South Africa Tour 2009/10

Soweto Verhere

We have now left Durban followed by rainclouds wherever we go.

During our time at Dave and Penny's we learned a little South African and I hope you will use this in practising the jokes appearing later in the blog.

To translate; U,A or E is pronounced I : W is pronounced V : I is pronounced ah ; J is pronounced Y ; and Y on the end of a word is pronounced ie.

Therefore ' Penny , pass my bat " becomes " Pinnie piss mah bit". Not dissimilar to Kiwi in fact.

Dave our Liverpool Afrikaner friend has undergone a marked change while we have been staying with him. Like Dr Livingstone before him,the appearance of Englishmen after all these years has brought about a personality shift.

We went for a meal in a local restaurant called ' Butcher Boys " which at first conjured up images of Angolan mercenaries but in fact was a really nice steak place. Also with us were John and Helen , who Tremers is staying with over Christmas. Just as well we had called in on them to check this , as they didnt know he was in the country until we called at their house and even then thought we were Jehovas witnesses selling heaven on the doorstep.

The meal was a strange affair as while the restaurant stipulated smart casual dress, Dave turned up in shell gear and when the waitress called at our table to ask about drinks , he told her to ' f***ing calm down" as we werent ready. You can take the lad out of Liverpool...!

During the meal I got talking to John , who I hadnt really met before. Turns out he has been to the UK before and in fact stayed in Oswaldtwistle , where his son in law to be was playing cricket. John was a big fan of Oswaldtwistle - in fact as the meal went on it became harder and harder to stop him waxing lyrical about the place.I later found out he had faked a heart attack in order to extend his stay in Lancashire to three months - obviously this episode was before the Oswaldtwistle Air Ambulance was established.

Anyway back to the weather and it really has been poor. During the week we visited Howick falls in our beloved Nissan Tilda hire car - which we have christened 'Waltzing'. As we approached the viewing point for the falls two African guys with guitars started up with " Knocking on Heavens Door". To be honest, ' Its raining again" by Supertramp would have been more appropriate but I dont suppose they knew that one. However , we did provide a very generous donation when we left and they retired to their Porsches , which were parked behind a boabab tree , to count the money and laugh at us.

On the way back from Howick Tremers was in charge of the CD player and inserted one of his disks.

To my horror he is a progressive rock fan and I was subjected to superannuated classics from Genesis like " Suppers ready", " The Musical Box " and " Carpet Crawlers" for the next 200 kilometers.

He later confessed that his cricket club at home is called the Spinal Tap XI.

In South Africa there is much mention of the Big Five and after being puzzled at first , Ive now worked it out. They mean animals!

As far as I can see the Big Five are : Mosquito , Gnat , Flea , Midge , and Spider and all seem to have been regular visitors to my body during the last week for a feed. I am beginning to blame those " Jimmy Anderson" wrist magnets I bought as they attract insects like iron filings. Its now reached the stage where I feel like a one-man Live Aid to the insect population- but at least theres no corruption involved.

You may be asking - why hasnt he said anything about cricket yet?

Well , the ODI in Durban we had looked forward to so much was a complete washout although we did go to the ground. We talked to an old local about prospects for play. He looked up at the sky. " Well you know what they say, When you can see the Drakensburgs, its about to rain. When you cant , its raining already!"

So the highlight of the day was the World Cup Draw which we watched on local tv rather than Sky and this took up about four hours. What would football do without Sepp Blatter? To be honest I would rather see Jedward hosting the proceedings. And David Beckhams haircut-why cant he grow old gracefully like the rest of us?

So it was we left Durban without seeing any cricket. We drove down into the African Hinterland towards Oribi Gorge , which is a gorgeous gorge with hair-raising extreme activites for Tremers, on the way passing mysterious places with African sounding names - like Harding and Pennington. Oh and Southport!

When we arrived at the gorge it was raining as usual but our luxury rooms were ready and it was nice to see the hotel had individually named each room after a local species of bird. We were in ' Guinea Fowl'. I found this very comforting as it reminded me of the only other hotel I have stayed in with this naming policy in New Zealand , where I had my near death experience with the white-tail spider.

