Move to South Africa
in November 2007
Since completing the previous 21 chapters, we have had two
more moves. (I have just totted up the number of moves we have made since we
got married and came up with twenty-seven. We should be experts in “moving” by
In chapter 21, I mentioned that we usually managed to make
a trip to South Africa during the year-end holiday; the purpose being to visit
our family out here and also to escape the long, dreary English winters.
In 2005 we started thinking about the possibility of moving
to a warmer climate. We felt that we would like to be near one of our daughters
– Switzerland was too cold, and the cost of living too high, while South Africa
seemed to be politically stable and had a pleasant climate.
The next year we looked at various places in the Little Karoo
region. That is where our daughter, Mary, and husband Dick have a stud Dorper
sheep farm. We found a retirement village, called Millennium Park, built by the
Rotary Club, in Oudtshoorn, which is only 46 Km. from Mary and Dick’s farm.
This town is famous
for the Cango Caves and for ostrich farming. Many of the fine old houses in the
town were built by the “ostrich barons” of the 19th century, when
the plumes of these giant birds were in great demand to decorate the hats and
dresses of the aristocracy of Europe and America. At present, the feathers are
used for making feather dusters, while the meat is considered to be healthy and
ostrich skin products (shoes, handbags, etc.) sell for high prices.
Oudtshoorn is also renowned for hosting the KKNK. This has
nothing to do with the KKK of America; but stands for Klein Karoo Nasionale
Kunstefees. Basically the KKNK is a celebration of South African culture –
arts, music and crafts, with an emphasis on the Afrikaans heritage. The
Festival virtually takes over the town for a week, over Easter. It is a bonanza
for the hospitality industry and business people, but the residents who are not
involved in the festivities heave a sgh of relief when it is all over.
We have often been asked, “Isn’t the Karoo very hot?” Yes,
January is hot and February has been called “suicide month” as the temperatures
can get over 40°C on occasion, but for the
rest of the year the climate is very pleasant. Winter can be cold, with slight
frost at night, but the days are usually sunny.
While visiting Mary and family in Jan 2006, we were offered
a newly completed house to rent in the Park. We thought it wise to rent first
and rent out our house in England, until we made up our minds that we wanted to
make a complete move.
So we returned to U K and, through an estate agent, put our
house up rental. We got a tenant within two weeks, we were able to sell our
car; I was able to get a South African passport and we were able to pack and
ship our goods. There were many things to do but the way doors seemed to open
convinced us that we were following God’s leading.
In April 2006 we flew out to George airport, where Mary met
us and took us to our rented house, which had views of the Swartberg range. The
house was partly furnished, as our landlady provided all we needed until our
shipment arrived some six weeks later.
As public transport is either non-existent or rather
unsatisfactory in most of South Africa, one our first concerns was to buy a
car. After an unhappy experience with a very “second-hand” Daewoo car, which we
nicknamed the “Red Dragon”, we were glad to trade it for a Toyota Corolla,
which has given us good service.
After a year we decided that we would make our move
permanent. So we put our UK house on the market and it sold very quickly for a
good price. Then a two-bedroom house, in the Park, came on the market and we
were able to buy it for what seemed a reasonable price. On the 15th
September, 2007 we moved to our present house and have been busy since then,
doing renovations, getting unpacked and trying to put our own “stamp” on the
When we first arrived, our main “project”, after getting
settled, was to help Mary and Dick with odd jobs on the farm. We sanded and
varnished furniture, doors and windows, and their frames, did painting and
various minor repairs. Then when we got our own place, they helped us move and
have provided ideas, plants and muscle power as we are in the process of giving
our garden a make-over.
There are two Adventist church buildings in Oudtshoorn – a
White, Afrikaans-speaking one and a Coloured bilingual one in Bridgeton.
Although formerly separated, members often visit the sister church and are
welcomed. We attend the one on St Saviours St. where we have been warmly
welcomed by the approximately 30 members. (I have been elected as Church
treasurer for next year.)
It is sad that we are so far from our family in Switzerland
and the U K, but we try to keep in touch by e-mail, letter and phone calls. We
hope that we will have the health and finances to make a trip to Europe before
too long – preferably not during the northern winter. We had planned an
overseas trip last June, to attend to the sale of our property in England, but
that was not possible, as I’ll now explain.
In May ’07, Lilian suddenly developed a swollen and very
painful left lower leg. Friends have suggested that it must have been due to a
spider bite but we never saw any spider and there were no bite marks. Our G.P
diagnosed “phlebothrombosis” and prescribed elevation of the leg, in bed. The
pain was so severe that Lilian had to crawl on hands and knees to get to the
After ten days she was admitted to hospital, seen by a
surgeon, who said it was an abscess and advised urgent surgical drainage, under
general anaesthetic, in George. After removal of about 50 ml. of pus, there was
some relief of pain, but then Lilian collapsed and fell in the toilet and it
was found that she had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) as well as
a cracked rib, from the fall.
Convalescence has been slow with gradual and erratic
improvement. As I write, Lilian is having a course of physiotherapy to try to
break down the scar tissue in the leg.
We have resumed our early morning walks and hope that things will soon
return to normal.
In addition to her other problems, Lilian’s sight has
deteriorated over the past two years. She enjoys reading but recently has only
been able to read LARGE PRINT books. This is due to cataracts in both eyes and
she is booked to have one cataract done next week and if that is successful,
the other one soon thereafter.
So that is the story of our lives up to now. We don’t know
what the future holds but I am sure that God holds our future. And we trust
There is little that I can add to my conclusions at the end
of the previous chapter, except to reaffirm, that in spite of all that has
happened, God is good.