Africa, South Africa, Travel

Gently Down the Stream

The dawning of the Winter Solstice comes slowly to the Vaal River. Where shafts of sunlight would already be falling in the summer months, parallel headlights now cut the mist into a crisscross maze of light and dark.

Black shapes, more reminiscent of Yaks than people with their layers upon layers of clothing, stumble blearily over the wet grass, occasionally treading on each other’s toes or elbowing eye sockets. Stiff, numb fingers work in frozen silence until the last bolt has been tightened, the last footboard adjusted, the last forgotten slide remembered and pinched from a neighbouring trailer.

And then the 5am stillness is shattered in every direction by the creak of boats, the soft thwack of blades hitting water, and shouts of “heads,” “take a side!” and “who’s motherloving idea was this?” Continue reading “Gently Down the Stream”

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Africa, South Africa

Planes, Manes and Bad Decisions

The key to my nothing-like-home away from home is already in the lock, when the phone rings.

“Mmm?” I manage, squishing my phone between shoulder and face, three bags in two hands, hat unnecessarily on head, and a piece of toast wedged into the corner of my mouth.

“Hey you!” yells Stephen, offensively happy for four o’clock in the morning.

“Shhh,” I splutter, having just choked on the toast in fright.

“Happy Anniversary, wife!” he shouts.

“I’m not your wife,” I say, piling one suitcase onto the other and holding the phone a little further away from my ear.

“We’re going horse riding,” Stephen announces, clearly delighted by his own sense of exquisite romance.

“I don’t want to go horse riding.”

“On Table Mountain,” he continues. “You’ll love it.”

“No I won’t.”

“It’ll be very romantic.”

“No it won’t.”

“Pack your horse riding pants.” Continue reading “Planes, Manes and Bad Decisions”

Africa, Travel

Luna(tic) Row

The sun is setting spectacularly over Victoria Lake, turning the lapping water gold and giving the garish green shirt in Bif’s outstretched hand a horrific, Disneyfied hue.

“Come on Abby,” she says, smiling menacingly at me. “Put it on.”

“I will not,” I insist, mulishly.

“Please Abby!”

“No.”

“But Abby,” Bif insists, through gritted teeth, “we’re the Lumo Ladies. We have to wear lumo.”

“I’m not a Lumo lady. I’m a jean pants kind of lady.”

“Not today,” Bif says, almost crying in desperation now.

“I’ll wear a Lumo hat,” I offer, partly looking for compromise, partly because I can see that I am about to be Sparta kicked off of the jetty and into the freezing water.

“You can’t wear a hat,” Bif says, suspiciously nervous. “It’ll cover up the blue wig.”

Sorry, what? Continue reading “Luna(tic) Row”