In 1971 Christine's parents, Ken and Kathy Barber, left South Africa for England on the last sailing of the 'Vaal Castle' to live in Ashfordby, after they had sold their shop in Mancester and moved nearer to their daughter, 'Trish. In February, John and Esme Payne came on a visit from Herne Bay, UK and we all went up to Rhodesia together by train. There we visited a number of our relatives and Phillip mentioned his fear for the future of Rhodesia saying he believed they had only five years to Black Rule. Each and everyone we spoke to had the same answer, 'It will see us out' and in fact, Stan O'Donnell was really angry about this forecast being made. In any case it was almost five years to the day that Rev. Musarera (? Spelling), a black leader came to power.
That year we also bought the Kombi van which had been fitted out by a naval man in Simonstown as a small motorhome and in it we travelled around the country on various trips, with Sherry our Alsatian dog, between 1971 and 1979 seeking family information in order to compile family trees, searching through graveyards, examining church records and asking advise from local councils. Because Phillip needed to reinstate his British Passport with a view to being able to emigrate if we wished to do so in the future, we had filled in numerous forms and obtained certificates from England, Belgium, Australia, South Africa and Northern Rhodesia and it was that which set us off trying to trace our origins, mine being mainly in South Africa. This was a most worthwhile experience as we covered so much of the country, visiting small country towns and places that travellers normally by-pass in their hurry to reach their holiday or business destinations and it enabled us to know much more about the country and its history than we would otherwise have done.
A number of friends and relations came to stay with us in Gordons Bay over the years and in January 1972 Phillip's cousin, Ethel Whitehead, came to stay until 5th March when she then travelled to Rhodesia to stay with Victor and his family in Bulawayo. In September we went with Noel and Ronnie Wild to Swaziland and managed to forget to take our passports with us, so Margaret Robertson came to the rescue, fetched them from our home and sent them to us care of a pilot flying to Bloemfontein, where we collected them on our way to Messina. We had a very pleasant few days across the border, visiting places we had not seen before.
During the night of 7th December 1972 my father, Eric Freemantle, died at 'Graystones' and well after midnight my brother, Lennox phoned to give us this sad news. We immediately made plans to get to Johannesburg without delay and flew there on 8th, going directly to 'Graystones' and from there attended the funeral service at the Union Church and then a private family service at the crematorium. My father's ashes were placed near the plain tree on the front lawn of his home, where each year the mass of daffodil bulbs he had planted made a spectacular show.
Alice spoke of erecting a leaded light window in the church but would not hear of our participating over this - I never heard if anything of this sort was actually done. I wanted six copies cast of the small replica of a statue in Wall Street, of a bull and bear struggling together, which always stood on my father's desk and he much admired, one for each of the six grandsons, as a keepsake of their grandfather, but although suggested to Christopher in 1972, asking for this to be done at my cost, when the large memorial statue was cast for the stock exchange, to my disappointment nothing ever came of my wish. Warwick remained at 'Graystones' with Alice and we returned to Cape Town on the Blue Train, a real experience for us, which remains a pleasant memory.
Thinking of funerals, an old friend Norman Hodge died that same year and we attended the church service in Somerset West. We were rather surprised when the priest announced that Norman had requested that he issue an invitation to the congregation to attend a party at the Somerset Hotel. Norman was always a great one for a party and we had celebrated many occasions with him and his first wife, Betty, over the years, but at first we were not too sure about this suggestion. However, when Phillip said to me, 'Well, what do you think?' I replied, 'Remember what Norman always said: ?Come on, let's have a party!?' So we joined all the others for a kind of wake, only to experience, as many others said they did, the feeling that Norman was there, just out of sight, chatting to some other group, laughing and telling jokes. He is the only man I know who died owning nothing and owing nothing - he donated his body to the hospital for research purposes.
The highlights of 1973 were Tubby and Doreen Martin's visit in Feb/March; we attended the Garden party at Prime Minister's house, Westbrook (16/5/1973) and in July we travelled to Barrington, and then Port Elizabeth with the 3 boys and to Margaret & Hugh, in Natal. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange wanted to erect some memorial to my father but Christopher and Lennox were not keen on any of the designs suggested by various artists, but based on the Bull & Bear statuette that stood on my father's desk; one man proposed providing a cubist effect and others very modern interpretations, so we suggested an artist living in the Cape, called Mitford Barbarton who had sculptured and had cast bronze models on a number of 1820 Settlers and also the large statue of Jan Smuts that stood at the top of Adderley Street, but by that time we found he was too ill to undertake this commission and, instead, it was done by his son, Michael (arrangements were made on 11/9 and 18/9). About this time we set up a flat for Peter and Andrew, the latter was trying to sell The Encyclopaedia Britanica . On 30th November Phillip went to Johannesburg and on December 2nd I fell off the ladder while papering the bathroom walls and broke the toilet, which very fortunately Peter was able to replace for me. Andrew took me to Dr Butler and Peter to the hospital, where Dr Butler operated on my knee, repairing the cartilage.
Then in 1974 we celebrated our silver wedding; Peter brought Heather to meet us and she gave us a pottery bowl that we have used as a sugar bowl ever since; Andrew brought his girl friend, Shirley, to meet us too. That evening, we and a number of friends, all enjoyed prawns cooked for us by the painter (of our picture of Gordons Bay) and restaurateur, Herman Hottinger, followed by a sumptuous caramel dessert.
Then in 1975 Peter and Heather were married (on 4/2). Meyer, the lawyer and estate agent in Knysna, paid back the deposit on land purchased and we sailed to South America with Andrew on the 'Ellenis' - a trip of 31 days - and a real bargain. Later in the year, we went to Rhodesia; stayed with Helen; visited relatives; went with Winnie to see Dolly & George's new home in Banket; Phillip visited Doris and went to see Pa's grave as he was buried in Kumalo cemetery; John Pain died; Aunt Floss visited us at Gordons Bay and we bought the Datsun car. We spent Christmas with Noel & Ron Wild at Hogs Back.