Thank you all

So sad it is over but what a great break and a great experience.

Thanks, Sheeba, for providing the inspiration for my first (only?) blog after I enjoyed yours so much when you were in Europe and Peru.

Thanks, David, for setting it up. I can’t believe I managed it all on my phone. And ty too for feeding the fish while we were away .

Thanks to my mum and sister Linda who remembered so much more than me and gave me the list of photographs required. I didn’t get them all but hopefully it won’t be the last trip.

Thanks to those who’ve read (especially son Peter, all the way away in Houston, Texas and brother Peter in London) and those who made such an effort to catch up with us and posed so obligingly. Special thanks to the Thomas family, who were just awesome.

And a huge thank you to Bob, who organised this trip as a celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. What a great way to do it. We met in Africa and went back to Africa. And I hope we go back again.

I had been a bit nervous about what we would find in Africa this trip. I had no anxious moments though (apart from small planes, scorpions and mountain hikes) – all the people we came across in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa were so incredibly friendly, hospitable and helpful. So if you have been putting off a trip to Afrca, procrastinate no longer. It is fabulous. Succumb to FOMO (fear of missing out – thanks, Colin). If you don’t ever go, you WILL miss out!

Thanks everyone.

Margaret Brophy
October 2013

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Jo’burg

We only had one day and night in Jo’burg but it gave us time to meet some special people. Once again Maureen and Nigel made it all so easy and I particularly appreciated the braai complete with boerewors just before we went off to board the plane.

It was great to catch up with Maureen and Nigel’s younger son Michael who had been working and domesticating all week. Kim is Michael’s girlfriend and it was lovely to meet her.

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I also met my cousin Brenda for what we reckon must have been the first time in 45 years or so. With all the Brophy family members to talk about, two hours really wasn’t enough but it was so good to see her.

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And then I met Frances, Colin’s girlfriend, also a teacher. Great company and we have some similar challenges even though she teaches five year old girls and I teach 16 year old boys!

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Cape Town

I had never been to Cape Town. So what could be better than four nights there, staying in an apartment in Sea Point that overlooked the ocean? Well, quite a lot, actually, did make this stay even better than that.

Firstly, our very good but rarely seen friends Maureen and Nigel organised the trip. They live in Jo’burg but their eldest son Colin went to uni/varsity in CT so they know it well. Maureen and I went to both Chingola Primary and Arundel together; Nigel knew Bob when they were both young graduates together working at Nchanga in the late 70s. So there was lots of catching up, reminiscing and laughing to be done. It was so very lovely to be with them both again and they did everything they could to make this a special time for us.

Secondly, their eldest son Colin was along for the ride. In fact he provided much of the ride, being the designated driver most of the time. He was also the fitness guru and motivator, accompanying Bob up Table Mountain and all of us up Lion’s Head. He was the CT expert too and a quietly amused observer of our antics. What a legend, it was great to get to know him.

Thirdly, Nigel mapped out a fantastic itinerary. On the afternoon we arrived, we wandered around the waterfront area, which was very swish. Drinks to watch the sunset, followed by a fantastic meal. On Day 2 we went up Table Mountain in the morning and off to Robben Island in the afternoon. Day 3 we drove to Cape Point, stopping at some lovely little towns on the way there and back; Day 4 we went wine tasting in the Stellenbosch region and Day 5 was Lion’s Head. Perfect blend of activities. More to do next time, too.

Fourthly, we caught up with some other friends whilst there. We had dinner with Megan’s brother Martin and his wife Jenni and lunch with Jenny Gorman, whose late husband Jim worked with Bob and Nigel at Nchanga. It was really good to see them all.

Fifthly, we were just so blessed with the weather. After a very wet winter in both Perth and CT we all appreciated four days of clear skies and sunshine. Some cloud on the last day but no rain. My umbrella and rain jacket were untouched. Table Mountain was particularly beautiful in the sunshine, as were the waters of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans viewed simultaneously from Cape Point.

Sixthly, South Africa seemed incredibly cheap to us. Most things were 1/3 to 1/2 the price and some even lower. Eating out was particularly affordable and we had some stunning meals, with great service, at unbelievable prices. There was even some talk of retiring to Cape Town. Who knows.

