(c) 2014 Edward C. Lunnon
8 years 1 month ill …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage Ed
It was eight years ago, in Kirkwood, that I first realised that there was something wrong with me.
Last Wednesday Pera and I drove past Kirkwood, on our way north to the Graaff-Reinet district. It was school holidays and we were taking a break – a bit of a road trip, some would call it.
I laughed at the austerity measures undertaken by our roads department when it came to painting the white lines on the road – just two thirds of each white stripe has been re-painted. I wonder how much that saved the tax payer in having to buy less piant! A nice exrcise for a maths class, I thought!
We had 5 days and in that time we
* travelled about a thousand kilometers on gravel, tar and cement roads
* first north, then west, then further north, then south east
* through the Noorsveld, Camdeboo, Great Karoo
* arrived at farm gates that read Tandjiesview, Kareepoort and Doorndraai
* visited the Harris’s, the Wrights, the Swarts, the Watermeyers and the Ogilvie’s
* saw my ex 1974 Headgirl Lorraine Swart (Myburgh) and her husband Dawie Swart after 40 years
* passed through Jansenville, Graaff-Reinett, Aberdeen, (almost) Beaufort West, Miller, Fullarton, Steytlerville, Baroe, Wolwefontein and Uitenhage
* slept in three different lovely farm homes
* ate copious amounts of lamb, mutton, beef, steak, eggs, sausage, mushrooms, veges, deserts, biltong, chips
* drank volumes of coffee and other more alcoholic drinks
* saw springbok, kudu, wildebeest, giraffe, mountain tortoise,likkewaans, warthog, goats, sheep, cattle, dogs, cats
* chatted XXXXX number of words to old and new friends – in English and our best Afrikaans
We socialised, talked, walked, rested, slept and ate. After all, we are all social human beings. No man is an island and I am most definitely not!
Braai the beloved country!
We experienced Peace in the heartland of south Africa. They call it Africa – we have the privilege to call it home!
But, in the peace, I am becoming ever more concerned about our home. I hear the concerns and see the deterioration and degradation happening all around us. I am worried! Are we are busy fracking up, not only the Karoo, but indeed our whole country?
Cry the beloved country!
©2013 Edward C. Lunnon
Tuesday 8 October 2013: 7 years 1 month on …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED
After having spoken to Caltex Eastern Cape at Mpkweni last month, I was approached by Caltex dealer Pierre le Grange to do another talk.
It didn’t take much persuasion because it would be in Graaff-Reinet to the Grade 12 pupils of Union High School.
So all was organised for last Friday 4 October at 9h30. Because of the early start, a lift was organised for Thursday afternoon and I was not able to attend Gordon Wright’s book launch at the Southender or Pera’s birthday supper!
Tiaan van Schoor picked me up at 13h30 and either he or I spoke too much or we drove too fast, but it didn’t take long before we were driving past that derelict drive-in screen and projection room that stand as a monument to things long past at the Port Elizabeth entrance to Graaff-Reinet.
Tiaan was to be my driver and handlanger for the next two days. Not only did we have lots to talk about (we both lived and worked in the Bible Belt of the United States!) but we also share a birthday! It was great having a tetchier to handle all the electronics, wires, computers, projectors etc.
Thursday evening was spent around the most delicious potjie with the Le Grange’s and the Van Schoors (Tiaan’s parents). In the process, the talk to Union had been extended to include jut another talk to Volksskool and then also the Junior Volkskool … and how about the Hospice Walk on Saturday morning, too?
I am humbled to share my story with so many people and to raise awareness about neurological and other life-limiting illnesses. I hope my ad lib Afrikaans translations and on the trot lowering of the level of the talk for the grade 7’s were understood by all!
My message is simple – life is great but it’s hard work. Take what it throws at you – turn the bad into good, focus on the good and never give up!
My thanks to the heads of the three schools for allowing me the time to speak, and to Mr William Pringle of Union High for the Union tie – I shall wear it with pride in remembrance of my happy days in Graaff-Reinet and the Karoo kindness that I am so privileged to experience. My illness provides me with so many good things that there is almost no time to consider the bad.
