Monday, December 30, 2013

The sands of time......

I have been given strict instructions not to anticipate "the return to normal life".....but as the last 48 hours in South Africa draw near it's hard not to.... not only because despite my best intentions I have done virtually no thinking or planning for Frankfurt..... but because a week from today I will be at home.....

And this will be over.....

And yet it won't.....

For weeks and months and years it will live on in our memories and hearts.....and it may well take that long to process all the photos too!

After our Boxing Day adventure we were up early on the 27th and headed to Durban by the sea for an early morning bike ride with our cycling guru friend Rosie.... it was mizzly but humid and of course the bikes were all set and ready for us when we arrived.  We cycled the wide and quiet beachfront past many old haunts and seeing many new improvements on this famous stretch of beach front.  I did not knock over any locals or crash into anything despite wielding two cameras....and with no coffee on board!

We chatted and cycled and snapped our way there and back.  Great to see the legacy of the soccer world cup in stadiums and other amenities and improvements.

Great to chat to Rosie.... grateful for her time and effort.

We ended the ride and said our farewells and within  minutes the skies opened and the rain poured down.
For 20 minutes.

We did some shopping in the UShaka Mall and headed south to Amanzamtoti to another huge Mall.  Lindsay has patiently waited to do a little shopping and she did well.....that Rand/Dollar exchange makes it pretty good once you get over the sticker shock..... a t-shirt for R149.99 is $15 ish....

We then headed down the South Coast through fields of sugar cane to the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean and the rocky beaches and coarse sand and abundance of crabs and shells.  A great old big beach cottage with plenty of space and pool just feet from the beach.....ahhhh.

We did not exert ourselves much beyond eating, swimming, watching the cricket test, doing a puzzle, strolling on the beach, reading and chatting.....much cousin hi-jinx but also movie watching and hanging out.


We drove back to PMB today, making it through a random police check which was just random enough to provoke some anxiety but ended up being friendly.....and so 2013 draws to a close.

We are having supper with Allan's folks at their home tonight (although we have been with them almost every day we haven't been at their house) and then time to shop a bit tomorrow.  Lindsay is babysitting the kids while the Mc's and us have a dinner out and then we will all celebrate at home together.

On New Years day we are off to the Game Reserve for a game drive and then to pack and head out on the 2nd.

It has been such an adventure so far, so many many memories made..... this country has much to offer....much to see and enjoy..... .it will always have a hold on our hearts but it isn't home anymore for me....I am looking forward to being home but content to make the most of these last few days here and with our family.

Lindsay and I just hung the washing on the washing line and had a moment with a monkey..... never a dull moment!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

African Adventure Amazing Race

Christmas was lovely - a beautiful day - a beautiful meal, a swim in the pool, thoughtful gifts, heartfelt toasts - a perfectly South African family Christmas!!!

Before we came we were told to keep Dec 26th free.

That's details.....nada you will know.... hard for me....but I went along....

Today dawned and we were up and ready at the assigned time.

The briefing commenced.

Allan and I picked pieces of paper which decided the colour team we were on.....Girls got Green and boys got Orange and we opened the first clue.....and we were off....

There was some argy bargy getting out of the gate but the girls arrived first at the family homestead (and every stop thereafter) and a big crowd of Byres assembled...... wowzer..... the kids were overwhelmed.....but what a lovely opportunity to meet so many Aunts, Great Aunts and Uncles, cousins, second cousins and help the kids put it all together.....over a delightful breakfast... what a precious opportunity!!!

David chatting - Lindsay taking it all in.......
The Clan

And soon we were off again....on a tour of our former lives, some stops that connected to the family history and a tour of the town second to none.....

Site of Allan and my first date - Lindsay strangely did not want any details??
View of "our" valley from Worlds View
Allan's old "hood"

Our lovely niece Callans high school 
Our old swimming spot
My childhood home

My former office
Pietermaritzburg City Hall
A commerative statue of Gandhi who was thrown off the whites only section of the train in this town 

The largest red brick building in the southern hemisphere

The winning Amazing Adventure Race team - the Lean Mean Green Machine
Our first home - ground floor flat on Burger St

Alexandra Park
 Sheer brilliance to make it a much more entertaining for the children...hats of to my SIL Wendy...for a fantastic day.

