Some September Stuff

Fiona Cameron-Brown Canva

There are some days that one never forgets.  What happened, where you were, what you were doing and what followed.  I was standing in my kitchen starting to get supper ready when I heard the news that Queen Elizabeth II had died.  It got me thinking about how, in my life, I’ve lived history.  It’s not something one thinks about as a six-year old, sitting on the floor, listening to a crackly radio broadcast as the first human walked on the moon.

Similarly, when the 1976 “riots” broke out in South Africa and a year later, Bantu Stephen Biko was murdered on 12 September.  I was at boarding school and television didn’t exist in South Africa then.  Because of that, and because at school, unless you were a senior (I was not in 1976/7), the only source of news was the local newspaper.  Every week day, a copy of the Daily Despatch arrived on a table in the common room.  After school, almost ritualistically, I’d read it.  Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was one of the few South African newspapers to document – in detail – the inquest into Biko’s death.

That, with hindsight, was my first significant September date.  There are others.

Not actually a royalist, but…

I’m not  a royalist and my views of monarchies are conflicted.  We have monarchies in South Africa.  Nelson Mandela was a member of the amaXhosa royal family.  Here, too, the notion is contested and, frankly, a bit confusing. Unlike in Britain, they are quite parochial and play no role, formally, in international relations.  Interestingly though, just today, the recently installed King of the Zulus extended an olive branch to their former colonisers.


I did, however, grow up with an English mother who, after her own mother’s death, found a book that documented the family’s tree back to landed gentry and royalty.  She claimed.  I don’t know what happened to the book. I wonder, now, whether that story is apocryphal.    It does, however, explain why I remember November the 14th 1973.  I was 10, it was a hot, early afternoon in the kitchen at home.  Making a million sandwiches. There was some or other school event later that day. My memory isn’t sure, but says that it was a prize giving.   What my memory is very sure of, is why the radio was on, and there was no conversation:  Princess Anne was getting married.  My mother was hanging on every word.

Some eight years later, and Charles married Diana, I was at university.  A bunch of us piled into a friend’s car and headed to our house.  When my parents came home for lunch our lounge was bursting at the seams with young people, glued to the television, watching the royal wedding. We were all – to a boy and girl – roughly the same age as the girl-woman who became the People’s Princess.

September, 16 years later

As vividly as I remember that July day, I remember the morning of Sunday, September 1st, 1997.  I had gone through to the kitchen to make the ritual cup of tea and turned on the radio for the news.  It was heart stopping.  Princess Diana was dead.  She was only two years older than I, and over the intervening years, my empathy for a woman who on that 1981 day, had no idea of the poison chalice she’d been served, had grown.  My own marriage at the time, was on the rocks.  That she seemed to be getting a second chance made it all the more tragic. To me, anyway.

Then, five days later, Mother Theresa died.  Yes, she was old, but I felt it in a way I hadn’t for Princess Diana.  That news was buried in the public outcry, controversy and pomp an ceremony that surrounded the Princess’s funeral.  My memory sent me back to that day in 1988 when I’d had the privilege of meeting a saint.

Living history

Little did I realise, following the Biko story as a 14 year old, that the newspaper I was reading was part of history, documenting history.  I think it’s really something that dawns on one with hindsight.  As do the ironies of life.  Like, for example, from whom I heard about Nelson Mandela’s imminent release in 1990. I wrote about that here.

There are other dates that remain indelibly in my memory, and one of these is 9/11.  The Husband and I weren’t yet married.  We were at work – on a joint project.  Not long after lunch, a colleague said her mother had phoned to tell her that an aeroplane had flown into a building in New York.  My initial reaction was one of utter disbelief.  It was in the early days of the internet and I had a dial up connection in the office.  I simply could not connect to any of the international news sites to verify what sounded like a bad story line.

By the time we went home – earlier than usual – we new “it” had happened.  We unlocked the front door, and for the first time in our shared life, dropped everything and turned on the TV.  How long we sat watching that horror unfold and repeat, I can’t remember.  I do remember a sense of incredulity that something unimaginable was happening and that the world would never be the same again.  Nor is it.

An internationally insignificant, significant September day

21 September 2002

There is a third September day that I shall never forget, and for very different reasons.  It didn’t hit the international headlines, but twenty years later, my memories of that day are as vivid as they were then.  It feels like yesterday and in others, it’s a lifetime ago.  Only because we’ve made a life.  It’s been an eventful one and, I’d like to think, a happy one.  May we have as many more happy and healthy years together.

