The day you depart is often a funny day.
Especially if you’re going to be away from home for more than a weekend.
The Tribe had been looking forward to our journey to explore the Blue Crane Tourism Route.
By Thursday evening everyone’s bags were packed, feed was stashed for all the animals who would remain home. A kind house-sitter had been briefed on every little quirk of the little wooden house on the not so little hill. Neighbours had been asked to be kind and helpful. Appointments were cancelled. Last minute e-mails sent.
Yet, Friday morning still had too few hours.
Too few to allow us to get out of Nelson Mandela Bay before lunch.
There was a Reach for a Dream radio drive to be done.
Two urgent meetings.
A payment or three to make.
It was already twelve o’clock when we collected the Chrysler Grand Voyager from Maritime Motors.
This time we’re trying the new diesel version.
Much more fuel efficient.
And the DVD-screens made the kids day.
Zuko & I thought back to days when you drove to a big parking lot, wound down your window to attach a crackling speaker to the side of your car & watched a movie through a fogged up windscreen.
It was a movie.
In a car.
The sound was exceptional though.
The image clarity amazing.
The drive to Somerset East gave Zuko & I an opportunity to catch up on the weeks past.
It’s a year since we found out she was pregnant with our Maddi.
It’s a year since we stood at the grave of our dear friend Sarel, shielded from the harsh Kalahari sun by the dark green leaves of an ancient Motoppi-tree.
We spoke about Beate leaving for the US to finish her studies at Yale.
Then we checked in at Somerset East.
Usually, on first days of trips, we just drive to our destination, get a bed & sleep.
Today we wanted to get to Cranemere before coffee time.
Cranemere is on the other side of Somerset East.
A humble name on the side of the road.
Gold on brown.
We meet Alex & Mariane Palmer.
They’d been on Cranemere for generations.
Alex’s great-grandfather settling there in 1880.
Marriane was ‘imported’ from the Freestate.
They met in Stellenbosch.
Children were born.
Sheep & goats raised.
That perhaps Elizabeth will return.
Marianne & Bernadette published a recipe book.
It was internationally recognised.
Of people coming to stay at Cranemere.
Everything shared in the beautiful recipe book.
We walk along the edge of Cranemere’s lake.
To the house built in 1940 for Alex’s parents, when they began a new life.
To be interrupted by war.
Alex remembers the stories his father told of prisoner camps, indescribable hunger & longing.
To a maiden just married.
To a Camdeboo plain deeply ingrained on his being.
It is here that Eve Palmer cried her first tear & laughed her deepest joy.
It is this she describes with reminiscence.
We drink coffee.
We savour dark rich chocolate cake with deep red berries.
They talk of children.
Of guest rooms & guests.
The sun sets.
We find our way to Somerset East.
In Pearston we stop at the home of Frans Burger.
With some chocolate cake & marmalade.
The kitchen at Cranemere never quiet.
He is from the Boland.
He’s come to guide & be guided.
To restore & be restored.
We do not linger, the sun long gone, a bed to be found & supper, our Maddi tired after the day’s journey.
The drive from Pearston via Bruinjies Hoogte to Somerset East is easy.
‘This way I could travel all day long’, Zuko comments on the space & comfort of the Voyager afforded us.
We find Hockley Cottages.
A warm welcome.
PJ & Lynette hungry for conversation.
Lynette was born here.
She knows the streets.
She’s seen them blossom.
And dry out.
And become again.
The seasons always coming and going.
We discover a man who engineers tools for far off factories.
A woman who knows the joy of welcoming new life.
We see faith.
Hope often answered.
And then we find our way to the comfort of our Hockley Cottage.
One of three, originally built by a sister & two brothers.
And we rest.
And we know the beauty of the mountain of this town will fade in the face of the beauty of the people who have chosen to make this home.