There’s No Thirst Like Bathurst

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 29 October 2013: 7 years 1 month on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

Last Thursday I received an email from (unknown to me) Tanya Schenk in Bathurst, some 200km east of Port Elizabeth.

Tanya invited me to the

A B C … An Affair in the Bathurst Country!

It all became an A B C D E F … A Bathurst Cooking Drinking Eating Festival!

The Bathurst Country Affair is about food, wine and friends.  And throw in a lot of music!

The invitation read:

Join us for a celebration of everything that is good about Life!

Welcome to the Bathurst Country Affair! We are so thrilled to share our beautiful village, Bathurst, THE CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE with you. We wish you a most enjoyable visit and we extend an invite to you and yours to come back and visit us again and again!

Our map only highlights the venues of the Chef meals, wine tastings and other events related to this event – there are so many amazing shops in the Village – simply take a walk around the Village and you will discover many delights! There just isn’t enough room to show you everything, so EXPLORE!

So I arrived in Bathurst on Friday afternoon – a total stranger to a village that I haven’t visited in some twenty years.

And I left Bathurst on Sunday morning – with a string of new friends and a book full of memories; far too many to document here.

Even the torrential downpour that arrived early on Saturday morning and the drizzle that continued throughout the weekend, whilst necessitating many last-minute re-arrangements, could not put out the enthusiasm or the spirit of Bathurst.

Scheduled for the weekend were chef meals with local and celebrity chefs, fine dining and wine tastings, art galleries, nursery tours, buskers, upmarket exhibitions, waitron races, pineapple throwings, wacky walks, a kaskar/soapbox derby, Lord Winston Carriage Rides, mountain bike challenge and an Amazing Horse and Pony Adventure.

All of these things were taking place in and around the Village at places like The Workshop Gallery, the Pig and Whistle, The Bathurst Arms, Kingston Farm, The Corner Gallery, Bradshaw’s Mill, The ‘thursty Monkey and The Bathurst Green.

The music varied from The Silver Creek Band to Craig Mischief and to any others who wished to sing along!

All of this to Showcase the Historical Village of Bathurst!

Well, pencil in your diary for October 2014, and join me at the Bathurst Country Affair. I hope it’s a lengthy affair!

My heartfelt thanks to Tanya for the invite and to everyone else for the chat, the hug, the handshake, the dance, the drink, the meal, the laugh, the fun, the bed, the friendship! (I certainly don’t want to mention any names in case I leave yours out!)

I must add that the accommodation at the My Pond Hotel in Port Alfred was also superb and well worth a return visit!

More information about our Affair may be found on the website http://www.bathurstcountryaffair.co.za/.

Enjoy the few pics that I have attached to this blog.

“If you can pop in for a visit, please contact me personally so we can welcome you and make you feel at home!” – Those were the closing words of Tanya’s invitation.

I would like to think, by the welcome I received, that I have acquired another new home at the Centre of the Universe!

 

For the Last Time

ED is in the week EnDing wED 24 April 2013

  • Wed 17: Happy Lands Addo Women’s Institute meeting and AlgoaFM broadcast / Maggie Thatcher’s funeral / Fathers’ Rugby meeting at Grey
  • Thu 18: Visit Isaac / Lunch Gavin / Haircut / Blast in West, Texas
  • Fri 19: Visit Ben, Jenny / Lunch Andrew / Host boys from Paul Roos / Watched CNN – Boston
  • Sat 20: Rugby vs Paul Roos at Grey / Kings vs Bulls at NMB Stadium / Power Boat Club
  • Sun 21: Relax and Sleep and London Marathon!
  • Mon 22: Sean’s car at TAVCOR / Phil’s SU application forms / Arrange trip to Wynberg and HH Reunion
  • Tue 23: Willie Bosch/Brian Bezuidenhout: APDStellenbosch

FOR THE LAST TIME

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 23 April 2013: 6 years 7 months on …

GAME ED

Sean left school at the end of 2010. I had set it as one of my goals to see him get into matric and to leave school.

That was because I had been told in February 2007 that I would be “severely incapacitated” by 2010 (three years!) and dead by 2012 (five years!).

Well, now it’s 2013 and Phillip is in matric and I’m not dead and neither am I severely incapacitated! I am grateful for this extra time.

