Friday, 17 May 2002
Left home at 7 AM sharp, dropped off kids, 7:30 on the dot arrived at Blockhouse (on time for a change). The first Renault problem happened – Steve had a puncture. Drove into Parys and had breakfast at a wonderful place called ‘Stonehenge'.
Had photo taken and on our way to drag strip to do quarter mile, while waiting for our turn one of the guys with a GT40 lost control and crashed and that was the end of the quarter mile for the rest of us.
Stopped in Kroonstad to collect our second card. Car going like a dream, when suddenly car just ‘died'. Stopped on the side of the road to find that the timing gear had broken – what a bummer! Second Renault problem. Dennis towed us into Bethlehem. I phoned the AA to try and get a tow to Ladysmith and the fee was very expensive, so much for the service they promise. Jimmy phoned Johannesburg and organised that a spare part would be sent by courier to Ladysmith. Roy was also having a problem with his car but then they would not be Renaults if there was no problems, ah ah! Germano was towed again by Dennis all the way to Ladysmith about 250km. I got a lift with Donny so the Dauphine would be lighter (I'm very heavy!). Donny and I were the last to leave the petrol station. As we were leaving Donny received a call from Steve wanting to know where we were, when we told him that we were now leaving the petrol station he says that he is on the other side of town having his wheels balanced, everybody including his brother forgot to tell the others where he had gone, just as well he phoned as otherwise he would have gone back to the garage to find the empty spaces.
We finally arrived in Ladysmith and booked into the motel. I'm sure the people at the motel knew that we had had a lousy trip because they gave us the best room (5 stars) – I wanted to bring the bedroom suite home. When we arrived in Ladysmith hubby heard via our good friend Joe Mitchell from Dundee that a guy that has spares might be able to supply a part for the Dauphine, so him and Donny went to see about it and I will get a lift to dinner.
Dinner at Ladysmith was the same as it was for the past two years, Chicken à la King and chicken curry. Even the dessert was the same – I'm sure it is the leftovers.
At dinner a lot of people came to talk to Germano about the car and wanting to know what was wrong. Apparently he was being towed so fast from Bethlehem to Ladysmith that one guy says he was faster than his Mustang. Along the Van Reenen Pass, Germano was trying to break so hard his breaks were smoking. He kept waving at Dennis to slow down but Dennis did not understand the message and just waved back.
After dinner we all went back to the Motel and had a drink at the pub. Germano and Donny had to stay and wait for the courier, as the part they went to look at earlier was the wrong one.
Saturday, 18 May 2002
Did not sleep well, I think because of the car – the part that arrived from Johannesburg is too big, so a plan had to be made. Had breakfast, very good breakfast – the new owners are improving the place. Went to visit Bernie, as it seems to happen every year, he already know that every year there is somebody's car that need to be fixed. He managed to make the part fit into the Dauphine and it was lovely to hear it running again.
Everywhere along the road there are road signs that say ‘Pot Holes', I guess it is cheaper to make the signs than to have the pot holes fixed. We drove into Notthingham Road and I had my usual beer and a plate of chips.
The trip from Nottingham Road was uneventful until Germano decided that after Howick we should go into the Highway as last year we had to go that way, no matter that I was the navigator and he is supposed to follow my directions. Anyway, on the highway we went only to realize, quite late, that we were wrong so we missed the Pietermaritzburg stop and the poker card and so did everybody else that was following us. We stopped on side of road and decided that we would just follow from the next stop ‘Cato Ridge' and ‘Valley of the 1000 Hills', but as every year the directions around this area are a bit confusing so Jimmy drove in front.
It is a wonderful drive and the next stop was Rob Roy Hotel which is always a pleasure to visit, the view from up there is breathtaking, when I'm rich I'm staying for a week, it would have been nice to have stayed a bit longer but we were now running quite late because of leaving Ladysmith behind everybody else. We had a meeting before leaving the hotel to see who would drive in front and since Jimmy knew the way well he asked if anybody would mind if he drove in front, nobody minded, as his words were ‘Follow me – I'm lost'. We trusted him and followed him like good people and guess what? He missed the turn to Durban and almost took us back to Pietermaritzburg, ah ah! So a U-turn had to be done by all of us and the correct turn off was taken.
Drove into Durban and signed at the finish line at the ‘Old Boys Club'. After that we all went our different ways to book into the various hotels and guesthouses.
After booking in Germano, Marius and Tobie had to go for their annual dip in the sea. The prize-giving and dinner was very good, it was nice to have different food from Ladysmith. We had a very lively table with Frank doing the honors of keeping us in stitches with his jokes. This year the Renault Club only took one prize and that was Marius for ‘Performance Index'. There were less prizes this year – that's why we did not get any more! After such a long day we went back to the guest house for a late drink. I did not join in the late drinking and went to bed, I don't think my head touched the pillow and I was asleep.
Sunday, 19 May 2002
Woke up early and had a wonderful breakfast and did the packing while the men cleaned the cars so they would have a clean face for the show in Pietermaritzburg. We met at the Pavilion and then it was a race to see who would get to the show first, the words in the book say ‘We leave en Masse' to Pietermaritzburg, but once you leave the Pavilion all that is forgotten and the real race has started.
In Pietermartizburg as we drove into town, ran out of petrol luckily the petrol station was just there. I think we were all very disappointed, as last year the parking for the Durban Dash crowd was not that great, it looked as if they forgot about us then just found a little spot.
Joe and Louis were already there waiting, as always the show was amazing, somehow there always seems to be different cars, I don't think we realize how many old cars are still around, and how people still take such great care of these old faithful. I was very happy to see that my colourful, spotty red and black Indian car was also there in its normal place under the tree being dusted every two minutes in case there was any dust damaging the ‘Beautiful Thing'.
Left the show at about 1 PM on our way to Dundee, Tobie and Marius also went with us. Joe let the old ones drive in front but I think after a while he was tired of driving so slow so he overtook us and we had to follow as best as we could. In Durban and Pietermaritzburg it was still summer but as we got closer to Dundee we could feel that winter had arrived.
The whole tribe was waiting for us and it was nice to see everybody again but first we had to change into our winter clothes.
A wonderful braai was had by all, lots of talking and drinking to keep warm and when we looked at the watch it was very late and we started to realize that the day had been very long.
Monday, 20 May 2002
In the morning it was my turn to be the chef and make breakfast for the men. After giving Marius and Tobie a tour of the town (it is a very big town it took a whole 2 minutes) and we were on our way home. Had to stop at our usual spot and listen to the silence. It is wonderful…
Finally we saw Johannesburg! It was a lovely weekend full of happy and upsetting moments, but it is always good to be home.
A special thank you must go to Jimmy, Donny, and Frank for all the help and support given during the trip.