Durban 2010 World Festival

Durban Photo Gallery

IFCR Sixth World Festival of Cricket, Durban, South Africa 7 – 12 March 2010

IFCR GB&I were well represented at the Sixth World Festival, in Durban, taking a squad of eighteen, with ten wives/partners and supporters, including several new members.  The Festival was most enjoyable.  Full details and photos will appear soon.  The team played four matches, winning against South Africa in the final match, but losing out to Indian and Australian opposition in others.  Age is telling against the GB&I team, especially against the much younger Rotarians from the sub-continent.  

Festival Diary of a new member

Sat 8 March

Checked in at Manchester at 5.30pm after a long day including a round of golf in the morning, and sorting out the bar returns and other items from the Rotary concert I had helped organize on the Friday night.

Saw two friends whose son was the junior captain at the golf club where I help run the juniors. Rosemary and Martin are on the same flight as me as they're going on a holiday in Dubai, now that both their boys are away at University.
They were complaining that their son had contacted them to say he was going to St Lucia to play cricket with his University team and would they transfer £600 to his account so he could pay for it. Seems like children expect everything they want to be done straight away these days. The fact that their son Charlie couldn't even remember to put the correct stamp on his mum's birthday card last week so that it arrived on time was irrelevant.  
More amazing was that this will be Charlie's third tour to play cricket abroad, I'm more than thirty-five years older than him and this is my first opportunity to play cricket anywhere other than in England.
Sun 9th
After falling asleep in the Starbucks restaurant in the airport I caught the flight to Durban. On the plane the guy in front shot his seat back and tipped a little of my drink into the book on my lap, I stood up and was about to give him a mouthful when I saw the Rotary Emblem on his shirt. He was from one of the Indian teams, so we got talking. In the end we shared the taxi that Gerald Sieberhagen had organized for me as I was arriving a day after the rest of the team. We also met up with two more cricketers at the baggage reclaim who saw Johnny’s Rotary roundel and they joined us as we traveled together to the hotel. Interesting taxi ride in that I didn't see a single white (Light brown) face at all. But did see something that would give the health and safety legislators a nightmare, there was a truck in front of us with three men in the cab and about nine men stood up in the well at the back, holding on and smiling.
Arrived at the hotel just as the rest of the team was leaving. First problem the room key doesn't work so had to go back down to the reception only to get told by Ewan Stirratt and Eric Hill that I was late. Eventually get into the room and mastered the safe.
Picked up my red blazer that Mike Jackson had acquired had left safely on reception.
Quick shower and then down in a lift that still worked and didn't stop on every floor, as they did later in the week,  to find all the buses have gone. Hailed a taxi and was joined by three Indian ladies whose husbands had gone on ahead and left them to make their own way there.    
Got to the reception to find things had started and as there was no room at any of the tables where I could see the bright red blazers of the GB & I team, I saw Keith Hopkins at the front and was invited to join his table as someone had already left before the meal had started.
There is a problem sitting at the top tables when the comedians have been told to take the piss out of the dignitaries at the front. After a welcome speech by Gordon Dowsett, I found that Aaron and Lisa who masqueraded under the stage names of Charmaine and Bruce were determined to have a go at those on tables 1, 2 and 3.
Unfortunately the lights were reflecting off the top of my head and dazzling Bruce and he pointed this out to everyone, but in compensation Charmaine by now masquerading as Tina Turner or was it Agnetha from Abba came and danced with her ample chest exceedingly close to my face. So I was wondering if I'd taken Mike Gillingham's seat.
Gerald then introduced our guest speaker Errol Stewart who has worked for the ICC in Dubai and was a very good choice as a speaker. What a pity that some of the cricketers didn't appear interested in hearing him and even sadder that they kept up their conversations so the rest had to struggle to hear it all. Really good speaker with a record of having raised over £1.8 billion US$ to fund the ICC and help fund the next world cup which will cost a mere £1.1 million US$. He said the ICC has a staff of over 60 in Dubai so I guess they must pay well.
This was followed by a short vote of thanks from Mike Jackson, then more from Aaron and Lisa. Great sing along, including some more Abba and “500 miles” for Keith and Ewan.
