Posts Tagged ‘memories’




I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.


This rendition sung by Colin Thackeray hit me hard!

As I listened and watched his delivery it evoked so many emotions. The regal red figure   stood there straight and proud, happy to display his vulnerability with honesty.  He wore his 89 years of age well and his few minutes on stage made us reflect on what is important in life! It also brought back wonderful memories of my dad who sang to us all the time. He also served proudly as a bomber pilot in the World War 2. I could imagine my dad singing this song to my mom who was the ‘wind beneath his wings.’ I miss them both and was reminded of the legacy they have left behind in their family.

Dad during World War 2


But I’ve got it all here in my heart

The last 18 months have been a test for us as some unpredictable factors affected the security of our life here in North Vancouver. We wondered if we should sell up and downsize. Forego the responsibilities of having a home with a garden……

I know this is JUST a garden but the thought of losing my forest garden filled me with utter despair. I love this piece of Canadian soil and have spent hours toiling in it and bringing it back to its former splendour. But the reality was that we might have to leave this all behind.

Was this a First World problem? I think not. When you leave your home country and move far away, your home becomes your security and your refuge as a family. My parents left the UK and settled in South Africa. We were very conscious of the fact that the move had been hard for them, especially for my dad. But he never let it get to him. This is when the GRIT kicks in. Thanks for the genes, mom and dad!


I can fly higher than an eagle.

Sh..t happens, and when it does you fight back and regroup as a family. I am so grateful for the family that we have and for the support and love they have shown us. Life just seems so worthwhile when I have ‘my tribe’ around me. Colin Thackeray showed us too how he appreciated his family. It has inspired him to keep up his enthusiasm for life. So much so that he competed and won the recent Britain’s Got Talent competition. How amazing is that? For those that watched the attached video, you will have noticed that along with family members in the audience, there were his two friends. They were also dressed up in their red regalia and were with him every inch of the way.


For you are the wings beneath my wings.

As you can see, Mr. Thackeray reminded me this morning of the people who have influenced who I am (mom and dad), those who love and support me (my family and friends) and those who form part of my tribe.

So as the sounds of music float through my kitchen I am reminded that…

You are the wind beneath my wings.

The Morkel family



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The familiar images flash past and I take in the different scenes. I recognize many of the places and floods of memories rush in. I allow myself to linger with these thoughts and a tear rolls down my cheek. The rich music soothes me with the smooth rhythms and rich tones. I do miss South Africa and all that goes along with it!

Jumping for joy on a Cape beach.

Jumping for joy on a Cape beach.

I suppose my sentiments have been jogged as I stare at the book cover ‘Scatterlings- A tapestry of Afri-Expat Tales by Eve Cummings. A few of my blogs will be included in her book and I realize that I now fall under the heading: Expat!

I must add that I am honoured to be tucked in somewhere in between. There are some prominent South Africans whose writings have been included such as Helene Zille, Clem Sunter and Max du Preez.  So I really don’t mind being included along with that lot!

But I suppose we also have our story to tell. It is the one of how you ‘start again’ in a new country. I have always been grateful that we did not feel pushed to leave South Africa. We were fortunate that we did not have deeper reasons for leaving; it was merely a work opportunity that could not be refused. That being said, it still does not make the whole process any easier. There have been days when I have been so apprehensive. The older brain just struggles to adapt to ‘the newness of all things.’ Fortunately we come from good ‘pioneering stock’ and we face the challenges head on and try not to play ‘the when we’ game. Not too often, that is!

One of my favourite views...the Lonehill Koppie.

One of my favourite views…the Lonehill Koppie.

But today I am just going to allow myself to miss the country and the people we left behind. I glance at the photos again….. It is truly beautiful! I think of the wine lands and scenic Cape Town where I grew up as a child. Then there were all the places that I spent my adult years……… The Karoo got me to ‘put on my big girl panties’ when I first arrived there as a young bride. I could not cook a thing and ‘pannekoekbak’ was a prerequisite of a young country housewife. So the learning curve was initiated! Initially I had perceived the Karoo to be barren but soon grew to love the stillness and the generosity of spirit of the local farmers. Mpumalanga was the complete opposite as it was lush and green and had the added benefit of the proximity to the surrounding game parks. We spent many happy hours in the bush there. The next stop was Johannesburg. I feared I would never settle in this metropolis, but I did. At first I felt like a little Barbarton daisy trying to survive in the middle of Adderley Street. It soon enveloped me with its charm and the warmth of its people.

