After eight days of our lock down in South Africa we are sort of getting used to the new life. We say ‘new life’ because at this point we do not know how long this will continue.

We know that confirmed cases of Covid-19 have now reached well more than a thousand. Here in the Southern Cape, in the Hassequa region, we are told that there are now five cases. As we watch the events elsewhere in the world, we know that we are still far from our crisis.

Our view of the Goukou River – endless inspiration!

We keep ourselves busy here at Riverside. We are next to a beautiful river – on the bank – and we are shareholders in a private property which has quite a bit of private open space which belongs to us all. Of the 41 shareholders there are only five occupants – so we are well spaced from each other and we make sure we keep our distance.

When there is the urge to talk to someone else – we can what’s up our neighbour – we then go and sit outside, some 6 meters apart on our deck chairs – he with his cup of coffee and me with mine. We each bring our own cookies! Then we gaze at the river, chat about the world’s problems – but most of all make plans for when this is all over.

For my neighbour this is a very tough time. He is used to travelling the world, playing golf at Leopard Creek on the edge of Kruger Park and enjoying life at his other very spacious home at Stellenbosch. He even has a vineyard there and make some wine every year. Yet, just before the lock down, he, his wife and two daughters and boyfriends, all rushed down here to Riverside. This is the best place to spend the lock down, he reckons.
I suspect that once this is over – and we all know that it will be some time, our neighbour will have gotten used to this lovely quiet life here at the river. We suspect that he will spend much more time here and that the quiet life will also become his new way of living.

The youngsters keep themselves busy by playing golf on the lawns in front of our houses. We watch them from far away.

Koos and his fishing woes

Further on friend Koos Pretorius, one of the country’s eminent legal minds, and his family also arrived here just before lock down struck. A family member from Holland, who have been visiting the Cape for a while, had to join them when at the last moment all flights between South Africa and Holland were cancelled. There was no chance of a flight home.

For Koos it is also a hard time. He is mad about fishing and recently bought himself this fancy new fishing boat which he normally launch at the harbour in Stilbaai. He would leave here in the dark hours of the morning and usually return late afternoon with a good catch. If you are lucky, you get a fresh fish or two. Now the lock down gives Koos a chance to empty the deepfreezes and there is no doubt that he is cooking some of his famous fish soups. We are not going to look what he has cooking – and he does not interfere with Fredo when he cooks his braai or his famous one pot pastas.

We do keep active – the grounds allow us to walk for an hour in the morning – in circles in and out of trees and caravans, and climbing a few steps of up and down and challenging a few hills. We have our own time slot and we are safe from any other human interaction. As we walk we are watched by the herons and the seagulls. They are always around and in the evenings the plovers run on the bank. Because it is so quiet – we find the tracks of the grys bokkies (small antelope) in the morning. At night we hear the owls.

If the matter of Coronavirus was not so serious for our country and the world – one would almost call this lock down here at Riverside idyllic. We know it is not the case and we are serious about what we are doing.

Stilbaai is coping with the lock down

Stilbaai, which means quiet bay, is a very quiet place these days. The lock down is working well and the citizens are reminded of their responsibilities by regular police patrols and the fire-engine – the only one we have got – rumbling through the town. They do not get as far as Riverside. The two chemists and the butchers are still plying their trade. We got flu injections this morning – normally highly recommended for the winter months lying ahead – but more so this year.

Jano stocked up on sanitizers – if you can get them – and all sorts of boosters to keep us healthy. At the super market there is a trickle of customers and the shelves are quiet – it is easy to stay more than two meters apart. This morning we saw the shelves somewhat emptier than last week – but then the biggest deliveries normally come in on Monday’s – in time for the pensioners’ day on Tuesday. This is normally the busiest day in the town.

Plugs de Jager, a legend from Simonsberg at Stellenbosch University, was in the super market this morning. When Fredo got to Stellenbosch Plugs was already in his seventh or eighth year – we are still not certain whether he ever graduated. Every student in those days knew him, but now he is deep in his eighties and showing it. There he was with his white mask – keeping his distance – but shouting that he did not like this horrible thing on his face.

The staff are well organised and keep us and themselves safe. So, shopping under Covid-19 regulations, at Stilbaai, is not too bad – apart from the lingering fears one has when you venture out of the comfort zone that Riverside provides for us.

At the Stilbaai butcher Fredo was the only customer. We previously called the block man Johan and he vacuum packed our meat for the next week or so. They have lots of frozen meat – all kinds of sausages, venison from Kudu to Springbok, lots of fish products and some beautifully blanched vegetables, also vacuum packed. So we are well stocked to meet the challenges – if we can call them that – of the next weeks.

Stilbaai has wonderful people. Our children – who were supposed to fly out to England this week to start a new life there and who found refuge in our other house in Stilbaai – yesterday called with the news that the geyser on the roof had ruptured. In the city you would have needed days to only even locate a plumber who would be prepared to help you. Not our friend Phil Bredenhan – who was there in a jiffy yesterday and this morning arriving early to install a new one. He organised for the local hardware store to open up specially to help us.

This matched similar experiences we had in the past from other service providers here in the country-side. Here people have time for each other.
One lesson we have learnt after one week of lock down is that you are better off not endlessly watching the tv news channels. It simply has become too morbid and demoralising – it destroys your spirit. We are watching the old rugby matches, cricket test matches, tennis tournaments – and the likes. Janey loves her cooking channels – Master Chef Australia and Pioneer Woman are particular favourites. Come to think of it – Janey also get irritated by having to gaze at the same rugby match again – even if it is South Africa’s great triumph in the Rugby World Cup. Fredo argues that it was such a magnificent victory that it was worth watching again.

Some time ago we bought a set of videos including Mary Poppins and Sound of Music. This week we again watched Sound of Music. Somehow Fredo cannot think that he first watched this classic back when he was still at school. We travelled 150 kilometers from our farm in the Northern Cape to the great metropolis of Kimberley to do so in a drive-in cinema.

So, so far we are coping without major scuffles – let’s see what the next week holds.