Continued from Oviston to Clarens
6-7 September, 2015
We spent the last weekend of our holiday with my cousin Peter Badcock Walters and his wife Toni in Clarens in the eastern Free State. We had breakfast at the Courtyard Restaurant.
And looked at Peter’s art on display at his gallery. This one was of their granddaughter Leah, when she was about 5 years old, about 15 years ago.
The gallery is a new venture, and also has a restaurant attached.
Some of the exhibition was devoted to his earlier book, Images of War.
On Monday 7 September we left, and that was effectively the end of our holiday. Once one leave Clarens, the scenery is monotonous. Bethlehem is the last place where one can stock up on food and drink, as the other towns along the way, Reitz, Frankfort, Villiers and Balfour, are not geared to catering for travellers. Villiers and Balfour used to be on the main road but now it by-passes them, and their prosperity has visibly declined.
And as on our last journey this way four years ago, we were struck by the crumbling transport infrastructure — abandoned railways lead to heavy goods going by road, with a consequent deterioration of the roads.
And perhaps the picture also symbolises the end of the line for such touring holidays for us too. It’s probably the last such journey we shall ever take, unless we win the Lotto or something.
It took nearly 6 hours to travel the 374 km between Clarens and where we live in Kilner Park, Pretoria, though that was partly due to getting a bit lost in Springs in the evening rush hour, where the signposting isn’t too good.
We saw most of the things we wanted to see — the Aughrabies Falls, spring flowers in Namaqualand, and the roads that ancestors had travelled on 150 years ago. We spenmt five days in the Cape Archives doing family history ressearch, and though we didn’t quite finish looking at everything on our list, we did see most of the important stuff.
We visited all the friends and relatives we wanted to see, or at least those who wanted to see us, many of them for the last time, as we’re unlikely to be back there again. And some, like Jean and Paul Gray, we met for the first time.
At most of the places we stayed, we left our surplus books via BookCrossing, and we managed to get some of our cousins, at least, to be quite enthused by the idea of exchanging books in that way. BookCrossing doesn’t seem to have caught on much in South Africa, at least not as much as in other places, and of the 25 books that we have “released into the wild”, we’ve only had news of one being found. Still, we live in hope.
Our puppy Pimen had grown, but was pleased to see us.
He also delighted in barking when a group of men with orange legs went past.