Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Road trip in South Africa

After our bike trip to the Cape, Grant and I planned our road trip (by car, this time) to Kwa-Zulu Natal. We were off to visit Grant's mum but before that we collected our friend, Rina from a nearby town where she'd bussed in from her home in the northern Free State. She was coming along of us and also spent several days at home with us after we'd returned.

Early on Sunday morning we left home and headed south. We collected mum-in-law from the retirement home in Durban and drove up the north coast road to spend the morning with Grant's brother, Charles. 
 Family gathering: MIL, Pam, Grant's brother, Charles; Rina and Grant

After Grant had treated us to a delicious lunch at an authentic Portuguese restaurant nearby, we bid farewell to Charles and set off for the Guest House which I'd booked for the night. 

This was no ordinary overnight stay. Earlier this year I searched online for a suitable guest house where we could book a double room for me and Grant and a single room (same size room, with two single beds  instead of one double) for Rina and MIL. Grant spotted an establishment called Nalson's View and realized it belonged to a couple whom we'd known in our youth. Calvin (also known as Kelly)  had been the General Manager of the Chevrolet garage in Greytown, where he - Grant - did his apprenticeship in the seventies. Although I'd booked under our names, Wendy, who confirmed the booking by e-mail, didn't recognize that we were the same "Hedges" from way back when. 

When we arrived at their  Guest House in Salt Rock, Wendy came out onto the patio to welcome us. As Grant introduced himself, she said: "You're Grant Hedges from Greytown! " After much hugging and laughter, Wendy told us not to let the cat out of the bag when Calvin arrived. He duly came out and when Wendy said: "Do you remember this man, Calvin?" he was none the wiser, until Grant said: "Afternoon, Kelly!" From then on the two men sat and reminisced and we all caught up on the forty years since leaving Greytown.
The view from the deck of Nalson's View Guest House 

 The Guest House deck where we sat and caught up with all the news from the seventies! 

Later that afternoon, Calvin told us that one of the elderly residents in town had passed away the month before. While his estate is being wound up, his beach house and a large Ridgeback called Rex is left in the care of his house-man of many years. Between Calvin, his son and several other Salt Rock residents, people take turns to check on, and walk, Rex on the beach. Although Rex had already been walkies that day, Calvin wanted to show him to us. He also suggested we enjoy sun-downers on the lawn of the beach house which afforded a spectacular view over the ocean. The men packed some refreshments into cooler bags; the women took towels to sit on (I took my camera!) and we drove over to the other side of town to say hi to Rex. 
 Rex, resting on the veranda of his deceased master's house 
The house behind Rina and my mother-in-law will be sold as the owner's heirs live in Johannesburg. There are many Salt Rock homes willing to take Rex when this happens. (Rex's ultimate fate was the first thing I asked about when we got to the house!)
The view from the beautiful old beach house
Eager fishermen casting off from High Rock which is one of the Heritage Sites in Salt Rock

The next morning before breakfast, Calvin, Grant and I walked to the beach - Grant collected seawater for Emily which I posted about yesterday. Calvin also wanted to take us to High Rock, one of the many heritage sites in Salt Rock.  (Go read it on the link - it's quite creepy very scary what the old Zulu king expected of his warriors and how he treated his enemies). There were many fishermen casting off the rocks. Grant and Calvin wandered in between chatting to them. They were obviously remembering their times together when they fished from a ski-boat off these very shores. 
 Calvin and Grant mingling with the fisherman on the rocks
Grant, his mum, Pam and Rina on the deck before we had breakfast at Nalson's View

The previous evening while Grant and Calvin chatted up a storm,  I was in our room transferring recent photos from my laptop onto Pam's digital photo frame. I do this every time we spend the evening with Pam to encourage her interest in our life in Tanzania: Grant's mining activities, our birding trips in the bush, as well as photos of the cats and now also Princess the pup.  I also add photos of her seven great-grandchildren so that she can see them growing up. Doing this little job normally means I "neglect" mother-in-law.  Although there's not much that you can do to entertain an older person, afterwards they're inclined to say that you took them out of the home for the night and then left them high and dry in a strange place. Rina was an absolute star in keeping MIL Pam happy that night! 

From Nalson's View, we headed back into Durban where we dropped MIL off at the retirement home. 

We headed towards Howick where we popped in and had tea with Grant's maternal aunt, Gill and husband, Neville in a retirement village. Neville has just turned 80, but Gill is only a few years older than Grant, and we always have a lovely catch-up with them en route. 

From Howick, we traveled through Karkloof towards Greytown and ultimately, Muden. We had phoned ahead and booked accommodation with friends, Brian and Gene who have a beautiful lodge on the Mooi River. Grant, Gene and I were at school together in Greytown. She grew up on the farm which is where she now runs her lodge and Grant and I often visited here while at school.  Gene and Brian have been married for 37 years, so we four have known each other this long as well! 
 Ivala Lodge which used to be Gene's family home, is now a successful Guest House in Muden, Kwa-Zulu Natal
Gene and Brian have three Alsations (German Shepherds) and a ginger cat called Max. They also have two black-foot cats which are classed as wild cats. I hope to post about these later. Above Rina relaxes on a stone bench near the river with two of the dogs and Max the Cat! 

The next morning after breakfast we took our leave of Brian and Gene and set off towards the Drakensberg. We stopped in Estcourt to say hi to my brother, a teacher/librarian at Drakensview Primary School. Phillip has a lovely blog about his passion: fly-fishing, walking the dogs on the farm and taking photos of the 'Berg in the distance, and birds in the bush nearby. 

Our last overnight stop was in the Drakensberg with Debbie and children. (John had not yet returned from him stint in Mozambique) We had a wonderful afternoon, evening and time together. Grant took Eryn and Joshua fishing on the dam just below the guest cottage he'd booked for the night. The younger ones, Elijah and Bethany played with their toys on the veranda. Once again, Rina proved that all who meet her, love her. The children migrated towards her to help with winding up their aeroplane toys and the girls stood in line wanting their hair "put up" like ladies do.

We arrived home mid-week having been on the road for four days and having met up with family and friends along the way. We spent another five days in and around our Marquard home before it was time for Rina to return home to Parys.

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  1. Isn't it wonderful when old friends meet again and catch up like this. Great views from the guest house as well.

  2. Jo, what a lovely getaway. The guest houses are beautiful and are located in pretty areas with lovely views. I am glad the dog Rex will be looked after. It is also very nice to meet up with old friends. Your grandchildren are adorable. Lovely post.

  3. How exciting to bump into old friends. You sure had a good trip for catching up with family and friends. It must have been fun seeing your grands again. The views and accommodation looks great too.

  4. Sweet kids...lovely get together [tho sad to read the caption under Rex's photo!!!] Beautiful scenes.

  5. Wow ! what a tour ! The guesthouse looks great. Family and friend's visits all included ! Hope that Rex finds a nice forever home !

  6. How nice that you and Grant were able to take Rina on a trip with you. I'm sure she enjoyed getting out and about. I'm also sure your MIL enjoyed having a different person added to your schedule. MIL and Rina both look great and all the lovely homes and estates you stayed at look amazing. Grant looks like he is having a whale of time too on this trip and the grandchildren as ever look so sweet. Glad you had such a wonderful trip. Hugs. xx

  7. Poor Rex looks so sad and alone. I'm sure he misses his master so much since dogs are very loyal creatures. I do hope he will enjoy his new forever family soon. Hugs. xx


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