WHEN IS A LIFETIME NOT A LIFETIME?

Was watching the BBC’s Fast Track the other day when an item came up which intrigued me. It was about a r Jack Vroom who has officially been banned from flying with American Airlines. And no, he didn’t do anything wrong, i.e. he didn’t get drunk and disorderly, he didn’t threaten the staff, be rude to his fellow passengers, or complain about the food.
All Mr. Vroom did was to make use of the Lifetime Business Class membership that he bought many many years ago for a half a million dollars.
Problem? Well, yes. Mr. Vroom apparently has used this to its fullest clocking up about 38 million air miles on their airpass programme. This golden ticket entitled him to fly with a companion on any of their worldwide flights around the world at any time. Now however the airline is experiencing difficulties is in liquidation and they think it’s time Mr. Vroom stopped flying. He was quite surprised on landing at one or other destination to find that his ticket, bought in good faith many years ago has now been suspended.
Well, seems all those years ago nobody asked Mr. Vroom how long he intended using this membership, nor did they place a ceiling on the number of times that he could use it. They were only too happy to accept his half million dollars back then, because it was worth a fortune. And apparently he isn’t the only one. There are a few more like him who are also irate and steaming at this treatment. Meanwhile, Mr. Vroom is taking legal action, but this is going to take a long time to reach finality as American Airlines is in liquidation and until they sort out their financial woes, Mr. Vroom’s problem is on the back burner.
Now the reason this tweaked my interest was because to a much smaller degress, in fact, it would be fairer to say to a minute degree I too was a victim of this lifetime membership problem. A million years ago (or so it feels) I joined a cat club, taking out a lifetime membership. Twenty five yers down the line I was asked if I wouldn’t please take out a new subscription and ay in some more because, costs had escalated so much it was costing them money to still have me as a member! My answer? Take your ‘lifetime membership” and put it wherever you would like to do (my ladylike instincts prevented me from saying exactly where…).
And then some yers later my husband fell victim to the same thing. A membership of a lifetime taken out with his old alma mater brought a similar plea. The excuse there was that he had joined when it was ‘very cheap’ and he had really got his money’s worth, so now it was time he upped his fee to keep in step with modern costs. His answer: No way! He maintains, and rightly so, I think, that if they had invested and used his money wisely they should have had enough to cover present day costs and if they charged a relevant fee now, the new members should be subsidising the costs to the older members who are still there.
May be I am barking up the wrong tree, maybe I have my thinking wrong, but the reason one buys ‘lifetime’ rights or membership, is exactly that, for a lifetime It’s too bad if you get run over by a bus the following week (well for you that is) and too bad if you live to be a hundred and three for the institution, company, airline or union.
Then there is the question of ‘lifetime’ guarantees on products. Tupperware was a great one for that. Buy Tupperware, it has a ‘lifetime guarantee’ unlike the cheaper supermarket plastic products. Well, in the early days I bought these ‘superior’ products. Some years down the line the lids showed signs of wear and tear, crackign adn breaking. When I tried to return them, I was given the Spanish inquisition, about how I had handled them, how I had washed them, stored them, or whatever else I could have done to them. Then came the answers, sorry they couldn’t help me with these items because the lines had beeen ‘discontinued’. Well, well, well. The only reason I had ‘discontinued’ using them was because the lids with their ;lifetime guarantee’ were faulty.
And so it goes. People are suckered in time after time like this and we do nothing about it. Makes me wonder what does a ‘lifetime’ actually mean? Seemingly nothing in business parlance.
So good luck to Mr. Vroom. I hope that he wins his case. In my opinion he deserves to do so.

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THE CONVENT GIRLS GET TOGETHER

What a weekend it has been. Who could have thought that fifty years later we would be able to meet, have fun and wonder where the fifty years in between had gone? It was as thought we had been together yesterday. Only thing wrong was that we were missing Anna and Carol from Matric years and Fay, Ritchie and Mully from J.C.
Nevertheless it was fun. And to up-date you all on our shared time, this is what happened.

