Experiencing the Fish Hoek magic

Karen Duffell-Canham, Port Elizabeth

I go back a bit with Fish Hoek, so thought I’d share my memories with you.

I must have been about 6 years old when I first experienced the Fish Hoek magic. Then it was all sand dunes and corrugated-iron beach cottages.

Almost magnetically, Fish Hoek has always pulled me back.

Both sets of grandparents lived there, as did an aunt, uncle and cousins, parents, a brother and sister-in-law. And as a young married couple, my husband and I lived near Sunny Cove station.

On the beach, as a child, I remember the donkey rides, Punch and Judy puppet shows and the wonderful candyfloss machine that transfixed our young eyes with fascination.

I remember suntanning for hours under the clock while keeping a beady eye out for 12 o’ clock when we had to start packing up for lunch.

We made endless drip castles, the tidal swirls wiping out all record of them hours later as the incoming tide rushed towards them. Shell-seeking expeditions filled our free time. We waved at the steam train as it puffed up the hill, and, if we were lucky, the driver tooted his horn back.

We ate my grandmother’s rich, brown chocolate cake, as did all and sundry who passed by her beachfront flat.

We scattered sand all
over her bathroom when we changed out of our costumes, much to her annoyance and our delight.

There were rows of brightly coloured bathing boxes where we played hide and seek. There used to be a caravan park along the back wall, and I have lovely photographs of us four children with our sun hats and new costumes for the season.

At Christmas time, we inevitably got flippers, goggles, lilos and surfboards as gifts.

In the “season”, the beach was full of brightly coloured umbrellas belonging to Rhodesians, “Vaalies” and the rest of the holidaymakers. You had to stake your name to a piece of sand early.

Carol services were held on the lawn in front of the De Villiers homestead. It was lovely.

Everyone brought a picnic rug and deck chairs. Candles were lit, and it was a memorable beach-side evening.

And, yes, I do remember the
Bill Pritchard sign and magical
little garden full of bridges and fairies.

What wonderful Fish Hoek memories we have, and it gladdens my heart to see other children doing the same. Having glorious seaside days with the spectacular mountains on either side. A special place.