Carpe Diem

7 years 11 months ill …
Physical : Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage CBD

Robin Williams

I recall the week:

EP returned to Currie Cup after 13(?) years out in the cold, and the boys and I returned to the Nelson Mandela Stadium to see my old home Prooooo-vince beat the EP Kings.

Grey played and beat Framesby. The Anglo-Boer War has still not ended! I recall my first game vs Framesby there in 1984 – 30 years ago!

It’s always nice to socialize in the Rector’s garden: this time to end the school’s home rugby fixtures. The Stapletons continue their hectic dinner party schedule and we are fortunate to be included on their A or B or C list – whatever it is! Too many ill people are pushed aside by their friends!

I’m grateful to everyone who still remembers me – this week I had lunch with ex-pupils, Investec’s banker Gavin Loon and SAA pilot Barry Buchman. It’s always good to catch up and find out what is happening in the real world.

I also spent a full day in bed – it makes life a lot easier and eases the spasms. But it plays havoc with the mind and easily puts me into a downward spiral! That ever-lurking evil of depression moves in when you allow it.

Robin Williams succumbs to the demons and takes his own life! We lose yet another one of a rare breed. It would appear that Life is not for human beings! Very few, if any, make it unscathed!

Good Will Hunting, Mrs Doubtfire, Good morning Vietnam, Dead Poets’ Society …

Talking about societies, Helshoogte Residence at Stellenbosch gets its new primarius for 2015 in Nicholas de Villiers. In 1981, I became the tenth prim and the first English-speaking one.

I have been very sore and the spasms and tremors continue relentlessly. But today, after an extra session of massaging, hydrotherapy and physiotherapy, I feel much better! I even went for a run around the block! Let’s hope this continues …

In the words of the late Robin Williams:

“If you are that depressed, reach out to someone. Remember that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem!”

Lifeline – 086 132 2322

 

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

Make your lives extraordinary…seize the day!

View these clips:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omveFR-2hmg

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veYR3ZC9wMQ

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U91Wl2YpkD8

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I Remember Home in the Western Cape

7 years 7 months ill …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

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I remember …

My residence, Helshoogte, at Stellenbosch University where I lived from 1976 – 1981 and became the first English-speaking Primarius in 1981.

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I remember …

that the passages seemed longer than they are now, that the doors weren’t locked, that there was no chicken on the entrance ramp, there was definitely no swimming pool on the top floor and no pub in the res. The committee room was not so elaborate and Simonsberg is still in the same position!

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I remember …

tennis courts and parking areas where there are now new residences. And they still play rugby at Coetzenberg on a Friday afternoon at 17h00, much to the delight of all the students.

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I remember …

going home to The Strand, where my my sister Lynne (and Anton), their children Nicolette (and Morne) and Michelle (and Sebastian) and the grandchildren Nina and Hannah … the next generations … still live.

the magnificent windstill evenings over False Bay, the crowds walking along Melkbaai Beach and the sun setting over Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula.

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I remember …

the N2 back to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, via Grabouw and Mossel Bay.

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Reunion Time

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 20 May 2013: 6 years 8 months on …

Game ED

I haven’t written for a while – not because I’m too ill but because I just haven’t had time! I’m flying high and living life in the fast lane!

Today is Sean’s 21st birthday! Another milestone in his and our lives and one which 6 years and eight months ago I never thought I would see.

Yes, today we celebrate 21 happy years of Sean’s life. As I said to him this morning, he has brightened all our lives and the world is richer for having him in it. I pray that God may spare us all to share many more happy years together. He teaches me so much about life and how one should handle its challenges and its ups and downs.

We are so proud of you, Son, and wish you a challenging, rewarding and trouble-free journey. May the Jeeps and Journeys of life carry you safely through to the other side and may the 4×4’s, the diff locks, the GPS’s and all the other gadgets help you when the going gets tough:  Life is never an easy ride – not for anyone and not for sissy’s!

Legally, you are now out there on your own, but remember, we are always here to provide you with a safe harbour and love and affection. There will always be food on the table – hopefully, we will see you more often than that!

Congratulations and God speed!

Sean will have a party later when his friends are in town – tonight we will celebrate in Lunnon family tradition by going out for supper at The Coachman!

It’s also the end of a very busy two weeks for me!