Even the tiredness (yes, ED is in tired) after three talks can be overcome with another braai on Friday evening (just a quiet braai with the Wrights neighbours that turned into Russian Roulette!) And when Justin Kingwell took me home at midnight I couldn’t find the Le Grange’s home and we drove up and down the streets of Graafies pushing my remote button to see where a gate opened!
Some twenty ladies were walking (in stages) 60 km from Graaff-Reinet to Nieu Bethesda over the weekend. The event was a fundraiser for GR Hospice.
When Pierre asked me to start the Hospice fundraiser walk on Saturday morning with a message, I eagerly agreed until I was told that the start was at 5h00! I declined the offer, but Pierre in his quietly persuasive manner then suggested that I talk at the start of the second stage!
So at 9h00 we were out in the Karoo countryside at the foothills of Kompasberg having breakfast and some nursing already sore feet! What an awesome privilege to be surrounded by the plains and mountains of the Karoo and to share the words of a man we know only as David:
Oh Lord My Lord
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
Then back to town; transfer to the Andries Stockenström Guesthouse of the Wrights and lunch with the Harris’s, cricket at the Union (Bethesda Road vs Middleburg) towed down at the fines meeting with a rather unique dishcloth invention!, rugby test (SA vs NZ All Blacks) on the TV, and all completed with a steak and fish grill at the Union.
Phew … night three and not the end of it yet!
On Sunday morning I left GR with Justin and Liesl Kingwell and little Joshua for Blaauwater Farm at the base of the Lootsberg north of the town.
Upon arrival, Justin did a quick midwifery trick on a pregnant ewe in labour and in trouble and, voila, then there were four! It was amazing to witness the birth of those triplets, within minutes they were up and walking and cleaned and fed by their mom. Nature at its best – the work of Your fingers.
Then roast for lunch, bed for snooze and transport for travel to top of mountain. A spectacular trip and a spectacular view – the work of Your fingers. What a privilege for me to share it with the Kingwell family and Grandma Garry and Grandpa Charles Kingwell who joined us for a picnic in the Peaks.
The day was ended with a fireside chat, a hearty Hansa, delicious billies, tired bodies and drooping eyelids!
I woke up on Monday morning to deadly silence interspersed with bleating sheep.
Then breakfast and back to town to the guesthouse and Gordon Wright. I took a mid-morning snooze and later a mid-afternoon snooze! A walk to town resulted in me bumping into Annemarie van Jaarsveld from Pink Trees for Pauline fame, Margie Parkes from the Cancer Association (I addressed them last year this time!) and my ex- Port Elizabeth neighbour Andy Cherrington who now owns the GR Spur.
There was time for a quick John Lee before I had a call from Nibs Price to say he was going to Port Elizabeth at 18h00 ( I was due to return on Tuesday morning early with a lift.)
My bed beckoned!
A quick pack and I was ready for the trip home – arriving at some eight thirty, just in time to go to bed for a well earned night’s sleep!
My grateful thanks to all the people mentioned above (and many others not mentioned!) for making this such a wonderful weekend. Your Karoo kindness is so much appreciated.
I am truly blessed to know you all and to experience your wonderful hospitality.
What is man that You are mindful of him?
PS. Please excuse the errors. My bum is eina and I can’t sit to type this now. I will correct later!
