musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: South Africa

This time last year

This time last year I was in the air somewhere over Africa (I think) heading South towards Johannesburg.

Approaching ORT, with Johannesburg in the distance (1500×964)

It was a trip that I had to organise at very short notice and was one I did not really want to do unless I really had to. The reason behind it was the ever declining health of my mother who lived on her own in the South of Johannesburg. When I finally saw her early the next day I was shocked, it was hard to believe it was the same person I had known for all my life (my father passed away in 1981).   

There were a few problems that needed dealing with, and we were fortunate that things happened when they did or we would have been in an extremely difficult position.  The decision was made that we needed to get her into frail care. She was not coping well and a recent fall had really robbed her of self confidence and raised the alarm bells. The complex where she lived had no facilities for frail care, or even a resident nurse or caretaker. Too many occupants died unnoticed in the past and it was a situation we wanted to avoid at all costs. 

I won’t waffle on much in this post, I just wanted to say that a year down the line she is doing better than she was this time in 2017. I wont say she is healthy as a 70 year old, but at least she is in a better place physically than she was in March 2017. 

She moved out of her flat in May 2017, and that must have been a horrible experience for her. Leaving your life behind to embark on what may be your final days is not something to be taken lightly, and I do understand her reticence about going into frail care. Naturally the question is: did we do the right thing? whether it was right or not is irrelevant,  what is important is that it was the only option we had and it was better for her in the long run. 

Only time has the answer to our situation. Fortunately I am in a better position visa wise, but there it is inevitable that at some point will have to make another trip down south. There is very little I can do about it and just next year this time I will be doing a two years down the line post, let’s wait and see.

DRW © 2018. Created 20/03/2018 

Updated: 13/04/2018 — 08:38

Looking back on 2017

Like 2016, 2017 was not a good year, the world has become an even more dangerous place than last year, and the political rumblings in many countries became roarings!  In South Africa the corruption and incompetence continues and Cape Town is running out of water (bottled and tap). We also saw the death of a number of old school entertainers and celebrities,  and fake news still proliferates through social media, and racism is still alive and well. And now for the weather…

Amongst those who passed on in 2017: Willie Toweel, Sir John Hurt, Peter Skelleren, Simon Hobday, Joost Van Der Westhuizen, Chuck Berry, Colin Dexter, Joe Mafela, Ahmed Kathrada,  Sue Grafton, Mary Tyler Moore, Hugh Hefner, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sarstead, Glen Campbell, John Hillerman, Adam West, Helmut Kohl, Fats Domino, Don Williams, Charles Manson, Ian Brady, Harry Dean Stanton, Della Reese, Roger Moore, David Cassidy, Sam Shepard, Martin Landau, Gordon Kaye Richard Hatch, Tom Petty, Michael Bond, Al Jarreau and Bill Paxton. Unfortunately though some dictators will outlive us all.  

I did not have a busy year, although there was a major spurt of activity in March when I had to go back to South Africa at short notice.  This new year is crunch year for me,  and I am sitting on a fence with lots of spikey bits. These are some of the highlights (and low lights) of my year.  

January:

Was a quiet month, and I really relooked some of the places I had seen as well as some of the interesting objects that you normally do not notice. Clocks were subject of choice for January

February:

In February I finally hit Worcester and specifically Worcester Cathedral.

Worcester Cathedral

I ended up making a second trip to the city, and it was quite a nice place to visit. 

March:

In March I had to return to South Africa as my mother was doing poorly. 

I was able to revisit a number of places and a decision was made regarding her future care. She was not amused, but our options were extremely limited.

April:

Amongst the places I revisited was the James Hall Transport Museum

I arrived back in April, and just in time for the GWSR World War Weekend. 

May:

I looked back on the three cemeteries in Portsmouth (Milton, Highland Rd and Kingston)

I seemed to have stayed indoors a lot in May because the only noteworthy thing I seemed to do was attempt to scratchbuild a model of the RMS St Helena. I now have a new one I am busy with so all in not lost. However I am kind of baffled at how long this exercise has taken. 

June:

June was a busy month and I seemed to do quite a lot in Gloucester. One of the many things I saw was HM Prison Gloucester and it was fascinating. 

I also popped into the “harbour” in Gloucester, and it was quite an interesting place to see, although it is no longer the bustling harbour it used to be

July:

The Tewkesbury Medieval Festival was held once again, but unfortunately I missed out on the Wellland Steam Fair this year. 

