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Durbs, Umhlanga, and The Green Lantern Inn

So this is mostly for the kids. An account of our recent trip to Kwazulu Natal for my Academy Conference this year.  Putting it on my blog seems to be easiest way to send a lot of photos along with a fair bit of text, in the order I want it all.

Realized early on in the trip that “Betty” the GPS has some problems.  I don’t know, perhaps she needs a full service or something, but she was waaaaay off with everything!  We had pretty bad weather from Pietermartizburg to Durban, and we would never have found Christine’s house had it not been for her detailed emailed directions – which I might say were spot on and got us straight there without a single detour!  Reg was still keen to follow “Betty’s” instructions but I vetoed that as soon as we hit the N2.


Silly me, I didn’t take a photo of Ms T – Christine’s Staffie (what’s with this family and ‘Misty’ names?).  She is really old, fairly deaf and a bit blind, but very friendly and just loved the affection we gave her.

IMG01034-20121210-1647Christine’s house is lovely!  Although walking through her garden I found a plant that looked like an olive, fingered it and asked her about it.  “Oh that is highly poisonous.” She stated.  L  She has all sorts of rare plants growing in her ‘jungle’, and the edges of the yard are completely overgrown. But it works.



From the guest room upstairs there is quite a wonderful view of the sea and the ships coming in to the harbour, but rain was so heavy we couldn’t see a thing!


Went for dinner at a wonderful Indian restaurant and had stuff I’d never heard of.  Unfortunately they were sold out of “Kingfisher” Sean, but we did get to drink a Mango Lassi!  Yum!  I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the tastes but I was sitting with two mamby-pambies who can’t take ‘hot’ food. *snigger*

Mango Lassi!  Delish!

Sean and Henna do you recognize any of this food??

Played Hayley’s CD in the car and Christine was soooooo impressed and we left her a copy.

That night Durban and Umhlanga area had terrible rain damage and according to statistics 10 people lost their lives during it.  A train slid into the Umgheni river and several people drowned.

Christine cooked a full breakfast INSISTING that she does so for herself every morning.  Hmmmm.  It was delicious though too, and I loved a jam she had made from a local unusual fruit (not the poisonous tree!)

The next day Reg dropped me at the conference venue in plenty of time though and went off to do his own thing. Which turned out to be not very successful as the weather and local natural disaster did make getting around difficult.



We stayed in the Road Lodge in Umhlanga with is right across the parking lot to the Gateway Mall.  Reg checked us into the hotel and after the seminar closed for the day we took a walk through the mall.  Found a Gloria Jean’s coffee shop!!  Yay!!  Lifesaver!

This was just some interesting cow in the mall. :)

Gloria Jeans coffee!  yay!

The Mall also has that waterworld park, and Duane, i thought you would appreciate this : -

Look at rule number 10.  He-he!

Dinner that night was at restaurant called Sevruga.  Delicious food, ate waaaay too much.  Dad and I were stuck one end of the loooong table and we didn’t have a chance to do any moving around of places to talk to other people.   Oooh this year Anita Hollis was missing because…..she had been invited to the Hobbit premier in the UK, with her brother!!! I hope she has some photos!

Second day of conference went smoothly and it looked like weather was clearing up.  We ended half an hour early which was wonderful as Reg wanted to get us going on the road – to at least get half-way back to Bloem before dark.

I’d booked us in at a place called “The Green Lantern Inn”.  Had asked advice of Brenda as to where a good half-way point place to stay would be. She recommended “Lala Nathi”.  Sounded good and I tried calling.  There was no reply. I kept at it, found them online and sent an email, and eventually called Telkom to see if they perhaps had a faulty line.  Telkom was useless and could not tell me one way or the other, nor was I getting any reply from my email.  Sooooo….started looking around for somewhere else.  Brenda recommended another place, but in the meantime Reg had found, in the Sunday papers travel section, an editorial about an old place at the top of Van Reenen’s pass, in the town of Van Reenen, that had quite a history attached to it, and told me to try them.

