May Day!

 

Watch the video. It’s a miracle that our friends’, the Kapps, house is still there. The other homes are destroyed. Our other friends in Plett, the Uptons, were not so lucky. Their house was razed to the ground.

For my overseas friends, the southern and eastern cape coastline at the southern base of Africa is where we live. From Cape Town in the west to Port Elizabeth in the east is about 700 km. George is slightly more than halfway between Cape Town and PE.

The N2 route from George to PE is known as the Garden Route, not for nothing.It also carries the name of the Garden of Eden and the Eden Municipality.

Some of the most beautiful scenery in South Africa is found along the Garden Route – sea, mountains, forests, lakes, lagoons, elephants, rivers, beaches … whatever you can dream of is found there.

We have been experiencing one of the worst droughts in living memory. This week the forecasters predicted a cold front with winds and rain – big storms!

We all geared up for that. But on Wednesday, the fires started.

The area between Knysna and Plett has been razed, as well as other spots along the coast.

It is a disaster.

Today is also Theresa May’s personal disaster in the British elections

But, as always, the good in man is extracted by the worst in nature.

I shall write more when I feel better …

 

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Knysna Oyster Festival 2014

7 years 10 months ill …

Mental: Advantage ED
Physical: Advantage CBD

* with cold and am cold and weather is cold!
* visits from Sr Gill and Isaac (hospice)
* missed the Grahamstown Festival this year
* cancelled hydrotherapy
* support group meeting for MG and MD
* haircut by Grant
* Sean new phone
* Plett on Fri for Knysna Festival
* Did not walk Knysna Half Marathon
* stayed at festival grounds on Sat
* Braaied with Graeme and Uwe
* Beachwalk at Robberg
* World Cup Final on Sun (backed Argentina but Germany won 1-0)
* Returned to PE on Mon via Storms River Bridge
* Massage with Julian

It’s Not Just a Walk in the Park

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

 

Tuesday 17 January 2012: 5 years 4 months on … Advantage ED

Two months ago Loynes Jenkerson was unknown to me.

Then I received a phone call from him – to thank me for our radio programme and what it meant to him personally.

I invited him to join me for coffee at Bluewaters café and, as they say, the rest is history.

We discovered that we had a mutual interest in road running – me having run my first official Knysna half-marathon with Lindsay Brown in 2000 and my last one in the year before I became ill. Loynes is still an active runner and the organiser of many races. In our discussion we decided that this July 2012 would see a number of us walking that half-marathon again!

The next thing I knew, Loynes called me again, and asked me for my permission to organise a race in Port Elizabeth to highlight my illness. I agreed to the ED Lunnon Run/Walk in the Parks on two conditions: one was that I would not be expected to help organise the programme and, secondly, that there would be some or other event that would be arranged for people with special needs.

So within the short period of just over one month, and that over the holiday period, the event was organised and put together by Loynes, Colleen Muller and his team of helpers.

There was to be an official 10km run/walk, a 5km fun run/walk and a 1km “walk” around the Grey Schools for people with special needs – people with wheelchairs, crutches, walking sticks, blind people, … you name it!

Permission was sought and granted by Grey Junior School to use their facilities in Mill Park as the starting and finishing point, with parking facilities at the High School. The races would take place in Mill Park and Newton Park – hence the name “Walk/Run in the Parks”.

Loynes is one of those people who does first and then asks – he does not see the wood for the trees – and just gets on with it. “It’s better to ask for forgiveness later than to ask for permission in the first place!” (my paraphrasing!)

Yvonne Anderson was brought on board to organise the handicapped race.

Within days, the framework and the sponsors were there, within weeks the print material and advertising and before the end of December, the first registrations were coming in!

Well-known sports personalities like Steven Hunt, Rory Duncan and Kevin Paul came onboard. People from all walks of life offered to help.

And so came 14 January 2012.

I was slightly nervous when I approached the schools. Firstly, I had volunteered to walk five kilometres and secondly, I was hoping that Loynes would not be disappointed when he saw a few hundred people arrive for the events.

But what I saw in front of me was a sea of humanity – some one thousand people, from as far afield as Union High School in Graaff-Reinet, were already lining up at the start in College Drive.

