Stoepstorie 8: Stuart Street Harrismith

Stuart Street Harrismith as Autumn sets in

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We are part of the street as much as we are part of the town.

Our house address is 17A Stuart Street.

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De Oude Huize Yard was built in 1860! You will find it in the little block right on the right hand side.
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First Title Deed of De Oude Huize Yard

The name Stuart relates to two possibilities.
*Major Warden named all his children after the Royal house of Stuart. Rumors were that he was an unofficial grandson of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
* Stuart Jacobus, 1803 – 1878, author, diplomatic agent and advocate of emigration, took part in the Sand River Convention in 1852.

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Stuart Street in 1904 with a Rickshaw left wide sidewalk right and a railway line. Horses pulled the wagons (or coco-pans “coco pans”).

After the Boer War in 1904, the British had a huge camp on Kings Hill. Here they broke many stones, cut and trimmed it to be used for building purposes. To get these stones in the town a track was laid from Kings Hill to the town. Some of these stones were used when the Town hall was built. This information probably also explains the existence of many houses and buildings in Stuart St, which were built of stone. There were also traces of the track in Vowe and Bester streets.

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The first public building in Harrismith was the Court house, serving the community as a venue for the school, public meetings, bazaars and entertainments. All church services were held in the Court house until 1879 when the first church, the Dutch Reformed Church, was built on the site of the present Moederkerk. (Hawkins 1982)
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Stuart street on a peaceful Sunday morning. The trafic light is situated on the corner of Stuart and Piet Retief Streets.

The early magistrates were Bester, Chauvin, Theron, D Cloete, J De Kock, Bramley, (that was accused of high treason), Canisius, J N Boshoff, J Z de Villiers, F W van der Riet, Charles Warden. (Steytler 1932)

Mr. Joseph De Kock resides at De Oude Huize Yard from 23 July 1861 till 23 April 1903 almost 42 years.

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The corner of Stuart and Retief streets. The Court House on the Left. The trees planted in a square at the foot of Platberg were planted by the “konsentrasiekampkinders” and the indication where the Concentration camp was. The people of the Camp were then transferred to “Tin Town” in Ladysmith
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Corner of Stuart and Piet Retief streets today. The Court House made room for the new Post Office. The trees has grown and where the Concentration Camp use to be is now the town goal.

An almost mad Kitchener was tormented by the Concentration Camp women and children when they did not show respect when the funeral procession of Dr Godfrey Reid pass them. Instead a hissing sound was made. Reid was killed during the Groenkop battle on Christmas day. The women and children were then moved to “Tin Town” close to Ladysmith. Some were transported in open train carriages and the luck ones in proper passenger car.

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This picture was taken on the morning of 8 August 1900. A very interesting photo with significant history. On this morning more than 200 burgers of the Harrismith Commando came into town by horse, by “kapkar” and even Spaaiders. They were ready to hand in their weapons and take the consequences. In front of the Court House the Boer’s were ready to sign neutralizing document. The horses were tied to the railings. The name hendsoppers was given to the Commando members. Some came to town in their best Sunday outfits and hard hats while some came in worn out cloths. One of them was the Member of Parlement – Commandant Piet Maree.
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The guns that was handed in was demolished and was loaded onto a “bokwa”. There it was transported to the courtyard of the Court House. Here the 5th Coy Royal Engineers destroyed the weapons with a 16 pond-hammer on a anvil and hit to pieces.
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The house on the left was the home of the Sieberts-family on the corner of Stuart and Mauritz streets. The building on the right was a private school.
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Further down Stuart street is the Harrismith Club. This is still standing but been looted.
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Sandstone curbs in Stuart Street
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Stuart street with 42nd Hill in the back

Thank you to Leon Strachan, Nico Moolman en Biebie de Vos for their contribution

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

De Oude Huize Yard

Stoepstorie 7: Wesley Hall and Anne James alias Mrs Tom James

Our next story comes with a twist as we noticed that the cornerstone of the Wesley Hall was laid by Mrs. Tom James. It left a question mark.

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Who was Mrs. Tom James?

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The Chevy is doing a trip and parked in front of the Wesley Hall next to the Methodist Church.