They answered my call, I booked. We mentioned to Brenda and Jeff that we were staying at The Green Lantern Inn and were greeted with a horrified “Noooooooooooo!!!” from both of them!  So you can imagine we were somewhat nervous as to what we would find.

IMG01056-20121212-1833Pulling up to the front, it had none of the crispness we had seen in the photo accompanying the newspaper article.  But it was obvious some plastering and repainting was being done so that is why it looked a bit of a mess.  Reg was ready to try somewhere else straight away!  But, I thought, let’s give them a chance!  I went in, and well, the pictures will speak for themselves! 



Was greeted by a friendly Bull terrier cross who I later found out was named Duzi.  Duzi had his own chair behind the rickety looking Tudor-style reception desk, and could often be found curled up there sleeping.

Duzi on his chair behind the reception desk.

What a warm greeting we got from new owner’s Bill and Gail.  He produced a check-in ledger the style of which I had not seen in probably 30 years.  Check-in is still all done by hand!  You write across this 36 inch book and sign in the last column.   Quaint!  

There was a younger couple (well, younger than us, OK!) sitting in two of the chairs in the large lounge/reception/foyer area.  Gail immediately did introductions and we found these two folk had first come to the Green Lantern 21 years ago just before they got married, and this was a trip down memory lane for them.  They weren’t staying though – they had booked at a place called “The Caves” which is apparently quite unique accommodations built in to some caves, some 10 miles in from the road. 

Bill showed Reg where to park the car and took him to our room, while I had a look around.  In the bar I met previous owners Lew and Marie, who are still there helping with the transition.  


I just loved this place!   I think because it reminded me so of my childhood.  Specifically late 1960’s when we had first arrived in South Africa and were doing a fair bit of traveling around to get to know the country and surrounds.  Specifically coming to mind were our trip up to the Vic falls, must have been 1967. The places we stayed at en-route were no different to this! Like I’d stepped into a time-capsule that had never left the 1960’s.  Also reminded me of my years at Settlers Agricultural High School.  The town of Settlers, Nothern Transvaal, had a train station, a garage, a post office, a local store, and the Settlers Hotel – where parents used to stay whenever they came up to visit.  The Green Lantern is right out of those days!  I felt right at home.

Marie is inordinately proud of what she has achieved over the 21 years they have had the place.  She proudly told me that the bar was bare when they bought, and all the ‘collectables’ were added over the years.  There is not a nanometer of wall that does not have an old business card, sports t-shirt, or piece of kitch bric-a-brac on it!  And pride of place is the old Rhodesian flag.  Even the music they had piped through the public areas was directly off Springbok radio circa 1960’s. All the popular tunes that used to play on the radio back then.  I loved it!  Reminded me of Sundays at home, radio playing, roast cooking, the rustle of the Sunday Times in my Dad’s hands. Talk about déjà vu!  Talk about blast from the past! I just sat in the pub, sipping my beer, and soaking it all in (and after two beers, singing along!). 




Did a quick math calculation though (which as you know for me would never actually be ‘quick’) and finally realized that if Marie and Lew had bought 21 years ago, that took us only back as far as 1991.  I spent the rest of the time wondering how, even in 1991, they thought a bordello red and pink dining room jam-packed full of velveteen, and Victoriana porcelain, was stylish?  (Oh goodness, and all that on grey-blue Ozite flooring!) 



Reg had several conversations with old and new owners at various times during our stay.  So interesting the find out all the back stories, histories, the reasons behind, what brought them to selling / buying etc.  Apparently what is now a pool room used to be an officer’s mess in the Boer War. That is interesting.  The new owners don’t want to do too much and as Bill puts it “We don’t want to pretend to be what we aren’t”. But they are concentrating on repainting and fixing some of the rooms.

Dinner was basic – we had steak and chips (some of the best chips I have had in a long time!) – and well, their menu is basic, hearty, comfort food. It came out quickly and hot, and yummy.  Although with the low occupancy (there was only one other check-in in the book for that night) I found out that Marie cooks, and then freezes most of the meals.  So not ideal. 

