From Boshoff, the road (R64) turns South East and after travelling for about 50 kilometres, you arrive in Dealesville, but please, do not blink your eyes for you will miss it. It is a tiny rural village and although I have searched many travelling resources, all I could come up with about this village was a childhood memory of being fascinated by the huge saltpans just outside the town and the fact that a Professor Thomas Dreyer discovered a human skull (the Florisbad Man if that means anything to anybody) near the village.
So, let us not linger and waste precious travelling time here; rather move on to the Modder River and Krugersdrift Dam for a welcome pit stop to eat some of my mother's "padkos". Before we left home to travel to Bloemfontein, my mother would prepare "padkos" for us; basically a picnic basket with sandwiches, boiled eggs, cold "boerewors" (sausage) and some fruit. Also included would be a flask of coffee with milk and sugar already added, usually with sugar added to the taste of the grownups and not to the sweet-tooth-taste of us children.
Our usual stop was just before the bridge where the road crosses the Modder River, about halfway between Dealesville and Boemfontein. My mother would spread a table cloth on the bonnet (hood) of the car and my father would take the "padkos" out of the boot (trunk) and we would all gather around for a feast from that basket. I well remember how delicious even a simple sandwich and half bitter coffee tasted out there in the open looking out over the river to the beautiful farmhouse and garden of the Krugers across the river.
Although not actually friends, my parents knew the Kruger family, or rather a little about their history. This particular family farmed this land since before the Anglo-Boer wars and many generations lived there. When, in the late 1960's, the government decided to build a dam in the Modder River, it meant that the family graveyard on the farm would become submerged in water once the dam wall was completed. However, this was the only site in the region where such a reservoir could be built and it was decided to name the dam the "Kruger's Drift Dam" in honour of the family and its deceased.
At that period in my country's history, in the first couple of years after independence from England, any new project undertaken by the government was perceived as another achievement for Afrikaner Nationalism and was thus watched and supported with excitement and pride. My parents were no exception and of course, their enthusiasm and pride rubbed off on us children. It was extremely exciting to see, with every road trip to Bloemfontein over a period of about two years, how the dam wall was being built. I even remember how the children at school would listen with envy when I reported back on the progress of this dam, after such a trip. I also clearly remember the feeling of awe with which I watched the foaming water rushing over the wall the first time the dam was 100% full. Although not one of the big dams in South Africa, to my child's eye (and imagination) it was huge and living in a fairly dry part of the country, my mind just could not comprehend the vast volume of water tumbling over the dam wall.
Once we packed up after our "padkos" picnic, it was just a short 40 kilometres before we drove past the Tempe Military Base (where my younger brother did his National Service a couple of years later) and then the University of the Orange Free State where I wanted to study once I have completed my schooling. I often dreamed about being one of the students that you could see cycling and walking to and from the beautiful university buildings and the student residences, from the road. I am still sad that this dream never became reality, but then again, life is what happens while we are planning our futures, and I guess, that simply is what happened to this childhood dream.
Once past the University, it was just a very short drive to my grandparent's house in Tempe (not the military base but a small South African Railways and Harbours housing estate with the same name) and later to their small retirement house in Short Street near the city centre of the legislative capital of South Africa.
There is much to tell about out visits and my experiences and impressions in this beautiful city. However, that will have to hold untill another time and post.