More thanks from Natty Moodley, a good district governor, just like the one we've got at home as he seemed to be a man who could keep things short and to the point, and then David Horsley to finish.
Had a photo taken with David and his lovely wife Jan and hadn't realised at that stage how important my fellow guests on the top table were until the AGM on Thursday evening.
Saw Dennis Wesley who I met two years ago when the South Africans came to the UK, he had his wife and four kids with him, all seemed fine but I do remember him saying then that his children had no plans to stay in South Africa in the long term as the future for the white man is still unpredictable. However, the South Africans I have spoken to on this tour, said that while the whites have the capital and the ability to raise it, there is little danger of another Zimbabwe happening here.
Walked home along the road with most of the GB & I team along the sea front road to the hotel but not sure I'll do too much walking on this holiday as I'm told the streets aren't very safe.
Mon 8th
Photos by the pool, where, of course, one Rotarian managed to fall in. Luckily not one of our team. I gather these have got to be retaken on Friday morning as the photographer had forgotten to put his memory stick in his camera. It's not just the English who don't plan everything down to the last detail.
Charles Hirons missed the team photo for the GB & I team as he felt breakfast was calling. Soon discovered that the whole team was very good at pointing out mistakes made by others in a really friendly and funny way. Don't think any of them know I've offered to write the diary for Keith.
Very good breakfast where Keith advised me what games I was taking part in and saw Ewan who said he was planning some excursions on the days we both weren't playing and did I want to come along, so I went to book these with him. Both are very early starts leaving at 6.30am, the first to Rorkes Drift on Tuesday and the second to Sani Pass on Saturday.
Went by bus from the hotel to the cricket ground, but instead of two buses to take 44 players plus wives, umpires and hangers on there was only one extremely overcrowded bus.
We batted first, and I walked around the outfield taking some photos for Ewan with his very powerful camera, including him batting. His camera takes multi shots so I tried it out a couple of times, but the third time I got him being given out by an over zealous Australian umpire when the ball hit his pads with him on the back foot plumb in front, but found out afterwards from Ewan, and Keith who was umpiring at square leg, that the ball had hit the bat first. Hopefully the photos would prove it but small consolation for Ewan as his innings was over without him scoring.
I went in at 4 for 2 in the fifth over. When I was out in the 11th over we were 13 for 3. Not a good start. The ball keeping low and some over zealous umpiring from Richard the Aussie when he tried to disallow the overthrows that Eric and I ran as he said he had already called the end of the over before we started on our second and third runs. There was some good bowling which I could keep out but when I tried to score some runs I was quickly out. My skill as a number 10 or 11 batsman was to not get out and let the good batsman at the other end get on with scoring the runs. Batting at No 4 is fun in IFCR matches.
In the end we made 98 and India's Mumbai Blasters went past our total in less than 11 overs for the loss of only two wickets.
Not having bowled for nearly two years my first ball on foreign soil was an unusual one, not only did the ball almost go into orbit as I tried to give it some air, but the batsman missed the flight and Eric promptly stumped him., two balls later they hit the winning runs and I finished with match figures of 3 balls one wicket for one run conceded, then Keith decided we'd had enough and we adjourned to the bar.
Top scorers for our team were Peter French with 22 not out, followed by Irfan Wahedna with 13, Eric Hill with 12, Keith Hopkins also with 12 and Rupert Cox with 11.
The only bowlers to take any wickets were Peter French who ended up with match figures of 1 for 16 and myself with match figures were 1 for 1.
The pitch we played on is in the shadow of one of the world cup stadiums, as well as the Durban Sharks rugby ground. The stadium looked impressive and later on I heard that some of those who hadn't played cricket today had done the tour of the ground, though they hadn't seen any cricketers from up there, perhaps we'd ended our match by the time they reached the top of the stadium's 550 steps.
