(16th July - 30th October, 2009)



September 12th - October 30th - New Zealand & Australia::


  October 5 - 23






Oct 5/6/7. Left Los Angeles on a Qantas flight at midnight, reaching Auckland in 12 & 1/2 hours, arriving (because of the International Date Line) morning of Oct 7. I was met by Lib Steward, a painter, who was a good friend in Fish Hoek. Lib and her husband John migrated four years ago, because their son and daughter and their families live in Auckland. They showed me much of the North Shore, where they live. Many South Africans live in Auckland. I even saw a shop, "South African Kaffee", which stocked goods that South Africans crave - Mrs. Ball's chutneys, biltong, Rooibos tea....and we had good talks, comparing life in NZ and in S.A. An early night, after sampling some excellent NZ wines.

Oct 8. Lib and I had an early walk, many hills and valleys, good exercise, and good views of patches of forest. I was glad to see many Pahutakawa trees (Metrosideros excelsa - New Zealand Christmas tree), a common sight in Fish Hoek. Lib is still very active painting and teaching, and producing large colourful paintings, very arresting. I loved going to sleep in a room with her work on the walls.

pahutakawa tree

I was collected by Eric and Jo Hanley, who had driven (660 kms) from Wellington, to meet me. (I was overwhelmed when they suggested this). We drove to Rotorua, spending the night at their favourite Oak Tree Cottage, one of the most comfortable B&Bs I know, with magnificent views over the lake. After seeing the well-curated museum, we went that evening to a Maori cultural event, which was well done, ending with a traditional dinner. Although it was certainly "touristy", 150 tourists being entertained, it did convey a good sense of aspects of Maori culture.

Oct 9. There had been a severe snow storm in this area a few days earlier, with nearly 700 cars being stranded, and we were not sure whether we could get through. On my morning walk, I was glad to see that the skies were fairly clear, and fortunately, the roads were open, After a look around Napier, "the Art Deco City" I was deposited in Havelock North with Pete and Bev Harrison. Pete is the younger son of my sister-in-law Lizzie; they and their children (Andrew, 20, Amy and Tom, twins, 17) migrated from Zimbabwe seven years ago. Eric and Jo kindly allowed me to spend two days with Pete and Bev, while they went their separate way.

Oct 10. I have been so lucky in often having some-one to accompany me on my morning walks; Bev showed me her neighbourhood, including the small town of Havelock North, while it was still fine. Later, we dodged rain showers while we had a closer look at the Art Deco buildings in Napier. Pete drove us to see several vineyards in the extensive Hawkes Bay region.

Napier - Art Deco Architecture

Havelock North, Hawkes Bay region: While walking around, it was distinctly chilly, and Pete thoughtfully bought me a pair of woollen gloves, which I wore, gratefully nearly every day during my stay in Aotearoa. (Eric, guessing that I would be unprepared for the cold weather, kindly lent me a warm jacket, which I kept for the duration of my stay; without this covering, I would have suffered.)

I had commented that, in contrast to the Cape, there seemed to be little difference in the size and quality of houses, so Pete and Bev drove me to see what they considered the worst and the best groups of houses.. Bridge Park was at the low end of the scale: the homes were modest but adequate (they would have been among the best in most African townships) but they were not well maintained. Most of the inhabitants appeared to be Islanders, or Maoris. At the top end, Temata Peak, grand houses had sweeping views and extensive grounds – but still nothing like the disparity I am used to in South Africa.

Bev showed me Lindisfarne, a boys’ school where she is the librarian; and she also works with “gifted boys”, who need challenging tasks to prevent them from being bored with the standard school routines. The school, partly government funded, caters for 480 boys, from age 11, half of them boarders, and ranks among the best schools in the country. I was most impressed by the facilities.

In the evening Pete took us all to Craggy Range Winery for another splendid dinner – I had the signature dish, ”crayfish and abalone with asparagus” with a fine local wine – a Cornerstone, Cab.Sauv. + merlot + malbec. We also shared a bottle of Pinot Noir, sourced from Otago in the South Island.

