ED is in week EnDing wED 29 May 2013

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 27 May 2013: 6 years 8 months on …

Game ED

It’s been another busy week, with little time to write. And when I’ve had the time, I haven’t had the energy!

So here comes another skeleton, with hopefully the flesh put in at a later stage!

  •       Mon 20 May – we celebrated Sean’s 21st birthday at the Coachman Steakhouse; party to follow!
  •       Tue 21 May – visit from Gill (Hospice); haircut with Grant @ front cover: Newton Park; meeting with Mike Halbert (accounts); drinks at VP Tennis Club with the Tuesday Boys’ Tennis Club of Wembley Tennis Club
  •         Wed 22 May – AlgoaFM; coffee at Bluewaters café; gym; Sean’s u21 rugby at Old Grey; Neil Thomson and Rodger Gilson in Centre Stage’s Simon and Garfunkel Tribute
  •        Thu 23 May – visit from Isaac; physio with Christelle Smit; Sean’s car at garage
  •          Fri 24 May – visit from Ben; meeting PeFM
  •          Sat 25 May – day trip to Grahamstown: Grey vs St Andrews (Phillip)
  •          Sun 26 May – reunion meeting of our Investment Club at our home
  •          Mon 27 May – meeting with Sr Gaynor Bishop of the MNDA(Port Elizabeth)
  •         Tue 28 May – meeting with Sr Gill (Hospice)  

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Circa 60

About 60 – that’s the meaning of the above title and that’s our ages – give or take a good few years in all our respective cases.

“Our” being Neil and Pam Thomson, Anton and Ingrid Scholtz, Alan and Trish Stapleton and Pera and I.

And our connection being that some 20 years ago we started what we called our Investment Club.

We met once a month on a rotational basis at each couple’s home for a meal, and each couple “invested” R100 into the Club – Pera and I put in R100 each. My duty was to invest the monthly amount of R500 and to grow the money so that at some point in the future (round about now) we would cash in our investments and go on a “world cruise” together!

Two ‘hiccups’ occurred – firstly, each couple produced two more people and the group therefore grew from eight to sixteen people. Our children spoke at school about the Investment Club meetings that they attended on the last Sunday (or whichever it was) of each month! Heaven alone knows what their teachers and friends thought about this!

Secondly, at the end of year two, I think it was, when we saw the balance slowly growing in our investment account, we were tempted to draw the money and go away for a weekend together.

So, after that, we never ever gave the money a chance to grow enough for our world cruise, but we did, on an annual basis – round about Reconciliation Day public holiday in December – cash in the funds and spend a long weekend together.

We visited places like Hog’s Back, Katberg, Keurbooms, Knysna, Blanco, Blue Lagoon, East London, St Francis Bay and wherever the following criteria were met:

No self-catering by the ladies, within close driving distance of Port Elizabeth, activities for the adults and the children, inexpensive (at least within the constraints of our Investment Account balance), etc …

Well, we never would have had enough for that world cruise, but we invested tremendously in our children’s social upbringing and in their readiness for life. They learned to climb mountains, read hotel menus, order “passion fruit and lemonades”, play golf, ride horses, stage theatre productions, play carpet bowls, manage becoming lost and a host of other things that one could add to the list.

We all learned to enjoy friends and family and life and nature and good times together.

In the process, we amassed many happy memories and photographs and stories along the way.

Unfortunately, as the years passed by, and we all got older, it became more and more difficult to co-ordinate our diaries and do things together. So, some eight (?) years ago, we finally called an end to our Investment Club.

But, thanks to the labours of Pera, we managed to have a reunion of the adult members of the Club this past Sunday. Someone suggested that the Investment Club be renamed the Pensioners’ Club!

Needless to say, we reminisced (that which we could remember!) and laughed and ate and drank to Life!

Memories are made of this! (and please correct any of the above-mentioned “facts” that may be incorrect!)

 

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.

Take My Blues Away

 Tuesday 9 August 2011: 4 years 11 months on … Advantage ED

Women’s Day!

Last year, round about this time, I wrote Piece of Paradise and Ed and Elvis.

In both blogs I wrote about trips to the Southern Cape, including the Garden Route, and about visits with friend Jan Hoogendyk who had entered the SA Idols contest.

Well, history tells us that Jan went on to win SA Idols 2010 as Elvis Blue, and Sean and I were pleased to break into his heavy schedule and to meet up with him for a quick cuppachino at Dulce’s a while ago. I’m still hoping to get him to Port Elizabeth for a show.

And this past long weekend, we went on to visit the Southern Cape once again. Exactly a year after visiting Plettenberg Bay in 2010, we were back in 2011.

