I had the good fortune to have grown up in a small town, called Robertson; about two hours drive outside of Cape Town. Many of you might know this town because of its famous race horse breeding, great wines, beautiful roses and delicious fruit and cheese.
I know this town as being home, as the place that gave me freedom to learn, discover and grow while feeling safe and free.
I fondly remember the days playing in the ‘sloot’ (Afrikaans for a residential irrigation sluice) because we didn’t have a swimming pool. Oh no, do not pity me here, even my friends who had pools had more fun playing in the sluice. We spent our afternoons folding and decorating paper boats as we raced them down the road, playing imaginary games with the neighbourhood kids.
There were numerous evenings spent cycling around the cul-de-sac we lived in as our parents tried to bribe us to come home to bath, eat and get into bed. We loved weekends because our parents usually gave in and let us play and race for a few hours extra. We spent more time outdoors than in, our parents struggled to get us inside and we hardly ever spent much time in front of the television.
In fact, the only TV I remember watching fondly was the Loony Tunes cartoon at 7am while dressing for school or trying to force down the breakfast my mom tried to convince us was good for us. There were other favourite programmes such as Pumpkin Patch, ‘Dawie die Kabouter”, “Brak en Jan” and many others, but outdoor fun with friends just appealed to us so much more.
Other fond memories include ‘stealing’ neighbours pumpkin flowers, making rings out of them and selling them back to their owners at 2c all the while not realizing had the neighbours had full knowledge of what we had done. Looking back I realize what part they played in our development and fun as we all lived in the cul-de-sac bordering a tiny river flowing through town.
Talking about the river we spent many summers in, reminds me of all the time we played there catching little mole snakes, tadpoles and various other interesting creatures we could find. It was save to play in the river, we didn’t contract any illnesses or come to any harm. Our parents knew where we were and we learnt numerous lessons as we grew older.
Weekends were spent on friend’s farms, playing in the fields or in and around the stables while pretending we were horses or horse owners. This developed into a fascination of horses as we started taking lessons, enjoyed rides and learnt how to care for these magnificent animals.
When the dreaded teen years approached, we forgot all about the fun, thought the town was just to small and boring. But looking back now I realize how privileged I was to have had the upbringing I had. All those years spent wishing I had grown up in the city were so misleading and a waste of years I could have spent appreciating the benefits of growing up in a small town.