I became even more nervous. Was there the capacity to handle so many entrants?

“Oh thee of little faith!”

The weather was perfect. The excitement palpable. Late registrations and more late registrations. Last minute hiccoughs.

But, at 06h30, I pulled the trigger to start the 2012 ED Lunnon 10km Run in the Parks, then at 6h45 the same for the 5km run/walk (and then getting myself into the pack to participate, too) and getting back before 07h45 to start the special 1km race.

At 8h30 the prize-giving took place on Junior Grey’s Osborne Field and by 09h30 the clearing up process was in place. Putting away all the equipment for the 2013 races and what will hopefully be the beginning of many more.

Truly, a run in the park may just be a walk in the park for some, but at the end of it all, it takes small ideas from people like Loynes to start big things – in this case, a new movement to raise awareness of people with disabilities, whether they be neurological like CBD, or as a result of motor car accidents.

I hope to see you all in Knysna in July and in the Parks again in January of Twenty Thirteen!

(PS I will post results and pics as soon as I receive them.)

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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.

ED is in EDen (part 1)

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 6 December 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Deuce

Exactly a week ago, last Tuesday evening, a switch was thrown at 23h00 by Dave Tiltmann, the MD of AlgoaFM which increased the broadcast area of our local radio station to include what is known as the Garden Route in the southern Cape of South Africa.

Reception on this, the southernmost coast of the African continent, is now obtainable “From The Garden Route to The Wild Coast” (and all broadcast from The Boardwalk Casino right here in Port Elizabeth.)

Previously, when going westwards along the N2 from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, AlgoaFM reception was lost somewhere between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. Now, you can pick it up all the way to Riversdale and Still Bay on the coast, and inland as far as Oudtshoorn!

This part is arguably one of the most beautiful areas of our country and it is not known as the Garden Route for nothing. The municipal area is purposefully named the Eden Municipality.

No account of my life’s journey would be complete if I did not write about this area. Just as the Camdeboo and the Karoo have been a part of my life, so, too, have the Southern Cape, the Garden Route and the Garden of Eden.

I will describe the area from west to east along the southern coast.

Stilbaai (Still Bay) is at the mouth of the Kafferkuils River. It consists of two pieces, West and East. Just recently we spent time with the Wusts in Stilbaai West on our way to Cape Town (see The Cape of Good Hope).

But it was Stilbaai East that I first came to know as a High School youngster. Our neighbours in The Strand, Ds Bombaai van Rensburg and his wife (known to us as Aunty Dominee) and 5 sons – three of whom were born on the same date a year apart from each other! –  had a holiday house there. We were contemporaries and became good friends, and I spent many summer holidays with great memories with them there.

One summer holiday (circa my Std 9 year, I think) was rudely interrupted when I ended up in the Riversdale Hospital to have an emergency appendectomy. They kept me there for a week, as the doctor would not let me go back to the holiday village to recuperate! (Nowadays, I think it’s a one day in and out op!)

My Uncle George Lunnon and Aunty Irmela lived in Riversdal (Uncle George, ironically, worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the SABC, and was responsible for the erection of many of the tall red and white FM broadcasting towers that now dot the South African landscape.) I recall him taking me to see the one outside Riversdale during my convalescence period. It is situated in the foothills of the Langeberg and at the base of the mountain known to all in the area as The Sleeping Beauty. You can see why when you drive past Riversdale why they would have named it that!

 Despite having family there, my mom single-handedly drove the then four-hour trip from Cape Town to come and look after me!

Up the road from Riversdale (CCC vehicle registration) is Albertinia (named after one Rev Albertyn).  No drive through this town would be complete without having Sunday luncheon at the famous hotel or a purchase of some of the many medicinal products processed here from the sap of the Aloe Ferox plant.

Further westwards, about 15km from Albertinia, is the 65m high Gouritz River Bridge. It was here that the company Kiwi Extreme introduced the concept of bungi jumping in South Africa in 1990.

