1926 - 19441944 - 19521952 - 19591959 - 19691969 - 19891989 - 19991999 - 2004
FISH  HOEK          AUGUST 1999  -  JANUARY  2004

This last period of our lives may be divided into two distinct phases – before and after Bernard’s disabling stroke of October 2001.

8 Bells Cape, 2003


Settling In

We arrived in Cape Town on August 13, 1999, having made some advance preparations; we were fortunate in having – as we had had when we arrived in England ten years previously - a network of good friends and relatives. Bernard’s sister, Eileen (who died on Christmas Day, 2000); Chris, his niece, and  her husband, David; Elspeth and David Jack, whom we had met in California in the 1960’s; Valerie and Martin West, from the University of Cape Town, first met in California in the 1970’s; Enid and Howie Bates, who had house sat for us in Sherborne when we were away. These were our main  supporters, and they rallied round us, not only on arrival, but throughout our stay, helping us until Bernard’s final days. 

Bernard had immediately recognised the geographical advantages of our new home. at 37 Simonstown road in Fish Hoek. The Simon’s Town Road runs southward from downtown Fish Hoek along the eastern False Bay shoreline of the Cape Peninsula, This rocky headland is known as Sunny Cove, and is so steep that the railway is confined to a single track. We are in the lee of the steep rocky headland separating Fish Hoek Bay from the open section of False Bay. We face north, with direct sunlight in all the rooms, and, far more important, we are shielded from the notorious South-Easters. These are  chilly, strong,  sometimes gale force, winds, which generate over the Antarctic Ocean..” 

“Tanrhocaldor House”, as we called our new home, adding the  “Dor”  for our ten years in Dorset, was perfectly habitable, having been set up as a furnished holiday home. Lorraine and Rob,  our landlords and  neighbours, had fully equipped the house. We made some minor alterations, installing more book shelves , cupboards and track lighting ; this was very much Bernard’s domain, he had a good eye for décor, and always chose the best quality materials We were aided by the services of a master-carpenter, and by Francois (  recommended by Elspeth)  who quickly put up our paintings and arranged the  much-travelled Zimbabwean sculptures. 

When visiting my niece Robin, in Florida, years ago, Bernard had copied a sign he spotted in an Audubon Park :

And let the WIND speak
A world is talking


When we moved to Sherborne,  Bernard had this engraved on glass, and hung it on the window. We carried it to Fish Hoek, where  Francois carefully attached it to our glass door to the terrace, where it is noticed and approved  by observant visitors. 

We preferred some of our own furniture, and soon had our home ship-shape and to our satisfaction. There was not room  to display   all our possessions, so again we made some judicious donations, including  giving our collection of Ashanti gold weights, from Ghana, to the National Gallery. 

David Jack advised us on the purchase and installation of new computers, as well as a new camera for Bernard, and he directed us to an insurance broker, who gave us timely help  in subsequent burglaries and a car accident. We introduced ourselves to Father Bram Martijn at  our new parish, the Catholic Church of Sts Simon and Jude in Simonstown, where we soon felt at home.

on the terrace at Tanrhocaldor House

“ Tanrhocaldor House consists, downstairs, of a large living/dining room leading into a well-planned , convenient kitchen ; a small guest room  with its own bath-room, leading off the living room; this  doubles as a laundry room. Outside is a terrace, ideal for lunch parties and “Braais” (barbecues) in the summer months.. On the side of the house is a laundry drying area, facing the sea, maximising sunshine and wind for drying/airing clothes.” 

Upstairs are two bed-rooms, which lead out onto another terrace, and a bathroom. We converted the downstairs bedroom into Bernard’s study, and I used one of the upstairs bed-rooms for my study. From our bedroom, there is a magnificent view of False Bay, with its ever changing scene – trek fishermen in their boats, anglers on the rocks, sailing boats, both the popular  “Hobie cats” - catamarans - and the bigger luxury yachts; para-sailors; swimmers; canoeists, on Friday afternoons whole flotillas of canoes would race past us;  walkers and runners on the catwalk; children exploring the rocks near the ocean; trains trundling by every quarter of an hour, from 5 a.m. .until 7 p.m. ( we soon got accustomed to the trains,  finding the sound of the trains comforting); whales and dolphins in September to November; birds galore, both the common gulls , terns and cormorants, ,even an occasional albatross, skua or giant petrel. A special visitor was the endangered African black oyster-catcher, always in pairs, with their distinctive cries, which Bernard could hear from his bed. And there were always the constantly changing clouds and the  Kogelberg mountains behind, ands also the lovely soft evening light on the rocks and moonlight over the bay.  This view was always important to both of us, much more so to Bernard after he became so ill, spending  more time resting in bed. There was always something to observe. 

