Ravensklip The Saga Continues
Thomas Terrance, a widower, whose late wife had passed away seven years ago, lived together with his second wife, Ann and her mother, Barbara in a small, select and exclusively affluent suburb called Ravensklip, believed to be named, because of the spur of rock that stood sentinel to the entrance to the suburb, as it resembled a crouched predatory bird.
The wide banks of the swift flowing Klip River protected the frontal access to Ravensklip with the remaining three sides surrounded the suburb with steep outcrops of rocks and rolling hills.
Ravensklip was a very old moneyed area that had originally been established just after the Second World War by six permanent force officers who having built up a very strong camaraderie during the many bloody campaigns had decided to retire and pool their resources. They where looking for a solid investment as well as a quiet refuge in a private haven away from the hubbub of the major financial area of Johannesburg so they chose to create a select and private country club and retreat by purchasing a farm far in the southern side of town rather than in the northern suburbs were the Generals and others had settled in.
They had built for themselves, moderately expensive and well constructed houses on the large and equally subdivided plots, after creating a common area, which was positioned in the lower region of the valley, at the base of Ravensklip, this would then serve them as a communal gathering point or parade ground as the Sergeant Major, who was the leading figure in the group of six, called it.
The suggestion was that this would be the central point for all gatherings. So they then had constructed a dam, that large enough for swimming in, this was fed by the river, a large communal braai pit with an equally large lapa completed the ‘parade ground'. On the southern side of the parade ground they had left the fringe of natural woodland that then abounded in small game which was never hunted. Their six houses were built on the northern side overlooking their comfortable sanctuary. Many years later, they expanded the number of houses by further subdivision of the remainder of the farm, and had constructed sixteen completely different styled houses or cottages, which were situated on the lower reaches of the koppies behind their larger properties. Some were occupied by their children and the rest were sold by the pioneers of estate, they were still pretty selective as to who bought them. All of original owners had either passed on or had moved into retirement homes, their offspring had also sold up and moved on.
Their descendants had in order to maintain the exclusivity of the suburb set up a closed corporation, which was responsible for the properties. An executor was appointed by the body corporate to oversee the daily running and ensure that the area remained unspoiled. Therefore the small suburb still only had only twenty-two houses, all of them were very well maintained. All of them were occupied, well technically that was correct as there was one which was unoccupied; the new owners were scheduled to take up their occupancy at the beginning of the New Year.
The drive from the nearby school to home took only fifteen minutes, this is mainly because that that section of the road meanders through the several valleys formed by the Klipriviersberg, and now the trip was now very nearly at its end. Thomas crested the top of the ridge from where he could see the entire suburb of Ravensklip, all neatly laid out within the amphitheater of the high koppies. The lower reaches being covered with the typical Highveld acacia scrub, above that, the wild aloes and kiepersol or cabbage tree scratched their way from the hard shallow sand and rock, and finally bare hard rock covered the final third, these high rock formations formed a solid barrier around the suburb. The broad, swift flowing river sparkled and gushed in a shimmering crescent swept passed the front section of the suburb. Thomas changed down to third gear, took the gentle right-hand fork in the road, then they began the descent down the twisted winding road, bordered by the natural scrub and occasional rocky outcrops.
The final hairpin bend, before they reached the entrance road to Ravensklip that leads to the bridge that spans the 200-meter width of the fast flowing Kliprivier. This caused Thomas to shift down to second gear, as he reduced his speed and negotiated the bend with practiced ease, proceeded down the road for a further couple of hundred meters, turned right off the main road, crossed the bridge, they had now arrived entered their quiet, secure suburb. Thomas turned left off ‘Main Road' into "Lower Road", which lead them to all the lower terrace of the houses in Ravensklip.
He turned right into the first driveway, being a long scrub lined driveways, a characteristic of most of the houses in the suburb, it provided a sense of privacy. This is where he went to drop of the twins. With quick a thank you, the twins scrambled out of his car, and disappeared into the face bricked double story house. Thomas went around the circle in the driveway and drove out of the property and turned right after a careful check that the road was clear.
He continued along the road, skipped past the next two driveways, and turned right into the third one, announcing his arrival with a double touch to the hooter. Lilly Schmidt, a vibrant slim 30 year old, with dusty dark blonde hair, pale brown eyes and an evenly all over tanned firm body with smallish pear shaped breasts, came out to greet him, wearing a very skimpy pale blue bikini, which comprised of a low cut tanga bottom with a skimpy halter top. Her dark blonde hair was wet clung to the sides of her face, like a skull cup or bathing cup which framed her mischievous almost elfin face, with an infectious impish grin to match.
"Thomas you must be dying of the heat, after fetching the twins, what, with all that running around in the hot car" she laughed with ease, "why don't you come and join me under the sprinkler, its so refreshing " she suggested to Thomas, smilingly.
