Since Dad’s 80th birthday, time has flown so fast that it seems as if it was just yesterday that we gathered at 214 Brooke Drive, to give dad a huge surprise…
Dad had a wonderful birthday celebration, attended by more than 30 people, including dear friend Rolf Chenaux-Repond who wrote and read this poem for him…
not too tall, not too short
much-loved father to some, esteemed friend to others
proud owner of a pair of Svarowski binoculars
wearer of a hat once seen never forgotten
cartographer by profession
passionate nature lover
camp cook of note
owner of a multitude of walking sticks
friend of dogs
unknown to utter a complaint
inspiring at times
observant and enthusiastic naturalist by nature
treasured campfire companion
a man of brisk stride
neat from any angle
……………. I thought I better leave this one out!
modest, unpretentious and unassuming
forty winks at noon
artist with pen and brush
birder par excellence
……. and much more
ARTHUR BARRIE – 80 years young today
(thank you Rolf-for being such a good friend to Dad, such a sagacious judge of character!)
Rolf -campfire companion, naturalist and penman of note.
Arthur – ‘friend of dogs’ – with his old pal, Barney.
Now, my admission of guilt is that I undertook to write a newsletter for Dad, way back in 2011, to all of you family and friends who could and could not be with us on that day….and here we are in 2013, and it is his birthday again soon, on the 30th April 2013!
Well, I shall make up for the lack of communication by writing a long update on Dad and the Barrie family, babies, favourite dogs and fishing…forgive me if I tell some of you what you already know, so that long lost friends can be updated!
Firstly I will write exactly what Dad drafted for me to write immediately after his 80th birthday celebration, in response to the good wishes of you colleagues from his days at the Geological Survey. He steadfastly refused to sit and punch away at the laptop, so gave me a handwritten note of what he wanted to say to you all!
To old and present colleagues from the Geological Survey:
Thank you all for the birthday wishes and kind compliments concerning my cartographic skills. After my decision to stay on at the Survey and retire in 1991, I have had no regrets, and great job satisfaction, but do remember with great fondness time spent in Australia and Germany with some of you and your families.
I remember so many maps, some cartographic ‘piece de resistances” in the days of free hand cartography and am thrilled that so many of you still have those maps hanging on your walls.
Now in my twilight years, I am still able to enjoy my favourite pastimes-gardening, birdwatching, and bush trips to wild places with my children and friends.
It has been exciting and heartwarming receiving so many 80th birthday wishes from you all. I had a memorable 80th birthday celebrating with family and friends, even those friends who could not be there in person, but were there in spirit although spread far and wide. Thank you and best wishes.
The Geological Survey was such a huge part of Dad’s life, and his life long commitment to making good maps is reflected in the well wishes of all of you who worked with him. Thank you for communicating with him from all over the world. He was very touched when Tim Broderick collected and read all your emails at the party! Thank you Tim!
Vernon and Susan Stocklmayer, thank you for your greetings for Dad’s 82nd birthday and the recent photo of you two travelling in Sri Lanka…
Dad is just as fit as ever and acts like a man 20 years his junior, but does complain of a sore back when he has been climbing rocks, planting trees, and building campfires! For his 80th birthday he promised himself that he would buy his first pair of denim jeans, and, assisted by Kelli, he chose a pair. Has not stopped wearing them since!
It seems like so many more years than it really is that Mum passed away…what a special person, and wonderful grandmother she was to Kelli…..
and to Lorraine’s daughter Bianca, at times when both Lorraine and I had to work and earn our daily keep as single mothers. She and Dad gave us all such a loving and strong start in life…………
Under dad’s influence Bianca started drawing at an early age, producing great art such as this Zebra which I still have on my wall….
I live most of the time with my partner, Clive Stockil in the bush at Senuko ranch, part of the Save Valley Conservancy – a ‘big five ‘ area in the lowveld of Zimbabwe. Dad visits us often at our home, Tsavene, where he walks, sketches and watches birds to his heart’s content.
Two of Dad’s favourite dogs, Jack Russells, our Mhisi and Kelli’s Nchila, are sadly missed by us all after their passing away. Good companions and friends they were.
A few years ago our “Lion Hut “ in the bush fell down…..a sad day, as we and our various guests had all had great times in it. And some dramatically frightening times when lions came through, as some of our visitors can attest to!
214 Brooke Drive is where Dad lives permanently, sharing the house and garden with Kelli.
Clive and myself come and go from there. This quirky house has grown up around our needs, shared with various animals such as Dad’s dog Barney, (now passed on and remembered fondly in this painting below by Lorraine)
and Kelli’s dogs Chika and Kumba, Kumba being a gorgeous street kid who was rescued by Kelli when she spotted him running loose in heavy traffic…lucky little dog!
