Clansthal is one of my favorite places on this planet. I have been going there since I was 16 and it holds so many wonderful memories. The cottage is a classic South Coast bungalow, with a wrap-around verandah and red tiled roof. It is on an acre of land and the lawn runs right down to the sand, with just a buffer of indigenous plants to shield it a bit from the wind. It's been in the Lea family since the mid-50's I believe.
Rosemary invited me down and Zoze came too. Rosemary had to go to a 60th birthday party (very big here) so she could only come down late afternoon but John was going down at lunch time so we met him there. The weather people had been predicting a cold front coming through (thye've been saying that for days!) and it was chilly in Hillcrest when we left - I was actually wearing a sweat shirt and closed shoes! But when we got to the beach, it was stunning! Clear and warm - not hot.
Amos, the caretaker, lives on the property in his own quarters. This is still a bit of colonialism - he does everything in the house, makes sure it's ready and clean, cooks, cleans up, puts out drinks on verandah in the evening, has the coffee ready in the morning. Lovely! He has been with the Leas for eons and has AIDS, but is fortunate to be on antiretrovirals and looks very well. Initially, the government didn't have the drugs available to the local people, so John and Rosemary paid for his medication for a long time but now he is on government-provided meds. John speaks fluent Zulu, including all the click sounds, and he and Amos have these long conversations - I catch some of it but I have been gone from here for too long to really get the drift.
First thing Zoze and I did, was go down to the annex - it has three bedrooms and a bathroom separate from the house - where we sleep, and then took the dogs down on the beach. Cleo, the rottweiler is a puppy, just nine months old, and Brutus the jack Russel is about six. Cleo is so big and clumsy and she grabs Brutus by his tail and lifts him up and sort of tosses him around. But he doesn't mind and they play and rough house all the time. They love the sea and head straight in. When we went to the swimming area they went running in and Brutus actually surfs the small waves! It is just the funniest thing. We were in stitches. The beach is loaded with shells and I found several cowries - one really big one. I haven't seen that many for years.
Again in this area, we found the beaches to be much cleaner than when I was here before. One thing attributing to that, is you have to pay for plastic bags so there are very few thrown out now. But unfortunately, the Indian fishermen almost always leave trash on the beach which is often quite disgusting old bait, sometimes with hooks and lines which is so dangerous. We almost had a problem with Cleo getting hold of one, but fortunately although she got it hooked into her upper lip, the barb hadn't gone in and as I kneeled on her (the only way I could keep her down, we were able to get the mess out!). But overall, the beaches are wonderful, lined with rocky outcroppings with lovely tidepools. The sea was quite rough so we didn't swim.
Rosemary got down to the cottage around 4:30 and we went for another walk, much to the dogs joy. And then we went out to an Italian place in Scottburgh, a few clicks south. The others had pizza, and because I am not allowed dairy at the moment, I had the most delicious grilled calamari.
I slept pretty well with the sound of the surf lulling me, but woke up with a sore throat and cold - Zoze has had it for the last week so now I have it. Anyway, after a hot cuppa that we had lounging around on Rosemary's bed, I felt much better and we went for a long walk on the beach. When we got back, Amos had breakfast ready - a huge breakfast! What a pleasure!
John and Rosemary's daughters came down and had invited numerous friends - the party kept growing and growing! Michelle has three littles ones, Kelly is almost three and the twins are about 18 months - and each twin has her own nanny! Huge amounts of food were prepared - a big braai! John cooked a big filet (in the oven not on the braai) that was to die for - and I don't eat much red meat!
By the time lunch was over, there was time for quick walk on the beach before we left, so we could get home before dark. When we drove off, the party was still in full swing and probably went on till dark.