(The bridge swing and bungy have currently been suspended awaiting the outcome of an investigation to determine if the bridge structure will allow the continuation of such activities. A much higher jump is now available from the Blaauwkrantz River Bridge further eastwards along the N2  on the border between the Western Cape and the Easter Cape)

About 35 kilometers to the east along the N2 National Road is Mossel Bay. Before that you get to see the orange glow of the burning flame of the chimney of the SASOL Oil refinery (now called Petrochem, but originally called Mossgas when gas was discovered in the Indian Ocean south of Mossel Bay and was billed to transform the economy of this area from the depressed state that it was – what happened, I wonder? Big stories and promises like the fracking of the gas fields in the Karoo?

The gas pipeline runs from the ocean bed gas field south of Vleesbaai (where I have visited student friend Piet Immelman) to the refinery right next to the main highway, and a few kilometres from the Mossel Bay 1 Stop Service station and Engen garage and the obligatory stop for a meal at the Wimpy. (I remember as a student hitchhiking from here back to Stellenbosch – a trip that took two days!)

Mossel Bay itself is the start (going eastwards) of one continuous mass of wall-to-wall holiday and permanent homes built along the sweeping coastline where the white of the sea-sand merges with the darker blue of the sea-waters of the Bay, and the lighter azure blue of the sky and the horizon.

When I worked in business, this was the westward extremity of the area for which I was the Regional HR Manager. It was here, too, that I worked my last day in that industry and where it came to an abrupt end way back in March 2002.

What one sees as one urban sprawl is actually made up of numerous different towns/villages. Those that spring to mind are Hartenbos, home of the ATKV (Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereniging), Klein Brakrivier, Groot Brakrivier (it was here that as a High School student, I attended SCA camps), Tergniet (I often visited the Appels here when I did my military service in Oudtshoorn), Eselsrus (where retired teachers have made their holiday and retirement village), Glentana, Herold’s Bay (the home of golfer Ernie Els) and a guess a few more that I have forgotten.

From Mossel Bay to George the national road is a double four lane highway – only because the Member of Parliament for the constituency of George all the years was one PW Botha, later to become Prime Minister and State President of the Republic and the deliverer of the dreaded Rubicon Speech that projected our country on a downward spiral to chaos in the eighties).    

 

Next to the highway and between it and the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains, is the George National Airport, also a brainchild of the late PW Botha MP.

Then comes the City of George, the sixth oldest town in South Africa named after King George III, and the Capital of the Southern Cape. The town is very centrally situated: halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and centre of the Garden Route.

It is situated on a 10-kilometer plateau between the majestic Outeniqua Mountain to the north and the Indian ocean to the South. Pacaltsdorp is found right next to George.

(Part 2 next week)

 

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!

 

Love All!

Tuesday 1 March 2011: 4 years  6 months on …ADVANTAGE ED

I have been blessed with many talents. But when it comes to sporting talents, I must have been at the back of the queue when those were dished out.

I have only ever played one game of rugby (when I was a student) –  nogal on the main field at UCT (University of Cape Town) when I played on the wing for Maties versus Ikeys. Not in the Varsity Cup competition, but when our Stellenbosch University Intervarsity Committee played our UCT counterparts in a “curtain raiser” to the main game at Newlands (which Stellenbosch won, of course!)

I was told sometime in the mid-eighties that I play the worst golf ever seen played in the preceding twenty eight years!

I can manage a bat on the cricket pitch with a little bit more expertise, but bowling leaves me spinning at a pace! And, as for fielding, my mind wanders too much to stand there all day waiting for a ball that may possibly come my way – when (and if) it does, I will simply not see it, let alone catch it!

When I studied in Oklahoma I played Basketball for the Sulphur Bulldogs and managed to get my “Basketball Letter”. That’s an embroidered red ‘B’ on a white background that is handed to all ball team players. I think mine was an honorary award!

As for American Football – well, I was simply a non-starter (and I still don’t know if I understand all that happens there!)

In 1999, I started road-running and managed reasonably well with the least amount of training. A large number of medals hang in my study – for 5km races where I started, then 10km, 15 km and eventually the Knysna Half Marathon (21km) which I ran for the first time in 2000 with Lindsay Brown. I completed three of those before I became ill. In 2009, I planned to walk the route but gout set in just a few days before the race and I had to withdraw. Maybe, sometime I will still be able to walk that again! It’s a very special race through the forests of Knysna, and those who have completed it will understand what I am talking about. It has a vibe that is very hard to beat.

