Scott Balson's trip to South Africa -
12th September 2006 - Durban

Perth : Johannesburg : Pretoria : Pietersburg : Pilgrim's Rest : Ladysmith : Champagne Castle : Estcourt : Durban : Ixopo
Kokstad : Port Elizabeth : Plettenburg Bay : Cape Town : Victoria West : Griquatown : Mafikeng : Johannesburg : Perth

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I was really sad to say goodbye to Rodney and Myra - but had to head for Michaelhouse Boarding School - where I went over 30 years ago and where I was going to be the enrichment speaker for the school that afternoon. Rod and Myra organising the dinner with my old friends from Estcourt was one of the highlights of my trip.

The road to Balgowan, where the school is located, was very familiar and all of a sudden I came around a corner and there stood the school as it had been over 30 years ago - and the last time I had seen it. 

I was shown around the school by one of the staff and saw many places that had not changed at all despite the passage of time - like the school's famous rosary window.

At 12.50pm I gave my speech to about 600 people, mainly boys, in total at the Schlesinger Theatre and then presented the school with a copy of the book "Children of the Mist".

Then it was on the road to Durban, the Durban Club and to have dinner with old Barclays Bank friends of mine.

 

Michaelhouse appears

The rose window and chapel

Main entrance - screens

The main quad

The Chapel

Church bells

The famous Rose Window

From above the chapel

bells - the school

The founder Todd in the quad

In front of the Schlesinger
Theatre

In the Shlesinger Theatre

The outdoor theatre

My guide in the main quad

Where I first heard of the Cuban
Missile Crisis in 1969

Baines house in the background

My old prep classroom in
Baines

The Baines Prefect's board is the
original "black mark" board

The kitchen where I used to
serve prefect's tea

St Michael in the new quad
between Baines and Mckenzie

The steps to Scullies

Looking back at Screens

Addressing the boys in the
Schlesinger Theatre

Presenting the book to the school

After delivering my talk at Michaelhouse I drove down to Durban and booked into the Durban Club.

That evening Eddie and Moira Sherwood, Carla Lankhaar, Digby and Kay Lake joined me for dinner at the Club. It was quite extraordinary how the level of crime in Durban in recent years had destroyed the night life there. People were being killed in the inner streets of Durban for their cell phones and the Durban Club was a shadow of its former glory! In fact most of the Durban Club building was sold to a female African doctor in 2003 - the reason their web site has now gone and the accommodation that I recalled under their manager Derek de Haaff in the 1980s had been replaced. The "Durban Manor" accommodation provided by the Durban Club was inferior to say the least - for a start they only had cold water and cold showers in my room and this was probably my most expensive destination on the whole trip! 

The remnants of what remained still reeked with history - original pictures of Cecil Rhodes standing in the Matopos of the old southern Rhodesia selecting his grave site lined the walls... rare items headed for the dump in the future. (See image right)

We had drinks in the Durban Club and my friends and I were totally alone  not another soul in the place. The meal for six was just ZAR700 or about Au$120!!! And this meal included wine and a three course meal followed by coffee in the fading grandeur of the Manhatton Room that had once been the bastion of Durban's upper class gentry. Just the relics, silver trophies behind glass cabinets and icons remained.

This was the club where S Africa's first trade token (1860) was used. The token is extremely rare today and I am delighted to have seven of the coins including all three varieties.

How sad!!!

The road to Durban

Da Vinci "shi_ts"

Durban today

Presenting Digby Lake with a copy
of "Children of the Mist"

L-R: Kay and Digby Lake,
Carla Lankhaar, Scott Balson,
Moira and Eddie Sherwood

The view from my room


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