Home | Jo'Burg Days

October 19, 2013

A Fishy Tale

Barbara Durlacher tells a fishy tale.

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October 12, 2013

Not My Problem

Barbara Durlacher tells a sobering tale.

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August 10, 2013

Memories Of The Raj

Barbara Durlacher remembers the writer Iris Portal, the younger sister of "Rab'' Butler.

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August 03, 2013

A Visit To Cannobio

...The large crowd sways and jostles, haggles and bargains. Lake steamers carrying loads of eager shoppers come and go...

Barbara Durlacher describes the scene Cannobio, an attractive Italian lakeside town.

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July 27, 2013

The Egyptian Boy

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July 20, 2013

Fischer's And Cocktails

...I acquired a collection of Fischer’s Lovebirds which I’d been told, were easy to breed and much in demand as pets...

Barbara Durlacher recalls how she entered the bird business.

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July 13, 2013

The Boulevardier

...His preparations for the night included a hairnet, with a chinstrap to prevent a double chin, expensive scented creams which he rubbed into his hands before encasing them in white cotton gloves, and chamois bed-slippers in which he slept...

Giving away family secrets, Barbara Durlacher tells of an astonishing and violent marriage.

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June 15, 2013

Freddy Mercury Proud Of His Asian Heritage

"As he became a worldwide star, little was said of his boyhood in the dying days of Empire, being brought up by his Indian parents in wealth - then having to flee a bloody revolution which took the family to London to build a new life,'' writes Barbara Durlacher of pop star Freddie Mercury.

Continue reading "Freddy Mercury Proud Of His Asian Heritage" »

June 08, 2013

The Enchanted Islands

...We sailed across glassy grey seas for hours but eventually the hump of the island became visible and soon we were sailing gently past Castle Cornet at the entrance to Guernsey’s only harbour...

Barbara Durlacher tells of a never-to-be-forgotten visit to the Channel Islands.

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The Enchanted Islands

...We sailed across glassy grey seas for hours but eventually the hump of the island became visible and soon we were sailing gently past Castle Cornet at the entrance to Guernsey’s only harbour...

Barbara Durlacher tells of a never-to-be-forgotten visit to the Channel Islands.

Continue reading "The Enchanted Islands" »

May 25, 2013

On John Betjeman

Barbara Durlacher pays a glowing tribute to the poet and writer John Betjeman.

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May 11, 2013

How I Joined The Modern World or Tablets Are Forever

Barbara Durlacher becomes a tablet fan.

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May 04, 2013

Mrs Chud's Place

Barbara Durlacher reviews books by the South African author E M MacPhail.

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April 27, 2013

Chooks, Screamer And Strepie

Barbara Durlacher shares her immense delight in observing the daily activities of furred and feathered friends in her garden.

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April 20, 2013

A Brownstone Christmas Party

...there was Bonzo. He was a pure-white Olde English Sheepdog with a large heavy body, huge paws and a thick, impenetrable fringe. In honour of the occasion, he sat at the front door wearing his special Christmas gift, a red and white spotted bow-tie and as guest after guest arrived, he solemnly raised his right paw and presented it to each one...

Barbara Durlacher tells of a Christmas recorded by one of her favourite writers. Helen Hanff.

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April 13, 2013

An Icy Tale

Barbara Durlacher suggests some good reading to fill in icy days and nights.

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March 30, 2013

How I Joined The Modern World - Tablets Forever!

"Notwithstanding this statement however, now – at the age of 80 years and still hale, hearty and sound of wind, mind and limb, I’ve taken the plunge and purchased a “tablet” a smaller and easier-to-operate equivalent of the enonymous Apple i-Pad, and I’m totally thrilled with it,'' declares Barbara Durlacher.

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March 10, 2012

Remembering Joburg In The Old Days

Barbara Durlacher conjures up a host of memories of the old days in that great South African city, Johannesburg.

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March 03, 2012

The Spring Ball

...Imagine my horror on opening the door to view my date clad in a white Tuxedo a là Glenn Miller, (you could almost see the conductor’s baton in his right hand) the pustules on his face glowing after a recent close shave and his irregular teeth heavily stained from chain-smoking...

Barbara Durlacher found that the Spring Ball in Johannesburg was not the sophisticated event she had anticipated.