Climbing the  18 steps became  a burden for Bernard, inducing angina pains,  so we had a Stannah chair-lift installed. My niece Judy said that watching Bernard ascend was like seeing Mary Poppins . At first, the chair lift was a convenience, but,  after Bernard’s stroke, it was essential : without it, he would have been confined to one floor. 

Our home is less than one km from FishHoek, a pleasant quiet seaside town. Many regard Fish Hoek as dull, it has none of the trendy boutiques,  antique shops and lively bars of  its neighbours Simonstown and Kalk Bay ( liquor may not be sold in Fish Hoek, except  with meals in restaurants) . Clive Rubin, a young friend of ours, asked us why on earth we had settled in Fish Hoek, which he described, scornfully as “a community in denial”. However, it suited us down to the ground, even more so when, shortly after we moved here,  the onvenient Long Beach shopping mall opened, a ten minute drive away, and today we even have a Woollies (Woolworths Food Store , think a smaller  Marks & Spencer) in Town Square, Fish Hoek. Many white South Africans would regard life without a  Woolies in their locality  as insupportable... 

Having located the essential services – chemist, bank, post office, D.I.Y., café, petrol station, shops -  we set about finding good medical services. Both our old friend Leslie Rubin, then living in a retirement home in St.James, a few kms away, and the Jacks, recommended Dr. Geoff Duncan, who was the most competent AND caring G.P. that  any-one could wish for. Being addicted to a chiropractor, we also soon found Mark Whittle, who practised in the town. Bernard had hoped to continue with some exercise, and we both enrolled at the Sports Centre. South Africa is, not surprisingly,  very advanced in sports medicine, the sports centre being part of a large complex in Newlands. But our trainer advised Bernard to see a cardiologist first, leading us to Sean Latouf, who advised against exercises for Bernard, and who skilfully monitored Bernard’s health and medications from then on. 

Bernard had been justifiably irritated by the often pompous and patronising English consultants, so it  was a refreshing change to encounter the very different attitudes of South African doctors whom we met.   First, they all treated us as intelligent beings, and   were careful to explain the situation, spelling out  possible routes to follow,  and telling us of the pro’s and cons of each. Second, they were  approachable and informal , seldom wearing a tie, (men’s ties do not figure largely in South African culture, outside of the business world). And we  soon became  on first names with our doctors. 

Once we had settled down, we both knew that, having had homes in three continents, this was certainly going to be our last stop, We loved “Tanrhocaldor House” from the beginning, and never had cause to change our minds – it was the perfect home for us. Bernard never ceased to thank me “for bringing me here”, even though I tried, in vain, to tell him that WE had brought ourselves here. 

Even before leaving UK, Bernard had applied for Permanent Residence in South Africa, but the Department of  Home Affairs is notoriously slow.  Because I had been born in South Africa, I was given, on arrival, South African citizenship, which carried Permanent Residence. Our friend Valerie West, who is a lawyer, advised me to apply to bring Bernard in as my partner,  the new, enlightened Constitution having made provision for such cases.. We initially had problems with the complicated   formalities,  obtaining police clearance from the U.S.A. and the U.K; health certificate; fingerprints; proof of adequate funds . Our friend Clive Leeman, hearing of these problems, put us in touch with  Police Captain Kishor Harri, then posted in Cape Town, who helped us through the bureaucratic hurdles. ( We knew Clive from UCSB, where he had been a post-graduate student in English.  Clive, originally from South Africa, had met Harri when the latter was on a course in California.) Within a relatively short time after Capt. Harri’s intervention,  Bernard was granted Permanent Residence, another obstacle overcome. 

South Africa has an unenviable reputation for it crime rate, and, as if to confirm the stereotype, we had two burglaries, neither, fortunately,, involving any violence. These were treated by us as wake-up calls, and with the guidance of our landlords, we improved the security. We had not heard nor seen the burglars,  but on the second occasion they had left our carving knives outside our bed-room, presumably for use in case we woke up ; Bernard responded calmly, despite  knowing how vulnerable he would have been, had he woken. 

David on the balcony at Tanrhocaldor House, Fish Hoek 14th March, 2004


Even before we arrived in the Cape, we had asked about buying a car, specifying the sort we were looking for – used, low mileage,  good condition, air conditioning, manual drive, medium size, boot capacious enough for Bernard’s wheel-chair ; Elspeth’s nephew conveniently managed a Volkswagen agency, so within a very short time we had bought a VW Jetta, which we upgraded every 18 months. Ten days after arrival, we set of on our first safari, to see  one of the Western Cape’s most spectacular sights, the spring wild flowers in Namaqualand, near the Namibian border. Based in Kamieskroon, we had three days of rewarding flower viewing, with Bernard taking some stunning photographs with his new Canon camera. He also put his newly acquired mobile library of books on the flora of the Cape, to good use, busily identifying each new wild-flower.. 

