Friends and Family


Well the week started off with a bang as the Street Cafe had their “final countdown party”. Mac and Allan are moving on to greener pastures and I have to say I do not think the Street Café will be the same again for a long long time. As per the norm Tania, Gabby and I met Mark, Kathleen, Liza, Mitchell, AKA…… “cabbage patch kid” and Ryan AKA… “Red headed stepchild” for drinks and a bite to eat, many of the local supported this last night and with the live music a good time was had by all as you can see by the photos.

A couple of days later I received an e-mail from Kathleen saying the following “ Thanks for all the pics ………. Sign of brilliant times had with amazing friends, we are very thankful for.”

This got me to thinking …….”And that can be dangerous” that if you have good friends or family you can consider yourself lucky, “well the Dunkley’s are a very lucky as we have great friends and even better family. “There is a saying “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family” and while this may be true for some people, I can honestly say that if I had to choose my family then the one I have now is the one I would have chosen..

Many people do not have as close a relationship with their families as we do; they do not speak to each other or have unnecessary fights that strain their relationships. The sign of a family being able to get on with each other is that they can disagree or fight but when the crunch comes that stand together, they encourage and support one another during hard times, comfort one another during sad times and congratulate each other during successful times.

Believe it or not, my relationship with my in-laws was not always Sunshine and Roses in fact I would probably have to describe it as Thunder and Khaki Bos. But I will have to ask you to close your eyes and imagine for yourself the following.

I met Tania in 1981, it was a Sunday night and I had walked own from the squash courts to St Edmunds church were my mother and father had choir practice, that’s when I first saw Tania an while it may sound corny or cliche I said to myself “that’s the girl I am going to marry some day”……. and this from a person who had vowed he would never get married until he was 40 and who’s longest relationship had been two weeks to win a bet. “Yeah I know, I am a real romantic”

To be honest I am not sure what Keith and Lois initially thought of me but I can imagine it was not great, here was this older boy riding a clapped out SS Honda 50, who had long hair and shock of shocks listened to heavy metal music, making the moves on their nearly 16 year old daughter. Looking back at old pictures I can see why they were not the happiest of campers. “I have already bought a shotgun for when my daughters suitors come a calling”. After a number of years of seeing each other Tania and I had decided that we wanted to get engaged and married and had already chosen a ring, I was working at Kyalami Ranch hotel as a trainee and had upgraded the 50cc to a Honda 500cc and Tania was about to start working for Eskom, so we had our futures planned, now it was time to tell Tania’s folks.

I will always remember that evening, Keith and Lois had also decided to speak to us, however the conversation was along the lines “We feel that Tania and yourself are seeing to much of each other…………….” And if memory serves me correct I said “before you say anything else, let me tell you something” and I proceeded to tell them that Tania and I loved each other and wanted to get engaged and that we had already bought the ring, “you could have heard a pin drop” however to Keith and Lois credit “and I don’t think I have been to much of a disappointment to them” they accepted this information and from that day on I was part of their family, “for which I will be forever grateful”. My folks are just the best but have gone through tough times, my mom Marion drank way to much and was an alcoholic, but she chose her family over alcohol and for that she will always be my hero, ‘Thanks mom for being strong enough to do that, we love you”. Peter is my dad, not many people know, but he is not my paternal father, my paternal father left and my mom and Peter got married, he is the reason that we are in South Africa and the reason that I am what I am today, he is a hard worker and always put his family first, when we came to South Africa, he worked for ISCOR and he worked all the hours that god sent so that he could make a better life for us, “Dad you’re my role model, and I will forever be grateful to you that you agreed for me to become your son and I am proud to have your name”

So as you can see I am very lucky that I have two sets of parents and family, my sister is Karen and Tania’s brother is Ryan and sister is Nicole, they in turn got married and have children so now we have Christine “a fine young lady” who is Karen’s daughter and then there is Rebecca, Michaela and the latest addition Daniel with Nicole pregnant in the land of the rising damp (England) there will be another addition before the year is out.