Our room was a converted horse-box with two doors ( like Mr Ed's ) but Im blowed if I know how the horse used to climb those stairs. The reception staff had signed me in as Mr Allan Booster - close enough I suppose.

After an evening of Sky football , beer and rain we retired to bed and the plan the following morning was for Tremers to undertake the gorge swing and abseiling. However in the morning after a hearty " Adventurers breakfast" he chickened out due to the likelihood of poor equipment , the likelihood of poor safety precautions , and the likelihood of certain death. There was in fact a small cemetary situated on a ledge about half way down the gorge.

The following day we drove to Port St Johns on the Wild Coast. Film buffs may remember this as the location for the 1970's war film ' Shout at the devil' starring Roger Moore, Lee Marvin and a big cardboard German battleship. Tremers had booked ahead at the highly recommended Amanpondo back packers and received an e-mail confirmation but when we got there the useless f***ers had no room for us as they had somehow overbooked and with the weather closing in , and nowhere to stay , the situation looked very dark indeed. However , and not for the first time , the Lonely Planet proved our salvation , directing us to the un-politically correct Jungle Monkey backpackers where we enjoyed a very unusual night.

As we started our session at the bar and the first chords of ' Ramble On ' by Led Zeppelin ( clearly a Tremers request ) boomed out of the $25,000 sound system , and the punters started lighting up - and not just cigarettes , let me tell you - the man behind the bar started plying us with free shooters and the combination of this together with the beer and cider we were buying ourselves proved irresistible. The stage was decorated with paintings of those three African icons Bob Marley , Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix and complete with a full drum kit which I climbed up and proceeded to play with an empty Castle Lager bottle. Later a real African drummer and his mate turned up and put on a bit of a show for us with tom-toms but I think mine was better.

We left PSJ the following morning with hangovers and drove through the Transkei to the magical Hogshead , mystical mountain kingdom which inspired JRR Tolkien to write The Hobbit. Every guest house is called " Rivendell" or " Striders" or similar but Tremers wanted to stay at one called " Away with the Fairies' which was vetoed. We ended up at "The Edge' and had a wonderful stay in one of their garden cottages. During dinner we were treated to a fabulous electrical storm with sheet and forked lightning every two seconds. At one point the lightning hit the building and blew a light fitting which caused our African waiter to fall prostrate on his knees on the floor , where he stayed for at least a minute. As he had been holding knives and forks we were a little concerned but he soon got up and scuttled back to the safety of the kitchen. " Must have some Italian in him - did you see the speed he ducked down" remarked the unsympathetic Tremers.

On leaving the Edge we told the lady on reception where we were headed next - East London for the warm up game - and she said nothing but made a strange gesture of running her index finger from left to right across her throat.

Anyway dont get me wrong its not all been doom and gloom. The South Africans we have met have a really great sense of humour and they have been telling us jokes all the time. Some of the jokes concern a certain golfer , who cannot be named here for legal reasons and I shall simply refer to as Mr T.

Try saying the jokes using the language guide provided at the beginning of the blog.

" Mr T is changing his name but hes keeping it in the cat family. He will now be called Cheetah".

" Whats the difference between a cadillac and a golf ball? Mr T. cant drive a cadillac 300 yards!"

" What have Mr T and a seal got in common? They both get clubbed by Norwegians!"

" When the police interviewed Mr T's wife they asked her how many times did you hit him. She said five or six but put it down as a four!"

And finally a polically incorrect joke about Englishmen, who are called Rooineks in Afrikaans. This means rednecks ( from the sun , I hope !)

" Arent those Rooinek lazy. I was just in England and I saw it took six Rooinek to put up a telegraph pole. I said to them " Give me twelve kaffirs , and I'll do the job by myself!!"

Thats all for now folks more after we see some cricket at East London , which starts tomorrow. The weather forecast - thunder and heavy showers!!

Love as ever


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