The Wesley Hall was built in 1906 and the cornerstone was laid by Mrs. Tom James on 17 January 1906. She was the eldest daughter of James Putterill. Her husband was a true supporter of the church and was for many years the Sheriff and Mayor of the town.

Wesley Hall 2

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The old Methodist Church was demolished in 1967 – 1968 and the Record Stone of the previous stone was laid by James Putterill on 14 June 1882.

From the time Harrismith was established most of its inhabitants were English-speaking. The British settlers who emigrated to Natal during 1849-50 found the country in the Byrne Valley not suitable for traditional farming practices. Many went to settle in urban areas, while some returned to Britain. Encouraged by Mr Warden, about 1 500 settlers came to Harrismith.

Wesley Hall

The story of Anne as shared by Leon Strachan.

Mrs Tom James was Anne Putterill and has a truly sad but remarkable story.
Her father James Putterill was a Byrne settler with a big personality who owned land in Verulam before moving his family up to Harrismith in 1863. His eldest daughter, a tiny but stubborn 25-year-old woman refused bluntly to get married, even though women were in great demand in the Free State (in 1863 the Free State Republic had been in existence for only 9 years and was extremely sparsely populated).
Unfortunately her disinterest did not prevent a man to fall in love with her. Anne didn’t want to have anything to do with him. When Anne’s strong-willed father (a grandchild referred to him as domineering) got wind of this he stepped in to salvage the situation. He instructed the man, a Welshman called Thomas James, to build a suitable house and furnish it. He, on the other hand, bought trousseau and a wedding dress for Anne, and fixed a wedding date.
When Tom James completed his ‘solid cut stone house,’ James Putterill instructed his daughter to prepare for her wedding. Anne refused, she said she didn’t love Mr. James and that was that.
The Putterill’s were a prominent family thanks to the very forceful James Putterill, who was an excellent business man and played a leading role in the Wesleyan (Methodist) church, as he did in town affairs. Whilst guests filled the church in Warden street on Anne’s wedding day, he instructed his womenfolk to dress up the unwilling bride. He then continued to drive her to the chapel in his carriage, where he walked a very unhappy daughter up the isle. He maneuvered the obstructive girl into position next to the groom, while he flanked her on the other side ‒ urging a flabbergasted minister to get started.Don’t think James Putterill had won the battle of wills yet. Anne was unfazed, she declined bluntly to take the marriage vows in front of all the astonished wedding guests. She stood her ground, not unnerved at all. Putterill didn’t despair either, neither did he give up. It would be a battle of wills to the inevitable end.
Every time it was expected of the bride to answer the parson, James pushed his silent daughter’s head slightly down as if she nodded whilst signalling impatiently to an ever more uncomfortable parson to get on with it. The ceremony was thus unceremoniously consummated, and the unlikely couple settled shakily into the solid stone house.
They were childless (3 stillborn). Tom James turned out to be a stalwart who became sheriff and mayor of Harrismith. Both he and his wife loved fishing, they were often seen fishing together whenever an opportunity occurred. The 66-year old Tom died in 1894, after which Anne took in a Miss Dixon to keep her company. According to Beryl Osborn (Anne’s niece who penned the family history) they lived happily together until the British garrison arrived on Kings Hill in 1903, when disaster struck.
A striking and very charming young soldier, conveniently named private James, befriended the two elderly ladies. Young James told them he was an orphan with no home and no family, all alone in the world.
Besotted with him, Anne bought him out of the army and formally adopted him. The young man then gratefully proceeded to squander his adopted mother’s savings. Even when Anne had lost everything she owned, never an unkind word was uttered or anything damaging believed of the young man. He bolted unceremoniously out of the country when there was nothing left to spend.
The Putterill family had to club together to provide the necessary means for Anne and Miss Dixon, and their parrot, to live on. Anne rewarded them by living into her nineties.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

Kameel Stoepstorie: Melktert

Hier by De Oude Huize het ons ons eie melktertstorie om te vertel.

Elke storie het ‘n begin en hierdie ene begin jare gelede toe ek in 1978 skoolgehou het in Port Elizabeth.

