07 February 2006

GOING PATIENTLY (GP) IN GAUTENG Friday, 3 February 2006 to Monday, 6 February 2006
We eloped to Gauteng to visit family and friends - in the end only visiting friends. It was really good to be in home territory again having lived in Pretoria for a decade (1991-2001).
Mobile sign language The rate of housing development since 2001 is astonishing. Security complexes and shopping centres have sprung up on nearly every piece of vacant land. Road networks have not been upgraded to deal with the increased volume in traffic, resulting in bumper-to-bumper traffic almost all hours of the day. Agro GP drivers are the norm rather than the exception and ironically the GP on the number plates have been duped as "GOING PATIENTLY". We also observed a new network of "mobile sign language" being utilised by GP drivers to vent their frustrations. Our first port of call driving into Pretoria was our favourite - Menlyn Shopping Centre where we had a quick thirst quencher; frequented our favourite shops and watched the 'Grand Canyon' at the Imax theatre.
Disastrous Accommodation
We arrived at Irene Country Lodge at 7pm where a disastrous 45 minute check-in awaited us. The receptionist (only person on duty) was torn between us, a switchboard that rang non-stop and guests waiting for assistance. With half an hour elapsed we were handed our room key, but requested to wait even some more while it was checked whether our room was ready (which should have been ready by 2pm , 5 hours earlier) . The room was not ready and we were requested to wait some more until the room was ready. The first thing we noticed on entering our room was a 'WE CARE' card. Wasting no time Conroy contacted the General Manager, Mr Ian Armstrong to vent his complaint. Mr Armstrong assured us that our experience was unacceptable and there was no excuse for the manner in which we were treated.
An Early Morning Rush - Ndaba Road Race
We rose at 4am on Saturday, kitting ourselves out in our new Run&Walk4Life athletic gear. Left the Lodge at 4:45am and arrived at the Swartkops Lapa at 5:05am. I entered for the 10km Walk (finishing in 75min) and Conroy for the 21.1km Run (finishing in 2h04min). The number of athletes entering races in Gauteng was huge in comparison to KZN's races. It was good to see familiar faces still doing the same race for the last decade. Vitathion was the sponsor for the race and there were lots of freebies. The medals (see picture) depicted the Swartkops lapa.
Post Breakfast Surprise
On returning to our room 613 after a very disappointing breakfast (no attention to detail and cold food), a lodge staff member approached as with a newly purchased Woolworths cooler bag containing chocolates and cooldrink with a handwritten note from the General Manager, Mr Ian Armstrong: 'Dear Mr/s Fourie...Once again please accept my apologies. There is no excuse for what happened and I will be addressing this with my management. I do appreciate your feedback, as this is the only way I can take measures to ensure this does not happen again. May you enjoy the rest of your stay. ... Ian Armstrong' We tried to put our negative feelings aside and took a 2 hour siesta to recuperate from the race.
Baby Zander
Our planned and long awaited visit to Heidi, Bernardt, Alisha (2,5 years) and baby Zander (6 weeks), sadly had to be put off. Heidi and Bernardt, upon noticing the previous evening that baby Zander was not moving his left leg, made an emergency appointment with a specialist to examine Zander on Saturday morning. During the examination it was discovered that Zander's left hip was dislocated. He had already udergone two open heart operations (at Sunninghill Clinic), three weeks from each other and the dislocated hip was the result of infection from the last heart operation which settled in his hip. He was immediately rushed off to theatre (at Wilgeheuwel Private Hospital) where he underwent his third operation in six weeks. He has also been put in a body brace for two months to prevent any future dislocations. Fortunately he has no problem feeding.
Smuts Revisited
We had a very relaxed lunch under the treas at the Smuts House tea garden in Irene. A massive club sandwich and apple pie and ice cream was the order.
Best Friends
After driving by our old house in Garsfontein, and feeling relieved that the garden we lovingly created was well looked after, we visited the Naude's for supper. We couldn't believe how quickly the girls Candice and Kayleigh are becoming real ladies. They were both at Pretoria Girls High, Candice being in Grade 8 and Kayleigh in Matric. Terry and I caught up on each others lives and relived special moments we had endeared, amongst others, hours spent together running and training for road races during which we have shared a great deal of feelings. We paged through Terry's scrapbook album of their visit during December 2004 to New Zealand where Roy's sister them stays. We were amazed at what a beautiful country NZ is. We were sad to hear that they are planning to relocate to NZ at the end of 2006. Sasha has become a real house mut and old Thomas the feline is still watching over the family and watching his weight - Garfield be afraid, very afraid!
A Birdie on the 5th (Sunday)
Lunch was amongst the protected blue cranes, etc. at the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary in Brooklyn, Pretoria. Chicken and maple syrup & ice cream pancakes were 'off the menu'.
Going North-cliff X28
North we went to visit the Volschenks at their new home in Northcliff, Johannesburg. Their new house is stunning - feels like one needs an official appointment to visit. The house is five years old and they have been living in it for a year. Carel, the green fingered gardener he is, has already redesigned the garden. Unfortunately he has been forced to take a 3-month break due to a back-op he had. He can only stand or lie down for 2 months - no sitting! Their boys (our god children) are also growing up too quickly. Duane the eldest is in Matric this year and he is brilliant academically as well as sport wise. Unfortunately he has to undergo a knee operation during the upcoming Easter weekend and will not be able to partake in any sport for 3 months. Needless to say that this is a huge disappointment for him. Kyle the younger son is also brilliant at cricket and rugby and is following in his brother's footsteps. The love lights have started shining for Duane when Bianca made her appearance. This seems to be a serious case.
North Country
Sunday evening we were off to the Brooklyn Shopping Mall to see the newly acclaimed film by Charlize Theron, 'North Country' and were pleasantly surprised at how good a movie it is. Not often that two hours flies by so quickly. The end leaves one feeling real good!
Monday Blues
A cold Irene Country Lodge breakfast was definitely not on the cards for us on our last morning in Pretoria. We hurriedly checked out (this actually was snappy) and off we headed in the direction of our favourite coffee shop in SA namely 'Greenfields'
in Menlyn, Pretoria. We had a hearty WARM country breakfast with the b-e-s-t cuppocino's ever. With full tummies we set off on the 6-hour journey to Kloof, Durbun saying goodbye to our favourite SA city, Pretoria!!!
-Signing off Homesick

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