Kathy Ann Lynette Ann and Margie

Kathy Ann Lynette Ann and Margie


Thursday night Margie, with husband John, Lynette, and husband Brian, Ann (without the ‘e’ – important as you will see) and Kathy had a fish braai together. The words never stopped flowing, and although I would like to say the wine, we were well behaved convent girls, so knew our limitations.
Next morning, Brian and Lynette who were caravanning in town, met up with the other four of us and we headed off to Anne (with the ‘e’ – now to you see the significance?) and Nigel’s farm in the Grabouw area. Now Judy and Trish adn husband Arthur came to join us.
Anne Trish Kathy Margie Kathy Judy Lynette

Anne Trish Kathy Margie Kathy Judy Lynette

Anne Judy Trish in the blueberry fields

Anne Judy Trish in the blueberry fields


Here Nigel took us on a wonderful tour of the farm, showing us the apple sheds, watching the apples coming in from various outlets, the grading, washing, sorting, packing, storage and all the intricacies of this giant undertaking which supplies fruit to huge supermarket chains both here and overseas. An amazing enterprise. Nigel is an enthusiastic and dedicated farmer who has the engineering background to keep everything running smoothly. We also met their son Justin who is following in his Dad’s footsteps. From here it was to the now empty blueberry packing sheds. We had missed the blueberry season by a week sadly. These sheds were now being repainted and prepared to hold the apple crops in air-tight cooling rooms until they had to be shipped out to various parts of the world.
Then it was onto the farm. Firstly we saw the extremely well-built houses supplied to the staff members, set up on a hill with panoramic views, solar water heaters, and gardens around them. These workers certainly had no complaints and did not want to be part of the rioting dissidents for higher wages. They were already being looked after with bonuses and living wages. However they were intimidated by people brought in from outside to cause mayhem and trouble.
From here we were taken to the blueberry fields where some eagle eyes spotted some wayward blueberries still hiding on the plants. Nigel invited us to eat our fill, and how delicious they were! We stuffed ourselves to the gills, enjoying every last mouthful.
You would not have though that we had a wonderful lunch waiting for us back at the farmhouse.
When we got there, Ann had made a sumptuous feast. We suddenly found plenty of room to put away the cold meats and salads and the heavenly summer pudding, filled with berries from the farm! Yum Yum. But, our earlier indulgences meant we had no room for the array of cheese and biscuits, so sadly gave those a miss.
Lots of talk later we eventually made oru weary way home, still reeling from all the lovely food that we had no need of supper.
In the morning Margie, John, Lynette, Brian, Kathy and Anne tried to find the wild horses which roam free near our home, but sadly they were not to be seen. We moved on to one of the wine farms for a brunch where the others joined us, sans Arthur who had family commitments. After our brunch (who would have thought we could eat another morsel) Ann, Trish and Judy returned to Grabouw, whilst the rest headed off first to The Cheeseman, then wandered down some country roads through sweeping farmlands and made our way to Hermanus, where we ambled along the cliff paths, had an ice-cream and then made our way home. We spent what was left of the afternoon, comparing photographs and oohing and aahing over our various children and grandchildren.
The girls at lunch

The girls at lunch


Sunday, morning, Margie, Anne and Kathy prepared the table, and the lunch of coronation chicken, and salads for the group who arrived at just after twelve noon. Everybody seemed to bring something to add to the feast, including a mouth-wateringly tender fillet steak by Lynette, the cheeses that nobody ate on Friday by Ann and some more of the blueberries. Yummy. These were added to the fruit salad and made it very special.
Margie gave all an ‘exam’ paper, which was now marked and given back with hilarious comments. Some answers were factually correct, but most were tongue in cheek fun answers which caused lots of giggles and laughter.
we had fun, more sharing of various aspects of our lives and comments about school days. Somebody remarked that whilst we learnt a great deal our teachers did nothing to build up our self-esteem. In fact we found mainly it was the opposite. Perhaps they were preparing us for life.We acknowledged that we are an amazing bunch of women. Each one of us has been through some incredible hardships, and yet each one of us has come out incredibly stronger. Maybe our teachers were right in being so hard on us. We now acknowledge that life is not easy nor uncomplicated.
And then it was time to leave, passing the mantle onto Lynette to organise another gathering – perhaps in Lesotho for us all. This time though we won’t let so many years pass before getting together.
As we all moved on to other things, there were already things happening. Lynette and Brian, Margie and John went on a Peninsula tour together, Ann was going to host Anne, and Kathy at her home later in the week. Judy promised she would keep in touch with Ann and Margie so that we could try to see each other occasionally seeing that we live within a reasonable distance of each other.
We paid tribute to Carol, soon to undergo surgery and our thoughts and prayers go with her, and to Anna, about to move house and ‘downsize’. We missed them, and give them fair warning of our next gathering, as we do to Fay, Ritchie and Mully. See you all soon girls.
As a footnote: We never did do all the things on the agenda – the penguins, the wine farms, the botanical gardens – but we ran out of time – just bonding took forever.