Then we headed for  Hantam Karoo, where the higher elevation supported different species of wild-flowers.. As Bernard wrote in one of his  “Letters for Family and Friends”,   “….our planned trip northward was cut  short by a major storm that gave a rime of unseasonably late snowfall on the crests of the Cedarberg, and other high spots. It was perishingly cold, and few South Africa homes are adequately heated. The weather forecast was gloomy, so we drove straight back home”. (Even then, Bernard had a low tolerance of cold, a contrast to his younger days, when we first met, and he seemed impervious to cold. Then, it was he who warmed me: Now, the situation was reversed, and in bed  he snuggled up to me to get warm.) 

Bernard wrote that  “ we could not have timed our return better, for we were awoken during our first night home by a pod of Southern Right Whales, frisking, ‘blowing’ and snorting in the bay….in the morning we were treated to  a prolonged exhibition of fin-flapping, tail–slapping, roll-overs and tail stands with the front half of the body held vertically above the rolling breakers… we could not be certain, but we think that there were at least five whales.” 

We made several other wildflower excursions, every spring, although in the latter years we would make day trips to Darling or Langebaan,  on the West Coast, both easily accessible, and rewarding. 

Shortly after we arrived, the area around Fish Hoek  witnessed disastrous fires, fortunately causing no loss of life, but doing enormous damage to property – and to the vegetation . Bernard became an enthusiastic supporter of planting more indigenous species, and removing the  “aliens” – alien spp. such as pine, eucalyptus, and especially, the imported and ubiquitous Australian “Port Jackson”. These alien spp. not only use up the groundwater, but are also very detrimental to the indigenous fynbos, which occurs only in the Western Cape, and is recognised as  one of the world’s main botanical families. 

In November, 2000, we drove the five kms to Silvermine Conservation Reserve, in the hills behind us, having heard that new flowers had sprung up. At that time, Bernard could still walk, with difficulty and with the help of his walking frame, and he managed to walk the 200m or so to  a small dam ( the cerulean and white water-lilies in which  featured,  as “African Giverny”,  in our annual Christmas card )  ”At the dam, Disa orchids were there in abundance : we found several species nodding at each other with exuberance at their release to complete their life cycle. The fire that destroyed the pines has been a blessing in disguise for the  indigenous annuals and biennials, some of which had been dormant for a quarter of a century”. 

Each March the Cape Argus Cycle Race takes place, the gruelling 108 kms route coming past our home. David Moir and his sons usually took part in the race, so we waited outside to cheer them on, Bernard holding a placard; 


Many cyclists  waved and greeted Bernard, a genial figure in his Indiana University cap, smiling from his wheelchair 

Shortly after our arrival, David and Elspeth Jack bought a farm, “Appelsdrift”, in the Overberg, which soon became our favourite destination, both because of the hospitality of the Jacks, and also for its grand scenery and tranquility.  Driving out of Cape Town , on the National road N2, you suddenly see, at Houw Hoek, one of the great vistas of Africa ; it must have really seemed like “The Promised Land”, or “Canaan”, to the early settlers, said Bernard.(the word “Houw” is  said to come from the Dutch shout of “Hou!” – Stop! – which wagon leaders cried to their oxen as they began the descent. This little nugget of informtion comes from one of Bernard’s many reference books, one on “Place names in the Western Cape”.). As you descend to Bot Rivier, more and more of the landscape opens, up, fringed by the Riviersonderend Mountains in the background. We never ceased to be delighted by the views, beautiful at any season. When the Jacks bought “Appelsdrift”, the homestead was  a broken-down small farm house, which David, an Architect, soon transformed into a sprawling, and comfortable dwelling, their son, Bruce, immediately started growing vines, for his Flagstone winery