We may have lost at the cricket though Keith did imply, through some very creative accounting, that the game had been a draw, but once the drinking games started we won those easily. The barmaid Kim had a lot of freckles that Peter and, I think, Rupert were trying to count. She was egging the team on and once we had spent the budget she had been given to provide us with drinks we started buying more, yes even the two Scotsmen in the team helped us to share a round or two, of Jagermeisters and other suitably inappropriate drinks for only half three in the afternoon. Angie Cox is a great sport and she joined in though when Peter and Norman ended up cuddling Kim on her side of the bar, and failing to drink as fast as her we all decided that as a bus had finally turned up we ought to head for home.
On the bus home Paul Walsh, who is a physio, asked how my ankle was as he knew I had stopped a certain boundary with my foot instead of using my hands. He then said in a rather too loud a voice that when we got back to the hotel I should come up to his room with him. Some Rotarians misinterpreted this, can't think what they could have been thinking. We northern boys don't do things like that.
There was a long bus ride in the evening to the town hall for what was honestly a badly organised event. I spoke to some Australians who said it was insulting. I wouldn't go that far but we got the deputy mayor, we had a buffet that wasn't really filling or very tasty to any of the nations represented, and not natural South African food. We had some very tepid speeches and the sight of the district governor and the deputy mayor singing karaoke. Luckily they knew the words and could both make a decent noise, but it was a relief to get back on the bus and head back as the room was so noisy with a band/disco that didn't seem to realize that the room was less than half full, and those of us still there couldn't carry on a proper conversation as they were too loud. Sometimes I wonder if I am really getting that old, or is it just that I can see me needing a hearing aid if I carry on going to functions where the music is louder than needed and you end up shouting to have a few words with your friends.
Saw Gordon whose home is near Rorkes Drift and he said that Ewan and I could have come and stayed with him and he and his wife who would have taken us to see the area for free. He also reckoned we will need a lot of time at the battlefields in order to understand all the history, and if we're going there and back in the day we won't have long enough there. Still this is my first trip to South Africa so I am going to fill in as much as I can. 
Tues 9th
Up at 6.00am, which as I still feel like I'm on English time is actually 4.00am. Restaurant staff were very good and let Ewan and I have a cereal at 6.15 and we were off with Bob, our guide, in his Toyota at 6.30 as arranged.
First thing that struck me is that people walk up the middle of most roads on the central reservation, even on dual carriageways and motorways. Bob said no one can stop them and it isn't worth the police charging them as the prisons are full and if they go before a magistrate it will take weeks and then they've no money to pay any fines imposed. So people take their lives in their own hands by walking across the motorways!
Once we got out into the country it was sugar cane for mile after mile, but the people walking along the sides of the roads were more what I had expected to see, mainly women a lot of whom were carrying anything and everything on their heads. Besides the ladies there were a lot of children all looking smart in their school uniforms but otherwise most of the people we saw were of grand parenting age.
First stop was Greyville, a rather grey town and here Bob filled up with petrol which he had served to him. I asked him if this was unusual as he had conducted a conversation in fluent Zulu with the petrol pump attendant. He said that all stations have pump attendants, and you can't fill your tank up yourself. The unions had stopped this as it would have put too many people out of work. Later we pulled into a big garage on the motorway for a loo stop and every petrol pump had it's own attendant. How much extra does this cost or are wages so low.
As we got higher the cane turned to trees but the views were just fantastic. We reached Rorkes Drift having read all about it from the literature Bob gave us to read on the three and a half hour journey. When we turned off the motorway we went onto a ‘R’ road and when we turned off the R road about fifteen miles from Rorkes Drift it was like turning onto a dirt track, still this was better maintained than the ‘R’ road we came home on that was full of the biggest potholes I've seen in a long time caused by the big double lorries taking the pine trees down to the saw mills.
Rorke's drift was fascinating to see as the buildings involved have been maintained and you can see the size of the area they had to defend. It was an incredible feat of courage that 134 men could not only repel 4,500 Zulu warriors but also get them to give up.
The difference of course was the rifle; the English had 20,000 rounds of ammunition when the Zulus engaged them in combat. When the attacking forces withdrew the English had only 600 rounds left. Timing is everything, just as on the cricket field.
Lucky the Zulus gave up when they did or history might have told a different story about that day which had started so badly for the Red coated English troops with the loss of over 1,000 soldiers at Isandlwana.
