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Rose & Crown 1989

UK   1990  -  1999

Arriving  in England in  December 1989, by early 1990, we had settled in at our two homes, the ground floor flat in Kennington , South London,  and the bungalow at 86 Newland, Sherborne, in Dorset. The journey between  Sherborne to London took three hours by road, two hours by train, and we soon established a regular pattern, spending on average ten days a month in London; in summer when London was hot and crowded, and Dorset was at its best, we spent more time in the country. In winter, when  the theatrical and musical seasons were in full swing in London, we prolonged our periods in the capital. When we were not occupying  the Kennington  flat, we let it to friends, both for security and for extra income.
Living Room, Tanrhoc House 1994
Being over 65 years old ( Bernard had to wait until May, 1991) we had free passes for bus and Underground travel in London, a great boon, of which we took  full advantage.  We spent virtually the whole decade of the 1990’s based in England, although there was a sharp division between the period before November 1993, and later. One strong reason for moving to the U K was Bernard’s health, which was already a cause of concern when we lived in California. Because of his interrupted University service, Bernard had no  medical aid, so we thought it prudent to move to England, where he could take advantage of  the National Health Service 

In  May, 1993, Bernard  complained of chest  pains, and  was told that he would have to have a triple heart by-pass operation.  Because of the long wait for  heart surgery, we decided to “go private”, and the operation was done at Southampton Hospital in November 1993.  As we learnt later, there is a high rate of infection in British hospitals, and Bernard developed peritonitis, remaining in Hospital, mostly in Yeovil, five miles from Sherborne, for eight weeks. Bernard was desperately ill and weepy, when Dr.Ahmed, from Pakistan, sat at Bernard’s bed side, held his hand  and said, ”Do not worry,  Mr.Riley,   we will pull you through”. None of the rather arrogant young English doctors could have done that, both because of a lack of compassion,  and also because they had been told NEVER to hold a patient’s hand.   A Ghanaian doctor, who knew some of our Ghanaian friends, (it being easy to establish a connection with people from Southern Ghana) also took good care of Bernard. During the weeks that Bernard was in Yeovil Hospital, I visited him at mid-morning, when   the  over-worked nurses were happy to allow me to help Bernard with his bath. I visited again in the evenings bringing him a tasty dish, as the hospital fare was too bland for Bernard. The nurses used to ask, “What has David brought this evening? Oh, that smells good!”. They were a cheerful lot, the Yeovil nurses, who appreciated Bernard for his courtesy, and because he never harassed them with unreasonable demands.( One beneficial side-effect, for me, was that my  journeys to Yeovil, in the dark  winter evenings, often in heavy fog, conquered my fear of night time driving. Bernard was pleased when I told  this to him)

By the time Bernard came home, in February 1994, he was noticeably weaker: we could no longer take our long walks, nor could he climb the steps of a double-decker  London bus – we had liked to sit, like school-boys, on the front seats upstairs. The Underground was also impossible for Bernard, because some stations had only stairs, and at others the escalators were frequently out of order. Despite all these handicaps, we managed to see and do much in our remaining years in UK, Bernard proving most adaptable.
40th anniversary 1994


40th Anniversary, Regent's Park, London July 1994

Lancashire 1993

When we came to live in Britain in 1990, we already had an established network of friends, most of them going back over many years. Thelma Sanders, whom  we knew from Nairobi, lived in Islington, London, and  she introduced us to John and Lyndie Wright, puppeteers of “The Little Angel” Theatre in Islington. John and Lyndie were originally from South Africa, and it was remarkable how many of our friends had African  - or overseas - connections. Walking in St.James Park one evening, we were hailed  by a voice saying “What are you doing, coming to my district without informing me?” It was Randal Sadleir, who had been my District Commissioner forty years before,  in Handeni, Tanganyika. .  We had first met “Schap”, Professor Isaac Schapera, in  1957, in Bulawayo, which he visited every year, staying with Hugh Ashton, who was the dynamic Director of African Administration.  Schap, who died in 2003,  aged  98, had been Professor of Social Anthropology first at the University of Cape Town, then at  the London School of Economics. In 1990, we often visited him at  the White House in London., and  he enjoyed coming often to our Kennington lunch parties. A more recent friend was Anne-Marie Shawe, with whom we worked in 1984-1986, at the University of California’s Education Abroad Programme, in London.
Jim and Deirdre Parker, our Falkland Islands hosts, were living near Sherborne; we had many excellent lunches  with them at Andy and Annie Sugg’s gem of a country pub, “The Stag’s Head”, in Yarlington, Somerset. And another old friend, Kim Lake, made us feel at home at Magdalen Laver House, in Essex., an hour’s drive from Kennington. All these friends joined others in July 1994,  at the Rose Garden in London’s Regent’s Park, to help us celebrate our forty years of sharing our lives . 