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Die Edward Hotel se binnehof, Die biblioteek, Duncanstraat huise, en weer die biblioteek.

Die pragtige St Georges park was net ‘n paar meter van my woonstel af en was ek bevoorreg om ‘n see uitsig te hê, maar so ook die baie bekende  Havelockstraat wat ‘n paar winkels gehad het onderandere ‘n tuisnywerheid.  So staan ek eendag in die einste winkel en kyk wat ek kan aankoop vir die tee by my  vriendin wat in Prospect Hillstraat gewoon het. Net so om die hoek van die pragtige St Mary’s Church.

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Terwyl ek nog so tussen die koeke en die terte dinge bespiegel kom ‘n Oompie nader geloop, maar ek gaan my gang en toe ek hand uitsteek in die rigting van die melkterte toe vertel hy my sy melktert storie.

“Niggie ek koop toe mos ook so ‘n melktertjie om huis toe te neem.  Die dametjie vra een of twee en ek is ‘n man wat gulhartig is so ek stem in vir twee.   Die ruilhandel vind plaas geld vir tert en daar stap ek uit.  Dit voel vir my al asof ek ‘n paar spoelklippe in die sak het, maar ek gaan vroulief beindruk.  Terwyl ek nou my motor se neus so in die rigting van die huis druk wonder ek darem oor die  tertjies wat nou saam met my oppad huis toe is.  Hulle roep my naam en nooi my om tog net so ‘n stukkie verleiding te proe voordat ek by die huis kom.  Ek het die pad langs die rivier gekies om my huis toe te vat dus was daar min verkeer.  Ek maak toe ‘n plan en proe so ‘n happie  . . . .  wat ‘n skok . . .  daar was geen verleiding in daardie terte nie.  Ek het die kar se deur oop gemaak en die tert laat rol en ek is oortuig hulle het tot binne in die Baakensrivier gerol sonder om enigsins vorm te verloor”.

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De Oude Huize se melktertstorie begin by tienuur vanoggend toe ons Nederlandse gaste vanaf die Drakensberg arriveer.  Nou moet julle besef die vorige nag se gaste borsel nog tande na ontbyt.  So doller dan ‘n afkop hoender hardloop ons rond en die Nederlanders soek ‘n badkamer – wil net noem daar is ses van hulle.

Uiteindelik is die vorige nag se gaste by die hek uit en die Nederlander koek vir ‘n wyle in een kamer terwyl ons die ander kamers poleer en suig en pof en tof om reg te kry.  Ek moet byvoeg ek floreer nie wanneer dinge bietjie vinnig gaan nie!.

In die proses vergeet ek om beskuit te bak, ek vergeet om ‘n happie vir 4 uur koffie te bak. Hennie bring uitkoms en gooi ons kar se wiele in trurat en jag SPAR toe.  Op TV sê die oompie mos hul bakery is so goed.  Ek stel voor hy kyk vir ‘n melktert – so een soos in die brosjure – ‘n outydse melktert van een of ander tannie.

Binne 20 min is hy uit en tuis.  Hy het die laaste melktert gekry.

Die gaste sit aan vir koffie en koek en ek haal die tert van verleiding uit die dekseltjie bak  . .  glo vir my as die Baakensrivier naby was sou die ding ook gerol het.  Dis in ‘n tinfoelie pannetjie met baie deeg en min vulsel.  Die kalf is in die put ek kerm en verduidelik al die asprekte van ‘n ordentlike melktert en begin die affêre te sny.  Die kors splinter is fladers en die tert breek waar dit nie veronderstel is om te breek.  Ons lig die ding uit sy tinfoelie houer en sit dit in ‘n diepbord en probeer weer.  Groot genade kry ons ses stukkies uit die dingetjie.  Ons skarrel om tee en koffie te bedien en dan neem Hennie die bordjies met tert in en . . . .

Ek weet nou nie mooi wat gebeur het nie maar een stuk was seker so moeg vir my afbrekende kommentaar dat hy of dit mag ook ‘n sy wees besluit om uit die bordjie te spring en karplaks op die vloer te land.

Ons altwee staan verstom . .  daar was net 6 stukkies

Gelukkig onthou ek dat ons vroeër die dag so ‘n ou versnapperingtjie geëet het en daar ‘n stukkie “bêre vir later” oorgebly het.