And we finished our meal with a good Noble Harvest; Bernard and I both enjoyed dessert wines, and this was superior. Fortunately seventeen year-old Tom, who had been drinking coca-cola, drove us home. (NOTE. Throughout the rest of my stay in NZ, I enjoyed excellent meals and great wines, but I shall try to exercise restraint , not identifying every item of every meal, not wishing to become – as my nephew Fige would call me – “Mr. Menu”. However, one final culinary comment : the seafood – green-lipped mussels, oysters, and, especially, scallops – was outstanding, and the wines, especially Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, delectable – and better, I thought, than when I had drank this wine outside NZ).

Oct 11, Sunday. On my morning walk around the block (45 minutes) I admired the “rhodos” in Pete and Bev’s garden, and in many other gardens too. Years ago, on my visits to Bulawayo, I had accompanied Bev to mass, as I did this day, to the local Our Lady of Lourdes church.

I was re-united with Eric and Jo, who collected me to take me to lunch at Mission Estate Winery, “New Zealand’s oldest winery” (estab.1851), for a superb lunch on the sunny terrace., looking out at the distant snow-clad Ruahiri range. Eric then drove us through a succession of small towns, much like Karoo towns, passing the dramatic Manawatu Gorge, to reach their home in Waikanae in the early evening.. I was pleased to learn that Eric is one of the few of my friends who still makes (very well) cocktails – we had Margaritas. We had oysters and scallops at Drift, a restaurant on the coast, where I was intrigued by the name of our good Syrah – Squawking Magpie, The Chatterer, made at Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay.

Waikanae is a pleasant coastal town, (60 kms north of Wellington), where Eric and Jo have a roomy, comfortable home, with a large garden, which overlooks the grounds of a retirement home – so it is like a nature reserve. I saw my first Tui, a common and noisy bird. with its distinctive white ruff.

Oct 12 -13 My morning walk took me through suburban streets, with colourful flowering cherry trees, and well-kept gardens. At breakfast I was introduced to golden kiwi fruit, which I much preferred to the usual variety. Eric and Jo drove me around the locality, showing me mountains and coasts, and taking me out to excellent restaurants. .I saw many more of the colourful Pohutakawa trees.

Although I am not really “into” cars, I was fascinated by Southward Motors, a huge collection of vintage cars – the names brought back boyhood memories : Lagonda – driving to yacht races with Graham Sefton - Humber, Nash, Essex, Buick, Hudson, Willys, DKW – my dad had owned one of each of these last two - Riley, Studebaker, Armstrong-Siddeley – the Governor of Tanganyika, Sir Edward Twining, used this car - Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Hillman Minx (Bernard had one in Tanga); Standard (I drove a Standard Vanguard van in Tanganyika). As a boy I could easily identify all cars on the road, and seeing these models brought back my intense interest, then, in cars. I also appreciated the early classic cars, including a Bugatti, and a Hispano Suiza.

Then there were the motor-cycles – again the names revived old memories – Royal Enfield, BSA, AJS, Indian, Matchless, Rudge, Norton, Triumph. The exhibition had a display of Burt Moore and his Indian motor-cycle, which he patiently re-assembled to race – and win – at Bonneville Flats, in Utah, in the 1930s. Later that evening, Eric showed a video, The World’s Fastest Indian, (with Anthony Hopkins) of this remarkable achievement .

Oct 14-17 Wellington. Eric and Jo drove me, on a rainy day, to Wellington, where we had lunch at a good downtown restaurant, Pravda, with their daughter Abigail, now the mother of two, whom I had last seen when she was a teen-ager, in Edinburgh. Despite the rain, we managed to see Katherine Mansfield’s home.; as a student, I had read nearly everything that KM (1888-1923) wrote, and her home was a pleasure to see, We also visited the City Gallery, to see an exhibition by the Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama – of whom I had not heard, though now I realise that she ranks with Andy Warhol among contemporary artists. Some of the installations were certainly stunning, others I found puzzling.