August:

The Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival was held in August and it was bigger than last year too. Some real blasts from the past were on show too. 

1904 Mors 24/32 HP

September:

September I ventured forth into Stroud and inadvertently ended up in Painswick too which was quite fun but very tiring.

October:

The weather was rapidly turning as we October, but then the whole year had seen lousy conditions most of the time. It really dampened my excursions too so I had to do some thinking about what to post. Sadly I heard of two pets that crossed the rainbow bridge in this month and their loss is always a sad one.

November: 

November is the month when military veterans take out their berets and caps and don their medals and poppies to Remember The Fallen. I also managed to photograph the War Memorial in Prestbury

December:

And suddenly it was December, and the biggest story in December was…

And that was my year. May the new year be full of love, light and laughter, and may the sun shine brightly and may peace and prosperity be with you and yours. 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 31/12/2017

Updated: 04/03/2018 — 08:29

Those last few days

Monday 03 April.

I am now in my last week in South Africa, and it has been an interesting trip with a number of things changed and different paths considered. My flight leaves on Thursday evening but between then and now anything can happen, especially given the political situation in South Africa.  I will not comment on what is going on, I do not have too much interest in it, instead I will concentrate on the aspects of the trip that are relevant. 

Amongst the changes that I saw were the decline in shops at what used to be my local shopping malls. A lot have simply closed their doors and no longer exist, while some have probably moved elsewhere. However I would like to put on record that in most of the places where I had to deal with staff behind counters the service that I received was excellent, smiles abounded and staff really went out of their way to help me. The other thing that I noticed was the increased cost of basics in shops. When I left in March 20132 we were already feeling the spike in prices thanks to the exchange rate, increased transport costs and overall greed and lack of ethics. Petrol was sitting at R13.31 pl of 93 octane, although it was supposed to drop slightly on Wednesday.  I tried to make some comparisons with prices that I could remember and frankly I was shocked. Once I get the images off my cellphone I will post some of the more drastic ones that I encountered. 

I revisited three cemeteries in the time I was here, (Brixton, Florida and West Park), and of course I visited my mother whose condition is of major concern. Unfortunately I do not have an answer to her situation, it is beyond my experience, I do not know what can be done. The plus side is that somebody has cracked the whip at the place where she lives and the disgusting corruption that has gone on there has hopefully been stopped and some heads will roll. That is long overdue. It is very sad to see how the corruption thrived there, almost everybody knew about it but nothing was ever done because it was rotten all the way down.

And, during my last few days there were a number of things that happened that may be worth remembering: a series of earthquakes happened, one being centred in Botswana and another in Klerksdorp, the finance minister and his deputy were recalled and fired by the president and a new (and more compliant?) one appointed. Consequently South Africa was downgraded to “Junk” status by S&P Global Ratings. and naturally the Rand has started to wobble, and at the time of writing (04/04/2017) it was  R13.80 to the $, R17.21 to the £ and R14.72 to the €. There is a mass protest planned for Friday, and I like to think it will bring about change, but already I am hearing the voices of those who have been “captured” or are just too plain stupid to read the writing on the wall. Who was it that said “May you live in interesting times”? (Fitch has subsequently downgraded South Africa to junk status too).

I also moved the remaining bins of my possessions to a new storage area, and took pics during the drive there and back. As usual Johannesburg was traffic laden, something made worse by the metro police who should spend less time holding roadblocks or sitting behind cameras and more time policing the roads.

I also revisited the shopping centre where I used to work, formerly a Drive-In it used to still have a screen in the parking lot. That is now gone too.

There have been a number of superficial changes to the public side of the centre, but it was like a morgue on the day I was there. 

I went around to the back of the centre and it was quite sad to see the building where I worked from 2005 till 2011. It is now part of the Action Cricket industry, and the Bosch Service Centre is no longer there either. I remember how much time, money and effort we put into making that building a safe and better workplace, but once we were bought out it was obvious to us all that our days there were few. I specifically recall how we had that section of fence erected but with hindsight it was really a dumb idea. 

I revisited my friend in the building where I used to stay and am happy to report that I finally saw the Rietbok in the Kloofendal Reserve. Unfortunately my flat used to face the street instead of the reserve.  

 The nitty gritty of prices.

As I mentioned before, prices were crazy, and I noticed it already in 2014 when I last visited SA. Unfortunately I did not write down the prices of items back then and this time around I photographed a lot of advertising leaflets to keep if one day I want to make the comparison. I drew R1000 at an atm in SA and it cost me £64.60.