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Part of a family

You don’t have to be born into a family, or marry into a family, to become part of that family. I know this because for the largest portion of my life I have been part of the extended Fullaway/Wilmot/Rapson family. I am very privileged to be part of this wonderful group where I am free to be me at all times.
Take Sunday for instance. It was Sylvia’s birthday the day before but due to logistics we were having a Sunday breakfast at Suikerbossie Restaurant in Hout Bay. Wonderful place to be where you are also part of an ‘extended’ family. Sylvia looked incredibly young for her 84 years – in fact she is so sharp and put together that she is often mistaken for someone much younger.Malcolm, Les and Jenna looked incredibly handsome and happy. Malcolm made such a lovely speech, remembering that Sylvia was alive before the age of cellphones, computers, or tablets. Tablets in Sylvia’s era were pills one took when you were ill. Aeroplanes were in their infancy too, with the Wright Brothers still considered wonder children of the world. She’s lived through all these changes. She’s survived many things. And long may she continue to do so in good health.
Which gets me back to the sense of family. We spent the weekend with Patricia and David, our ‘home from home’ taking in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Museum, eating large hunks of very unhealthy but utterly delicious cake in the little restaurant attached to the museum.
The four children belonging to the collective family all had a great time together, outside the restaurant on the swings, monkey bars, jungle gym equipment and in the jumping castle with many an adult wishing they could join in.
It was a great morning together – and we don’t do it often enough.
The children all have so many varied activities that they are kept busy everyday of the week. Malcolm is still the fastest accountant in the Western Cape, leaving many in his trail as he roars around the track on his motor bike. Les is toning down beautifully with her regular gym sessions, Stephen is waiting to hear where and when he is going to as a new rookie to the world of oil drilling platforms, Tracy keeps the two kids busy with their various activities, including doing some bookkkeeping in her spare time. Alan flits in and out of the country as he works abroad, whilst Cheryl is the home-maker supreme who does part time work for others and keeps Darren out of mischief. David keeps Patricia in order most of the time and does it well, fitting in outings to various cultural activities, games of bridge and more whilst Patricia knits squares that will be made up into blankets for the poor at a later stage. So each has their own little niche.
But the good thing about our gathering is that because we have shared so many happenings and events in our lives we can so easily slip into “remember when…” and create a laugh a touch of whimsy, shed a tear if we have to. No explanations necessary, No apologies, general banter and teasing. It’s just a sense of belonging. I am eternally grateful to have these wonderful people in my life. Bless you each andDSCN0763

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DSCN0768 every one.

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NATURE’S TRAGEDY

Partially completed swallows' nest

Partially completed swallows’ nest

We’ve lived through our own personal tragedy during this past week. But let me fill you in on the full story. Last year when the European swallows returned to the sunshine, two eager but rash youngsters who had paired up, decided that our front porch would make an ideal home. We were thrilled, except they were so inexperienced that they thought our light fitting would be the ideal spot.
However, being made of plastic, none of their mud adhered for long, before it all came crashing down onto the tiles below. For a whole season they persevered with no results. So we felt very sorry for them, but there was noting they could do.
At the end of summer they had achieved nothing except frustration. We could often spy them sitting on the bench on the porch chattering to themselves, seemingly wary of us, but mostly unafraid. With the coming of winter they too migrated and we thought we had seen the last of our little feathered friends.
Well, lo and behold, this summer they returned, this time a little wiser and more practically minded. They now focussed their attention on building against the wall, quite high up, where they would be able to use the ceiling as well.
This time they were successful and we had far less mud on the tiles and a nest shaping up. Finally they had completed their masterpiece and we saw them coming and going, until eventually we only saw one. One evening John climbed up a ladder to see if they had taken occupation as two startled little faces peered back at him. Peeping Tom, they must have thought.
And we went away for a week, so failed to observe movements for a week or so. They still occasionally sat and chatted on the back of the bench, but we seemed to be seeing a little less of them.
Then last week, I walked out of the front door and was horrified to find two baby swallows, lying dead on the tiles. They were just beyond the naked helpless baby stage, with a haze of fluff covering them, but the eyes were still closed. Sadly they had not survived the fall from the nest. I wondered whether the immature parents had perhaps kicked them out at first, but it didn’t seem right.
However, I soon found out what had happened. Our swallows disappeared for a time, we didn’t see hide nor hair of them in the neighbourhood, but the mystery was cleared up when the raucous and rowdy swifts kept flying in and out. These hooligans of the bird world had taken over our swallows’ territory. No, the swifts didn’t move in, like real ruffians, they had terrorised our swallows, killed their offspring and then made sure they did not return although they themselves had no interest in our swallows nests.
I feel so heartbroken. Poor little swallows. And we were so looking forward to seeing the babies take their first flight. We can only hope that next year they will return and try again. Meantime we have that feeling once again of an empty nest syndrome…

