Losing half a tree

Last night it rained, and what with raindrops and seed pods it proved too much for the big tree in the corner of our garden, and with a loud crash two of the lowest and longest branches broke off.

Tree1Some years ago our neighbour, Mr Veldhoen, wanted to erect a thatched shelter in his garden, and he had to have our permission because he wanted to build it next to the wall. We were a bit worried that branches might fall off the tree on to it, and had some of them cut. Mr Veldhoen said that before we moved in, he was tempted to move the boundary wall so he could have the tree in his garden. It really is a magnificent tree.

Tree2Now it is autumn and it’s all over seed pods (a few months ago we showed pictures of it with catkins), and for the first time in the 30 years we have lived here, baby trees have started springing up in the garden. Perhaps we’ll try to plant some over the road by the railway line.

Tree3Mr Veldhoen moved away years ago, but the thatched shelter he erected is still there, behind the palm tree on the right of the picture. Fortunately the broken branch missed it, and landed almost entirely on our lawn, without causing much damage to anything else.

Tree4

Second vegetable garden

With the success of our first raised vegetable garden, we started a second one yesterday. The first one took a long time to build, using bricks we had salvaged from our ruin. This time we had it up in half an hour, using cinder block bought for the purpose, with no cement.

Garden2aThe raised garden keeps the dogs out, and also makes it easier to work on.

Garden2bJethro was on leave, so we used his bakkie to fetch the blocks, and many hands made quick work of putting them together.

Veggie garden growing

There has been good rain over the last month, so our veggie garden has been growing quite well since we last posted photos here a month ago.

Garden03We’ve already been using the fresh parley in scrambled eggs and soup, and there are several green tomatoes as well.

It was also time to give the Wendy house a second coat of wood preservative.

WendyP2

We got a Wendy house

Today we got a Wendy house.

Thirteen years ago a crook builder by the name of Lukas Neethling undertook to build an extension to our house, and started it, but then scarpered with the money.

Wendy01

So for 13 years we we had a ruin in the back garden. We built a raised garden with some of the salvaged bricks, and decided to put a Wendy house on the concrete slab. It wouldn’t be as big or versatile as what we had envisaged, but might serve as a guest room.

Wendy02Ar 10:00 am, as promised by A & H Wendyhouses, the house arrived on a trailer with six workmen.

Wendy03They unloaded the bits and set to work to erect it.

Wendy04In less than half an hour it was beginning to take shape.

Wendy05They seemed to work pretty fast, and fortunately it didn’t rain, and Eskom wasn’t doing its usual load-shedding, so they were able to use their elctric drills and saws.

Wendy06There was a slight delay when one of the ceiling insulation panels broke and they had to go and fetch another one.

The finished Wendy house

The finished Wendy house

By 4:00 pm it was all done, and we just need to paint it inside, and set it up with some furniture.

We are very pleased with the work of A & H Wendyhouses, and recommend them to anyone who is looking for something similar. They didn’t mind our pestering with questions, and the workmen did a quick and very professional job.

Slava and Ruby Wedding

On Saturday 8 November we celebrated our Slava and Ruby Wedding at St Nicholas of Japan Orthodox Church in Brixton, Johannesburg. In addition to friends from the church, we were glad to celebrate with family and friends, some of whom we had not seen for a long time.

Entrance procession at Vespers: Fr Athanasius Akunda, Fr Elias Palmos & Deacon Stephen Hayes

Entrance procession at Vespers: Fr Athanasius Akunda, Fr Elias Palmos & Deacon Stephen Hayes (photo by Jethro Hayes)

After the regular Saturday evening Vespers, we had our Slava. Slava is a Serbian custom, which is a family celebration, remembering the day when the first members of that family were baptised, and you can find an explanation of the service here, on a blog post we posted on a previous occasion, so we won’t repeat all that here.

As we explained in our blog post about our wedding 40 years ago, we were actually married on 29 September 1974, which in the Western Church was the feast of St Michael and All Angels. We were received into the Orthodox Church 27 years ago on the 8th November 1987, which was the Orthodox equivalent of the same feast, and so became our Slava. We had the opportunity to choose new saints. names, and our son Jethro (then aged 7) chose Raphael, one of the archangels celebrated on that day. And so, because of the coincidence of the saints, we celebrate our wedding anniversary on the same day.

Nicky (Nektaria) Reynders, Val & Steve Hayes, celebrating name day and Slava at St Nicholas, Brixton

Nicky (Nektaria) Reynders, Val & Steve Hayes, celebrating name day and Slava at St Nicholas, Brixton

This time we had the parish priest, Fr Athanasius, and Fr Elias Palmos, with whom we are working on several mission projects. Also the celebration overlapped with that of St Nektarios of Pentapolis, who died on 8 November 1920, but is commemorated on the 9th because the 8th was the Synaxis of St Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven. So it was also the name-day of another member of the parish, Nektaria (Nicky) Reynders, and so we celebrated that too.

In addition to members of the parish, we were also joined by friends and family, who represented different periods of our life.