Back to the Queen

Over the last week or so, I’ve been wondering about my fascination with happenings in the United Kingdom.  I am.  Anyone who has lost a parent or someone close to them, can only but empathise with the family’s grief.  Could I grieve publicly, stoically and as gracefully as that?  No.  I didn’t.  When my mother died, I took one of her friends to church.  I’d been holding it together for my father.  Condolences from my mother’s friends and comparative strangers to me, and from the pulpit, sent me into a paroxysm of weeping that I could not control.  Nothing very stoic or graceful in that.

The ancient ritual, pomp and ceremony fascinate me.  That some of them, like the coronation, hark back to prehistory in a modern world keep me glued.  The people, the scenes and the buildings fascinate me and while there’s a part of me that feels a bit like voyeur, this is history unfolding in real time, and scenes I doubt, I shall ever see again.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post script

If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:

  • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I am adding them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
  • and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts.

I blog to the Hive blockchain using a number of decentralised applications.

  • From WordPress, I use the Exxp WordPress plugin. If this rocks your socks, click here or on on the image below to sign up.

Original artwork: @artywink
  • lastly, graphics are created using partly my own photographs and Canva.


The dying memories of the 1980s: looking back to look at the now

For the last couple of days, I have been musing on the heady, awful and wonderful days of the mid-1980s.   At the moment, there’s a kind of pall hanging over South Africa which is a function of the nearly fifteen years of electrickery drama, ongoing corruption and impunity, only the surface of which Zondo has scratched. This is compounded with a growing sense of unease.  The crime rate is burgeoning country wide.  Closer to home, in the village, it seems rife.  That is contradicted by the actual statistics that the local police presented at a recent village meeting.  However, in a small community, each crime seems personal:  the perpetrators are often habitual criminals who grew up here, and we know by sight, and have fallen by the wayside.  The victims – rich and poor – are often people we know.

It began on Sunday

My reflections began on Sunday with the news that Jessie Duarte had died.  Not quite ten years my senior, she was a significant character the South African political landscape – that the general (white) public knew about – just before and since 1994.  My connections with her are vicarious:  I had reason to deal with both of her brothers in the 80s.  One, because of his drive behind establishing a coalition of non-governmental organisations.  The other, well, it’s not important now.  What is important is that at the time, we all had a single goal:  a South Africa where people of different races had the same rights and suffrage.  Somehow, through it all, we were young people who had fun and lived life to the full. Regardless.


Monday, that’s yesterday, was Mandela Day.  For the first time since its inception in 2009, I did nothing remotely connected with its spirit.  I can’t remember what I did in 2020 – blame it on Covid.  In 2021, and when we were in yet another lockdown, I played a minor role in a client’s campaign for the day.  At least.  This year, I sort of reflected more on how Nelson Mandela would have been profoundly sad at how his legacy has been destroyed.

A death on Mandela Day

Yesterday afternoon as I thumped away at my keyboard to meet an already missed deadline, I heard the announcement that gangster-turned-poet, Don Mattera, had died.  I only had one encounter with him.  I was all of 22 and it was in 1986 and on a day that was significant in the “struggle” calendar.  As I carry on reflecting, and his particular brand of politics, I think it must have been Sharpeville Day in March.  He addressed us – staff of a “struggle” organisation.  I don’t remember what he said or the poem he read, but I remember things about that day like it was yesterday.  Of the man, I remember his presence.  Not because he was a hulking man but rather because of his loud, clear message of peace at a time when South Africa was on fire.  Already a devout Muslim, he had a gentle strength about him that gave a lie to his past life as a gangster.   The room was filled to bursting – probably nearly a hundred of us, hanging on his every word.

Why is this significant, today?

Much of what we did at work in that organisation, every day (and at home), in 1986, was illegal in South Africa.  It was illegal for people of different races to work together.  It was not the done thing to create equal education for folk of other races.  What that meant:  an education that encouraged questioning, free speech and genuine intellectual development.  It was illegal, that day, for many of the folk in that room to gather in numbers greater than 10, let alone sing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. And we did.  Both.  With sombre delight and gusto.

