Thursday, March 16, 2017


Michael and Stanley - Thursday

Stan can be emotional!

It is exactly one week since Stanley gathered with a group of old friends at Boulders Camp in the Kruger National Park to celebrate the milestone of turning seventy. Lion, herds of buffalo and elephant, and even hyenas and wild dogs made an appearance to pay their respects. It was all great fun and the Afrikaans word gesellig best describes the camaraderie.

View of Boulders Bush Camp

Boulders is a delightful camp set against a rocky outcrop or koppie some distance from the nearest tourist camp. You book out the whole camp – which has just six bedrooms – and Stan very generously did just that and invited us all to join him for the best part of a week. From the deck in front of the dining area we would watch klipspringer on the surrounding boulders. They are remarkable little antelope with hooves that seem to stick to the rocks that they choose to make their homes.

The first night Aron and Jenny Frankental put together an amazing spread of sushi made on the spot. Freshly made sushi in the middle of the bush in summer? Amazing!

Sushi spread

The guest of honor with
Ant, Michael, Aron, Stan and Mike
The main event was last Thursday, of course. It kicked off with a magnum of vintage champagne with smoked salmon, and then came the surprise of the evening. In the background we heard the singing of African voices getting closer. Amazing in the middle of the deserted bushveld. Then a team of singers appeared, entertaining us with wonderful African harmony. Eventually we even had Happy Birthday. At Stan’s request, they sang the national anthem Nkosi Sikelel, reminding us of everything that is right with the new South Africa. How Mette pulled off this miraculous event at short notice in the middle of nowhere is still a mystery to us.

Stan's emotions overflowed when the singers arrived.

The entertainment

We join in for the national anthem.
(Stan's singing isn't as bad as he says it is.)
That was followed by Mette’s magnificent fried duck breast dish which is among the best duck dishes I’ve ever tasted.  This was washed down with a delicious Volnay from 2001. 

Stanley's friend of more than sixty years - Ant Gear - kicks off
 with a slide presentation on their school days together
Mike Hart recalls their university days
Michael picks up the story of bush days and Kubu nights
Then there were a few words from Stan’s friends before my cherry flambé was rescued by Rosemary Gear’s homemade ice cream. (Another miracle – homemade ice cream in the middle of the African bush in summer made with a contraption brought all the way from New Zealand!) And a bottle of Sauternes with cheese board rounded out the meal (to say nothing of the shape of the guests).

Somewhere along the line Stan got creamed by Jean Hart.

And then Stan finally had a chance to defend himself.

The final event of the week was a braai out in the bush arranged by the nearby camp restaurant after an evening drive.

Getting stuck into drinks at the bush braai

Thanks to Mette Nielsen and Inga Page for the pictures.

I’ll leave it to Stan to have the final word. I don't do that often. But after all it was his birthday...


Stanley - in reply

As most of my friends know, the bush is where my soul is, so it is an obvious place to gather with close friends to celebrate a milestone.  Everything exceeded exception - they should rename the camp to Buitenverwachting (Beyond expectation).

I know I have wonderful and talented friends, but having four spectacular dinners for twelve hungry diners in the bush, prepared by teams of three as described by Michael was astonishing.  And how Mette, on the day of the big celebration, persuaded the two staff members to sing is testament to her wonderful and irresistible personality.  And then it was five singers, then eight, and finally nine.  No one else in the group had any warning of the singing, and I'm sure we were all bowled over by the haunting sound of Dumela iAfrica (Hello Africa) wafting into the dining area from the African darkness outside. 

If you haven't celebrated in the African bush, do so.  It is magic upon magic.  And invite Michael to be the sommelier, barman, and filler of glasses.  There is none better.

All that is left to say is "Thank you, my friends, for making this a memorable occasion!  Ke a leboga!"


  1. Congratulations, Stan, happy birthday! I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I say, "I wish I could've been there." You have my wishes for many, many more!

  2. Happy Birthday Stan the man! Mette is some woman, organising all that. Well done her!

  3. Happy Birthday, sir. I wish I was there.

  4. Welcome to the best decade, young man! Barbara and I wish you Xronia Polla, Happy Birthday, and Mazel Tov. That should just about cover the bases. By the way, you're sorely missed over here in Honolulu at Left Coast Crime.

  5. Looks like you were well celebrated! Many happy returns of the day!