I will try and highlight the last two weeks and pencil in the flesh later:

Mon 6 May – returned from Baviaanskloof

Tue 7 May – MND Meeting: Laughter, the best medicine; braai at VP Tennis Club with Gordon Kotze and friends

Wed 8 May – AlgoaFM, Selley Concert, start of Grey Reunion at Old Grey Club

Thu 9 May – Old Greys’ Dinner

Fri 10 May – School Assembly, Lunch in the long room with class of 1988, Parade, Supper at Arkenstone (Class of ’88), flight to Cape Town, 40 year Birthday Celebrations at Helshoogte Stellenbosch until 3h00

Sat 11 May – Breakfast at Res, wine-tasting at Blaauwklippen, Dinner at In the Vine, Somerset West

Sun 12 May – Mothers Day: Church and brunch at res, to Durbanville (Wusts)

Mon 13 May – Tygerberg Hospital, Lunch at Tygervalley with Louis VII and Corne, Paarl (Engelbrechts – Rodeberg Lodge), Taal Monument, Paarl Rock

Tue 14 May – Coastal tour to Hermanus, lunch with Noel and Spekkies, back to Paarl via Villiersdorp and Franschoek

Wed 15 May – Via Stellenbosch to Strand (Van Jaarsvelds), Beach, Ridgways

Thu 16 May – Cape Town, Aunty Pat, Vergelegen (Deon Adriaanse)

Fri 17 May – Lunch Stellenbosch (Katz), Uncle Eric, Karen H and Sonja VR, Koshuis rugby,

Sat 18 May – Aunty Doreen and Uncle Peter (Gordons Bay), Lourensford (Andre, Willem, Gretel), Supper (Irene and Pieter)

Sun 19 May – return to Port Elizabeth (plane delayed with flat wheel)

Mon 20 May – Sean’s birthday and recovery time

MONDAY 20 MAY – DEVESTATING TORNADO IN MOORE, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

State song and Anthem

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain,

And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet

When the wind comes right behind the rain.

Oklahoma, ev’ry night my honey lamb and I

Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin’ lazy circles in the sky.

We know we belong to the land

And the land we belong to is grand!

And when we say – Yeeow] A-yip-i-o-ee ay!

We’re only sayin’ You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma! Oklahoma – O.K.

Sir’s on Strike

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 30 April: 6 years 7 months on …

Game ED

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As we left Port Elizabeth in the dark at 6am last Thursday morning, headed for Cape Town, the news reader on the radio was reading about strikes – bus drivers and teachers.

Well, neither in this bus was on strike!

I was travelling in the school bus with Grey’s 1st rugby team to their annual encounter with Wynberg Boys’ High. A teacher was at the wheel, the coaches were there, the team was there and I was accompanying them to watch Phillip play his last school rugby game in the Cape. Because of work commitments, Pera and Sean were unable to go, and I was only too thankful to get a lift on the bus.

Listening to the news and seeing firsthand the contribution that these teachers make to our children’s education, I was grateful for the dedication of so many teachers that we are privileged to experience.

Not many would be up at that time of the morning, accompanying, chauffeuring, coaching and driving. The irony being that it was exactly those teachers who would not do these things that were now on strike! Wanting more for doing less!

In front of us and behind us over the next four days, many other buses (with non-striking drivers?) transporting hundreds of boys and teachers, and many cars with parents and children, would all be heading for Cape Town – and back.

It wasn’t a pleasant trip. Warning lights, strange noises, flat wheel and no air-conditioning on a 30 degree day added to the stress. But I was home in Strand at 16h00.

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My nephew-in-law Sebastian picked me up at the N2 national road and by 18h00 I was having a walk along Milk Bay Beach. I had grown up on this beach and the weather was picture perfect!

Later, my sister Lyn and brother-in-law Anton came to visit for a quick catch-up!

On Friday morning we headed for Stellenbosch and a visit to Helshoogte to discuss the upcoming 40th reunion to which I will return in two weeks’ time. It was great catching up with current prim Jason Katz and seeing all the new developments in the House and on the University campus. More residences and buildings are rising on areas that used to be our parking places!

