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)

 

Places, People and Pipe Dreams

(c) 2011 E.C. Lunnon

Saturday 12 November 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Deuce

I have written before that Home is where the Heart is  –  about a number of places where I am privileged to have lived or visited.

But now I have a broken heart. It is split and  parts remain in those wonderful places. 

Stellenbosch is where I was born and educated.

There is the greater Cape Town Metropole including the City of  Cape Town itself and the Hottentots-Holland basin: The Strand, Somerset West and Gordons Bay where I was raised and spent my formative years.  

Then there is the United States of America, in general, and Oklahoma and Sulphur in particular. I lived and went to school there too.

There is the Eastern Cape where I have lived for the past twenty-seven years.

 

I have visited Londres no less than seven times. 

It is the city of my surname, my forefathers and my dreams: the New Jerusalem to which I look forward. But, if that destination is anything better than London, it can only be called Heaven!

And from the noise and bustle and coloured tracks of the tube trains of London, there is the quietness and simplicity and dust tracks of The Karoo.

 

With each of these places comes the so many people who are my friends and acquaintances.  

 The simpler one’s life, the less one has to give up and the less one has to say goodbye to.

The more privilege, the more pleasure, the more places, the more people, the more presents, the more pets, the more paper, the more photos, the more possessions, …

Yes, the more parts of your heart …
 
And the more parts lead to the more partings and the more pain.

 

It is hard to start saying goodbye to a hundred places, a thousand people and a million pipe-dreams. 

It’s a Small Small World

© E.C. Lunnon 2011

Friday 4 November 2011: 5 years 2 months on … Advantage CBD

Dear Kay, Lee, Jerry and Kathy

Thirty six years ago, in 1975, I completed grade 12 at Sulphur High School, in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

During that year, I lived with four families:  first, with Bill and Nadine Whitley (and their five sons) out at the Lake of the Arbuckles and then in town with Judge Dixie and Ruby Colbert (and Shelley and Mark), yourselves, the Rev Lee and Mrs Kay Griffin (and Jerry and Kathy) and finally with the Seips (and Robert and Becky). I had an additional four mothers and fathers and many more brothers and sisters! (I recall the most difficult thing for me was to actually call my host parents “Mom” and “Dad”!)

Despite the years, I remember many things of my stay with you: celebrating my 19th birthday with a special cake in your kitchen, the Methodist Church (I believe it’s changed its venue now), Kathy’s mice,  Jerry’s bedroom (!) and, of course, our ten-day hiking trip up and around the Maroon Bells and Snowmass Lake in Aspen, Colorado. To this day, a watercolour that Lee painted for me of the Bells and the Lake hangs in our entrance hall in Port Elizabeth (to where I moved from Cape Town in 1984).

 

(Note the signature and date in the left hand corner – I was hoping, Lee, that you had made it famous as a painter by now and that my original is now worth a few million dollars!)

Upon returning to South Africa, I commenced my studies at the University of Stellenbosch. In those years, we relied solely on “snail mail” in order to communicate.  It took some three weeks for a letter to reach Oklahoma from South Africa and the same amount of time for a response to get back here – almost two months for a “round trip”!

Needless to say, despite all our good intentions, the letters dried up rapidly, later became just an annual Christmas card, then SILENCE and then DISAPPEARANCE.

Thanks largely to Kevin Whitley and his insistence in not allowing me “to get away” I remained in contact (to a greater or lesser degree) with the Whitley clan.

I was, therefore, privileged to return to the US on a further four occasions. As a South African (and an honorary citizen of the Great State of Oklahoma) I have most probably seen more of the USA than most Americans, having had the pleasure of visiting most of the 48 contiguous States, as well as Canada and Mexico. 

In 1988, a friend and I toured the country from “sea to shining sea” (and I also returned to Sulphur for a while); in 1999, I visited Orlando and Atlanta on a business trip (and saw the Whitleys in Atlanta); in September/October 2001, my family and I vacationed in Atlanta and with the Whitleys in Missouri; and in March 2007, just after I became ill, I returned for Bill’s (surprise) 80th birthday party. Unfortunately, he became ill at that time and passed away shortly thereafter.

