Friday, January 7, 2011

81. Helen's wedding

Two years previously Granddaughter Helen had met Michael, in Milton Keynes, and they now decided to marry. To the delight of us all, they chose to be married in South Africa in a dear little chapel in the Drakensburg Mountains. The chapel stands in the grounds of the Cathedral Peak Hotel in Natal, a favourite venue for weddings. Michael’s Parents, Helen and Oz came from England together with Juliea, Maureen and six other friends. Jane, who was still living in Zimbabwe at the time, came too. Of course Jeni, Tony, young Tom and Bronwyn, his fiancĂ©, were there and, having been declared fit to fly, I was there too.

The drive from Johannesburg to the hotel took over four hours, but the scenery through Kwa Zulu Natal was beautiful and we passed through many small rural villages with clusters of little rondavals built with bricks made from cow dung and straw, and covered with thatched roofs. Picturesque no doubt, but how on earth do they survive there, with just a few cattle and no vegetation in sight? It must be bitterly cold in winter. Two pictures remain crystal clear in my memory from that drive. The first was seeing ten sparkling white nappies on a clothes line, blowing in the wind outside a rondaval which stood on a dusty, barren patch of ground. I wondered how far the mother had carried the water to wash the nappies, where in that deserted area, did she buy the washing powder, and how did she find the money to pay for it? The picture would have made a wonderful washing powder advertisement. The second picture was that of a little boy wearing the minimum of clothing, driving his herd of goats with a stick, chatting away on his cell phone! Who could he have been talking to? Another little boy who could not afford to go to school but could afford a cell phone? Those are the sort of questions that always interest me. I am intrigued by the logistics of things.

Cathedral Peak Hotel is built among the mountain peaks, and the guest rooms are built on about four terraces above the hotel. My room was located on the very top terrace and I did not think I would manage to climb up that high, but I did. The views were spectacular. At the breakfast buffet table we not only met a lady from Milton Keynes where Helen and Mike lived, but her husband had served in the Rhodesian army at the same time as Tony! A couple I spoke to in the foyer lived in Bangor, Northern Ireland where we had lived. All these meetings up a mountain in Africa!

The bride was beautiful, the wedding ceremony was beautiful, the scenery was beautiful, all the guests were beautiful, I had survived major heart surgery and life was beautiful

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