Vandag bly ons op Kameel en die melktert is steeds ‘n gunsteling hier in die dorre Noordwes.

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Noodeloos om te sê ek is nou verantwoordelik vir enige tuisgebak!

Groetnis tot ‘n volgende keer

Hennie & Sandra

Stoepstorie 5: Jan Els

Life was not always moonshine and roses that we all know.

We all get motivated to do something that made the community  jaw drop. This was the case of Jan Els when he punched the town clerk.

Leon Strachan we can only send a huge thank you for sharing the wonderful legends with us and putting a smile on our faces. You will find this story in Blafboom 1999 Also thanks to  Cate Lotter for her contribution in the translation of the story of Jan Els.

Jan Els

“I punched the town clerk,” said Jan Els, bursting into Mayor Nic Duursema’s  VC Cafe.

VC cafe and garage

In the sixties Annie Bland was the owner of the Central Service Station, Oom At Truscott ran the workshop which was situated between the VC Cafe and the Flamingo Restaurant. Spent many happy times in amongst the grease and old tyres. Loved the smell of new tyres. Barbara Swanepoel Tarr.

Jan Els and Caveman Spies were not the only men who punched Harrismith into the newspapers. There were quite a few, from the earliest years. These were often members of the legal profession.

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When the Free State became independent in 1854, the new government found that there were insufficient funds to run the administration that the English had left behind. They would have to scale down, and Joseph Orpen, a surveyor who was the magistrate of Winburg, was instructed by President Hoffman to close the magistrate’s office in Harrismith. Orpen sent a black man on foot, as was the custom at that time, to Harrismith with a letter to that effect. However, bad weather resulted in Orpen arriving in Harrismith before his letter.

Paul Bester, founder and the first magistrate of Harrismith, was told that he was to be transferred to Bloemfontein.  This did not suit him at all as he owned a lot of land in the district and near Ladysmith where he lived.

The other officials were summarily dismissed, with the exception of  Cauvin, who remained as a special peace officer.   They were now without income, and most unhappy. The townspeople were also very displeased as their nearest magistrate’s office would now be in Winburg.

While Orpen was making an inventory of the books and furniture in office, Bester and the others arrived. A crowd of dissatisfied townspeople had formed outside. Bester hit down hard with his walking stick on a table, and Field-Cornet van Aardt threatened Orpen.    Georg Schmidt, the magistrate’s clerk and the  first postmaster, was also there.

Orpen simply went on with his work, but when he started to carry books outside, Van Aardt blocked his way. He pushed Van Aardt aside, but when he reached the door Schmidt hit him hard against the head. Orpen, a rather small Englishman, regained his balance and hit back. Schmidt punched him so hard on the chin that he fell to the ground.  Schmidt was summarily locked up in the prison behind the office. The crowd outside was getting  riotous, and Orpen took his rifle from the wagon. “If you can shoot, we can shoot too,” shouted one of the townspeople. “Yes”, said Orpen, “that’s true, but keep in mind that I am shooting in the name of the law, while you will be hanged!” He was’t called Do-or-Die Orpen for nothing!

In the calm that followed, Schmidt was summarily put on trial and  sentenced to three days in prison. Orpen however, with his rifle balanced upright against his table, fiddled with the dates on the summons and Schmidt was released immediately.

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In 1875 a town council was elected for the first time. With the first session of the Council a large number of residents arrived, intending to attend the meeting.  Magistrate Boshoff (previous president of the Free State) would not allow them to enter. This resulted in a clash of words between him and Niel McKechnie, one of the new council members. McKechnie thrust a fist under Boshoff’s nose and shouted: “I defy you!” Strong words, but McKechnie  was chosen as mayor at the same meeting, the first of Harrismith.  It seems clear the South Africa was never at any stage a country for cowards!

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In 1938, more than half a century later, Council Member Corkhill remarked at a city council meeting: “Farmers, like lawyers, never agree.  But there is one difference.  Lawyers get paid for disagreeing.”

This was not always true. In fact, it sometimes cost them money, and once, even a person’s life.