Wooden pangolins share the garden….
as do a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls which dad has encouraged and loved for years. Many broods of baby owls have fledged from the tyre nest he has constructed high in the branches.
A favourite old camp kettle, too holy to use anymore on the open fire pit at which Dad often cooks when power cuts hit ……
Dad and Kelli look after each other and have grown very close. Wonderful for a grand daughter to get to know her grandfather so well…
We have shared many happy times with dear family and friends, some from very far afield, such as dear Bob and Belinda, special soulmates from Florida….
others who live close, with good food and great wine, around the fire pit ……….
And birthdays are special times, especially when a handmade cake is baked, iced and decorated with fresh garden flowers by a dear daughter!
A bush-baby like the rest of us children, (Dad’s influence again!), my sister Lorraine married Wayne Hofmeyr years ago, and they live happily in remote Binga, surrounded by numerous dogs, cats and birds.
The views across Lake Kariba from their elevated house are spectacular and Lorraine’s green fingers have created a garden that is a delight.
Dad, fisherman par excellence, loves to visit them……..hot weather and fishing suits him fine!
Lorraine, in a letter to Bianca living in Australia, says of one Binga trip:
Visit to Binga 2009
The second day Lin, Clive and Gramps were here we went to a place called elephant bay by boat and caught some really nice bream for lunch, next day we went out and then a huge storm blew up, we had to make a dash for shore and ended up in a lot of reeds, quite scary cause this lake can get very rough but an experience especially for Gramps. He has little experience of boats but is very into it and they have gone out again today as I write this.
Dad not only brings home the fish, but very ably fillets and superbly cooks them at the end of the day……………..
While on the subject of fishing, of which Dad will never tire, we shared a fabulous family holiday in Mozambique a few years ago with him, Kelli and Glenn and Judy and the grandchildren.
Clive’s nephew Dave, wife Debbie and their daughter Rebecca, with her husband Kurt, hosted, wined, dined and fished with us in Vilancoulos. Kurt and Rebecca have since had a darling little girl, Hannah.
Deep sea fishing had Dad hooked from the beginning………………..first sailfish he ever caught…
plus numerous other conquests, all rounded off with the most horrible bumpy boat ride Dad had ever had – he came back green around the gills, and sore all over, but with a huge grin on his face!
Master fly fisherman, Dad taught my brother Steve to catch trout at an early age. Master calligrapher as well, here is the birthday card he created this year for Steve….
Dad produces hand drawn calendars for friends and family-which we all wait eagerly for come the beginning of each new year….the owl theme is a favourite!
Steve and his Kenyan-born fiance Clare share dad’s deep love of the bush,
and accompany dad on many a bush trip, mostly to Mana pools………….
We all love watching African wild dogs……………….
Steve and Clare live in Harare, in yet another beautiful garden inhabited by numerous animals and including dozens of baby tortoises, Clare’s treasures!
Steve continues dad’s fishing tradition………………………..
Dad enjoys his happy and busy lifestyle at our Harare house, with such things as bird walks with close neighbours, dinners, braais and the occasional bush safari to keep him occupied, when he can tear himself away from his beloved and very beautiful garden!
The wall painting says it all-dad has passed his love of gardening to all of us children.
Dad won Garden of the year award in the Borrowdale Brooke Estate….well deserved as you can see from the photographs of his garden which he maintains with such loving care.
One of my personal favourite plants is the Mandela’s Gold strelitzia which I imported from Kirstenbosch as a tiny seedling, now nurtured to full glory by Dad.
In 2012 Dad bravely accepted the job of re-constructing and planting Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge gardens. A huge job, with much earh and rock hauling, but very rewarding for all of us as the gardens began to take shape, and the team of gardeners learnt how Dad liked things to be done! He amazed everybody by his energy and stamina, always the first on the job and the last to leave.
He has shared many good times and beers, with us and ops manager John Laing at Chilo Gorge Lodge, on the sands of the Save River..looking for bat hawks and Pels fishing owls..
and in the gorgeous Gonarezhou National Park which we all love so much.
Places such as Director’s Camp on the banks of the Runde river….
and Simuwene Camp in southern Gonarezhou on the banks of the Mwenezi river…
Dad and Kelli are my steadfast support in selling and promoting my oil paintings from 214…
We all share our love of wild, bush life with Kelli, exploring as many remote places as we are able to in the course of our busy lives…
Our sweet blessings have been made up of such moments as attending the two stimulating and successful exhibitions that Kelli, a professional Make Up Artist, created at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, in conjunction with Eric Gauss, a talented photographer. Her professional Make Up skills speak out very strongly in the evocative photographic images she and Eric have created. Kelli has had a busy time in Harare, completing various other beauty and make up jobs.
She creates joy in children by painting their faces with humour and grace…they love her!
She takes on bigger challenges such as re-creating Johnny Depp’s character-here is friend, Regan, made up by Kelli……..