I was dropped in the suburb of Island Bay, at my next hosts, Mikey Sansom and Cathy O’Callaghan, and their children Scarlett (13), Keira (11) and Zak (9). I had met Mikey through Cathy’s mother, who was a member of our parish in Sherborne. Mike, originally from NZ, was then running an NGO, African Initiatives, working in Ghana and Tanzania.. The family moved to NZ a year ag0, and Mikey now works for New Zealand Aid, mainly in Papua-New Guinea, not an easy assignment. Cath is a nurse, working at the local hospital.

Mikey cooked our meal that evening – vegetarian fare, very tasty; in all my NZ homes, the men – John in Auckland, Peter in Havelock North (a spicy Thai Tom Yum soup), Eric in Waikanae and now Mikey – cooked at least some of the meals.

Mike & Cath’s home is near the sea, so I was able to get a good walk along the coast, opposite the eponymous Island, of Island Bay. One day I accompanied Mkey shopping, being fascinated by Moshim’s Grocery Store, which had quite the widest range of Indian spices I have vet seen, there must have been over 200, all neatly in their little accessible boxes. We passed the South African shop, which stocks items essential for the expat South Africans, of whom there are many. Stopping for coffee in the bohemian suburb of Newton, at the Paris café (run by Frenchmen) I learnt to ask for a “flat white”.

Mikey took the Friday off from work, so he could drive us to the Wairarapa region, just over one hour north of Wellington, driving on winding mountain roads, with dramatic gorges. Noticing several signs for “Lifestyle plots” I asked Mikey what these were, and I am still not sure. .Arriving at Martinborough, the rain had stopped so we hired bicycles for our wine-tasting – a marvellous experience, I was a little wobbly at first, but after our fourth winery, I was cycling like a pro. The ground was level, the vineyards not too far apart, it was a lovely afternoon, with a break in Martinborough. for assorted breads, cheeses and olives – and the obligatory glass of wine .We enjoyed the wines, especially some fine Pinot Noirs (Ata Rangi and Tir Hawa). EST, a local restaurant, proved to be surprisingly good, we had a pleasant leisurely evening. We spent the night in Martinborough, at the comfortable Coronation B & B.

Rain fell heavily on the Saturday, so we abandoned thoughts of driving to Mt. Bruce Wildlife Reserve, and returned home. Keira and Zak made delicious pancakes for a late breakfast – with golden Syrup, chocolate, cinnamon, lemon juice. The rain had cleared enough for us to go to the fairly new and most impressive Te Papa Museum, with wonderful exhibits (many interactive). I liked especially those dealing with the Maoris and Islanders. .

Seeing advertisements for Tchaikovsky’s Opera, Eugene Onegin, showing that evening, I telephoned the St.James theatre, but was told that all seats were sold. At Mikey’s suggestion, we drove to the theatre; two tickets had just been returned, so I was able to buy one. I went by bus (20 minutes) back to town, and in the theatre ( 1920s, a great period building) got into conversation with the woman seated next to me, in the other returned seat. She had spent 20 years teaching in Harare, another coincidence. If I say that the opera was quite as good as Cape Town Opera, I mean that as a compliment. Of the principals, Tananya was a Kiwi, Lensky a Russian, and Onegin came from Sussex; more important, all three sang beautifully.