near Knysna 2001


In our travels, we were not only interested in vegetation. During our stay in Kenya, we had become, as I have mentioned, enthusiastic birders, and we both enjoyed familiarising ourselves with the local birds.  In August 2001, one month   before  Bernard’s first  heart attack, we spent a week at Knysna, along the Garden Route. . “An Information Bureau member annotated our visitor’s map to indicate the best bird-watching locations, especially  those accessible  an  elderly wheel-chair using ‘twitcher ‘. She recommended ‘The Garden of Eden’, east of Knysna, in a pocket of coastal closed-canopy indigenous forest,  which included a boardwalk designed for physically handicapped visitors. This was one of the few remaining patches  of indigenous forest left, after the extensive extraction of valuable timber in the nineteenth century…I saw, perched on a branch, a rather dumpy, immobile bird, which is described thus in the Twitcher’s Bible :’ NARINA TROGON (Apoloderma narina) 30 – 34 cm. Although brightly coloured, this furtive species is difficult to see, as it normally sits with its back to the observer, well camouflaged by is leafy, green surroundings. Habitat: riverine and evergreen forests of dense, broad-leafed woodland. A locally common resident, but, by its usual immobility, often overlooked’. THIS WAS OUR FIRST AVIAN COUP IN THE CAPE!” Bernard had once seen a trogon in Kenya, but this was my first sighting, and we were both so excited. 

On this same trip, we  decided to see more of the Overberg, and  we visited Greyton, a charming small town near Caledon.

“On our way, we saw a truly amazing sight. Within yards of the road, on a gently rising slope, we encountered a whole gathering, thirty-eight in all, of Blue Cranes, the South African National Bird, now endangered. We had seen Blue Cranes before, singly or in pairs, gleaning in cereal , usually at some distance from us. Their tall, sleek, graceful outlines and distinctive colouring are instantly identifiable. 

 “Out of the car, I could hear a muffled, deep-note ‘Humming’, barely on the threshold of audibility, and I realised that many of he slightly taller and slimmer birds were impatient males. With their beaks slightly raised they moved forward and backward with tiny paces, rapidly beating the ground. The slightly dumpier and somewhat paler females stood their ground. It was an unforgettable sight” (and this, too, became a Christmas card hotograph – “ A cotillion of Blue Cranes, Overberg ”). We were thrilled to have had two such rewarding bird-watching experiences. 


Both Bernard and I loved visiting the Karoo, with its great open spaces, its distant horizons, and the picturesque small towns along the way. We made one major trip to the new Kgaligadi Trans-frontier National Park, on the border with Botswana, and to Augrabies National Park. Both parks were rewarding, especially in terms of the birds and the geology, but Bernard often remarked that we had been spoiled, having visited many Kenyan parks in the 1970’s, when wildlife was much more abundant, and varied. However, Bernard managed to take some good photographs, and to find some new plants. He thoroughly enjoyed the trip, as these extracts from his report show. 

“Our recent trip northward to the Kalahari fringe was the realisation of along-held goal for me. I first became interested in the interior of Africa while an undergraduate at Manchester University….Both .Alfred Wegener and Alexander Du Toit had seriously challenged the standard geological and geo-morphological theories and explanations. Their basic premise was that the Kalahari areas of the Northern Cape and Botswana, as well as the Karoos of the Cape, display irrefutable evidence of a major catastrophic event in earth history . They suggest that the evidence is there in the unique physical features in the landscape. 

“Water carved holes in boulders are a hallmark of fluvial erosion, and cannot be explained by occasional deluges of the recent rainfall regime….Kalahari plateaux surfaces rose suddenly. Many areas  comprise igneous rock (chiefly basalt) formed in a series of sills from west to east…characteristic of ocean floor spreading, as plate tectonic investigations in the South Atlantic confirm.” 

Intrigued by searching for corroborative evidence for this controversial thesis, Bernard was constantly and eagerly scanning the vast Karoo landscapes, pointing out features, which, he claimed, supported the cataclysmic theory. I was unable to judge the merits of the theory, but Bernard’s obsession certainly enlivened the journey, and caused me to be more aware of the fantastic geological formations en route.. Travelling with Bernard was never dull. Bernard was intrigued by the dramatic rock formations, especially in the mountain passes . Knowing of this interest, and to encourage further exploration, Valerie and Martin West gave Graham Ross’s book on “The romance of Cape Mountain Passes”  to Bernard : we were able to visit many of the passes before Bernard’s death. Bernard loved exploring new places, and in a lovely tribute Mary Lee, whom we knew at UC Santa Barbara, wrote that “Bernard will now be exploring the geography of heaven”. I told friends that Bernard  would  surely be checking to see that everything was in its proper place. 

Bernard was also fascinated by the huge nests built by weaver birds on disused telephone posts. 

“ hundreds of kilometres of disconnected telecommunication installations parallel the roadside. The columnar relics are joy to countless colonies of sociable weaver-birds, whose gigantic tenement agglomerations (avian ‘sectional title?’) are skilfully attached. They are enormous bulges, like monstrous toffee-apples on sticks. Pale Chanting Goshawks are the sociable weavers’ main predators, ever alert, easily identified by their brilliant yellow featherless legs, like avian Malvolios.” 

