So far, 1929 had proved to be a disastrous year for shipping on the South African coast. To add a liberal dose of salt to that wound, at 8:30 on a foggy Monday morning, the American freighter, the 5,779-ton SS Western Knight, would be added to that tragic total.
In the impenetrable fog and along this treacherous coastline, the vessel blindly groped its way past Schoenmakerskop, a disaster waiting to happen. Then my grandmother, Elizabeth Daisy McCleland, granny Mac to us, heard the death shriek of a ship’s siren.
Main picture: Salvage operations underway on the SS Western Knight
I would have preferred to have written a history of Willows, albeit short, but as I have been unable to uncover much information about this iconic resort, I will invoke my right to present a pictorial blog with a several facts added as a spicing on the top. Even as regards photographs, there is a dearth of them covering the early years.
Like many Port Elizabethans, the McCleland family stayed at Willows at some point in their lives. In our case it was over the Easter holidays. Sometimes we even took our home-built canoe along but as the main pool was miniscule, it could, in all honesty, only be used when the facility was not crowded.
Main picture: Two views of Willows separated by 50 years
Being brought up by the sea brought us boundless joy as children. From a very early age we all learned to swim proficiently. As my father was brought up at the coast, he took us to the beach every weekend irrespective of what the weather conditions were like. Due to our competence, we were left unsupervised and unattended on the beach from an early age. Instead of the current generation frequenting the malls, we led an active life.
Even as a competent swimmer I twice almost did not see another day. On both occasions it was a spring tide which was the cause of my near fatal mishaps. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt as I did not treat the sea with the caution it deserves.
These are the chronicles of those events still seared in my memory.
Main picture: This is a view of the main sand dune at Maitlands River Mouth Continue reading
Today’s race at the National Botanical Gardens in Pretoria was no exception. Again I was surprised by what I learned except that it was not from a South African but a foreigner who has been in South Africa for only nine months.
One is not accorded a special status in road running. All runners are equal. Unlike the public discourse which is characterised by divisive racism, violent political rhetoric and the politics of rage especially by the EFF, road running does not suffer from these travails.
Main picture: The entrance to the Willows resort in Port Elizabeth. Instead of inserting some arbitrary pictures onto this blog, I have included photographs of Willows Resort near Port Elizabeth because as youngsters we spent many an Easter Holiday there.