Old Gold Tomato Sauce R22.79/700ml

Sedgwicks OBS R34.99 750ml

2 litres Clover milk R29.79

Eskort streaky bacon R33.99

Forex (06/-4/2017)

Rama R32.99 (500gr)

Butter: R84.99 (500gr)

Beacon Easter Eggs R68.99

These are just a few examples that I spotted, and some items may have been on sale. The items are not indicative of my own personal preferences and are sourced through leaflets and shops I visited in the West Rand. The prices below come off leaflets and have no illustrations: (I will be adding to this list as I go along)

Milo 500gr tin R51.99

Enterprise Bitso Bacon 200g R29.99

Stork Country Spread 1kg R29.99

Dewfresh milk 1 Litre R14.99

Gordons Gin 750ml R99.99

Hunters Dry 12x440ml Cans R129.99  

30 Extra large eggs R44.99

Ultra Mel Custard 1 Litre R22.99

Enterprise Back Bacon 200gr R23.99

Fresh chicken breast fillets R59.99/kg

Nature’s Garden Cuntry Mix frozen vegetabkes: R24.99  (1kg)

Sea Harvest Oven Crisp fish portions (6 portions)  400gr R35.99 

Sea Harvest Haddock fillets R59.99 500gr (4 portions)

Pot o’ Gold garden peas 400gr tin R9.99

Black Cat plain or crunchy peanut butter R24.99 (400gr bottle)

Selati white sugar 2,5kg R64.99 

Snoflake self raising flour 2,5gr R29.99

Hisense 299 litre fridge/freezer R3999

Defy 196 litre chest freezer R2599

Parmalat 6×1 Litre long life milk R69.99

Coca-Cola 2 litre bottle R13.49

Frankies old style root beer 500 ml R15.99

Sansui double solid hotplate R249

Bakers Romany Creams R17.99

Cadbury chocolate slabs 80gr R10.99

Lipton ice tea 1,5 litre R15.99

Ferrero Rocher 16 pack R59.99

Joko Tea 100 tea bags R26.99

Steers Wacky Wednesday R45.00, King Steer R61.90 (burger only), Regular chips R15.90 

and finally, an indication of prepaid data prices from a service provider.

20MB? gee, you can do so much with it, even Telkom dial up was more affordable.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 08/04/2017 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:50

Four years later

Temporarily under construction. 

On the 1st of March 2013 I landed in United Kingdom. It is true, I have been here now for 4 years. This is the final year of my visa and literally “crunch year”. I posted the following on Facebook at the time

“Alrighty. I am back. I am in luverly London. Flights were long, trip was not too awful. I am now in Kennington in London. This will be my base for about a week. And, Imperial War Museum was closed when I went there!!! aaarrrghhh!!”

On the 2nd of March 2013 I posted

“a busy day, Walked from Kennington to past Tower bridge. Took 790 pics. The morning was overcast and cold but it turned into a wonderful day later on. So much to see.. watch my pics!”

 

That long walk was exhausting, and I really overdid it that day. So much so that I ended up with extremely sore and swollen shins that took a long time to heal. I did a photo essay on my visit to Tower Bridge especially for this occasion. 

I started out by living in Kennington, and it  was very nice, being close to the tube (Northern Line), bus, shops and everything else. It was really an ideal area to live in

Kennington Tube Station

Kennington Station was not the one closest to my destination, I emerged at Oval Station, and I would use that station frequently, but that first exit with my luggage will always stay with me. I dragged my luggage nearly a kilometre to where I was staying, fortunately it was not too awful a day. (There is a Photo Essay on the London Underground at allatsea). Initially I used the tube quite often but found the buses were handier and cheaper in the long run. 

Not too far away was Peckam, Lewisham, Brixton, Camberwell, Newington (Elephant and Castle) and Deptford. Yes, it is true, I ventured forth into Brixton on a number of times and survived to tell the tale! Lewisham was interesting because it was at the local hospital that my grandfather was treated for the wound that he suffered in Delville Wood. 

The weather was grey on many of the days, and once again I gave thanks for my NATO Parka, it is still the most effective cold weather jacket that I have and is still in regular use. 

