It’s all very misty now but I seem to remember arriving back at the workshop after a carefully planned sushi lunch with Linda, her work for the day had been completed and most of my irritations had been ironed out. What better way to celebrate than with a glass of wine and salmon roses! My phone rang: “Hi Dan, it’s Mark I’m sitting on the side of the road in Mooirivier with a blown head gasket in my Mitsubishi Triton bakkie!”

Mamalaid sushi

1 Anyone for lunch? Thank goodness I’d only had a single glass of wine!

Luckily for Mark, and possibly unluckily for me, I was sitting with his Pajero in the workshop after replacing rear suspension bushes, brakes and performing a lube service. I responded optimistically, and as always, when a brother or a sister is in trouble you drop whatever you are doing and lend a helping hand. Not to mention that assume often makes an ass out of you and me! I assumed, that Charry, Mark’s superior half, was with Mark and she was also stranded with my buddy!

Sjoe Mark, I suppose I’d better drive the Pajero through so you can carry on with your journey. Maybe I can jury rig the Triton and drive it back to Joburg!” I loaded up the Pajero with tools, overalls, toilet paper and any hoses, pipes, clamps, etc that might help in getting the stricken vehicle running again. I hit the road, again without a toothbrush or clean undies! Joburg seems to close shop around three pm every day, and the highways are jam packed from that time until way past six oclock. I have to hope that the early leavers are shift workers and not tens of thousands of slackers, taking massive salaries, driving out fuel that the hard workers are paying for, never mind the company car provided by the municipal or government department from which the slackers provide simply bad service delivery!

Mamalaid Pajero

2 The Pajero with a great racing heritage, and to my mind the best 4×4 by far!

The time was: 15:30pm right smack bang in the middle of that desperate to get home rush. Someone shared on Facebook the other day, “Why do they call it Rush Hour when the traffic moves so slowly?” Needless to say once freed of crushing traffic the Pajero sailed down to Mooirivier, struggling slightly through the rain and wind around Van Reenen’s Pass, as we had omitted to change the wiper blades!

Mark and Rob, it turned out, were on a busman’s weekend down to Ramsgate, to prepare a house for the new tenants, and hopefully get in a round of golf, and when I greeted them at the Mooirivier Country Club at 20:30pm, the four odd hour session in the pub had taken its toll! We arranged to meet with the tow truck operator so I could check the Triton, decided there was no way that engine was driving back to Joburg, then went about locating Biddy Jooste’s Bed & Breakfast near Hidcote, about 10 kilometres up the highway from Mooirivier.

Mamalaid google pin

3 That famous pin, or in this case mis-pin!

Google Maps struggles with its own pins at times and intent on that mis-pin, we sailed past the B&B into the gloom of late evening in the Natal’s Midlands, with Biddy’s son standing, glass in hand, at the gate to welcome us, thankfully with sufficient Branners and Coke to keep him warm until, after many phone calls to get us back the five odd kilometres we had overshot, to our destination.

Mamalaid branners and coke

4 Branners and Coke. A South African institution!

Once we had got the crescendo of the alarm switched off we were welcomed into the wooden floorboard house to coffee and clean sheets. In the kitchen, on the stove were two massive pots of marmalade brew, in the standing overnight mode, ready for tomorrow’s decanting into the jam jars! “No smoking in the house please guys, we have our wood stored under the house!” We were warned. Biddy, seeing my interest in the gallery of family photos on the walls, took me through to her, obviously favourite playroom where the grandchildren and their buddies have paints, arts and crafts tables, mobiles hanging from the ceiling, puppet shows, gym equipment and even a Jacuzzi in the corner for water sports, to keep them savouring real activities and away from their smart phones as long as possible! A second cup of coffee, we greeted and suddenly the house was quiet, Mark and Rob were comatose, I did the index finger treatment on my pearly whites and hit the sack, wondering what tomorrow would bring.

Mamalaid Biddys playroom

5 Biddy’s activity room. So much to do, the smart phone is forgotten!

Tomorrow brought an amazing vista over the Natal Midlands, a bird cage filled with exotic parrots and birds, a menacing looking but cuddly Boerbull dog, an outdoor playhouse decorated with owls and many potential play areas for the grandchildren.

Mamalaid playhouse with owl sentinels

6 Winter still had its grip on the Natal Midlands, as the owl sentinels guard the grandkid’s playhouse.

Then breakfast brought us back to Earth and being one who manages on toast and marmalade and a couple of cups of coffee during and after Golden Hour each morning, I battled through the heaps of yoghurt, sliced fruit, bacon, sausages, eggs, toast, Yorkshire puddings etc etc! None too soon for Mark, who was desperate to get on the road, we asked for the account and he positioned himself at Biddy’s work station to make payment.

Mammalaid boerbull

7 The Boerbull, think twice before you climb that fence dude!

While Mark struggled with the slow ADSL and his bank’s reluctance to part with his hard earned money, Biddy gave us each a jar of marmalade and a larger jar of strawberry jam that I was instructed to decant and share amongst the three overnighters. The marmalade jars were labelled with what I consider to be the cutest word ever!

Mamalaid mamalaid

8 Too Cute!

Mark and Rob dropped me at the Triton in Mooirivier, packed all of their equipment and clobber over into the Pajero, and left me in the hands of the tow boys who were to drop me back in Joburg with the imploded Triton!

Although a book can be written about that journey back to the former City of Gold, two incidents will suffice!

Bongane was struggling with 4th gear and would change from third directly into 5th gear, which didn’t help when climbing hills, as the Nissan 2500 diesel King Cab would slow down and it was back to 3rd gear! The synchromesh action in the gearbox was not working and I went about explaining to Bongane how to double declutch! Simply put, when changing up to a higher gear, at the point of gear change, clutch in, neutral, clutch out, clutch in, select next gear, clutch out and so on! When changing down a gear the only difference is a blip of the accelerator when the clutch is out, in neutral! Bongane got it right twice, to the applause of his passenger!

Mamalaid double declutch

9 It’s as simple as that!

The second incident, also involving Bongane, occurred when the road train stopped at the top of Van Reenen’s Pass with a gale blowing to almost flatten the trees bordering the highway, to check the Triton and for plasje maak. I had opened the, surprise, surprise functioning, electric window for fresh air while Bongane did his check on the Triton. Busy with business stuff on my Samsung smart phone, obviously wearing my four eyes, to see the correct buttons to push, I noticed that Bongs had positioned himself downwind, and directly opposite my open window to make his puddle. With not a cloud in the sky I suddenly felt rain drops gently caressing my face and, to my horror, I realised it could only be Bongane’s plasje maak! That electric window mechanism was painfully slow, as I shouted at Bongs, who interrupted his gay abandon gaze and gave me a sheepish look. Thank goodness for eye protection!

Mamalaid eye protection

10 This sign should have been pasted on Bongane’s passenger’s side!

Snow Patrol and Chasing Cars is one of my favourites and is Natalie and Sarel’s song:

Footnote! Plasje maak – Dutch – literally to make a puddle – to pass water, urinate, have a slash! Bakkie – Afr – a light delivery vehicle, LDV, or in NZ and Aussie, a utility or ute!

St Vincent School For The Deaf helping the hard of hearing to listen:

Down Durban way The Fulton School for The Deaf:

Abraham Kriel Childcare group, caring while we work:

The Avril Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Handicapped was opened in 1970, and for the amazing work they do for the less fortunate they deserve great accolades: