In 1995, just before Victoria arrived on the scene, there had been great general excitement: I was pregnant! The news spread like wildfire. Everyone was thrilled, with Jurie’s mom and my mom being the most thrilled of all.

The time arrived for my first check-up and scan, but, disappointingly, I had miscarried. We were accepting of our fate and, realizing the time probably had not been right, carried on with our busy lives. After almost a year I was becoming concerned because I had not yet fallen pregnant again, and booked in to see my doctor just in case there was some underlying problem. She did not feel there was any reason for further tests and we put our minds at rest. The respective prospective grandmothers hoped that raising Victoria may encourage some sort of beneficial nurturing instinct in me and, sure enough, I fell pregnant again. This time we decided we should not get our hopes up until the third month and, apart from our mothers, told nobody what was happening.
With the prospect of a new member for our current menagerie – two bull terriers, frequent visits from Victoria, a monkey and an Egyptian goose – we realized Chalet Six at Djuma Bush Lodge would soon be too small for us all to live in. We started building a two-bedroomed thatch house, with a kitchenette, on a site where we often used to go to bird watch while Dixon was out in the bush with guests. It was such a pretty location, right on the drainage line just east of our previous address. The red oxide colour of its exterior walls earned the new building the name of the Red House. After we had vacated Chalet Six we realized there was a faint smell, reminiscent of zoos, lingering about its premises, so we armed ourselves with disinfectants and a hosepipe and sanitized the place.
We may not have made a public statement about the pregnancy, but the signs were obvious to all: I was throwing up all day every day. Thanks goodness our staff complement had grown, because when I ventured into the lodge I frequently had to run into the closest bush to puke. The smell of beer, and onions frying, set me off quicker than most other smells. This meant that serving drinks at the bar was out of the question, as well as venturing into the kitchen when meals were being prepared. Lynneth, our waitress at the time, always armed herself with wads of paper kitchen towels, which she would dispense to me as I emerged from the bushes and tried to clean up before attempting to associate with guests. She would ask me if she should not call Jurie, which I would assure her was not necessary because I did not want the guests to think anything was wrong! As my condition would have it I craved boiled-egg sandwiches, which left a smell in the house which Jurie in his turn could not stand.
My frequent visits to the lodge could last only a few minutes at a time, so I spent more and more time at the Red House. I put a couch out on the veranda whence I could bird-watch - in between boiling eggs, hurling, and boiling more eggs. I ran up a score of ninety-seven birds as seen from that couch. A new bird could be added to the list only if it were seen while I was actually seated on the couch, which was not easy to do because the thatched eve overhung a great deal. My mate, Wally, an avid twitcher, reckoned I could have achieved a higher score of species if the couch had had wheels so that I could propel it rapidly about and so add a couple of extra meters of viewing possibilities!
My “down time” increased Jurie’s workload, and added to my worry that I was not participating in the lodge affairs as much as I should have been. For the first time since we had started the lodge we realized we needed assistance in the day-to-day management of the camp. We put word out that we were looking for a suitable couple to work for us. Although we followed up some leads the interviews left us disconsolate; it seemed we would never be able to find what we considered suitable helping hands. The lodge’s income was hardly ready to employ a single person of value, let alone a couple. We ourselves were living off a modest income from Jurie’s trust fund. Various volunteers had been helping us out at the lodge, but none intended staying for any length of time, especially when we could not offer any sort of decent wage, if any at all. Most of the early volunteers were friends of friends who basically wanted to be able to spend time in the bush by paying with sweat rather than with money. One of my favourite such helpers was Andre van der Westhuizen, a professional hunter and a family friend of the Ludins. Andre was at a crossroad in his career: trophy hunting with wealthy international clients was not what he saw himself doing for much longer. He came to Djuma to think things over and decide about his future. He was great fun to have around, and the guests and staff – myself being couch-bound – loved to listen to his stories about his bush experiences further afield in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and other African countries.
When Jurie and I spoke to Tilman Ludin during our frequent telephone calls to Johannesburg we voiced our growing concern about ever finding a suitable couple to come to work for us. Tilman casually mentioned Campbell Scott, whom, as I have mentioned earlier, we had met a while before when he came out to the lodge to take wildlife photos with his American friend. Campbell’s girlfriend, Pendrae Saulez, if you remember, was the daughter of a business partner of Tilman and of Jurie’s dad. Pendrae and Campbell were currently employed at a Wilderness Safaris camp in Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal, Campbell as a guide and Pendrae handling the food side of things. Jurie and I had not met Pendrae, but considered that her travels with Campbell up Africa for eighteen months, and her culinary experience, gave her oodles of bonus points. Among other useful skills Campbell had a diesel mechanics course behind him. These various attributes made this couple seem perfect for our needs. We phoned them. They agreed to join us and handed in their resignation at their camp. Unfortunately a period of three months had to elapse before their commitments to Wilderness Safaris would be completed. To us the wait seemed like an eternity, but the light at the end of the tunnel was bright and we pushed forward.
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Our African Way