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February 25, 2012

The Golden Afternoon Air

Barbara Durlacher tells of a glittering golden day in the history of South Africa.

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February 18, 2012

Mombassa Miscellany

...Arab dhows, like fragile water butterflies, have skimmed across the sea with the south west monsoon for thousands of years...

Barbara Durlacher paints a word portrait of Kenya's major port, Mombassa.

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February 11, 2012

Sheep May Safely Graze

Here’s an amusing story from Jphannesburg, brought to us by Barbara Durlacher.

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May 25, 2011

A Blue And Gold Day

...To my amazement I saw three troop carriers filled with heavily armed soldiers disappearing up the road, and shortly afterwards heard an authoritative voice shouting, “Everyone inside, stay away from the doors and windows. Take cover!”...

Barbara Durlacher vividly recalls a momentous day in South African history.

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April 13, 2011

Fair Stood The Wind - 14

Barbara Durlacher coninues the recollections of William James Symons of life in South Africa in the early days of last cventury.

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April 06, 2011

Fair Stood The Wind – 13

Continuing the story of early British settlement in South Africa Barbara Durlacher present an account of a gallant rescue on the flooded Buffalo River.

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March 30, 2011

I Didn’t Believe My Eyes

Barbara Durlacher recalls her reactions what many regard as the most important event in human history.

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February 16, 2011

Fair Stood The Wind – Part 12

...He was a great bully and ruled his subordinates – at least those that feared him, with an iron hand. He was his own great magistrate and judge, and I was going to say executioner, for I have known him to flog a driver for repeated drunkenness with his own hands, and being a big burly Yorkshireman who turned the scales, I should think at about 220 pounds, he used the cat o’ nine tails with considerable force...

Barbara Durlacher, aided by diaries and written records, continues her vivid account of early settlement in South Africa.

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind – Part 12" »

February 09, 2011

Fair Stood The Wind – Part 11

...It was pleasant when in bed on a summer night to hear the sentries from the various posts calling to each other in voices which proclaimed their nationality: “Number wan an’ all’s well,” then perhaps in a broad rural accent, “Number Two and all’s well,” and so on until I have heard the fifth repeated cry, and dropped off to sleep feeling that I was, although thousands of miles from the Homeland, still under the protection of the dear old flag...

Barbara Durlacher continues her vividly detailed account of early-day English settlers in South Africa.

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind – Part 11" »

February 02, 2011

Fair Stood The Wind – Part 10

…I quite pitied one unfortunate I saw drummed out of his regiment and the Army as an incorrigible. There was a full parade on the green where the reservoir above Amatola Row is, and the Provost Marshal cut off the facings and buttons of his uniform, after his sentence by court martial was read. He was then escorted by members of his regiment away from the parade ground accompanied by the drums and fifes play “The Rogue’s March.”…

Barbara Durlacher continues her fascinating and well-documented account of early settlement in South Africa.

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind – Part 10" »

January 26, 2011

Fair Stood The Wind – Part 9

Barbara Durlacher continues her fascinating account, which includes diary entries and newspaper stories, of her ancestors who were early settlers in South Africa.

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind – Part 9" »

January 19, 2011

Holiday Tennis

...we had, of course, to get the court ready. The white lines had to be painted with that strange device something like a paint-tin on wheels with a long handle and a small tap in the base from which the paint was extruded. Having done that, we then had to enter the “black hole of Calcutta” otherwise known as one of the semi-cellars on the northern side of the building, to get a couple of tennis nets....

Continuing her reminiscences of her time as a pupil at a girls’ school in Johannesburg Babara Durlacher recalls days of holiday tennis.

Continue reading "Holiday Tennis" »

January 12, 2011

The Great Peanut Butter Saga

...Cabbage was a great favourite with the boarding house chefs, and many were the disgusting meals we had to swallow made from this unpalatable vegetable – which can be so delicious when gently steamed and served with a pat of golden butter. A frequent visitor to the tables as well was the classic boarding school favourite, “Frogs Eyes and Glue” (Tapioca Pudding)...

Barbara Durlacher continues her engaging memories of her days at a South African boarding school.