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Stopping in for coffee at La Romantica was also an exercise in struggling to find parking (Stellenbosch has become a driver’s nightmare).  Not only the parking was full, but also the pub at eleven in the morning – everyone was watching Super 15 rugby! So this was how economic South Africa spends its Friday mornings … all whilst the bus drivers strike and cause mayhem country wide for higher wages!

The usual Friday Ridgway braai followed, together with a large group of participants catching up on the business of The Strand, and then, after a short nap, we headed for Wynberg.

The Grey Old Boys were playing golf against Wynberg Old Boys and we joined them at the nineteenth hole – the Billy Bowden pub at Wynberg High.

It was great catching up with many Old Boys that I had taught over the years – it started on Friday evening and continued throughout the day on Saturday: Hill, De Vries, Hofmeyer, Etellin, Landsberg, Morris, etc. (I always referred to my pupils by their surnames, so twenty five years later and my memory problems, I often forget the first names!)

There were some of Sean’s classmates who came to say hello – all students in the Western Cape now: Graham and David Clark, Robbie Van Eck, JJ Swart, Neil Wessels …

Even old Rector Dieter Pakendorf and his wife Maureen were there – and it’s always a pleasure visiting with my sharp ex-boss – despite the toll taken by age and health!

And Hansie Harker was there!

Many Old Greys will remember Hansie. In my time, he was the messenger, duplicator (on the Roneo machine!), deliverer and fetcher – the admin guy extraordinaire!  (Even been the painter at my home!)

In his forty years at the school, I don’t think he’s been on strike for 1 day! And he’s approaching retirement days and, like so many of us, also experiencing health issues.

He’d never been further than George and had never flown in an aeroplane. But …

All that changed this past weekend when the school flew him to Cape Town, and took him on the touristy things and even a trip up Table Mountain!

 Phillip’s 3rd team (“Tommo’s Reds” in which Sean also played in his day!) did us proud. They came back from a large deficit at the half to eventually win the game: another lesson in “never give up”!   It was an exciting game to watch and made up for the losses of the second and first team.

Too soon it was all over – and we left Cape Town at 19h00 on Saturday evening on a through-the night trip back to Port Elizabeth (my first!) arriving at home at three thirty in the morning.

Thank God that He made Sundays a rest-day!

My thanks, too, must go to the non-striking teacher and bus driver Daryl Wicht for getting me safely there and back, Rory and Tim for their company, Sebastian and Nico de Vries for their hospitality and to all the others who made this last school trip to the Western Cape possible for me.

For me, it was a real feel-good weekend … I’m still not sure I know or understand any educational benefits of these short-term, long-range, high cost sporting trips that we do. Maybe, someone, someday, will explain that to me …

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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.

The World Wide Web

(c) 2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 22 January 2013: 6 years 4 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED

LeRoi S studied with me at Stellenbosch and served on just about every committee with me as well – from Intervarsity to Rag!

Intervarsity Maties vs Ikeys 1979

Intervarsity Maties vs Ikeys 1979

We became good friends – worked, played and holidayed together. But we haven’t seen each other for 35 years. In fact, we lost all contact with each other.

Then last week, Le Roi “befriended” me on Facebook. Once that happened, I noted that Deon A was a friend of his – another of my friends with whom I had lost contact.

So I “befriended” Deon. And posted a picture or two of us enjoying ourselves at Intervarsity Maties/Ikies 1979.

Intervarsity Maties vs Ikeys 1979

Intervarsity Maties vs Ikeys 1979

Sitting next to Deon was Wilna A – then friends and now husband and wife.

Deon shared the pics with his FB friends and that resulted in a world wide conversation and one Denzil Weitz picking up on my surname.

He had been at school with my sister in Somerset West and sent me a message from Beaverton, Oregon where he now lives.

“Ed was your sister Headgirl of HHH?” he asked! Well, yes she was and that started a whole new conversation about lost mates and teachers.

Whilst all this was happening, I had seen a message from one Venessa Durand from the USA regarding a trip to South Africa to visit her ailing mother who has CBD!

Of course, my ears pricked up because suddenly here was a CBD link in SA (where supposedly I am the only CBD patient!)

I e-mailed Venessa in Statesville North Carolina where she lives and asked her where her mother lived in SA.

