Archive | November, 2016

Homeward bound..

8 Nov

Time is coming when we must make another move and our thoughts turn to how the hell we’re going to get back to Cape Town and the airport.

Normally, we’d have a longer stay – three times longer. Normally I wouldn’t have got sick. Normally we’d have spent more time at the bus and liberated the car from storage. Normally we wouldn’t have spent a small fortune on car hire. But it’s been a funny old trip.

However, I’m not complaining. And what is normal anyway..?

There’s been some definite high spots and we did get to spend time with friends and family. John’s Dad is doing just fine and he and his welfare were after all the main purpose of our visit. And I will be travelling home under my own steam and not in an urn, as John at one point feared.

So… how are we going to get back to Cape town?

There seems to be a couple of options:

  • Cadging a lift to the bus with Geoffrey and Minerva as they are – sort of – heading that way at – sort of –  the right time. Then it’s just a matter of getting a ride over the mountain (an hour’s drive).
  • Splashing out more cash on car hire and travelling many, many miles to visit a virtual friend of mine up at the Pilanesberg National Park and possibly even run in a visit to John’s other son, Conrad, now at a private game reserve near Hoedspruit, at the same time.  Time would be tight but it is just about do-able and I’d really love to meet Tony for real, as would John.

Naturally, the latter is the most appealing, even if it is not the most sensible. We have a prolonged shall we?/shant we? moment, then decide to check if it fits in with Tony and…

It doesn’t – our dates being the only ones when he can’t accommodate us, already having visitors then. Bugger.

Decision made then. Shame, but that’s timing for you. We’ll make a plan for our next trip for sure. And that’s a promise.

Here we go then…100_2888

This is the transport they – tactrac – use to ferry their victims trainees around and, now they’re all dropped off, there’s plenty of space for us two.

Do click on the above link to see what they do. Very interesting.

We break the almost 500 mile journey with a stop at Paradise Beach, where Minerva’s parents have a place. Here, John gets to go a’hunting for and removing those nasty bad snares, with Geoffrey and co, while I chill out with the girls.

And Jasmine…100_2885100_2822

Aw..  a gorgeous Miniature Schnauzer. Seven weeks old.

We overnight, once more, at Rudi’s who is conveniently placed around the halfway point.

There is an ulterior motive…100_2887

John wanted to buy the kids one of these for their lovely home. And we managed to utilise it on the journey.

We’ve done this trip loads of times but I never tire of the view…100_2899100_2897100_2906100_2894

Ostrich…?

Yep.

And I still love those Clarice trees. To bits.

Fast forward and we’re at the bus. Looking a bit forlorn and neglected but so would you if you’d been left alone for two or three years. Nothing a bit of TLC wouldn’t sort out.

I’m very fond of the old bus but, sadly, we’ve no time to spend here. No time to get the power or water hooked up so…100_2908

This is the way we brew up.

And what on earth sort of spider made this web..?100_2913

Some sort of mutant that I sure as hell do not want to meet. Ever.

That aside, I wish we had longer here.

Friends Rosemary and Piet, who  live up a mountain, took pity on us invited us for a braai and gave us a bed for the night. Lovely people.

Piet drove us round his farm and showed off his new venture – he’s always busy and doing something.

Holiday homes…100_2919100_2917100_2915

He and his son have got the building of these down to a fine art and they are superb. All have fine views and none overlooked. Internally they are brilliant too – sorry I didn’t get a pic. Those that are finished are booked up well into next year.

Piet’s home, that he built himself and is constantly improving, and surrounding land is lovely…100_2921

As is the fybnos there…

It smells delicious too.

Turns out they have to be in Cape Town on the same day we fly. Sorted.

John often says that things will sort themselves out. Seems he’s right.

We board the big white bird, me clutching my huge cache of drugs. I’ve even been prescribed an inhaler – just in case and only to be used in emergency.

What could possibly go wrong..?

