisoners also acted as waiters, serving the best of seafood that the cold waters around the island could provide. (I sometimes have wondered if we were ever served by Madiba himself, seeing of course that no-one knew what he looked like at that time. It was against the law of the land to publish pictures of that terrorist!)

Drinks could only be bought in large measure – a six-pack of beer, a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of brandy, a litre of Coke or whatever … need less to say, the trip back to Cape Town harbour on the last ferry at 02h00 was not a pleasant experience. Much alcohol and heavy seas do not make for good bed-fellows! 

One evening, on the way back to res from The Island, I had an accident with Mom’s blue Renault 16TS at the entrance of the Cloetesville Road into Stellenbosch. That was the end of her Renault and the beginning of her brand new orange Toyata Corolla 1300! 

That all is history now.

The Island is presently one of the country’s premier tourist attractions. However, the family and I have never visited the Island in its current museum form. Hence, our early booking last year at the time of the SA FIFA World Cup.

But it was not to be. The weather turned foul, the rain poured down and the westerly wind howled, all trips were cancelled and we were left disappointed.

So, this year we booked again for the Thursday. And the long-term weather forecast for the week assured us that Thursday would be a peach of a day – in fact, the best day of the week: no wind and warm temperatures. Nothing would stop us this time and the excitement was palpable.

Sean, who had gone to the Coldplay concert in Green Point on Wednesday evening and had stayed over in Cape Town, was given strict instructions of ensuring that he would meet up with us before our scheduled trip at 13h00. Either he would stay in Cape Town where we would collect him, or he would get a lift to The Strand early enough to join up with us.

Well, at 09h00, we received an sms from the Robben Island Tourist Authority advising us that, due to technical difficulties, all boat trips to The island had been cancelled! Disappointment once again! One could hardly believe that a premier tourist attraction in Cape Town, and in the middle of the school holidays, could be cancelled at sush short notice (and that there were no contingency plans to hire another boat or whatever!)

(We have subsequently heard that, like so many other things in this country, the running of this business has also deteriorated rapidly and is subject to bribery, corruption and maladministration!)

Anyway, we had to replan the day, and decided to go to Hout Bay instead. But, we had to wait for Sean, and his return got later and later. The expectation of 10h00 became midday (thanks to no fault of his own) and my next explosion resulted. So, when we eventually left for Hout Bay, the tension in the car could be felt, and it took quite a while to recover.

But the beauty of lunch at Marriner’s Wharf, the walk on the harbour wall, the drinks at the restaurant and the trip on the boat out to Seal island thawed out my anger. What started out as a day of great expectation, was almost ruined by me, but luckily, we managed to salvage it.  

The Peninsula remains the Cape of Good Hope (even for me)!

My next appointment was “Forries” in Newlands. So we returned to Cape Town around 17h00 via Llandudno, Bakoven, Clifton, Bantry Bay, Camps Bay, Sea Point and green Point. But not as quickly as you have just taken to read through the list of names. In fact, it took us an hour to travel that short distance from Hout Bay to Newlands.

It was rush-hour traffic in the Mother City and being a beautiful day, the beaches and Beach Rd cafés were crowded (despite being a Thursday afternoon!) All Cape Town’s beautiful people were out in full force – tanning, sipping, solving the world’s problems and gossiping (no doubt); but no swimming – the Atlantic Ocean and the Benquela current make the water too cold for that!

It would have been quicker to go to Newlands over Kloof Nek ( the pass between Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. But the reason we took the coastal road was to find Phill a new pair of slops (beach shoes). His had broken after having been worn out by Charlie, our new Jack Russell.

So, somewhere, in High Level Road, Sea Point, waiting for the traffic to move, Phill rushed in to the shoe shop and bought new ones, and I rushed into the ATM and drew money … and the traffic just moved on slowly! (We are so spoiled in Port Elizabeth when it comes to traffic or, should I say, lack thereof!)

Foresters’ Arms is a pub and restaurant in Newlands. We frequented it as students and it serves as a meeting place for many groups of people. No visit to Cape Town is complete without a visit to Forries!  

Adrian van Westenbrugge, an Old Grey and ex-pupil of mine had organised for a few friends to meet there. It was great catching up over a cold Guiness with him and his girlfriend, Johnny Hill, Belinda Walton and her partner Neil, and Pera’s brother, Bruce, also joined us.

All this time, as kids do today, Sean (who thanks to modern technology in the form of Face Book and BBM) had been in contact with his mates. So, just when it was home-time, Sean asked if we could stay a little longer as friends of his from UCT were about to arrive, too.

So we ordered pizza’s for supper (really good ones!) and visited a while longer with, amongst others, Hugh van Niekerk (from Grey and Middleton fame) and Trilby Brown – Wayne and  Janet’s daughter.

Then, it was home-time! We headed back to The Strand for the last time on this trip, and to packing up, before we dropped into bed. Friday morning early would see us starting the trip home via the Breede River valley.

The Cape of Good Hope: Day 5 (Wednesday)

Thursday 20 October 2011: 5 years 1 month on … Advantage ED

 
The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
    

Wednesday                                    AlgoaFM from Waterkloof Farm and wine tasting

Wednesday evening                      Rocking Horse Show – Durbanville (Die Boer Theatre)

Thursday                                        Trip to Robben Island

Thursday evening                            Drinks at Forrester’s Arms in Newlands (Old Greys)

Friday                                           Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)

Saturday                                       Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)

Sunday morning                             Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 5 – Wednesday 5 October 2011

We had been so fortunate with the weather – it just kept on getting better and better. And so our early rise on Wednesday presented yet another beautiful warm windless day,

Sean had arranged to get a lift to Cape Town on Wednesday morning with friends of his. He was off to see the Coldplay concert at the new Cape Town Stadium (built for last years FIFA World Cup) and was scheduled to meet up with us again on Thursday morning.