When the opera ended I took – at Cath’s suggestion, because buses were infrequent at this hour - a taxi home. I asked the (brown skinned) driver where he came from, and he said “I am from Kenya” Pause, he probably thought that I did not know where Kenya was. “That is in Africa”. . I was able to say, in Swahili, “Yes, I know, I lived in Kenya for two years”. He was delighted, as was I , being able to try out my rusty Swahili. He was actually an Oromo from Ethiopia, had lived in Nairobi for six years, then he had been accepted as a refugee in NZ. (“a good country, peaceful”.) I guess that as a member of an oppressed minority in Ethiopia, he appreciated the peacefulness. Tipping is not customary in NZ, but when he dropped me I had to give him a generous tip, saying : Haya, Bwana, umekutana kwa bahati, sasa ni bahati njema yako..Nenda kwa Mungu. (“So, we met by chance, now it is your good fortune, God be with you.”) That conversation rounded off a marvellous evening., and It also reinforced my wish to travel to Arusha, in Tanzania, in 2010, to spend some time on safari with Mikey’s friend Daudi. Daudi is the son of American missionaries, born in Tanzania, who runs a travel business and is involved in conservation and human rights.

Oct 18, Sunday. Oct 18, Sunday. Wellington and South Island. Mikey drove me early (7 a.m.) to the ferry terminal, to board the ferry Kaitaki, which has accommodation for 1,600 passengers – it was a quarter full. Mikey had booked me (NZ$90) in the “Kaitaki Plus” section, rather like an airport Business Class Lounge, with complimentary breakfast, newspapers and comfortable seats – even with computer access. I enjoyed a cooked breakfast, but found no marmalade, only Vegemite, not the same thing. A strong southerly wind blew, but our ferry (22,000 tons) was steady, and we were soon in the calm Marlborough sound. After a 3 & ½ hour crossing, we landed at Picton, in the north of the South Island, where I had time for a flat white and a muffin before boarding the train to Christchurch. I made two other train journeys in NZ, all were comfortable, punctual and offered grand scenery. This train (five carriages, each one with 50 seats, not full) followed the coast, a 350 kms journey, taking 4 or 5 hours, passing : Some of NZ’s 40 million sheep, (reduced from 90 million not too long ago); cattle, horses, one pheasant, Marlborough vineyards, estuaries, rivers, salt pans, little ‘bachs” – pronounced Batch, as in bachelor- small holiday homes); hawthorn in bloom, and long stretches right on the coast, with seals on the rocks. .

Remembering the custom which Bernard and I followed, I bought a small (200 ml) bottle of Lindauer Brut Cuvée, an excellent sparkling wine, murmuring “Happy Landings”. Further on the journey, I had a cream tea, very English.

Oct 18-20 Christchurch. Arriving in Christchurch, I was met by Gaye, Mikey’s mother, whom I had met c 1998, in Bristol, on the occasion of Mikey and Cath’s “Celebration”. Gaye took me to her elegant flat right in the centre of the city, where we tried to catch up with what we each had been doing over the past dozen years. The next day, I walked in Hagley park (460 acres) which is very close to Gaye’s flat. Gaye gave me a grand tour of the city, including:

- the splendid Botanic Gardens, with huge chestnut, eucalyptus, beech, birch as well as Kauri and   other unfamiliar indigenous trees; we admired the tulips, hebe, more “rhodos”, azalea;
- Christ’s College, the prestigious boys’ school which Mikey and his brothers attended, buildings,   boys and masters all very much like an English public school.
- A circular ride on the tourist tram;
- The Cathedral;
- the gondola to the top of the hill behind the city, for a view of Lyttleton harbour.
- A drive to Governor’s Bay,

then Gaye dropped me at the Art Gallery, most of which was too contemporary for my tastes, but they did have some fine paintings by Rita Angus (I had not known her work, I liked it very much).At the gallery I asked for Earl Grey tea, was served real tea, tea leaves in a tea pot – a rare treat these days.

That evening Gaye took me to a neighbourhood gathering (about 18 people) at her neighbour John Boardman, who had taught Mikey at Christ’s College. I found them a congenial, welcoming group ,and I enjoyed our dinner at a Thai restaurant.

