While we had been setting up our new home, I had started riding lessons at Lewisham Riding School, with the owner Mary Adams. I used to go twice a week after school, and by the end of my first year, I had started jumping lessons and had competed in the local gymkhana which Lewisham used to hold. First there was Punch the piebald, who I started riding at gymkhanas, and I steadily progressed to Judy the skewbald who also was an excellent show jumper.
|My very first rosette on Punch.|
Mary Adams had two sons who had a pair of stunning dun ponies, called Santa Fe and Santa Maria, both of which were rarely ridden by anyone other than the boys. I have never forgotten the day when I was allowed to ride Santa Fe, when his owner was away for a short time; I really though that I had made it!
In 1954, Dad started working as a mechanic for Chris Annesley, who was one of the local racing car drivers. Our weekends were suddenly very full with either horses or cars! I tried to go to as many horse events as possible, but a number of weekends were taken up by car practice and Mum and I went along as `support’ team. In 1954 we took our very first trip to South Africa to go to Kyalami race track near Johannesburg, where Chris was racing. We were away for several days (it was a long drive - 800 miles or so each way) and as Peter Pan was showing at the local "drive-in" cinema, which everyone knew I would enjoy, we all had our first experience of sitting in our car to watch a film. This was of course an American concept adopted in Southern Africa, where space - at the time- was freely available! The car was parked on a ramp next to a speaker post. The speaker was removed from the post and hooked on to the car window and, hey presto, it was like being in the local cinema, but much comfier. Unfortunately due to the advent of TV, the cinemas lost their huge following and eventually most, if not all of the drive-in cinemas, closed down in both South Africa and Rhodesia.
|Car racing in the 50's!! Note the start/finish banner at the back; the pits would have been in the centre, where you can see the people; no barriers! A little different from motor racing nowadays.|
|Me trying my luck at Umtali!!|
At the end of 1955, a couple who had heard about our caravan made my Dad an interesting offer! They wanted to retire, and their plan was to travel around South Africa towing a caravan, stopping when and how they wanted. They owned two houses on the opposite side of Salisbury, one which they lived in and the other was split into three flats, which were rented out. There was enough property to build stables and have a paddock, so my dream of having my own pony was in sight at last! They wanted to sell their property to us and buy the caravan. The end result was that we put our 'new' home up for sale and we moved yet again, to Greencroft Road in Mabelreign, a large suburb out on the Lomagundi road, on the north side of Salisbury. This meant new zoning for schools, so I made yet another change to Avondale Junior School. Three schools in Rhodesia and three in England by the time I was eleven, took a bit of keeping up with!
|Putting a bay window on to what was to be my bedroom in the new house.|
|David showing off his 'new' (secondhand) Norton motorbike.|
|Salisbury Swimming pool where we spent quite a lot of time during my teen years. I wonder if the pool is still there as Harare Swimming pool; I doubt it!!|
My Life Before Charente to be continued :-)
The section of my life story during our overland trip is published on Kindle if you should be interested:-