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.

First fruits

For some time we’ve been making use of parsley from our kitchen garden, and in the last week we’ve been having lettuce and tomato as well.

First tomatoes from our garden - 6 Feb 2015

First tomatoes from our garden – 6 Feb 2015

The garden seems to be getting a bit overcrowded, so we’re planning to build another raised bed to add to it.

Tomatoes and potatoes going te kere - 6 Feb 2015

Tomatoes and potatoes going te kere – 6 Feb 2015

The tomato plants have grown big, and in the back on the right are the potatoes, which have spilled over and reached thr ground. We hope they have put as much energy into producing spuds as they seem to have put into producing stems and leaves!


Last days for Squiffylugs

Today our dog Squiffylugs was diagnosed with bone cancer, so she probably won’t be with us for much longer.

Squiffylugs, 12 Jan 2015

Squiffylugs, 12 Jan 2015

On Friday she was fine, on Saturday she began limping, and as there seemed no improvement today we took her to the vet, and he said it was bone cancer, and the prognosis is not good.

She was born on 12 November 2007, her father being our German Shepherd Samwise, and her mother being our cross German Shepherd-Border Collie, Ariel. There were three surviving puppies in the litter, and two of them went to a monastery then at Hennops Pride.

She had lots of nicknames when she was growing up — Fatty Lumpkin, because she was the greediest of the litter and the fattest. Jethro called her Pidlet, because she would piddle when she was excited, and she didn’t merely wag her tail, but her whole body.  Eventually it became apparent that she would always have one ear sticking up and the other folded down, so she became Squiffylugs.

She is the third dog we have had who has had cancer. The first one, Lucy, died in January 2001, also from bone cancer, in the same place. She was quite old, and would probably have died of old age quite soon anyway. Squiffylugs’s mother Ariel died of the canine equivalent of breast cancer nearly three years ago.

And that makes us wonder. One sometimes hears stories of people living near to high tension electricity lines having higher rates of cancer than normal. We’d not paid much attention to such stories before, but there are high tension lines just across the road from us.

The view from our sitting-room window

The view from our sitting-room window

And it was in October 1994 that another line was strung up on the other side, so that we have high-voltage lines on two sides of our house. Three dogs getting cancer makes one wonder if there is a link.

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.


Death of Joan Pearson (1924-2014)

The other day we were heir-hunted, by two firms that specialise in tracing relatives of people who died without leaving a will, and so learned of the death of Joan Pearson, Val’s first cousin once removed. In the 40 years of doing family history we had not been able to find her address, and so contact her directly, and so we only learn something about her after she died.

Joan Pearson was the daughter of Gilbert Pearson, a watchmaker of Whitehaven, Cumberland, England, and part of a fairly large family of Pearsons. Gilbert Pearson married Maud Dixon in 1922, and they had two daughters, Joan and Barbara, neither of whom married or had any children.

As far as we know, Joan and Barbara Pearson worked in the civil service. Joan worked in the Colonial Office and is said to have spent some time in Uganda, where her great-uncle, Charles Pearson, had been a pioneer missionary in the 1880s.

So, having learned of her death, we found this:

PEARSON Joan OBE formerly of 13 Wharf Mill. Died peacefully on 3rd September 2014, aged 89. Sister of the late Barbara. ———- Funeral service at Basingstoke Crematorium on Thursday 16th October at 11.45am. Flowers welcome or donations, if desired, to Alzheimer’s Society (Winchester Branch) c/o Richard Steel & Partners, Alderman House, 12-14 City Road, Winchester, SO23 8SD or via (Hampshire Chronicle, 9 Oct 2014)

The OBE was presumably for her work in the civil service, and I also have a vague memory that she or her sister Barbara were involved in secret intelligence work during the Second World War.

The nice thing about being contacted by heir-hunters (whose activities have been documented in several TV shows) is that it provides an opportunity for members of different branches of the family to get in touch with each other again. The rather worrying thing is, when someone dies intestate, and apparently in an old age home, whose living relatives have to be told of her death by specialist firms of heir-hunters,  what happens to her stuff. I don’t mean her money — I doubt there will be much of that, since she was presumably living on a civil service pension, much of which would probably be going to her care in an old age home.

But what happens to family photos and papers? Will they just be tossed out by someone who doesn’t care, and doesn’t care whether anyone else cares? Perhaps there are letters and diaries documenting her time in Uganda, or some interesting information about the family history. Maiden aunts and uncles are usually good sources of such things.

The good thing is that it has got members of the scattered Pearson clan communicating with each other again. The sad thing is that one learns more about a relative after they have died than when they were alive.


So few are free

So few are freeSo few are free by Lawrence George Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lawrence G. Green‘s books follow a similar pattern, and there is a certain amount of repetition. He tells the same story in more than one book, sometimes with more or less detail.

This one deals with the west coast of southern Africa, from the Cape to the Kunene, with anecdotes of out of the way places, and characters who played a minot role in history. As a journalist he collected notes on all sorts of topics, and every now and then he would work them up to a story with a connecting theme, and in this one the connecting theme is the places on the “Diamond Road” and the Skeleton Coast.

As I’ve already noted about his Thunder on the Blaauwberg not all of his tales are accurate. He is a raconteur, not a historian.

We have several of his books on our shelves, and the story of how this one came to be on our shelves is almost like one of his stories. It has been in our bookshelf ever since I can remember, and has the inscription, “To Frank Hayes, the most genuine of pals, from Tromp van Diggelen.”

Frank Hayes was my father, and Tromp van Diggelen was my godfather, and it is just the kind of book he would give as a gift to a friend, because he loves such stories, and lived them himself. Like Lawrence George Green Tromp van Diggelen loved to go on journeys to out-of-the-way places, drawn by tales of lost cities and buried treasure. In his youth he was a wrestler, and later he was a physical fitness instructor, and my father, originally one of his pupils, became one of his friends.

I’ve been pulling the books off the shelves and rereading them for reasons related to family history. A researcher is trying to find out more about the life of Abraham Morris (1866-1922) the guerrilla fighter against the Germans in Namibia in 1906, and leader of the Bondelswarts Rebellion in 1922, in which he was killed.

Abraham Morris’s mother was Annie Schyer of the Bondelswarts, and the story is that his father was a white trader named Morris. My wife Val’s ancestry is part of the Morris family, who were traders in Namibia, so there is a possibility that Abraham Morris was related to us — but how? There were two James Morrises, cousins, each with a brother William, who could possibly have been his father. So we search books like this looking for tiny clues that could place one or other of the Morrises in the right place at the right time to be Abraham’s father.

This book mentions Abraham Morris only briefly, Thunder in the Blaaurberg gives more detail. But it has plenty of fascinting stories about various places and events.

One of the places of particular interest was the Leliefontein Methodist Mission Station, near Garies in the Northern Cape. It was a place where traders between Namibia and the Cape often called in the 19th century, and many people passed through there.

Other stories that interested me were those of the 1934 floods in Namibia, when the highest rainfall was recorded. It was the highest recorded up till then, and has never been exceeded since. When I lived in Windhoek 40 years ago there were still people around who remembered the floods of 40 years before, and there were signs in improbable places showing the levels that water in the rivers had reached then. Green tells several stories of the floods from people who actually experienced them. He also tells of odd characters and eccentrics, like the one who built a castle in the desert, and those who tried to climb lonely mountains, and, rather more sadly, those who kill baby seals for their fur.

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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.


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.


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