Work and play hard

This photo is of me, sitting at a black colleague’s desk, that same year.  We were young folk

Sitting at a colleague’s desk in 1986

from across the spectrum of South Africa’s race groups who worked together and had fun together.  We’d have “seminars” at  Jameson’s on Commissioner Street each Friday afternoon. When we were done, and the band was not to our taste, we’d adjourn, often to Soweto and continue the discourse and debates party until the wee hours of the morning.  White folk were not supposed to venture into the townships, period.  Let alone young white women – as one policeman at a road block one evening delighted to advise.  He also tried to terrify my friend and I with stories of what would happen to us if “black men got their hands on you.”  We figuratively closed our ears, let him finish his tirade, wound up the window and drove back to Yeoville in silence.

Part of my “play” included volunteer work with Johannesburg’s street children.  The detail’s not important and again, we were an eclectic bunch of people living the future South Africa.

Friends and colleagues enjoying a day in the country with the street kids in our care – 1986/7

Looking back to look forward

I’m grateful for the reflection that the news of both Duarte’s and Mattera’s death foisted upon me.  Yes, things are difficult – very difficult – in this country.  But there are things that today’s young people – mercifully – will never experience:

Whites only sign Getty Images

Two particular memories live with me.  One, as a child, I never understood why, when my father took our helper home on a Saturday at lunch time, she – a grown woman – had to sit on the back seat and I, all of about 7, sat in the front next to my father. Just in case, I learned as an adult, they had “relations” across the “colour bar”.

Johannesburg bus circa 1896

The second is more like a series of bad dreams and they’re all associated with buses like the one in the photo.  We used public transport.  Sometimes, colleagues from “another” part of town headed to “our” side of town for a visit after work.  Some bus drivers simply looked the other way.  Others – one in particular, and whom we referred to as the nazi – took great delight in making sure they couldn’t get on the bus.  Except when in the company of white colleagues.  One afternoon, a friend (the tall one with the white hat among the street kids) and I hopped off on the way because he said –

Why don’t we stop for a beer?

So we got off in Hillbrow which, at that time, was already quite cosmopolitan even though it was designated as a “Whites Only” residential area.


The first only place we chose didn’t turn us away, and although I knew it was an all hours joint (for e-ver-y-thing), the server said we could only have lemonade.  We left.  Got back on the bus and went to my house.  And ate, drank (beer and wine) and made merry.


That is the type of experience to which South Africa’s youth can never be exposed – or shouldn’t, anyway.  That kind of discrimination is now illegal.   They never have to spend their lives looking over their shoulders for fear of just living their youth.

This is Mandela’s legacy and which we should celebrate.  Every Day.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post script

If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:

  • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I am adding them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
  • and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts.

I blog to the Hive blockchain using a number of decentralised applications.

  • From WordPress, I use the Exxp WordPress plugin. If this rocks your socks, click here or on on the image below to sign up.

  • Join Hive using this link and then join us in the Silver Bloggers’ community by clicking on the logo.
Original artwork: @artywink
  • lastly, graphics are created using partly my own photographs and Canva.



le zoulou blanc – a man for all

Before I get going…

It’s week or so ago that shared what was, kinda the soundtrack of my life (on WordPress; on Hive). It was, in part a piece of fluff, but in others, not. In the final paragraph, I note –

There are songs missing from this list and which I’d love to have included, like Johnny Clegg’s Asimbonanga (We have not seen him [Mandela])….”

And then…

Around about a year after I first wrote that, Johnny Clegg died. The news of his death came as I was preparing dinner on an ordinary Tuesday in July. It seemed that suddenly the world, and South Africa in particular, were the poorer. Another voice in the soundtrack of my life silenced forever.

This is what I wrote exactly a year ago today. Mandela Day and the anniversary of that great man’s birthday. With hindsight, rather apt.

A necessary digression

I was seventeen the first time I heard a Juluka song. I was at boarding school, and as seniors, we were allowed to have our own transistor radios.

At the end of the preceding year, 1979, the first independent radio station in South Africa had been launched. Broadcasting from the beautiful and then pristine coastal village of Port St Johns in the “independent” Transkei, Capital Radio 604 was essentially a music station that broadcast music and news often not heard on mainstream state-owned radio stations.


The line-up, I clearly remember, included a mishmash of folk: Englishmen (pukka) an American and South Africans – black and white. Unheard of. As a young, unaware kid, the significance was totally lost on me. As was the fact that one of the most popular songs of 1980 was banned in South Africa: Pink Floyd’s Another brick in the wall. It was also on this radio station that Juluka’s song, Africa topped the charts. It was their first hit.

