CHRISTMAS PARTY, Sat. 28 Nov 2020
Report: Penny Purchase. Photos: Penny Purchase and Sylvia Varty

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]

What a day! A festive bunch of hikers and a ferocious howling gale. Can the two mix harmoniously? They certainly did - a festive, happy spirit triumphed over the forces of nature. As hardy hikers, we have learnt not to be discouraged by unpredictable weather variations.

Shawswood proved a popular venue for our Christmas party once again. We arranged a day party for members only and limited it to 50 people, due to the Covid pandemic. The early arrivals came at 9 am and enjoyed tea and biscuits, while preparing for the hike to Grey Mare's Tail falls. Carolee and Margret Kirsten led an eager group of hikers to the base of the falls. Some came back early with Margret, the rest did a longer hike and soldiered on to the top of the falls with Carolee. They arrived back at 1, quite weary.

Meanwhile the braai had started. Chris Dobson, Braai Master Supreme, moved the braai drums a couple of times, to get shelter from the raging gusting gale. I'm pleased to report that we didn't burn the Shawswood farm down. We enjoyed our braai lunch, accompanied by a large array of delicious salads, brought by our members, in the shelter of the big airy dining hall. Puddings were home-made brownies, mince pies and ice cream. There was a festive, happy atmosphere. Chris read out a letter from Andy Pepperell, who couldn't attend as he was in the Cape visiting his son. Pat Kirby spontaneously jumped up to say a few words. She and Bushy were founder members of the MHC. She expressed her delight at observing that the club is flourishing. Such an encouraging gesture, thank you, Pat.

Then the dancing began... we spread out on the big lawn to dance the Jerusalema and jiggle our lunch down. The wind had abated a little. Dance leader, Hettie, led us with Libby and Carolee assisting. There were varying degrees of expertise but 82 year old Keith Ashton was very nimble on his feet and swayed along with his Blue Tooth Blaster. Suddenly, there was hooting and mayhem, which signalled the arrival, in Mary Deutsch's car, of a rotund Father Christmas (alias Chris Dobson) and a pretty, hairy legged Christmas Fairy with curly pink hair(alias Bushy Kirby) . The game Secret Santa was played with presents being distributed by the fairy, who was the star of the show, a real pantomime act. Thank you, Bushy, for returning to play the fool so naturally, and entertaining us all hugely, as you've done at parties in the past.

Still laughing, we herded back into the large dining hall for tea and prize-giving. The howling gale had brought a tree down on the line, so the power was out, but the ever hospitable Wendy Shaw managed to boil some water for us on the gas. I thanked Alistair for his chairmanship of the club the last 4 years and the innovations he'd made, for example the superb calendar he produces every year. They were brought to the party for distribution. I thanked Cathy for being the secretary and fixture list fixer. They received a voucher for Blackwoods Garden Centre. Thanks also went to efficient outgoing treasurer, Sue Rowley, and Pete Comrie, vice chairman, who have moved off the committee.

The photo of the year was awarded to Dave Sclanders for a lovely photo of a deep blue pool surrounded by rocks at Roman Baths, Highmoor. Rod Hart, Mary Deutsch and Margret Kirsten were the judges. The report of the year went to Clare Godley, in absentia, for a delightful write up of the Mt Gilboa hike in July. Brigitta Simpson was the judge. Both received a prize of R200 and a gold medal, a chocolate one.

I expressed my thanks to my committee, who helped so enthusiastically to get the party together: Chris Dobson, Carolee T, Libby D, Margret K, Mary D. and also Este S. who offered her help. Mention must be made of our members generously donating their old, but still wearable, shoes and boots for the Mpophemeni hikers. This was Hettie's initiative and she went off with a large bundle for this less privileged community.

We then said our farewells, cleared the dining room for the school group coming and wandered home. It was a day of fun and many laughs... and we defeated the wind and weather. But guess what? As we left, that fickle wind decided to drop!

Pic 1: Festive hikers enjoying festive fare: Neville and Cheryl on left, Debbie on right
Pic 2: Cathy and Alistair on left, Adams family on right
Pic 3: Pete Comrie and Sue Rowley on left, Yvonne on right
Pic 4: Paul and Sylvia Varty on left, Dave and Hettie on right
Pic 5: Donald and Linda, Sandy and Brian on left, Patricia and Kostya

Pic 6: A little Christmas elf, alias Margret Kirsten
Pic 7: A robust Father Christmas (alias Chris Dobson) with his dainty Christmas fairy( alias Bushy Kirby)
Pic 8: The Christmas fairy showing an elegant, hairy leg.
Pic 9: Father Christmas parades with his fairy.