All this time, I have asked about the whereabouts of my other families. I understand that the Seips have moved back to Pennsylvania. However, I have had no contact with them since 1988. I also saw Ruby Colbert at that time (my understanding is that both Judge Dixie and Ruby have now passed away.) I occasionally get some news via Facebook of the doings of the Colbert’s.

 The Griffins remained the “lost tribe”.

But, all that changed last week, thanks to the wonders of that modern-day invention of the Internet and all the various social networking sites, especially Facebook.

Last Monday, in the early hours of the morning, I heard my Blackberry beep. It was a FB message from Esti Stewart, the editor of the St Francis Bay newsletter The Village News.

In my dozy state and without my specs, I read that my mother wanted me to contact her. Well, bearing in mind that my mom passed away in 1986, it came as a bit of a shock!

On getting my specs and re-reading the message, I read the following:

“Hi ED, Kay Griffen requested via my website for you to contact her, she says she is the mom of the family you stayed with.

I was extremely excited about the contact and immediately responded with a brief note to you, Kay, realizing that it was in the middle of the night in Oklahoma City.

I thanked Esti for passing on the message and she informed me that Kay had found me by reading one of my blogs on OKLAHOMA that I had written and that she had republished in her newsletter.

By noon here, I had received another note directly from Kay:

“Hi, ED. I am Kay Griffin, the mother of the Griffin family with whom you stayed in Sulphur, Oklahoma when you were an exchange student. I would love to visit with you!”

Could I have forgotten the Griffins? No!

But I had forgotten (initially) that ‘visit’ in America simply means to have a chat and not that it was a face-to-face encounter as a visit is here in Africa.  For the moment, I was excited that the Griffins were right here in South Africa!

 However, the World Wide Web would have to do. And, in the next few hours, the beeps continued on the Blackberry, the laptop, the desktop and the I-Pad. The Internet was abuzz with requests from the Griffins to “be my friend” and to “poke me”!

The Lunnons and the Griffins had found each other! 

In 1975, it was impossible to phone directly from Sulphur, Oklahoma to Cape Town, South Africa. Now, we can sms, text, WhatsApp, BBM, Skype, Facebook, call, see and hear each other.

So much has changed in thirty six years. And especially so in our family and personal lives. I guess we have all experienced the ups and downs of life, and have met with the challenge of turning the downs into ups.

I will not bore you with all my details, but I invite you to read my blogsite www.edlunnon.wordpress.com or to visit my website www.edlunnon.co.za. You will find most of my life story stuck away in the blogs that I have written over the last two years.

It has been a truly amazing experience that, after so much time, we have been able to connect once again. I will always be grateful to Rotary and to you and all the other OKIES for the year that was afforded me in Sulphur, Oklahoma, USA. It was a life-changing experience for me and something that has defined my life journey ever since.

Despite modern technology, I hope you will understand that, as a result of my illness, it has become difficult for me to keep up individual correspondence with so many good friends around the world. Hence, the writing of my blogs to keep everyone updated.

I do hope that we can continue to keep in touch through my website and Facebook. You will also be pleased to know that hopefully soon, my blogs will be published in book form.

Thanks so much for writing, for your words of encouragement and for putting me up (and I guess, for putting up with me!) in 1975.

I sincerely hope that, if you ever come to Africa and pass this way, I will be able to reciprocate your kindness. 

Remember, “Yea’re Welcome” and “Y’all come back now!

Lots of love and good wishes

 ED

 

 

 

 

The Cape of Good Hope: Day 7 (Friday)

Monday 31 October 2011 (Halloween): 5 years 1 month on … Advantage CBD 

The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
    

Friday                                            Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)

Saturday                                         Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)

Sunday morning                              Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 7 – Friday 7 October 2011

Our trip back to Port Elizabeth was scheduled to commence on Friday. However, we planned to take a leisurely drive and to stop over in Montagu for the weekend. The Ridgways were to accompany us and to act as our tour guide. Unfortunately, it was “month-end” in the accounts department at the Mount Nelson Hotel and Michelle could not go. So Sebastian and almost one-year old Hannah did. (It was amazing to see Sebastian look after Hannah – I never was such a good father!)