I was fortunate that I was able to remain in my temporary “digs” in Kenington for an additional month, and during that month I covered a lot of ground while simultaneously job hunting. It was evident though that I would not find the technical work I was looking for and accommodation prices were steep. I really need to get out of London and go elsewhere. That was when I decided that the time had come to venture forth to Southampton which was where I really wanted to be, but which proved to be somewhat of a bad decision job-wise.  I pretty much covered 2013 in this blog though, so you can follow a lot of my meanderings from March 2013 in the list below. 

I have just recently added in a photo essay about the London Eye as I had not covered it before. I almost forgot I had those pics. 

I have lived in London, Southampton, Salisbury, Basingstoke, Burntwood and Tewkesbury (which is where I am now). I have worked as a baggage handler, a test technician, a recycler, and a workshop bench technician. I have seen churches and cathedrals and graves and towns and all manner in between. I have traveled in numerous trains, seen a number of preserved ships, taken over 70000 photographs, visited the “Magnificent Seven” cemeteries in London, I have seen many museums (including IWM), countless statues, and drowned myself in the weight of ages. I have been places and seen things and my bucket list has had a number of items crossed off it

I have learnt new habits and skills and forgotten old ones. I even had to relearn how to ride a bicycle. I have met people from all over the world, and from various parts of the UK, I was here when the Brexit Referendum occurred, and may still see the triggering of the negotiations to leave the EU.

Apart from the cities that I lived in I have also visited Romsey, Havant, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Lichfield, Bath, Bristol, Poole, Weymouth, Birmingham, Walsall, Portsmouth, Dudley, Chippenham, Reading, Winchcombe and Winchester. 

My health has not improved though, and I have started to feel my own age, having to rely on 3 pairs of glasses. I have also had to curtail my walking as it has become difficult at time.

The strange thing is that I am more aware of my environment, I look at flowers and trees with a new interest, I gasp at the beauty of an autumn day, and revel in those rare sun filled long days of summer, the chilly bite of winter is exhilarating and the feel of frost under your feet at midday still amazes me.  

I was last in South Africa for a short visit in May 2014, and frankly I do not miss it. I read in horror some of the events that occur daily in South Africa, and see how the economy is declining and political unrest becomes more of an issue. I may still end up back there if I cannot get my visa renewed, but that’s another story altogether. The strange thing is I struggle to remember a lot from South Africa, although that could be my brain that is full. 

The next 10 months will be filled with more of the same, and I look forward to returning to Bristol and Worcester as well as Gloucester.  If I have to go back to SA this blog will be my way of reminding myself of the time I spent here.

These are my memories, I have to make more.

© DRW 2017-2018 Created 01/03/2017 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:39

Remembering the Mendi 2017

Every year around this time I commemorate the lives lost in the sinking of the troopship Mendi on the 21st of February 1917. This year is no different and each year I know more about it.

Earlier this month I discovered a new Mendi Memorial in the churchyard of St John The Evangelist, Newtimber, Sussex. The memorial is to  “Chief Henry Bokleni Ndamase” who perished on the Mendi.

TQ2713 : Memorial to Chief Henry Bokleni Ndamase by Bob Parkes

Naturally I wanted to know more and took a good long look at my Roll of Honour and drew a blank. The big problem with the ROH is that it is really inaccurate, and there are a number of reasons for that. I consulted with the local co-ordinator of the South African War Graves Project and he replied as follows:

“This whole Mendi RoH is troubling, it seems to me that there were initial errors made in some of the names, errors crept in as a result of “tweaking” the facts and a general misunderstanding of the history of the casualties (probably due to the unavailability of any documentary evidence.) Many of these errors are now on memorials and plaques and seem to be copied from one to the next (or sourced from the internet) and how do we address that? We have forwarded copies of the documents at the SANDF Archive  that list the recruitment details of these chaps and I hope that these will eventually be filtered through the system and the graves/memorials amended. Lets see…

Typical documentation for SANLC

Henry Bokleni:   (7587)  His father was Bokleni and he was Henry. In keeping with the standard practice at the time, as he never had a surname, he was given his father’s name as a surname. It seems he was a Chief/Headman at the time.

Richard Ndamase:  (9389)  His father was Ndamase and he was Richard. In keeping with the standard practice at the time, as he never had a surname, he was given his father’s name as a surname. His Chief was Dumezweni so based on the info we have, it is unlikely he was a Chief.

Mxonywa Bangani:  (9379)  )  His father was Bangani and he was Mxonywa. In keeping with the standard practice at the time, as he never had a surname, he was given his father’s name as a surname. His Chief was Nongotwane so based on the info we have, it is unlikely he was a Chief.