The Karoo mountains

The Karoo mountains

Then there were the holiday destinations like Mozambique and Zimbabwe. How can I possibly sum up the tranquility and beauty in a few words? Camping in the bush, fishing trips, tracking the African Big Five or just lying on a remote beach in the sun…..these memories are all safely filed away.


A view from a special farm near Sabi.

A view from a special farm near Sabi.



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The water glistened as the waves motioned towards the pier. Yachts were tied up with thick yellow rope and deckhands whistled as they polished and repaired. A seal bobbed up and checked if there had been any food debris thrown overboard. No such luck this time! Its sleek silhouette slipped back under the boat. “Come and buy the best bargain ever,” shouted a vendor. “Two for the price of one!” Music floated through the air as buskers beat out their rhythms and melodies. We all just soaked up the warmth of the sun and the reprieve from the gusty south easterly winds.

We had breakfasted at one of my favourite vantage points…..Rhodes Memorial. The bronzed lions still graciously line the steps. They proudly serve as bastions as they look out towards Table Bay. The huge granite steps provide a challenge for Leo, our 8 week old puppy. He shows his tenacity and makes it all the way up the path to the restaurant. It was surprisingly pet friendly and our pup was greeted with a handful of dog treats and a fresh water bowl. We are definitely coming back here again! It was one of those windless, warm clear days that we dream about. We could see right out in the direction of Bloubergstrand. My thoughts went back to when I was a young teacher and we used to stop off there on the way back from work! Back in the days when time and commitment were of no concern!

The view from Rhodes Memorial.
The view from Rhodes Memorial.

So I cannot stop myself from walking down memory lane when I visit this beautiful city. Floods of warm thoughts and connections are made as I tread the streets that were once part of my daily life. I had the added fortune of meeting up with some of my school friends that I had not seen for 40 years! There was much laughter as we visited our school days again. The pranks, the teachers…… It was wonderful to reflect on what we were like all those years ago. Had life changed us? We agreed that our essence was the same and although we were hopefully wiser, the twinkle in our eyes still shone brightly! The school theme prevailed on me and I met up with an ‘old pupil’ of mine as well. She is now a self assured, beautiful young lady who is studying at the University of Cape Town. I could not help seeing the young pigtailed bright little face in front of me still!

The Waterfront ......
The Waterfront ……

Cape Town is synonymous with a visit with family, this being my main purpose. I cannot explain the hole that one feels when you are separated from those that our dearest to you. Thank goodness for Skype! We walked, talked, laughed, had picnics and cried together and were reminded about what we cherish in each other. Those memories are precious and I hold onto them as I wing my way back to Canada. There was another part of my family waiting for me there. Although I am sure that my men folk enjoyed the peace and quiet while I was away. Josh would have certainly missed his mistress and the walks each day!

Leo discovers The Gardens.

Leo discovers The Gardens.

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You can always count on me and I will plant you a maple tree…….

We planted a maple tree today in honour of Canada Day…… all 4 metres of it. It is thin and scrawny but the bright green leaves indicate that it is a healthy specimen. It stood in our ravine at the bottom of our garden and was cosseted by the many elms and grander maples that surrounded it. But in this position, it fought for light and sustenance as the bigger brothers took preference.

I will carry you on my wings……

The birds protested as we gently carved it out with a big ball of soil attached to its roots. I think they thought that some larger disturbance was afoot. It made the journey up to the front garden perched in our wheel barrow. It looked rather ungainly as we trundled up the side rocky pathway and the leaves shook in protest as the gentle wind blew around us. Its new abode awaited it in the front garden.

I will build you a house of stars and give you safety while you sleep…..