Oct 20 TranzAlpine train, flights, Queenstown. This packed, varied day was one of my best in the whole trip. Gaye drove me to the station for this spectacular train ride, which crosses the NZ Alps –as the name of the train states. Covering 230 kms, and taking 4 & ½ hours, we crossed the Canterbury plains, passing Lake Brunner, which I knew from Rita Angus’ fine paintings; then we climbed to Arthur’s Pass (700 m) and on to our destination, Greymouth, with the conductor providing a good commentary on historical, geological and social aspects. Some remarkable engineering was involved, manouvering the train through tunnels (the longest being 5 & ½ miles long). At Greymouth, I was met by Samuel Valor, the friendly pilot of a four-seater aircraft (the other passengers were from Brazil), which took us to Franz Josef. .Here we transferred to a helicopter for a short flight over the mountains, landing on the Franz Josef Glacier. Back to Samuel, who flew us to Queenstown, the large tourist town of “Lord of the Rings” fame; well, scenes were shot in the vicinity, and these locations are a big tourist draw. Not for me.

Mikey had booked me into Coronation Lodge on the edge of the city centre, recommended in Lonely Planet guide.. When I asked the receptionist where to go for dinner , she told me to walk through a little park, and I would find myself in Main Street. For a moment I hesitated, wondering if it would be safe to walk back through the park at night – it was already early evening. Then I remembered that I was in NZ , not SA, and I went ahead fearlessly, finding yet another outstanding restaurant, Tatler’s, where I ordered a well made Margarita cocktail, followed by scallop, with a Central Otago ( the southernmost wine producing area) Pinot Noir.

Oct 21 Queenstown Wellington. Mikey had booked a returning flight in late afternoon, so I had the best part of a day in Queenstown. In the morning I took a three-hour Bus tour , in a double-decker London style bus – with only four other passengers. We stopped at Bungy Bridge, (“the birthplace of the bungy phenomenon”) where I watched a brave (foolhardy?) young woman jump from the bridge. Queenstown advertises itself as the adventure centre, a magnet for extreme sports enthusiasts.

For me, the main attraction on this bus tour was a long stop at Arrowtown, where gold was discovered in 1862. It has an informative museum, and the main street is carefully and authentically restored. All very touristy, but not to be scorned, they have done a good job.

Back for lunch at Eichardt’s, a restaurant overlooking Lake Wakatipu, choppy, with white horses. I enjoyed my whitebait fritters, with a Quartz Reef Otago sparkling wine. I am having to exercise discipline not to tell you even more about the food and wine…hmmmm.

On my flight to Christchurch there was, remarkably, no security at all, we simply walked on to the tarmac and onto the aircraft. After changing planes at Christchurch, I found Mikey waiting for me when we reached Wellington, about 9 p.m

Oct 22 Wellington. Mikey and Cath were both working, the children were at school, so I had a free day. I went by bus to town, for another more extended tour of the first-class Te Papa museum, so much to see, so well arranged, with a bright café for my morning flat white. After asking at several bookshops, I found a short readable history of NZ (by Gordon McLaughlan). I met Mikey for lunch at the Concrete Bar and restaurant – a weird name, and unprepossessing entrance tucked away in an alley, but a superior restaurant – no tourists here, but obviously appreciated by local business men. It was quiet (no music, this becomes increasingly important for me with my hearing loss). Mikey and I shared a light lunch of meze, with a glass of Oyster Bay SB. .

I wanted to take Mikey and Cath to a good dinner that evening: they suggested one of the leading restaurants, Logan Brown, which was fully booked. I was not too disappointed, because it seemed too larney (SA. - pretentious). Instead we crossed the road to a modest Malay restaurant, which we had to ourselves ,and where we had a jolly evening. Returning to the parking garage for the car, I saw a poster, announcing , "CAR STOLEN", which amused me – in Cape Town, so many cars are stolen every day that no-one bothers to put up a poster.

I spent less than three weeks in NZ, and I was not at all “on a fact-finding mission”. Nevertheless, I could not help but reflect, on many occasions, on similarities between the “Coloureds” and Africans in SA, and NZ’s Maori and Islanders . Frequent familiar references appeared in newspapers, and statistics showed depressing correlations in relative scores in health, life expectancy, education, crime, housing - in all economic and social indicators. I read the usual explanations, varying from blaming oppression and discrimination to “culture”. I observed, but reached few conclusions.