©2013 Edward C. Lunnon Sunday 15 September 2013: 7 years on … Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED It’s been quite a week – the week that was! On Wednesday evening I attended the St Francis Hospice AGM. If ever there was a group of caring people, there they are. If ever there was a group of deserving people, there they are. If ever there was an association that you, one day, may also need to assist you, there they are. They assist families and patients who have to deal with life limiting illnesses – cancer, HIV/AIDS, TB, motor neuron disease …If ever there was a group that needed your financial assistance, there they are. They have had to retrench staff members this year because of a lack of funds! For just R100 a year you can become a member of St Francis Hospice. This entitles you to voting rights, a newsletter, news on forthcoming fundraisers and a chance to win R2000! An email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your personal details and an EFT deposit of R100 into St Francis Hospice, Standard Bank Rink St, account no 080 260 349, branch no 050 417 00 will make you a member of the Hospice. It’s so easy – just do it now – and HELP HOSPICE HELP me and so many other people who have terminal illnesses. Thanks so much for doing that now! On Thursday evening Pera and I attended the Grey Junior “Music the Grey Way” concert. The concert was great but the seats we had were terrible. Initially we couldn’t see much, so we changed seats at half-time. Then I was boxed in and my leg started cramping. It was the most uncomfortable three hours that I have spent and I think I aggravated my left side. Since then, I have been really eina! I need to remember to ensure when we go somewhere that I have to be very specific about the seats we sit in or the rooms we book. That’s a new learning curve for me! And Friday morning I was off to Graaff-Reinet to the launch of Gordon Wright’s first recipe book – Veld to Fork. (See all my previous blogs regarding Gordon Wright. You can just enter Wright into the search box – the one with the magnifying glass – in the right hand column of this blog.) Two and a half more hours of uncomfortable sitting! But I had a lift with Roche van As – Gordon refers to Roche in the foreword to his book as a “brother from another mother”! We had lots to talk about and the trip was over before it started. We arrived at about two and sat at the poolside of the Andries Stockenström Guesthouse sipping cold white wine and Windhoek Lites. Then at four we headed off to the Graaff-Reinet Men’s Club (now ladies too!). The Club was filled with all those wonderful Karoo people – some there for the weekly draw, most there for the book launch and all there to share in the friendship and hospitality that Graaff-Reinet provides. We downed the sun and were treated to snacks made from recipes in the book – each plate being numbered with the page number of the recipe in the book. Gordon Right (as the Weekend Post spelt it in their article – maybe they know more than we do!) sat as pompous as ever behind the table signing copy after copy. It must be a great feeling to see such a wonderful book finally in the printed form. Gordon wrote in my personally autographed copy – YOUR TURN NEXT!! I can’t wait for that feeling so I guess it’s time to get moving. My book doesn’t even have a name yet! Later in the evening we headed off to Gordon’s Restaurant for supper, snorts, skinder and song – ala Karoo style! So after EFTing your money to the hospice as per above, maybe you want to go to Exclusive Books and buy your copy of Veld to Fork. If you talk nicely to me, I may even get you an autographed copy. After all, I know the author personally! I was planning to come back on Sunday (with a lift organised by Gerrie van Rooyen), but when I woke up on Saturday morning, Roche was still there (he had planned to come back very early on Saturday!) My left side was very eina by now, and so I decided to come back to Port Elizabeth with him. So after breakfast at the Andries Stockenström Guesthouse – where we had slept over – we headed for home – again, so much talking, that Ravelskloof, Jansenville,Wolwefontein, Cockscomb, Holwil, Kirkwood, Uitenhage and Despatch sped by. We were back in Port Elizabeth just in time for lunch! Unfortunately, we weren’t staying in Graaff-Reinet for the big meeting later in the week where farmers and landowners will be discussing the fracking that seems now to be inevitability in the Karoo. And if you have more money left over, after HOSPICE and COOKBOOK above, then maybe you want to donate something to the STOP FRACKING IN THE KAROO fund. If you don’t help, they are going to FORK the VELD and destroy the hospitable Plains of the Camdeboo. No more people, Club, food, hospitality, visits, chats, drinks … to write about! “If anything, we don’t own the planet and the planet doesn’t own us. The planet belongs to our children and we are merely stewards keeping watch until they have their turn to do the same.” In the meantime, I feel like I have been forked too. My left side and left hip especially remain eina, despite more anti-inflammatory tablets and pain-killers. Roll on Monday morning for my weekly massage … (And in the early hours of Sunday morning I received a BBM from Rose Wright to tell me that Gordon’s mom, Briar, fell and broke her hip and dislocated her shoulder in the middle of the night. She is currently in the operating theatre at Greenacres Hospital. We wish her a speedy and successful recovery.)