The Waterfront area

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Table Mountain
Easy ride on the cable car and what a view.

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Robben Island
Robben is the Dutch word for seals and the island is the place where Nelson Mandela was held. I was initially a bit ambivalent about this visit but was really glad that I went. The bus tour of the island was interesting but the tour of the prison was unmissable. An ex-political prisoner showed us around and the commentary was balanced but poignant.

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The island is beautiful but bleak and it must be freezing in winter. Everything was very simply laid out: very effective.

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All sorts of people took the tour. We sat in one of the large communal cells to hear the story of the prison.

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Mandela’s cell – outside and inside

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After the ferry ride home, we met Maureen, Nigel and Colin in this very fancy restaurant on the beach. From the sorry to the sublime.

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Along the coast to Cape Point
So many beautiful towns built into the coast and superb views. Kept hearing the R word.

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Lunch at ‘Cape to Cuba’
Bob liked it so much he bought the restaurant. No, he didn’t, he booked it for his board meeting in February instead.

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Martin and Jenni have lived in CT for a long time. They love it… So might we!!

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Wine tasting
WA is a good place to go wine tasting but the South Africans take it to a whole new level. We stopped at four different places, artfully chosen by Nigel to keep us all happy. Amazing. The views were as good as the wine which was as good as the food which was as good as the company.

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But there had to be a trauma to end the trip. That climb up Lion’s Head on the last day provided it. Steep, rocky, narrow path with sheer drops to the side and the odd ladder and chains. Still… I knew I’d die happy. I could easily have done, because I wore The Wrong Shoes, having forgotten yet again to Ask More Questions.

But oh, speaking of shoes… Have a look at these. Hand made. Leather lines. Ridiculously comfortable and really quite cheap by Aussie standard. I might even have bought them all in Cape Town.

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Arundel and Zarina

Continuing our tour of educational institutions attended by the Brophy children… Here is Arundel in Harare, my ‘seat of learning’ from 1973 to 1976. Again, it looked amazingly prosperous with lots of beautiful trees and gardens. There were only a few girls around as the school has mainly weekly boarders now.

It was amazing and really quite refreshing to be waved into these schools and welcomed rather than treated with instant suspicion!

That night we met with a friend from Arundel days. Zarina runs a few different businesses in Harare and it was interesting to hear about her life there over the past few decades. We were finding it so amazing that the US$ was the official and only currency and that there were no coins!

I was really sorry not to have had a bit more time in Harare and Zimbabwe generally. We only had two nights in Harare and both times got in late afternoon. Driving was pretty terrifying because so many traffic lights were not working and nearly all street lights were defunct. Yet the hotels (Meikles on the first night and the Bronte Garden Hotel on the second) were absolutely first class. We left early in the morning of our last day and the streets were bustling at 0530 with kids fully dressed for school and workers heading out for the day. The roads out to Mutare were in very good condition although roadworks did cause some delays. At each queue of traffic a procession of people came by selling drinks, food, curios etc. In both Zambia and Zimbabwe I had the same feeling that I had in Guinea last year – people seem to me to do the best that they can, in difficult circumstances, sometimes horrible circumstances, and it is sad to think how much better life should be for them. Let’s hope it improves.

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Peterhouse

On the way back to Harare we saw the school my brother went to from 1973 to 1976. It is just outside a town called Marondera and looks incredibly well maintained and prosperous. I think it was just a single sex high school when he attended but now it has a prep school and a girls’ school too.

We had a quick drive through.

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Marymount

On the way home we popped into the aforementioned Marymount College, which is now a teacher training centre. It was pretty amazing to see how little it had changed from the outside – although I don’t remember the fountains! – things were looking a bit bedraggled on the inside though.

My favourite bit was seeing the telephone cupboard. All the boarders used to line up outside this cupboard when it was unlocked on a Sunday afternoon. We would sometimes have to wait all afternoon for our turn to ring home for a brief and usually tearful conversation. No wonder I am a bit hard-hearted with the boarders at the school where I teach… Mobile phone! Email! Skype!

It was also interesting to see the hall area with chairs that definitely seemed to date back to the early 70s. And my memory of the beautiful location was accurate and once again we felt we had never seen more beautiful jacaranda trees.

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