1982 – My employer,Concor, told me that I would be going to join a team earmarked for the new power station adjacent to Matimba coal mine near Ellisras in the northern Transvaal. With this as an alternative to staying on my parents’ farm near Warmbaths, Sheila, still very reluctant to leave her beloved Eastern Cape, agreed to come for a ten-day visit. I was thrilled!

I collected her from the Jan Smuts Airport. We spent a weekend exploring Ellisras and environs and camped out a night in the back of the Kombi Double-cab on a back-road. The hills of the Waterberg and the Bushveld are beautifully wild.

My survey prowess improved sufficiently for me to fit in well with the team operating in the West Rand mines where Concor Construction (West) had contracts. These included several shafts on such mines as Western Deep Levels, East Driefontein, and Doornfontein, I got on well with my fellow surveyors, especially Rodney Smith. My boss, Klaus Stiefel, had become a friend.

Sheila mending punctures

Sheila mending punctures

Sheila, with the prospect of us living in a farmhouse in the Ellisras area of the Bushveld eventually, came to join me. I hired a truck and drove (making use of my newly acquired Heavy-Duty licence) from Johannesburg to load our furniture from Plumstock Farm. Sheila had not even started packing! In fact, she and her replacement for her job, a local farmer’s daughter, Melissa Wardle, had been out celebrating, or more likely having a wake for her sad departure from the lovely countryside to the dreaded city!

I arrived at my parents’ farm and unpacked our possessions into their barn, on the day that Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Our dogs luckily got on passably well with those of my folks, much to everyone’s relief. Nicholas and Timothy, Sheila’s sons had been booked into Lord Milner School, Settlers, my old primary school, as boarders.

Much to our disappointment, the company changed its mind about my going to the Ellisrus Matimba Power Station job, so I was stuck in the Carletonville area. Sheila reluctantly stayed on the farm with my parents until we borrowed a caravan, then she fled to the bush.

Bert & June Sabatier with PJE under the Naboom.

Bert & June Sabatier with PJE under the Naboom.

My old friends, Bert and June Sabatier became Sheila’s friends, too. We often stayed over a night at their house in Edenvale and they would visit us in our primitive home in the bush. We bought the caravan we had borrowed from Bert’s brother, Mike Sabatier which we towed up into the bush on the farm where there were old mine exploration pits. We built a shutter board kitchen shack, and a long-drop loo over one of the pits which was in use until we finally built a more modern convenience.
shutterboard kitchen shack

shutterboard kitchen shack

Sheila’s brother, Tom Maling, wife Rose and their four children ( two of whom were the twins, Chris and Andy) were also frequent visitors, as were my old friend Charles (Jed) Howard and his wife, Val.

Back in the Eastern Cape, we sold some of our cattle on the Dohne sale, but Sheila attempted to bring three of her cows up in the back of the Peugeot diesel truck which she had inherited from her late father. However, she turned back after one of them kicked the back window in, and arranged for a friend to sell them.

About peterjearle

Writer of thriller novels. 6 Published: 'Purgatory Road', 'The Barros Pawns', and the Detective Dice Modise Series:'Hunter's Venom - #1' 'Medicinal Purposes Only - #2', and 'Children Apart - #3; and 'Tribes of Hillbrow'; all from Southern Africa.
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