My dad always told me you can have many acquaintances but your real friends you will probably only be able to count on your one hand, I am lucky then as I have a few more than that “What is a friend” you may ask, well there is no definition in the dictionary but I believe a friend to be the following and you may agree or disagree.

a) Someone who you can relate to or has same values as you do
b) Someone you can trust
c) Someone who you do not have to see every day but when you do see them can pick up a conversation as if it was yesterday
d) Someone who without question will come to your assistance at the drop of a hat
e) Someone that you feel comfortable with, that you can share fears and dreams with
f) Someone that is not scared to tell you the truth
g) Someone who loves you or accepts you as you are “warts and all”

This is the list of the people that I consider friends and fit the above criteria, “they are in no particular order”

Marco - worked with him in 1981 and even though he moved to the island (England) many years ago I still consider him a mate.

Thys – Met him in 1999 when Tania and I took over Kiara lodge next to the Golden Gate – he lived, still does in fact” next door and he is a good friend.

Dave – Dave and Barbara own Clarens Properties and while they have both been very good to us, I consider Dave a good friend and someone who fits all the above criteria

Mark and Kathleen – while fairly new to the village they have become really good friends and both Tania and I enjoy their company. I do believe that Kathleen’s brother and his Wife Liza, “who have just moved to Clarens” will also become good friends.

Jaapie - He is the local attorney and what a great guy, a person who will go out of his way to help you and I am lucky to have him as a friend.

Tino – Met Tino in 1995 in the States and took a trip to Sturgis with his wife Lana and Tino, they came out to SA a few years later, also people that we consider more family than friends

Ryan – now I am not sure if he should be here, as he is my brother in law, but he is also my friend and a good one and while I do not see him that often, when I do I really enjoy spending time with him.

Tania Anne Dunkley – for those clever ones reading this, “yes she is my wife” but more than that she is my friend and probably over the years I have not been the best of husbands, putting work and other things before the family, but Tania has stuck with me and I have become a MUCH better person for marrying her and for knowing her and I hope that we can spend another 50 years together, she is my rock and inspiration and the reason that I am what I am today…… “I love you sooooooooooooo much”

This weekend was quiet, but did watch the “Long way round”, this is about the twenty thousand mile round the world motorbike journey that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman undertook in 2004. Wow it was great, watched all 10 episodes in one go. Now that is something I would like to do, “who knows, maybe one day”. If you get an opportunity to watch it, then do as its very interesting and inspirational and truly the adventure of a lifetime, well that’s it for this week and as Ewan would say “May the force be with you”

A Must Read for all South Africans

Thought that i would put this on the Blog as I think he makes some great points

An interesting article written by Alan Knott-Craig (MD iBurst).... a realist view on things!
Why am I writing this email? Because I'm getting the impression there are some depressed people walking around. So let's recap:

At the beginning of the year people were panicking about the oil price, inflation, electricity and economic recession. Of those big 4 concerns, 3 have taken care of themselves.
Oil is now below $40 a barrel, almost one Quarter of the price of 4 months ago
inflation is not such big deal because oil is cheap nowadays so food & all other costs are falling
and .. we haven't had any crazy power outages since February (the Eskom saga is a complete mystery to me - The NEWSPAPERS said it would last 4 years??)
What about the Recession? Well, as it turns out, that was something that deserved panic. Especially if your name is Dick Barrett and you run a New York investment bank.... Fortunately we don't have any Dick's at iBurst.
After the merry-go-round of bad news at the beginning of the year, capped by the xenophobic attacks it's been quite surreal to watch the "u-turn" executed by those heading for the exit door! It's a bit like watching naïve tourists run into the sea off Camp's Bay, scream in pain, and then race back onto the beach. The water looks so nice.. but don't go in there unless you're an Eskimo! Suddenly foreign shores aren't as attractive when there are no jobs, no credit, and no sunshine so people who left are returning to tell those who haven't left not to go.
Just to put a couple of Financial things in perspective, here is some info on the year-to-date performance of world stock markets (as of 10 Nov):
Iceland -89%China -64%Russia -64%India -48%Hong Kong -46%Brazil -40%Japan -40%USA -36%Australia -35%UK -32%New Zealand -29%South Africa -26% ..SA is not so bad is it? I'd rather be here than in Iceland?? !!