After packing and saying goodbye to our flat and The Strand, we left, as scheduled, at 08h30 and headed through Stellenbosch, Paarl, the N1 north through the Huguenot Tunnel and on to our first stop in the Slanghoek Valley outside Rawsonville.

The farm OPSTAL is owned by Stanley and Ria Louw. Stanley was at Stellenbosch University with me when I was an undergraduate student. He was also in Helshoogte and served on the House Committee. He is married to Thomas Moolman’s sister Ria (we had been staying in Thomas’s flat in The Strand.)

Rawsonville has special memories for me. I visited the Moolmans often there (and at their caravan in Gordons Bay when they camped during the summer holidays). I also spoke at Thomas and Marzeth’s wedding in the church hall in 1983 and it was the town where my very first brand new car was written off on a trip back home from Infantry School in Oudtshoorn when I was doing my military service.

But I had not yet visited Opstal.

So we stopped over for breakfast – a big farm one! – and our first wine tasting of the day. Unfortunately, Stanley was in Worcester and we did not get to see him. However, in the midst of preparing for a weekend Slanghoek Valley Wine Festival, we were graciously hosted by Ria.

It set the tone for the rest of the day (as can be seen from the photographs accompanying these blogs!)

Our next stop was the Klipdrift Brandy distillers in Robertson – “met ys!”- and then on to the wine farms along the Breede River valley between Robertson and Bonnivale.

Farm after farm, wine after wine, sip after sip and taste after taste, we moved through the valley and through the wines – the dry and the semi-sweet whites through the rosés and the red Cabernets and Pinotages, and all the other special wines and the cheeses, too, where available!

We visited Bon Courage, Van Loeveren, Excelsior. I’m not sure if it’s the wine or the CBD that makes the names fade into oblivion now.

Each farm has something special – that little extra thing to make it unique – whether it be a cheese platter, a snack, a river cruise, or a donkey cart.

Sean, Phill and I especially enjoyed the opportunity at Excelsior to blend and bottle our own wine – Excelsior Our Own Creation! The challenge now is do we keep it or drink it!

 

Bacchus would have been proud of us. The day moved into a haze of splendour and by late afternoon, it was time to head off to the Spar in Montagu and stock up on provisions for our braai at our overnight weekend guest house in the Koo Valley, north of Montagu.

What a spectacular valley that has escaped me, and I guess many others, all these years.

Most of us, I would imagine, are familiar with the name Koo and Langeberg – being the brand names of canned fruit and vegetables that have graced our kitchens over the years and that we all have eaten somewhere along the line.

Langeberg, of course, means “long mountain”. It’s the range that runs parallel to the Indian Ocean coast all the way from Robertson to Swellendam and beyond. The Koo (Khoisan for “cold”) is a valley between these mountains and the next range that forms the border with the Great Karoo. The road that runs through it links the R62 at Montagu with the N1 at Touws River. It is in this valley that we find the fruit and vegetables that go into those cans!

The scenery is magnificent, and would become even more clear to us on the following day when we ascended the mountain.

In the meantime, in the quietness of the setting sun and the darkening sky, we braaied in front of our cottage at Oak Guest Cottages, and called it an early evening! Saturday belonged to Protea Farm.

 

 

The Cape of Good Hope: Day 6 (Thursday)

 

Monday 24 October 2011: 5 years 1 month on … Advantage CBD 

The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
    

Thursday                                        Trip to Robben Island

Thursday evening                          Drinks at Forester’s Arms in Newlands (Old Greys)

Friday                                             Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)

Saturday                                         Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)

Sunday morning                              Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 6 – Thursday 5 October 2011

In June 2010, when we last visited Cape Town together as a family, we booked to visit that icon of the South African apartheid era, Robben Island and its infamous prison where Nelson Mandela and many others were imprisoned – our South African version of San Francisco’s Alcatraz! (Robben, by the way, comes from the Dutch word robben meaning seal, of which there are many on the Island.)