This battle site was our next major stop after a fantastic lunch in a lodge overlooking the plains where these battles had taken place. The lodge was situated above Isandlwana and we could clearly see the mountains which were 75 km away. The staff at the lodge also said that on a clear day you could see some hills that are 120 km away. What was also clear was why the day started so badly for the English as Lord Chelmsford had got half his forces the wrong side of a small range of hills and this misjudgment led to the slaughter that happened when the Zulu attacked those left at the holding camp.
The journey home was via the coast and we again had some fantastic scenery to look at. As one of the schools was coming out the pupils filled the main road as everyone walks home, some going as far as 15km to get to school. The sight of them all in their distinctive school uniforms led Ewan and I to ask Bob our driver to stop as we wanted some pictures which represented the end of a school day in another country. Both of us commented that if we had stopped to take photos of children in England the likelihood would be that we'd be arrested.
We got back to find the wine auction had already started. But as we'd missed the first wine we got additional measures on quite a few of the other wines. Whilst the Indians around us were taking a sip and pouring the excess into the wine buckets provided it was good to note that most of the GB & I team were not daunted by their impressive intake whilst trying to distinguish the various bouquets that our host Jack was explaining to us. He described the three whites and the four reds given to us as having elements as diverse as tar and fruit, and felt that so long as we identified one of the tastes and enjoyed the ambiance of the wine that was all that was expected of us.
Norman Brown then did a great job with the unenviable task of running an auction of the memorabilia that all the teams had brought, a substantial sum was raised on the night and a lot of people took part in the bidding. Had my arm twisted by Shobana into bidding for a South African Cricket shirt, and ended up with an additional present for my second son Colin.
Meal with Eric and Gerald and Anne Anderson, Eric entertained us with a lovely story of a previous tour, where he had tried to book into a hotel in Australia. When asked on reception if he wanted a room with a shower or a bath he thought he was asking about the prices when he said, “what’s the difference?” The Aussie quick wittedly said that he didn't realize that all poms were so thick that if he had to explain that you stood up in a shower and a bath was a small cuboid shape that held the water for you to sit in, it was going to be a long night. Eric then decided to take the room with the shower saying he was going to have a quick shave and a shower before going out. The receptionist then asked him if he had a good memory for faces. This took Eric aback and he asked why. Because the room you're getting hasn't got a mirror so you'll have to shave from memory said the wise guy behind the counter. Eric then went to his room and found it infested with mice, a bit like the rooms Gerald and Anne had when they first checked in at the Blue Waters Hotel. In Eric's tale he apparently went back to reception saying “I'm not very keen on some of the mice in my room”, so the receptionist asked him to choose the ones he liked and he would get rid of the rest for him. 
Eric and I then ventured into the Karaoke evening which had a vast sum of about eight people watching by what was now gone eleven pm. Eric sung with Cathy an Australian and although Cathy's husband Ian McClosky and another Aussie also called Ian Petherick joined in, Eric acquitted himself really well, but the Aussie lady was really the best singer on the night. Sadly we missed seeing Mike and Keith grab the microphone. Probably either before or more likely after our party had gone to bed. Still I'm told Mike's audience was no bigger than Eric's.
The cricket that day had also gone the way of the Aussies as they proceeded to overtake the respectable score we made of 142 for 6 in the 29th over of their innings in a 30 over game.
Personal good scores were David Askin 30 not out, Mike Jackson 24 Eric Hill 21, Paul Walsh 14, Gerald Anderson 12 and Rupert Cox with 10. The bowlers who took wickets were Mike Gillingham with 2 for 33, Mike Jackson with 2 for 37, Rupert Cox with 1 for 20 and Irfan Wahenda 1 for 30. as the Aussies made 144 for 6.
Weds 10th
A lie in this morning as I'm not on the bus until 9.15am with the rest of the cricketers. Had breakfast with the two Ian’s and Cathy. Explained that referring to members of the Pakistani team as Pakis would not have been acceptable in England. Cathy said that was what she was going to call them in the same way as she would categorize all English as Poms, as this was definitely a derogatory term as they was what they were, Prisoners of Mother England.
