No childhood in the South escapes the delight of going to the sea. Beach holiday long awaited and wishing the schooldays would end. Back in the day, mum would sew our special ‘beach gowns’ as no young lady walked to the beach in her costume alone. Remember those?
Getting to the holiday destination however, for us, required a full day’s drive. Dad would switch on the lights of our bedroom at five in the morning, carrying us to the car in our pyjamas where my sister and I happily fell asleep on the blankets at the back of the Borgward Station wagon. Remember those?
Sometimes Ouma came along. Ouma was a large, cosy woman. Wedged between the two of us, so no sleeping then, rather sit-sleeping against her. The sing-a-longs would pass the time, eye spy games, counting windmills. Stopping in Bethlehem to put in petrol, and our first stop for a cup of tea. One hour on the road behind us. And so it went, no racing down the highway, but a day’s gentle journey – which frustrated us no end when the sea-side was calling. Why do parent’s never understand our desperation to get there!
Windy point, Van Reenen’s Pass. Not my finest moment. This is the compulsory stop for the view, the flask of tea, and the sandwiches Mom so carefully made the night before – Tomato sandwiches. Now soggy tomato sandwiches. If the windy pass did not induce car-sickness, the sandwiches promised to do the trick. To this day, I am allergic to tomato sandwiches. Despite gale force winds, Windy corner, true to her name, was also the compulsory first photo opportunity.
Van Reenen was also the benchmark into Natal. We were halfway there! Move on DAD! Past the barren landscape around Ladysmith, through the town of Escort (famous for sausages and bacon) and again … no dad … time for tea in Mooiriver. Drink up Ouma.
Are we there yet? Lunch stop. Howick Falls. Second photo opportunity at the restaurant beside the Falls. Sister and self chomping at the bit.
The final descent began in Pinetown. Edging our way down Field’s Hill, past the water Palace (remember that?) This is the time Mom begins the mantra ‘Can you see the sea?’ On the edge of our seats, still in Pinetown, sister and I begin the search. Where is it, where is it? Driving into Durban, where is it? Past the townhall, where is it, up West Street and of course, Mom who knew all along, knows the exact spot – and there it is!
At last! Four stops, endless hours and the holiday begins. A week of …
I think we valued our trips even more back then. Today, fast highways, no stopping. Only one begins to realise, that the journey is the holiday begun. What has not changed, is the chanting of children, saying ‘Are we there yet.’ before they return to their iPads to pass the time. I miss counting Windmills …
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