I have visited Alacatraz (in January 1988) when Grant Lloyd and I toured the USA, and I have visited Robben Island before. In my student years at Stellenbosch, the prison authorities organised dinner dances in the prison hall, and it was a novel evening’s entertainment. We would drive from Stellies to Cape Town harbour, cross the open Table Bay waters by ferry to the Robben Island harbour, disembark there, and then be transported by bus to the Prison Hall.

Music was provided by the prisoners’ band and the prisoners also acted as waiters, serving the best of seafood that the cold waters around the island could provide. (I sometimes have wondered if we were ever served by Madiba himself, seeing of course that no-one knew what he looked like at that time. It was against the law of the land to publish pictures of that terrorist!)

Drinks could only be bought in large measure – a six-pack of beer, a bottle of whiskey, a bottle of brandy, a litre of Coke or whatever … need less to say, the trip back to Cape Town harbour on the last ferry at 02h00 was not a pleasant experience. Much alcohol and heavy seas do not make for good bed-fellows! 

One evening, on the way back to res from The Island, I had an accident with Mom’s blue Renault 16TS at the entrance of the Cloetesville Road into Stellenbosch. That was the end of her Renault and the beginning of her brand new orange Toyata Corolla 1300! 

That all is history now.

The Island is presently one of the country’s premier tourist attractions. However, the family and I have never visited the Island in its current museum form. Hence, our early booking last year at the time of the SA FIFA World Cup.

But it was not to be. The weather turned foul, the rain poured down and the westerly wind howled, all trips were cancelled and we were left disappointed.

So, this year we booked again for the Thursday. And the long-term weather forecast for the week assured us that Thursday would be a peach of a day – in fact, the best day of the week: no wind and warm temperatures. Nothing would stop us this time and the excitement was palpable.

Sean, who had gone to the Coldplay concert in Green Point on Wednesday evening and had stayed over in Cape Town, was given strict instructions of ensuring that he would meet up with us before our scheduled trip at 13h00. Either he would stay in Cape Town where we would collect him, or he would get a lift to The Strand early enough to join up with us.

Well, at 09h00, we received an sms from the Robben Island Tourist Authority advising us that, due to technical difficulties, all boat trips to The island had been cancelled! Disappointment once again! One could hardly believe that a premier tourist attraction in Cape Town, and in the middle of the school holidays, could be cancelled at sush short notice (and that there were no contingency plans to hire another boat or whatever!)

(We have subsequently heard that, like so many other things in this country, the running of this business has also deteriorated rapidly and is subject to bribery, corruption and maladministration!)

Anyway, we had to replan the day, and decided to go to Hout Bay instead. But, we had to wait for Sean, and his return got later and later. The expectation of 10h00 became midday (thanks to no fault of his own) and my next explosion resulted. So, when we eventually left for Hout Bay, the tension in the car could be felt, and it took quite a while to recover.

But the beauty of lunch at Marriner’s Wharf, the walk on the harbour wall, the drinks at the restaurant and the trip on the boat out to Seal island thawed out my anger. What started out as a day of great expectation, was almost ruined by me, but luckily, we managed to salvage it.  

The Peninsula remains the Cape of Good Hope (even for me)!

My next appointment was “Forries” in Newlands. So we returned to Cape Town around 17h00 via Llandudno, Bakoven, Clifton, Bantry Bay, Camps Bay, Sea Point and green Point. But not as quickly as you have just taken to read through the list of names. In fact, it took us an hour to travel that short distance from Hout Bay to Newlands.

It was rush-hour traffic in the Mother City and being a beautiful day, the beaches and Beach Rd cafés were crowded (despite being a Thursday afternoon!) All Cape Town’s beautiful people were out in full force – tanning, sipping, solving the world’s problems and gossiping (no doubt); but no swimming – the Atlantic Ocean and the Benquela current make the water too cold for that!