I listen to this song and am immediately transported into the cell-like room in which I stayed for at least one term. It had no windows and could literally just take a narrow single bed, the “tin shanty” as we called our bedside lockers and the laundry box that stood at the foot of the bed.

In my childish ignorance, I did not know that the African language melded with the English, was isiZulu. I had only been exposed to a little isiXhosa. Of course, I sang every single word, but my words in the isiZulu verses were all mondegreens. It’s only as an adult, searching for the lyrics that I learned what they meant:

As he grew, people told him, son, don’t you trust anyone, you don’t learn how to trust a stone,
This is not a gentle land, and it breaks those who never learn how to be alone.

Afrika kukhala abangcwele
eAfrika kukhala abangcwele wena (Africa be holy to you)

And so, he walked in the passion of his land, until at last he cried out,
Can anybody hear, hear me, hear the song in my heart?
There’s a song to be sung that can heal these broken men,
Let us sing and we’ll walk through the dark, hand in hand, hand in hand.

From the album, Universal Men, 1979

The soundtrack to many South Africans’ lives

They took on a new poignancy for me yesterday when I saw this Facebook post from Andrew Boraine:

While in solitary confinement in 1980, I would pace around my cell and sing to myself over and over a Johnny Clegg and Jaluka song [Africa], to strengthen my resolve in the face of my interrogators:….

RIP Johnny, I will miss you and your music. It saved me when I was a young man. It is part of the soundtrack of my life.

That Clegg, Jaluka and Savuka’s music was integral to the soundtrack of so many South Africans’ lives, was the overriding theme to all the tributes I heard yesterday: from the celebrities and musicians who worked with him, to ordinary people, whom he may or may not have actually met.

Clegg, in an interview, following his diagnosis and in advance of his Final Journey Tour, said two things that resonated for me. He didn’t go looking for politics, but rather that “politics found me”: because he had simply followed his passion and curiosity, spending time with the people with whom he felt most connected. The second was that he had toured every year since 1983.

Dancing to a political awakening

This made me realise that when I was at university, and the first time I saw him perform, they were on that first tour. The venues had to be places where he and Sipho Mchunu could perform together on the same stage: the liberal (white) universities and townships. I remember the Great Hall at Rhodes University, filling up with students, armed with their joints cigarettes, cheap wine and/or beer. The music, in modern parlance, was epic, and even thirty-seven years later, the image of the two of them doing the high kicks of Zulu dances, is as vivid as if it had been just last night (without the side-effects of alcohol and second-hand dope-smoking).

How far we have come: a friend of mine from those days, now living in London, was at both that concert and at the London show of the Final Journey Tour. He and I have not seen each other since we both lived in Johannesburg in the mid- to late 1980s, and this was our exchange on Facebook the night Clegg died:

Steve and I were on opposite sides of the student politics spectrum. We ran into each other where I worked in 1986, and had our first ever real adult conversation. We both lived in Yeoville and we both lived in Rockey Street, a few houses from each other. As he says: all those years ago (with no apologies to George Harrison, whose 1981 song is also part of the soundtrack of our university days, too).

The years, 1982 to 1986 were also the time of my real political awakening: I have alluded to it elsewhere, but it was driven home in 1986 when I spent some of my happiest ever times dancing the night away to Maskanda and Mbaqanga music in the depths of Soweto. I tell you: this white girl could dance. She was, in those circles, made an “honorary Sowetan”; an honour I still hold dear.

The following year (1987) saw the release of Asimbonanga (We have not seen him [Mandela])….”. Many young people don’t know the double entendre of “we have not seen him”: any likeness, image or photograph of Nelson Mandela was also banned. In about 1988, an early memoir of Winnie Mandela emerged, written by Fatima Meer. It contained photographs of Winnie; not one of Madiba. Asimbonanga, with its most haunting melody, celebrates and mourns people killed by the Apartheid regime. At the time Clegg wrote it, neither he, nor I dreamed that Mandela would be free, let alone be South Africa’s first democratically elected President. One can only but imagine how he felt, singing this song and discovering Mandela behind him. I watch it now, and have, many times. Still the tears come.