She then listened to copies of our AlgoaFM pods and visited my website and became party to all of the above conversations. She also discovered that I had lived in Helshoogte Residence. Her husband had been there between 1984 and 1987!

She returned the following email to me:

Hello Ed,
 
Ek vat nou sommer ‘n vet kans hier om afrikaans te skryf!  Willem en ek het na een van jou programme geluister en jy klink net soos ons vir die Amerikaners hier klink.  Helshoogte en Maties se sommer nog meer en dink ek dat jy beslis kan Afrikaans lees.  Willem was ook in Helshoogte, van 1984- 1987.  Ek was in Huis Nerina.  So ons het jou net gemis – met ‘n paar jaar.
 
Ons woon in Statesville North Carolina – 13 jaar al.  Baie gelukkig hier – maar mis die familie.  Ons praat nog afrikaans in die huis en eet boerekos en dink nie dat ons enigsins verander het nie.  Willem het net oor Kersfees vir ons die lekkerste boerbeskuit gebak.  Ek dink hy sou daai boer-tannies met die vris bo arms, goeie kompetisie gegee het.
 
Dit is vir my so bemoedigend om te sien dat jy so positief is en die lewe met soveel moed aanvat.  Mens kan kies om bitter te wees, of mens kan aanvaar wat mens ontvang en ander mense se lewens aanraak en ‘n verksil maak in hierdie lewe.  Ons het baie dierbare vriende hier gemaak met ‘n bejaarde egpaar.  Hulle was na hulle aftrede sendelinge in Malawie en Thailand vir 10 jaar.  Toe ons hulle ontmoet het, het hulle net terug gekom en kom aftree in Statesville.  Oom Ted het nog self hulle tuinwerk gedoen, Sondagskool geggee en klein kinders rondgery.  Hy het toe net skielik begin sukkel met balans en ons het hom sien ‘n kierie gebruik, ‘n paar maande later ‘n “walker” en toe ‘n rolstoel en het hy verlede jaar sy stryd verloor.  Hy was ook gediagnoseer met CDB. Die ding wat vir my so uitgestaan het, is dat hulle albei altyd so positief was en toe ek met Dot praat na sy dood  se sy:  “I have no regrets.’  M.a.w, hulle het ‘n vol lewe geniet, die beste gemaak van elke dag en net aanvaar hoe dinge vir hulle uitgewerk het.  Sy het op die ouderdom van 78 weer Thailand toe gegaan en vir ‘n jaar by ‘n sending ingeskakel waar sy Engels aangebied het.
 
Dankie dat jy so ‘n oulike Blog aan die gang het.  Ek weet sommer dat mense wat jou blog volg, bemoedig word en hoop ontvang.
 
Groete
 
Venessa

Her mother lives in a retirement home, Herfsakker, in Nelspruit, SA where Venessa will be visiting shortly.

We hope to catch up then.

It truly is a world wide web ….

Cheers!

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 10 December 2012: 6 years 3 months on …

Physical Advantage CBD … Mental Advantage CBD

Early on Saturday 24 November Sean dropped me off at the airport. I was headed for Cape Town – a trip that normally would raise much excitement in me. This time, I was a bit anxious. It was a quickly arranged trip in order to get to visit Tygerberg Hospital and the Neurology Unit at the Stellenbosch University Faculty of Health Sciences Department of Internal Medicine.

Besides that appointment, Cape Town is also always a time to catch up with family and friends and to savour the beauty of the Western Cape.

I am always grateful to everyone who provides me with transport and accommodation. It is difficult to see everyone and to do everything on the list; and this time, even more difficult than in the past.

But I get to see university friends Willem and Gretel, Jacobus and Tillie, Hermann and Annette, Schalk, Miles and an old school mate – last seen 38 years ago – Andre Cromhout.  Supper with Dr Franclo Henning and his wife Helen is on the list and then there’s also my sister Lyn and her family including, of course, Sebastian (my tour guide!) and Michelle, and my cousins John and Jeremy Voldsteedt and their families.

I also manage a visit to my late mother and father’s grave in The Strand’s Goede Hoop cemetery. The vandalism, subsidence, neglect and destruction there makes me realise yet again the wastefulness of graveyards!