Oct 23 The Overlander. Mikey, accompanied by Zak, drove me early to the railway station for my journey in NZ’s premier train, the Overlander, to Auckland. When I was settled in my comfortable forward facing seat, Mikey brought me a Listener (a good weekly magazine) and Zak brought me a cup of coffee: it is impossible to get a bad cup of coffee in NZ, even at railway stations. The 680 kms journey takes 12 hours, the same as my train ride from, Thurso to London, but with no changes. Again we had an interesting commentary, dispensing such nuggets of information as: there being 352 bridges and 14 tunnels.

We rode at first along the west cost, passing Waikanae where I had spent pleasant days with Eric and Jo, and looking out at Kapiti Island Reserve, “the largest land mass that is free of rats and all vermin”. We passed Mt Ruapehu NZ’s highest (2800 m) peak, and stopped at the ski resort of Obakurle, where I had a 20 minute walk, instead of my usual morning walk. This was a lovely journey, with the conductor constantly urging us to look out (either from our seats or from an observation platform) at the viaducts, gorges, great landscapes, forests (both exotic and indigenous) and cattle and sheep – I noticed that the younger animals scampered away from the train, whereas older ones simply gazed at us, in an indolent fashion.

The trains stopped to pick up a passenger at the little settlement of Taihape, the first stop in five years, so about 30 people, and two reporters, were on the platform to greet the train. Such excitement. I bought a G & T for my sundowner, then alighted at Middlemore station, where I shared a taxi to my Ibis airport Hotel. The taxi driver was a recently arrived Indian, from the Punjab, who was pleasant, articulate and also had the looks of an Indian film star. At the hotel, a smiling Maori (?Islander) waitress brought me Scallops and avocado, with a glass of Huntaway Reserve Pinot Gris.


 October 24 – 30
























































Oct 24-26 Sydney. Despite my having made many air journeys, I always get pre-flight jitters, a nameless anxiety, worse now that I travel alone. I put on my reliable travel alarm, but still I woke up at 2, 3, 4 a.m., I was reassured by the comfortable Qantas airport business lounge, where I could get my last flat white, and catch up on my emails, On the flight, I accepted a glass of champagne (Charles Heidsieck) feeling decadent as it was only 10 a.m .My fears dissipated as soon as I saw the happy face of my godson, Adam Lister, waiting for me at Sydney airport . Adam is the second son of my late Cambridge friend Julius Lister. After doing some errands in town, Adam dropped me at the Sydney Opera House, where I had booked, months earlier, for a matinee performance of Benjamin Britten’s Opera Peter Grimes – actually it was in the Opera Theatre, which, I was told, has the better acoustics, It was a superb production, with Susan Grisson (whom Bernard and I had heard at the Wigmore Hall, when she won the 1994 Kathleen Ferrier Prize), singing Ellen. At the two intervals, I came out on to the terrace, overlooking the harbour on a sparkling clear day, with ferries, cruise boasts, power boats and – best of all – scores of yachts ,many of them breezing along with the wind, with their full spinnakers out, reminding me of my yacht racing days in the 1930s. I also saw – a less lovely sight, in my opinion - the huge cruise ship Star Princess, which I had seen in Lyttleton (Christchurch) and also in Wellington. On returning to my seat, I asked an usher for directions to the toilet; he pointed me downstairs, then asked, a little anxiously, “Will you be alright on the stairs?”. This took me aback for a while – I do not think of myself as 86 years old – but I gratefully accepted the usher’s kindly concern for an elderly man.

Before catching the ferry to Manly, I wanted to draw cash from an ATM, but was confused as the sun shone brightly on the screen – and the previous year, in London, I had lost a card because I misread the screen in the sunlight. A young couple helped me: I found everyone so friendly and helpful, both in NZ and Australia.