Clegg’s songs punctuate different parts of my life; it was not until I worked in the mining industry, and had actually gone down gold mines, that the words of African Sky Blue really hit:

I could reel off and find other songs that I love, especially from the first two albums whose songs take me back to the common room at boarding school and parties at university, but I shan’t. There is, however, one that must not be glossed over. Clegg wrote it after the death of a band member. That year, 1997, was a year of crossing for me, too. It was the first time I had to confront the sudden death of a colleague and friend. It also marked a crossing point in my first marriage.


It is the song that a group of Clegg’s friends recorded for him – as a surprise gift – and as a celebration of the man – just eight before his death in 2019.

When Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, was interviewed the day after his death, he pondered the significance of having spontaneously played this on his saxophone the morning of Clegg’s own crossing.

Johnny Clegg
(7 June 1953 – 16 July 2019)
Chevalier des Arts et Lettres (Knight of Arts and Letters)
Your voice may be silent, but your songs live on


Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post Script

In yet another aspect of my life, I offer

English writing and online tutoring services

every day conversation and formal presentations
writing – emails and reports, academic and white papers
formal grammar, spelling and punctuation
more information here

And then there’s more:

  • If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:
    • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I plan to add them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
    • and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts because of this.
  • If you’re interested in a soft entry into the world of crypto currency and monetising WordPress blog, use the fantastic Steempress plugin to post directly to the Hive blockchain. Click on the image below to sign up
  • I also share the occasional post on Medium.

Where were you when…?

I went cold.  Not because a Cape Cobra had tried to join us for brunch.  The moment The Husband and I rose from the table – in unison – he literally turned tail and headed back when he’d come.

That was yesterday.

This morning, going through the ritual Sunday chores, listening to the local radio station, I heard the question, “Do you remember where you were on this day, thirty years ago?”

Then it dawned on me that it is the 2nd of February.  I did know that.  Facebook had reminded me and I had wished three folk for their birthdays.

I do remember

Thirty years ago, February the 2nd was a Friday.  It was the opening of parliament and it was to be F W de Klerk’s maiden address.  It was the beginning of a new decade, and a new era.  We had no idea what the future would hold.  We had an inkling, and great deal of hope.  At the time I was working In a job where I was seeing out my last month.  The ninth month of hell.  Not because the people were awful.  Nor was the company.  It was the mindlessly, endlessly boring job.  Not that I had nothing to do.  On the contrary, I was busy and even took work home.  It just didn’t stimulate me.  It didn’t rock my socks.

My office was like a cell.  It was on the top level of a parking garage in the bowels of Johannesburg.  The only natural light came from a long fanlight set so close to the ceiling that I’d have needed a ladder to look down at the street below.

My boss knew that in my spare time I volunteered with a street children organisation in Hillbrow.    She was also a former police woman.  Her husband was still in “the force” as it was known then.  However, and ironically, he was not mainstream police.  Nor was he part of that other, more secret branch of the force.  He was a founding member of the child protection unit and they were all too familiar with, and sympathetic to, the street children “problem”.  The irony continues because some years later when I worked for a national children’s charity, we collaborated with the police and that unit to start National Child Protection week which is still an annual event in South Africa.

Returning to that day:  I had a good rapport with my boss and we had an unspoken understanding of each others’ politics.  In those days, in certain many contexts, with certain people, certain subjects were taboo.  It was just before lunch and Bosslady, very unusually, burst into my office.

Have you heard the news?

No, why?

Let’s remember that thirty years ago, there were no mobile phones, no social media, let alone email.  The closest we got to instant communication was a telegram delivered to your door by a man on a bicycle, telex or fax.  Our firsthand news came via telephone – landline.  If one had an answering machine, a message might be waiting.  For the rest, news came from the news media:  newspaper, radio and television.

De Klerk has unbanned the ANC.  Nelson Mandela’s being released.

How do you know?

My husband…

I sat at my desk, aghast.  Delighted.  Gobsmacked.  Thrilled.


There was no-one near and dear with whom to share the news.  I did not have that kind of rapport with either my boss or my colleagues and subordinates.  I didn’t know who to phone.  Anyway, it would have been a personal call on the company dime.  I had no radio in the office, let alone in my car (the first – a very second hand Renault 5).  I do remember wishing I’d started my new job – at an independent school that was run and staffed by anti-apartheid activists.


I have no recollection of what I did after work that day, but I do remember what I did ten days later, on February 12th, the day that Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster Prison:  a free man.