It would have been quicker to go to Newlands over Kloof Nek ( the pass between Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. But the reason we took the coastal road was to find Phill a new pair of slops (beach shoes). His had broken after having been worn out by Charlie, our new Jack Russell.

So, somewhere, in High Level Road, Sea Point, waiting for the traffic to move, Phill rushed in to the shoe shop and bought new ones, and I rushed into the ATM and drew money … and the traffic just moved on slowly! (We are so spoiled in Port Elizabeth when it comes to traffic or, should I say, lack thereof!)

Foresters’ Arms is a pub and restaurant in Newlands. We frequented it as students and it serves as a meeting place for many groups of people. No visit to Cape Town is complete without a visit to Forries!  

Adrian van Westenbrugge, an Old Grey and ex-pupil of mine had organised for a few friends to meet there. It was great catching up over a cold Guiness with him and his girlfriend, Johnny Hill, Belinda Walton and her partner Neil, and Pera’s brother, Bruce, also joined us.

All this time, as kids do today, Sean (who thanks to modern technology in the form of Face Book and BBM) had been in contact with his mates. So, just when it was home-time, Sean asked if we could stay a little longer as friends of his from UCT were about to arrive, too.

So we ordered pizza’s for supper (really good ones!) and visited a while longer with, amongst others, Hugh van Niekerk (from Grey and Middleton fame) and Trilby Brown – Wayne and  Janet’s daughter.

Then, it was home-time! We headed back to The Strand for the last time on this trip, and to packing up, before we dropped into bed. Friday morning early would see us starting the trip home via the Breede River valley.

The Cape of Good Hope: Day 5 (Wednesday)

Thursday 20 October 2011: 5 years 1 month on … Advantage ED

 
The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
    

Wednesday                                    AlgoaFM from Waterkloof Farm and wine tasting

Wednesday evening                      Rocking Horse Show – Durbanville (Die Boer Theatre)

Thursday                                        Trip to Robben Island

Thursday evening                            Drinks at Forrester’s Arms in Newlands (Old Greys)

Friday                                           Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)

Saturday                                       Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)

Sunday morning                             Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 5 – Wednesday 5 October 2011

We had been so fortunate with the weather – it just kept on getting better and better. And so our early rise on Wednesday presented yet another beautiful warm windless day,

Sean had arranged to get a lift to Cape Town on Wednesday morning with friends of his. He was off to see the Coldplay concert at the new Cape Town Stadium (built for last years FIFA World Cup) and was scheduled to meet up with us again on Thursday morning.

We were off to the Waterkloof Wine Farm – just behind Somerset West on the slopes of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, and we had to be there before 10h30 in order for me to do my AlgoaFM chat show via telephone to host Lance du Plessis.

Waterkloof is a modern newly-built wine farm, and they say “every picture tells a story” and “a picture is worth a thousand words”! So please look at the photos accompanying this blog and at the previous photo blog and admire the beauty of the Hottentots Holland basin, the HH mountains, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Gordons Bay, Strand, Somerset West, False Bay and the Cape Peninsula in the distance. My words can certainly do no justice to such magnificence!

After my interview (which was minimal as a result of a discussion about the dangers of fracking – listen to the podcast), we did our first wine tasting of the week: the Waterkloof wines. Then we headed off for lunch on the other side of Somerset West, behind the Helderberg, on the way to Stellenbosch. This time we were visiting the farm  Avontuur, the owner of which is now married to Jake White, the ex Springbok rugby coach.

A splendid meal was had on the terrace, with a view of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak in the southern distance and the Helderberg as the northern vista.

We got home late afternoon, and barely had time for a short snooze, before we were picked up by Sebastian and his father and friend Kallie van Heerden. This time we were  heading off to Durbanville and to the Die Boer Theatre – sort of restaurant come theatre come pub all rolled into one.