I haven’t even set myself a goal of seeing Phil getting to the end of his school career! I have just assumed that I will still be here. I just don’t know anymore!

But, what I do know is that everything we do with Phil at school this year is “for the last time”. The chicks are slowly leaving the nest, and by next year, we will no longer have children at school. That chapter will be closed.

It was the last encounter with Paul Roos Gymnasium from Stellenbosch this past Saturday. (I did my practice teaching at Paul Roos way back in 1979.)

This Saturday is our last encounter against Wynberg in Cape Town, and I hope to go down to the Western Cape for that. Then there’s Bloemfontein later this year and NO I’m not organising any trains for parents to Bloemfontein! I did one in 2007 and one in 2009 and they were the best, coldest, latest, drunken trips to Bloem that I have ever done. Luckily, I don’t think the SA Railways even has spare coaches any more, and I’m not even going to try to find out if they know where their rolling stock is!

But as one door closes, the next one opens. So today I had to fill in some forms for Phillip’s application to Stellenbosch University next year. He wants to do mechanical engineering at my Alma Mater.

It was a scene of déja vu. I could see myself filling in my own university application forms 40 years ago! The difference is that we physically filled in paper forms and made bank deposits – now it’s all “online” and EFT transfers!

We’ll keep our fingers crossed that his application will be successful. And he wants to stay in Helshoogte Residence – she was my very happy home for 6 years. And I was her primarius in 1981.

And while I’m filling in Phil’s application forms on the one side, I am also busy filling in my forms to attend Helshoogte’s fortieth birthday party next month.

Even though it clashes with the reunion in May of my last matric class that I taught at Grey, I certainly won’t miss “Heaven is a place on Earth” – Stellenbosch, my birthplace and place of my education. Born and bred in Matieland!

So I’m trying to juggle times and planes and lifts and accommodation to maximise my attendance at both reunion functions on that second weekend in May. Of all the 52 weeks of the year, why, oh, why are these two reunions on the same weekend? Life can not just be simple, can it? Not even with good old customer service.

Not for the last time, I hope, I headed off to Tavcor Motors this afternoon. Last year, I had some bad service from them with Sean’s car and often businesses mess up even more when they go into recovery mode. Not them!

They have made it up to me in leaps and bounds. I can only thank and congratulate Garrick and his two PA’s, Elaine and Yolande, for the most unbelievable excellent service – way beyond the call of duty – that they have given to me with the repairing of Sean’s Polo that was damaged in the hailstorm outside Graaff-Reinet two months ago. If this is the type of service that they offer then I can only recommend them in future.

And not for the last time have we witnessed the things that we have seen this past week: bombings at Boston; explosions at West, Texas; earthquakes in China; floods in the Eastern Cape …

I will write more later.

Lifting Our Spirits

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 26 February 2013: 6 years 5 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED

It’s the end of February 2013 and there’s not even a leap year day to make it one day longer.

Two months of the twelve – two twelfths, or as a mathematician would say: the fraction reduced to its simplest form of one sixth of the year – gone! And, most probably with it, all the good intentions and New Year resolutions have also gone.

Gone but definitely not forgotten.

Health wise these have been two difficult months for me. I have more tremors and spasms, more loss of use of three of my four limbs, headaches and problems with my eyes, weak neck muscles, loss of memory, tiredness and increasing speech problems.

On the domestic front, we lost my car in the October floods, property in the November St Francis fire, the dishwasher on Christmas Day, the oven, the blocked drains, the flood of water through the roof in the cloudburst three weeks ago, Sean’s pocked hail-damaged car (now in for a month’s repairs) in the Graaff-Reinet storm … and the list continues.

On the national stage we have seen more and more corruption and potholes, theft, lies, poor health and education facilities and general “service delivery” issues. There have been the mine strikes and the farm labour unrest and riots. The murders, the rapes, the car accidents and manslaughter on the roads continue unabated.

As various Days of Remembrance and Activism have been called, we have worn black clothes and red and yellow and pink and blue and green and … nothing seems to make a difference.

Who even remembers the name of the young girl raped and murdered in Bredasdorp any more?

Then, of course, we have endured the Reeva Steenkamp / Oscar Pistorius saga of the last two weeks, and long, I know, will that continue.

However, there have been the Lifting our Spirits “feel good” stories too.