Today's game was unlike any match I have ever played in and I've seen some odd interpretations of the rules especially in knock out games where a result has to be found. This was a three team game each side batting for 24 overs only.
There seemed to be a great deal of match fixing going on before the game started. Mike Jackson was given a new name of Mikey and it stuck like glue, so much so that he even allowed the spelling on his badge to be altered. He said he prefers Mike as the only person to call him Michael is his wife when she does it in that tone that all married men know so well when your beloved uses your full name and you realize that you are about to be asked to either explain the unexplainable or defend the indefensible that you have done or omitted to do. Mikey did say that he didn’t mind being called the new James Bond, but unfortunately for him the name Mikey was his for the remainder of the festival.
The cricket got off to a good start as the captains rolled dice to see who would chose to bat and bowl with Peter our acting captain for the day allowed to choose for us to bat first in the relative cool of that morning, then to have a rest before having our lunch, returning to go out and field when hopefully our opposition would be completely knackered having been in the field immediately before lunch.
The plan got off to a good start as Western Warriors were especially kind to our batsman, resulting in us making a score of 155 for 8 with Irfan Wahenda top scoring with 27 not out followed by Venkata Ganesan scoring 24 and Stuart Williamson hitting a fine 24 not out. I was very pleased that I was able to try and chase their weaker bowlers and scored 8 as Irfan and I added 20 in little over 3 overs. Unfortunately for Ewan he gave me his camera to take some more shots of his batting and this time I recorded him being clean bowled with a ball that barely got up off the deck.
In the end the target we set was a highly respectable 155 for 8 in our 24 overs. Western Warriors then set about overhauling our total when Southern Superkings bowled at them, and they scored a very creditable 152 for 8.
Finally it was time for us to bowl at the Southern Superkings and we got off to an excellent start with some fine tight bowling by Ewan and Peter French. Peter then experimented by adding me to the bowling line up and although I got another stumping victim, I could have bowled a lot tighter and prevented then trying to get after me. I finished with five overs bowled and figures of 24 for 1. Our other wicket takers were Irfan with 4 for 2 and Peter French with 13 for 1, as we restricted the Chennai Superkings to 100 for 5.
A similar three way match on the adjacent ground finally ended with Australia winning and we returned on the buses to freshen up.
Back to the hotel to check on which local South African Rotarian was going to be entertaining us tonight. I was paired up with Mike Gillingham and two Indians, Sadjet and Neel. We were met by David Preece who took us in his 4x4 over the recently re-laid pavements to his home which was inside a locked and guarded compound. We arrived to find he had invited 4 guests to join the meal he was preparing and for them to help with making the food. The guests were Kitty his current partner. Doreen who is the mother of his daughter in law. (His son's wife's mum). He was under orders from his son never to court Doreen as he did not want to have to introduce his wife as his sister which technically she could have become. The other guests were a friend called Fran and a very, very outgoing lady who was a Ghanaian by birth and whose husband still lived there called Charmaine. She was the life and sole of the party. Whoever arranged the evening must have known of Mike's penchant for attractive ladies and both Mike and I had a great evening out with a barbie, or brie, as the South Africans call it, on the balcony of David's flat which overlooked the surf at Umhlanga.
Thurs 11th
Another early start when we met for breakfast before 7am as Gordon Dowsett was picking us up at 7.15am for golf at 8.10 and he had to make two trips in order to get all seven of us up to the Durban Golf and Country Club.
Gordon led the way on the course with Eric, Ewan and David Askin. Whilst Keith and I played a four ball better ball game against Stuart Williamson and Roy Sperrings.
The course was fantastic and in immaculate condition, but just like the cricket outfields the ball did not run well, and it took a little while to realise that you had to play up to the pin as although the ground was hard the thickness of the grass necessary to ensure the greenness of the fairways and greens meant the ball reacted very differently as it did not run on as it would have moved in England on a similarly warm day.
Gordon and David won their match and Keith and I won ours with Gordon relying on local knowledge to take the pot of money we had been playing for. Upon discovery that he had to pay up, Roy got stroppy and insisted that had he known he was putting his hard earned cash at risk he would have tried to play better. He might have reduced his nines to eights!! Gordon played from the forward tees as he is now over 70 and entitled to the shorter course, but I am told that David was heard to comment about Gordon’s handicap, “24 my arse”.
