Monday, July 19, 2010

More memories

Around about this time my parents divorced and they both met wonderful people. My mother married my friend and soul mate who was ten years older than me, Hank Kohler. Hank was a rugged Australian from Perth, Australia who had been in the merchant navy and was working on constructing a highway to Mozambique in the then Rhodesia. He loved to party but had a heart of gold under his brash exterior. He could move mountains with his hard work and determination.

Here’s a picture of Hank, he always had a smile on his face and a joke up his sleeve.

My father married a beautiful lady who was widowed and had three children, Polly Logan. Her husband had been working on the farm as a manager and was another charismatic person. They stayed on the farms and I gained two new step brothers and a sister.

Here Polly is about to drink a yard of ale. I think this must have been a posed photo as she is definitely not a big drinker though she is a very social and a very generous person.

Here are my new found brothers and sister. From left to right Paul, Jane and Ivan. Aren’t they cute? (Little Devils.)

We were going through the period of the bush war and there was much anxiety and trauma, but whenever there is a time of conflict people pull together and pool all resources. It was also when I realized how futile and unnecessary war and violence is and how easy it is to be drawn into the aberration of the situation. The older I get the more I see that the majority of people just need security and the ability to create in a positive way. I happened to meet a few of the supposed enemies, some of whom I had grown up with, and asked them why they were fighting. They had been promised amazing riches by the war mongers that none ever got. It is a period that should have never been. I look back and realize these were lessons on my journey.

There were a couple incidents that occurred that stick vividly in my mind. I was on my farm with my new wife when Dad and Polly’s homestead was attacked one night, a frightening experience. We had a system that if an occurrence like this happened a panic alarm was pushed which was linked to an army response headquarters and then a unit would be dispatched. This covered an area of about 50 square miles although we had armed guards on the property for protection. These attacks used to last about 15 minutes or so but they let off numerous rounds of ammunition and mortar bombs. It was a horrendous experience and sounded like a full scale war. Fortunately there were no casualties. Polly and Zaza the dog had disappeared under the bed. Zaza is the dog in the above picture. Dad also had a peacock which had sat through the attack up a tree with bullets and bombs flying by. Another incident was one of our tractors was blown up by a landmine on one of the roads leading to the fields, the driver survived only due to his size. His name was Sixpence as he was of a short stature and the tractor was large with water filled wheels to give it traction for plowing which suppressed the blast and sheltered Sixpence although he was never the same after that horrible experience. Fortunately these incidents were few and far between. Another time which caused a lot of anxiety was when Briony, my wife, was having a baby shower at Polly’s house. I was with my Dad, coming back from the other farm; the girls knew we were on our way when they heard a loud explosion, immediately they thought that we had gone over a landmine. We hadn’t heard anything on our way over and about five minutes later we arrived at the house to see the girls in complete disarray. It turned out to be that our neighbours’ tractor had gone over a landmine about a mile away. Unfortunately the driver, Salad wasn’t so lucky.

Enough of that now let me get back to the pleasant memories. Ivan who was the eldest of the three used to be my shadow and came with me on the farm to help in any way he could. He had a lovely vivid imagination and is now married to a beautiful girl Lynda. They have two beautiful children and are now living in Tanzania at the base of Kilimanjaro, farming wheat and safflower. They have an ideal life there. We used to spend a lot of time swimming in the river and dam on the farm and also exploring the surrounding hills.

That is Ivan with the dog, Jane is on the left. She is now married and living in England. My younger sister is in the middle and is the same age as Ivan, she is living in England. Next to her is Paul who was the youngest, Paul unfortunately died in a road accident while doing his military service. We all still miss him so. Polly is in the background keeping an eye on things; it is a wonder she wasn’t in the water as she loves to swim.

Paul and Ivan and my step daughter Kerri sitting under a waterfall.

During this time I met a girl and fell in love, we had a short courtship and then married. But during our short courtship she used to brave the elements and come and visit me on the farm.
Here we are on the happy day. Polly is standing next to my wife Briony, her parents flanking with Kerri -Anne, my father behind my right shoulder and my Uncle behind Briony and Polly. We married in the registry office, the askari looking on.