Another member of the Green Lantern family was asleep on one of the chairs in the foyer/lounge area as we headed to our room for the night.  A lovely grey cat who looked just like Smokey and who is called….wait for it….Misty!  As apparently she had come in one misty night, and just stayed.

Light was pretty dull in the whole hotel, and I only had my cell phone (and the Blackberry curve does not have a good camera) so most of the photos just didn’t show much. At times like this I would really have preferred better camera capabilities.  Ah well…next phone will definitely make sure I get a good camera.

Our bed was new, I think, and very comfortable (Gail told us they had to replace a few of the beds – and I think we got one of the new ones).  While the room, décor, and bathroom were old, everything worked well. It was wonderful to have NO TV in the actual room!  But, you kids may never have seen this; each room had a little box, attached to the wall, the size of a medium speaker, with press-in buttons – a hotel room radio.  Yup in the ‘old days’ these used to pipe some local radio stations into the room. And at The Green Lantern Inn, they still do! 


After a very good night’s sleep, Duzi came in to say good-morning!  Happy to see us, tail wagging, he had a sniff around at all our stuff then took himself off after Reg as he went to put some of our bags in the car. 

Not much choice for breakfast.  A full cooked one, or nothing.  No muffins, cereal, porridge, fruit.  So we ordered the cooked breakfast.  Eggs done to perfection!  All in all very tasty. 

I for one really enjoyed our stop-over!  And would certainly go back there for another stay some time!

Headed off to Bloem at about 08:30 and made good time till “The Cabin” where we decided to stop for a snack.  I had a hankering for a nice slice of cake, after our savoury breakfast, but alas, they don’t serve cake there!!   

But we had a nice hour break and bought some things, and then hit the road….along with the bad weather again!  It poured down the rest of the way to Bloem.  As you can imagine, me not happy.  But we made it home OK, and fall well.

And that was our trip!

An Amazing Day

Meet 10 yr old Bongiwe Nikane, resident, with her brother, at Lebone Village, Bloemfontein – http://www.lebonevillage.com/lebonehouse.php


Once a week I give a drama class there for 10 of the children, building up their confidence and English communication skills.

We often talk about what dreams and ambitions they have, and Bongiwe has always wanted to be a Policewoman.  Well I have friends in the Police force here, and with the help of Colonel Brenda Pearce, arranged for Bongiwe to have ‘The Tour’!


Captain Sekeleli drove us around for the day in a very smart police vehicle, showing Bongiwe everything from stamping forms in the charge office, to lions confiscated by the stock-theft squad!


She had a tour of the dog-squad kennels, and saw some of the Police horses at rest. Examined a squad-car inside and out, got to talk to several policemen and woman, watched finger-printing, and even had a session with the Police Chaplain! 


A BIG thank you to everyone who made Bongiwe’s day so amazing!  As we drove her home at around 3pm, I looked at her in the back seat of the car, eyes drooping with exhaustion but trying so hard to stay alert in case she missed something, and I realized what an amazing day this would be for ANY child, let alone someone like Bongiwe, who, lets face it, hasn’t had the best start in life, nor has the greatest of prospects. But I know she is sleeping like a baby tonight…probably dreaming of being a Policewoman.

I’m praying her dreams come true!

Cesar Milan's Magazine

Soooo thrilled that Cesar Milan's magazine "Cesar's Way" is now available in a South African issue here! 

Annual Entry!

Can't believe its been a year since I posted! 

What's happened in that year?

Both kids have been back to South Africa for a visit :-

Sean and Henna for Christmas -

And then they promptly headed off to Cape Town in our car -

Of course we did "Ocean Basket" -

And forced them up early to come on a picnic!

Hayley and Duane arrived a month later -

Jelly-bean was soooooo happy to see them -

We also did "Ocean Basket"  -

And then they promptly went down to George in our car -

That's been our year so far!!!  :)


Writer's Block: Extra! Extra!

If you worked for a newspaper, which section of the paper would you like to write for, and why?

Editorials. Becasue I like writing a whole heap of trash about nothing in particular! :)


When our church decided to have in International evening, I was thrilled and excited!  This combines two of my favourite things -  FOOD and TRAVEL!! 