Friday night was a busy (and long one for me!) By invitation of Mr Squash, Alan Stapleton, we attended the re-opening of Crusaders Squash Club with its new glass-backed courts! But Saturday morning at 11, we left on time for Plett, just two hours westwards along the N2 from Port Elizabeth. Sean is now a year into his driver’s licence and once again, is behind the wheel. (Phillip has just got his licence – in Uitenhage – to drive a scooter, but he remained in PE to do advanced maths and an IT project for school.)

At one pm sharp we took the drive around the corner at The Crags, just before Keurbooms Strand and the River. The view before you of the Plettenberg Bay and the Robberg Peninsula takes some beating.

We were spending the weekend with John and Wendy Clarke. (John had told me, almost five years ago when I became ill, that many would go before me! Now he is convalescing from Guillain-Barre disease, which, just a few weeks ago, had paralysed him within a few hours!)

After lunch, we went for a long walk along the beach, from Keurbooms River, along the lagoon spit and all the way to the river mouth at (what used to be until it was flooded away) Lookout Beach. John tried his hand at fishing, something that just a few weeks ago he was unable to do! The views of the blue ocean and the blue mountains – some still capped with white snow from the recent falls – that surround this impressive Bay are spectacular. We even had the pleasure of viewing a display by a lonesome whale just beyond the surf.

Plettenberg Bay is to South Africa something like Monaco is to the French Riviera. The views of the Robberg Peninsula and the Tsitsikamma Mountains are spectacular. The homes on Millionaire’s Row are stunning and possibly extravagant.

Juxtaposed to this display of the country’s wealth, just on the other side of the N2, is the squalor of the tin shacks, the RDP houses and rows of outside toilets (ironically, at one stage, this township was  named Flushing Meadows!).

It is a common-place sight in our country: the haves and the have-nots right next to each other. One sees it in Johannesburg’s Sandton and Alexandria; in Cape Town’s Constantia and Hout Bay and Khayalitsha; and, in fact, in every South African city, town, village and township.

It is a display that could quite easily begin a discussion on the Fairness of Life (who said that Life’s fair?) and fuel a debate on socialism. Many years ago, I recall our then domestic assistant, Lorna, looking at this display of empty holiday homes and not understanding why so many of these large homes were only occupied for just a few weeks in each year!

As I write this, the youth of London and indeed Britain, have gone on the rampage. SKY News is showing pictures of wanton destruction, looting, arson and plain downright criminality and theft. If this can happen in a so-called First World Country, it reminds me how much of a tinder box we sit on here in South Africa!

When I was in doing my military service at the Infantry School in Oudtshoorn in 1982/83, we often came to Keurbooms for weekends. I had to AWOL, as I was just a troopie in my first year whilst my brother-in-law Anton and his mates were officers in their second year!

Indeed, my first visits to this magnificent part of the world were whilst I was studying at Stellenbosch University. We came to Plett at the end of every year once we had finished our final examinations. It was the beginning of what is now the much more formalised “Plett Rage” that takes place annually in December and now draws not only thousands of University students but also thousands of finishing off high school matric pupils from all over the country.

I remember one trip, arriving in the Peugeot (nicknamed the Pugget!) and being kicked out of the then Piesangs River Caravan Park, because the five of us – one woman and four men – did not represent a family unit of any kind, and that park supposedly only catered for families! We ended up camping at the Plett Park instead.

Within a few days we collected enough to fly the lady back to Cape Town and we continued enjoying what was then the pub at the Beacon Island Hotel, the Grape Vine (?) underneath the Hotel, the Formosa Inn and the Arches.

On our evening trip back to Cape Town, the Pugget overheated near Knysna, and we filled the radiator with salt water out of the Knysna Lagoon! We later pitched our tent on the front lawn of the Du Toits in George – and they found a squatter camp in their garden the next morning!

Those were the carefree student days of bright sunshine, braaivleis, beer and bankcruptcy!

In later years, our family often visited this area too and we have explored most of the Plett, Keurbooms, Knysna, George area – the Garden Route of South Africa. We also bought a plot of land at Sanderlings on the Keurbooms River, and had plans drawn up for a holiday house there, before we decided to buy in St Francis Bay instead.

Saturday evening we braaied with the Bryants, Sunday we slept in and then walked the beach, as we did on Monday. We talked, we walked, we ate, we slept and John fished – something I still do not do voluntarily!

It was a weekend of re-charging the batteries, depressing the blues, enjoying friendships and living Life!