It’s owned by Jurgen Human, who studied electrical engineering with me at Stellenbosch and once courted my sister. He went on to work at the SABC, married Afrikaans theatre doyen Dowwe Dolle and is now involved in this theatre venture. It’s quaint, it’s fun, it’s enjoyable. You eat and you drink and you listen to the music. And tonight it’s Country and Western!

The band playing is Rocking Horse, and two of the members of the band of three are Ridgways, cousins of Sebastian and sons of Sebastian’s father’s late brother. So it’s all in the family tonight, except for Sean, who by now was rocking away at the Coldplay concert in Green Point.

So, today had been one of wine, food and song. Another great day which was serving as the prelude for our much-anticipated trip to Robben Island on Thursday. And the weather was forecast to be an even better day – warm and windless. 

Our eyes started closing on the half-hour trip back to The Strand from Durbanville …

The Cape of Good Hope: Day 3 (Mon)

Tuesday 18 October 2011: 5 years 1 month on … Advantage ED

 
The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
 

Monday morning                            MSA 1km walk – Strand beach  

Monday afternoon                          High Tea – Mount Nelson Hotel – Cape Town

Tuesday morning                           Shopping – Factory shops:  Cape Town

Tuesday afternoon                         Ice-skating – Goodwood

Tuesday evening                           Drinks at Costa del Sol (Strand) (HHH school mates)       

Wednesday                                 AlgoaFM from Waterkloof Farm and wine tasting

Wednesday evening                      Rocking Horse Show – Durbanville (Die Boer Theatre)

Thursday                                      Trip to Robben Island

Thursday evening                           Drinks at Forrester’s Arms in Newlands (Old Greys)

Friday                                           Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)

Saturday                                       Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)

Sunday morning                             Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 3 – Monday 3 October 2011

Somewhere in the last paragraph of Day 2 (Sunday evening), I should have written that I lost my cool. I do that too often nowadays. However, when I become stressed, it’s almost like a pressure valve that releases the pent-up anger.

This time it involved the arrangements for Monday. Sean was in Stellenbosch and needed to be fetched on Monday morning. Phillip wanted to watch Grey play water-polo at SACS in Newlands on Monday morning. I needed to walk The Strand beach on Monday morning and we all needed to get to the Mount Nelson Hotel in Oranjezicht (the City Bowl) for High Tea on Monday afternoon.

Distances in Cape Town are not like Port Elizabeth. A trip from Strand to Cape Town (depending where and when) could take upwards of an hour. And between us, we had one car, two drivers (Pera and Sean), one navigator (that’s me who knows Cape Town like the back of my hand) and four people going in different directions.

So I exploded and spoiled the fun for a while.

But, by Monday morning all was sorted. It was Pera’s birthday!

Phillip got a lift with Michelle to Newlands, Pera and I walked the Melkbaai (Milk Bay) Beach with Sonja van Rhyn and some thirty other people. It was International MSA Day (Multiple Systems Atrophy) and people were asked to walk a kilometre and light candles to highlight the scourge of MSA.

Sonja was slightly ahead of me at high school and an excellent athlete. She was diagnosed with MSA  (a cousin neurological disease to my CBD) a little more than a year ago and is already in a wheelchair. Her disease is moving at a far more rapid pace than my CBD.

After the walk, we lit candles at Casa del Sol, a restaurant in one of the multi-towered blocks of flats that now line The Strand’s Beach Road.

Then we went to Stellenbosch to fetch Sean, headed for SACS to collect Phillip and made our way to the Mount Nelson Hotel.

But then another logistical challenge raised its head. None of us boys were wearing clothing that could have been considered smart casual for the Hotel’s High Tea! 

So we headed for the Garden’s Shopping Centre to buy some clothing. Nothing cheap there! Then we drove around the downtown City Bowl area looking for a clothing shop – nothing there! I almost lost it again!

Sebastian had said that the worst that could happen was that those who were not properly attired (smart casual with a collared shirt) would have to sit in the car and watch the rest fill their faces.

So we went on to the Hotel and guess what? No one questioned my short pants, nor the boys t-shirts, board shorts or “sloppies”!