We get to visit Harbour Island at Gordon’s Bay, Stellenbosch (ofcourse!) and its brand new shopping centre, Blue Rock Quarry (with its cable park, skiing and rock jumping) at Sir Lowry’s Pass Village and a trip through the winelands to the quaint Franschoek, stopping off for lunch (babotie) at Kalfis Restaurant in the historic Huguenot Road. All these places tell the history of the Cape of Good Hope and indeed, the European origins of our country. The Afrikaans side of my family (the Roussouws and the Bassons on my paternal grandmother Susan van Blerck’s side) farmed and lived in these areas and at Agter-Paarl.

Of course, a meal at a wine farm is obligatory when visiting the Western Cape. This time it’s the Dornier Wine Estate on the Blaauwklippen Road just outside Stellenbosch. The meal was great and the view exquisite – all in the shelter of the Helderberg whilst the Black South Easter howled at all other points on the Cape Peninsula (and for almost every day of the duration of my visit)!

But talking about eating – I’m not sure if it was the (one glass of!) red wine or the Thai green curry that did it; but somewhere I picked up a bug and was laid very low with very painful gout and gastric flu!

It knocked me for a six and prevented me from visiting some friends that I had wanted to see and also our planned trip to the railway station restaurant at Botrivier. (It’s amazing how the Western Capers turn everything into tourist attractions!)

The visit to Tygerberg Hospital was daunting but uneventful.

It’s amazing, in the day and age that we live in, that some of the most sophisticated equipment that is used to do brain tests involve toothpicks, pins and needles and cotton wool!

The good prof reckons that I am still in the CBD “box” and can’t explain why it has not killed me in the five years that he originally predicted! What is it that keeps me going, albeit slower and slower?

I had been sent a text message before I went to the hospital – it read “I hope you come back normal!”

I wish; but, unfortunately, the professor can’t make me normal again!

The best he can do is to send to London some of the observations and videos that he took. There a group of “wise men” may come up with some answers – but a cure? Maybe that’s pushing my luck just a bit!

And so, it’s good-bye to Cape Town – yet again!

As that bright orange Mango Boeing took off eastwards over False Bay straight into the wild southeaster that was churning up the “sea-horses” way below, I wiped away a tear or two.

As I fly into the storms that lie ahead, I never know whether I will return to the place of my birth. I never know whether I will see the beauty of the Cape of Good Hope again – indeed, whether I will see any of you, my fellow-travellers, yet again. I never know whether it’s just cheers, good bye or farewell. Maybe the French have it right when they say “Au Revoir”!

Whatever it may be, I want you all to know how thankful I am to each and everyone of you for sharing my life journey and for making it what it is. Some have been on it from the very start – others climbed aboard later. But, wherever you joined my journey, I am so thankful that you have been there with me – and for me, for sharing your life with me, and for shaping my life with me. Somehow, “thank you” doesn’t seem quite enough!

I returned on Wednesday afternoon on the first Cape Town – Port Elizabeth Mango flight at a lesser price than normal. I, too, am less “normal” than I have ever been and with the cracks ever-widening.

Whilst the comment is always “but you look so good!” an honest assessment would see that my thought patterns are disturbed, my sight is problematic, my left hand is all but paralyzed (and my right hand is slowly flowing suit), my left buttock and left leg and foot with its spasms are uncomfortable and uncontrollable – despite all the braces and the new medication in the form of Baclofen @ 2x day! ED is in“slowED down”and “spacED-out” – who needs Washington State to legalise the recreational use of cannabis when you can get your mEDs directly from your friendly pharmacist and have the same effects?!

More importantly, the “being ill” for almost seven years now is starting to take its toll on me and the family. I am getting tirED even before the real show starts. I am struggling to be just a person – let alone a husband and a father and a citizen. 

And it’s starting to rub off on the rest …

 

 

The Cape of Stormers

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 27 March 2012: 5 years 6 months on … Deuce

BA Flight 6324 on Wednesday 14 March 2012 was scheduled to leave Port Elizabeth airport at 09h50 – destination Cape Town International Airport.

Before I could board, I had to do my radio interview telephonically with Lance from the terminal building an hour earlier than usual – attempts to obtain permission to broadcast ED is in wED from the air at 10h30 had failed.