She continues her journey into womanhood with a grace and wisdom astounding in one so young, and her perceptive instinct in caring for and nurturing her loved ones extends even to people she only briefly meets in the course of her days.
and she is creating exquisite works of art on canvas as well as on faces and bodies!
Clive and Kelli are my strength and support……….
Clive’s son, Glenn, has been a strength for his father in these trying times on Senuko Ranch, quietly and reliably supportive in times of hardship. Glenn and Judy and their children Jade and Rayne, our grandchildren, share this special place, Senuko, with us.
We all gain great love by being part of this family. Such sweet moments we remember, such as holding the newest Stockil baby,“Rayne”, sister for Jade, just hours after her safe birth. Watching Jade and Rayne growing up, beginning on their exciting and often traumatic journey into life, has been a joy.
Many bumps and scrapes, stings and bites have come their way as they bravely tackle every new experience in this wilderness world. Five year old Jade is at once indomitably cheerful, and in the next breath deeply angry, in the face of adversity. Her little “Sisi” Rayne has a naughty smile on her face, a deep sense of humour. Deceptively angel-faced, she has a strong chin and a knowing look about her that suggests an unshakable strength of character …
Jade is a dynamic, sensitive and volatile little soul, intensely protective of her little sister and anyone she perceives to be the ‘underdog’, beginning to understand Shona and Changana languages and English, hugely inquiring and appreciative of all the wild life, books and art around her. Both of them play creatively for hours, digging in the ‘dress up trunk’ dedicated to them at our house, creating elaborate stage sets, beating on drums and dancing. Jade is also turning into quite an artist!
Clive is called “Kokwane”, (Changana for Gramps), I am “Kwane” (granny)………..
We all love these children very dearly, and admire the special way in which Glenn and Judy are rearing their babies. good parents are jewels, and we should know-we have had the best in Mum and Dad!
Great gramps gets along so well with the little girls, and they love looking for lizards with him, and gardening….
Old and young see eye to eye…..
Six years ago Lorraine’s daughter Bianca married Ben Nysschen – a happy and beautiful occasion, then they moved to Australia where they have been since. We miss them…..
Gorgeous Bride and bridesmaid….
Bianca’s Australian Christmas tree last Christmas was full of memories and hopes of eventually coming back to Africa for a visit…
And then it happened! Easter weekend 2013, was a joyful reunion with Bianca and Ben, who brought their new baby Ethan to Africa from Australia. Lorraine and Wayne, proud new grandparents, travelled from Binga, for the family reunion. Dad (Great gramps!) was over the moon, bonding with Ethan immediately and Ethan was been the most relaxed, smiling baby I’ve ever seen who had just travelled thousands of miles in a plane.
After being used to holding the delicate little girls in our family, cuddling this solid little mass of wriggle-power felt like controlling a rugby ball! Bianca and Ben are doting parents, the best couple of care-givers any little boy could have!
We climbed Domboshava, near Harare, to share the beauty with Bianca and watch the sunset
Many special family times were had, around our 214 campfire….
Bolliti Misto was on the menu for a celebratory dinner Friday night. I simmered ox tongue, silverside and a whole fat chicken in stock with a clove-studded onion and celery, and served it with butternut risotto and roasted cherry tomatoes from Steve and Clare’s garden.
Kelli’s wonderful Christmas present to the whole family was a voucher for us to have a family photo shoot with a professional photographer friend of hers. Michelle hauled her cameras and we gathered in the garden of 214 , all dressed in white shirts, for our photographic debut with Ethan……..
this space is reserved for the photos!
Can not wait to see the photos, although sadly Clive could not be there due to work pressures. Glenn and family have been tied to Senuko, due to rhino poaching pressures, so their presence was also lacking.
Dad has two dear sisters, Marge and Liz, whom he has not seen for so long, so I include photos of them in this newsletter, they are such a warm and integral part of his life and memories…….
Liz is Dad’s younger sister, and the butt of many a childhood escapade….many are the stories! Aunty Liz’s husband, Pete has sadly passed away. Their sons are Simon and Paul, Simon lives in England and Paul in the United States of America.
Marge and Doug have a daughter Lyn, married to Grant, their daughter Kimberley being of an age with Kelli -this photo taken a few years ago-we have not seen them for so long-need to catch up!
So many other precious family on Clive’s side, the Stockils, and Mum’s side, the Cox’s, and many dearest friends, have not been mentioned in this letter…..
Please forgive me! I decided to limit the space to dad’s immediate family, since time and space prevented me from continuing and writing a book on ALL of you -but rest assured that although your name may not be specifically mentioned, in my rush to get this done before another few years go whizzing past, that every one of you is such an integral and loved part of our circle of life. THANK YOU all for being out there.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY for the 30th April 2013, Dad!