Werners Birthday Weekend
Sun 7 Mar 2021 06:14
Werner’s Birthday Weekend
It is legal in South Africa to distil liquor at home and on the envious strength of that fact Werner made his own still and now produces the smoothest and most delicious pink gin (with raspberries), whisky, rum, brandy and white gin without using any chemicals. His organic spirits produce no harsh aftertaste or headaches and come in unusually shaped bottles, the more unusual as one imbibes.
So after our ceviche with French baton bread starter, we spent the afternoon chatting on the comfy terrace seats, or in the pool at their home, trying these lovely liquors as the sun continued its time honoured path overhead down towards the indigenous trees in their garden. When I say ‘we’ the party comprised our hosts’ married children, Nadine and Thomas and their respective partners Ashley and Janina and Janina’s parents Renata and Robert and Alexander their delightful baby grandson who loved the pool so much I believe, as the afternoon wore on, he was actually growing webbed feet.
With the warmth, bonhomie and no doubt the effect of the fine refreshments, senses were becoming smooth and rounded and at one point I met Robert in the hall of the house beside the thousand ton rock which was too big to move when the house was built and has become a half billion year old ornament. Robert was on his knees retrieving something from behind the rock. He flicked a small soft, leopard patterned piece of fabric into the better light and exclaimed, with a glint in his eye, “Ah half a bra.... or bikini maybe,” then advanced his theory, “No just a face mask!” It was very funny at the time.
Evening shadows were lurking beneath the shrubs and creeping up stone walls and wooden pillars when Werner dished up large oval platters piled high with local crayfish, halved and still in their brilliant orange shells served with piled high white rice in white porcelain dishes and accompanied with garlic butter sauce.
Later Nadine brought out my offering of Rock Cakes, (quite appropriate now I think about it) and her own heart-shaped lemon buns with lashings of icing and Christina lowered Werner’s yummy birthday cake, overflowing with a white avalanche of icing and raspberry rocks, on to the table. Present opening brought the table part to an end.
As the tired and happy family made their way home, we four continued the evening long after dark and someone decided that trying to beat the curfew back to Zoonie to drop us off and then back home was a risk too far, so we stayed the night in the spare room, after I had a wonderful bath. Olga, the gentle grey stray cat that has adopted Christina and Werner, slept the night in the small of my back, while Christina and Werner cleared the dozens of glasses and all the crockery and cutlery away, so that by the morning there was no evidence of the party left. We felt guilty that we had not helped, especially as it was Werner’s Birthday and both he and Christina worked so hard.
Rob and I awoke to a wonderful view of the mountains crowned with a clear blue sky and the sound of birdsong and distant barking dogs connecting across the gardens.
After a breakfast of fruit and yoghurt we walked through the estate with its perfect protea flowers that have become a favourite of ours, into the foothills to enjoy the views towards Constantia in one direction and the azure blue of Hout Bay in the other. The lone stand of trees are non indigenous and under government policy they are what is left of the recent forests that have been felled to give the native fauna a chance to recover. Naturally this is a controversial issue with many people wishing the trees could be left alone as they create their own ecosystem.
Welsh folk must have once upon a time settled in the pretty little bay they named Llandudno, but there are few modest seaside homes left to show for the early days of colonial living. Today this is an enclave of the rich, nouveau riche and ‘wannabies’. Werner pointed out the house they lived in for many years when they were raising their children and which they sold a long time ago liberating them for ten years of cruising, during which time is when we met them at Bora Bora a few months before the end of their odyssey. The sun set beautifully beyond the horizon of this pretty bay that is understandably so special to them; we were privileged to share the occasion with our dear friends.
Back on Zoonie our thoughts were beginning to turn towards our departure. The summer is declining here and watching the weather map, the ideal conditions for sailing northwest toward St Helena in the middle of the South Atlantic that have prevailed for months are changing, as big high and low pressure systems march from west to east towards the South African coast, sucking in the light winds and leaving patches of no wind, which we do not want as fuel will be precious over the long landless distances we have to travel.
The psychological adjustments also have to be made as usual. Restless nights wondering what we are going to meet out there are countered with daily discussions on contingency plans of, for example, using the VHF and Sat Phone if we need to should we become tangled in someone’s long line or drift net fishing gear, motoring at night as little as possible because one cannot see the way ahead, which is a bazaar concept for those not familiar with the open ocean.
Someone advised us that if we stay relatively close to the shipping routes, which show up clearly on our phone app as thousands of coloured pen nibs following distinct lines either side of St Helena, then we will not come across fishing gear. Fishermen don’t want their gear compromised any more than we want to get stuck in it. Also, ships with their professionally trained officers within the 15 mile VHF range are a comforting thought. But a vigilant lookout is needed at all times of course.
More than once we have been asked “What do you do at night, anchor and go to bed?” We realise from this that what we are doing, that seems perfectly regular and routine to us, is as far beyond most people’s understanding of what they know as ‘normal’ as living on the edge of a round world.
Early fears, thrashed out and accommodated are replaced with the joy of the prospect of being ‘back out there’ and on our way home, ticking off each day as another success and a day less to go. We will leave here with so many things left to do, which sweetens the idea that one day we might return, with family even which would be even better.