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Brand Wepener was another member of the legal profession who was often in the news. On one occasion Brand and Phil Wright, also a lawyer, got into a fight in Stuart Street, right in front of Wright’s office. They rolled around in the dusty street with their neat dark suits until  they were seperated by …….. This while Wepener was on the Council with Corkhill.

Wepener was  not the easiest of men to get along with, but he was a most interesting chap. He came from a line of Free State heroes, being a grandson of Louw Wepener, and named after President Brand.   His father, Louw, was the head of police of Harrismith during the Boer War.

Although Brand had qualified as an advocate, he was eccentric, very eccentric. He was a well-known face in town, strolling along with his walking stick, dressed in his neat dark suit, black hat and dark glasses. He was never without his glasses as he had only one eye. Clients would often approach him on the street.

When a new voter’s role had to be compiled for a municipal election, the typist made a terrible mistake. After the surname and christian name of each resident, the next item was the name of the street where the person lived, followed by the person’s occupation. Alas, in Brand’s case she typed the street name in the wrong block, resulting in the following entry:

Wepener    | Jan Henricus Brand         |   40   Murray                  | Street Advocate

Brand was furious. He accosted Tom Searle, ordering him to  have the municipality summoned for defamation.     “But Brand, isn’t it true?”  asked Tom, with a twinkle in his eye. Brand was the only person who did not find it funny.

He played a role in the burgher monument saga, and on another occasion saved the beautiful trees in Murray Street.  But he was always full of plans, took shortcuts and was constantly in conflict with municipal officials.    At that time Harrismith had a constant shortage of water, which had a very negative effect on the development of the town, until the weir was built in the Wilge River. Water restrictions were nearly always in effect, which Remington, the water-baillif, had to enforce.

Brand had a lovely patch of maize on the big stand on the corner of  Murray and Biddulph streets, which apparently never suffered from a lack of water. Remington was aware of this and went out of his way to catch him out. When the ground became dry Brand would  lead his horses into the mealie land, and leisurely wash them down with a hosepipe until the whole mealie land was thoroughly wet, or until it rained once more.

And then one day Brand Wepener punched another colleague, Henry Helman.

At that time the old court building was situated where the post office stands today.  Wepener and Helman were opposing each other in a civil case. Wepener started to argue with the magistrate over the merits of the case, and Helman responded with sarcastic commentary. This led to a clash of words between the two. Wepener told Helman to keep his mouth shut, and the magistrate told him to calm down. Wepener stormed out of the courtroom shouting: “I’ll get you!” He waited for Helman in the passage, and when he showed, punched him on the nose. The court ordely had to separate them. Helman consequently had Wepener summoned for assault.

Frank Reitz had to deliver medical evidence at the hearing.  He told the court that the complainant’s nose was badly swollen, and also remarked that different faces would swell in different proportions. Helman was of Jewish descent and Wepener immediately countered: “It is logical, Your Honour, that the bigger a person’s nose, the bigger the swelling will be.” After the laughter in court had died down, Reitz had to agree. Brand was found guilty and fined. However, both men were warned to stay out of trouble.

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Nearly half a century later a tragedy took place at the country club. It was early autumn in 1978. Two acquaintances, the lawyer Charles Shadford  and Garth Romeo, a well-known rugby player, were socialising and gambling at the club on that ill-fated evening. An argument ensued over a throw of the dice, and tempers flared, ending in Romeo knocking Shadford off his bar stool. The latter was helped up and sat down again for a while. The argument flared up and when Romeo hit him again, he fell head first to the floor, partly on the footrest of the bar counter. He was out cold and a doctor was called in, who rushed him to Johannesburg. Shadford never regained consciousness and died tragically two weeks later at the age of 48.

Romeo was found guilty of manslaughter and fined. Extenuating circumstances were found to be the fact that Shadford’s skull was thinner than normal – he had a so-called eggshell skull.   His injuries would probably have been less serious if he had had a normal skull.

***

Caveman Spies was in court for assualt one day, as he had apparently slapped his garden boy. During cross-examination Spies differed from the interrogator about the nature of the slap. When the interrogator asked him how he had slapped the complainant, Caveman calmly walked over to the complainant’s bench, and before the stupified court orderly could intervene, gave the poor man a mighty slap. “Like that, Your Honour” he said, “like that did I slap him.”