Isaac Williams Wauchope : (3276) His father was Dyoba (also known as William Wauchope). Isaac was a learned man, holding the posts of a teacher and a clerk/interpreter to the magistrate and married his wife Mina as per Christian rites. He was a minister at a church in Blinkwater when he got sentenced to 3 years in Tokai Prison for forgery. He enlisted in 16 Oct 1916 as a clerk/interpreter and not as a chaplain (it is unlikely he would have got the chaplain post as he had a criminal record) The Chaplain job went to Koni Luhlongwana (9580), who also died on the ship.

 It does not seem that he used his father’s name as surname at all during his lifetime and so the use of “Dyoba” is incorrect. The reasoning behind the attempts to ‘africanise’ his name remain a mystery.

New Memorial to the Mendi :  There is also a problem with the 670 (it was 646, including the crew) who died. We have identified the home provinces of some of the casualties – Transvaal (287), Eastern Cape (139), Natal (87), Northern Cape (27), OFS (26), Basutoland (26), Bechuanaland (8), Western Cape (5), Rhodesia (1) and SWA (1) so not all were from the Eastern Cape.”

The reality is that the memorial contains incorrect information, and it is perpetuated as there is no real way to correct many of the errors. I am relooking my own RoH and correcting it to conform with the data that SAWGP has.  

However, in spite of the errors, the fact remains that people have not forgotten the Mendi, in fact we probably know more about it today than we did way back in 1917. 

This year, apart from the Services of Remembrance being held at Hollybrook and Milton Cemeteries in Hampshire, a South African Warship, SAS Amatola, (a Valour Class Frigate) will lay a wreath at the site of the disaster.  On board her will be some of the relatives of the soldiers who died on board that ill fated troopship.

The Mendi has not been forgotten, it is now prominent in the military history of South Africa, The men who lost their lives have not been forgotten, the sea has claimed them, but their spirit and courage still resonates 100 years after they died. However, we need to broaden our vision and recognise that all of the men of the battalions of the SANLC and NMC who volunteered to serve overseas are remembered too, because the non combatant role that they played was equally important to the ending of the “war to end all wars” 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 21/02/2017.  Image of Newtimber Memorial © Copyright Bob Parkes and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:40

3 Ships Month

It was brought to my attention that apart from the HMT Mendi and the SAS President Kruger there is one more naval loss that really made February a month of disasters at sea. 

HMSAS Southern Floe was one of the “little ships” that worked behind the scenes during both wars, often as minesweepers, convoy escorts, anti-submarine or any other number of crucial jobs that  did not require a specialist vessel  or a glamorous warship. In my meanderings I have encountered the memorial to HMSAS Parktown, and to be frank I had never really considered HMSAS Southern Floe until recently.

The ship was a  Southern Class whaler, one of four ships taken over by the Navy from Southern Whaling & Sealing Co. Ltd., Durban. The four ships were renamed  HMSAS Southern Maid, HMSAS Southern Sea, HMSAS Southern Isles and HMSAS Southern Floe. 

HMSAS Southern Maid. (SA Museum of Military History)

Each was approximately 344 tons and were converted for anti-submarine operations and were  armed with a 3 lb gun for’ard as well 20mm canon and machine-guns.  The four little ships, with their complement of 20-25 men,  “went up north” in December 1940. In January 1941, Southern Floe and her sister ship Southern Sea arrived at Tobruk to take over patrol duties along the mine free swept channels and to escort any ships through them.

On 11 February 1941, HMSAS Southern Sea arrived at the rendezvous two miles east of Tobruk,  but there was no sign of Southern Floe; after all it was common for ships to be delayed by weather or mechanical difficulties or even enemy action. However, a passing destroyer notified the vessel that they had picked up a stoker from the vessel, clinging to some wreckage. The stoker, CJ Jones RNVR, was the sole survivor of the ship, and he explained that there had been a heavy explosion on board and he had barely escaped with his life. There had been other survivors but they had not been picked up and Stoker Jones had spent 14 hours in the water. Although never confirmed it is assumed that the vessel had struck a mine.  

Some months after her loss the ship’s badge was picked up in the desert, possibly by a German or Italian soldier and had been kept as a memento. The badge was donated to the South African Naval Museum in Simon’s Town.

