- With the unsatisfactory efforts of my Backpacker’s manager, I had to let him go and look for somebody more committed to making a profitable business of it. In the meanwhile I thus had to be there for guests and would sleep there, if need be.
Canadian couple, Karin Kilpatrick & Richard Walker booked in for a night in early January. I was so taken with them that when they reappeared two days later, I had to show them Haarlem and introduce them to Sheila. It turned out that Sheila, too, instinctively liked them, and when she found out that Richard was a fellow muso, she lent him a guitar to take on his travels. Karin is in fact South African, a medical doctor who had married a Canadian farmer, but remained in Canada after their divorce. Her father lived just 160kms from Haarlem in Humansdorp. As a young man, in the Matatiele area in what was then East Griekwaland, he had worked as a learner/junior manager for Sheila’s uncle! Small world.
A week later, Karin and Richard returned the guitar and stayed three nights, bringing Karin’s sister Andrea, her brother David, and Andrea’s daughter, Leah, with them. Lovely people with whom I am still in contact to this day. (Apologies for stolen pics.)
Just after sundown in the evening of 21 Jan 2007, Sheila took me and her neighbour with her children to watch Comet McNaught, also known as the Great Comet of 2007. (It had been discovered on 7 August 2006 by British-Australian astronomer Robert H. McNaught who was studying for things which might collide with Earth. It was to be the brightest comet to enter out skies in over 40 years, and was easily visible to the naked eye for observers in the Southern Hemisphere in January and February 2007. Thanks, Wiki.)
To add to her two Guernsey cows, Sheila decided to buy two Jersey first-calver heifers from a dairy farmer outside Humansdorp. We borrowed her brother’s bakkie with its cattle-sides on the back, and fetched them one at a time. Sheila and Bush, a Zimbabwean tinker who has settled in Haarlem and does odd jobs, joined the nervous heifer in the back to calm her as I drive home.
We were just entering Kareedouw town, slowing up a steep hill when it happened. As we slowed, there were a couple of vehicles caught up behind us. The nearest was a white bakkie, just behind our tail-gate, when the heifer emptied her liquid bowels overboard, all over the bonnet and windscreen.
Sheila and Bush packed up, laughing. We couldn’t believe it when the driver pulled us over at the stop sign. Not only was he a cop with no sense of humour, he was the district stock-thief chief. We had to follow him to the Kareedouw Police station where he would have impounded the animal, too, but eventually had to admit that it had been the farmer’s responsibility, as seller, to provide the stock movement permit. He eventually only fined Sheila R50-00 for moving cattle without a permit, and allowed us to get on our way.