The week that was …
Wed 14: AlgoaFM interview, gym, lunch with Gavin Loon, NMMU meeting with Pieter Swart, Meals on Wheels
Thu 15: Recording of video for Caltex, haircut, farewell function for Kobus
Fri 16: Rugby: BODAs vs DAYPOTS (BODAs win 6 in a row!), BODA braai at hostel
Sat 17: To Aberdeen for Elvis Show with Colleen and Dickie Ogilvie at the Aberdeen Club (Lionel Hunt from Port Alfred), lunch in Graaff-Reinet, stayed with John and Jean Watermeyers
Sun 18: Headed home after late breakfast
Mon 19: Sorted pics for video, feeling fluey
Tue 20: Worked on video
©2013 Edward C. Lunnon
Monday 15 July 2013: 6 years 10 months on …
Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage ED
I saw that someone commented on my blog site that I was a lousy blogger! I surely am.
Let me try and justify that lousiness:
I have been very busy – various projects and lots of travelling.
The internet and my wireless connection are playing up – South Africa must have the worst and slowest internet connection in the world. It’s so frustrating! And when the internet goes down, so does the help desk at MWEB! Fat help that is!
Mentally, I have not been in a good place. Almost seven years of illness is starting to take its toll on my tired and weakening body and my fighting and busy mind. The cloudiness in my mind also appears to be getting worse. I have difficulty in putting myself into time and place. The writing is not so easy anymore …
And physically, the most difficult thing that prevents me from writing is, believe it or not, my inability to sit comfortably. Pressure on my bum immediately sets my body off into all kinds of muscle contractions and spasms. If only I could find an answer to this one! And my appointment with a specialist that has been recommended, made in January, is only in August! Roll on August and hopefully a solution!
So please forgive me as I (slowly) try and keep you updated with my comings and goings … I will try and do that for as long as I can.
Tuesday morning, after Sister Gill’s visit at ten, I had Holy Communion with Rev Rowan Rodgers from the Newton Park Methodist Church at eleven. Then a good hour long massage session from Julian Fletcher – the best in town if you can get hold of him! I also booked him for Friday morning – but with Julian that’s no guarantee that he’ll be there!
Last Wednesday, after my radio show and weekly coffee at Bluewaters café, I managed to get in a short gym session. I walked for about half an hour on the treadmill and find that walking definitely keeps the leg muscles going. In the afternoon I had my weekly beard trim and my monthly haircut. Grant at Front Cover in Newton Park (041 363 2529) keeps me looking good, so if you need a haircut, give them a chance.
Thursday I had lunch with Ben Roff at Spargos. It’s always a pleasure catching up with what’s happening in the real world!
Friday morning, we packed for our trip to Somerset East – heading off to the Abrahamsons and the Biltong Festival. We haven’t been there for two years, although it feels like it was yesterday! (See my blog 2B or not 2B written in August 2011 – you can just use the ARCHIVE section on the right hand side of my blog or else the SEARCH blog also on the right hand side of the blog.)
In life, just when things are going smoothly and everything is hunky dory, suddenly something happens to upset the apple cart.
So a relatively short two and a half hour trip to Somerset East becomes a bit of a challenge. Just before we left Port Elizabeth, I heard on the radio that the Olifantshoek Pass was closed as a result of a truck accident. It would be closed for the next five hours!
And that’s our route to Somerset East …
So, one can’t let life get you down – you need to get the upper hand and make alternative arrangements; make decisions now!
Instead, we took the R75 from Port Elizabeth north-westwards towards Jansenville. Some 20 km from Wolwefontein we turned eastwards on the gravel road R400 through Waterford, past the Darlington Dam and the northern section of the Addo Elephant Park.