The family was representred by Graham Downs and his wife Elmarie (whom we had not met before). As the family tree calculator tells us, Graham Craig DOWNS and Valerie Muriel Katharine GREENE are 3rd cousins 1 time removed.  Their common ancestors are Henry CRIGHTON and Petronella Francina Dorothea FLAMME. An interesting point there is that Graham is actually just a year older than our son Jethro, but is a generation further back. Val is descended from the eldest son of Henry and Petronella Crighton, William John Crighton, while Graham is descended from a younger son, Frederick Crighton, and Frederick’s descendants seem to have had children when they were quite old, so there are fewer generations in between.

Family gathered for our Slava: BacK Elmarie Downs and Jethro Hayes. Front: Graham Downs, Stephen & Valerie Hayes

Family gathered for our Slava: Back Elmarie Downs and Jethro Hayes. Front: Graham Downs, Stephen & Valerie Hayes

There were also some old friends. One was Lionel Murcott, an artist, whom I had known before we were married, and in fact we had not seen each other for more than 40 years, but since he was living in Gauteng, he thought it would be quite easy to come and join us, and we were very glad to see him.

Stephen Hayes and Lionel Murcott.

Stephen Hayes and Lionel Murcott.

Another old friend was Phillip Pare, whom we knew from St Stephen’s Anglican Church in Centurion in the early 1980s. At about the same time that we joined the Orthodox Church, Phillip joined the Roman Catholic Church, but he and his wife and children live in Silverton, which is not far from us, so we’ve kept in touch.

Phillip Pare and Stephen Reynders

Phillip Pare and Stephen Reynders

There were also several friends that we knew from St Thomas’s Church in Sunninghill, including Mira Mihaljevic. It was good to see them again too.

Val Hayes and Ivo (from St Thomas;s Serbian Orthodox Church in Sunninghill.

Val Hayes and Ivo (from St Thomas;s Serbian Orthodox Church in Sunninghill).

Many people gave us gifts, which were somewhat unexpected, and much appreciated. and thanks for all for their kindness and friendship. We can’t mention all of them here, but only one or two.

Anthia Falekkos gives Val Hayes a bunch of flowers on behalf of the parish of St Nicholas

Anthia Falekkos gives Val Hayes a bunch of flowers on behalf of the parish of St Nicholas

And these helped to make it a memorable occasion. Father Athanasius read some special anniversary prayers for us as well.

Stephen and Valerie (Katharine) Hayes, Ruby Wedding

Stephen and Valerie (Katharine) Hayes, Ruby Wedding

It’s quite interesting, looking back, to see how many things have changed, since we were first married. I’m typing this on a laptop computer, but back in 1974 personal computers were known only to serious technonerds, and were very limited in what they could do. Television broadcasting was just beginning to make an appearance in South Africa, and soociologists from other parts of the world were making a study of South African children because they were the last generation in a relatively developed country who had grown up without TV. The Sunday Tribune had a weekly Charity Jackpot, a crossword puzzle competition, where the prize was a car worth about R5000. Most people could not afford a television set (they cost about R1200) and so they changed the prize to a TV set, and the name of the competition to a “Tellypot”. I wonder if they’ve changed it back. The price of petrol had just increased to 8c a litre, which everyone thought was iniquitously high.

Ruby grapefruit for a ruby wedding, from Grahasm and Elmarie Downs

Ruby grapefruit for a ruby wedding, from Grahasm and Elmarie Downs

Cellphones were unknown too. We were just starting our family history, and we corresponded with relatives overseas by snail mail, writing out family group sheets by hand, and occasionaly making photocopies — plain paper copiers were cutting-edge technology as most of them still used special coated paper. Occasionally we would type out family trees on wax stencils and run off copies of a Gestetner or Roneo duplicator. When did you last use an actual typewriter?

Finally, for closing, one of the most interesting presents we received was from Graham and Elmarie Downs: since it was our Ruby Wedding, they gave us “His” and “Hers” ruby grapefruit.

 

 

 

Priest in shock wedding

Priest in shock wedding. So read the headline in the Natal Daily News the day after our wedding 40 years ago on 29 September 1974.

We were married in St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church in Durban North, where I was the assistant priest at the time. The “shock” was a bit of an exaggeration; “surprise” might have been more accurate. We were married at the regular church service on Sunday morning, and of the congregation of about 400 only about 10 knew beforehand that we were getting married. Not even the guest preacher that Sunday, Fr Michael Lapsley, SSM, knew, and so he too was taken by surprise at the announcement that followed his sermon.

The reason for the secrecy was that I was banned at the time, and was not allowed to attend any social gatherings, that is, gatherings at which the persons present also had social intercourse with one other. There was one exception to this: with the special permission of the chief magistrate of Durban, I was allowed to attend tea parties after regular church services at St Martin’s, provided that those at the tea party had also attended the service beforehand. That meant that our wedding had to be at one of the regular Sunday services that was followed by tea, which at St Martin’s was on the fourth Sunday of each month.

