Home from holiday trip

Val and I have just returned home after a holiday trip to the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State, which lasted just over three weeks. It was very much a “seeing people” holiday, and we saw old friends and cousins we hadn’t seen for many years, and some family members we had never met before. We left on Bright Tuesday, 26th April 2011, and travelled through Springs, Nigel, Balfour, Villiers, Frankfort and Bethlehem to Clarens, where we stayed at the Cottage Pie B&B, and visited Dons and Anneke Kritzinger and Toni Badcock-Walters, wife of my second cousin Peter Badcock-Walters, who was away in New York.

On 27 April we drove to Graaff-Reinet, and were struck by the deterioration of the road and rail infrastructure caused by road transport deregulation — – the Free State roads were particularly bad. We stopped at Aliwal North for lunch and Val ate a venison pie under the reproachful gaze of a gemsbok whose head was mounted on the wall above. In Graaff Reinet we stayed at Villa Reinet, run by Hannan cousins Nick and Ailsa Grobler, but Ailsa was away, visiting her son in Dubai. We spent two nights there, and on Thursday visited the Valley of Desolation and Nieu Bethesda, which is famous for its Owl House, but deserves to be more famous for its beer, which is much better than the insipid chemical concoctions produced by SAB-Miller.

On Friday 29 April we drove to Barrydale and stayed overnight at the Watercourt Lodge, and saw an old friend Dick Usher, whom I had known when he was a journalist on the Daily News in Durban in 1969, and a member of the Christian Institute youth groups.

On Saturday 30 April we had a shorter trip to Robertson, where we visited cousin Sandy Struckmeyer (nee Vause) and her daughter Kerry, and then went to the Orthodox Centre established by Fr Zacharias van Wyk, who has converted an old packing shed into the last homely house, with a chapel attached, where we stayed the night and had Vespers, Matins and Divine Liturgy in a mixture of Afrikaans and Dutch.

After Liturgy on Sunday 1 May we drove to Hermanus, where we stayed at the Volmoed Community for four days, and I spend a lot of time with John de Gruchy, another old friend, discussing our proposed book on the history of the charismatic renewal in South Africa.

On Thursday 5 May we went to Villiersdorp, where we spent a couple of nights, and visited Val’s sister Elaine Machin and her friend Averil
Anderson, and on Friday went with them to Genadendal and Greyton where we had lunch, with magical misty mountains all around.

On Saturday 7 May we went to Cape Town and stayed at the Formula 1 hotel on the Foreshore, and visited Richard Girdwood, now Rector of St Michael’s Anglican Church in Observatory, whom we had known in Durban North in the 1970s. We had supper with Val’s first cousin Gail Stierlin (formerly Farqhuarson, formerly Alldred, born Terblanche) and met her husband Gustav Stierlin for the first time, and Gail’s mother, Val’s aunt Pat, was staying with them.

On Sunday we went to the Divine Liturgy at St George’s Cathedral in Woodstock, where I served with Fr Nicholas, and afterwards had lunch with Renfrew Christie at the Foresters Arms in Rondebosch. I wasn’t sure whether I had met him before or not, but I certainly knew of him from the 1970s. Then we went to Simonstown to visit more Hannan cousins, Arthur and Jean Vlok, and met their daughter Anthea for the first time. We had met their son-in-law Julian Buys on an earlier visit in 2003.

The next three days we spent mainly in the archives, doing family history research, and had supper with Erica Murray, another old friend, whom I had first met in 1964, but had not seen since she went to Canada in the 1980s. We also saw His Eminence Metropolitan Sergios, the Archbishop of the Cape of Good Hope.

On Thursday 12 May we left Cape Town early in the morning on our return journey, travelling eastwards on the N2 to Knysna. It was misty much of the way, and at one point we saw three bright lights, which we at first took for lights on a mountain, but when we didn’t pass them and as they went higher in the sky realised were stars or planets. No other stars were visible, just those three in the east, which were quite magical. One was certainly Venus (Lucifer), but I’m not sure what the other two were. We caught the tail end of a news item on TV saying that it was a quite rare conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and Mars (or was it Mercury?).