There was the usual scrabbling, trying to get teams together.  By the time I had one, all the cool countries were taken! Even my own, Australia! What to do? 

Surely my recent trip to the US and Canada could help me come up with something? There was already a US stall, and a Mexican.... and apart from making a Moose stew I could not think what may be Canadian original fare....

Thoughts of Canada brought back memories of the Star Trek party my Canadian friends threw for me, and most importantly, the FOOD they prepared for the evening!

That was it!  I'd do a STAR TREK stall! Three of my favourite things - FOOD, TRAVEL AND STAR TREK!  I mooted the idea to our pastor. 
"Never mind 'International," I said to him, "lets go INTERGALACTIC!"  He chuckled and said sure, but that as the evening's proceeds were for 'missions', how would I go about spreading the gospel intergalactically? 
"NO PROBLEM!", said I!

Those poor, unsuspecting sods out here!  LOL

I gathered my crew.  Most only know Star Trek as that strange sci-fi show that has periodically been on their tv, that they don't watch. A crash Starfleet course was required!

Fortunately my freinds are game for just about anything (strange that they aren't Star Trek fans *puzzled*) and good-naturedly agreed to dress up in the outfits I made them wear, and cook the recipes I gave them.

Back row:  Elize, Kailin, Debbie, Hayley (yeah, my daughter, she was our resident Vulcan - this was two weeks before she left for Oz), and yours truly.
Front row: Elize's two kids, Jade and Rueben, with Kelvin.

We served Raktajino (a Klingon hot coffee drink); Klingon Targ stew (don't know if Klingons actually eat their targs, but it made for a pretty good stew); Yorakar (a Vulcan cracked wheat salad); and of course some Romulan Ale (illegally obtained on the black market from a passing Ferengi).

Well this IS Bloemfontein South Africa, and as you know I cannot stress enough how far back in the back-of-beyond we actually are here.  True to form, we did not sell much food.  Something called Yorakar is just too strange for the locals.  No matter how much I explained exactly what was IN the dish (all normal local 'earth' ingredients....obvioulsy!) people just gave us a bemused smile, nodded, and headed off to buy a hamburger.
Took a lot of food home, which our families ate, because it was pretty GOOD!

What DID sell out was our Romulan Ale!  Simply made with Sprite and blue food colouring, with a few red berries floating on the top (church function, no alcohol unfortunately).  Seems no one else had thought of supplying something to drink, so our Ale went fast!

We made the least amount of money of all the stalls, but probably had the most fun!  AND won "Best Dressed Stall!"

Knew my TOS dvds would come in very useful for something one day!

Mitch loaned us his Enterprise.  Well it WAS my idea to get everyone to club together and get it for him for his 21st birthday, even though he IS a little more "Star Wars" than "Star Trek" (*sigh* The younger generation!)
See...?(Mitch and Hayley)  We laugh at this pic....wrong Galaxies! :)  Mind you....who's to say that a clone trooper from a Galaxy far, far away, may not one day find himself in the Milky Way, Alpha Quadrant, rubbing shoulders with Vulcan Starfleet officers?  Hmmm??

Had to put this one up! Who says Starfleet officers don't cry! Those Gorn are pretty scary!
(It's not a normal day if Rueben doesn't end up needing stitches somewhere, usually his head!)


And so the last chick flies to nest

I can't complain. It's what I have been dreaming of, and working towards, since the day they were born. 

Getting them to spread their wings, explore the world, to not be afraid of change and new beginnings.

Sean and Henna have been living that dream for almost 4 years now, and Hayley and Duane have just embarked on their own. 

We saw Duane off from Bloemfontein, to Adelaide, Australia, on 19th February this year.  This week Hayley joined him. 

You'd think she would be sad to be leaving us!  But no.......

...she skipped off happy as a lark!  Maybe the fact that she was finally, after a month and half of seperation, flying off to be with her husband Duane again!

And so Reg and I went home, wondered what on earth to do with ourselves. Decided to try movies, BIG mistake...saw one of the most awfully embarrassing movies of all time, walked out after about 40 mins. Ate at a restaurant even though we weren't really hungry, OD'd on ice-cream, and went home again.