Things can only get better..

6 Nov

While I do my time – three days and nights – at the Plett Mediclinic, John continues with a much-modified plan and sees our friends onto their aeroplane bound for Blighty. He then returns as far as Knysna (about a half hour away from the hospital at Plett) and stays over at friend Rudi’s place, just outside the town on the road to Rheenendal.

I’m due to be discharged the following day around noon so John duly pitches up to collect me. John settles the bills I’ve racked up (because I’ve managed to get my cards frozen due to consistently entering the wrong pin no – I really wasn’t well) and then I’m free to go. Free is not the best word to use here mind; my stay was actually extremely expensive. But of course I am worth it and, not wishing to critisize our wonderful NHS, I wonder if they could have cared for me so well and in such a timely manner. Besides, I am hoping the insurance will cough up (how very fitting) once I get the claim in.

So, I’m out, feeling much, much better, though perhaps a little more mortal than normal. Final diagnosis was a chest infection and not pneumonia so am thankful for small mercies.

We head once again for Rudi’s, via a pharmacy at nearby Sedgefield to collect my mega amounts of muti, which should keep me going.

Rudi is a very talented chap. He made these…100_2779100_2781

Such workmanship. Stunning.

It’s all in the detail…

As these insets show. Love ’em.

But his first love is sculpting and he’s really churning it out now. His current favourite subject being his Great Dane Ziggy…

Incredible. As ever, click on image to enlarge.

And here’s the real thing…100_2886

Ziggy, in the flesh, more a small horse than a dog.

We overnight and spend the next morning here, a great visit, then it’s off again to PE.

The ever-so-special Evelyn takes it upon herself to look after me…img_20160923_093734431_hdr

All part of the recovery programme. Also making my breakfast, coffee and biscuits and anything else I need. I want to take her home with me.

John reads about solar powered cars that are travelling from Jo’berg to Cape Town via Port Elizabeth so this we have to see. We assemble ourselves at the beachfront car park where they’re due to pitch and wait. It’s blowing an absolute hooley (typical of PE – AKA windy city) so our walk on the beach was a little worrying – I’m well wrapped up but afraid I might be blown away!

We’ve no idea what to expect but are truly blown away when they start arriving…100_2808100_2806

They’re quick!

And on display in the ‘paddock’…

100_2813This one was our favourite…100_2810

More practical, with space for two seats and panels inside…100_2812

A Polish entry.

You got to love this one though…

An old Beetle with a random solar panel strapped onto a roof rack..hee hee.

Some team action…100_2799

Re-charging…

And the innards…100_2805

Not sure about the driving position…100_2804

And these things travel on the road!

Hell of an entourage though – horns, hooters, flashy lights – real African style.

Speaking of African style…100_2785

This epitomises Africa really.

We saw this on the way to Sundays River mouth, which turned out to be very special indeed. We were charged a nominal entry fee – enough to keep out the riff-raff – and after a bit of a drive…100_2829

There was this…100_2832100_2833100_2834

100_2825Almost otherworldly.

Easy to think you were at the seaside…

100_2827100_2826

But no, it’s a river mouth…100_2860Special eh?

It’s a huge site with walking trails, picnic/BBQ areas, pool, kids area, holiday cottages, fishing and so much more. Probably best to let the pictures do the talking for a while…

And I adore the Prickly Pear…100_2869

Look like big flat feet with lots of toes…100_2851

Toes that burst into flower…100_2876

Wish we’d been a bit later, when in full bloom.

But needed to be earlier for the Aloes…

Just past their best before date.

A heron before John drove at it…100_2835

And after…100_2836

And this is Kudu dung..100_2875

Apparently.

Sundays River…100_2874

A great place.

This has been our transport…100_2840

An ancient Toyota Venture.

And this…100_2879

Is where I want to live.

When in PE..