Sunny SA is certainly not immune to the global economic crisis. Our companies are suffering too, which means fewer bonuses and more retrenchments (always a winning recipe for unhappiness). How long will it last? Who knows, but brace yourselves for a tough 2009. The good news is that after every tough time comes good times, so at least we all have something to look forward to!
What is the silver lining for SA? Our interest rates are still high, but will decrease soon to ease the burden on your back pocket. The UK and USA do not have that luxury, their interests rates are already too low to cut further and it hasn't helped them at all yet!

What else? "Mad Bob" can't last forever. When he heads off into the sunset there will be an absolute bonanza of investment and aid flooding into Zimbabwe, and a large chunk of that windfall will be via sunny SA... oh happy days. Who said there were no plusses to having a failed state as a neighbour?

What else? Anyone noticed the cranes everywhere you look? Seen the Gautrain progress? I went down to CT 2 weeks ago, and virtually the entire highway is under construction. Durban has a new Stadium; a bigger harbour AND a new Airport all finishing in the next 18months The unintended consequence of the government procrastination on infrastructure investment over the past 10 years is that now that it's finally underway - just in time to prop up our economy! Gotta love those bureaucrats.

What else? The Soccer World Cup is coming. If we get it right we'll be the hottest spot on the planet - and we'll have a real shout for hosting the Olympics in about 2020.
But don't crack open the champagne just yet, we still have our fair share of challenges. Your average Yank may be swapping his house for a trailer, but at least he's not worried about being shot in the head on the way to his next job interview. If any of you have a relative or friend in the government, please pass on this message, "Crime is out of control and most of our schools and hospitals are in disarray." Don't for a second fool yourself that we can ignore these structural problems and live the rest of our lives in blissful ignorance. We must constantly remind the politicians to do their jobs, but we cannot absolve ourselves of our responsibility to make individual contributions.

It is our business to make this land a success. Report crime, pick up litter, give to the needy, create jobs, look after the children, practice safe sex, drink filter coffee. We've all got a responsibility to make the magic happen, otherwise you'll just end up lying in bed in 50 years time, looking back and saying "What if?"
The time of opportunity is upon us, now it's up to us to seize the day. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Life is not about waiting for storms to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.
Looking forward to dancing in 2009!

Red headed stepchild


This week was a strange one for Clarens with a murder of long time resident Mrs Lombard and the deaths’, “natural causes” of 3 other residents, however the circle of life ensures that those friends taken away are replaced by new ones and one such new family that have just arrived are our Good friends Kathleen and Marks family, Ryan, Lisa and Mitchell. They arrived on Monday in the rain and it has rained ever since, “does that tell you something Ryan”. I must say Ryan is not what I expected, but after only a week, think he is going to be, along with Lisa and Mitchell an asset to the village. Ryan has been busy this week assisting getting the tunnel up and running. This is a project that Tania and I, Mark and Kathleen and no Ryan and Lisa are involved with, it’s a 30m x 12 tunnel and we are going to make a fortune growing and selling organic herbs and vegetables J “Go Tunnel Vision”

Ryan has read hair (that he has just shaved off) and a small goatee with a personality to match (very ZZ Top like) and I am sure he was always the one at school getting in to trouble, so his nick name is Red headed stepchild, which comes from some redneck movie where the father tells the son that if he does not do his chores “ I will beat you like a Red headed stepchild” “Welcome to the village guys and thanks for all the assistance so far Ryan, its much appreciated”

Gabby’s leg is to our relief getting much better, I never knew a spider bite could get so bad, hopefully the hole will be filled in soon and then we can concentrate in getting the skin to cover it..

