Archive for category South Africa
Goodbye South Africa – We Will Miss You
It’s sad to say goodbye to a country that gave me a good life for many years, to all our friends and colleagues. But eventually I realised I had no choice.
I first came to South Africa as a young man on a backpacking holiday, keen to explore new places, discover new cultures, meet new friends. It’s true to say I fell in love with this country shortly after arriving.
After I finished learning my trade, I took a long break from the damp, cold weather of Yorkshire which I spent backpacking around Africa, and South Africa. I inquired about getting a job in this sunny, friendly land. The possibilities looked good. Skilled, qualified tradesmen were wanted in those days.
I went back home, worked for almost a year, but all the time I was thinking about South Africa.
I Decided to Move
It was easy in those days (early 1970’s) for a Brit to work in South Africa. I wrote to a few of the people I’d met before, and was offered a job! So, there and then I decided.
Marriage and Citizenship
My first employer was in Cape Town, and this was where I met my wife, Jen. When we decided to marry, I decided to become a South African, and applied for citizenship. Eventually, I was granted this (it took a while). I was proud to call myself a South African.
Port Alfred on the Kowire River became the first real stop-over on our journey North. A pleasant town at the mouth of the Kowie River in the Eastern Cape, Port Alfred has magnificent clean beaches, good fishing (yes, fishing) and a wide choice of places to stay over.
Blaaukrans, J-Bay and PE
Leaving Vic Bay, we travelled the Garden Route north-east, by-passing Storms River (it’s a marine reserve so no fishing) and heading for Port Elizabeth. I really wanted to take the old road – through the Blaaukrans Pass, bu no way – the road is still closed to all but a handful of residents, so had to stay on the boring N2 highway, over the concrete bridge. I wonder if that road through the pass will ever get repaired and re-opened…
One of the worst kept secrets on the Garden Route, Victoria Bay grew in recent years from a small quiet holiday resort to a small hamlet with a handful of semi-permanent residents. Originally there was only a camping ground, and later a small shop that opened during holidays and weekends. Victoria Bay in those days was a haven for surfers, and occasionally fishermen.
Vic Bay – First Stop
Victoria Bay is ony a short distance from Mossel Bay, so it may seem strange to make this the first stop on our journey North. However, it’s been some time since last I dropped a line in the water here, and after a late departure Jen and I decided to overnight here, do a bit of night and early morning fishing before continuing our expedition.
I have worked in the industrial contracting sector for nigh on thirty years, first as an apprentice boiler maker and welder, later for myself as a subcontractor. The job has been good to me: I never expected to get rich, and definitely that is the case… but I have enjoyed the work, the camaraderie of fellow workers in this rough and tough industry…
I have had the opportunity to build a small succesful business, and have a core team of workers who are reliable mostly, some who have been with me a long time, one who has stayed through thick and thin since I started out for myself.
Times Changing, Time to Change
I work mainly for a few prime contractors, one of whom provides about 80% of my work. It’s been a good arrangement, they procure the work, manage part-time workers, and take care of much work I would otherwise have to do – and spending time negotiating for contracts is time out of earning a living.
If anyone is wondering why I have not posted recently, the answer is simple: Three weeks of solid work have taken every minute of my time. I haven’t had a line in the water since the beginning of the month. Jen is wondering if she’ll ever get to have a meal with me again…
Such is my working life; days, weeks sometimes even a month or two with no work whatsoever, followed by non-stop 7 day weeks. This time it was one of the spin-off industries that developed from Mosgas/Petrosa. When I first arrived in Mossel Bay, there was not much in the way of large industry. Much of the industrial activity revolved around commercial fishing and the port.
How things have changed. The natural gas industry developed in the mid to late 1970’s becoming one of the largest employers and contributors to the local economy. These days it seems most of the work I do is in some way related to this industry.
Time now to visit the rocks, throw a few baits before picking up the good-lady at 16hoo (And trying to convince her to spend the evening with a rod in her hands!)
Jen’s latest Desire – a Plot of Land
Standing on Jen’s Desire, a corner plot for sale in Cape St Francis, looking towards the bay. The plot is less than 10 minutes walk to the beach, and on the side of the hill. The hill gives protection from the raging South Westerly winds that storm through the area on what seems like a daily basis. Ah Jen, if only we didn’t have to work!
This is my first post for several days. Busy making a living, and trying to snatch a few hours making living enjoyable – fishing…
The Cape St Francis adventure was enjoyed. Fishing was not outstanding, and the weather, well let’s just say it could have been better. However the extended weekend was a good break from local life, and may be the last time I can do one of these expeditions until next year.