Guilty as Charged ...

Yes, I have been neglecting this blog. As they say, the road to that very hot and unpleasant place so many of us are, according to some, destined for, is paved with good intentions. In mitigation I will plead that I have been rather busy working with Janet Angelo of IndieGo Publishing to get a book sorted out and published, writing another (which hasn't quite gone as planned), and arranging, and going on, a trip to South Africa to attend the fiftieth anniversary of my completing my schooling ...

If you throw in having to be companion, playmate and guardian of two very active Shelties, and, yes, I've had my hands full.

The good news is that with the colder weather arriving, 'the boys' are quite happy to take shorter walks, provided they can have more 'game time' in the afternoon. The rewriting of the book IndieGo are preparing for publication is complete, and the new book (as yet untitled) is starting to come together. The major distraction at the moment is trying to find photographs or artwork that will work as a cover for the book Janet's working on, and, of course, making the corrections and changes she is flagging up in the editing process.

So, in the meantime, here are some photos from my reunion trip to South Africa ...

My first stop was in Johannesburg, to meet Jada Penn. We've corresponded for a number of years, helped each other refine our writing skills, and generally supported each other in the constant battle to sell our books. As ever, we could have spent a week talking about things, but had only a day and night in the end.

From Johannesburg, my son and I, drove to Bloemfontein (where he was born) to visit a very old friend, Bishop Tom. Bishop Tom is featured in a couple of my Harry Heron tales under his nickname of Plus Thomas, a reference to the small cross bishops place before their 'consecration name' when signing a document. The Free State had not yet had rain, so the grass (it is 'steppe country' and at roughly 1300 metres (4,000 feet) above sea level) was still dry and brown. The rich 'red' soil is maize and grazing country, but all we saw was 'dust devils' - mini tornadoes visible only because they suck up the dust and one sees these whirling columns marching across the veld.

The reunion was in East London, on the Eastern Cape coast, where I went to school and grew up. It was good to see so many of my old school friends, many of whom I have not seen since finishing school in 1964. It was good to see the boys maintaining the tradition of Changing the Guard on the War Memorial - in my day, Cadets was a compulsory activity, now it is entirely voluntary - and the passing of the ceremonial 'Key' to the Memorial from one year to the next. The ceremony began in the 1920s following the first World War when the South African volunteer forces joined the rest of the Empire in war. Some 300,000 South Africans fought, and the scale of the sacrifice can be gauged by the numbers of dead on the school memorial (the city Memorial is located barely a half mile away and has a shockingly long list) - a large number for a school that had only 270 pupils in 1914.

Of course I had to visit some of my childhood haunts, and the next photo shows the rocky gullies in which my brother and I fished and swam under the watchful eye of our mother or our grandmother. When the tide is out, there are large safe pools exposed, deep enough to swim comfortably, and to sail or model boats in safety. The large tongue of rock in the centre foreground provided a sheltered sunny spot for the adults to sit while we played.

And finally, what can one say about the view of Table Mountain from the Blaauberg Strand area? 

It was a rushed trip, we drove a little over 4,500 kilometres (roughly 2,812 miles) in twelve days, saw a lot of people, spent valuable time with them all, and came home tired, but happy. As it is said, we pass this way but once, and the past is indisputably a 'foreign country' we cannot return to. Perhaps that is as well. Will I make this journey again? Perhaps, but many of those I saw this time, may not be there to greet me on the next visit.

Sir Francis Drake called it the fairest Cape in all the world. I think I agree with him. It still is.

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