Roy then found out that he and Stuart had paid more for their green fees than the rest of us. What had happened was that only those playing with Gordon should have got the reduction usually given to a members guests and that the others who were not playing with the member should have paid the full green fee. However, Keith and I had also got the lower rate, and Eric had paid a pensioners rate, and this incensed Roy. What he didn't know was that Gordon was getting this sorted out and when the manager returned with envelopes for the extra paid by Stuart and Roy we all accidentally forgot to tell Roy of his refund. In the car going home he almost insulted Gordon and it was hard not to collapse in laughter as Roy continued to wage a one man crusade against the way all golf courses in the world levy their fees on visitors.
On the return to the hotel it was time for the AGM of IFCR. Mike alias Mikey stood down after many years at the helm and was thanked for all his hard work. David Horsey from Australia took over the reins and Kitu from India took up the new role of Vice President. The next festival is to be in two years time in the Indian city of Vapi from February 19th to 26th. Whilst the Aussie Richard Groom gave a very pessimistic view of the future for IFCR most felt it was up to the Rotarians there to get other countries to join in and if as has happened with New Zealand this year where one of the founder members of IFCR and one of the great cricket playing nations can no longer raise a team, their members will still be welcome to attend for the fellowship even if they cannot raise a team of 11 fit players. What must be done is to get more countries taking part when the festival goes to an area of India that will be where the home club of the incoming president of RI for the year 2011/12 comes from. Irfan spoke very well on the subject of getting more countries involved in the next festival, as this year’s 13 team had come from only 6 countries.
The evening entertainment was a meal out for 20 of us in a restaurant in central Durban. Whilst one table seemed to have a good time, our table’s view of the evening was that things had not been as good as expected as the food wasn't that good and everyone had struggled to read the menu and see what they were eating in a room that needed some form of illumination. Evening ended on an unfortunate note for Roy as he found he had left his camera at the restaurant, none of the golfers have yet had the heart to tell him that his overcharge has been refunded. One of the ladies on out table commented that if a restaurant is so dark it is usually to hide how dirty and badly cleaned the premises are and she was so suspicious of what we were served that she left most of her meal uneaten. Having had the worst steak I can ever remember being served I'm afraid I agreed with her, still the evening was cheap and despite a feeling that we could have gone to better places we all had good fun and fellowship. The young girls who danced were very enthusiastic and the face painting led to a great deal of humour.
Fri 12th
Another early start as a group photo was being re-shot at 8.15am and the South African organizers wanted everyone to have had breakfast beforehand so that all the buses could leave at 9.15am. Some hope!
Met up with Sadjid the captain of the Pakistan team as Gerald Anderson and I had been asked to play for them as we were surplus to requirements for the UK team in their game against South Africa.
Playing today at Northwood School which I’d heard of as it famous for producing several top international sportsmen in many different sports. It’s most famous recent successes are Lance Klusner and the brothers Robin and Chris Smith who both went on to play for England.
The pitch we played on was a bit small as the turf on the surrounds of the main square were being re-laid as the Greek football team will be using the school’s facilities as their training ground whilst the World Cup is here.
Infact the pitch was so small that I was fielding on the square leg/ cover boundary and was also close enough to save the single as the distance from the wicket to the boundary was less than 30 yards. I saved a few boundaries but one ball went past me so fast that I cannot remember seeing a ball cross the boundary rope at such speed ever before. Some of the Indians, on the Deccan Dynamos team we were playing against were very good and they quickly reached 20 and had to retire.
Before the game started the Indian and Pakistanis decided to reduce the match to 20 overs per side as they felt it was too hot for a 30 over per side game. I understand the England v South Africa game went the full distance and seeing the players when they came back off their bus almost three hours after we’d got back I was glad we had had a reduced over game.