And so we tea’d and ate, and tea’d and ate, and tea’d and ate, and champagned to celebrate the birthday, and tea’d and ate … the Facebook photo record would prove that I ate four slices of cheese cake and added on a few more kilo’s! (For a full record of a earlier High Tea at the Mount Nelson please read my previous blog  As Long as there’s Tea there’s Hope!)

We “rolled” out of the Hotel at five and then headed to the northern suburbs of Cape Town along the N1 to visit Century City and the Canal Walk Shopping Centre at Bothasig. Then on to Welgemoed for supper with Jacobus and Tilly Wúst.

When Tilly and Jacobus had phoned whilst we were walking along the beach in the morning to invite us to supper, I had said something light to eat would suffice (because of the High Tea). Well, it ended up as a steak braai and anything but light! But, as always, it was a great evening to catch up with great friends over great food and wine.

And it was very late when we set course back for TheStrand via the N1, the R300 and onto the N2. Another tough day in Africa!

The Cape of Good Hope: Day 2 (Sun)

 
 
QuantcastFriday 14 October 2011: 5 years 1 month on … Advantage ED
 
The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
 

Sunday                                         Church Strand and then Lunch: Fairview Farm – Paarl

Monday morning                            MSA 1km walk – Strand beach  

Monday afternoon                          High Tea – Mount Nelson Hotel – Cape Town

Tuesday morning                           Shopping – Factory shops:  Cape Town

Tuesday afternoon                         Ice-skating – Goodwood

Tuesday evening                           Drinks at Costa del Sol (Strand) (HHH school mates)       

Wednesday                                 AlgoaFM from Waterkloof Farm and wine tasting

Wednesday evening                      Rocking Horse Show – Durbanville (Die Boer Theatre)

Thursday                                      Trip to Robben Island

Thursday evening                           Drinks at Forrester’s Arms in Newlands (Old Greys)

Friday                                           Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)

Saturday                                       Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)

Sunday morning                             Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 2 – Sunday 2 October 2011

I was baptised in The Strand Methodist Church, went to Sunday School there, and was confirmed there in 1972.

My grandfather, Walter Charles Lunnon, was a lay preacher in that Church, my parents and my aunts and uncles attended that church and, indeed, my three sisters were baptised and confirmed in the same church. The surname Lunnon has been part of the Strand Methodist Church since the early days. Alas, no more!

There are no longer Lunnons living in The Strand.

The closest family members who are still members of that church are my sister Lyn and her husband Anton (Müller) and my Aunty Doreen (my late father’s sister) and her husband Peter (Volsteedt).

When I am in The Strand on a Sunday, I always try to attend a service at MY Church.

So, while the rest of the family were sleeping, that is where I went at 09h00. Few familiar faces remain and those that do remain now have greying hair and aging skin. (I suppose that goes for all of us!) But, I feel at home there and memories of my childhood flash through my mind in between the choruses sung from the projected words (no longer hymns from the hymn book!), the prayers and the sermon. All that remains the same, are the baskets in which the Offertory is collected.

Being the first Sunday of the month, I get to share in The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion. It is a special day for me to return to my roots. I eat the Bread, drink the Cup and I am thankful for a special life that I live and a journey that I am privileged to undertake.  

   … the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Then it was lunch time. We headed off to Fairview Farm at Agter-Paarl, together with sister Lyn and Anton, and the Ridgways. Driving through Stellenbosch, I sms’d Sebastian that he was taking the wrong route and should turn left towards Kayamandi. He then indicated that we should take the lead!

For the first time, I was taking the incorrect route and we headed off in the wrong direction! It is indicative of the fuzziness of my memory at the moment. Anyway, I had to eat humble pie, apologise eventually and let Sebastian take us to our destination.

Luckily, they had kept our table and we joined the hundreds of other diners who just kept coming and going. The food was great, the view over the winelands towards Cape Town and Table Mountain is exquisite, the cheese tasting something else and the boys reckoned it was the best meal ever!

Eventually leaving sometime after four, we dropped Sean on the way home at Helderberg residence in Stellenbosch , where he was going to spend the night with his mates Graeme Clarke and others.