The last few months have seen the “Searching for Sugarman” – the documentary telling the story and playing the music of Rodriguez who, despite being a non-entity in the USA, was in the eighties, and is today again, a great music phenomenon in this country.

There are so many Life Lessons to learn from this human story (see my blog SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN).

The cherry on the cake, of course, was the crowning of the movie on Sunday night with an Oscar as the best Documentary of 2012!  

After the storms, there has been sublime weather hosting  the trip into The Bay on The Jester, the Concert in the Park with the EP Philharmonic Orchestra, the annual Redhouse River Mile (ironically now moved to the Sundays River – which in itself tells us the story that if Life hand us lemons turn it into lemonade!)

Sean spent the weekend doing what he does best – on duty at the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).  At no cost to himself, other than a few hours of his own personal time, he jumps from roofs and helicopters into the sea, gets to swim and be hoisted back out of the water and gets to save lives when duty calls.

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Phillip was lifting his spirits by throwing a javelin at a school athletics meeting at the Westbourne Oval – a sport in which he has only recently become involved.

Pera is painting, and her first attempt is on exhibition at this time! So her spirits are also lifted and will be even more so when she makes her first sale!

It was good to go out on Saturday evening to that wonderful Shrine of Togetherness that has been left to our Port Elizabethan citizens as part of the 2011 FIFA World Cup ® legacy. It surely lives up to its name as the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium!

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All in all, as one compares the various stadia around the country built for the football spectacular, it would appear that ours is the best used now. It really is an asset to our City and hopefully will be maintained and utilised even more for many years to come.

It has been built in just the right spot.  A spectacular building by any means, access is so easy and quick, and getting home a dream (even without a single traffic cop on duty!)  The view is stunning from which ever seat you sit in the house. And it brings the people of the City – all of us – together in a place where we can forget all the problems of the day and for a brief few hours celebrate our togetherness as human beings.

So the excitement on Saturday was palpable. For the first time, our Eastern Province Southern Kings were playing in the South African conference against the teams of the Australian and New Zealand conferences of the Super 15 rugby competition.

Our fledgling minnows, written off by most, supposedly didn’t stand a chance against the Western Force of Australia. No side has gone into Super Rugby and won its opening game!

Yet, with pride, passion, guts and determination we beat them 22-10. (And underlining the Southern King’s winning status was two try scorer eighteen- year-old Sergeal Petersen, who just three months ago was a pupil at Grey High playing with our own sons!)

Like Life, his are the first steps of a long competition – sometimes up; sometimes down!  

And Life is the Art of Drawing – without an eraser!  Unlike Phil’s six javelin throws, we only get one attempt at Life. We all have experiences where we wished now that we could turn back the clock. But our experiences, and how we handle them, determine our destiny.

What’s important to remember is that life will continue to throw the bad at us… and the good! We have to get up … and there is so much to lift our spirits – to help us to get up – be it music or meals or movies; sea or sports or swimming; art or athletics or Academy Awards.  

Queen Victoria said “As long as there’s tea, there’s hope”!

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From Polo to Golf

Tuesday 12 February 2013: 6 years 5 months on …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Deuce

This is an abbreviated blog of the last week:

Wed 6 Feb: AlgoaFM with Briony; Meeting with accountant; Sabet (Dr Brown) Dentist; Sean (drink at Old Grey Club)

Thu 7 Feb: Admin with Nadine / Graeme Harris visit from Graaff-Reinet / Hydrotherapy / Visit from Isaac / Jester Trip into Algoa Bay with Ashley and Bev

Fri 8 Feb (my 6th anniversary of diagnosis): Rodriguez Lookalike concert at Old Grey

Sat 9 Feb: Trip to Graaff-Reinet – hail storm 50km out of GR!!! Car turned from Polo to Golf ball with dents … ten minutes of hell …

Sun 10 Feb: Flash floods at home in PE: 40mm in 30 minutes ?

Sat till Wed 13: With Gordon and Rose Wright in Graaff-Reinet

 

 

I’ve Been There!

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Sunday 16 December 2012 (Reconciliation Day): 6 years 3 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

It’s a joke in our home. Often when something happens somewhere, or a place is shown on TV, then I will say “I’ve been there!”

Yes, I am fortunate to have been to many places around the world.