I enjoy the vibe and the social activity that accompanies most sporting events. I often think that is the reason why so many people support and attend sporting activities around the world. And I guess I could be shot for this, but sometimes I simply cannot understand why human beings can get so worked up about boys and girls at school and grown men and women who chase varying sized and shaped balls around varying sized and coloured fields of varying textures. I think the problem sets in at school level where schools now even advertise how many Springboks they produce but never a mention of how many doctors or engineers or successful entrepreneurs.

That passion for sport seems to disappear into the apathy towards most other civic duties required of John Citizen!

When I sat at St George’s Park on Friday night watching the Warriors beat the Dolphins in an exciting finish, I wondered how many of the people were there to actually see the cricket, and how many people were there simply to be seen (or to feel the vibe or simply to get paralytic drunk at one of the many bars that service that ground, and all sporting grounds, for that matter!)

The same thought crossed my mind when I watched Sean play his first game of rugby for Old Grey against Police on Wednesday evening. The Klippies and Kastles flowed, and the fists flew, and the “friendly” game was called short some ten minutes into the second half – luckily with Old Grey in the lead at that time!

Don’t get me wrong! I do enjoy watching sport and I can admire the athletic ability of those who were fortunate to be in the front of the queue when those talents were handed out. I can see the life lessons that we can learn on the sports fields. If only we could translate that into life!

I also marvel, as when I watched the opening ceremony of the ICC World Cup in Bangladesh earlier last week (and for that matter when we hosted the Football World Cup last year) at the ability of sport to bring the people of the world together. Despite our differences that lead to so many clashes in the world, there is so much in these sporting gatherings and opening / closing ceremonies that unite the nations of our earth. Whether it’s the alcohol, or the song and dance and flags and laser lights and fireworks, for a few hours, the right chemicals flow in our bodies and we seem to forget our problems and be a happy world! Of course, the cynics would say that the money spent on these shows could be put to better use elsewhere.

(The same goes for music concerts. The hype that surrounds these mega-shows is unbelievable – like U2 in Cape Town on the previous Friday night. I must have been one of the few not there, but I did manage to sit in my study, open a beer and listen to the streamed show on the internet. I only later discovered that you could listen to the show on DSTV as well!)

It would appear that sportsmen and showmen have the ability to “heal the world”. If only we could translate those experiences into the so many areas of need in our ordinary everyday lives.

I played tennisette (tennis with a hard wooden bat on a small tennis court) – I’m not sure if they even do that today! – in Primary School and tennis in High School. At university we often whiled away spare time (did we have that?) on the tennis courts between my residence Helshoogte and the ladies’ res Sonop. (Not on Sundays, though, because in those days it was considered sinful in Stellenbosch and elsewhere in South Africa to play sport on Sundays, which were made by God strictly for rest!)

One of my erstwhile tennis partners/opponents, Gretel du Toit (now Wust), still laughs to this day at my tennis prowess on the Matie courts!  

Tennis was, for a long while, just about the only international sport we saw on TV after it was introduced in this country in 1976. The highlight of the year was the Wimbledon Tournament in July. Many a year would see us sit down in the lounge with our strawberries and cream, and spend a good Sunday afternoon watching the men’s final (seemingly then it was no longer sinful to watch/play sport on a Sunday!)

Pera and I were fortunate to be at Wimbledon in 1999 and we ate our strawberries and cream on the terrace as we watched the 113th men’s final on the big screen on the side of Centre Court. It was the 4th of July, American Independence Day and Sampras beat Aggassi  6-3, 6-4,7-5 in an all-American final.

It wasn’t the longest game of professional tennis. That was reserved for Wimbledon 2010 when the longest professional tennis match, in terms of both time and total games, was the first-round match between Nicolas Mahut and John Isner on 22, 23, and 24 June 2010. It was the

  • Longest match by time and games: It took 11 hours and 5 minutes of playing time, and required 183 games.
  • Longest set by time and games: The 5th set took 8 hours and 11 minutes of playing timeand required 138 games
  • Longest play in a single day: The first 118 games of the fifth set, played on 23 June 2010, lasted 7 hours and 6 minutes.
  • Most games in a single day: 118, on the 23 June.