My Folks came to visit this weekend, which was awesome and we had a Lekker “Val in die tuin” Braai on Saturday night along with Kathleen, Mark, Ryan, Lisa and Mitchell, surprise surprise no rain. I also gave my dad a lift to the Street Caffe on the bike (a first for me)

Sunday was spent having breakfast with the folks and doing a little business, tomorrow is the Street Caffe’s last day under the management of Allan and Mac, so we are expecting a BIG PARTY.

Have a great week

Ek Stem Nee

Ek Stem Nee

So the 27 year old teacher, “wonder who he is going to vote for” Mr. Willem Richter who works in the UK has succeeded via the Freedom Front “whom he asked to represent him” to have the High court rule that South Africans overseas may vote in the 2009 General elections. Now I believe set for 22nd of April. In the past only certain categories of South Africans such as civil servants, students on study leave, people on business trips or holiday as well as soldiers on peacekeeping missions where allowed to have a special vote.

If I was not already upset with the “We love South Africa, but not enough to live in the country” brigade, this has now just sent me over the top. In the Star newspaper one of the paragraphs in the article about this states “ Richter, a South African, felt so strong about voting in the upcoming election that he decided to turn to the court. He said certain provisions of the Electoral act unfairly discriminated against ordinary South African Citizens working abroad” “Mr Richter if you feel so strongly about voting, then come and vote in South Africa”

I find it incredulous that ex pats living in foreign climes, earning there living and contributing to that countries economy can even think about wanting to vote in South Africa. If you call your self a ex-pat: ex meaning “something that has been” and patriot “someone that loves their country and is willing to defend it” then this means you used to love your country but now you don’t, you’re an EM “economic mercenary” along with many others of your ilk.

Why should I and other South African Patriots who have decided that perhaps, just perhaps if we all stop whinging and pull together we can ensure this country remains great have to pay hard earned tax money so that some smug bastard can have his cake and eat it to. I am not sure how long Mr Richter has lived in UK but if its more than a year, you have no say in this country as you have not been contributing to it either by paying taxes or by imparting your skills on the general public and making this country strong instead of a foreign country, one that your forefathers fought twice. And Mr. Richter don’t throw the “I cant find a job because I am white South African” crap at me, this country is crying out for skilled people, especially teachers and if you could not find a job in this country then you where either very bad at your job or you do not like the fact that the country is run by a black government, the fact you had the Freedom front represent your case shows me where your loyalties lie.

The money you are having the government waste could be better used and if you feel so strong about voting perhaps we should charge each EM earning the big bucks for voting, lets see how many of you would want to vote then, or better still pack your bags, get on a plane and come and vote here, make a difference here. Just decide if you are a South African or not, if you are come home and assist in building up the country, if not then cut the apron strings boetie. Hopefully the Constitutional court will overturn this ruling as I believe you and the Freedom front are using this as a political ploy, “you know what, perhaps you should just stay on the island, they deserve you”

Oh one more thing if you love this country so much why did they use a photo of you with Stonehenge in the background ?????????????????? “Eish”

In the shadow of the mountain



Oom Stoffel de Witt had built the homestead under the shadow of Mount Horeb, a few years after he had been ceded land by The Free State administration in 1870, for fighting in the Basotho wars. Oom Stoffel and his family like many other pioneers who settled in the Caledon valley were in effect to become a barrier, between established Free State farmers and the Basotho who wanted to reclaim the “conquered territory” at any cost. Initially life was not easy and the family first lived ate and slept in two ox wagons, while Oom Stoffel and his two sons Jacobus and Marais built a Hartbeeshuis. Land had to be ploughed, vegetables and fruit trees planted and most importantly fences and stockades built to ensure that the family and livestock were protected, not only from the marauding Basotho, but beasts of prey as well, for in the Caledon valley in the 1870s Lions were plentiful, in fact a local farmer and his sons are said to have killed more than two hundred over the years. Oom Stoffel and other adventurers who had fought in the wars, had been given the land on condition that they lived on it permanently, a house was to be erected of at least 6.4 x 3 meters, within 6 months of occupation, owners at all times had to be in possession of a horse, saddle and bridle as well as a rifle, two hundred rounds of ammunition, five pounds of powder and five hundred percussion caps or twelve flints. While life was tough, game was plentiful, and the pantry was always full of dried meat, and the fur/leather used for clothing, blankets or household items.

