Monday, June 1, 2015

Revisiting my youth

One thing I was determined to do while on holiday in Monzi last month, was to revisit the house we stayed in during the eighties. 

The second-to-last day, contacted the young couple now staying in "our" house. I knew the young woman's mother-in-law, when her son was a baby; years before I had been friends with the maternal grandmother at WI. I duly arranged to go and view the house.

We lived for about 11 years in this house just above the Mfolozi River. Our sons, John and Angus grew up here; they and the neighbors' children played in the river (only years later I heard they'd swam here - I'd not have permitted it because of the large crocodiles which infest these waters) and they climbed the avocado trees enjoying their childhood years to the full. Both boys also learned to drive at a very early age on these farm roads. 

I parked the car at the entrance gate which - along with the high security fences - was non-existent when we lived there

Grant worked at for ULOA which had its workshops behind where I was parked. I always remember looking out of my bedroom window as he walked across the green expanse of lawn to work. 

The house has been named after the company for which it was originally built: Uloa House. Where this entrance is now,  used to be the main bedroom window 

Which used to be the main bedroom, was opened up to join the longish veranda (where I had a lounge suite, my piano and a desk) The original lounge/dining room is now a large open area lounge separated from the veranda only by the pillars on the left. The dining room, which I didn't photograph, used to be John and Angus' bedroom.

Following Julia through the house, I noticed that our bedroom (the guest room) had become the bathroom. The large passage - in fact, the whole house - used to have a concrete floor which was painted with red floor polish. (this provided wonderfully cool conditions for the hot Zululand summers). The floors are now tiled. The brown built-in-cupboards lining the passage wall on one side, were repainted white which lightens this rather dark area.  I couldn't imagine what had happened to the original bathroom until I entered the kitchen. 

The area housing the dishwasher, sink and cupboards had been our bathroom

The long cupboard in the center of the room is Julia's. But I had one in exactly the same place; except mine was a white metal cupboard. It housed all the kitchen condiments, bags of staples such as sugar, flour, rice and maize meal as well as canned foods. 

Both our sons were easy babies and even easier toddlers. Each child respectively,  slept through the night at six weeks old; both were potty-trained by the time they could walk; they were quite happy when  I said I'd given their bottles to the monkeys in the bush. The only difference between the two boys in babyhood was that John didn't have a dummy and Angus did. And as a toddler, Angus just would not let me throw his away. He was 26 months old, speaking as clearly and as intelligently as a five-year-old; yet he still sucked his dummy. 

One evening after dinner in the kitchen,  I took the dummy and told Angus:  Look, Mommy is throwing your dummy outside. While he looked through the open door to the darkness beyond, I quickly hid the dummy behind the peanut butter and Marmite bottles in the white cupboard. Later when I put him to bed,  he whinged a little but I convinced him he was now a big boy who didn't need a dummy any longer. He seemed to forget about it after this. 

About three months later, John was making himself a sandwich. He wanted the peanut butter so he opened the metal cupboard doors, climbed onto the bottom shelf and gripped the next shelf  - on which reposed the desired spread - with his left hand. As he reached for the peanut butter with his right hand, the movement and his weight tipped the cupboard forward. The cupboard crashed onto the kitchen table and then the floor with John underneath. I rushed to help him up and calm him while tomato sauce, mayonnaise, cooking oil and peanut butter  and bits of glass spattered the area. The rice, maize meal and sugar bags had popped open adding to the mess ! 

Angus, quite unperturbed by his howling brother and the chaos all around,  dashed forward and scooped up his blue dummy, covered in fluff and other gunk and cried: My dummy, my dummy!  
Walking through the kitchen door, to what used to be my back garden leading to a cottage beyond, I found myself in an atrium. This leads to the young couple's bedroom with the nursery next door
Exiting the atrium, the young woman led me to where our garage had been. Now this is her guest cottage and a free standing building which is the laundry

When I pointed to the large plot behind their cottage and said that I'd had a beautiful vegetable garden there, she took me around to...
...her stunning salad and herb garden in the exact same place. She supplies the nearby restaurants and supermarkets with beautiful lettuce and herbs from here
We walked around  to the front garden. In the picture above I remembered where Grant had built a BBQ. This was now a patio

Finally we reached where we had started the tour and I snapped the entrance from where a fragrant frangipani had stood when we lived here

Thanking the young lady for indulging a 60-something gran who wanted to revisit her young family's home, Rina and I got into the car and left. As we drove past the small African shops and buildings which house an insecticide company, I saw the name of my friends Jenny and Chris Clarke. I swung the car up their drive and stopped outside their home. Jenny came out to see who had arrived; she recognized me immediately. Thrilled to see me after all these years, she invited us in for coffee. After reminiscing about the times when our children played together and attended the primary school in town, I asked Rina to take a photo of us.  
Jenny and Jo meeting up after 36 years

Tomorrow I'll post about the wildlife reserve Rina and I visited while in Zululand. 

Here's wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.


  1. Hi Jo, it's great to take a trip down memory lane. It seems the new occupants of the house have completely renovated it so it is a bit hard for me to picture how it was when you lived there. No doubt this did not stop you from remembering exactly how it was. The years from long ago still hold so many precious memories for all of us. No doubt you enjoyed your trip down memory lane when the boys were just babies. Hugs. xx

  2. HI Jo How wonderful for you to h my girls were good babies adntoddlerswhat you did when you lived in that house. Loed tthe story about the dummy. yes both my babies were good babies.i was very fortunate adn they were great sleepers. meories are wonderful things especially as you get older.

  3. Hello Jo, you have wonderful memories of your old place and of your boys when they were young. It was nice that you were able to go inside and take a tour. It is a lovely home. Have a happy day and new week ahead!

  4. what a great way to visit your past.. all the houses we lived in have been torn down... by dummy, i think you mean what we call pacifiers, goes in the mouth instead of a bottle. my boys were the same, one had one the other did it. Daniel threw his out the car window and that was that. he was 2 i think.

  5. I enjoyed that tour of your previous home Jo even though only your eyes can see how it used to be. A funny story about the dummy too but you don't tell us what became of it the second time around.


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