After the war  Stoker Jones placed a memorial notice in the Cape Town newspapers. He continued to do this for many years until he also passed away 

Roll of Honour. HMSAS Southern Floe 

 ANDERS, John, Steward, 69637 (SANF), MPK
 BOWER, Robert, Stoker 1c, 69935 (SANF), MPK
 BRAND, Leslie A, Able Seaman, 69828 (SANF), MPK
 CAULFIELD, Patrick, Steward, 69802 (SANF), MPK
 CHANDLER, Charles R D, Cook (S), 69613 (SANF), MPK
 CHENOWETH, Richard, Stoker 1c, 67420 (SANF), MPK
 FAIRLEY, Alexander E, Sub Lieutenant SANF,  MPK
 FRIEDLANDER, Cecil A, Able Seaman, 114703 (SANF), MPK
 GARDINER, Elliott, Able Seaman, 67260 (SANF), MPK
 GREENACRE, John H, Leading Seaman, 69677 (SANF), MPK
 HEASMAN, Gratwicke E E, Engine Room Artificer 4c, 69784 (SANF), MPK
 HOGG, Roy S, Sub Lieutenant, SANF, MPK
 INNES, Ian Mck, Sub Lieutenant, SANF, MPK
 MARSH, Reginald H Y, Able Seaman, 69911 (SANF), MPK
 MITCHELL, William N, Able Seaman, 69787 (SANF), MPK
 NEL, Eloff R, Able Seaman, 69635 (SANF), MPK
 NICHOLSON, Douglas O, Able Seaman, 66833 (SANF), MPK
 PUGH, John R, Able Seaman, 66877 (SANF), MPK
 RYALL, David R, Able Seaman, 69999 (SANF), MPK
 SHIMMIN, William, Leading Stoker, 69661 (SANF), MPK
 SIENI, Joseph F, Able Seaman, 69788 (SANF), MPK
 SNELL, Harold W, Leading Telegraphist, 69827 (SANF), MPK
 STANLEY, Gordon J, Able Seaman, 66963 (SANF), MPK
 WALTON, Dudley N, Sub Lieutenant, SANF, MPK

Sources:

http://www.saspresidentkruger.com/hmsas-southern-floe/

http://www.naval-history.net/xDKCas2540-SANF.htm

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 18/02/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:41

A strange memory

This morning while having my usual Sunday call home to mum, she mentioned that one of the people where she stayed had seen an eye specialist called Lionel Marsden.

Now Marsden is not a very common surname in South Africa,  and it jolted my memory because when I was very young my mother had a friend called Ida Marsden, and knowing her would have life changing consequences in our lives.

My memory is slightly hazy because the events happened in 1964, and theoretically they should not have affected me (I was just over 3 years old). My mother and i went to tea with Mrs Marsden and her husband William. While we were having tea Mr Marsden suffered a heart attack and died, falling off the stool he was sitting on. My mother says I still said “Mr Marsden has fallen off the bankie”. The event would drive my mother into depression, and I cannot say what effect it may have had on me. The issue of childhood trauma is not completely understood, and years later when I read some of the consequences of it I was able to connect some of my own behavioural patterns with early childhood trauma. It certainly effected my mother to a large extent and while I will not discuss it here she did end up carrying the burden of it for most of her life.

This however did not affect our friendship with Mrs Marsden, and over the years we would visit her even after she remarried a Scot called “Johnnie”. They were a nice couple and lived in Risidale for most of their lives together. I remember she always used to make rhubarb pie with cream and as a youngster it took quite a bit of getting used to. She also used to make shortbread and other “genteel” cakes and dainties. She was the sort of little old lady who always smelt vaguely of lavender and was surrounded by ornaments, antimacassars, doilies and the trappings of feint Victoriana. She had a very broad Yorkshire accent too. although had lived in Rhodesia at one point.    

I am not sure whether the man in these images is of her first husband, or her second (Johnnie), but for some strange reason I have these images in my album and they may prove useful to somebody that is related to the family.

There is another image amongst my collection, and it was taken in Braamfontein cemetery and shows Mrs Marsden, my mother and myself at the Garden of Remembrance in Braamfontein Cemetery.

You just have to love the pearls,  horned rimmed specs as well as the mourning black. I was not in school then so I suspect the image was taken somewhere between 1964 and 1969. 

Mrs Marsden passed away on 30 March 1976 at the age of 79, and after she died we never saw Johnnie again and our memory of her slipped into the recesses of the mind, only surfacing when rhubarb pie was mentioned. 