5 Nov

So  why were we in South Africa at the end of their winter/start of spring and before the sun has properly got its hat on? Or indeed why did we leave a delightful, warm autumn in the UK when another couple of months would have ensured we missed a gloomy, cold winter at home and pretty much guaranteed long lazy days, much hotness and suntans?

Why oh why..?

Back in July, John’s dad, Terry, had a fall and broke his hip. Bugger. A subsequent hip replacement operation had reportedly gone well…oh, and he turned 90! John’s sister flew out there in July to put some help in place, re-jig the living arrangements and generally organise whatever was necessary .

So our visit to PE was all about seeing how he was doing a month down the line, spending some time with the old feller and doing whatever was necessary to make his life easier.

Pleased to report that he is doing just fine and came to meet us when we pitched – walking without a stick, let alone crutches, zimmer frame or any device we’d assumed he’d be needing. I think the twice weekly pilates – that he started aged 80 – has stood him in good stead and, probably, already being very fit and active, considerably aided his recovery.

To the point where he can, with care, still manage the 39 steps to the street…100_2795

Well done sir!

John did a few little practical fixes as required and desired but otherwise Terry, with the help of the lovely Evelyn who called in most days, was still fairly independent.

All of which meant that we could go and do what one does when in PE…

100_2766-2100_2772100_2771100_2770100_2767100_2766

Addo Elephant Park.

And…

Bay World.

We did the beach, ate out and showed our friends around the area, doing the tourist bit. The two Johns work in aviation, so a trip to the SAAF Museum was not negotiable.

And this particular John jumping into this old war bird was inevitable…100_2773

An Oxford. Go here if you  are also an aviation nut interested to read more about this and/or other historic aircraft they have there.

We spotted this at N2 City,  the local shopping centre…

100_2796

Crowd control? Mobile dentist? Inflated ego?

What do you reckon?

Since we were last there, the flamingos have moved in opposite…

John wanted to sling bricks at them to make them take to the air but I wouldn’t let him in case of injury/arrest. Would have made a brilliant photo though…flying flamingos that is, not the John being hauled off to jail.

All too soon, it is time for friends John and Jake to head back to Cape Town for their flight home, their ten day break almost over and we decide to drive back with them, along the garden route, and  put them on the plane.

The plan was to make this journey over a couple of days, with the odd detour thrown in for sightseeing, visiting friends and generally letting them soak up some more of South Africa.

And we could go see the bus on the way back. Great.

But we all know about the best laid plans..

Despite much cough medicine,  hot water bottles, early nights, paracetamol and talk of witch doctors, my chestiness was getting worse and, on the morning we set off, Boatbird was seriously struggling for breath, feeling dire and actually turning blue.

Involuntary euthanasia was considered but it was (thankfully) decided that  a doctor be found en route…

The doctors at Kareedouw – a waiting room, but not as we know it.

By now I’m panicking like crazy clearly distressed at being blue, breathless and a bloody big burden to my travelling companions.

As is John…

100_2777

Not.

Long story short, I was seen by a very nice lady doc who stuck me on the nebuliser and, suspecting pneumonia, told us to go to the nearby hospital in Plettenberg Bay where she’d organised x-rays.

Very scared now, I paid the doctor’s fee and off we popped to Plett.

I was X-rayed, admitted, put to bed and stuck on a drip before you could say intravenous antibiotics; tubes delivering oxygen were poked up my nose, temperature and blood pressure measured, blood taken and  examination/interrogation performed by an eminent physician.

By now, I’m more comfortable and just happy to be being looked after. I’m in a private room, that costs £200 a night (and that’s before doctor’s fees, meds, pathology services and so on) with top class en suite facilities, regular meals, radio, TV, slaves on demand and Loads of Attention.

I  surrender myself to the expertise of the experts and the nurse’s tender ministrations. I may as well make the most, relax and accept my fate.

It is what it is and there’s precious little I can do about it.

                                                                                                                        to be continued…