We made several trips to the Little Karoo, usually driving along  our favourite road, Route 62, a broad well maintained highway, with very little traffic. We enjoyed stopping, either for coffee or for an overnight stay, at the charming small towns of Montagu, Barrydale, Ladismith, Calitzdorp,  and the larger ostrich centre town of Oudtshoorn.  From Oudtshoorn, we made a spectacular drive. east to Meiringspoort, whose formation s were a source of much wonder and speculation from Bernard; then to Prince Albert, and down the most dramatic of all mountain passes, the Swartberg Pass, and along a little travelled gravel road to Calitzdorp. This route made us think of what South Africa must have been like in the 19th century, it seemed a forgotten part of the  landscape, full of ghosts. 

While based in Graaff-Reinet, we visited the fabulous Owl House at Nieu Bethesda, where the late Helen Martens, and her assistant, Koos Malgas, had created her  fantastic sculpture collection. We had read Eve Palmer’s evocative book, “The Plains of Camdeboo”, and had corresponded with the author, We spent a night at “Cranemere”, which had been Eve Palmer’s home, now in the possession of her nephew. Alex and Marianne Palmer showed us the places, especially the impressive dam, which Eve Palmer had written about. Driving along the road, all you see  is emptiness, apparently; but this is an illusion , for two kms off the road is “Cranemere”, a lovely , gracious country home surrounded by large vegetable and flower gardens. Bernard loved our visit to this oasis, and had as usual, many  sensible questions, which pleased our hosts.

In August, 2001, we drove to Durban,  choosing a scenic route and skirting Lesotho, in what was both sociologically and scenically a wonderful journey.. There was snow on the mountains, and the nights  were cold, so that Bernard was glad of our electric blanket .Durban is my home town, but I have grown away from it; we both were glad to see family and friends, but were pleased that we had settled in the Cape rather than in Natal. On our circuitous route, we passed the Great Fish River Irrigation project, in the  Eastern Cape.  Having known Bernard for so many years, I was not surprised to find that he knew a great deal about this project, from his classes at Stretford Grammar School, sixty years ago : I, despite having taken geography at Durban High School, knew virtually nothing about  what was one of South Africa’s major irrigation project. The difference reflects both  the quality of education, and also Bernard’s phenomenal memory.
Petermaritzburg Botanical Gardens, April 2001

David's 80th Birthday, Constantia May 2003
One of our trips was different  and memorable : to celebrate Bernard’s 74th birthday, May 13, 2000, I hired a helicopter, inviting Eileen and Chris to join us for a flight over the Cape Peninsula. Starting at the Waterfront, we flew down the Atlantic Coast to Cape Point, then back along False Bay, circling our home. It was a day of unusual clarity, our young pilot telling us that he had seldom seen such a clear day; we could see Langebaan (100 kms.) to the north and Cape Agulhas (180 kms.) to the east . Bernard, sitting next to the pilot in the front, took several rolls of film, later meticulously putting the best photographs in albums, all neatly  labelled in detail. That was the first time I had properly grasped the complex topography of the Cape Peninsula. 


We soon came to appreciate the variety and high quality of much that was on offer in Cape Town. Angelo Gobbato, Professor of Opera at the University of Cape Town,  had  established a first rate opera school, and had encouraged African and coloured singers, sometimes recruiting singers from the township  church choirs. At Artscape, the main theatre, and at other venues, staff were unfailingly helpful in giving us seats suitable for Bernard’s wheel-chair. In the summer months, we went to open-air opera at Spier and at Oude Libertas, both located near Stellenbosch, seeing some memorable and exciting performances. We often drove with Elspeth and David Jack, because we neither of liked to drive at night. Artscape also offered  excellent symphony concerts,  and we were delighted to discover the Lindbergh Arts Centre in Muizenberg, a ten minute drive from Fish Hoek . The Lindbergh presents a morning and an evening concert each month, mostly singers or chamber musicians, often young artists. 

Another attractive arts feature is the annual Shakespeare play, produced in the open-air at Maynardville Park.Bernard thoroughly enjoyed these outings, with a picnic with friends beforehand, by the lake, The lively productions of “Romeo and Juliet”, “As You Like It” and  were innovative without being “gimmicky” and they honoured the text. Even out local theatre, the Masque at Muizenberg,  offered some compelling theatre, Bernard particularly approving of a gripping production of “A Man for all Seasons.”. Some of the Masque productions, all done by amateurs, were dire, but we both adopted the policy that we had to be adventurous – “win some, lose some.” The Theatre on the Bay at Camp’s Bay was initially  attractive to us, but we fond that (a) the productions were often not to our liking, and (b) accessibility for Bernard was limited. Finally, we are better served for movies in Cape Town than we were in London, because the Cine Nouveau  presents outstanding films, including many foreign ones, and is also wheel-chair friendly. 

