VON ABO - FLEMMER REUNION
CRADOCK APRIL 2006
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"We didn't have such a big turnout this time but in many ways this worked out better than the big gatherings we have had before.
There were about 40 of us hardy souls in Cradock and this gave us all a chance to talk and get to know each other better. We kicked off with the braai on Friday night in the back garden of our cottage. Unusually for Cradock the wind came up strongly and we were buffeted and blown about, it was a bit like being at home in Cape Town when the Cape Doctor comes roaring through. All were of good heart and moved into the house, packing the small rooms where there was much chatting and laughter. Saturday was the meeting at the Library Hall with the wonderful exhibition put together by Fay. There was a major section on the 'von Abos' and an interesting exhibit of Flemmers in the Military. This honoured the many generations who had given service (and in two cases their lives) in the wars and battles that the family have been through since arriving in the Colony in 1853. Fay and I gave short talks and the Victoria Manor laid on a great spread of tea, cakes and sandwiches. There was a bit of a glitch with the official photos as the professional hired for the occasion had got the day wrong. We were very fortunate to have Peter, a friend of Wren Mast-Ingle's there, who very kindly took all the photos we needed. In due course Fay will be advising you how you can get copies.
Wren had very generously arranged for the Flemmer graves at St. Peter's to be cleaned up and restored and later that afternoon many of us attended a short rededication at the Church graveyard, conducted by the Anglican Minister. I know that many of us found it moving to be standing there at the church where our ancestors lie, and where so many Flemmer funerals, baptisms and marriages have taken place.
In the evening it was the dinner at the Victoria Manor. Sandra Antrobus, her daughter Lisa and Amos (barman extraordinaire) had once again excelled. The tables were beautifully decorated with Danish flags, the food was superb and the specially labled Flemmer /Von Abo Reunion wine disappeared as water in a desert. It was a great success and later that night some, who shall be nameless fell among thieves in one of the Cradock fleshpots. All good fun, but I will draw a discrete veil over just how late the bars stay open!
Sunday morning there was the conducted tour of Cradock. Unfortunately we had to leave as it started, but I am told it was very enjoyable. So all in all a great success and all of the hard work was well worth it. I would like to thank all of you who came - after all that is what it was all about. People had travelled from far and wide and a special word of thanks to the Flemmers from Denmark - Vibeke and her son Nikolaj, to Randle von Abo Hawkins from Australia and to Kate our daughter who had come from London. Thanks too to Fay for all of her hard work and support. To my family, Judy for pitching in and helping, Kate for her help with the sale of memorabilia and to our son Nick for his design work on the Reunion logo, wine label and the clothes that were snapped up. And lastly a huge thanks to Sandra and Lisa Antrobus who always make us all so welcome. Nothing was too much trouble and it helped to make our Reunion the success it was. If any of you are travelling in this part of the world I can highly recommend the Victoria Manor and the Tuishuise - you will always be assured of a warm welcome.
My book, The Story of the South African Flemmers, has been well received I'm glad to say and I hope all who bought it enjoy it. Only 60 were printed and if there is enough interest more may become available. Getting it to the Reunion was a saga on its own. It was printed in Germany and we had really jumped around to get the proofing done so that we would have it in time. We were leaving Cape Town for Cradock on Thursday morning and by Wednesday it hadn't arrived! I finally got confirmation late on Wednesday that it would arrive at CT airport at 5.45 a.m. the next day. At 8.30 on Thursday morning I was told it had cleared Customs and we were then in the hands of SAA, as to when it would come out of their freight area. Anxious hours went by with the thought of the long road ahead to our night's stop at Willowmore. Finally at 11 a.m. the call came and we were off to the airport to collect the books en route north. What a relief and a wonderful feeling to finally hold one of the books, after all the years of work that had gone into it! We had a very long trip back to Cape Town. Unfortunately the main passenger window of my Microbus had been broken in an attempted theft outside the Town Hall on Friday lunchtime. The person was arrested but where to get a replacement window on Easter weekend in Cradock? No luck, so on the Sunday we set off home via Port Elizabeth, window covered with flapping, very noisy plastic. Judy had the bright idea of trying to get hold of someone in Port Elizabeth and to cut a long story short I must tell you that we had the most fantastic service from PG Glass. They got Shatterprufe to open their store (Easter Sunday) got the window and were waiting for us when we arrived in Port Elizabeth. The job was done in 30 minutes while we were given coffee and then we were on our way. We stopped at Storms River Mouth that night and thank goodness we had our new window because next day the heavens opened and we drove for hundreds of kilometres in the rain. Traffic was very heavy and in the end we cut through to Route 62 which was much better. Even so with hold ups on the N1 and at the Tunnel it took ten and half hours to do 600 kms. But we arrived safely and in good spirits which was the main thing."