Ah its a sad, sad world! *sigh*

Nah...its not all bad.  We are getting heaps of sympathy from friends who feel we ought to be devastated so, yeah, lots of people feeling sorry for us, sad looks, hugs, etc *wink*,  overall we are basking in pity!

So now we have all the excitment of planning when and how we can get over to Oz for a visit!  Yay!!  Round the World airfares are pretty good right now. Also, the Queen Mary II is passing by our shores on the way to Sydney early next year - a sea cruise is sounding veeeery nice right now.  Hmmmm, decisions, decisions....!  :)


When the Ninth Life is Done

We recently had to deal with the passing of our kitty, Smokey.  He had been with us from birth (born to a feral cat who, already pregnant, adopted us, and whom we called Ragamuffin). Rags had her four kittens in our closet. A grey, a black and white, and two black kittens. "Smokey, Patch, and the Batcats". 

We made sure we found good homes for Patch and the Batcats, but could not part with Smokey. We had Ragamuffin summarily spayed as soon as the kittens were adopted, and settled in to be a two cat family.  Rags lived several years, and was an amazing mother, but an avid hunter, which became her final downfall. Shot with a pellet gun while harassing neighbour's birds, we had to have her put down.

Smokey missed his mum, that much was certain.  But he learned to be a little more careful about his hunting habits.  Although there WAS that morning we came out on to the patio to find it strewn with vibrantly bright green, yellow, and red feathers!  My heart missed a beat as it dawned on me that my precious, lovable, bundle of fluff had killed and eaten someones precious, lovable, bundle of feathers! (Like any good cat owner we quickly disposed of the evidence! My apologise, if you lost a parrot around mid 1998, in the vicinity of Eddie de Beer St!)

He was an expert hunter, taught by his mother who had had to hunt for her own survival until she found us. My husband, the kids, and I, were often on 'save the mouse' alert! I shall never forget that piercing squeak of a terrified field-mouse, or rat, or bat, or even on one occasion the tiniest wee shrew (it really was pretty cute! *sad face*) as Smokey cornered the poor creature behind a bookcase. We did sometimes manage to save the frightened thing, only to have him track it down and bring it back into the house again!  Sometimes there was nothing to do but close the door, shut your ears (another sound I shall never forget - the crunching of wee bones as Smokey finished off his dinner!) and just let him get on with it, hoping he didn't make the thing suffer too much!

He was born in our house, and he handled two moves with us while he was alive. He certainly did not enjoy our last move to a townhouse complex.  Here is was fenced in unable to roam and hunt as was his habit. But he had to adjust. Old, (though still looking like a sprightly young cat) he simply turned into a crotchety old man, complaining about everything, sleeping a lot of the time, and heaven help any visitor who sat in HIS place on the couch! He becoming more and more picky about what he ate.  He resented that he could no longer supplement his meals with fresh prey, and turned his nose up at most of the foods we tried him on.  He managed to stay in good condition though, and our vet loved him because he would happily let her stretch him out do her examinations on him.

Last Saturday evening, he picked at his food as usual, and sauntered out onto the patio to his favourite evening place on the outdoor table. We found him there the next morning. He had just slipped away in the night. Thank goodness son-in-law was there to help us deal with it all. He dug the grave, and we buried dear old smokey under the rose bushes next to the rosemary bush. 

RIP Smokey

Smokey:  1994 - 2011

Smokey with Sean, his favourite human. Photo taken 2010.


Thanks Kiri for the 'nudge'!  I have sooooo much to post, but no time to get my thoughts together and do it!
Got back from my amazing USA and Canada trip (primarily to visit my son and daughter-in-law in Raleigh, NC) a week ago, and am now full swing into starting the new school year, and getting my students and classes sorted! I know I have to pop in at Starfleet HQ too, as I DO so want to get involved in the missions there again....*sigh*...I just don't know WHEN!

BIG news is...my daughter and son-in-law are now finally making the big move to Oz. Duane has a job at the University in Adelaid, and they leave end March.  2011 - a bitter-sweet year for me!

