Sunday, 13 July 2014

Carol's Rest.

I lost my wonderful, beautiful wife on 15th July 2013 & the girls lost a fantastic mother. Carol was everything to us. She was only 60 years old & had so much of life yet to live. I think all of us feel cheated & our lives are much the worse for her passing. We miss her so much.

Rowan had carried her Mum's ashes all the way from England & it was now time to lay Carol to rest. The 9th July was a beautiful day & the day before I had obtained permission from the game warden for a guard to accompany us over the fence onto the banks of the Sabie River, at the picnic spot in Sabie Park. It is a wonderful spot, where Carol, the girls & I had spent many happy hours over the last twelve years.
 The beautiful Sabie River.

The actual spot where Carol's ashes
 were laid to rest.
As I was pouring Carol's ashes into the river, a small breeding herd of Elephants came by closely followed by a few Cape Buffalo. 



Carol, myself &Martin, December, 1987.

Carol & I first discovered Sabie Park in 1987. We had hitchhiked down from the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, where we were living at the time. We then hired a car in South Africa & entered Kruger National Park. But before we did so, we stopped on the bridge & looked across at the wonderful thatched houses, in the private game reserve on the banks of the Sabie River.
The Sabie River in July 2014.
Looking exactly the same as the view
 Carol & I enjoyed in 1987.
Carol, in 2009
 at the same viewpoint.
I remember talking to Carol & saying that's the place I want to live! Her reply was a knowing look & realistic acknowledgement that those houses were definitely out of our price range. It took us fourteen years to make our dream a reality. It was early November 2001 & I had been looking at house prices in various parts of South Africa for a while. Both of us knew that is where we wanted to live. South Africa was going through a difficult economic patch (when isn't it)? The Rand has started to fall dramatically against the major currencies. I intensified my search & by pure chance reacquainted myself with Sabie Park. There were currently five properties for sale! Without telling Carol, or the girls, I bought air tickets for us to fly down that weekend. (We had a week off work coming up.) I also arranged with the owner of one of the properties, for us to rent out his house for the week, to let us get to know the place.
Carol's Rest.
Our house, as you approach it from the driveway.
We arrived all excited & immediately fell in love with the place. It was everything we had always wanted. The birding & wildlife viewing were very special & important for Carol was the peace & serenity, the place exuded. What followed was a wonderful week of exploration, of seeing nice houses & making plans. It was a magical time for us all, but particularly for Carol & I, as we knew we were going to buy here, but which property? The debate was on! Carol & the girls loved a house which a few years later, our dear friends Rob & Cathy would buy. I vetoed this one, as it wasn't on the river! I wanted to be on that river! At the end of the week, we decided on the worst looking house of the five available! For me, the house design really didn't matter. I wanted the view. I wanted that view, which I still enjoy so much today. We returned to Abu Dhabi & by February 2002 were the proud owners of the house! It was a dream come true! We visited at every opportunity.
But what to name the house? A house, our house, had to have a name. We debated long & hard. Carol wanted to call our place Carol's Rest! She said it was so tranquil & peaceful & that this was the place to recharge her batteries. I again vetoed this idea! In the end, it was our great friend Simon Aspinall who provided the answer. He asked us what was the first animal we had seen on our property. The answer was a Warthog seen when the estate agent showed us around. At the time Care & Rowan were reading Harry Potter. Simon said you do realise that Hogwarts is an anagram of Warthog don't you? So Hogwarts it was. It was decided.
Carol loved our time here. She enjoyed sitting up in bed with her tea, reading a book & watching Bushbuck in the garden. They are still there today.
Bushbuck are still coming to the garden. 

Rowan & Ceggy on our land, with a few friends!
It is now time for the next generation to take over.
To Carol, this was her special place, a place was she was always supremely happy & content. It seemed only proper, that this should be her final resting place. My initial thoughts were that Carol's ashes should be in the garden, on our land. But what if there ever came a time when I was forced to sell the property? If I run out of money & my girls can't buy the place, what then? I couldn't bear the thought of this scenario. So my second thought was the river. The river that we enjoyed every day here, the river that we heard every night from our beds. The river that brought so much life to this land, that was ever changing & dynamic. The river that was eternal movement & that flowed from here to the Indian Ocean, the same Indian Ocean which has been a large part of our lives here in Abu Dhabi. I was sure this was the place.
 Rowan & her Daddy!
Evening light, from the picnic area.
A glorious, African sunset.

After scattering Carol's ashes, Rowan Ceggy & I enjoyed a fine BBQ at the picnic site. It was a lovely afternoon, of quiet reflection & family conversation. Gradually, the sun got lower in the sky & eventually set, on our special day. I smiled, as I thought back through the years. Carol had the last word didn't she? She usually did. Carol's Rest.
Here are a few very old photographs of Carol in Africa. Africa made her happy.

Carol in 1987.
 Carol in 1987.
 The girl travelled in real style didn't she?
How times have changed!
 Carol & I in 1987.
Carol, taking it easy in 1987.

 Carol in 1988.
Carol, with me in the background!
 Well done girl!
Well done guys - you deserve the champagne!

As an addendum to this post, just two days later, the 11th JulyRowan & Ceggy obtained their results from Brighton University. It had been a tense few days for them both, as the day drew nearer & nearer. Happily both obtained excellent degrees, getting 2:1 in Biological Sciences & Sports Journalism respectively. I am very proud of you girl and your Mum would have been thrilled too.

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