We continued trying out  new restaurants, concentrating on those in the winelands. We had several criteria :  apart from the usual emphasis on food , service,  wine list and ambience[[, we  chose establishments that had wheel-chair access – we gave up trying to negotiate narrow doorways into small loos, too frustrating.  In addition , we gave preference to restaurants which were making serious attempts at “transformation “ – i.e., that were employing African and coloured staff, and not only in the most menial positions. Finally, Bernard, as the inveterate geographer,  liked to have an expansive view of the landscape. Within our parameters, we found some outstanding restaurants. Durbanville Hills fully met our high standards,  and as a bonus was designed in a bold and imaginative way, architecturally one of the best venues we knew.  This became our favourite location, and it was there that we had our last lunch, two days before Bernard died.


On September 13, 2001 ( not co-incidental, we believed, that this was two days after the harrowing “9/11”) Bernard had his first heart attack, from which he made a fairly good recovery, although his angina pains were more frequent and more severe.. Then on October 29, 2001, Bernard had a stroke, while working at his computer in his study. Then followed a worrying time when Bernard was in a “Frail Care Centre”, which was depressing because most of the patients had some form of dementia.. After a month, Father Bram told me that I must get Bernard home, at once : “That place is no good for Bernard, no good for you.” I was initially apprehensive, whether I could cope at home, but Bram assured me that I would be given the strength to manage, and indeed I was – abundantly. When he came home, we engaged Steina Daller, a nurse who came in every day ( never on Sundays) until the end. She was brilliant – thoroughly reliable, knowing when to coax Bernard, compassionate, professional, she made both our lives much easier. When she came, at 7 a.m., I was able to go for my early morning 50 minute walk, the length of Fish Hoek Beach, essential for my physical and mental well-being. 

Whenever I said “goodbye” before leaving the house, Bernard, to Steina’s amusement, always solemnly admonished me to “take care” – which I did, knowing how much he depended on me: I wanted him to be able to rely on me, fully.. 

I kept telling Bernard that “my task is easy, my burden is light”, when he was concerned about me. It was difficult for Bernard; he is left-handed, and the stroke affected his left side. One of Bernard’s pleasures had been writing his  reports, on trips and events and thoughts; he had  a rich descriptive gift, and a keen sense of humour, with an appreciative circle of friends who looked forward to his writings. After the stroke, he could not  use the computer. We tried a voice activator, but his speech was slightly slurred, and that did not work. I did take dictation a few times, but I could not persuade him to do this regularly.. 

The last two years were terribly frustrating for Bernard, as he was so dependent on others. Despite this handicap, he was remarkably  and consistently cheerful and positive. Once he told me that he felt sad because I did so much for him, while  he could do so little for me. I reminded him that he gave me the greatest gift of all – he surrounded me with love ; it was an exhilarating experience for me to return home  and see his eyes light up, his smile broaden. 

Physio-therapists  helped his recovery,  starting from his time in the frail care centre. first,   Ros helped Bernard to walk again, even if he could manage only a few steps. She also helped him regain more use of his hand, with simple exercises. For nearly a year we went two or three times a week to an indoors , heated  swimming pool, where Leslie and Kerry encouraged Bernard to do increasingly demanding exercises, and to swim. I could have wept when I saw Bernard painfully and slowly  manage to swim  the 10 metre length of the pool, remembering the days when he daily swam one mile, in half an hour. Bernard did all he could to help himself, all the physio-therapists remarked that he was joy to work with, because of his resolve.. In his last year, Bernard found the aqua- therapy too tiring, so we went twice a week to Clovelly ( next to Fish Hoek), where Leslie put Bernard through a series of exercises to strengthen his left limbs. When Bernard was feeling weak, Leslie came to the house. ; Leslie was such a good-humoured  and lively young man , his visits were a tonic for Bernard. We reminded ourselves how well we had done in the Cape, with all the excellent medical help we received. 

TRAVEL, etc.