Isner eventually defeated Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7((7), 7-6(3), 70 -68!

And so, where does all this bring me? Sometimes, I think that having a terminal illness is like playing that long game of tennis. Sometimes you’re beating the illness, sometimes you’re just on even terms, and sometimes, the illness has the better of you.

How long will it last? No-one knows. Who will win the match? In the final analysis, the disease wins. Up until then, it’s one game at a time.

In my titanic encounter (now 4 years 6 months), ED v CBD, for a long while up until Christmas last year, it’s been ADVANTAGE ED.

Then, we went back to DEUCE. And, for most of January and February, it was ADVANTAGE CBD.

Then, we got the pills right, and we went back to DEUCE.

For the last week, and at the moment, we are back to ADVANTAGE ED!

Health-Meter

Cognitive Excellent===================Average============================Poor
Memory (Short) *********************************************
Executive function *******************************************
Spelling *****************************
Figures ****************************************
Physical  
Left hand/arm *******************************************************
Left leg/foot *******************************************
Right hand/arm **********************************
Right leg/foot *
Lungs *******
Swallowing *
Spasms –left side *************************************
Spasms –right side *

Red stars = Deterioration / Green stars = Improvement from previous week

Over The Hill

Monday 24 January 2011: 4 years 4 months on …

My late father had a stroke in 1969 which left him completely paralyzed on his right side and unable to talk (save for 3 or 4 words). At the time, I was in Standard 5, my eldest sister Lyn in High School (Standard 8), my younger sister Ingrid in Primary School (Standard 1) and my youngest sister June, at 4 years old, not yet even in school.

My late mother had her hands full, looking after a disabled husband and raising four children!

After his stroke (and until he passed away in 1976), we never had the luxury of a holiday. Mind you, before his stroke we seldom went away on a holiday either.

There is one holiday, however, that I remember well. Our green Studebaker towed a Gypsy caravan (the silver variety) from The Strand north to Bloemfontein, south to East London and then down the coast, visiting Port Elizabeth, Jeffery’s Bay and Knysna along the way. (It was in Bloemfontein that my Dad left a message for a friend that Herbie Lunnon was in the caravan park, and he almost did not get to see the friend because the message was relayed by the secretary as “Herbie’s linen was in the caravan park”!)

Whenever we traveled, we never stopped at restaurants for meals. In fact, I don’t think that places like the Wimpy, Golden Egg or Steers existed in those days (or maybe we just couldn’t afford to stop there!)

Instead, Mom packed the picnic basket (a large brown cane one with a lid) and inside was the black metal flask with coffee and the drumsticks, hard-boiled eggs, fried sausage, and sandwiches (mostly wrapped in the obligatory silver aluminium foil).

We would stop along the national road at the concrete table with the concrete stools, usually under a few trees that had been planted there for shade, and the concrete bin for the throw-away rubbish. A meal stop would include the obligatory wee stop and the waves to the passers-by.

But before we stopped, we would play all kinds of games in the car to keep us busy and designed to prevent us from fighting. The wireless would either be on the “A” programme (the English SABC programme, as opposed to the “B” programme – Afrikaans) or on Springbok Radio, and one had to constantly keep turning the dial in order to keep the wireless on the programme – often the sound would just fade away into a rowdy static racket!

And in between the stops we would constantly ask “How much further?” or “When will we get to Three Sisters, or Colesberg or Hanover or …?” 

Something I learnt from my Dad (Things my Father said!) and which has transferred itself into our own family travels, was his usual reply, “Round the next corner!” or “Over the Hill!”

But our destination was never over that hill or round that corner, to which Dad would reply “I said the NEXT hill!”

And the reason I have been thinking of this is because it reminds me that in Life we never know what lies around the corner or over that hill. And we just don’t know how much further we have to travel.

 

But we need to stay busy with our radio and our games to keep us from fighting, and we need to have our short-term and long-term goals like our regular stops, our next corner and next hill and our next town to make the journey more exciting.