We spent a couple of nights at Knysna, and saw my first cousin Glenda Lauwrens (nee Growdon), her husband Brian and daughter Joanne, whom we hadn’t seen since they moved to Knysna from Ladysmith 21 years ago. We also saw Val’s father’s first cousin, Patrick Clark, and his wife Carol, whom we had never met before.

On Saturday 14 May we drove to Port Elizabeth, and were forced to use a toll road (boo! hiss!) for the only time on our trip, as the Bloukrans
Pass was closed. In PE we had tea with David and Mary MacGregor. David was formerly the Anglican Dean of Pretoria, and we had not seen them since the 1980s. We had supper with Val’s aunt Nat Greene, On Sunday we went to the Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Dormition, and afterwards went to lunch with Dimitri and Marguerite Paizis, and stayed talking with them the whole afternoon.

On Monday 16th May we drove to Stutterheim via Port Alfred. At Bathurst we tried to visit Lindsay Walker, an old BBS friend, but did not have his address. We got a phone book at the post office and called the only Walker listed in Bathurst, but there was no reply. At Stutterheim we stayed with Growdon cousins, Hamish and Monica Scott. Their son Robbie runs a nursery and an eco-lodge called “The Shire”, and we spent the night in one of the splendid cabins at The Shire.

On Tuesday 17th May we travelled to Burgersdorp via Cathcart, Queenstown and Molteno. We had driven through Burgersdorp on the way down, and wanted to see more of it, and so spent the night there.

On Wednesday 18th May we retraced our route to Clarens over the horrible Free State roads, and Wepener was as dirty and run-down as Burgersdorp was neat and well kept. This time we stayed with Toni Badcock-Walters (my second cousin Peter was away again, this time in Namibia), but we met their son Craig, and Peter’s half-sister Louise Philp, and caught up on a lot of family history information. It was election day for the local government elections, but there was no way we could get home in time to vote, in spite of a flurry of urgent SMS messages from the Democratic Alliance urging us to vote for them so they could take the City of Tshwane. I thought it was a bit presumptuous of them to assume that we would vote for them.

On Thursday 19th May we drove the last leg homewards, via Petrus Steyn Heilbron, Vereeniging, Heidelberg, Nigel, Springs and Bapsfontein. We stopped in Petrus Steyn to visit church friends Danie Steyn and his mother, who gave us mushroom soup for lunch.

Well, that’s the outline, but we will also be posting more detailed accounts, with pictures, on our various blogs, perhaps after the pattern
of Cobbett’s “rural rides”.

Visiting family in the Western Cape

After leaving Volmoed on 5 May we went to Villiersdorp to see Val’s sister Elasine Machin, who has been living there with her friend Averil Anderson for the last 7 months, knitting alpaca wool and paionting pictures of animals. While there we went to have lunch at the nearby town of Greyton, and passed through Genadendal, the first Christian mission station in South Africa, founded by the Moravian Georg Schmid.

Val Hayes, Elaine Machin & Averil Anderson at Greyton
Greyton is all over picturesque cottages and restaurants, and seems to be populated mainly by what people on the Welsh Borders call “incomers” — actually quite a lot of the small towns in the Western Cape, and even in the Eastern Cape, seem to be a bit like that.

View from Elaine and Averil's house at Villiersdorp

On Saturday 7th May we went to Cape Town, where we are staying at the Formula 1 Hotel on the Foreshore. It doesn’t have very attractive surroundings, mainly office blocks and parking lots for them, and nowhere within walking distance where one can get anything to eat, but it’s where all the freeways meet, and one can go off in any direction, and it’s a five-minute drive from the archives, where for the last couple of days we’ve been doing family history research.

On Saturday evening we had supper with Val’s cousin Gail Stierlin, whose husband Gustav we had not met before, and Val’s aunt Pat van der Merwe was also visiting, and we hadn’t seen her for a long time either.

Gustav & Gail Stierlin, Pat van der Merwe, Val Hayes

On Sunday evening we visited more cousins on the Hannan side of the family, and this time we found most of the family home – Arthur and Jean Vlok, their daughter Anthea and son-in-law Julian Buys, and grandchildren Brandon (10) and Joelle (5).

Julian Buys, Arthur Vlok, Joelle Buys, Anthea Buys, Jean Vlok and Brandon Buys in front

Visiting Hannan cousins, almost

Last Tuesday we went on holiday, and travelled to Clarens in the Eastern Free State. Some of the things we saw (and drank) can be seen on our other blog here.