"Not today, as haven't got my costume with me, thanks anyway, might do the same thing when I reach home myself. How is Beatrice today?"
"Not quite with us again, she thinks we are her cousins, spending the holidays here. It is quite trying today, but we still have hope. There have been some new research results on Diet and advanced Alzheimer's, that look very promising"
"Well, science and technology are making some extremely important breakthroughs, so one must always try and be positive, not so". Stated Thomas most firmly.
They chatted for a few minutes, about the other general issues that bothered most South Africans these days, the increase in crimes, especially, the spate of those more violent crimes. Usually these appeared to be seemingly senseless.
Thomas handed over the order of sausages and the other items that he had purchased for her household.
"It is a pity I always have to rely on you, to always fetch things for me, but honestly, the last time Leonard and I had to take her out to do a bit of shopping, she damn near disappeared, and there where two of us with her at the time."
"Think nothing of it, that's what makes my day, going around and keeping myself busy, seeing people, feeling useful, keep me young." Said Thomas, as he tried very hard not to stare down at her breasts Her skimpy bikini clad, breasts were now visibly covered with gooseflesh and there was still a couple of water droplets in the valley between them.
Thomas started to walk back towards his parked car. "Must be making tracks, still a couple of things to do this afternoon, you know."
Lilly strode down the driveway and caught up with several yards before he reached his car, and with a very familiar pat and a firm gentle squeeze of Thomas's shoulder, she left her hand still rested on his shoulder, as she and Thomas walked back to his car. Lilly smiled and said, "Ann is lucky to have such a strong and capable caring considerate man in her life at present."
Thomas blushed slightly, his eyes now firmly focused on her chin, "It is really the other way around, actually".
He quickly climbed into the car. "Well I have your list for tomorrow, and you will give me ring if there is anything else you find that you need. You can settle up with me tomorrow. Have a good evening and regards to Leonard, as well as Beatrice." said Thomas.
"Will do, not that Beatrice would know, drive carefully, will see you tomorrow" said Lilly with that impish smile and cheery bye she waved her and walked back to the house,
Thomas watched her fluid movements as she strode to the house, for at least a half a dozen paces, this from the safety of his rear view mirror, and then he backed out of her driveway.
He headed back the way he came. At the T-junction he turned left into the main road and proceeded to the t-junction at ‘Upper Road'. At which he turned right and passed the first two driveways, turned left, into the long steep driveway of Natalie and Bernard Strong's neatly thatched bungalow. He got out of his car, parcels in hand, climbed the steep steps to the porch, rang the doorbell, and waited patiently.
Natalie, a neat well trimmed, thirty five year old blonde haired with striking blue eyes, opened the door and invited Thomas in for usual cup of coffee. Thomas followed her into the cool spacious kitchen, placed the assorted items that he had purchased for her on the kitchen cupboard. and settled down in the comfortable chair. He accepted his coffee and slice of home made baked cheesecake.
They discussed the current political and socioeconomic problems that had affected every ones lives so dramatically. Bernard, who was attending a two-week conference, for the Security Company that he owned, had requested that Thomas kept a "weather eye" open, for him while he was away.
This was not a hardship for Thomas, who could have coffee and talk, or pontificate, with the best of them. He came over almost every other day, as well as most evenings together with Ann, who enjoyed common decorating, art and interior design interests with Natalie.
Thomas, realizing that time was passing by, told Natalie, he would see her tomorrow night with Ann. He thanked her for the coffee and cake, and politely made his departure.
Thomas drove back to the T-junction. Were he turned left and headed down to Lower Ring Road. Turned right and entered the last driveway in that road, up the slope of the drive and onto the level, neatly trimmed terrace, parked his car in the left carport, accompanied by the howls of greetings of all of the five dogs. Barbara, who needed her milk, as it was past her tea time, came out to assist him.
Barbara, a plump, well preserved seventy something year old it was inappropriate to question her age, with close-cropped, Grey hair, pale blue eyes and a fixed almost a tight lipped stern expression on her face. "You have been for such a long time! I saw you drive across the bridge, it must be over an hour ago!" she exclaimed.
"I had to pop in and see Natalie, who sends her regards", Thomas explained patiently, with his disarming smile. He now faced a barrage of rapidly fired questions, in her crisp staccato fashion, never waiting for an immediate answer.
"What else did you do today? Has Bernard not been away for to long" was Barbara's first wave. Then promptly started to speak to her two small dogs, telling them what clever dogs they were, as they had told her that he was coming up the drive. She picked up her bag contain her long life milk her Rye bread, as well some of her parcels. and started to move towards the kitchen. "Where did you get the bread? The milk, it was on special, you know? ", came the next salvo of questions, as she ascended that single stair from garage and entered the kitchen.
Thus Thomas was left, with the unasked for task of carrying in the bulk of her purchase for her into the kitchen.