We were off to the Waterkloof Wine Farm – just behind Somerset West on the slopes of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, and we had to be there before 10h30 in order for me to do my AlgoaFM chat show via telephone to host Lance du Plessis.

Waterkloof is a modern newly-built wine farm, and they say “every picture tells a story” and “a picture is worth a thousand words”! So please look at the photos accompanying this blog and at the previous photo blog and admire the beauty of the Hottentots Holland basin, the HH mountains, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Gordons Bay, Strand, Somerset West, False Bay and the Cape Peninsula in the distance. My words can certainly do no justice to such magnificence!

After my interview (which was minimal as a result of a discussion about the dangers of fracking – listen to the podcast), we did our first wine tasting of the week: the Waterkloof wines. Then we headed off for lunch on the other side of Somerset West, behind the Helderberg, on the way to Stellenbosch. This time we were visiting the farm  Avontuur, the owner of which is now married to Jake White, the ex Springbok rugby coach.

A splendid meal was had on the terrace, with a view of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak in the southern distance and the Helderberg as the northern vista.

We got home late afternoon, and barely had time for a short snooze, before we were picked up by Sebastian and his father and friend Kallie van Heerden. This time we were  heading off to Durbanville and to the Die Boer Theatre – sort of restaurant come theatre come pub all rolled into one.

It’s owned by Jurgen Human, who studied electrical engineering with me at Stellenbosch and once courted my sister. He went on to work at the SABC, married Afrikaans theatre doyen Dowwe Dolle and is now involved in this theatre venture. It’s quaint, it’s fun, it’s enjoyable. You eat and you drink and you listen to the music. And tonight it’s Country and Western!

The band playing is Rocking Horse, and two of the members of the band of three are Ridgways, cousins of Sebastian and sons of Sebastian’s father’s late brother. So it’s all in the family tonight, except for Sean, who by now was rocking away at the Coldplay concert in Green Point.

So, today had been one of wine, food and song. Another great day which was serving as the prelude for our much-anticipated trip to Robben Island on Thursday. And the weather was forecast to be an even better day – warm and windless. 

Our eyes started closing on the half-hour trip back to The Strand from Durbanville …

On a Roll

Wednesday 19 October 2011: 5 years 1 month on … Advantage ED

This morning, I heard an AlgoaFM Morning Show listener say on air that “life is too short for single-ply toilet paper”!

I repeated the “quote” later on my own show as the “thought of the week”. For me the quote sums up what we have been talking about on Ed is in wED over the last eighteen months. We should not be satisfied with the standard grade, the mediocre, the basics, the simple of life but should constantly be striving for higher grade and for excellence.

Later, at Bluewaters Café, Kobus and Isaac came to chat and drink coffee with me. We were discussing travelling in the world and the opportunities that travel offers. One could remain in Port Elizabeth for one’s entire life (single-ply living) or could explore this magnificent world of ours (multi-ply living). One could travel to Cape Town non-stop or stop along the way and experience the beauty of our wonderful Earth. The choice is ours as we travel through life.

The more I thought of this profound quote, the more I realised that life has so many similarities to a toilet roll!

In South Africa, we call it toilet paper. The English talk about pottie paper. The Americans refer to it as toilet tissue. Yes, we can call life as it is or, like the Americans, address it euphemistically.

Whatever!

The shape of the roll is the circle of life. It spins around on its holder as our world rotates on its axis, and as we sometimes spin around in circles as we traverse through life. All the time, it gets shorter and shorter.

Sometimes life is smooth and pleasurable – sometimes it’s downright hard. Sometimes we live for long periods at a time and everything goes well as it was planned and expected to do. But occasionally, when we least anticipate it, the paper snaps in the wrong place, just like we snap when we least expect it, and life snaps when everything was seemingly going so smoothly. At times, it hangs on a thread.

Like the Circle of Life, the roll begins and it ends. It starts off enveloped in a cacoon: in life, the cacoon of the womb and in the case of the tissue, the cacoon of the wrapping paper – normally the separation from that cacoon is easy and occasionally it is complicated, tears apart and begins with great difficulty.

As we choose our tissue, we choose our way of life – single ply or multi-ply. It could be simple, or more elaborate. We choose the texture and the colour:  just plain white or vibrant pastels. We can make it as exciting or as boring as we choose. It’s our choice!

Life has its length so accurately measured in equal units of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. It’s just like the length of the roll which is so carefully measured in equal squares. But just how long is a toilet roll; how long will it last – does anyone know, except the One who made it in the first place?

In truth, when it begins, we just don’t know how long it will last – it’s seemingly never-ending. But then, it does finish; sometimes with a word of warning and sometimes no notice at all.

Whichever way it comes to an end, it leaves us devastated. Normally, there’s unfinished business.

However, the truth and the reality is that there IS a next one to replace the one that has expired. But the majority of the expired disappear into the sands of time with no trace of having achieved anything of value.

Whilst each one has fulfilled a vital role in life; few, if any – the exceptional – will be remembered in death.

After all, that’s the Circle of Life … and the Circle of Toilet Tissue … they come and go.

 

And, oh yes – sometimes, like to the tissue, life gets the whole hand – the High Five – and sometimes it gets … just the finger! Once again, it’s our choice.