When Sadiq asked me to bowl I think he must have been wondering if he had made a mistake as I opened with a wide and then conceded a boundary off a rather poor ball. But then with the last ball of the over I clean bowled the batsman who was obviously struggling to come to terms with the speed of my bowling when I sent down the extra slow one. The fielders were great and with their cheers of “come on Andrew” and “go Andrew” it felt like I was a cult hero for them for the day at least. Their further encouragement led to me getting another batsman clean bowled in my forth over, and I think even Kitu who was umpiring found it amusing to see one of his team’s better batsmen fail to deal with such patently slow leg spin.
The Indians made 185 for 5 in their 20 overs and although our team were 81 for 4 after 10 overs we fell away and were all out for 120 leaving me on 8 not out. Gerald was out twice having been invited to bat again as he had only scored 1 the first time in.
Lunch was a rather spicy curry and as I’m not a curry fan I ate a small portion only, but felt sorry for Gerald and Anne who had walked all the way, and it was a long way to the canteen, as neither of them eat curry, so they ended up hungry. Dael (pronounced Dale) the lady serving, was equally upset that she had no alternative to offer them, as she had been told to prepare a meal suitable for Indians and Pakistanis, she was also a little upset that so little food was eaten as many from both teams left early so she would be taking a lot home for her family and friends to eat later in the week.
I gather our team had a victory over South Africa and the only scores I know of were that David Askin had to retire at 30 not out and that Ivan hit poor Rupert for 5 sixes in one over, before having to retire as South Africa rather belatedly began their assault on our impressive total of 160. The scores according to the tee shirt that Ivan was having signed said they only reached 140 in reply.
In the afternoon I went on the beach for the first time and was surprised how warm the water was. I had expected it to be a lot warmer than the North Sea or Irish Sea which is where I usually dip my toes, but this was also a lot warmer than many foreign locations I have been to on holiday. Whilst there I met up with Abdul from Lahore whose English is very limited. He asked me to take some shots of him in the waves, but when he started trying to join in with a group of white girls he was very lucky not to have had his face slapped for some of his antics, he then came back on the beach and asked to have his photo taken with a young South African couple I had been chatting to when he was cavorting in the water. He tried to give the young girl his packet of cigarettes as a thank you, and I had to explain to him that she didn’t smoke as he seemed insulted that his gift should be refused.
Arrived at the reception in the evening to find Norman in his best bib and tucker looking absolutely splendid as the toastmaster. Acting like a good sergeant major he did a good job in his keeping his troops in order as things weren’t quite running to plan as the hall wasn’t ready when we all got there.
Our table of Rupert and Angie, Paul, Ewan, Mike Gillingham, and myself with Ivan & Lynne from South Africa had a great time despite being last up for the meal each time. We also scooped three of Gerald Seiberhagen’s awards, Ivan for hitting the five sixes, Ewan for standing his ground leaning on his bat whist poor Roy at the other end nearly completed two lengths of the pitch before being run out, and Mike for being the best lover on tour! Mike took a long time to receive his award from the lady presenting it, fully justifying Gerald’s decision to recognize such ability.
Ivan told a lovely tale of the taxi driver who was hired to take him from his home to the hotel to pick up his four Rotarians on Wednesday evening arriving with four ladies of the night already on board as the driver had misinterpreted what Ivan was arranging when he had booked the taxi to bring his guests back to his house for an evening of fun and entertainment!!
The guest speaker was Pat Symcock who told many tales of his time playing cricket for his country, but my favourite was how in order to obtain alcohol on a tour of Pakistan, he had to admit to being an alcoholic, unfortunately when he and a colleague signed nearly the whole team in at their hotel as having the same affliction, the hotel manager commented that the team played very well considering their vast amount of problems. At this point Pat and his friend’s ruse was discovered and the remainder of the team stopped them getting any more drinks.
Having had an excellent meal and fellowship, the auction by the Australian and the awards by Gerald and Gordon went on for far too long, and robbed people of the opportunity to say proper farewells and thank-yous to our hosts. Once again the DG Natty spoke well and kept it very short; the only other good speech of thanks came from Ann Askin.
As the buses had to leave promptly at 11.00pm, Norman had the unenviable task of cutting proceedings short, and when we got back to the hotel we found that the bar had shut been shut at 11pm so most people went to bed feeling frustrated that the evening had ended without the chance to say goodbye to both old and new friends.