During these past holidays, we stayed on the St Francis Links for a week or so. Not being a golfer myself, I watched the players pass by on their golf journey.

They start their course and play eighteen holes. Each one comes with its unique built-in challenges and the ever-changing wind and weather patterns.  They have to adapt each stroke by assessing the challenge and choosing the correct club, often with the help (for better of for worse!) of their companions, and by playing the stroke with the necessary acumen.

However, the play doesn’t necessarily go (and seldom goes!) according to the plan. Often your ball is lost and your way is lost and frequently a standby plan or improvisation needs to be implemented in order to get you out of the rough.

In my case, as the CBD relentlessly attacks my body, I progress from one hole to the next, and each time a club gets removed from the bag. As I proceed, I have fewer clubs at my disposal to master each succeeding green, and the round becomes more and more challenging. How many more holes I do not know, but the respite of the 19th hole lies somewhere there in the distance.

As I said, I was never a golfer, but I have run the Knysna. And it’s become like running the Knysna.

You don’t know if it’s the half marathon or the full, but you become increasingly tired along the way and I am starting to feel over the hill.

I keep on watching out for that finishing line. How much further?

Is it around the next corner or over the hill? Is there a next one?

ED and ELVIS

Tuesday 10 August 2010: 3 years 11 months on …

Bucket lists have become synonymous with people who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. I think the term comes from the movie entitled Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and I would guess it’s based on the English euphemism for dying:  to kick the bucket!

We all know what a bucket is – and so this phrase appears rather odd. Why should kicking one be associated with dying?

The link between buckets and death was made by at least 1785, when the phrase was defined in Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: “To kick the bucket, to die.”

One theory as to why, albeit with little evidence to support it, is that the phrase originates from the notion that people hanged themselves by standing on a bucket with a noose around their neck and then kicking the bucket away. There are no citations that relate the phrase to suicide and, in any case, why a bucket?

Whenever I’ve needed something to stand on I can’t recall ever opting for a bucket. This theory doesn’t stand up any better than the supposed buckets did.

The mist begins to clear with the fact that in 16th century England bucket had an additional meaning (and in some parts it still has), i.e. a beam or yoke used to hang or carry items.

The term may have been introduced into English from the French trébuchet – meaning a balance, or buque – meaning a yoke. That meaning of bucket was referred to in Peter Levins’ Manipulus vocabulorum. A dictionarie of English and Latine wordes, 1570:

“A Bucket, beame, tollo.” and was used by Shakespeare in Henry IV Part II, 1597:

“Swifter then he that gibbets on the Brewers Bucket.” [to gibbet meant to hang]

The wooden frame that was used to hang animals up by their feet for slaughter was called a bucket. Not unnaturally they were likely to struggle or to spasm after death and hence ‘kick the bucket’.

Any which way. Last week, on Ed is in Wed© on AlgoaFM, Lance and I discussed the travelling that I had done and had been referring to in my blogs. He said that it reminded him of Dalene Mathee’s Kring in die Bos.

I have been extremely fortunate to have travelled extensively in my lifetime, both in Southern Africa and overseas. The bug definitely bit me when I became a Rotary Exchange Student to the USA in 1975. 

Lance then asked whether further travel was on my bucket list? I think my response was somewhere along the lines of “I would love to, but it’s not that easy anymore – both from a cost perspective and from a health perspective”.

Yes, bucket lists are easy to draw up when you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. The difficult part is to action the list!

In watching the movie Bucket List and in reading various books by authors diagnosed with terminal illnesses, it is evident that it is essential to be quite wealthy in order to action bucket lists. In the case of ordinary everyday people such as me, and in many cases people who are even less fortunate than me, bucket lists are often unattainable. Hence the excellent work done by organisations such as REACH FOR A DREAM.

Bucket lists can also become very stressful items, especially in a family environment.

I have written before about trying to live normally in a world that has become very abnormal. Whilst I, at the top of each of my blogs, have a counter counting the extra time that I been blessed with since becoming ill, and cross off each day on the calendar as another bonus that I have filled with some or other activity, my family are simply going about their “normal” daily routines – work, school, play – and planning and living their normal lives (in addition to having to care for me!)