So when the news started filtering through on Friday evening about the horrific shooting of twenty odd elementary school children and six of their teachers in Connecticut, USA, I could say “I’ve been there!”

Not in Newtown itself, but just some 80km down the road on the coast in Greenwich, Connecticut.

It was the winter of January 1976. I was eighteen and was staying on the east coast of the United States for a while just before I was to return to South Africa after my exchange student year in Oklahoma. I was the guest of members of the Rotary Club of New York City.

I had taken the train from New York’s Grand Central Station to Greenwich, which is an affluent town on the east coast. I spent the weekend and then left from there by limousine for John F Kennedy airport, en route to London, Nairobi, Johannesburg and home to Cape Town.

Greenwich is a town similar to our St Francis Bay – large homes, waterways, canals, boats and the Ocean – not the Indian but the Atlantic Ocean.

Not that there was much water activity then. Being winter in the northern hemisphere, it was cold and snow covered the countryside.

Just up the road was Newtown – a small quiet inland community where wealthier people escape to live outside the rigour of New York City and commute to the metropolis every day. Safe and tranquil – no signs of walls or fences, no discord or safety concerns. Heaven on Earth!

It’s a part of the beautiful New England states of America.

Hardly a place where one would have expected the horrific tragedy of last Friday!

I’ve been there (on the East Coast), but I’ve not been there (on the edge of despair).

One cannot imagine what was going on in that killer’s mind. One can not imagine what is going on in the minds of the people of that community right now.

It’s difficult to put yourself into the place of another if you have not been there yourself. One can sympathise but not empathise.

There is so much unhappiness, despair, death, ill-health, financial woes and hunger in our world.

Just this last week, AlgoaFM ran a promotion whereby listeners were invited to nominate people who they felt qualified to receive R2000 worth of SPAR vouchers because of their needy circumstances.

I nominated a particularly deserving family – but they did not feature in the final awards!

When I heard the circumstances of other families and individuals who received the vouchers, I was astounded by the problems that people who live amongst us have to deal with on a daily basis. My nominated family’s problems paled into insignificance!

Through my weekly radio slot I have also communicated with and met numerous people from all walks of life and with all kinds of issues. It has humbled me and kept me going in my particular circumstances when I have seen that others carry far more baggage than I have to carry.

Sometimes, I can only sympathise; but sometimes I can empathise, because I have been there, too!

People have to deal with job losses. I can empathise – I have been there when I was forced to resign my job in 2002.

People have to deal with storms, floods and fires. I can empathise – just recently I also lost property and my car in the fires and floods that we experienced in the Eastern Cape.

People have to deal with financial woes. They don’t know from where their next meal is coming. I can only sympathise.

People have to deal with inter-personal relationships and sadness. I can empathise.

People have to deal with illness and terminal disease. I can empathise.

People have to deal with the death of parents. I can empathise – I have been there, when I had to deal with the death of my parents at an all too early age.

And people, like those parents in Newtown and Sandy Hook, have to deal with the death of their children. I can only sympathise because I cannot put myself in their place and understand their situation.

The Gospel message – the Good News to the world – that Christians, celebrate at this Christmas time is that God became man and put Himself into our place in the Person of Jesus.

God can say that He was there!

Yes, He was here. He became my substitute. Instead of me dying for my sins, Jesus, sent by God, died in my place, paid the penalty for my sin in full and thus I can be reconciled to God, sins forgiven and have the hope of eternal heaven. That’s the Christian Good News.

So as we celebrate the Good News at this Christmas time, let’s think about the so many people who surround us and who carry unbelievable burdens. Let’s not just think about them – let’s do something for them. Let’s also be able to say to them:

“For you, I was there … at Christmas 2012.”

Jaaaa Boet!

Ja Boet!

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 19 November 2012: 6 years 2 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

On Saturday evening we attended a show in a 700-seater marquee at Grey called “Boet and Swaer” (Brother and Brother-in-Law). It’s a parody on South African life told through the eyes and in the accent of of two farmers from the Albany / Grahamstown area.

The show was preceded by the International rugby match between Scotland and the Springboks at Murrayfield in Edinburgh (which we won), followed by a dance ably discoed by Charlie T of AlgoaFM’s  DMB Morning Show and interspersed by a well-stocked Castle Corner.