It was a Sunday and once a month we’d take “our children” from the halfway house in Hillbrow, into the country where our “other” children were more settled.  Always a bunch of volunteers, the children and staff.  The volunteers would make contributions by way of meat, salads and treats for the children.  We’d play games in the sun, chat and just generally have a fun, lazy day in the sun over a lunch braai (barbecue).

A typical Sunday outing to our Magaliesberg project. These photos which include me with four of the boys, were taken in 1988 by a Canadian visitor.


That particular Sunday, I deposited my passengers and headed home.  At the time, the Yellow Peril (aka aforementioned Renault 5) lived in a rented space that belonged to a friend’s apartment.  She, until she became too ill to do so, was part of our Magaliesberg outings.  She is on the extreme right, in pink, in the bottom photograph.  It was not unusual for me to pop up and say hi, as I did that afternoon.  Maxine had grown up in Johannesburg and especially in and around the cosmopolitan communities that were most devastated by apartheid.  Her stories:  how I wish I’d listened more carefully and written them down.  I digress.

Maxine had the television on, her oxygen tank her only companion.  We all knew that that was D-day.

It hasn’t happened yet.  Let’s have a cup of tea.

So we did.  As we sat discussing the significance and events of the previous ten days, we watched Nelson Mandela walk out of prison.  A free man.  We graduated from tea to sherry and thence to wine.  I have no idea what time I headed home down the block.  I do remember our sitting waiting, and then in rapt attention as Nelson Mandela gave that first address to the people of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela, flanked by Walter Sisulu, his former wife, Winnie, and Cyril Ramaphosa, reads first address to the people of South Africa since his trial. Picture: Leon Muller

Thirty years

Fast forward thirty years.  I cannot believe that it is thirty years.  It feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago.  I go cold.  So much has changed and there is still so much to do.  It also dawns on me how the world turns.  For one of my birthday pals, that February 2nd thirty years ago, had so much more significance for her.  Funny that we’ve known each other more than 30 years – we were at Rhodes together;  neighbours in the same residence in our first years.  Neither of us celebrated our birthdays at university – they fell outside term time.  Of course I knew about her journey with V, and until today, didn’t think how special a gift she had received on her birthday in 1990.

That brings, me, in a roundabout way, back to the cobra:  both she and I love our gardens and their life;  we both have more than a passing interest in sustainable living.  It’s what’s reconnected us so many years later.  It’s not the first cobra we’ve had at The Sandbag House, and it certainly won’t be the last.  This one, did give us cause for pause.  Not for us, so much as for our Christmas guinea fowl family.

There were twelve in the clutch. They were probably 2 days old here.

They are very difficult to count, let alone photograph.  We try do do the former pretty regularly;  I do the latter very badly.  When I can.  There is a reason for the expression bird brain:  Mrs Guinea isn’t the best mum. Dad was, in the early days, superior.  In the baby album collage below – random photos of their progress – you’ll see one hunkered down near our little stone wall.  That’s Mr Guinea.  All twelve are nestled underneath him.  Mum was most definitely taking a break.

In the last six weeks, they have diminished in number to less than half.  When they were seven, The Husband and I spent an early windy evening in the dry leiwater sloot (irrigation channel) that runs past our house:  the babies had fallen in and couldn’t get out.  Talk about quick and little!  Eventually we’d scooped all seven out to scamper through the fence.  All this while Dad had a go at The Husband for messing with the kids.  And Mum?  Well she was chattering up and down the fence, like a headless chicken not sure whether to thank us or not.

Then there were six and then, on Friday, there were five.  That evening, The Husband said he wasn’t sure about Little Five.  He’d been commenting on the little straggler for a while: a dreamer, lagging behind and then chivied up to catch up with the family.  On Friday, The Husband thought Little Five was was poorly.

Sure enough, yesterday, there were only four when we did a head count.  I snapped the bottom right pic when I got home yesterday afternoon.  Sure enough:  four.  Perhaps the cobra did have brunch after all.  Today, as it was 40°C, we hadn’t seen them, but a moment ago, we were still grandparents to four guinea fowl chicks.  Ignored by Gandalf the Grey and Princess Pearli, The Husband’s wondering when they’ll move in.

A last word:  something else had been on my Sunday agenda. Until I went cold.

Until next time
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post Script

  • Originally posted in Feburary.  I am reposting it because of this.  Please bear with me as I “reconstitute” my lost posts.