 

Stoepstorie 3: Scotty the English teacher

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Stuart Street – this quaint and superbly kept cottage once belonged to Miss Helen Scott “Scotty”. Miss Scotty was the English teacher to many scholars. She was a wonderful teacher and friend to so many people in Harrismith who all loved her

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The letter dated 13/10/1958 which Josie Cronje received from Miss Helen M. Scott her English teacher in 1958 when she was in Std 8. This little part of our history is priceles.

She also wrote a testomonial for Mary Bland, in 1945, when Mary was finishing off Matric.

Scottie testomonial to Mary Bland in 1945

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

De Oude Huize Yard

Van Reenen’s Railway Pass

Next time when you travel between Johannesburg and Durban on the N3 and follow the Van Reenens pass – just pause a moment and notice the beauty around you. DSC_0001

This road is often mistakenly called the Old Van Reenen’s Pass, which is incorrect because the original pass mostly followed the course of the present-day N3 route. The road tracks the course of the railway line, which follows a series of contorted loops and tunnels in an effort to keep the gradient to a reasonable level. There does not appear to be an official name for this pass, so it can be confusing to research and to locate. The road, which is mostly gravel, is in a surprisingly good condition and can be driven in any high-clearance vehicle, provided that the weather allows; like Van Reenen’s Pass, the route is subject to both snow in winter and violent thunderstorms in summer. Thanks to Mountain Passes South Africa for the information

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The landscapes around the Van Reenen Pass are stunning and the railway service roads and tunnels top off the adventure. The route is a superb gravel pass but easy going and we duck off the N3 just just after Van Reenen. We traveled on the downhill mode. The scenery is stunning. This is the service road of the railway line and we traveled pass sidings, tunnels and farms. It include a 200m tunnel built in 1925, with a curve.

Watch the video that will take you with us Van Reenen Railroad pass

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Bookmark this pass for a sunny day and get lost in time and space and escape the frenetic traffic off the N3.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

31 December 2017

The year came to an end

We celebrate live and awaits the blessings of 2018.

The Joy of the Season

During our 52 week challenge we have shared with you the following

  • Town hall in Harrismith
  • The old station building in Harrismith
  • The fossilized tree next to the Town Hall
  • A road trip pass Swinburne to Geluksburg
  • The history of Warden Street
  • The Great War Memorial
  • The old Goal on the sport grounds of Harrismith
  • A road trip to Geluksburg
  • The history of Stuart Street
  • The Westley Hall
  • The Toll bridge at Swinburne
  • The Block house or as we call it the Castles of the veld.
  • Odell’s
  • The Club house
  • The steel bridge at Abberfeldy
  • The house of Mary Bland (Granny Bland nee Caskie)
  • Caithness in Stuart Street
  • Freemasonry Southern Cross 1778
  • St John’s sandstone church
  • A road trip to Sandspruit
  • De Oude Huize Yard
  • Cloete and Neveling building in Southey street
  • Bergburgers written by Leon Strachan
  • Train bridge at Swinburne
  • Kaalvoet vrou
  • Royal family visit to Harrismith
  • Debora Retief park
  • Rear-Admiral Maxmimilian John Ludwick Weston
  • Burger Monument
  • The boy with a very long name
  • Farm school on the banks of the Meul river
  • Hamilton bridge in Harrismith
  • Military Insignia around Harrismith
  • The Hills and Mountains around Harrismith
  • The old hotels of Harrismith
  • Annie Baine
  • Road trip to Golden Gate
  • Mountain passes around Harrismith
  • Stain glass windows of the Town Hall in Harrismith
  • Road trip to Verkykerskop
  • A farm museum visit
  • The sustainability of De Oude Huize Yard
  • Platberg
  • M.O.T.H’S
  • Route R74
  • Rensburgkop
  • Free State Harlem
  • Mont Pelaan
  • Plums and Christmas

We hope that you have enjoyed the challenge as much as we did.

