I now come to the final holiday that we were ever going to have as a family. The only addition to the usual assortment of the Durban holiday cast was that Granny had been invited to join us that year. I think it was because having her along would give my parents the final chance to repair their troubled marriage.
We were unable to secure a booking at the usual Hilton Heights as we had spent the previous Christmas holiday at another resort and by the time it was realised that we had not booked the following holiday the day we left, as was usual, the Hilton Heights had filled up. I think we stayed in a place by the name of the Silver Sands but once again I stand to correction, it’s definitely not the year that I can recall names.
The really nice thing about the new place was that it was on the Marine Parade and we could look at the sea through the lounge window. The beach was just a matter of crossing the road walking past the paddling pools and there you were, on the beach. My parents were away during most of the holiday, somewhere in Europe and Granny and Hubby managed very well without them, where my parents went I do not recall.
I also recall that we spent two weeks instead of the usual one and that my parents joined us for the last couple of days. Father also definitely drove us down and left the car for Granny to ferry us around in, the way Granny drove it was fortunate that we did not have need for a car very often. It was an idyllic holiday and there were only two incidents that spoiled it a little for me and probably for Granny and Hubby as well.
The first was the time that waking up very early I decided to go for a walk on the beach before the sun rose. Not wanting to wake the rest of the family, I left without telling anyone. I must admit it never crossed my mind that Granny waking and finding me gone would panic and spend hours frantically searching for me, I was after all nine years old and wandered all over my suburb when I was home without anyone being overly anxious.
Without a thought or a backward glans I crossed the road, which by the way was devoid of traffic and started to walk along the beach in the general direction of the breakwater. It was just before dawn and I think that the beach that I started from was North beach. At one of the piers that run from the beaches into the sea, I met a very interesting old man. He was dressed in old torn clothing and seemed to be wearing more than one layer of them as well.
He had bloodshot and rheumy eyes as well as a rather unpleasant odour, beside that he seemed to know everything about the things that had been cast up on the beach. He told me he was collecting ‘cuttle’ fish, that white chalky stuff that budgie owners put in the birds cages so that they can sharpen their beaks. Being adventurous I just took a try at this cuttle fish hunt, it is amazing how time flies when you are having fun, we filled up the sack that he was dragging behind him and he allowed me to take the last few that we found home to give to Karen’s budgie.
He forgot to mention that they have to be boiled so that as they get old they do not rot and stink the place out. I was to discover that fact all on my own after the apartment that we were staying in started to smell like a really dirty fishmonger. After he went on his merry way I discovered the Indian gentleman that rented out folding chairs and umbrellas to the people who were starting to arrive at the beach. One of them was only to hoappy to have me approach the all-white families and ask them if they required an umbrella or folding chairs, very soon his stock had run out.
By that time I was feeling a little hungry and I started to make my way back to the apartment to have what would now be considered lunch, or there about. On my way back however I discovered other Indian gentlemen who were hiring out little boats that one could steer around a man-made water channel that was designed in such a way by Mr Nick Steyn, so that you finished at the same place that you started, after negotiating many twists and turns.
There were a couple of the Indian gentlemen working on a boat that was obviously not functioning as it should. They were trying to get the engine to start, so I sidled up and started to give them words of advice, thinking that they would be happy to get the advice of a nine year old. I was wrong, Oh so wrong.
One of them shouted at me to disappear and used words that I had not heard before, and when I asked what ‘fuck off ’ meant he clouted me on the head, if he had wanted me to leave why did he not just ask me to go? Thoroughly chastened, I proceeded on my way.
Just after what was to be called the Indian incident, I ran into Hubby who had been given the afternoon off, after she had spent the morning frantically looking for me, she was not allowed on the beach alone so she had missed me as I was on one of the beaches further south than the one we normally visited and the only one she had scanned from the road side. The moment she saw me she hurried over to warn me that I was in ever so much trouble that Granny was surely going to give me a hiding. So I told her that Granny had been spared the effort as I had already been given one by the Indians at the boat rides.
She laughed so much that she cried, once she could see again she escorted me back to Granny and they both had a good laugh at my expense. They both decided I had been punished enough.
Lots of Hugs and more,