We determined to continue, albeit on a smaller scale, our trips out. Bernard had long hoped to visit Etosha National Park, in northern Namibia. At first we considered driving, but settled, more realistically, on flying to Windhoek, then renting a car for the last 250 kms. The air journey was a challenge, but the cabin crew were most helpful . We stayed  at a B & B in Windhoek, chosen because it advertised as being suitable for disabled visitors. . Bernard was overwhelmed because the owner asked him what additions to our “wheel-chair friendly room” he would recommend : Bernard told her about  a few  improvements suggestions, and was amazed to find , . when we returned a week later, that all his suggestions were in place.. Would that all accommodation providers were so thoughtful!  Bernard – and I, too – found Etosha a little disappointing – again, we had such vivid and rich memories of the Kenyan Parks, in the 1970’s., when the mammals –and the birds, were so much more abundant and more varied. Even the vegetation  had been more interesting. Still,  our trip was a useful exercise in confidence  -building, showing us what we could achieve. 

On one of our journeys along Route 62, in the Little Karoo , we stopped for the night at Ladismith. When Bernard had severe chest pains at 10 p.m. on a Sunday evening, I asked our landlady for help, and within ten minutes the young doctor arrived, followed by an ambulance to take Bernard to hospital, where had the usual tests. It was a “near” heart attack; we were both impressed by the speed and quality of the medical attention that Bernard received in this remote small town. 

lambert's Bay, February 2003

We spent a few days in the Cedarberg, based in Clanwilliam, from where we visited the remote mission village of Wupperthal, navigating  tortuous mountain roads. Bernard said that he was fully compensated by the remarkable geological structures along the way. From Clanwilliam we drove west to Lambert’s bay, to see and photograph the huge colony of Cape Gannets. Fortunately, Bernard could still manage to take photographs, taking our annual Christmas card photo each year. 

“Appelsdrift’ remained a frequent destination, the Jacks even installing  ramps so that Bernard had easy access to all  the rooms; they also made the shower in “our” room accessible.  This Overberg farm was such a special place for Bernard, that I was delighted when I was invited  to plant a tree ( an indigenous African olive) for Bernard, in the rural “Garden of Remembrance”. From “Appelsdrift” it is an easy drive to the coastal village of Arniston, where we could indulge in the lively company of Ron and Davina Kirby. Davina liked to persuade Bernard to recite  the tale of “Albert and the Lion”, which he did in perfect Lancashire dialect, from memory, rivalling, we thought, Stanley Holloway. Even a few months before he died, Bernard managed this feat, to high acclaim. Once, when we were driving to “Solutions” (our wheel-chair agency), I told Bernard that we would be turning into  Milton Street. Not sure if he had heard me – Bernard did have a hearing problem – I said, “you know, as in John Milton”. Whereupon Bernard recited “On His Blindness “, perfectly,

“When I consider how my light is spent……….
  ……………………God does not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best……
They also serve who only stand and waite.”

It was indescribably poignant Bernard then told me the name of his fourth form English master, c 1941, who had got Bernard to memorise this – and many other poems 

Bernard liked to go out every day, unless he was particularly  sore, or tired.  A little outing would suffice – coffee ( “Mint-choc Caffe Latte” ) at Mugg and Bean, or at the Simonstown Jubilee Square; browsing at Excusive books, or at the CD Wherehouse; a drive to Cape Point, or to see the penguins at Boulders Beach. We continued our tradition of wineland lunches, revisiting our favourite places, and discovering new ones. It was always a pleasure for me, taking Bernard out, both because of the good food and wine and scenery, but also because Bernard was so keenly observant of physical and social phenomena, as well as being most  appreciative, forever thanking me profusely. After lunch, for which Bernard always dressed elegantly, he would rest happily on the bed, content to observe the view and drowse until it was time for our sundowners. Bernard was never a serious  imbiber, but he certainly enjoyed his (weak)  brandy and apple juice, or sometimes a Pernod. 

We kept up our Lindbergh concerts, Artscape and Spier operas, movies and plays , choosing, whenever possible, matinee performances to avoid night driving and a late night. We much enjoyed the visits of several friends –  Agnes Klingshrn and Therese Neuer-Miebach, from Germany; John and Carol Nellis, and Garry and Connie Thomas from the U,S.A. Both my sister-in-laws. Margaret Thurso from Scotland, and Elizabeth Brokensha from Zimbabwe, came, the latter every year for a short visit. We accommodated them in a B&B, or a self-contained flat near us, an arrangement which suited us all. Bernard enjoyed the company and the stimulation of our guests.

In his last period, Bernard read little. He could not be bothered with newspapers or the Guardian Weekly, or Newsweek, perhaps indicating that he had reached a stage of higher consciousness than most of us achieve?  He did, however, eagerly seize the weekly  New Scientist , when it arrived, and read it from cover to cover . He no longer did cross-words, and he  read chapters  rather than whole books, All his was perfectly understandable and acceptable behaviour, after his disabling stroke.. Sometimes Bernard would lie on the bed, resting, not reading; when I asked if he was :alright:, he would smile and say “just thinking, and remembering…..I am quite alright.” 