Lots of blessings for 2018

Hennie & Sandra

 

Christmas and Plums

There is some connection with Christmas and Plums
“The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads”
Even the sugar plum fairy from The Nutcracker didn’t give a clue as to what to expect from plums.

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The cherry plums in the gardens of our establishment

The plums are looking good.
So what is it with plums
Sweet and juicy, a delicious ingredient to cook with and to bring a wonderful, rich flavour to your food.
And they are healthy too.

What will we do with the abundance of plums that are ripening in our garden.  We are thinking about a plum and almond ricotta cake. plum-almond-ricotta-cake

While writing this page the plum relish is gently boiling on the stove.
I have used 7 cups of plums, halved and the stones removed.  But then it seems as if the halves looked a bit big so I quartered it.
2 cups of water
2 cups of vinegar (preferably white to keep the color)
2 cups of treacle sugar (brown sugar will also do)
About 3 tablespoons of preserved ginger, chopped and then add some of the sugary syrup.
3 tablespoons of last year’s plum liqueur.
Bring very thing to a bubbly boil and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Add plums and boil gently till liquid is reduced by halve.
Bottle as usual.

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Regarding the Plum pudding.  It is a steamed or boiled pudding served at holiday times. Plum pudding has never contained plums. The name Christmas pudding is first recorded in 1858 in a novel by Anthony Trollope’s Barsetshire novel Doctor Thorne.

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A please the crowd plum pudding

Our Christmas was a Christmas tree and Christmas cracker affair. We prefer to celebrate the Season of Joy. Joy for the forgiveness and release from our Sin, Joy for the chance of a life without war and generally Joy for being able to live a relatively carefree life.

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Grandma Hester Fincham and also fondly remembered as Mrs Vic.

If the celebration was held at Granny Fincham, the table would be laid with a damask cloth and silver and we would have venison and wild bird.  She would use her beautiful crockery and you can see more on this post of the Grindley dinner set  There would always be baked potatoes – a la Fincham. Dessert was thick custard – the original home made custard, definitely not box custard. This would be served with bottled peaches which would be given a quick turn on the griddle pan and accompanied by a cognac sauce which as children we were allowed only a little of. In my grandmother’s home a Plum alias Christmas Pudding was also known as a ticky pudding.  (Named after the ticky coin that was steamed with the pudding)

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So why is a Plum Pudding called Plum Pudding when there are no plums in it?

In the 17th century, plums referred to raisins or other fruits. Plumb is another spelling of plum. Prune is actually derived from the same word as plum – the Latin word was pruna, which changed in the Germanic languages into pluma. But the terms were quite confused in the 16th and 17th centuries and people talked about growing prunes in their garden.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

 

 

 

A blue grayish lamp post in our garden

There were oil lamps in the streets and candles in the churches and it was reported that the ladies complained of the candle grease “falling on their wearing apparel”.

The Council embarked on a scheme for electric lighting, at an estimated cost of 19000 Pounds. The work was carried out by Messrs Morley and Dawbarn of London and Johannesburg. Mrs Caskie, wife of the Mayor of the day, turned on the lights at a banquet in November, 1904. Six beautiful street lamps were donated to the town.

The according to word-of-mouth it was donated by the British Monarchy. These stunning street lamps took poll position in front of the Town Hall.

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A couple of years ago we were driving through town and saw four guys rolling this base of a lamp. After some negotiation we were able to rescue this piece of the lamp post.

In the same year the then museum had to be moved. This was a main . . . main job. There was an old ox-wagon that needs to be removed. Under the ox-wagon a lot of broken pieces of a street lamp, was hidden. The then committee entrusted the broken bits and pieces to us. We learn that it was destroyed by a truck. We managed to get a photo of the original street lamp.

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Original lamp pole on the corner of Warden and Bester streets
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The lamp post clearly visible on the photo

In the words of Mother Teresa

If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out.

To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.

Then the restoration process started. Hennie painstakingly started to put the pieces together.

He had to make new pieces where pieces were missing.
Painfully he managed to restore it

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The centre pole standing in the garden
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It was time to once again switch on the street lamp.