A friend said to me just the other day, “You are so lucky to be living the life that you now have!” I was originally quite p***** off, and replied that I would give anything to be healthy again.  But, in thinking about it, yes, I have been truly blessed with all the activities that I have been privileged to be involved in – things that would never have been possible had I still been healthy!

But, my thinking is not always that of my family’s!

In Industrial Relations, which I was involved in for fifteen years of my business life, one recognises the fact that conflict is inevitable in the capitalistic business environment.

Because the goal of the one party in the partnership is not the same as that of the other party in the partnership, there is constant feuding between capital and labour!

On the one hand, you have entrepreneurs and management trying to make as much profit as possible by utilising their labour for as long and hard as possible – and, on the other hand, you have labour wanting as much remuneration as possible for doing the least amount of work that is possible! Hence, all the strikes that we see as part of our daily South African business environment!

The same happens when you have a family where some are living and one is dying!

The goals are not always the same, and conflict becomes inevitable.

That happened again, this past weekend – the long weekend with Women’s Day being the public holiday last Monday. 

We had planned to go to St Francis Bay for the weekend. But, we had also been invited to go to Elvis Blue’s concert in George. My bucket list included the concert – the family thought I was insane to travel all that way to go to a concert – well, maybe I am!

And, as in industrial relation’s conflict, domestic conflict can also only be resolved through consultation, negotiation and compromise!

We agreed to go from Port Elizabeth to St Francis Bay – via George! For those who know, that’s like travelling from New York to San Francisco via London! And the party grew from two to four people – from Pera and I to the whole family!

So, on Friday afternoon, we left for George – with demeanour, body language and the lack of any other language in the car clearly demonstrating that there was some stress, and that all was not quite well in the state of Denmark!

Time was of the essence. We left at two thirty and the concert was due to start in George at seven. We arrived at Hermann and Sally in Knysna (where we would stay for the night) at five thirty, quickly changed (those that needed to) and left for George – another forty-five minutes down the road.

I knew the show was booked up, that seating was “first come-first served” and was stressing about having to sit on the floor. However, I did not know that we had reserved seats in the second row from the front, and so some of the stress was quite unnecessary  (isn’t that often the case?).

Well, Elvis’s singing was exceptional (and the supporting programme was good) and if he doesn’t win SA Idols this year, I am sure he’ll make it close to the very top. We all enjoyed the show and that helped to thaw the mood somewhat!

Then back to Knysna, where we spent the night. A full-on English breakfast was served, complete with handwritten menus, by Tayla (the youngest of the Kapp daughters) and her friend. When I came downstairs, I found them in the kitchen with their aprons covering their pyjamas. How different having daughters compared to having sons!

We sat outside on the deck, catching up, and savouring the beautiful surroundings of the Knysna environment. Alas, noon came to soon, and we headed off back to St Francis Bay (which is where, you will recall, we were headed in the first place!)

But Sean wanted to visit his school and hostel friend, David Bryant, in Plettenberg Bay. So, in the further interests of compromise, we agreed to make a quick stop there – just to say hello – and phoned ahead to say it would be quick – please, no lunch!

Well, Dave’s folks arrived home and almost convinced us to stay the night! But, after much chatting, numerous beers, glasses of champagne, chips and dips, and more and more visitors arriving, we eventually set off for St Fran at about five!  What a lovely day – often the unplanned, spontaneous things are just like that!

On the way back, we had a flat on the Tsitsikamma Toll Road. Thanks to Sean and Phillip (they could apply to work in Schumaker’s F1 pits) and the toll road patrol, we were able to get moving quickly again and eventually got to St Fran just after seven pm, missing the closing of the Spar by minutes.

Our neighbours, the Rishworths, were braaing on their deck, and so we joined them, as we did on Sunday afternoon for lunch, together with their other guests. And then Ken and Dorelle MacKenzie arrived for drinks . . .

Ndiniwe – I am exhausted – but the bucket list is not!

Monday morning saw Sean and I rush back to Port Elizabeth to meet up with Elvis and Lance in the AlgoaFM studio for a final interview before he heads off to Sun City. Good luck there, Jan!

What a show – what a weekend – what a victory for compromise!

We need another long weekend to rest – when’s that?