 

Four Funerals and Not a Wedding

Tuesday 27 July 2010: 3 years 10 months on…

1976 – South Africa had just got TV for the first time! The SABC service consisted of one channel that commenced at 18h00 with a Scripture reading and closed at 23h00 with the National Anthem and the flying orange, white and blue flag.

But it was already old hat for me because I had lived and gone to school in the USA in 1975. I returned in January 1976 and became a MATIE in the February, the first person in our family to go to University. Mom was so proud – when she dropped me at Helshoogte and attended the first parent’s function, she insisted on wearing a hat!

Anton Scholtz was already there, studying a BSc in his second year. He came from Kingswood College in Grahamstown.

We became friends – I’m not sure why, but he did drink more beers than anyone I knew, he partied harder than anyone I knew, he played rugby better than anyone I knew and he outran anyone I knew on what was known as the Berg Pad – even if it was after a party that continued until five in the morning! He was not known as the Mine K***** for nothing.

He captained the Res team, played rugby for Maties, served on the House Committee and had a bright green Volkswagen Beetle. It was known as the Automatic Apple!

It took us all over the Cape Peninsula, and in the summer months to Bikini Beach in Gordon’s Bay. On the way back to Stellenbosch, we would stop in at our home in The Strand. My sister, Ingrid, was still at school at Hottentots-Holland High. It soon became clear that the visits at home were not for my company.

Ingrid became Head Girl at HHH, then became a Matie, too, and at the time that I was Primarius at Helshoogte, she became Primaria of Serruria – her ladies’ residence (and where Jessica, their daughter and our Godchild, is now in residence.) It was quite something at the time at Stellenbosch University to have a brother and sister – and Engels nogal! – in charge of two University Residences.

All three of us became teachers (and Pera joined our staff room later!)

Ingrid also became Anton’s wife in January 1983. Their wedding photographs show me with very short hair! That’s because I was in my second year at Infantry School in Oudtshoorn where Anton, still ahead of me, was a Lieutenant when I had arrived as a troop in 1982. He occasionally made me run when he found me not wearing my beret!

Anton’s family came from Cradock and they had a holiday house at Keurboom’s Strand near Plettenberg Bay. As students, we sometimes spent time there. As soldiers in Oudtshoorn, we often spent time there because Keurbooms was but two hours away from the military base, and a very welcome diversion.

As officers, they were able to go out most weekends. As a troopie, I had to AWOL.

We ate braaied steaks for breakfast, lunch and supper. They somehow always came armed with boxes of steaks for the weekend that, I believe, were destined for the Troops’ Mess but never got there!

We also visited the Scholtz’s in Cradock. Between Cradock and Keurbooms, we got to know Anton’s parents, Uncle Piet and Aunty Ina and his extended family of three brothers and a sister (and their families over the years!)

My Dad died in my first year at Stellenbosch – 1976. But the Scholtz’s homes were always open to us as a family – that’s the people and the way they were!

I remember a Christmas that Mom, Ingrid and I spent in Cradock – it came complete with a Karoo thorn tree that doubled up as the Christmas tree.

Uncle Piet was the doctor in Cradock. But Aunty Ina dished out the medicine! She issued the prescriptions, handed out the pills and gave the instructions! She was the matriarch of the family. You didn’t want to cross paths with her! She organised everyone with an iron fist. But what loveable people they were.

Although they were “in-laws”, they were always great parents for Ingrid. After my Mom died in 1986, whilst I was teaching at Grey, they became almost surrogate parents to me, too. They were always interested in my progress and what I was doing, and always there to assist and support.

Even after Pera and I got married, and Sean and Phillip arrived on the scene, they were there for us. So much so, that Pera, Sean and Phil (and many others) refer to them as Oumie and Gramps.

And so it was with great sadness when Oumie became ill a few years ago. But, in her unique style, she fought even that cancer with strength and determination.

We saw her just three weeks ago when they were staying with Ingrid and Anton here in Port Elizabeth. It was obvious that the illness was taking its toll and that she had wasted away to that shadow of her former self. When we said goodbye, we knew it was for the last time.

Last Saturday, just after I returned from John Clarke’s funeral in Alexandria and just before Grey Bloem and Grey PE’s 1st rugby teams started to do battle before thousands of spectators around the Pollock Field, Oumie passed away in Oudtshoorn.

We have lost our Oumie. But Uncle Piet has lost his wife, and Anton, Ingrid, Rael, Leonie, Gerhard and Pieter, and all their families, have lost their Mom and their grandmother.

Pera, Sean and Phillip join me in extending our deepest sympathy to you all. We take solace in the fact that she is in That Place where her pain is no more. And, whilst death takes away the person from us, it can never take away the relationship or the memories.