I sat chatting to Gareth Hunt until the broadcast was about to begin. Gareth’s brother Steven plays for the Springbok 7’s. Then the broadcast, then boarded, seated in 15F (at the right hand side window to see the coast!) and then take-off in an easterly direction over Algoa Bay towards East London.

But a sharp bank to the right put us in the correct westerly direction headed for Cape Town.  It was a beautiful clear morning – the light blue sky juxtaposed by the dark blue mountains, the Indian Ocean below, the white beaches, the green coastal plain and in the distance the brownness of the Little and Great Karoo’s framed by the various mountain ranges in between  us and them.  

We followed the south African coastline and passed over the Garden Route:  Jefferys Bay, St Francis Bay, the Tstsikamma, Nature’s Valley, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, the Lake District and then George airport, 3 kilometres below us and more or less the halfway point between departure point and destination.

From there, and as we started descending into Cape Town, we followed the more inland route to the south of the Outeniqua and Langeberg Mountains. Places like Riversdale and Swellendam passed by on the coastal plain, and in the Little Karoo, Oudtshoorn, Barrydale and Montaqu.

Then my heart missed its usual beat as the dark blue mountains of the Western Cape moved into sight. First the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, then over the Drakenstein Mountains, and then a sharp bank to the right – and as the right wing pointed sharply downwards towards the earth, Stellenbosch – my birthplace – and Helshoogte, my university residence, came rushing up towards us. I thought the pilot had done that manoeuvre especially for me!

Three more manoeuvres to the left brought us from our westward flight facing back to the east and ready for landing at Cape Town International . During that process, the Atlantic Ocean and Robben Island  came into view and then the mother of all views, on our right, as we landed at 11am: Table Mountain flanked by Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. 

What was initially called the Cape of Storms and later the Cape of Good Hope was directly below me.

I was Home yet again!

This time for a school reunion at my alma mater, Hottentots-Holland High School  – aptly named after the mountains that surround the Valley, and Somerset West, Strand and Gordon’s Bay.

Whilst we waited for our luggage, I joked with Gareth about partying in Stellenbosch and being tempted to stay too long in the Winelands. We joked and parted, and when I turned on my cell phone, the first message to come through was to advise me of Gareth’s father’s death!

Gareth’s trip had nothing to do with partying in the Winelands – it had been all about his dad and yet he had kept a smiling face and not said a word to me! I felt so bad!

I phoned both Gareth and Steven to express my condolences, and by then Sebastian, my nephew-in-law was there to fetch me.

As usual, he had a surprise for me, and we headed straight to a newly found German pub in the foothills of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, overlooking Strand, Gordon’s Bay and False Bay. Two litres of beer later, lunch and obtaining some business for my sister Lyn’s printing company, we headed for her home in the Strand – what had been our family home for some thirty years – and my base for the next four days.   

I was determined to keep this trip as easy and slow as possible – pace myself just to make things a little easier!

Thursday morning we took a trip to Stellenbosch, and planned to have coffee with my niece Jess at the café in the Botanical Gardens. She overslept, so we had a bite, then visited Helshoogte, and headed of home.

I went for a 5km walk along the Strand Beach and had a swim at Melkbaai (Milk Bay) – something I haven’t done in many a year! The weather was wonderful and the water was warm! It was so lekker being home!

 A short nap preceded a visit to the driving range restaurant where I was joined by ex-school and Varsity mates, Herman van Heerden and Jaco Olivier.

Later Herman dropped me off for supper at Estelle Jordaan’s home in Heldervue, Somerset West.

Estelle and I last saw each other in 1969 when we were in Standard Five at Hendrik Louw Primary School in The Strand. We had spent our primary school years vying for academic positions 1 and 2 in the class. She went on to Rhenish in Stellenbosch and Rhodes University in Grahamstown and I went on to Hottentots-Holland in Somerset West and Stellenbosch University. (She calls herself a nurse and is, in fact, the Nursing Executive on the Executive of the private hospital Medi-Clinic group.)

We spent the evening eating, drinking and reminiscing about the 43 years that had passed by!

On Friday morning, I paid an all too brief visit to my Primary School, Hendrik Louw. Unfortunately, it has been completely rebuilt, so other than a few photographs to jolt the memory, there is very little to reminisce about.