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LEST WE FORGET

This was my Dad circa 1944 – 45

We were out shopping a few days ago. I wanted to have some adjustments made to my spectacles but as the technician wasn’t available for a about an hour we decided to go and have coffee at a nearby restaurant. As we were about to enter a man was coming out. We stopped to let him pass. My husband, John, noticed that the man was wearing a blazer with a badge signifying that he had served in the Second World War. Ever friendly, John stopped to speak to the man, saying “Oh, you also served up North.”
The man concurred, whereupon John added, with that friendly smile he always uses, as he is by nature eager to make friends, “Where did you serve.” The man said in Egypt and Abyssinia. John smile a bit more and said that his father-in-law had been part of the tank brigade and that he had seen plenty of action. John then made a remark on the funny stories my Dad used to tell.
This got the man quite indignant and he blasted John with “There was never anything funny about the war. We had a bloody hard time of it. I was in infantry and we suffered a great deal.” John stood reeling at the man’s onslaught. It was never his intention to belittle the great sacrifices that the men who served had to make to ensure that we, their children and grandchildren have a free society today.
John apologised profusely but the man was having none of it. He felt that his efforts were being nullified and that we did not understand what he had given up.
We have at home two albums of photographs taken by my father when he was up North. We also have some of the letters he wrote home where he said little of the utter terror that they lived through. I know this for a fact, because although my Dad tried to make light of things, the horrors of war left him an alcoholic. Now whilst we never suffered materially from his excessive drinking, we certainly suffered in other ways. It affected his relationship with us, with my Mum, who bless her, stood by him and loved him despite his demons. His job prospecs were affected too, and his life was shortened by the effects of a bomb blast.
No, dear sir, although I know you will never read this blog, I can assure you that we will never forget the hardships that you and your fellow servicemen went through. We salute you all, but hope that you canlearn to accept us as well, and that perhaps, just perhaps, you have missed a golden opportunity to get to know a man who would have liked to have heard your story, your side of that horrific war.

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ANOTHER RAINY DAY

Here we are at the second half of October and my summer clothes haven’t even seen the light of day. Its Sunday, cold and rainy and utterly miserable. Bella Dog dogging my footsteps (if you’ll excuse the pun) as I move between sitting room, kitchen, study and bedroom. She doesn’t accept bad weather as an excuse not to go out. She thinks I should be taking her for a walk so she can upload her ‘smell-emails’ and I can get some exercise. Well, its not to be.
I hear on the news that there have been floods in the Eastern Cape and think back to 41 years ago when the same thing happened, so weather patterns do repeat themselves. Its sometimes man who has a short memory. I remember then having to take a detour off the N2 near to one little town and where we found ourselves in a minor ‘dorp’ where John had a hamburger for lunch and I a pie and he came down with a severe case of food poisoning. On arrival in East London we were booked into a great hotel on the beach front – really upmarket to find that half of our deluxe room was unusable as the carpet was saturated. Then too the rain teemed down in buckets for the whole of our stay.
So here we are back in this awful cycle.
Mind you on a positive note, the dams are almost all full, and our garden won’t need watering in a long while so its not all bad. Meanwhile the flowers on the mountainside are spectacular as my flower pictures show.
Pity the poor who have been flooded out of their homes though.

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The beauty up the road

One of the views I see daily and never stop marvelling at

The beauty up the road

The recent rains have ensured beautiful flowers everywhere. This is a Keurboom botanical name unknown) that is spectacular.

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