On the ferry I telephoned - after getting help in operating my (borrowed) cell phone from another couple - Beatrice, Adam’s wife, who met me at the terminal, driving me the short distance to their home in Balgowlah Heights. Bernard and I first came to Balgowlah forty years ago ,when we visited our friends John Burton and Tom Searles (see below). At home I was greeted by the children, Jason (18, busy writing exams), Oliver (16, engaged in a complex computer game), and Isobel, (14,and still – as she was on my last visit in 2006 - much concerned with horses, even owning her own horse now). Beatrice is of Dutch descent, and she lived for long in Curacao, where the whole family will go to a family reunion, over Christmas. . Beatrice, a financial manager, thanked me for coming (which touched me) saying I was an “honorary grandfather”, the children seeing little of my generation. Mikey and Cath had said much the same, which was gratifying. That evening we had a good family dinner, Chinese Takeaway with Cloudy Bay SB.

On the 27th (Sunday) I walked (an hour) to Manly for mass, a pleasant walk on a well made scenic l walkway, looking out at Manly Bay. I passed jacaranda in full bloom, reminding me of Durban, Salisbury (Harare) and Santa Barbara – these lovely mauve blossoms have so often been part of my background. I also saw a few Callistemon, which Bernard called “tree of heaven”, when he brought me sprigs of blossom when I was ill in Tanga hospital in 1954. The ubiquitous myna birds were another reminder of Durban. Beatrice collected me after mass, and at breakfast I was intrigued by the persistent , colourful and noisy lorikeets, waiting for their handout of sunflower seeds. I had an idle day, catching up on family activities since I had last seen them.

In the afternoon, Beatrice and I walked, part of the time in a slight drizzle, through Katangwa Bushland Sanctuary, a small reserve only open on Sundays. I marvelled at the remnants of indigenous forest, but we were troubled by leeches. I thought that I had escaped by tucking my trousers into my socks, but on returning I saw blood on my trouser leg, and removed a disgusting bloated leech. Ugh! The whole family enjoyed a good dinner at the Bluewater Café overlooking Manly Bay.

On the 28th Monday, Adam drove me out in driving rain to Erica, 60 miles north of Manly, to see John Burton (81) and Tom Searles,(93) whom I had known since Rhodesia in the 1950s. They are a little frail, but as bright as ever, and we had lunch at Caroline Bay Art Gallery, (overlooking a marvellous Japanese garden ) drinking a Scarborough Chardonnay from the Hunter Valley.

John told me how in 1911 his grand-father had saved Billie Brokensha from drowning, on the north coast of Natal. Billie later married Ellen Burton, so John and I are distantly related. On my last day with Adam and Beatrice, I had time for a walk along the beach, with Milo, the eager white poodle, who left scarcely one tree unmarked. Adam drove me to the airport, first leaving my big bag at Ibis Airport Hotel. I was able to buy Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones‘s novel highly recommended by Mikey, for flight reading.

Oct 27 – 29, Adelaide. Waiting at airports was made much more comfortable when I could use the business class lounge, then a short flight to Adelaide, where it was hot , 30 C, a welcome change after the damp and chill. Driving in my taxi along Sir Donald Bradman Drive, I recalled how as schoolboys we hero-worshipped Don Bradman, said to be the greatest cricketer ever – and certainly he was more modest, gracious and courteous than many present day sportsmen.. I stayed two days with cousin Peter Brokensha and his wife Elizabeth. Peter gave up a career as director of Caltex Australia to become an anthropologist, spending more than a year with the aborigine group, the Pitjantjara, near Alice Springs. I wondered again why Peter – and others of my Australian cousins – pronounce our name “Brokenshay”, whereas in South Africa we call ourselves “Brokenshaw”; this is surprising, considering that we share an ancestor three generations back,. Since my last visit, three years previously, Elizabeth’s garden was flourishing, full of roses – a great display of crimson, yellow, white and pink varieties. .

