Holiday in Henley

By Jaylin de Klerk, Hoopoe Junior

Okay well, not really a holiday. Turns out we’re living here now. Me, mum, dad, two dogs, two cats, and two rats. Pet rats, not the vermin kind. Although my two little girls have definitely got a knack for adding not-so-fashionable holes in anything within the reach of their little pink paws.

When dad told mom who told me that he’s thinking of moving so far, far away, I honestly didn’t think he was entirely serious. We had been considering moving for a while by then, often driving slowly past any “for sale” signs and trying to imagine a life there. But everything in Jo’burg was just too expensive or just not… right.

I loved our little house. I used to spend hours racing up and down the garden as some mysterious rider in my own imagination. I learned to walk on the creaky wooden floorboards in the passage, leaning against my little blue car. My room with light pink walls and butterfly curtains was my sanctuary. I went there to be alone or to hope for comforting company, and being uprooted almost overnight is something I’m still trying to get my head around.

Though to face the facts, the area just wasn’t right for us anymore. I couldn’t walk our German Shepherd around the corner for the best wood-oven pizza I am yet to taste, without being the star of unwanted attention. Dad got hit by PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and every bang, shout, doof-doof music and screaming over PA systems was just getting too much for him.

So here we are, in Henley. Instead of waking up to a gang fight down the road at 3am, a rather arrogant and inconsiderate rooster blesses us with his voice. The drunken shouting and atrocious music we endured was replaced by bird song and the very, very occasional car passing. As a 21-year-old city girl, you can imagine this is all rather… different. But different means new, and new means exciting.

Unfortunately, the move happened slap bang in the middle of my exams at Wits university. I was already prepared for interruption in the form of rubber bullets and flying stones, so I guess it wasn’t too bad. I’m aiming towards a teaching career, on the lookout for part-time tutoring or schooling I can assist with in the area. But my final goal is neuropsychology. It was my last module of the year, and has become all I could dream of. Turns out it’s super useful too. Especially when trying to get mum to stay conscious after having the driveway gate topple on top of her, giving her a nasty egg-sized swelling to the back of the head. Though I think the nurses at the hospital got quite sick of me. Ironic, isn’t it? But seriously, I’ve learned about so many brain imaging techniques that just being told my mother is going in for a “head scan” didn’t cut it. Luckily all of my worst fears from my textbook pages were put to rest when mum was just diagnosed with very bad bruising and a nasty concussion.

With exams over, I’m finally on holiday now. The Christmas tree is up for the first time in the new house, and I can sleep in for as long as my dad lets me (in other words no sleeping in). My friends and boyfriend are all in Jo’burg, which makes being car-less a bit more difficult. Still, I learned my lesson about reversing into a kind family’s gate; I anxiously await my Chevy Spark’s return from the panel beaters.

Moving house is a costly business too. Especially when pulling more money together for my own place down in Johannesburg. I can’t possibly cart to and fro from university everyday, but getting an apartment is also pretty expensive and calls for work. I’ve been tutoring maths all year, but my students are all on holiday now. I’m still available should someone need some help though, don’t get me wrong. And I need to check up on Oprah Winfrey School for a possible opening since they’re literally down the road from us, as are most things here in Henley.

I’ve had retail experience in Exclusive Books before, but Mark and Stoffel from The Hound very kindly let me try out waitressing. I’ve learned so much just from one day, and luckily I only had the friendliest of customers who didn’t mind my occasional clumsiness. Though I’m not sure Mark has forgiven me for almost burning the house down, literally. It turns out that when refilling those little burning tins under food trays to keep them warm, you should check whether its still hot. Otherwise you get an explosion, bang and all, of flaming pink gel all over the floor and table. Luckily no one got hurt. But being surrounded by a sticky mess of pink, sizzling fire, helping the head of house to frantically fetch dirt from the garden to put out the worst of it, and being watched by a set of 50 fancy people was not my proudest moment. The table got the worst of it, but with dad’s handy sanding skills and my painting prowess, the table looks good as new! Well, mostly. The one corner is a lot lighter than the rest of it. And if you notice any black smears on the porch, yeah… my bad.

Otherwise, I adore beading. I’ve often made charm bracelets as gifts, and my mother’s jewellery stand is heavy with my creations, but I decided to go one step further by using bead weaving. It’s tedious, tiring work that takes a long time. But after some research I discovered one can make the most incredible designs with a loom. Problem is, no loom. I did check in at Henley Hardware, where I surprised a tall blonde with my own blonde and rather clueless presence (Turns out there are young people here! Maybe I’ll make some friends). So, I decided to do a little DIY. One ice-cream tub and several kebab sticks later, I’m weaving away and will hopefully, eventually, post up an ad or two on the community Facebook pages.

There’s so much to do around here that it’s actually quite overwhelming. And as a result, I haven’t done any of it. My dream has always been to go riding, but with a musician’s fingers (flute and piano), it was too much of a risk. Now there’s a riding school around the corner. If I fancy treating myself or my family to dinner, there’s some delightful restaurants (and mouth-watering butchers) also around the corner. There’s even a glass cutting place I am eager to visit which is, again, just around the corner.

I still have two months of holiday until my final undergraduate year begins, so there is still time. Now all the renovations are complete, including high walls and tree cutting (we were those neighbours for a while), there is also much to do around the house. I’ll finally get my hands dirty, which technically I already did by trying not to uproot pansies while throwing dirt onto a burning table, but I’m not too sure if gardening and my tendency to set things on fire is a good match.

If not dirty with, well, dirt, my hands have definitely been covered in flour, pasta, chicken and all things cooking. Living on my own means cooking on my own, and so far no one has complained of food poisoning. Though I don’t think Mark will let me in the kitchen anytime soon.