(For Episode i – Intro – see previous post)
Christmas 1974 was a typical one in the previous (Durban suburban hilltop) residence of the Colonialist family. Presents were exchanged, a great deal was consumed for full traditional Xmas midday dinner at our place, and more at mother-in-law’s home in the evening. Younger Daughter (3) was thrilled with a toy vacuum cleaner which actually sucked, while Elder Daughter (7) was ecstatic over her ‘Doctor’s Kit’ that I had compiled for her. It had a real stethoscope, needle-less hypodermic syringes, bandages, ‘medicines’ and ‘pills’ etc – all in a proper carry-case.
After supper, our Christmas got a little less typical – we started packing madly.
The following morning (Thursday) failed to produce the early start we had hoped for on this commencement of our three-week holiday. By the time we had loaded and fuelled up our 1600cc Westfalia-fitted VW Combi Camper nicknamed ‘Cambi’, it was about 11 o’clock. Still, in spite of a national 80Kph speed limit – due to the petrol restrictions arising out of international sanctions – we managed to lunch on the banks of the Bushmans River near Estcourt.
The brats did not suffer from boredom. Seatbelts in those days were unheard-of, and they played happily all over the roomy back area. The storage space was amazing, and everything was neatly stowed away leaving enough seating for five or six apart from driver and passenger – plenty of room for two girls to romp in …
‘Going to give you a ‘jection!’
‘Hey, that’s mine! You took it out of my case! Give it back!’
‘Well, you took my vackum!’
‘Stop digging me with your elbow! Go away!’
‘You go ‘way! Stop pushing!’
‘Well, go and sit somewhere else, then!’
‘You go an’ sit … Mom-meeeeeeeee!’
Whenever the kids had battles like this (which was quite often) one of them would be consigned to the cushioned ‘dogbox’ behind the rearmost seat, and the other would have to sit over two metres away, facing backwards on the bench seat behind the driver next to the fridge and sink. If the latter was YD, she would quite possibly leave the seat, scrunch the hanging clothes sideways so as to squeeze into the narrow wardrobe, and sulk. ED would simply read – she managed to do that almost anywhere. When released they would ‘play nice’ again for a while – and then would come another tiff.
We filled up again at Kestel at the great cost of R6-33 and, while under shelter at the garage, waited politely for a furious hailstorm to do its thing. Then we resumed our route, intending to go through Golden Gate before stopping. Towards evening, however, we came to a premature halt.
We had been meandering on a narrow track that kept diving through streams, and it started raining hard. The streams became ever more enthusiastic. We crossed one that was really spating to find, bogged down in mud halfway up the next hill, a beautiful Rolls Royce. There was just enough space to pass but, as we tried, Cambi slid sideways towards the other vehicle.
‘Nuts to this,’ said I. ‘I’m NOT going to pay for a ding in a Rolls!’
So we rolled backwards, parked behind them, and set up our little home for the night.
The middle-aged couple of RR plutocrats accepted our offer of coffee and then returned reluctantly to sleep in their car, no doubt furiously envious of us, while we settled peacefully in our beds. ED slept in a stretcher in the raised-up roof, YD had her stretcher over the driver’s and front passenger’s seats, and our double bed was formed when the back seat slid forward and its backrest went horizontal.
All in all, day one had been a good start to our adventure.
(To be continued…)
© Colonialist September 2013 (WordPress) (Letterdash 2007)