Visiting Pearson/Ellwood cousins

Last week we had visits from two cousins on the Pearson/Ellwood side of the family that we hadn’t seen for a long time.

On Tuesday 24 October we went to the Balalaika Hotel in Sandton to meet Ian and Zania McKenzie from Edinburgh. They were on a tour that had begun in the Western Cape, and gone along to the Eastern Cape. They had visited the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and were about to go to the Kruger National Park, then to the Victoria Falls and home.

Zania McKenzie & Val Hayes, Balalaika Hotel, Sandton 24 Oct 2017

We had last seen them 12 years ago, when we visited Scotland in 2005. Zania is Val’s double second cousin — her grandfather Ernie Pearson was the brother of Val’s grandfather William Walker Pearson, and her grandmother Margaret Ellwood was the sister of Val’s grandmother Martha Ellwood.

Zania & Ian McKenzie

It was quite interesting to me to see the Balalaika Hotel, a large multistorey affair in a cobbled street (where some clown tried to run us over when we were going to the hotel), and a row of tall trees. In my youth the Balalaika was more of a nightclub than a hotel, s single-storey building with coloured lights in the garden in Sandown, which was then the heart of Joburg’s “mink and manure” belt, where people used to go to watch polo and gymkhanas. Now it is full of high-rise buildings, mostly office blocks.

The other cousin we saw was Sonja Gammage, who had been attending a Classics Colloquium in Centurion. She had spent a couple of years at Oxford in England doing her Masters, and is now completing her doctorate at UKZN. I was fascinated to learn that her thesis is on Atticising tendencies in Greek novels of the 2nd Century AD. I hadn’t known that novels as a literary genre went back that far, and as they would all have had to be hand copied, they must have been pretty expensive.

Sonja Gammage and Val Hayes at Hawk Lake Spur, Centurion. 28 October 2017

It was even longer since we had seen Sonja — 14 years. We had last seen her at the funeral of her grandmother Mollie Gammage, who was Val’s aunt.

 

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