Sunday, 25 September 2016

Yet another big change in my life - A change of country.

At the beginning of 1977, one of our local racehorse owners arranged for a South African vet to come up to Salisbury for three days, during which he would perform a number of operations. I was asked if I would like to join the group for dinner one evening, and this proved to be the start of an excellent friendship! I was offered a job in South Africa at his surgery where I would help in the laboratory, assist during operations, and generally look after the horses in the hospital. I had no desire to leave Rhodesia and turned the job down without a second thought. I had many phone calls from the vet over the next year, telling me that the job was still there for me and eventually I accepted, on condition that I could get a work permit.  Meanwhile, Mum and I embarked on a camping holiday early in 1978, driving down through South Africa to the south coast and along the "Garden Route" to Cape Town. We would then return home to Salisbury  via Johannesburg.
My trusty, solid and so reliable Datsun 120Y, with Mum checking out the tent.  It had to be a high tent as with oesophagus problems Mum could not bend over easily.

Mum in the dinosaur park near Sudwala caves in what used to be the Eastern Transvaal.

Camping at Storms River; is that a bottle of wine just being finished in style? Ha ha.

Storms River, a beautiful place on the coast between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

Looking down at the cable car from the cable car station on top of Table Mountain, Cape Town. It's much more modern these days!!

What a view out to sea...

and later in the evening, the lights of Cape Town.

While waiting for the cable car to arrive, we bought these two sheepskins from the local vendors.  I still have mine, (the white one); I'm not sure what happened to Mum's!
While camping in Cape Town, our tent was 'broken into'. As you can see, we were close to the boundary fence.  The fence was cut with wire cutters and the back of the tent slashed with a knife.  Our picnic case was stolen, but dropped just on the other side of the fence. Obviously on inspection it was of no interest!  What did totally disappear though, were our tins of food and all my make up!!!  Very frustrating. 

 On our return home to Rhodesia, we stopped off in Johannesburg and I went to have a better look at the horse hospital, which was situated a few kilometres south-east of the CBD. I got to see at first hand what the work entailed and I was greeted with the news that a temporary work permit had already been obtained! My residence permit could be applied for and issued once I had started work. This meant that all that was left to do was to hand in my notice at work and terminate the rental on my house in Greendale. 

The "international" move occupied a frantic couple of months, getting everything sorted out in both countries. My accommodation, a small flat in Hillbrow, just next to the CBD in Johannesburg, was set up for me and on 1 April 1978, I signed a 6 month rental contract. Hillbrow, then and now, is not  a particularly desirable area, especially for a young woman alone and the search was on very quickly for other accommodation!

A view of the concrete jungle in which I lived when I first arrived in Johannesburg. I hated it!

Meanwhile, I was loving my work at the horse hospital and I had made friends with one of our clients, who was also a race horse trainer. This soon meant that I was up with the lark every morning and riding work for him at the Newmarket racecourse, which was only a couple of minutes drive from the hospital. Not only was I more than happy in my job, but I was back riding on a daily basis once more!
The stands at Newmarket racecourse as they were in the late 1970s.  Today, the whole place has been totally refurbished to modern standards and is a magnificent gathering place for the horse-racing community.

As my flat rental contract was about to expire, I found accommodation in Alberton, which is a suburb a few kilometres south-east of the Johannesburg CBD and where the hospital stands. This was perfect for me after enduring six months in Hillbrow!  I was more than happy to move into the downstairs part of a double storey house, owned by an elderly couple who had had to flee the Belgian Congo in rather a hurry during the rioting many years before. They were the most delightful couple and became like second parents to me.

The days just flew by, as I would be up at 04h00 each morning to ride work at the racecourse and then off to work by 08h00! At the end of the working day, I was more than ready to just go back to my downstairs flat, have a meal and fall into bed, so as to be ready for another early start the following day! My social life pretty much disappeared, other than the times when I would take some leave and drive up to Rhodesia to spend a week  with my folks. 

Sadly, I do not seem to have any photos of my home in Alberton or of the horse hospital.  I had no blogs to write in those days and the camera obviously had very little use!!!

The section of our overland trip is published on kindle if you should be interested


  1. Hello Diane. Such an interesting story, and they even had a "Newmarket Race course". I could not imagine you living in a concrete jungle..glad you got to move. Love Anne xx

    1. Thanks Anne. I hated living in Hillbrow and I seldom ever went out other than to get in the car and go to work and back. It was not a good place to be then and I think it is even worse now! Hope all is well Diane

  2. Oh how those first images bring back memories. What a huge change in life. Somehow I can't see you living in so much city. An exciting adventure.

    1. Ha, I am sure you have been to all those places and yes great memories for us both. Six months living in a concrete jungle was 6 months too many, I hated it. Thankfully I was only there during sleeping hours. Stay well Diane

  3. Your story is interesting. So did you finally accepted the vet's offer? Have a lovely day!

    1. If you read the whole post you will have your answer :-))) Have a good week Diane

  4. Well that sure was a different style of life for you. Just as well you enjoyed your job and the horse riding. I hope your social life improved.

    1. My social life improved when I met Nigel a couple of years later :-))) Diane


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