Out in the foothills of the Magaliesberg, an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, there is a rustic bush-pub, The Ale House – the kind of rural watering hole one imagines one might have found in farming country, in Anglo-Boer War days, or in the Australian outback, or in an Irish backwoods. Chickens and geese roam freely, a large turkey waits with no expectation of Christmas, and mine host hovers amiably, dispensing country humour and pints of artisanal beer, which he brews himself.

On Sunday we were there, under the trees, with Eve and Shaun, Kathy and Gareth – another notch on the stick of memory, on which we find ourselves recording our long (and temporary/provisional) farewell to this land I love, despite my deep misgivings: Kliptown on Saturday, our road trip coming up a few busy weeks from now – but on Sunday, to be sure, and in much the spirit of Virginia Woolf’s novel (what I recall of it, that is – a mood, an atmosphere, rather than a story) To the Alehouse it was.

Cheers!

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