We ended up at a McDonalds for milkshakes to try and cool off and then a quick shopping stop and finally a Wimpy lunch for 9 (and no - WE are not Wimpy - the chain of restaurants is called "Wimpy" - where the Tomato Sauce (aka Ketchup) tastes the same as it did 100 years ago!))

Now home to pack for  our "Tour de Durban Beachfront" with Rosie tomorrow morning (on bicycles Emily Vera!!)- followed by some shopping and then on to meet the family at the beach house, with the pool..... Yippeee!!!

One more week here.......hard to believe..... I can't even imagine leaving at this point.....

As I blog Lindsay is napping trying to beat her second cold of the trip, Allan is doing techie things on his sisters computer so we know where we are going tomorrow, David is trying to be interested in the 5 day cricket test on TV and I am trying to ignore the distant thunder that is sure to be a storm soon.....and I must soon be off to pack for the beach........I have a love / hate relationship with my suitcase at this point and am ever annoyed at the too much stuff I packed.....

These normal family moments with our family are be treasured......

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

So this is Christmas.....??

I can't remember a time it felt less like Christmas than it does right now.....its 26 degrees with 75% humidity.... sticky hot...we only braved malls for a total of 3 hours and did less shopping then ever (having brought some goodies in my suitcase)....My ever-efficient sister-in-law has organised all the food and except for Allan cooking the stuffing we are officially off the hook for usual Christmas cooking duties.  It feels odd....but I am a happy observer :)

The trip to the mountains was amazing - peaceful and slow and as quiet as travelling with a tribe of 12 can be.  We had a great Zulu cultural experience on the way there - a generous Christmas gift from Allan's parents and Sister and Brother-in-law.  The kids learned and we re-learned so much about the intricacies and traditions in Zulu was enlightening and authentic and enjoyable.

  We headed up through the Karkloof to the Nelson Mandela Capture sight - the place he was arrested amazing set of steel pillars that form a picture of Madiba as you walk towards it.... it was there that we saw the greatest number of bouquets and tributes to Mandela and it is really in a rural was moving.

We headed on up to the mountains with a brief stop at the Piggly Wiggly for a needed cold drink and little shopping.

Arriving at Mountain Shadows close to Highmoor in the Kamberg was so lovely - mountain vistas and farm animals and lots of space for cousins to roam about.

It was good to slow down for a bit.  We had a famous SA poetjie for dinner one night and braai'd in a typical berg storm another night.

We did a wonderful hike from Highmoor and saw the whole Drakensberg laid out before us - it was good for my soul.....I wanted to see that sight and it was a glorious day....the sky, the high meadows, the flat mountain tops....the cool rivers and dams...I drank it all in....stored it all up in my heart and mind.

We had two storms - thunder, lightening and hard rain....not my best thing but somehow just perfect to see it build up and move over the mountains and rumble on by dropping the temperature a few degrees....and then a nap while the rain fell gently... the first nap of the holiday and it was good.

A storm rolls in

Cousins sheltering from the storm
We came home early Monday and had a full day of shopping and visiting.  A lovely lunch with 3 of classmates....then a tour of the school including the chapel we were married in and then to family friends for dinner (the flower girls from our wedding who are now married and have their own sweet babies and their parents)..... Today an early Mall dash by Allan and I who had our first moments alone so far and enjoyed a quick breakfast and coffee together and then to visit more family friends over a coffee.

Epworth School Chapel

22 years later

I have walked these halls

I have just finished wrapping gifts and writing cards and the house is quiet at the children are laying about reading Beano annuals....  some things don't change.

We have been so blessed by the generosity of friends and family in giving up time and energy and visiting with us, feeding us, discussing things with us...helping us make sense of what we are seeing and hearing....So blessed by generosity and is truly overwhelming.

Today I feel overwhelmed by it all.....maybe the tiredness is creeping up on me.....maybe there is more to process than my head or heart can do right now.....It has, at times, felt very I am watching a movie of myself....

Its hard to explain...

One of our friends said today it will likely take time and space in the months ahead to really work it all out....I think that is true....the impatient me wants it all cataloged and filed now but I am trying to let myself  just take in the moments.... and be grateful.... and let the figuring out happen later as it will.

The experiences have been superb, the family lovely, the memories plentiful, old and new.......still feeling blessed to be here.

Merry Christmas Friends.