Other friends lived farther away – Paul and Pat Baxter, whom I had known from Cambridge days in the late 1940’s; John and Daphne Ainley, whom we had both known in Tanga, in 1954;  my  Scottish niece, Deirdre Blackwood, and my sister-in-law, Margaret Thurso, and their families in Caithness, in the far north of Scotland. 

In Sherborne itself, we made friends, but slowly. Our neighbours, Anne and Ben Cochrane, were always interested in our lives, and were most hospitable. Helen Sandeman, who had been born in Marandellas ( Marondera) in what was then Southern Rhodesia, was a lively visitor, with her tales of the exotic places, like the Silk Road,  to which she travelled, and of the remarkable range of books she read.

Sherbourne, 1994

Enjoying a cider, Rose & Crown, Dorset 1996


I had joined the Catholic church when at Oxford, in 1950; Bernard used to encourage me to go to Mass, but only in 1991 did he decide to make enquiries about the church, taking part  in “The Rite of Christian Initiation”;. Every Sunday  evening, from September 1991, until March 1992, we joined a small group at the parish house,  Bernard being admitted into the church at Easter 1993. This was a momentous step, both because Bernard’s new faith  proved to be deep and lasting, and  also because when Bernard had his triple heart by-pass surgery, in November 1993, we had an instant “support group” in Sherborne. Until Bernard’s death, our dear friends at the Sherborne Catholic church continued to take an interest in us,  to communicate frequently, and to pray for Bernard during his various illnesses. 

Until Bernard’s cardiac surgery in late 1993, we were regular walkers. When we were in Sherborne, a favourite walk, taking three hours, was a long circular route, through Sherborne Castle grounds, and back via some small villages. Whatever the season, we always saw something new ,  as we had done in Kenya, two decades earlier. Bernard’s observant eye would spot the primroses and violets in the ditches alongside the road, or the herd of Castle deer, or the pheasants. 

Once, on Shrove Tuesday,  when walking in the Castle grounds, we saw six hares, which ran round in a  circle clockwise, then abruptly reversed and dashed in the other direction, then ran off the field. Bernard wrote a letter to the   Times, describing this strange behaviour of the mad March hares.. Although it was basically Bernard’s  letter, we both signed it, as was our practice, whichever one of us was the prime writer.  The letter was published, after the Times had telephoned us to verify that it was genuine –“You had not stayed too long in the pub?”, they asked. The day after publication, Jimmy Clark  telephoned, asking if I were related to Guy Brokensha;  Jimmy had flown in my  elder brother Guy’s Fleet Air Arm Squadron in WW11. Guy had disappeared from his aircraft carrier, “HMS Formidable”, in 1942, and this was the first contact I had had with any-one who knew him. Bernard, as “an honorary Brokie”, had always been intrigued by Guy’s story, and by my obvious hero-worship of my elder brother. We soon became friendly with Jimmy and Sheila Clark, who had also spent many years in Rhodesia, where Jimmy was active in African Education..


London, 1995

As Bernard’s health deteriorated, and his mobility declined, we had to adjust our activities a little, but, because of Bernard’s determination  and his refusal to vegetate at home, we kept up most our usual activities. We both had lively interests in “the arts “ generally, and went regularly to concerts, opera, theatre and art galleries. Our London friends were amazed by how much we fitted in, many of them admitted that they read reviews, thought of going, then did nothing. But we had for many years been starved of  accessible and high standard cultural events; also we had the time, being retired., and Bernard simply did not allow his disability to prevent him from seeing as much as he could. 