Then cheese (ala Fairview) and wine for supper with the Ridgways, I visited friend Attie Boshoff and eventually it was dux time just before midnight.

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!

 

Not Only Celebrities Suffer … from news24

 

By: Vicky   2011-07-29 16:30

I read a news article about how it has been confirmed by a world renowned neurologist, Dr Pioro who is an expert in motor neuron diseases, that Joost van der Westhuizen has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and I felt the need to say something about, not necessarily about his diagnosis but about medical things in general.
 
First and foremost I’d like to point out that this Cleveland Clinic that Joost and his neurologist Dr Jody Pearl went to has approximately 200 neurologists. According to Professor Roland Eastman, President of the Neurology Association of South Africa (NASA), there are only about 120 neurologists in the whole of South Africa which means that this clinic has more neurologists than our whole country. Now most of these neurologists here are in private practice and the only neurologists in public hospitals are those that have a connection to a medical school. In Gauteng that means that only three public hospitals have neurologists.

Now I did a quick doctor search on the three biggest private hospital groups in South Africa; Netcare, Medi-Clinic and Life, and between the three of them they have about 90 neurologists. That leaves about 30 neurologists in public practice. Now think about this as well, only approximately 30% of South Africans have medical aid, so now, what about the rest of the population?
 
If we delve a bit further into some stats, there are approximately 250 000 people in this country who have epilepsy (this is most probably only based in urban areas so this number is most probably quite higher but let’s just work with this) and they should be treated by a neurologist. Now if this is true, that means that 30 neurologists need to treat 175 000 people with epilepsy. Since you can only get a prescription for six months, you would need to see the neurologist twice a year. This means that these neurologists have 350 000 appointments just for people with epilepsy a year.

According to my experience, if the doctor is going to ask questions and what not, an appointment should last around 20 minutes. This means that each of these doctors should spend almost 3 900 hours a year with these patients and if you work on a 60 hour work week and no holidays, they only have 3 120 hours to treat these patients and then let’s not forget the others with different neurological conditions which also need to be squeezed in somewhere. I raise my hands in defeat.

How is it physically possible? Technically, your GP should not be treating you for epilepsy, but that is one of the only explanations as to how this situation is under “control”. It’s that or these people that don’t have medical aid aren’t getting treatment or the neurologists are being reckless and are just writing out prescriptions without doing any form of follow up. And I’m sure that this problem is not just in the neurology speciality, it must be across the board.

I’ve said this numerous times to people that I know and I’m pretty sure that I’m going to say it many, many more times. This is going to sound like I’m a bit heartless but please don’t take this in the wrong way. People are only sparing a thought for Joost because he is a public figure, what about all the other people with this disease? Should they just be ignored because they’re “nobodies”? I can’t find any South African stats, but in the US, 5 000 people are diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis every year.

There hasn’t been a link to anything yet with which groups are more likely to get the disease, except that men are more susceptible. So if we had to work with this number and the fact that there are approximately 311 million people in the US, based on that ratio, it means that approximately 800 people in South Africa are diagnosed with this each year. I know it’s not an entirely accurate way to determine the numbers but I’m working with what I’ve got here. So what about the other 799 people? Don’t they just get a second of other people’s thoughts?

I know I am fighting a battle that I will never, ever win. I mean, it’s impossible for people to give a thought to all those who suffer from some sort of disease and your eyes are only opened to these type of things if you personally know someone who suffers from some sort of disease but I feel so strongly that people just need to wake up and just take a minute to sit back and think about all those that are in some sort of suffering at the moment, whether it be something life threatening or just something that you have which you can control but limits your lifestyle in some way or another.
 
Just thinking about what I’ve typed in the paragraph above makes me want to laugh at myself. Like, what am I trying to achieve with this? It’s ridiculous actually but I just really feel that this needs to be put out there. Even though we can’t pinpoint everyone who has some sort of disease, we can at least spend a second to also think of them like we do when we hear a celebrity has been diagnosed with something.

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