It is strange to think about someone from our childhood that was not a member of the direct family, but friends of our parents. We know them, but don’t know them, and when they pass on they become a part of our memory.

I do regret not looking for the two sets of ashes at Braamfontein Crematorium when I was there. Maybe one day when I am in South Africa I will look it up.

Mrs Marsden, thank you for your friendship to our family, and the rhubarb pie. I think the last time I ate it was when you made it. 

Rest in Peace.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 11/09/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:37

Modelling the Union-Castle Line (2)

Continuing where we left off, my newest additions have arrived and I am about ready to transform them into members of my ever expanding fleet  

(This page is undergoing reconstruction)

The available affordable UC models had more or less dried up by now, although some were available from Convoy Models in military garb so I decided to get at least one for the collection, and I chose Stirling Castle. The model was outstanding, and it is hard to believe how much detail is on her. She is easier to paint because you only really need 2 colours: grey and black.

Here is my Stirling Castle and her sister Athlone Castle together. Stirling is in front. (image from 10/2017)

Union Castle also had a large fleet of cargo ships, many of which served in the war. I decided that I needed at least one representative of that fleet and I chose one of  “fruit ships” namely MV Rochester Castle,  Built in  1937, she took part in Operation Pedestal during WW2, and was broken up in 1970. There were 4 sisters in this class: Rochester Castle, Roxburgh Castle, Richmond Castle and Rowallan Castle. I think Convoy has them in military garb too. 

The fleet as at 26/11/2017:

(L-R) Pendennis, Pretoria, Capetown, Stirling, Athlone, Reina, Dunnottar, Durban, Llandaff, Rochester Castles. (back row) Victoria and Victoria

The two ships behind the fleet are both called “Victoria” The right hand ship being the former Dunnottar Castle, that had a very long life. First operated by the Incres Steamship Co and later by Chandris Lines under the names Victoria and The Victoria. In 1993 she joined Louis Cruise Lines as Princesa Victoria and was finally scrapped in India in 2004. 

The model I have is by Mercury I believe, and here she is with her UC iteration. 

The other Victoria on the left is amongst the many ships that I like. She is the former Sea Princess (built as Kungsholm), and she called in South Africa on a number of occasions, although mostly in Cape Town.

My usual source for UC ships also had her available in a resin cast, and she was easily adaptable to Sea Princess or Victoria, a name she carried later in her career with P&O. It was as Victoria that she did the Union-Castle 100 year centenary voyage in the year 2000.

I decided to make Sea Princess in the P&O livery

This sublime model above was in the window of a travel agent in Salisbury. How I coveted that model! 

I am considering repainting her in the Union-Castle livery so that she can join the fleet. 

At this point things dried up for awhile and I worked on other projects, the biggest one being my St Helena project and I also looked at scratch building a Carnarvon Castle, but shelved that idea when I realised that I did not have the eyesight or skills to do it successfully. However, another thought crossed my mind and I did some thinking and reading and decided on a new project. 

SA Oranje.  23/02/2018.

I have since added another Capetown Castle to my collection and it is the same as my other Capetown Castle. The reason I bought it was to convert it to SA Oranje. Theoretically I should have converted my Pretoria Castle model, but it is a commercial model and there was no way I was going to stuff it up. 

This is what I was aiming for…

SA Oranje in Cape Town (Postcard)

The only real work I had to do on her was remove the aft deckhouse and lifeboats and raise the funnel. I then modified the deckhouse and reglued it so that it was only a docking bridge, I also added a pool between it and the next deckhouse and used the top of the original funnel in my newly constructed funnel. I also have to fabricate a new mast for her and of course expend lots of white paint. So far she looks like this: 

I really like how she turned out though, and will make an interesting addition to the fleet which now stands at… 12!  I have since drilled out the area between the lifeboat davits on her and on Capetown Castle and Dunnottar Castle, now to retouch the paint. I am kind of ashamed at how many area’s I did not paint on the UC ships though and touching up shall be done! (30/03/2019, work has ceased on the ship as I am liable to damage her more than enhancing her. Make space in the showcase!)

Update 29/03/2018. 

Managed to snag myself a Transvaal Castle by CM. She is not in a mint condition, but makes a good addition to my collection. Unfortunately her signal mast was missing so I fabricated a new one, although it did not turn out too well and really needs to be remade. I always thought her conversion to Festivale enhanced her looks, she never really appealed to me. 

