Time Flies


9 Years 8 months Ill | Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

Almost a half of 2016 has passed us by. I recall my parents saying that the older ones gets, the quicker time passes by. I thought that was absolute trash. Now, however, I find myself experiencing and saying those self-same things.

During the last five months, I have spent time in St Georges Hospital for my second back operation. Then came that horrible second period of not sitting for six weeks.

I made up for it when I flew to Cape Town where I spent almost a month in the Western Cape. I was the guest speaker at the St Rand Rotary Club and we reminisced about my exchange student year in Oklahoma. There, I met up with Anita Miller and Ken Lester – my guardian while I was in the USA. It was special to have my Aunt, Pat Pretorius, there too.

Then came the HHH 1975 40 year reunion, and I spoke at their Saturday night formal dinner function in the Winelands of the Cape. So many people – so many memories!

I spent a few days with the Wusts in Kleinmond and two weeks with the Wusts in Durbanville. I was joined by the rest of the family to attend my Godson, Robbie Ogilvie’s wedding on 8 April at Rondekuil, Durbanville. Or Should I rather say the marriage celebration of Premanjani Devi Dasi and Jaya Gaura Das, as it was our first experience of a Hare Krishna wedding celebration.

The Friday celebration continued from noon until late that evening. Then we went to 11 Bell Street Paarl (soon to be sold) to supper and sleepover with the Peaches. The next morning, Sean and Phillip went to Stellenbosch to watch the Grey vs Paul Roos derby encounters.

Pera and I joined the Ogilvie family at wine tasting, lunch and almost supper on the family wine farm, Altydgedacht, just outside Durbanville.

We drove back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday with a stop in Plettenberg Bay to offload David Bryant and to visit a while at the Bryant’s.

I had no sooner got back to PE when I was informed of the passing of classmate Derek Dollman. So another flight back to the Western Cape for that funeral. Thanks to the Smits, Riaan and his wife, for their hospitality in looking after me.

And thanks to Lance Faure for the lifts, the friendship and their hospitality during my stays in the Cape.

I cancelled my trip to Stellenbosch Helshoogte Old Boy’s meeting this past Friday. On Saturday we spent the afternoon with Ingrid and Anton and it was good catching up. Sunday we had lunch together with the boys and Pera’s mom for Mothers Day at the PE Deep Sea Diving Club.

I have left out much and many. Please forgive me – I will amend later! The joys of computers!

And now it’s the week of the mother of all reunions in Port Elizabeth at The Grey, and Pera’s 40th at Collegiate. PE will be abuzz with those reunions and those at Pearson and Victoria Park High.

Music at the Selley Concert, meals at the various dinners around town, drinks at the pubs and camaraderie in the City will see this week speed by, too.

We’ll chat next week …

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama Hare Hare

Sir’s on Strike

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 30 April: 6 years 7 months on …

Game ED

IMG-20130427-00330

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

Well, neither in this bus was on strike!

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

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

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

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

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

IMG-20130425-00324

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

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

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

IMG-20130426-00327

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Hansie Harker was there!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank God that He made Sundays a rest-day!

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

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

 IMG-20130427-00334

For the Last Time

ED is in the week EnDing wED 24 April 2013

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

FOR THE LAST TIME

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 23 April 2013: 6 years 7 months on …

GAME ED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will write more later.

Rest for the Wicket

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 25 March 2013: 6 years 6 months on …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage ED

ED is in week EnDing wED 27 March 2013

Wed 20 Mar:        AlgoaFM; Gym; Sean Old Grey Rugby vs Crusaders

Thu 21 Mar:          Human Rights Day; Grey 1st bt Westville in Grahamstown; lunch at Rat

Fri 22 Mar:            Braai at home with Clarkes and Stapletons

Sat 23 Mar:           Kings vs Crusaders; Michaela’s 21st birthday party at Dexter’s Den

Sun 24 Mar:          Lunch at Bluewaters café; Proteas bt Pakistan; Rest …

Mon 25 Mar:        Meeting with Melanie (Hospice); Physio; Visit Ackermanns; Rugby Madibaz vs Maties

Tue 26 Mar:          Visit Sr Gill (Hospice); Rest …

It was diarised as a quiet week! A week of rest …

But, this has been a busy week and Human Rights Day long weekend. By Saturday, I was exhausted and had to leave Michaela Botha’s 21st birthday party early. Thank goodness for Sean driving me home at ten. They got home at two am, I was told! This has become the 21st birthday party season!