Sat 13th
Breakfast at 6.15am again for Ewan and I, as we and our guide were ready to leave at 6.30am for the Sani Pass. However, the six Aussies who were coming with us decided to have a cooked breakfast and a hot drink delaying the start for half an hour. Our outward journey of 220km to Underberg took a little over three hours through some most scenic countryside, but the next stage up the mountain from just over 1000m to the top at 2987m (over 9,000 feet) of only 25km took nearly as long and we arrived at the top at 1pm just as a thunder and lightening storm erupted.
The last road up especially the 7km between the border posts of South Africa and Lesowto through no-mans land has to be one of the worst tracks I’ve ever traveled before. I’ve driven off road before but you would have been hard pressed to walk up some parts let alone take a four wheel drive land rover up it. As the car veered in all directions I thought about the pot holes that Ewan and I had complained about on Tuesday which were mere pin pricks in comparison.
Our driver called Lucky said that despite the road surface and narrowness and steepness of the path, and sheer falls on one side in many parts, there had never been an accident on the road. But he feared that if plans to tarmac it were introduced then accidents would happen as people would drive too fast.
Having been thrown around the land rover with Ian & Cathy McCloskey, Robert & Sue Ephrains, and Peter & Karen Thompson, we felt we had got to know them quite well and at the top we ate in the highest pub in Africa managing to demolish three bottles of the local red wine in very short time.
On the way up we stopped at the South African border post at the same time as another four wheel drive vehicle carrying eight good looking young ladies. Lucky asked their driver if he wanted to swop tour parties, but their guide declined saying that our vehicle was full of old people. He did try to make amends to us by saying that although the eye candy was pleasing to look at, it wasn’t much fun listening to eight women complain about the way he was driving.
Went out for a meal in the evening with our six new friends and then returned to the hotel bar with David and Jan Horsey, Norman and Liz Brown and Eric. Here we were regaled with some great stories of previous IFCR festivals and tours made by both GB and Australian teams. Left me wishing I’d discovered this fellowship years earlier and determined to promote it in my district when I get back.
Sun 14th
I’m now so used to getting up early this week that I was down having breakfast by 7.00am, but for the first time this week, on my own.
Saw Paul leave who was going to stay at Gordon’s home north of here. Also had a shout from Eric asking if he could join me on my walk to the Moses Mabbida stadium. I have to admit I was glad of the company as no where seemed very safe to walk there alone, even the big nearby stadium.
When we arrived there, we decided to go up in the cable car and Eric got his pensioners discount for our trip up to the viewing platform. From up high it is clear that Durban residents are blessed with sporting facilities, not only could we see cricket pitches, football and rugby grounds as well as the golf course, there were also hockey pitches, crown/flat green bowling greens tennis courts and a huge athletics stadium all within a very short distance.
We saw five lads who had walked up with their safety harnesses attached, they then disappeared through a hole in the platform on their way to doing a bungee jump down into the stadium. As Norman said when we told him of this he had asked if they would kindly tell him that he was either too old or too heavy to do a bungee jump so he had a valid excuse for not contemplating risking his neck in such a foolhardy venture. Unfortunately for him they said he was neither too old nor too heavy but he still decided not to take any chances on the strength of the elastic.
Eric and I both contacted our children to remind them it was Mothering Sunday. Eric's eldest sent a short sharp “we know” text as Eric is in trouble for missing his granddaughter’s 2nd birthday party this afternoon. My eldest son sent one back saying he was visiting my mum along with his sisters, having given his mum some chocolates first thing, and that he'd already rung his younger brother and told him to ring mum. Sometimes your children leave you feeling very proud..
Home at last and it won't feel the same as the friendship has been superb and restored my faith in Rotary after recently feeling it was becoming too much of an old man's dining club rather than the organisation I originally joined over 19 years ago, which was full of members who were all still in full time employment.
Here's to my next trip with the IFCR and for those of you who have enjoyed the diary thanks for reading it and for those who haven't please consider writing one yourself next time the team goes on tour or to a festival. I've enjoyed doing it and hope that whilst reporting incidents that I saw or heard I haven't in any way insulted anyone.