30/03/2018.  The Fleet now stands at 12 (plus 2 cruise liner versions).

(1434×501)

05/04/2018

I managed to buy a Windsor Castle this week, and she is made by Albatros and is really nice. Looking at her signal mast I definitely need to relook the signal mast on my Transvaal Castle and Oranje.

Hopefully this weekend I will get pics of her with the fleet bringing my collection up to 13.

13/04/2018

RMMV Carnarvon Castle by Albatros. And she is a real beaut, although some spars and masts got bent in transport. I can’t believe I wanted to try scratch build her. Good thing I broke her up on the stocks.  

I am very fond of the Carnarvon, she just looked “right” although she was much better looking after she was upgraded to a single funnel with a proper bow.  There is a really stunning model of her as an Armed Merchant Cruiser at the war museum in Johannesburg. It is not an easy model to photograph because it is quite large and the glass case reflects something awful.

The list of additions to my collection also lives on my More Small Ships page, and of course there is a master list of my collection too. What else is available? it really depends on what pops up on ebay, however I would like to add one of the wartime fruit ships to my collection, I am steadily building up a nice collection of freighters in wartime garb and she would fit in quite well. 

Keep visiting here to read about more of my UC ships. They aren’t spectacular, but are nice to have. 

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 22/07/2016. Updated and shuffled around 25/03/2018, rebuilt page again 05/04/2018.

Updated: 13/04/2018 — 13:24

RMS Update

It is now the 6th of June, and tomorrow morning I am heading off to London to see the RMS St Helena when she berths alongside HMS Belfast. (To view the images of the arrival visit the blogpost about it)

 

There have however been some interesting developments around about the new airport at St Helena and the following update has been made to the St Helena Line Website  Hopefully this will not affect her arrival in London tomorrow. 

The  RMS St. Helena was to have finished with engines serving the South Atlantic island on 15 July upon arrival at Cape Town but has now scheduled three more return voyages into September 2016. The newly completely airport has not been certified due to wind sheer problems. One problem is reputed to be winds and another is the short runway. As a result the service of the RMS has been extended as an interim measure and for a limited period until air services begin. This service will be for passengers and freight. The schedule may be viewed at: http://rms-st-helena.com/schedules-fares/ and bookings will be accepted from Monday 6 June 2016. 

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 06/06/2016.

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:15

Three years down the line

This evening on my way home I could not help but remember that on 1 March 2013 I started yet another chapter in my life, only this time in a country very far from where I was born.

Lots of water has flowed under my bridge since then, I have seen and been places, I have shipwatched and gravewatched, I have played at being a baggage handler, a team leader, a recycler. even a motor vehicle parts assembler, and currently I am back doing my old job as a workshop bench tech. I have lived in London, Southampton, Salisbury, Basingstoke, Burntwood and now Tewkesbury. I have been through rough patches and smooth, I have seen so many new things, and lived the dream of going elsewhere.

I have looked back on the happenings in South Africa and tried my best to not comment on what I see; by the same token I have looked at happenings in the UK and often can only just shake my head. It is not a perfect place, but it certainly feels more like home to me 3 years down the line.

Have I picked up any odd habits? I still enjoy my cuppa, and of course nowadays I carry a raincoat and walk a lot more than before. I have a bicycle, and I have covered many kilometres around the country just taking in the sights. There is a lot to see, and I am trying to see as much of it as I can. I am sort of used to the sun going down late in Summer and the beautiful light that seems to be the norm in the colder months. I am probably loosing some of my South African mannerisms, but cant quite shake the accent. Damn!

Do I regret leaving South Africa? No. I was never considered to be a South African because I spoke English, and was told to “fokof terug Ingeland toe” on more occasions than I can recall, consequently I never viewed it as home. The changes in 1994 were great, although the results could have been so much better for everybody if only corruption had not reared its ugly head. I do fear for the future there though, but I do know that there are good people of all races there, and hopefully they will prevail.

The future? is there one? as long as I have work I will be able to stick it out, although next year is crunch year. A lot hinges on next year, but I cannot go into detail about it. Needless to say though, hopefully next year this time I will know more. As I like to say: watch this space,

As an afterthought, in Std 3 we had to do a project on Britain, and I recall my brother doing a collage of images for one of the pages. I have always remembered it (as well as the teacher and some of the pages inside that project). I never thought I would be sitting in Britain thinking about that project so many years down the line.

The image above is a large one (2026×1571), open at your own risk.

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Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:00
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