Friday and Saturday were especially difficult for me – I think it’s partly due to the heat (36 degrees in Grahamstown on Thursday!) and partly due to the busy schedule. I’m just not up to all the travelling, late nights, and occasional beers anymore!

Anyway, I woke up late on Sunday morning feeling much better and, after lunch at Bluewaters café, just lazed on the couch – watching the Proteas beat Pakistan in the last of the One Day Internationals. It was also a cool day and hopefully the start of autumn and the approaching winter weather. I thrive on the colder weather!

The long weekend was special.

It has become a lonely world for me. No work to go to in the morning, no daily interaction with other people, no work functions, few and fewer visitors – as the months go by my world becomes a smaller place and it becomes more difficult to understand what my contribution is to this world.

Even when I have company it becomes difficult to share my world with them. They are so busy with their worlds that no longer have relevance for me and so we live in two different worlds. We live past each other.

Charlie

The daily programme involves Charlie, our Jack Russell, who is my company when I get up in the morning and for the rest of the day. Barbara, our domestic, is there … with the vacuum cleaner! For the rest, I am kept busy by all my medical appointments, hospice visits and whatever other projects that I have found to keep me busy.

 I am not good at keeping my own company!

However, there’s my desktop, my laptop, my IPad and my Blackberry that I couldn’t live without.

They are so challenging but so exciting, and when they go on the blink like this weekend (because of the Seacom cable problem in the Mediterranean Sea somewhere between Egypt and France, MWEB tells me) then I have withdrawal symptoms. Thank goodness for DSTV and Discovery and BBC and SKY and CNN and Richard Attenborough’s AFRICA and Great Britain! We live in an exciting and wonderful world!

So, yes, the long weekend was special to have everyone home – Pera from her work, Sean from his work and Phillip from the boarding house at school.  Suddenly, there is chatter and laughter and banter and talk in the house again. It makes a huge difference and is even more noticeable when I get up on Monday morning in an empty house again!

This weekend is Easter long weekend and then school holidays – I look forward to having everyone at home once more!

And a huge congratulations to Phillip who was awarded his academic half-colours at school on Monday!

What started out as a possible 24-hour internet problem is now being touted as possibly a two week problem! How did we work in the years BG (before Google)?

 

The World Wide Web

(c) 2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 22 January 2013: 6 years 4 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED

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

Intervarsity Maties vs Ikeys 1979

Intervarsity Maties vs Ikeys 1979

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

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

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

Intervarsity Maties vs Ikeys 1979

Intervarsity Maties vs Ikeys 1979

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She returned the following email to me:

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

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

We hope to catch up then.

It truly is a world wide web ….

Cheers!

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 10 December 2012: 6 years 3 months on …

Physical Advantage CBD … Mental Advantage CBD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The visit to Tygerberg Hospital was daunting but uneventful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Cape of Stormers

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was Home yet again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Walk to Freedom

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 13 February 2012: 5 years 5 months on … Advantage CBD

Last Saturday morning, Sean and I left Stellenbosch, crossing Sir Lowry’s Pass in the rain. Behind us, False Bay and the Hottentots-Holland basin lay basking in the sun.

The weather mirrored my mood.

It had been another trip of sunshine and rain.

It took a while to convince myself that I was able to do another long trip by car. Travelling is just becoming that much more difficult for me. It’s far easier and less frustrating just to stay at home. But I have to guard against becoming a couch potato, and I really have been nowhere since the last trip to Nieu-Bethesda in December.

A last-minute decision on the previous Thursday saw us deciding to make a trip to the Western Cape and the Cape of Good Hope. Sean had not yet started his second year at university and I am retired – so we had the time! Sean was keen to see his mates in Stellenbosch. Did I have the will?

I was keen to attend the Il Divo concert in Cape Town – I have enjoyed their music for a few years now. Once I had ascertained that there were still tickets available, I booked and the decision was made. Cape Town – here we were coming!

We left on Monday morning, heading westwards along the N2, stopping at the Storms River Bridge and in George and arriving in Stellenbosch (my birthplace and centre of learning) at 18h00. The temperature peaked at 43 degrees Celsius somewhere near Riversdale – we were grateful for auto air-conditioning and the car seemed the best place to be!

Straight on to the Danie Craven Stadium to watch Maties play in the Varsity Cup against TUT (Tshwane University of Technology) and then on to The Akker and the pizzeria next door for pizza supper with Sean’s friends David and Graham Clarke, David Bryant,  Neil Wessels and others.

