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A Farmer’s Family Holiday

NaturesValleyI love travelling; whether it is discovering new countries with its unique architecture or going to places in my own country where I have never been before, I love meeting interesting foreigners and eating local food, but I will never exchange it for the luxury of our family’s traditional holiday at the sea.

It is important to realise that when it comes to going away on holiday, there are two types of farmers – those who are happy to leave the farm for a few weeks at a time and those who hate the idea of being separated from their beloved farm for more than a few days at a time. I am the daughter of a farmer that falls into the latter category.

They believe that in their absence, all the sheep will die from some inexplicable disease, it will rain too much or too little or the entire staff will suddenly decided to leave the farm without notice. So, unlike other families, we had to stay at home over Christmas and New Years to make sure none of the above-mentioned disasters did actually occur. Instead, we had to wait for all the Vaalies, “who always take over all holiday destinations,” to return before we could set off to the coast. 10 days maximum.

These places will usually not be somewhere glamorous (like Margate) or big (like Port Elizabeth), but rather a little seaside town with one miserable shop. Therefore, my mother had to be an expert packer and even had a dedicated room set aside for this mammoth task and had to skilfully anticipate anything we might possibly require during our trip. The packing predictably included a game and sports section for anything that was fashionable at the time and without fail, scrabble was always top on the list. A beach section, a linen, bedding and towel section (not to be confused with beach towels), the toiletries and a medicine kit, all the regular household groceries and by far the most important – FOOD.

The food section would comprise of plenty of meat for all the braais, tins of rusks and biscuits and anything else that could help us fight the big hunger between meals. Naturally, we had to be fully prepared for the great munchies, caused by the fresh sea air, since only one trip to the nearest Pick & Pay could be made to replenish the supplies mid-way through the holiday or if the weather was bad.

How on earth my dad managed to pack all of that and us into the car will remain a mystery to me. On arrival, we loved exploring the new house, each rented cottage having its own quirks while providing us with an insight into the lives of its owners. We had a splendid time at the sea, pretty much like every other South African family that went on similar holidays.

My dad had to phone home just to make sure that none of the earlier mentioned, or any other unforeseen disasters, did occur back home. Contact with the staff back home required careful planning since none of the beach houses had landlines and mobile phones were but a dream back then. My dad would arrange to phone the staff at 6 pm on a specific day from the phone booth at the café from where he would attempt to conduct his farming from 500 kilometres away. I am happy to report that there were never any major disasters while we were away on holiday. The cell phone has truly revolutionised holidays for farmers wherever they might be in the world.

I still remember the 2 litre coke bottles we filled with sea water for the people back home, most of them never having seen the ocean before. I miss the old sea cottages now replaced with huge mansions. I miss school holidays when you didn’t have to ask for leave and synchronize diaries. I miss discovering the shortest route to the beach or getting ice-cream at the shop on the way home. I miss meeting new friends next door or spending time with the cousins and family.

I only hope that the tradition of a yearly family holiday will never be replaced with anything more “fashionable”; each child should have the opportunity to create similar memories and spend quality time with their siblings and parents.

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  1. October 15th, 2009 at 14:46 | #1

    Some family of mine from up north were here in Cape Town recently and I took them for a drive to the beach. The kids had never seen the ocean before and they were blown away!
    …and yes, my aunt filled a bag with pebbles and a bottle with water…too weird!

  2. avatar
    October 17th, 2009 at 19:58 | #2

    The water is used to scare/keep the tokolosh away!

  3. avatar
    October 27th, 2009 at 09:30 | #3

    I thought the water is used to clear out the intestines, good for the stomach they always told me?

    Nice article

    where did you go on holiday?

  1. January 7th, 2015 at 15:00 | #1

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