The details of the street lamp

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After many years the street lamp and Platberg forms part of the Harrismith scene once again. The gardens of De Oude Huize Yard can only be thankful

Till next time

Hennie and Sandra

Kersfees op Mont Pelaan

Die skrywe van Die Ware Boom het jare gelede in die Tuishuis verskyn. Die skrywe vorm deel van ons gaste-inligtingsleêr. Vandag deel ons dit met die toestemming van Johann met almal.

Kersfees op Mont Pelaan deur Johann Lodewyk Marais.

Op Mont Pelaan, die plekkie tussen Harrismith en Memel waar ek my eerste ses skooljare deurgebring het, is daar elke Desember ‘n “Kersboom” in die Boerevereniging se saal langs die vendusiekrale aangebied. Dit was vir ons, die kinders, die hoogtepunt van die jaar. Meester Olivier se handjie vol plaasskoolleerlinge het dan ook weke voor die groot aand reeds hulle stukke begin oefen vir die Kerskonsert wat plaasgevind het ná die geskenke vroegaand deur Kersvader uitgedeel is.

Vir ons het die groot dag uiteindelik begin aanbreek wanneer ‘n boom die middag voor die “Kersboom” op Meester se plaas Sunnyside, in die rigting van Memel, gehaal moes word. Gewoonlik was die wêreld daardie tyd van die jaar, teen vroeg-Desember, grasgroen en die Drakensberge sagte, blou kurwes in die verte, met haelwit wolke wat oor die aarde uitblom. Dan het al die seuns agterop die bakkie saamgery en om die verlate ou opstal help soek na ‘n geskikte dennetak om af te saag. Hierdie tak – volgens Marthinus Versfeld een “op die toppie waarvan die Bethlehemster van blinkpapier mooi sal vertoon, met genoeg takkies om presente vas te maak” – is dan by die saal afgelaai waar die vrouens dit die volgende dag tot ‘n behoorlike Kersboom versier het.

Ja, die Kersboom moes ‘n denneboom wees, soos dit in talle lande van die wêreld, veral in Europa, ook gebruiklik is. Ofskoon die sielkundige Carl G. Jung beweer dat talle mense hierdie tradisie navolg sonder dat hulle die ware betekenis van die Kersboom ken, het die Kersboom klaarblyklik sy oorsprong in sekere gebruike deur die Egiptenare, Chinese en Hebreërs gehad. Dit het die ewige lewe versimboliseer. In later jare het die ou volke van Europa op 25 Desember, wanneer die son op sy flouste is, groot vure aangesteek en hulle huise met immergroen plante versier. Hulle het geglo dat die sterwende son deur die vuur tot nuwe lewe opgewek word en die lewe van die verborge saad deur die ritueel van groen takke verseker is.

Die eietydse Kersboomtradisie kan veral na Duitsland teruggevoer word, waar dit teen die begin van die negentiende eeu reeds ‘n instelling was.

Daar is seker min mense wat nie met nostalgie aan die “Kersbome” uit hulle kinderjare terugdink nie. Maar hoe leef hierdie tradisie vandag voort? Ons samelewing het al hoe meer materialisties geword, en die sakewêreld huiwer nie om ook Kersfees ter wille van finansiële gewin uit te buit nie: dink maar aan die skaamteloos soetsappige klokkies en klingels wat reeds van voor einde Oktober jaarliks aan ons opgedring word. Hierdie uitbuiting word deesdae tog toenemend raakgesien en mense begin hulle hierteen uitspreek.

Meester Olivier het waarskynlik ook nie presies geweet wat die “ware betekenis” van die Kersboom is nie, want hy het ons nooit daarvan vertel nie, ook nie wanneer hy jaarliks die Kersverhaal voorgelees het voordat die geskenke uitgedeel is nie. Deurdat hy ons saamgeneem het om ‘n tak te gaan uitsoek en te help afsaag, het hy ons egter die geleentheid gegee om ‘n egte ervaring mee te maak, wat waarskynlik op ons ‘n veel groter en blywender indruk gemaak het as wat ‘n duisend woorde sou.

Miskien sal ons en ons gesinne Kersfees ook veel intenser beleef indien ons dit met egte dinge uit die omgewing soos ‘n ware Kersboom, kan vier.

Tot volgende keer

Hennie & Sandra