It wasn’t long before we had a little one on the way.

Here was the result.

Do I look apprehensive?

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I have been sitting here thinking of what I could do with my next blog as an extension of the previous one. The next episode of my life was school. Not the most inspiring time of my life but I did get to know some good friends.
I think I learnt more about life after I had left school though it did give me the basics of reading and writing. I went to a boarding school which was more like an institution and the only fun part was trying to buck the system.
As I sit here and ponder on my life, I realize it has been a varied journey with highlights along the way. I seemed to go along for a period in a routine way and then there was a sudden change which takes one on an adventure. My early years were one and then the next adventure was from about 16 to my mid thirties. It seems that whenever I took life too seriously, life became monotonous and when I didn’t take things to seriously my windows of opportunity opened. Here are a couple of memories of my life.

Another of my early years, in what looks like the workshop.
This transformed into a fully fledged house and garden.

That’s not a horse with my little sister it is a great dane. He was a gentle dog but terrified people with his size.

This was my first car and being a youngster, l loved cars and driving fast. When I think back, I cringe and wonder how I survived some of the situations I got myself into. I had always wanted to build a hotrod and used to pore over the magazines we used to get from America. I came up with a unique solution by stripping off the mudguards, cutting off the roof and throwing the exhaust pipe off an old Austin. I would then drive as fast as I could go on the many farm tracks. Often I would end up in the bushes. Darren, the dog was my faithful companion and he used to like the jaunts but it’s a wonder he never fell out. That’s my little sister going for a ride. If she had been a little older and wiser she would have been a bit more wary. Fortunately there were no mishaps. I did build a bright orange beach buggy a few years later but unfortunately I have no photos of it.

My father loved Jaguars and this was the second one that he bought. Although it wasn’t really practical for the dirt roads we had, it was certainly fun to drive. I think he would have refused to lend me the car if he knew how I had put it through its paces. Though I think he must have known. He was young once. It was the ideal car for when I went courting.
Just to show you how health conscious we were, here is my mother and sisters doing some yoga of sorts in the garden. My mother is on the left and my eldest sister is on the right. I am sure she would give anything to look like that again. My youngest sister in the middle looks as if she has given up.

And finally this cutie is my youngest sister posing. I am sure that was not her hat and she is a lot older now.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I have been wondering on what I could blog. When I started looking through some old photos and I began to realize how old I am or rather how much life I have experienced.

I was born in 1948 in Africa in a country then called Southern Rhodesia. I feel it was a good year as it was a time were the world had just gone through a traumatic period and everything was beginning to settle down into a new era.

The atomic bomb had just been created and ships were the main form of travel to the four corners of the world. Space travel was still Science fiction. I remember even in the sixties people saying that it was impossible to send a rocket to the moon. How sci-fi our lives are now.
I remember when I was two or three quite vividly, where tree stumps were the same size as me and beds, furniture and windows were so big and high.
My parents had come to this new land and had obtained a virgin farm for development, miles from any civilization.

This was our kitchen and lounge. I can’t remember what happened when it rained. It must have been fun.

The rondavel was our bedroom, there were two rondavels and between was the bathroom with corrugated sheets as walls that was also open to the elements. Unfortunately I have no photos, although I know we did have at one stage. We had boxes and boxes of photos from this era all taken with the old box camera, they have disappeared over the years. My mother is holding a snake which had been killed unfortunately one cannot see it in the picture. Actually with pictures I realized that the photos are of least interest in the time period they are taken but years down the line they become very interesting. I often wonder how long these digitals pictures we have will last in comparison with the old paper photos.

Here is a good pioneering photo. This trailer was most probably my father’s pride and joy to get the crops in and yes it was drawn by oxen, the tractor came a little later.

Here is a photo of my sister and I going for a walk in the bush with my mother and grandmother. Love the dungerees.
Well there is a little insight of my early years.