Tant Sonnet was a hardy lady, a true Boer vrou and laboured just as hard, if not harder than the men, Greta their daughter was only six but even she had daily chores and was adept at loading a rifle should the need arise, all members of the de Witt family needed to help, to ensure the survival of the family. While there was a little timber in the area it was not enough for building a permanent home, here Oom Stoffel believed that God in his wisdom had provided and thanked him for this before every evening meal. The lord had provided rock, sandstone to be precise, and this is what would be used to build a home. While the sandstone was plentiful and could be hewn from the local hills, timber, corrugated iron and other items needed for building had to be transported from great distances and at enormous cost, to the farm. After a number of years of relative peace and harmony between the Boers and the Basotho the valley was once again in turmoil and the sounds of battle would again fill the air. This time the British Empire had decided that the Boer republics and their riches would be annexed. While the de Witt family had endured many hardships over the years what was to happen next would make that all pale by comparison.

The men of Musgrave’s scouts, “Colonial irregulars” who arrived at the house were drunk and belligerent, and to make matters worse, local Boers of the “Orange river volunteers” as well as black mercenaries fighting for the British were also present. With the men folk away on Commando, Oom and Tant de Witt as well as the wives’ and children of Jacobus and Marais were at the mercy of their whims, while most British troops acted with restraint during the war Captain Musgrave and his men were in no mood for pleasantries. “Where are the young men” Captain Musgrave asked and when there was no immediate answer he struck Oom Stoffel with the back of his hand sending him sprawling across the lounge. “We have orders to search this farm for arms and ammunition and take what we need, whether or not we destroy the house and outbuildings is up to you, if you and the women co-operate perhaps we will be lenient, if not then I can not be held responsible for the mood of my men”.

One of the black mercenaries triumphantly produced an ancient muzzle loader that had been hidden in a outbuilding, this was enough for Captain Musgrave to give the order that all livestock that could not be moved were to be shot, any food that could not be used or transported, destroyed and the house as well as the outbuildings were to be set alight.” You have 5 minutes to collect what you need from the house” Captain Musgrave ordered, it was then that tragedy struck, one of the scouts was molesting Marais wife Martie, their nine year old son Danie tried to defend her. Without expression or warning the scout simply shot him through the head, Oom Stoffel was next and after the orgy of wanton destruction had ended, all but Tant Sonnet lay dead, the women and children having first been abused before they were murdered. With the crackling of the fire in their ears, the smoke and flames streaming overhead, the bodies were left where they lay; Capt Musgrave and his brave men saddled up and started to move out. “What shall we do with the old woman” one of the irregulars asked, “whatever you want” was the reply. Before she was eventually strangled Tant Sonnet cursed the men and their families as well as anyone who ever tried to re-settle on or use the land. After the war the men came home from Ceylon to a ruined farm and no family. No one knows what happened to them, they just seemed to disappear from the face of the earth, but over the next few months a series of gruesome murders took place, of men who had been present that day on the farm.

Many have tried to start a life on the farm, some have tried to utilize the land for growing crops or to graze cattle, all have failed, today the house looks forlornly across the valley, a monument to man’s inhumanity to man. There is a definite presence as you stand on the spot where Tant Sonnet shouted her curse before being murdered, and as you walk through the ramshackle rooms the hair on the back of your neck stands up, “its not a place I would want to be near at night” a colleague of mine whispers as we silently contemplate the fate of a once happy family, and with that we walk over to the family graveyard to pay our respects and place a wreath of wild flowers on the old cemetery gate.
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