Some 30 km from Waterford we turned left and travelled north east on the road to Somerset East. Fifty km from there we entered Grant’s farm Kaalplaas – East Cape Safaris – from the south rather than from the north as we would usually have travelled.
In Afrikaans we say “’n Boer maak ‘n plan” (a farmer makes a plan), and we had overcome the challenge of the closed pass. Along the way, we travelled an unfamiliar route to us, through the Noorsveld, and seen another beautiful part of our wonderful Eastern Cape.
It’s another example of how one can address challenges in life – we could have stayed at home and said we can’t get there or we could have found an alternative, which we did, and become all the more richer for having done so.
And it only took us three hours – half an hour longer – to get there. I mustn’t forget to add that Phillip was at the wheel for the first time on a long trip and on a gravel road. His learner’s licence was due to be upgraded to a full driver’s licence after his 18th birthday, but alas the traffic department has been on strike (together with the electricity department and whoever else seems to go out at the drop of a hat these days!) He drove so well – there and back – so hopefully now we’ll be able to get him an appointment for a driver’s licence test soon (the traffic department re-opened this morning, but, unfortunately, Phill has returned to school today!)
We braaied and kuiered (visited) on Friday evening with Grant and Sarine, his parents, their children and the cousins in their beautiful bouma (and two Scandinavian hunters).
On Saturday morning, after a very large BREAKFAST!, we headed off to the Biltong festival in town. However, we did not stay too long this time – it would appear that the festival is starting to lose its appeal and we were slightly disappointed by the stalls, entertainment and attendance. It will be interesting to see how much longer this festival remains on the festival calendar.
It was hot at 25 degrees.
We returned to the farm, watched rugby on TV and ate yet again! This time we were joined by Ben, an American hunter who had just arrived from Seattle and Abrie, the professional hunter, who bambooed our outside stoep ceiling last year.
On Sunday morning, it was cold at 10 degrees. After breakfast, we headed home, again with Phill at the wheel, but this time headed back to Port Elizabeth from Somerset East and Middleton along the usual national route N10 via Kommadagga, the now open Olifantshoek Pass, Paterson and Nanaga.
The weekend had come to an end far too quickly – don’t they all? – and then it was time to prepare for back to school this morning. The three week winter holiday had also come to an end!
This morning, it’s back to me and Charlie at home. Even the God’s are crying in the form of the cold and drizzle. I really miss having the company at home! I think Charlie does, too, because he wants all my attention and he is wearing me down.
Please excuse the errors in my blogs – my mind is not as clear as it has been, my fingers not so nimble and the errors slip through. I’ll correct them later when I feel better. The voice recognition Dragon software is frustrating me and the internet is slow again!
©2013 Edward C. Lunnon
Tuesday 9 April 2013: 6 years 7 months on …
Physical: Advantage Ed / Mental: Advantage ED
On Good Friday, at 6am, we headed off westwards along the N2 – destination the Swartruggens and the Cederberg in the Western Cape.
The original plan was to go from Ladismith through the Seweweekspoort Pass to the N1 at Laingsburg.
But the weather changed the plans (which included a breakfast at Hartenbos with the Engelbrechts, friends from Stellenbosch student days) and eventually we did Swellendam, Bonnievale, Montagu, Koo Valley, N1, Touws River and finally the gravel road to Kagga Kamma (Place of water) Game Reserve – arriving there at 18h00!
Friday night, in our cottage for the next week, became an early night with no hot water!
Saturday morning was an early morning to watch the Kings on TV at the bar – the only TV at the resort. Furthermore, there was no TV, no cell phone reception, no wireless, no Facebook, and even the electricity went off for a while later in the week!
We were here to relax and that we did!
A 4km hike through the bush and over the boulders left me with a swollen, sore, sprained ankle on my good foot! So no more walks for me! You just can’t win!
Pera managed another 8km walk later in the week and not even the heavy rain deterred her. Sean and I got worried and drove out to find her – which we only managed on the second rescue mission attempt.