Chris invited us, as she had each year, to join them for Christmas Day lunch. I was not sure if Bernard could manage this, as he was noticeably weakening, but Bernard was adamant, “the children will be disappointed” and – with a great effort of will –he went,  thoroughly enjoying  the lunch and the wine and the company. Yes, he was exhausted when we came home, we all admired his courage and determination. Bernard was battling on three fronts – his cardiac problems, the effects of his stroke, plus the prostate cancer, which had not responded to any therapy.

During the last weeks, Bernard and I talked about his death. At his wish, we had bought two plots for our ashes in our church’s “Garden of Remembrance”. Bernard several times told me that he was not afraid of death, then  he would add, with tears, ‘but I don’t want to leave you”. In the evenings, Bernard was usually in bed, asleep, by 8 p.m. I would read or potter until about 10 p.m.; when I joined Bernard he would rouse and say “here is my little blue-eyed boy”, purr like a cat, cuddle me and fall asleep. I sometimes thought that that was a silly thing to say, to a little old man, but after he left me, I would have given anything to hear him say those sweet  words again. 


The view Bernard loved over the bay in Fish Hoek seen from his bed...


Saturday  January 19.

Bernard was in  pain, from the prostate cancer, and our G.P. Dr Geoff Duncan, prescribed morphine, taken orally every four hours. 
I went to Mass and brought Communion for Bernard, who  felt well enough to go out to lunch, to celebrate our 49 & ½ years together; we both knew that it was unlikely that he  would be here on July 17, 2004,  for our 50th..  We had kreef (crayfish) at the Victoria & Alfred Hotel at the Waterfront.

Although Bernard’s spirit was high, his legs were weak, and I had to ask a security guard ( fortunately they are ubiquitous) to help me get him in and out of the Audi. 

Tuesday  January 20

Bernard had his last (of five) radio-therapy treatments, and saw Dr.David Eedes, our  oncologist, who was concerned about Bernard’s weakness. 

Wednesday  January 21

Realising that time was short, we decided on another winelands lunch, and  drove to  Bernard’s favourite venue, Durbanville Hills Winery, where we had an excellent lunch,  and a bottle of Biesjes Craal Sauvignon Blanc,(****+) while looking at Table Mountain from the north. 
Our caring parish priest, Fr. Bram, came to see Bernard at 5 p.m., we had a sundowner together. 
Bernard and I thought that we would see the movie Peter Pan  the next day.

Thursday  January 22

Bernard had severe chest pains,  so Dr Duncan came at 7 a.m., diagnosing another heart attack  and gave  a morphine injection; he  told me that I “should be prepared for anything, at any time”. Because we had made  Living Wills, Dr D ( who visited three more times in the next 24 hours) did not send Bernard to hospital, knowing that we both wished him  to  stay at home, with me,  until the end.

When I asked Bernard at noon if he would like a Pernod ( his favourite tipple), he smiled weakly and said “Silly question” – although he did not finish his drink. Our nurse, Steina,  who had been with us all day, stayed all night, so that I would not be alone. She arranged for another nurse to be there for the next evening.

Friday  January 23

Bernard’s niece, Christine, came at 9 a.m., and was  a great support  With all the morphine, Bernard was drowsy, but lucid at intervals. When I knelt by his bed, he held my hand, and said  “Oh, I do love you so much”. 
As his breathing was so laboured, I called our Home Nursing Services at 11 a.m. , and Sister Martin came immediately. She made Bernard comfortable, stayed a little while, then, as she was packing her medical bag, Bernard roused and said, clearly “Goodbye Sister…good-bye”. As he was looking at us all, we are sure that this farewell  was meant for the three of us.. Then Bernard turned on his side, and a minute later Sister M felt his pulse and said, “He’s gone”. 

Tuesday  January 27

Fr.Bram conducted a moving funeral service, at 10 a.m., followed by a “celebration” of Bernard’s life; I had thought of offering tea, but David Jack,  correctly pointing out  that Bernard would prefer us to drink wine to remember him, provided good Flagstone wine : Bernard had a good send-off. Bernard’s ashes have been placed in the Church Garden of Remembrance , after another good calming service.

The memorial to Bernard in the garden of the Catholic Church in Simonstown

Bernard's Memorial Card January 2004

Please visit and sign the guestbookGUESTBOOK

You may also read some of the many tributes that I received after Bernard's death.

The tributes page
The Tributes Page

1926 - 1944 | 1944 - 1952 | 1952 - 1959 | 1959 - 1969 | 1969 - 1989 | 1989 - 1999 | 1999 - 2004