Then on to see Sonja van Rhijn, who was as school a year or so ahead of me, and now has MSA (Multiple systems atrophy). We spent a great two hours together, although anyone listening to us would not have thought so. We discussed and compared our diseases, our symptoms, our ups and downs, and our joys and concerns. It makes it so much easier to know that other people out there can understand what we are experiencing and going through! We can laugh and cry with each other, and yes, we can understand each other. It makes our burden so much easier.

I was late for the usual Friday lunch braai at the Ridgeways Furniture Store, but enjoyed the hotdogs anyway (and was delighted to see Sebastian’s Railway Stand season tickets)! So another power snap nap before we headed off for Newlands to watch the Stormers take on and beat the Blues in a Super 15 rugby game. There is always a great atmosphere to experience at the home of the Western Cape’s rugby, and which may not be the home for much longer, what with talks aplenty about moving to the newly built World Cup Soccer stadium in Green Point, Cape Town!

Then the big day arrived – our reunion at the De beer’s Football Club. I deliberately spent a quiet day so as not to overdo things.

Lyn and Anton dropped me off at the venue and by the time Anthony West took me home at 1am, there had been a spitbraai by Lappies Labuschagne, dancing, 70’s music, talking and laughing about the preceding 40 years and the seventies that we had spent at school together.

It was a tremendous boost to meet up and reminisce with friends of yesteryear. What had started off as a page by Karen Holthauzen on Facebook, “Somerset West Nostalgia”, a few years ago, had ended up as a real-life get-together of so many of us who have been privileged to grow up and be schooled in the Hottentots-Holland Basin.  

On Sunday morning I transferred from Strand to the Wüsts in Durbanville – almost my home from home! After a lunchtime braai with Willem’s mother and their daughter, Anagret, also joining us, we headed off for Greenpoint and a long 4 km walk along the Atlantic seaboard towards Sea Point and back. A latte at a local coffee shop, in the shadow of Cape Town’s Soccer Stadium, finished off a wonderful weekend in the Cape!

After a quiet Monday morning of taking stock of myself, Gretel and I went for lunch at the Tyger Valley centre.

Then, a visit to my Std Five teacher, Mr Peter Preuss and his wife, who now live in Monte Vista in Cape Town’s northern suburbs.  Although only two handfuls of fingers separate our ages, at the time in 1969, he had seemed so large and intimidating!

It was two of the most wonderful hours that I have spent in a long time, talking about family, friends and fellowship – of growing up in The Strand. It was emotional, too, and I wiped a tear or two away as I headed back to Durbanville …

… and on to Cape Town International at ten on Tuesday morning 20 March. We left on time at 11h30, flying off in a westerly direction over False Bay and The Strand and this time in an A seat on the left-hand side of the plane (pre-booked by my niece Nicky who works for BA at Cape Town airport).

This was in order to get that last view of our family home in Gordon’s Bay Road, Strand, the Helderberg and the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, before heading straight back over the Overberg, George, the Garden Route and the direct  short landing from west to east into Port Elizabeth at 12h45.

Sean was there to fetch me. We went home and then directly to Gary Hunt’s funeral, back home, and then back to the airport to say goodbye to Pera who was heading off to Italy that very evening.

Sean and I then decided to have a 2-for-the-price-of-1 sushi at the Cape Town Fish Market.  There he was also able to put his First Aid skills to the test when a patron, allergic to sea-food, dropped over stone cold within seconds after eating the stuff … 

It had been just another “quiet” weekend in the Cape of the Stormers!

 

 

ED is in EDen (Part 2)

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 13 December 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Deuce

The City of George lies at the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains. When I was involved in staff training there, each morning I would always take the employees outside of the training room and get them to look up at the mountains and savour the beauty. They thought I was mad, but such is the beauty of George and its surrounds.

It is possibly the first town in South Africa (outside of my home towns) that I have really got to know well. I first started visiting there when I was a student at Stellenbosch. The home of Dr Hendrik du Toit and his wife Anna at 21 Caledon Street was a favourite visiting place. One December night we even ended up pitching a tent on their front lawn after we had hurriedly left the “rage” at Plettenberg Bay. (We could no longer afford the in-season tariff at the Plett caravan park!)

Their daughter Gretel was in my education classes, their son Ludwig lived in Helshoogte with me and in later years, Gretel married Willem Wüst who was my predecessor as Primarius of Helshoogte.