For music, we loved the smaller venues, especially the Wigmore Hall and St.John’s Smith Square, both of which had a scintillating  array of musicians and singers, both well-known and young new-comers. We were never disappointed.. Our favourite performers included the Lindsay String Quartet, whose concerts we never missed. As a young man, Bernard had been – as I mentioned above – an ardent admirer of the renowned mezzo-soprano Kathleen Ferrier.   Wigmore Hall produced each year the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial competition, for young singers, the prize being both substantial in money terms, and a significant help to a  musical career. We attended as many of the Final nights as we could, and shared in the mounting excitement. 

For opera, we much  preferred ENO (the English National Opera) to the better known Covent Garden, because ENO was more affordable, and much less pretentious than the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. Over the decade that we lived in London, we had many thrilling  evenings at ENO, seeing both new and old operas, as well as jolly, spirited productions of “The Mikado”,  Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffmann”, and some of Franz  Lehar’s operettas. The “war horses” – the established operas – were livened up, without losing their musical integrity, and without being too “gimmicky”, or too “trendy” , to use two of Bernard’s  expressions of disapproval. 

For theatre, we read reviews in the newspapers, and relied also on word of mouth from our theatrically well-informed friends, including Kevin Leeman, Musical Manager at the National Theatre.( We had known Kevin’s twin brother, Clive, for many years in Santa Barbara: they also came originally from Durban). We went more often to the National than anywhere else, both because of the quality of its productions, and also because it was near to  Kennington, where we lived. Indeed, when we were first in London, we could walk to the National. We also went to the fringe theatres, sometimes leaving at interval when the production failed to grip us; on other occasions, we saw riveting theatre, and we accepted that we had to take some risks to achieve this . 

We got to know the London art galleries well, despite some  initial difficulty with the wheel-chair. Some Galleries were not at all wheel-chair friendly. We were disappointed by the Imperial War Museum, where access was not at all easy. There must have been many disabled ex-servicemen who also had to battle with the handicaps. We eventually worked out where we could park the car, and how we could get in to the galleries, even though at some places, notably the British Museum, it involved  complicated and tortuous routes.  The National Gallery was relatively accessible, but once  inside, here was another hazard for wheel-chair users – the swing glass dorrs separating the galleries. British visitors tended to let the doors slam in our faces, probably from being unobservant rather than from malice. We soon learnt to look out for the ubiquitous Japanese visitors, for they invariably would  smile, bow and hold the doors open for us, with our bowing our gratitude. Bernard was never put off by these challenges, and we did see virtually all the major exhibitions in London. 

Throughout our stay in London, we continued our habit of lunching out. A main criterion, in selecting a restaurant, was the outlook : Bernard loved to have a view, and we soon found some favourite places, particularly along the Thames, from where we could watch the river traffic. There was the Anchor at Bankside, and numerous other pleasant riverside pubs. Of course, we also took into account the usual other factors, of prices, quality of food and wine, location,  décor, service, attitude and , latterly, accessibility for disabled customers. Also important for us was  noise volume, because Bernard  had a hearing problem, exacerbated by loud voices or music in a confined space. 

We ranged in our preferred restaurants to posh places like Rules, The Savoy, (usually for afternoon tea) or Simpson’s in the Strand, to the Indian restaurant “Gandhi’s” or the  Windmill Fish and Chips, run by two Greek brothers.  Both  were conveniently located a few hundred yards from our Kennington flat. 
UK, 1993 UK, 1993 Walking in London was another regular recreation, one which Bernard kept up as long as he could, at least to the mid-1990’s. We liked to explore the City of London on a Sunday morning where there was no traffic, and few tourists, choosing a sunny day for Bernard’s photography. We have had, for most of our    years together, a good reference library, and Bernard soon built up a wide range of guides to London –to the architecture, canals, churches, walks, museums,  galleries,  parks, gardens, AND disabled access .We liked to take a bus out of London and then walk part way back along a canal, an excellent way of discovering “hidden” London. We took enterprising visitors , who had only a short time in London, on our round London tour, which took a very full day, and which started with the Underground to Kew, for a quick look at the Royal Botanic Gardens, then a train in a grand half-circle of North London, via Hampstead and Islington, to the Isle of Dogs.  From there we walked under the Thames  to Greenwich, in time for lunch before the pubs closed. Still time to walk up Greenwich to see the old Royal Observatory, where the meridian of  zero longitude is located. Bernard liked to photograph our visitors standing with one foot in the western hemisphere, one in the Eastern.   We would urge our guests to return to see the National Maritime Museum, the Thames Flood Barrier, and other attractions of Greenwich . There would be time for a hasty look at the “Cutty Sark”, the last of the great clipper sailing ships, before catching a ferry back to Westminster Pier – and home. 