Thought about my future and how I need to visit my kids and realised in order to do that I will have to circumnavigate the globe!  Oh where is the NCC-1017 when you need it....

I will have to fly from Joburg to Perth, Australia, then on the Adelaid. After visiting with my daughter and son-in-law, will have to fly either to Melbourne or Sydney to get a flight to LA. From LA to Raleigh, North Carolina, to visit son and daughter-in-law.  Then on to either New York, Atlanta, or Miami, whichever will give me the current cheapest connection back to Joburg...yup, all the way around the world! In LESS than 80 days! :)

Hoping to do a proper catch-up in livejournal, and post some piccies, soon. In the meantime, some pics of my trip and adventures are on picasaweb:

Am still very much enjoying interacting with the fans at Starfleet Academy.  And trying to do the assignments has been quite fun, and a challenge!
Some come easy though. This one I REALLY enjoyed, and decided to post it here too.
Our Assignment was to answer a few questions about our days back at the "Academy" (that's STARFLEET Academy to you non-nerd/geek types).  While most went pretty serious, and answered in a logical, more realistic way (listed things that really COULD be taught and done at a Starfleet Academy, should one such as shown in the Star Trek series and films actually exist).  Me, not so much :). I imagined myself a totally different person, and made my 'Starfleet" days a real hoot!


MAJOR(S):  Handing stuff, like Tricorders, to the Captain.

MINOR(S):  Thigh toning (gotta keep looking good in those short, short skirts!)

FAVOURITE COURSE (WHY):  How to look like you know what you are doing when pressing buttons at a consul. I felt I looked cool, and my class mates were fun.

WORST COURSE (WHY):  Quantum Mechanics...I had NO idea what was going on.

FAVOURITE INSTRUCTOR (WHY): Commander George Kirk. (A second Generation descendant of James T Kirk). He liked me, *wink*

WORST INSTRUCTOR (WHY): An uptight Vulcan named T'Kell.  We nicknamed her T'Hell. She had it in for me for some reason.

ANYONE ELSE?:  Well Saturday nights a bunch of us used to go down to a bar lounge in town (The Slimey Firengi - anyone remember that place?) and listen enraptured as a very frail, but still vibrant Dr Commander Leonard McCoy would wax lyrical about the 'old days', and tell embarrassing stories about those Starfleet legends; Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Checkov (he had a particlarly interesting story involving Scotty and a warp na-cell. I'll be happy to relate it to you in exchange for a bottle of Krellian wine, or any drink at any bar you name!). We'd buy him drinks, take bets on how long he'd live, and he'd just keep on talking! Loved it!  Learned soooooo much!  

FAVOURITE ELECTIVE: Tried very hard never to 'elect' anything.

CLUBS: The Zooming Targers cheerleading squad; The Pamper Babes; The 20th Century Swinging 60's Club.

OFF-CAMPUS ACTIVITES: Walking around San Francisco looking incredibly hot and important in my Starfleet uniform.

MID-ACADEMY BREAK - WHERE DID YOU GO?: Rizaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

THE INFAMOUSE FLOATING POKER GAME - HOW DID YOU DO?: I always ended up naked *sigh*.

ZERO-G TRAINING - HOW DID YOU DO?: I threw up on my instructor - T-Kel.

FLIGHT TRAINING - HOW DID YOU DO?:  My instructor was Commander George Kirk....sensored *smile*

SURVIVAL TRAINING - HOW DID YOU DO?:  My instructor was Commander George Kirk.....that was SURVIVAL training???

BEST ACHIEVEMENT:  First in my class in both my Major AND Minor courses.

SOMETHING YOU WISH YOUR CLASSMATES WOULD FORGET: Well, I realise now I was a bit harsh to Mathilda Pugsworthy about her nose and glasses. (But for goodness sake, with rhinoplasty so quick and easy these days...I mean really...). And now that she is already Captain of her own ship, the USS Geronimo, and it appears I may well be posted there upon my...er....release from the USS Matlock, I do wish everyone would just forget the stuff I said and did to her!


Surprized I actually graduated! :) 

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