Happy Valley: Trip the Light Fantastic

Happy Valley was a magical place for young kids and probably still is even for the jaded visual palates of today.  In the daytime it is a pleasant stroll alongside the babbling brook that is the lower reaches of that misnomer, the Shark River, where it spills out under the bridge into Humewood Beach.  There are lily ponds, rockeries, gigantic palms and peaceful retreats in which to sit. Every few meters there is another delightful interpretation of a fairy tale or nursery rhyme scene to consider.  

Main Street: Aerial view of Happy Valley with Humewood beach on the upper right

 

A scene from Alice in Wonderland next to the gentle Shark ‘River’

A scene from Alice in Wonderland next to the gentle Shark ‘River’

I’m not sure what happened to the third little pig – performance anxiety maybe

I’m not sure what happened to the third little pig – performance anxiety maybe?

The benign little Shark River lived up to its billing on 1 September 1968 when incessant rain caused it to become a vengeful torrent.   It first had its way with the Boet Erasmus stadium before it rampaged through Happy Valley trashing all the innocent characters of our fairy tales – our friends that we had grown up with … sniff!

Sweet little babbling brook

Sweet little babbling brook

And they didn’t live happily ever after

And they didn’t live happily ever after

Luckily for the kids of PE, Happy Valley was rebuilt for the delight and memory of many generations still to come.

Evening is approaching and the magic is about to happen

Evening is approaching and the magic is about to happen

But the magic, the ooh and aah, is when your parents take you there on a pleasant summer’s evening.  These little scenes come alive and jump out at you, even for the most jaded parents.  They cleverly used uv lighting and fluorescing paints to create a wonderland that leaves an impression that, if not seared into the retina, is burnt into the neural network of the brain – forever like a mental tatoo.

Happy Valley sign

Happy Valley - Palm Tree

It is not the witching hour. It is the kid’s hour

It is not the witching hour. It is the kid’s hour

No matter the scene, the ethereal glow of the colours delighted the brain

No matter the scene, the ethereal glow of the colours delighted the brain

My parents took us there only a few times, but given the drought of other delights, Happy Valley left an indelible impression on me that, even 50 years later, still gives me a lift when I think about it.


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