Thomas had by now, become accustomed to her burning desires to know everything that happened in the neighborhood, as well as outside, often about matters that did not concern her at all. He was surprised, that for someone, who did not leave her own property, very often, knew so many details of the movements and affairs of the entire suburb.
He Picked up the rest of the parcels entered the kitchen of that large ranch style house that he now called home. The dogs barking had now subsided and the peace and haven of the secluded area settled upon him. The familiar "goway" call of the Loeries and cheeky chirrup of the cape sparrows, as well as the strange collection of calls from Indian Mynas, a soothing balm, which all cried out, loud and clear, you are home now.
Thomas placed the groceries on top of the various cupboards, Barbara's items on top of her cupboard, together with all the till slips. These groceries would later all be marked with Barbara's initials, while she carefully packed them away. Then he packed away his and Ann's, purchases into a separate groceries cupboard. The arrangement of the household was that they prepared their own meals; it was a long standing arrangement that still quietly amused him. He cooked all the daily meals for Ann and himself, invariably he cooked more than enough for six, as usually the next days packed lunch was a cold version. The only time that Barbara ate with them, was something special, like his famous crumbed pork chops, schnitzels, or if guests were invited over for a meal.
He checked on the chicken casserole, perfect, left the lid off the casserole dish to thicken the natural jus from the chicken. then set the stove to 60 degrees Celsuis for the last hour and a bit.
Thomas set the table for two in the dining room. Thomas who is an avid cook, had earlier that morning, put the four breasts of chicken skin down in a half a cup full of white wine, with a cup full of wild mushrooms, which he had collected the day before in the woods, some chopped spring onions, new potatoes and a clove of garlic, a touch of salt and teaspoon of crushed green peppercorns, into a cast iron casserole pot, placed the lid on the saucepan then set the oven to 75 degrees Celsius, which he then left it to its own devices, it would be slow cooked perfection.
"What are you eating tonight?" queried Barbara.
"We are having an early chicken casserole, and then going off to Lucy's for drinks", replied Thomas, dodging around her as she then packed and rearranged the cupboard.
He went out the back kitchen door into the back yard and greeted his "girls", three-mixed breed dogs ranging from medium to large sizes. He went passed the old disused coal bin, up the path to his den at the back corner of the property, the "girls" close to his side.
He entered his private domain, the den, a nine by three meter pre-cast vine covered structure, which faced the back of some the three thousand square meter property, mostly terraced lawn, abutting the side of the koppie. Thomas settled down in front of his computer and called up the spreadsheet for daily expenses. He entered his daily expenses versus collections under the various columns of the spread sheet. Discovered that he was ahead for now, not by much, he realized that he would have to cut down slightly on either his cigarettes or the amount of coffees that he purchased in the mall.
‘Thank heavens I don't have to by film for the camera', he said to ‘Auntie', his black cat who had stalked over and had now just settled comfortably on his right leg. He always discussed things with his tatty old cat. He proceeded to download his day's photographs, first given each frame a label then transferring them to specific folders.
Thomas disconnected his pc He then fed the cats and dogs, refilled their water dishes, tidied up the lawn, and then returned to the house. He had a quick shower, and slipped into a fresh pair of jeans and light cotton open necked shirt. Ann should be here any minute, he mused, as it was her turn to drive the lift pool this week.
He went to the entrance hall, by way of the kitchen to switch on the kettle for tea. No sooner had he done this when Ann arrived, Thomas went to the carport to carry in the parcels, if any. He opened the car door for her and gave her a soft lingering kiss, as they greeted each other. They entered the house holding each other's hands, settled into the dining room chairs; he brought through the tea tray.
Ann, a neat forty-five year, with a full, cuddly figure, dark brown hair, brown eyes and rimless spectacles, greeted her mother. Who was, as usual, watching the daily soap opera; the volume turned a fairly high for Barbara to hear, as she was these days hard of hearing. Ann asked if she would like a cup of tea.
"No, thank you", was the curt reply, more interested in what was going on in the "soapie", at that point in time.
Ann and Thomas settled down to discuss their respective day, over a cup of tea, a long-standing ritual, which afforded each an opportunity to unload any problems or frustration that had occurred in their days. This was a good base for the communication that exists between them.
"How was your day"? Barbara interjected, during the advert time on the TV. "Did you fax off those copies, for me. You now how important they are" she stated, "What are you doing for supper"? She asked, all as usual without waiting for a reply.
"They have been done, and are in my briefcase", stated Ann. "Would you like some tea now Mom?" Asked Ann. "We are eating an early supper of chicken casserole, then going out to Thomas's daughter", stated Ann.
"No it is still to hot. The temperature has been over thirty degrees today", was Barbara's reply, as she hastily made her way through to the lounge to continue her late afternoons viewing.
This interject had interrupted Thomas's thoughts and the incident with the twins hacking into his computer, was now forgotten. He cleared away the tea tray, brought the casserole through for Ann to serve.