Then we went on to Durbanville to the Wüsts where we would be staying for the week.  It was from their home five years ago to the week that I proceeded to theTygerberg Hospital to be informed of the diagnosis of CBD. This was the birthday week that I was supposed not to have seen!

Tuesday saw us heading for the Cape Town docks and Robben Island (Rob = seal in Afrikaans). We had tried so many times before to view the Museum there and each time the trip had been cancelled because of poor weather or a malfunctioning boat! So it was with a bit of apprehension that we headed for the docks.

But this time it happened, and we were joined for the trip by my nephew-in-law Sebastian Ridgway.

(As a student, I had previously visited the Island, when it was still a prison, for a dinner-dance one Saturday evening. We had gone across on the ferry in the dark, danced the night away, drunk copious volumes of alcohol, eaten the best of sea-foods garnered from the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean that surround the Island, and returned on the ferry at 3in the morning, with many passengers returning their sea-food to the self-same place from whence it had come!)

This day-time ferry trip crossing the some 14 km took some thirty minutes. Although it was quite hazy, the trip reveals a magnificent view of Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. In fact, you see Table Bay as you have never seen it before. Indeed, the “fairest Cape in all the world”!

Once on the Island we were bussed to the Robben Island village (where the prison warders and now the museum staff live – and where we had previously partied) and to  the various prisons (that one for criminals, the one for low-level political prisoners and then that maximum prison that was reserved for “The Leaders”  – Nelson Mandela and the rest!)

If the view from the boat is spectacular, then the backdrop of Table Mountain from the Island is something to see to believe. The history of the Island, as told to us by the guide, from penal dump to leper colony, through prisons, to the museum of today makes for interesting listening. It is almost a summary of the history of our country – something not to be missed if you are visiting Cape Town!

 

Too soon we were walking from Madiba’s cell back down the road to the boat in the Island harbour and back to the Mother City.

The time spent on the Island is not nearly enough to take in all the history and the scenery. I felt quite guilty when I realised that I had partied the night away way back in the seventies in a hall just a few hundred yards away from prisoner 46664, Nelson Mandela, then “terrorist” and now our beloved Madiba and retired first president of the democratic New South Africa.

How the world has changed in less than thirty years. Last Saturday when we drove back to PE, 11 February, was the 22nd anniversary of Nelson’s release from prison, and we still remember those pictures when we saw him for the first time leaving prison in Paarl with Winnie, his then wife, clenched fists in the air and part of his long walk to freedom!

Anyway back to Cape Town. Sean spent the evening with friends, I collected him the next morning, we visited the Waterfront, found a sushi spectacular and then headed off to the Grand West Arena for the Il Divo concert. It was the opening evening of their current world tour. What a privilege to see them in person and to hear such big voices.

Thursday was visiting day in the Hottentots-Holland basin – first my high school in Somerset West* which takes its name from the basin and where I matriculated in 1974 with, as the Honours Board now tells you, one of the two A aggregates of that year; then my sister, Lyn in Strand and then my Aunty Doreen and Uncle Peter at Bikini Beach in Gordon’s Bay.

Then we head back to Durbanville to have dinner with my neurologist, Franclo Henning and his wife Helen. Five years and one day to the date after my diagnosis – we joke about the prognosis I was given and jokingly discuss the law suit regarding the timeline that I should not have made five years!    

This is my long walk to freedom …  how long will I be imprisoned in this decaying body and who knows when I will experience my day with that clenched fist in the air and cross the divide into the unknown that lies ahead?

Thursday was my day – I think Sean must have found it quite boring – so Friday was his day! We went to Stellenbosch, had lunch in the Neelsie (the Student Union), then left him with his friends for the day and night, and visited some of my student friends at Helshoogte (my ex-residence of six years).

Then, for me, back to Durbanville for a farewell braai with Gretel and Willem.

It was the end of another very busy week … early Saturday morning, we left Stellenbosch headed eastwards to Plettenberg Bay for a quick visit to the Bryants, and then back to Port Elizabeth (to the news that Whitney Houston had died at the age of 48! Her walk to freedom, like Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse before her, was also at an end.)

I was exhausted but excited and elated that I had once again gone home to The Cape of Good Hope.

Dare I hope for another visit?  In the meantime, I’ll just keep on walking …

 * My grateful thanks are extended to Sunette Fourie for inviting me back to the school and for being such an excellent hostess and tour guide. She is the only teacher still at HHH who was there when I was there as a pupil. The only other person from my era still there is Kevin Dockrall who was in class with me and is now a teacher at the school. It was great catching up with him too in the staffroom at break time.