It was to be the only shade tree on the front lawn, a bastion to welcome us home at the end of a long day. It had a position of importance with no competition for sustenance. The hole which will nourish it for years to come had been filled with all ‘the good things for trees’ like bone marrow and rich garden soil.

The most beautiful place in my heart belongs to you……

This tree carries hope for us as a family here in our new country. Like this tree, we have been pulled out of the ground and replanted. Thankfully, we have carried with us ‘our soil’ i.e. the customs, memories and traditions. We have carved out a new environment and the food to sustain us comes from the support that we have received. The faithful friends and family back in South Africa who keep in touch and from the Canadians that have shown us kindness.

You can climb up on the peak……….

A maple tree is meant to grow to 18 metres, we have a long journey ahead of us, but it is sure to be an exciting one!

Our young maple tree.





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Josh checking out the weather…..is it good enough for a walk?


Josh pushed his nose up against the bedroom door and drew in a deep breath. It sounded like a train and the high pitch resonated through the crack. He knew that this was a sure method to get someone to respond to him in the morning. It was time for a walk!


The air was crisp and still and I felt the cool air against my bare arms.  As it was a Saturday morning, everyone was still having their usual lie in except for a few keen bike riders and the odd early riser like me. A bleary eyed man opened his front door and stumbled down to the gate to collect his newspaper. He obviously needed his fix of news with his early morning cuppa. A young mother raced along with her push buggy trying to console her irritable bundle. She shouted her morning greeting across her shoulder as she sped around the corner. Memories of my own inconsolable little mites came flooding back. I recall many days of pounding the pavements trying to sooth a ‘troubled teether.’ It always amazed me how difficult it was for them to cut the teeth and then how difficult it was to keep them in good shape. Teeth are hard work!


I passed a golden shrub and the air filled with its fragrance. It was soft and refined. No wonder it is so hard to capture this same fragrance in a bottle. Each garden I passed had a new scent to entice me. I would try to locate the source each time. As I glanced back I noticed roses, peonies and rhododendrons to name a few.  I was treated to the full array of lingering perfumes as I made my way down Lakeshore Road into the Old Town. Stately historical homes that had seen a hundred summers appeared to show off their manicured gardens with renewed summer vigour. Their long green lawns cascaded down to the lake. It was certainly just the right spot for a picnic. There were the tell tale sighs of   children. The rope from a tree swing hung nearby and a tricycle propped up against a tree.  I hoped that this lot had interrupted their play to enjoy the odd snack on this lush green carpet.


My stomach grumbled and it was definitely time to call in at my favourite café for the usual….. homemade croissant and a cappuccino.

Josh settled under the table with his eyes fixed on a nearby dog. It was just a matter of time before he leapt up and sent my coffee flying…….

Summer beauty!




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I am a ‘lady of leisure’ propped up against my plumped up cushions and with a cup of English Breakfast tea at my side. What can I say? I am a lazy little cow! Well, this is how I feel. I am forced to ‘take it easy’ as I recently had a bit of surgery all in the quest to maintain health and to keep mobile. The anesthetic has hit me for a six and I have spent most of the weekend trying to unscramble my dreams. They range from weekends spent on the farm in the Karoo and Lowveld to shopping trips to the Fourways Mall. One’s brain is such an interesting piece of machinery and it is fascinating what thoughts are unearthed when it is forced into submission for a while. All these amazing memories are stacked away just waiting to be drawn upon and savoured once more.The Lonehill Koppie

So I have the luxury today of just recalling some of those special moments spent in Africa. The pictures are vivid in my memory…… green wine lands and those majestic Stellenbosch Mountains, the grey ‘ganna bossies’ of the Karoo in the evening light and the lush forests of Toehill Farm. The memories of my dear Lonehill Koppie are crisp. I recall my last climb of its colossal boulders and the breath taking view from the top as if it were yesterday. The wonderful thing is, that as time goes by, I can relive these moments without feeling too sad.

A rare moment with lion cubs.