My second cousin Peter Badcock-Walters retired to Clarens some years ago, but  on Tuesday he had to be in New York, but we called in anyway and chatted to his wife Toni.

Val Hayes and Toni Badcock-Walters, Clarens, 27 April 2011

Nick Grobler

On Wednesday we drove to Graaff Reinet and stayed at the Villa Reinet Guest House, run by more cousins on the Hannan side of the family, Nick and Ailsa Grobler. But unfortunately (for us anyway) Ailsa had gone to visit their son Gavin, who is a chef in Durbai. But Nick told us quite a bit about the family history as well.

And if you’re looking for a place to stay in Graaff Reinet, we can recommend Villa Reinet. In addition to chatting about family history with Nick, we visited the Valley of Desolation and Nieu Bethesda, a village about 40 kilometres north of Graaff Reinet, which must be the only place in slouth Africa where real ale is brewed, and very good it is too.

More updates to follow, as and when we get internet access in our travels,

Kitchen gardening and publishing

I’ve just had a note from Peter Badcock Walters (my second cousin on the Hannan side)  saying that he and his wife Toni have retired to Clarens in the Free State (I seem to know lots of people who have retired there), and they are into kitchen gardening, and also publishing books about it.

Their blog is Kitchen Gardening for Kindred Spirits, and their publishing arm is Lizard’s Leap Press. Peter once drew some illustrations for an edition of the works of Herman Charles Bosman, and is now planning a new edition with even more illustrations.

The Hannan family

My grandmother was Janet McCartney Growdon, born Hannan (1882-1946). She died a couple of days before my 5th birthday, so I have only a few childhood memories of her, and of going to visit her and my grandfather at McKenzie Road in Durban, where they lived. In their back garden was a big avocado pear tree. Their house was near the Stamford Hill aerodrome, long since removed further north to Virginia, and replaced by sports stadiums – Kingsmead, Kings Park, and a new one being built for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

When we were in Durban a couple of months ago we visited my grandparents’ grave in Stellawood Cemetery, where they are buried with my uncle Willie Growdon, whom I never met — he was killed in a motorbike accident before I was born.

Three years ago, however, we visited some other graves — of my grandmother’s grandmother, after whom she was named — Janet Hannan, born McCartney, and her husband Thomas Hannan. Their graves are in Girvan cemetery, in Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland.

Gravestone of Thomas and Janet Hannan in Girvan

Gravestone of Thomas and Janet Hannan in Girvan

For much of the 19th century the Hannan family lived in Girvan. Janet McCartney came from Maybole, not far away, and they were married there. But most of their children died young, and their names are inscribed around the gravestone.

The eldest son, William Hannan (1856-1928), went to Glasgow, where he met and married Ellen McFarlane. He was a carpenter and joiner. One of their sons, Stanley Livingstone Hannan, was killed in action in the First World War, and his memorial is next to that of his grandparents in Girvan Cemetery.

Memorial to Stanley Livingstone Hannan, and his father William Hannan

Memorial to Stanley Livingstone Hannan, and his father William Hannan

William and Ellen Hannan’s eldest son Tom Hannan (1879-1941) married Hannah Carson and lived in Glasgow. He was a life-long socialist, and was jailed as a conscientious objector in the First World War. His youngest sister Maria (Ria) married Jack Cochrane, and we know nothing about what happened to them. If anyone knows, please let us know!

The other children of William and Ellen Hannan came to southern Africa. Janet McCartney Hannan met George Growdon in Waterval Boven, Transvaal, where he worked as an engine driver for Central South African Railways, and they were married there on 2 June 1909. My mother Ella Growdon was born in Pretoria exactly a year later, and a couple of years after that they moved to Durban permanently.

Emily Livingstone Hannan married first Charlie Mould, and then Arthur Sharp, and lived in Berea in Johannesburg.

David McFarlane Hannan went to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), and died at Ndola in 1951. Their children lived in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Duncan MacFarlane Hannan (1894-1957) married Margaret Helen Bain, and was a butcher in Durban.

If anyone reading this is related to this Hannan family, please visit our family Wikispace, and have a look at the Hannan family pages there. You can goin Wikispaces and add to the family stories there.

Davi

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