I continued visiting there during 1982 and 1983 when I was at Infantry School in Oudtshoorn, just over the Outeniqua Pass. Official weekend passes and some AWOL passes would see my red Toyota Corolla head over that pass and to George and the delightful Vic(toria) Bay, a paradise for those who surf, fish, swim or tan!

In later years, during my working career, I spent many a night away from home, and my hotel homes away from home in the Southern Cape varied between the King George Hotel, Far Hills, Wilderness Karos and the Wilderness Holiday Inn.

The N2 from George runs eastwards past the Far Hills Hotel and the turn-off to Vic Bay, into the pristine Kaaimans River Valley, over the unique bridges and overhanging roadways (incidentally designed by Willem’s father), past that famous arced railway bridge that traverses the Kaaimans mouth, past Leentjiesklip and into the Wilderness.

I was privileged to spend a New Year’s Eve on the beach at Leentjiesklip (’79 or ’80?). There is nothing more spectacular than watching the sun rise over the Indian Ocean at the Wilderness.

It was here that ex-MP, prime minister and State President PW (finger-wagging) Botha lived and died at his home Die Anker (“the anchor”). It overlooks the Lakes that stretch from Wilderness all the way to Sedgefield and beyond to Lake Pleasant and its hotel (now a health clinic specialising in skin ailments).

Then, just before one drives over the hill and into Knysna, is the turn-off to Buffelsbaai, a very special little holiday resort, where, when Sean was just a crawling baby, we twice rented a holiday home and spent some very special holidays.

On the coastline, the white beach sweeps away eastwards to Brenton-on-Sea. Inland, there is the magnificent Knysna lagoon with Brenton-on-Lake and Belvedere on its south side, Leisure Island and Thesen’s Island in the lagoon, and Knysna itself on the northern and eastern banks of the lagoon. No words can do any justice to the picture created by the panoramic view that culminates in the Knynsa Heads, that place where the lagoon empties into the Indian Ocean through those magnificent rock columns on the west and east sides of the mouth.

The Knysna Forests stretch from George in the west, around the lagoon and onto Storms River in the east. The forests are the home to the famous Knysna Elephants, many stories and books (just two weeks ago we saw the musical Fiela’s Child which is set in these forests) and to the annual Knysna Marathon and half-marathon. I ran my first half-marathon in the Knysna forests in 2000 – and another three after that. Next year, we plan to return to Knysna in July to walk that route of 21 km.

 As one leaves the Knysna lagoon area and proceeds eastwards to Plettenberg Bay, one passes the Knysna Elephant Park, numerous tourist accommodation establishments, the Big Tree (in the Garden of Eden) and, just off the main road, the Noetzie Castles, the somewhat eerie stone castles built on the beach at Noetzie and looking southwards out over the Indian Ocean. (Also here, is the start of the gravel road that runs northwards through the forest, over the Prince Alfred’s Pass and on into the Langkloof and Uniondale.)

Then there’s Plettenberg Bay, stretching from the imposing Robberg Peninsula in the west to the cliffs and mountains in the east, past Keurbooms River and Keurboomsstrand.

Plett has always been a special place for me. Just as our children today spend time after their school-leaving exams here at what has become known as “The PLett Rage”, we came here annually in November from Stellenbosch as soon as we had written our year-end university examinations. What goes on tour, I guess, stays on tour!

As a bachelor and later as a family, we have spent many delightful holidays in and around Plett, and visiting the Uptons, the Scholtz’s, the Bryants, the Walshes, the Browns and others. For a while, we were also property owners here when we bought a plot of land at Sanderlings Estate next to the Keurbooms River. We sold it, however, just after we had plans drawn up for a house there, but then decided to buy in St Francis Bay instead.

And so the road continues eastwards to Port Elizabeth, some two hours (200km) away. The Garden Route passes Natures Valley, over the Blaauwkrantz Pass and Bridge (now the site of the Bungee Jumping business), through the Tsitsikamma Forest and Coastal Nature Reserve and comes to an end at the Storms River Bridge – an obligatory stop and which I have written about previously.

From there, the N2 continues in a very different type of landscape past Humansdorp, St Francis Bay, Jefferys Bay and into Port Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela Bay.