On such excursions, I felt so proud of Bernard, with his truly encyclopaedic, yet lightly worn , knowledge of ALL that we were showing our guests, and his ability to answer nearly all questions, even when they were of an arcane character. Especially at the end of his life, Bernard often thanked me, saying he had learnt so much from me, I had given him so much. I tried to persuade him that it was a reciprocal business – we learnt from each other, not only factual knowledge, but also about behaviour. Bernard made me more cautious, more able to deal with an unpredictable world, and I encouraged  him to be more trusting, more relaxed with people. We enriched each other’s lives immeasurably. 


Tasmania, 1990
Tasmania, 1990

 In 1990, the first full year of our retirement, we went to Australia for  two fascinating months, visiting my relatives, and our friends, and seeing much of the country. It was cousin Doris Brokensha,  at her party in Adelaide, who, when  the Brokensha’s were assembling for a group photograph, said, “Come along, Bernard, you are an honorary Brokie”. Bernard was proud of his new designation, as he had been readily accepted, much loved and respected, by my family members. My cousins Peter and Elizabeth Brokensha  who also lived in Adelaide, joined with Doris in planning a full itinerary for us, including travel by train, rented car, and aircraft.
Alice Springs, Sept 1990
Levada, Madeira ~ April 1990
Shortly after our return from Australia, Bernard’s sister, Eileen, offered us a  fortnight’s stay at her time-share in Madeira, where we spent two weeks. Bernard still being able to walk long distances, we made several excursions, setting out early to catch the 7 a.m. bus to one point, walking for a few hours along the levadas (irrigation channels), having lunch at a wayside restaurant, and catching another bus back to Funchal. On this, as on other trips, Bernard left the basic travel arrangements to me, because,  as he said, I enjoy this,  then we would go over the suggestions together, fine-tuning them to maximise our pleasure and interest.   Right up to the end of his life, Bernard was, for me, the ideal travelling companion, eager, observant, knowledgeable,  interested in everything, good at social interactions with strangers,  prepared to put up with mishaps – “oh, well, ‘win some, lose some’, as your brother Paul would say”.

Gondo Gwarikwari
The following year, we made a long tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa, taking our Santa Barbara friend Harriet Carter, then recently widowed, with us.. At Chapungu, the Harare Sculpture Garden, we bought another large sculpture, Joram Mariga’s “Martial Eagle” ( Gondo Gwarikwari). Carved in the rare Lepidolite, this piece has graced our garden in Sherborne, and our terrace in Fish Hoek.  When we bought this piece, we asked Joram Mariga three questions : 

1) “Was it a beneficial spirit:?” The Shona sculptors believe that their sculptures embody the spirits, often partly human. Joram told us that “This is not an ordinary eagle, it is a spirit eagle, but it is a good spirit, it will bless your home”. And  indeed it has. 

2) “Would it withstand an English winter, out in our garden?” Joram , who had visited England in the winter, assured it that this would not be a problem . 

3) “How should we best preserve it?”. Joram repeated Henry of Tengenenge’s advice, just to use “Cobra” wax floor polish. 

We saw our many friends and relatives, and while in Cape Town we probably  - though we did not immediately realise it – sowed the seeds that led us to settle there, at the end of the decade.

With the introduction of Eurostar, the “Chunnel” express train, we made several trips to Luxembourg, where Cees Post, a former UCSB student, and his family, welcomed us on our annual visits. Jan and Mady Slikkerveer are Dutch anthropologists, who shared our interest in “Indigenous Knowledge”, and who invited us to their university at Leiden. In the Netherlands, as in other countries,  we liked to get away from the usual tourist trail, and Mady enthusiastically planned an itinerary for us in the northern parts of the country. 