Peter took me to the Museum and Art Gallery, where I was impressed not only by some charming C19 and early C20 paintings, outstanding dot pictures by Aborigines and also by the ”Nature and landscape photography” exhibition, stunning pics. Peter walks with some difficulty, so we took taxis, whose drivers came from Serbia, Afghanistan, India and Greece. That evening we had dinner with P & E’s daughter, Sally, who works with the development agency AusAID, Volunteering for International Development . Bernard and I had visited Sally when she lived in France, and she had come to see us in Sherborne; because of our shared interest in International Development, we always have lively talks. Sally was leaving the next day for Bangladesh, and has also been working in Papua-New Guinea.

On my last day, I spent an hour or two at the extensive Botanic Gardens which I had last walked though with Bernard in 1990. I was able to find a bus to the Airport ($3.70 rather than the $25 for my taxi) and I was soon in Sydney, checking into the Ibis Hotel for my last night.


  South Africa





































Oct 30 – 31 Coming home.

I was a little frustrated on the long (14 hours) return daylight flight, when the cabin crew insisted on closing all the blinds, which I found claustrophobic, One steward told me that ”there is nothing to see”, but I had learnt from Bernard that there is always plenty to see – if you look. Other passengers preferred to watch movies, or sleep. At least I could finish two books, Mister Pip, a dramatic story, set in Bougainville, and Jonathan Safron Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, an engaging and poignant novel about a young man (Jonathan?,) who goes to Ukraine in search of Augustina, a woman who saved his grandfather’s life during WW2. The story is told in alternative sections by the local translator Alex, whose grasp of English is erratic, and Jonathan, who was born 1977, and already is so accomplished, with a third novel just published I even saw two movies, The Last king of Scotland (I preferred Giles Foden’s original novel) and Mao’s Last Dancer.

I arrived at Oliver Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, in good time for my connecting flight to Cape Town. It was due to depart at 7 p.m., but was “indefinitely delayed”, so, being fatigued, I chose to spend the night at an airport hotel. British Airways recommended the Birchwood Hotel, a good choice at Rand 800 B & B, but my Mastercard was rejected – this was due to an error by Standard Bank, as I later discovered. My VISA card, I knew, was of no use because I had ran over my limit. What to do? I had only Rand 300 in cash, but I was able (just) to scrape together enough Euros, pounds and US $s, to make up my bill, and I had a good night’s sleep, despite a really heavy downpour. No problems the next morning, arriving home in Fish Hoek by 11 a.m.


I was away 107 days, visiting six countries – Britain, Ireland, France, USA, NZ and Australia. I had stayed in 24 homes, and spent six nights at hotels – Biriatou, (inland from Biarritz, in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques), Inverness, Queenstown, Auckland, Sydney and Johannesburg. I made 27 flights, and also travelled by car, bus, train , ferry and bicycle

This truly was “the trip of a lifetime”, thanks - as I told them - mainly to my friends and family, who welcomed me so warmly and with such consideration, and who:
- met me at the airport, or the railway station, or the ferry terminal;
- provided me with comfortable accommodation;
- wined and dined me magnificently;
( I had so many memorable meals, and good wines, both in homes and at excellent restaurants)
- drove me to many interesting places;
- gave succinct commentaries and explanations of matters local and national;
- allowed me time for an afternoon nap;
- gave me access to computers , and to laundry rooms;
- guided me to Sunday mass;
- And generally looked after me splendidly;
(It can be a distinct advantage, being 86 years old, when one gets treated so royally).
- whose uncredited photos have so illuminated this travelogue.

When I told my friends that this would be my last long safari, they reminded me that I told them that on my 2006 RTW trip. But this time I mean it, I now hope and expect them to come and see me, and indeed I already have four “bookings” for 2010. I do not intend to give up travel, there is lots to see in SA, and 2010 looks like being my year in Africa, with trips planned to Zimbabwe, Ghana and Tanzania.


home sweet home


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to access the personal writings of David Brokensha please click on one of the above links. © DWBrokensha 2005-2009