I get these gentle reminders of how the Universe is connected, no matter where we live on this planet. That fact alone is comforting when one is so far away. On Saturday a local robin discovered the bird bath that we had placed in the back garden under the trees.  It was one of the things that arrived in one piece after it had made its journey across the sea in the container. Many of the earthenware pots had not taken the wave motion quite as well! Our robin splashed about and washed off all his winter grit. His red breast glistened against the backdrop of the spring blossoms. I was reminded of his cousin back in Africa, the Olive Thrush; he had followed the same rituals during those long hot summers.

We had a taste of a warm summer evening last night and walked down to the lake. The evenings are light till late into the night so we get to enjoy them. The men in my house practiced their long forgotten cricket throws, as they skimmed smooth pebbles across the water. I perched on a nearby bench and watched a front approach across the lake. The ducks and swans were feeding and some got in the last bit of their socializing before the light failed. Small groups of summer bugs were out discovering the delights of the yellow dandelions and the blue forget- me- nots.  
It was time to go and get back on the bed with my feet up. I am going to indulge myself with more memories, as soon I will be up and hopefully  ‘dancing on the ceiling’ once more.

On Toehill Farm


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It had been a rough day, the icy wind had been blowing, the ironing was piled up in the laundry and the job hunting escapade had not been fruitful. How do I comfort myself in times like this? I reach for the FOOD….. But not just any food, it has to be food that conjures up the comfort of the familiar.


My familiar foods have passed the test of time and have been savoured without boredom coming into play. Now we all know that the concept of time is relative to one’s age. So if I had the urge to comfort myself with a familiar food that had passed the relevant criteria, it would have to hail from South Africa! The comfort of Ouma rusks with a cup of hot tea after a long day of teaching or a packet of salty chips as a meal in a bag when time is of the essence. My mouth just watered at the mere thought of these simple comfort foods.


That was it, I had to satisfy my stomach and calm my jaded being. I reversed out of the garage and chased down the road to my wonderful find of 2 weeks prior…the South African shop. There was no sighing as I pushed this trolley and the memories of trying to do this ‘job’ as fast as I could were in the distant folds of my cortex. I pushed my tiny trolley around the isles and drank in all things familiar…..boerewors,  rusks, Oros juice and Romany Creams to name a few.  The cheerful shopkeeper rang up my goods and as I handed over my dollars I thought about how important it is to keep things constant when one is dealing with change. If it means a 10 kilometer drive for a bottle of mayonnaise and a packet of biltong, so be it. We all cope in different ways and for us as a family, our South African foods and treats put a spring in our step when the going gets tough.


Did you ever think these would be comfort foods?

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Christmas is all about spending time with family and friends and with all our traditions we create those warm memories. The spruce tree has been adorned with ribbons and baubles and lights twinkle from the balcony, front door and the roof. The bokkie (reindeer) stands amongst his forest of lights at the front door and there is no mistaking that this house is definitely going to be celebrating Christmas. There is excitement in the air as plans are made, presents are wrapped and the Christmas spices float through the air.

Josh whines at the front door and I realize that it is time for his daily trot around the block and the evening ritual of chasing squirrels.

The bulldozer growled and squealed as it pushed its way through the rubble. This was someone’s house that was being knocked down and it was making way for progress with a modern one that would soon be built in its place. The planks of wood protested and creaked as they were shoved into the awaiting truck, there was nothing graceful about this old house meeting its demise. The demolition was now complete and this once quant, cottage home was now piled up on the back of a truck. I wondered how many happy memories had been made there, how many family Christmases had been spent around the dining room table and how many bright -eyed grandchildren had been entertained with stories in front of the fire. Sadly these were all but memories now and hopefully there were people who would hold them dear. Josh tugged at my arm as he was growing impatient and as I watched the truck trundle down the road, I thought of the one consolation: This wooden house would once more return to the earth on some landfill and new trees would grow from the nutrients left behind and new houses would be built and new memories made.

As the first few snow flakes fall, our family will gather at Maison de Morkel and new memories of our first Canadian Christmas with its rich eclectic blend of traditions will be created. But underneath it all, will be the solid foundation of experiences of Christmases in Africa.


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