|The Vereeniging in the snow|
The cold hit me hard, that I do remember. I had still not acclimatised to European weather and winters and my South African blood longed for sun with some warmth to it, not the frigid glare of the European variety. The days were beautiful that winter - the sky a vivid blue and the sun fluorescent in its white, bright light, but the rays felt tinged with ice and I wanted to die.
I remember one particular day. The east wind was blowing the water out of the estuary and keeping it out. It was low tide and the water in the harbour was so shallow, we were sitting on mud flats. My loopplank was like the north face of the Eiger. Getting off the barge was akin to rock climbing while getting on it meant performing a sitting shuffle as I slithered down the perilously icy planks of my wooden gangway. And I was cold through to my bones. I remember the feel of it now, oh my goodness, it's still so vivid a memory! It just became too much that day and I remember hugging the radiator for just some kind of warmth. And I cried. Yes, I did. Me, a forty something, supposedly mature, strong woman who'd held positions of responsibility in Johannesburg's corporate and, lets' face it, rather more dangerous world. There I sat in tears because I was just so cold. I hadn't turned a hair at having to strip myself of all valuables before going into the South Africa's most lawless city, or at signs saying "Gun free zone. Please leave your firearms at the security desk" when I went visiting clients. But faced with below zero temperatures, I found myself as pathetic as a snivelling ten year old, and with no spunk whatsoever.
Luckily for me, help arrived to save my shredded dignity. Koos came. He took one look at me, hauled me up the loopplank and carted me off to find a more effective form of heating. At that time, the best thing we could find at short notice was one of those Zebro Kamin paraffin stoves - great because the heat is instant, very economical and extremely safe with their automatic cut off switches. They are not ideal for old iron boats though as the condensation they create is potentially very damaging, but for now - I mean for that time (see how close it is to me still!), it was the best answer to a very immediate need.
|The Vereeniging in warmer weather|