Four years ago in 2008, I was at Murrayfield watching that game (which we won) with Barryvan der Vyfer, and his son and neighbour. I also bumped into MikeCarswell there who was head of Meriway House at Grey in my first year of teaching in 1984. I also attended the Old GreyDinner in London the following week. (This year’s dinner is scheduled for this coming Thursday evening – a gathering in central London for all the Old Grey’s who (tragically) now live in the UK.)

Two years ago in 2010, I was at OliverTamboInternationalAirport in Johannesburg watching that game on TV (which we lost) with friend AndrewJonker and his business associate. They were on their way to do business in Europe and I was on my way to watch the England / Springbok game at Twickenham the following Saturday (which we won), visit MikeCarswell in Dublin and to attend the Old GreyDinner in London.

Anyway, back to the show. It’s a good laugh at ourselves as “Souties, Dutchmen and Dlamini” South Africans and we need to be able to laugh like that sometimes. All the F words – after Ficksburg,  the floods and fires, farm and factory unrest, the Police Force and force, the Farlam Commission, the financial impropriety and woes of the President and his multi-million rand private house(s) and the falling rand of the last few weeks, we especially need to laugh – and we don’t need to use that F-Word to do that!

It’s been a long haul from Andries Tatane in Ficksburg in the Free State, through Julius Malema in Limpopo to Marikana in the Northwest, the farm violence in the Western Cape, Nkandla in Kwa-Zulu-Natal, the floods in the Eastern Cape, the President’s penis and E-tolling in Gauteng and on to Mangaung next month in the Free State.

Sometimes in Life it’s necessary to halt, take a long pause and ponder the options and way forward. Sometimes it’s necessary to take one’s head out of the sand, take action and to get involved.  

As Boet says, it’s in those moments (which the audience thinks are scripted but when you actually just run out of words and don’t know what to say and just ponder about what’s to come) when, like now, that you just say:

“Jaaaaaa,  Boet!”     (Yesssss, Brother!)

Light in the Night

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 30 October 2012: 6 years 1 month on …

Physical Advantage CBD / Mental Advantage CBD

As I write this, I am watching on TV the devastation that superstorm Sandy is leaving in its wake in the eastern states of the USA. It is one of the biggest – if not the biggest storm – ever to have hit the United States.

The storm has moved in from the Atlantic Ocean and has swept in from the East Coast visiting, amongst others, the states of New York, New Jersey, Virginia,  Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Baltimore …

A thirteen foot high tidal surge, rain and wind has left New York New York, Atlantic City and other  towns and cities reeling under floods, fire and snow!

New York is powerless!

Indeed, one week before the American Presidential election, the State of these States has been declared a “major disaster” by President Obama. However, there will be many stories of personal heroism and human endeavour.

It affects me!

It affects me because these are areas of the US that I have been privileged to live in and visit and because I have friends and family who live there.

I am as familiar with Battery Park, Manhattan, Ground Zero, Central Park, Wall Street and Fifth Avenue in New York as I am with St Georges Park, Third Avenue Dip, Brickmakers, Target Kloof and Port Alfred.

The latter places, of course, all being here in the Eastern Cape where we also faced the fury of Mother Nature last weekend when some 200 – 300 mm of rain was dumped on us.

Despite the devastation, there have been tales of personal heroism and human endeavour.

That has affected me too!

Not only because we witnessed the rain and the devastation first hand, not only because it angered me so much that a lot of the damage could have been prevented by better maintenance, preparation and supervision, but also because we got caught up in the floods.

We went out on Saturday evening for supper to celebrate Phillip’s prefectship. On our way home, down Wychwood Avenue, we got caught up in the water that had flooded the road. The car stalled and we had to be towed out.

On Monday it was towed to Maritime and on Tuesday I was informed that all was well – the engine was turning and would require a bit of TLC to get it back into shape.

However, on Wednesday, I was informed that it had been the wrong car (!) and that mine would not start. Yesterday, I was told that my car would have to be written off! We especially bought the station wagon because of my illness – it is automatic and has space for a wheelchair and whatever else.

I am devastated.

I have lost my health, my job, my holiday house and now my car.

I am devastated.

But, as I have said so many times before, it is in the darkness of the storms that life throws at you that you have to look for the little flicker of light that will keep you going.

I have to pick myself up from yet another blow.

I will find that flicker and the light will shine bright!