We spent an enchanting two weeks in Provence, again with  our jolly and flexible Santa Barbara companion,  Harriet Carter. I write from my fallible memory, having few written records of our many travels.  This is one of the many times when I miss Bernard, and when I could use his prodigious memory. He would be able to tell me the names of  - the charming village, north of Marseilles, where we ate chestnut ice-cream; the small town where we met my Australian cousin Sally Brokensha, and had a marvellous lunch at a restaurant which had connections to St.John’s Hospalitiers. I do remembr Cap d’Antibes, where Harriet insisted that we have a lengthy , grand dinner, and Remy de Provence, with memories of van Gogh’s last, frenetic days.

Pet meerkat Molopo Lodge Askham

Later, we a went by train to Sicily, stopping at night because Bernard always wanted to see where he was going.. On hearing of Bernard’s death, a UCSB friend wrote a moving tribute, saying that he “was going to explore the geography of heaven”. On all these trips, Bernard and I would pore over guide books and maps, choosing the less travelled routes, and allowing enough time in each destination so that we did not have to rush. We were both overwhelmed by Piazza Armerina, of which we had not heard, with its brilliant mosaics; these had been buried under mud for more than a millennium,, and had only recently been exposed. We went by bus and train around Mt.Etna, spent a day in Taormina, with recollections of D H Lawrence’s evocative writing. While there, we had a chance meeting with Lyndie Wright, of the Little Angel, who was on a painting holiday, and who gave us tea in the   “secret garden’ of her hosts . 

While in Palermo, we wished to visit the Art Gallery, which was in a rough part of the city, still showing signs of the WW11 
bombardment damage  We were staying with Anne-Marie’s Italian friend , who insisted that we leave watches and  cameras behind, and dress simply, to minimise the danger of mugging. It was well worth the visit, for one  extraordinary and luminous painting, of the Madonna, by Antonello da Messina,  c 1430 – 1479. “His religious works show a remarkable ability to combine Northern  particularity of  detail with the Italian tradition of grandeur and clarity of form”.  We bought a post-card,  of which enlarged and framed copies hang next to Bernard’s bed-side, and also in our Simonstown parish church. One of the many joys of travelling with Bernard was that we shared so many – not all- of the same interests, and that we had the same re-actions. On seeing this wondrous painting, we were both silent in admiration,  then eagerly examined the painting, which is unusual in its  striking depiction of Our Lady as essentially human, without the cloying sentimentality of so many other representations. We were alone in the gallery, and wondered why we had not heard of Antonello da Messina, and why the gallery was not thronged.
Another memorable trip was to Crete, where our friend Jan Slikkerveer, of Leiden University, had established a co-operative arrangement with the  university, to study what the local people knew of their plants. Bernard and I were invited to take part in a seminar, because of our own research in Kenya, into Indigenous Knowledge of vegetation. After the seminar , we  were helped by colleagues at the university to rent a Volkswagen, and an apartment in Chania, from where we made sorties all over the island. A bonus was  that this was early spring time, and Bernard had a field day discovering , photographing, and later identifying the local flora. I drove our VW, with frequent excited cries from Bernard, telling me to stop for some new species . Our travels were never dull.


Bernard and I were invited to give talks on our Kenyan fieldwork,  at universities in  Britain, and also in Finland, Crete, Germany and the Netherlands.  We enjoyed the interaction with our European colleagues, and Bernard, the inveterate geographer, was always keen to explore the surrounding countryside. In each case we stayed over a few days, even for two weeks, and travelled by train or rented car to inviting locations.  Bernard began to need a wheel-chair in 1996, and by the late 1990’s  he was  less mobile, and more dependent on his wheel-chair.

We soon found that travelling as a disabled person on the European trains was a pleasure, a great contrast to  Britain, where it was a nightmlare. In France, Germany,    indeed  everywhere in Europe,  our travels  with a wheel-chair were facilitated by the ability to book ahead, and to have ramps in place and porters to assist us. Bernard always worried, once he started using the wheel-chair, that  pushing it would be too much for me, that it would tire me out, so he particularly appreciated the assistance that we received. 

