It’s a long weekend in South Africa, with today (Monday) being National Women’s Day. I decided to spend it in Napier, a small village two hours from Cape Town, on a personal retreat – just having a break from my usual routine and my senile delinquent cat. I brought my crochet, beads, books, laptop (for podcasts), and a hot water bottle. I’ve stayed at a quirky and ancient little guesthouse called Napier All Sorts. It’s on an enormous erf with a farm at the back (so far I’ve only seen sheep), a vegetable garden from which I’ve been encouraged to pick my own peppadews and spinach, and a craft and coffee shop at the front.
In between the crocheting and reading and, yes, some Netflix, I took myself for a walk on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t go far but it was a beautiful late-winter’s day and I was glad I’d made the effort.
I had not felt the need to be particularly sociable but thought I should make an effort to be friendly so spent an hour with Leon on Sunday morning in the shop and then being shown how he makes his pewter chess sets in his workshop downstairs (fascinating!). He himself has interesting stories to tell about his life, but the real shocker was being shown his collection of war memorabilia. I was not prepared for that.
There were medals and documents and uniforms and guns from both sides of the Boer War, the First World War, and the Second. My grandfathers fought in the First World War, one for Britain and one for Germany. They were both conscripted, as far as I know. My paternal grandfather moved to Switzerland in the early 1920s and then left for South Africa in about 1933 because he could see trouble brewing. As a German national, he would have been called back to Germany, this time to fight for Hitler, and he was having none of it.
I’ve been reading a lot about the Second World War, and also my ex-husband is Jewish, so perhaps that is why I nearly fell over with shock at seeing an original Nazi flag pinned to the wall, pictures of Hitler and his cronies, SS uniforms, a lot of swastikas, and a framed document signed by AH himself.
Sunday was also sunny but chilly and the wind was more insistent. I wandered off through some farmland and tried to let the strong breeze blow the cobwebs out of my mind.
Later in the day, tucked up cosily on the couch with a hot water bottle and a stiff Laphroaig (neat, no ice), I considered what a strange life we human beings have led on this little rock revolving round the sun in a single universe beyond which there is a galaxy of inumerable more.
I picked up my crochet hook and carried on with my rainbow jersey.