Wedding of Stephen Hayes and Valerie Greene at St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, Durban North. 29 September 1974

Wedding of Stephen Hayes and Valerie Greene at St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, Durban North. 29 September 1974

Issuing a public invitation to attend would be likely to attract the unwelcome attention of the Security Police, and we did not want them snooping around and recording the number plates of all the cars outside the church and things like that. In these days of freedom that may sound quite paranoid, but things were different back then. At that very time my cousin’s husband, who was also banned, was facing charges of having broken his ban by attending a friend’s wedding in Pietermaritzburg — he had chatted to a couple of people after the service, and the Security Police interpreted that as a “social gathering”, and subpoenaed a lot of people who were at the service to give evidence, including the Anglican suffragan bishop of Natal, Ken Hallowes.

Wedding of Stephen Hayes & Valerie Greene, 29 Sep 1974. The officiant was the Revd Arnold Hirst

Wedding of Stephen Hayes & Valerie Greene, 29 Sep 1974. The officiant was the Revd Arnold Hirst

It so happened that on Sunday 29th September the choir of the Northlands Girls High School was singing a special musical setting of the service, called “The Mass of St Francis” (by aniticipation, St Francis was actually commemorated on 4 October). This provided a suitable excuse: we invited our friends and acquaintances to come to church that Sunday to hear this special choir, so we weren’t actually inviting them to attend a wedding or a gathering afterwards that could possibly be interpreted as a “social gathering” as defined in the Suppression of Communism Act (as amended). So we told our parents, and swore them to secrecy. And the parish priest, Arnold Hirst, knew, of course, and the head server, Richard Girdwood, and Ian Bastable, who had arranged the visit of the choir, and that was about it.

Going into the vestry after the service to attend to the legal bits.

Going into the vestry after the service to attend to the legal bits.

So after the sermon by Father Michael Lapsley, which went on for about 45 minutes, we were married.[1] And, despite the Mass of St Francis, the day was actually the Western feast of St Michael and All Angels.

With the preacher at the service, Fr Michael Lapsley, SSM

With the preacher at the service, Fr Michael Lapsley, SSM

Thirteen years later, on the Orthodox feast of St Michael and all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven, on 8 November 1987, we were received into the Orthodox Church, and since then we have observed the 8th November as our Slava and wedding anniversary. Slava is a Serbian Orthodox custom. All Orthodox Christians celebrate their name day, the day of the Saint whose name they were given in baptism. A Slava is a kind of family name day, celebrating the day of the Saint on which the first members of that family were baptised. In the case of most Serbs, that would have been several centuries ago, but in our case it is in living memory. It also seemed to be a good custom to adopt in Africa, where ancestors have played a significant role in culture.

Val Hayes, formerly Greene

Val Hayes, formerly Greene

As our actual wedding had to be “secret”, in the sense that we couldn’t invite anyone to it, we would like to celebrate our 40th anniversary by issuing an open invitation to friends and family to attend our Slava and anniversary celebrations. With the blessing of the Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Metropolitan Damaskinos, and the parish priest, Father Athanasius Akunda, it will take place at Vespers at the Church of St Nicholas of Japan, 156 Fulham Road, Brixton, Johannesburg, at 6:30 pm on Saturday 8 November 2014. As they say in the funeral announcements: friends kindly accept this intimation.

After the service, in the wedding garments Val had made

After the service, in the wedding garments Val had made. Unfortunately our negative scanner doesn’t cope too well with Fujicolor film, so the colours are a bit off

Unlike the original wedding, therefore, we are inviting people to join us. But, like the original event, and in memory of it, the refreshments will be of the “tea after church service” variety”.

It might have been better to plan such a thing for our 50th anniversary, in 2024, but who knows if we’ll survive that long in this world, so perhaps we’ll save that one for the next.

—-
Notes
[1] Actually if the Security Police had been alerted, they would probably have classified the whole thing as a “political gathering” (another type of gathering banned people were not allowed to attend), since Fr Michael pulled no punches when he said what St Francis would probably have thought of the contemporary political situation in South Africa (a “political gathering” was one at which any principle or policy of a state or of the government of a state was discussed). One woman walked out in the middle of the sermon, though whether because of political objections or because she thought it had gone on too long, we never discovered. She missed the fun afterwards, though she might also have disapproved of that too.

Turning our ruin into a garden

About 12 years ago we thought it would be nice to add a couple of rooms on to our house, but unfortunately the builder we employed (fellow by the name of Lukas Neethling, ID 590713 5146 08 3) was a crook, and scarpered with the money without finishing the job, leaving us with a ruin in the back garden.

Inspired by my second cousin-in-law, Toni Badcock-Walters, Val decided that now she has retired it might be nice to turn the ruin, or at least part of it, into a raised kitchen garden, so today we made a start on it.

Val & Simon preparing to turn the ruin into a kitchen garden

Val & Simon preparing to turn the ruin into a kitchen garden

Toni explains many of the advantages of a raised garden in her blog, but one of the main ones we envisage is that the dogs are less likely to charge through it on the way to bark at the neighbours’ dogs, or to decide that it would be nice to dig up.

Laying the first bricks for the raised kitchen garden.

Laying the first bricks for the raised kitchen garden.

Not being professional bricklayers, it won’t be a model for bricklaying, but it’s for a garden, not a house. It’ll probably take a while before the first bed is finished, and then we’ll see what we can grow in it.

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