The Kroukamps in Canada

Eve and Shaun and Joshua are doing well, in their new lives in Canada. I have this on good authority (my own) after a too-short stay at the Kroukamp pile in Woodbridge, Ontario, on the outskirts of Toronto, where Rob and I spent the Easter weekend before repairing downtown to meet up with friends and take care of some errands and shopping.

Joshua, needless to say, is a little firecracker, full of beans, bursting with smiles and laughter, not to mention the occasional, inevitable howls of frustration and outrage. He is not quite three yet – huggable and adorable.

Easter Sunday, as everybody knows, is Easter Bunny Day, and the Bunny made a good job of it, as these photographs show. Josh’s reaction, though, was interesting. The grown-ups all assumed, I suspect, that he would plunge into the basket of Easter eggs and start gorging immediately – but no. He was almost shy about it, a little overwhelmed – for several minutes he eyed the basket cautiously, circled it, examined it from various angles as he tentatively drew closer – and then, extremely delicately, extracted the smallest of eggs, and held it up to us with a fey little smile of pleasure.

Easter eggs and breakfast called for a walk, so off we headed for a 6 km tramp through the Kortright Centre, a conservation area just down the road.

Though the weather was a grey, and a little chilly, and the paths in part were wet and slithery underfoot, there were glimpses of bright leaves catching the light in the woodlands, and lichens clinging like barnacles to logs, that made for one or two half-decent images.

It was good to see how contented and close Eve and Shaun seemed – working too hard, the strain and exhaustion showing a little, yet very much a happy and thriving young family, making a go of it, in a new country.

We reconnected the following weekend, at a gathering of friends in Hamilton – ‘Steeltown’ – and spent the Saturday night and Sunday morning (yes, there is an English novel of the late 1950s of that name, for those of you old enough to remember) before Shaun dropped us off downtown again, on Spadina, for a meet up with Boyd and a last night together before I headed home, via Zurich, on the Monday evening. Rob follows in a fortnight.

Here, to close off this post, is a photograph of the whole gang of us – three generations, young and old. Well, not old really, but getting up there.

First meeting: my son’s son

Early in November, I was in Cape Town on business. Jonathan and Hayley had just flown in from the UK with Gabriel, the last of our three grandchildren to be born within a miraculous twelve month period. We met up, together with my mom, for dinner in Constantia, and a few days later visited them at their rented holiday cottage in Simonstown.

These are a few photos.

Lunch with my mother

My mother, at 85, likes a good lunch, and likes to be spoiled. Cucina Labia, the official home of Count Labia, envoy to South Africa of the little Italian dictator, Mussolini (Trump’s clownish forebear) ticked all the boxes when we went there – appropriately enough – on Women’s Day, last Wednesday.

‘I like this. I like this. I can do this,’ my mum kept repeating.

Here are two photos of her – still pretty sharp, I’d say, at her age. The photo of the ladies doing lunch, at a Women’s Day fundraiser, helps establish the scene and the ambience.

The weather, incidentally, was perfect – warm and brilliant, with that piercing Cape sunlight – until, as we left around 3 or 3.30, the clouds came pouring over the mountain.

We drove around Hout Bay and Camps Bay, one of those familiar routines, and I stopped above Llandudno to capture the seascape.


Master Thomas B. Tjasink, Esq.

We are back from our week away in the Natal Midlands and the Drakensberg – got home last weekend, in fact. I have since been down in Cape Town on business, and because Wednesday was a holiday, was able to take my mom out to a rather fabulous lunch at Cucina Labia in Muizenberg, the former residence of Mussolini’s envoy to South Africa and now a place of faded grandeur and fine cuisine. So there are tales to be told and photos to be processed and displayed.

First call goes, however, to the grandchildren – in this case, Master Thomas B. Tjasink, Esq., who kindly posed for the camera before we left on holiday.

The images, for those of you who are interested in these things, were all taken with the Nikon D500, 35mm f1.8 lens, and processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro.

Family Business

A lot can happen in three months.

It’s a little less than that, in fact, since we shipped my mom up from Cape Town, to meet her great-grandson, before he was wafted away by his parents to start a new life in Canada. “He’s going to speak with a Canadian accent,” I told Eve and Shaun brightly. They looked at me, disbelievingly.

We had a nice day, as I believe I have blogged about previously, at Kathy and Gareth’s, and given the nature of the occasion, I took lots of photographs, which I loaded onto a memory stick and gave to my son-in-law and daughter. Some of them (the photographs, I mean) are in this post – plenty more where they came from.

I mean, babies are so photogenic, aren’t they?

Well, Eve and Shaun are settled now, in Canada, and on their way already. Eve has landed a great job in her field, well paid, and Shaun is working construction, thanks to Rod and Terryl, who put him in touch with a friend of theirs who is in the business. And Kathy, who had a bump in March, now has a baby – Thomas, as you know, who will be featuring a whole lot more in these pages.

I should mention, also, that Hayley and my son Jono are having a baby, too, six weeks from now. I’ve heard of sympathetic pregnancy, but this – three grandchildren in a 12 month period – is in a whole other league…

Meanwhile, Rob has been back to Canada and the US, and returned again to South Africa – working too hard setting up shoots for AirBnB, while I am kinda keeping my head above water, on an interesting project, with a great client, and a good company, but a colleague who is hell on wheels. I musta done something really bad back there, somewhere!


Baby Shower

Kathy’s baby shower, the Sunday before last – where does the time go? – was a relaxed, happy, sunshiny affair, a garden party hosted by friends and planned and executed by, amongst others, my daughter Eve, with help from Rob. Love, laughter and vino – such a promising moment, after all the preceding drama. A lot to be grateful for.

Here are some photos, which I hope are equally relaxed and unaffected.

Holiday Photos

Of course, when you go on holiday, one of the obligatory things is you take family photos. Enough of this artsy-fartsy stuff already. So here are a few family pics from our trip to the Finger Lakes – Jonathan, my son, and his wife Hayley, and one or two with their friends from New Jersey, Steve and Amelia. Oh, the good looking one with the silver hair (what there is of it) – that’s me.

Photographs and Memory

My daughter sent me this photo this morning of Joshua, her first child, and my first grandchild. He will be three weeks old tomorrow, getting bigger and stronger I imagine, every day.

The photograph, I messaged her back on WhatsApp (this sixty year old is au fait, okay, with modern technology!) instantly reminded me of a very similar picture I’d taken, in black and white, of her older sister Kathy, when Kathy was a baby.

In those days, back in the eighties, not only did one photograph on film but I processed the black and white negatives and printed them myself. I knew what effect I wanted – I wanted the image to look as much as possible like a pencil sketch, and so I shot on fast film, probably Kodak Tri-X, and pushed it, maybe to 1600 ASA. Then I printed the photo as a high-key image, on matte paper, and voila! – a pencil sketch. The picture won a prize in a local photo contest, as I recall, in Umtata – the original print, mounted on board, must be still around somewhere, back in South Africa.

Of course, this is not about me, and not about Kathy: it’s about  Joshua, and his proud parents, and – yes, me, as a proud grandfather.

But I couldn’t help thinking, as I looked at the photo that Eve had sent me, and thought about how I’d immediately connected it to the photo of Kathy as a baby, how it is that certain images are linked in your memory: how they form part, as it were, of the emotional and mental space you inhabit. It was not just that the images related; it was that the experiences related, also, with the photos a kind of bridge between them. The experience of being a young parent; the sense of amazement and overwhelming love you feel for your infant; and not least at all, the sense, as a grandfather, of how the wheel has come full circle.

Nothing original, of course, in these ruminations. But that doesn’t make them any less real and meaningful.