As well as our visits to Europe, we drove many miles all over Britain, with a few trips to my ancestral Cornwall, many stays at Bernard’s native Manchester, enjoying the bountiful hospitality of Paul and Pat Baxter. When we could all still manage country walks, Bernard liked to retrace his boyhood journeys, sometimes along tow paths, or rural  lanes, always ending up for lunch  at a carefully chosen country pub. Bernard was keen to show me more of his  boyhood haunts in Wales and Shropshire, where we made several good forays.  Less often, because of the distance, we drove to Caithness, to see my relatives, and to enjoy the space and stark beauty of the uncrowded  countryside.

Our love of the theatre led us to make regular excursions to Bath, to see plays, often “try-outs” for London, at the lovingly restored Theatre Royal. Bath was only an hour’s drive from Sherborne, and the route was quintessentially beautiful West country; whatever the season, there was always something new to look out for, and to admire. By going to a matinee, we could be back in Sherborne in time for supper. Our other theatrical target was the Royal Shakespearian Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon, which took over three hours to reach. We would see two or three plays, often fitting in, on the same day,  both a matinee and an evening performance, and staying at  “Avoncroft”, a  comfortable 17th Century B & B, where Mrs. Abelson not only welcomed us graciously, but also  gave sound advice as to which plays to see, and which to avoid : her tastes were similar to ours, we all preferred the director to concentrate on the text, and not to include  too many distracting novelties on the stage. The drive to Stratford was again a delight, with our regular stop for morning coffee at Malmesbury. Even when Bernard was using a wheel chair, the theatres both at Bath and at Stratford were most  accommodating, ensuring that we had excellent and accessible seats. 

Sherborne Amateur Dramatic Society put on regular plays, two of which, T.S.Eliot’s  Murder in the Cathredral  and J.B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls  were outstanding. By chance, both plays were performed in London at about the same time, the former at the Barbican, the latter at the Royal National Theatre : in each case, we preferred the local versions, which were simpler, no fussy distractions, and the emphasis was on the words.

Rose & Crown 1997

At the Rose & Crown, 1997

Relocating to the Cape

We visited the Cape three more time in the 1990’s,  both to check on  Bernard’s sister, Eileen, and because we were increasingly drawn to the Cape. For  Christmas 1998, Eileen and her daughter, Chris, had found us the perfect accommodation , in Sunny Cove, Fish Hoek. This overlooks the “catwalk”, the pedestrian walkway, the railway line with  the ocean just beyond, literally (even for me)  a stone’s  throw from our terrace. The Kogelberg range of mountains, thirty kms away,.  frame False Bay. Bernard and I soon decided that this would be our permanent home having persuaded Rob and Lorraine , our landlords, to let us rent the home on a permanent basis. We have been fortunate , as I have already mentioned, in sharing MOST of the same views, prejudices, tastes and  outlooks, and we have never disagreed .about our various homes, 

We were uncertain what to do with Bernard’s unique collection of 35mm colour slides, built up over forty years.. Many of these were used for teaching our Environmental Studies courses. While doing fieldwork in Kenya, and elsewhere, Bernard had photographed numerous botanical specimens,  the slides all being meticulously identified. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew gladly accepted the bulk of the botanical slides, 6,000 that covered Kenya. A further 3,600 botanical slides, of specimens that Kew already had in their slide library, went, through the intervention of our friend Arline Miller, in Israel, to the Botanical Gardens of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. This still left a balance of over 25,000 which were packed to go to Capetown 
 It remained for us to pack up our two homes. When we  had left California, ten years previously,  we had had a major clear-up. We donated (mostly to charitable institutions, thus gaining an income  tax deduction, under the enlightened U.S. Inland Revenue rules) many books, records, clothes and surplus furniture. However, during our decade in the U K, we had, inevitably, collected many more belongings.  Bernard and I had run the annual book stall at our Catholic Church’s annual summer fair, and in our last year sales were boosted by our donation of many of our books. 

When an English charity reluctantly refused to accept a mattress,  because it had a small stain, we took the advice of our Fish Hoek friend Enid Bates, who pointed out that there were many very poor people in South Africa who would be glad of such a mattress. We had our goods, from our two homes, packed in a container for shipment.  Both homes were quickly sold, and we left England on 11 August, 1999, for our final destination.

Jager's Walk ~ the Catwalk ~ Fish Hoek

Fish Hoek Beach, Capetown

 Fish Hoek

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