Other times, armed with the map, we hit the various 4×4 routes and tried to spot the game – little that there was: a few buck, ostriches, zebra, snakes, birds and thousands of rocks in all formations! The Bushmen (San / Khoi) paintings got us talking … from 6000 years to 600 years old! A past long forgotten …
Phillip is training for the rugby season – so what we walked, he ran, and he ran, and he ran again and all of this at the altitude of Table Mountain!
Sean was the chauffeur and clung to the wheel – from here to there and back and every other trip we made.
That included our Easter Monday trip to Ceres and Tulbagh where we met up with my family Sebastian, Michelle and Hannah. Lunch, for me a lovely snoek pie, was eaten at the old Toll house in the Mitchell’s Pass and dessert (chocolate pancakes) at the historic Church Street in Tulbagh. Buildings from our more recent colonial European history just 400 years ago! Not even the 6,9 Richter scale earthquake on the 29th September 1969 at 22h29 which I remember well from my Std 5 schooldays and which had its epicentre in this area could destroy this history of our country. It woke us up and had us running into the street in The Strand, my hometown – here it killed some 9 people.
Our other road trip was north through the Cederberg via Algeria (where I had camped as a high school scholar) to Clanwilliam where I tried the babotie and we tea’d at the Rooibos factory at the centre of our unigue Rooibos industry. Home from there took us through Citrusdal and its citrus farms, over a steep, curved gravel pass back to Oppi-Berg and the Kagga Kamma.
All trips in and out of Kagga Kamma took us over 15km of rough, corrugated, pot-holed, stony gravel road and over the Katbakkies Pass or Skittery Pass – no barriers and sometimes an incline over close to 45 degrees!
Other passes we traversed during the week were Kogmanskloof,Burgers, Rooihoogte, Die Venster, Gydo, Mitchells, Middleberg, Meiringspoort, Ghwarriepoort, Buyspoort, Perdepoort, Swanepoelspoort, and national roads we used were the N2, N1, N7, N12, N9 and numerous other minor tarred and gravel roads.
At the resort, we braaied, ate at the restaurant (a beef strip salad with balsamic vinegar was my favourite), russled up, with Pera’s help, a number of great recipes (and an exploded boiled egg in the microwave!) There was no shop in this wilderness to buy supplies, so Sean invented a recipe for French toast when the egg supply ran low!
It was great family time and so besides the kitchen and cooking duties, we played board games, chess, read, chatted, drank, laughed, discussed, questioned and gazed at and almost touched the stars in a clear black night sky.
All too soon it came to an end, and so last Friday saw us leaving at 10H00. This time we took the inland Karoo route, travelling from Touws River through Laingsburg and Prince Albert (where we lunched – another try of babotie for me!) and then on through the Swartberg through De Rust and Willowmore to Doorndraai in the Aberdeen District, where we spent the weekend with friends Dickie and Colleen Ogilvie and their daughter Megan. (Dickie and I taught together at Grey in the eighties and he was my bestman when Pera and I got married in 1990.)
Both Sean and Phillip learned to drive here on the farm – tractors, “skadonk” and whatever other bakkies were available. We all have good recollections and happy memories of this place.
We worked out that we had not visited the farm since just before I became ill – seven years ago! So we picked up on the news and the “skinder”, drank the beers and the brandy and ate the lamb and the lard and the “pap” and the potatoes (roasted, of course!)
A weekend of friendship fit for Kings – we had followed our rugby team on Twitter and they had drawn with the Brumbies on Friday morning, too, so life was sweet!
All good things come to an end, and so Sunday lunch time indicated that it was time to head back to Port Elizabeth and to home, where we arrived at 17H00.
It was a great trip providing us with good family bonding time and an appreciation of the beauty of our country and of life.
The car was heavier – with many memories, and stones collected in the Tanqua Karoo (the driest area of South Africa) and plants from the Great Karoo and the Camdeboo.
We are truly privileged. Life is good!
There is a sign on the wall at the reception area of Kagga Kamma. It reads:
“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.”
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