Continue reading "The Great Peanut Butter Saga" »

January 05, 2011

Tough Love

...I can picture her today in her soft apricot-pink blouse with a ruffled front and well-cut tweed suit, topped off by her black academic gown, absently twirling her specs as she spoke to us “gels”. She was a kindly, motherly woman, but she had the sense not to let her motherliness overcome her innate respect for of discipline and order. One of her favourite sayings was “Make Haste Slowly” which she always used at the start of the important year-end exams. “Make haste slowly, gels” she would say, “Read through your papers thoroughly before you start and keep an eye on the time. Do not spend too long on one question, but make a plan before you begin how much time you should allocate to each question.”....

Barbara Durlacher continues her engaging reminiscences of her days at a boarding school – and of a popular headmistress.

Continue reading "Tough Love" »

December 29, 2010

Memories Of A Very English South African Girls School - Part Two

...The Head Mistress when I started school was Miss X, who I recall as a stern, strict grey-haired woman, slender and transmitting an air of a desiccated old maid, the kind one read about in the popular girl’s boarding school tales of the period. She had fine black eyes but their clarity and direct gaze was spoilt by the dark circles which lay beneath – perhaps she suffered from lack of sleep...

Barbara Durlacher continues her vivid account of school days at a South African girtls school.

Continue reading "Memories Of A Very English South African Girls School - Part Two" »

December 22, 2010

Memories Of A Very English South African Girls School

...Classes were held for the youngest children in two split pole huts with cement floors and miniature wooden desks. These huts were reasonably comfortable in the warmer months, but absolutely freezing in July and August when the cold winds of a Johannesburg winter blew through the gaps between the poles and froze our hands to the point where we could hardly hold the chalk sticks we used to make the usual infantile marks on our school slates...

Open Writing columnist Barbara Durlacher recalls her school days in Johannesburg at the outset of World War Two.

Continue reading "Memories Of A Very English South African Girls School" »

December 15, 2010

Fair Stood The Wind- Part 8

...I was drawn to the spot against my better judgement. It was the first and I hope the last infliction of capital punishment I shall ever see. It was a triple execution, a Frenchman (of the Legion), a Hottentot and a Kaffir, and to make the punishment as cruel as possible the poor wretches had to step over their coffins to ascend the steps of the gallows...

Barbara Durlacher, continuing to delve into the early history of her ancestors, brings another vivid account of life during the early days of European settlement in South Africa.

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind- Part 8" »

September 15, 2010

Fair Stood The Wind – Part Seven (A) – The Voyage Continues

Barbara Durlacher continues the fascinating story of how her forbears came to settle in South Africa.

To read earlier episodes along with other articles and stories by Barbara please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind – Part Seven (A) – The Voyage Continues" »

September 08, 2010

Fair Stood The Wind – Part Six (B) – Life On Board Ship

...We know that my paternal grandfather, William James Symons was one of the new emigrants sailing to East London on the Lady Kennaway, and that he was then 17 years of age. Although there is no evidence that the two families ever met in the early years of settlement, with the small numbers of white families in the Eastern Cape, seventy-three years later my mother and father, both deeply rooted in the area, had met and married...

Barbara Durlacher continues her account of how her forbears came as settlers to South Africa.

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind – Part Six (B) – Life On Board Ship" »

September 01, 2010

Fair Stood The Wind - Part Six - Life On Board Ship

...‘It was a considerable crowd who joined the train with us, for the long journey to Plymouth. We were greatly disappointed on arriving there at not being allowed out of the station, as my grand-parents and some other relations were waiting to bid us good-bye.

We were put on board a tug and taken out to the harbour to the Lady Kennaway and to our astonishment found a large number of women watching our arrival. We learned afterwards that the attempt to fill the ship with single women had been unsuccessful, hence the advertisement which brought us on board.

We were no sooner on board than the vessel started her voyage aided by a tug, and as we were leaving and the shores of England were gradually fading from view, I sang to the crowd at the bulwarks: “Isle of Beauty, Fare thee Well.”...

Barbara Durlacher continues the fascinating story of how her forbears came to emigrate to South Africa.

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind - Part Six - Life On Board Ship" »

August 25, 2010

Fair Stood The Wind – Part Five

...“Matters had become so bad through unemployment after the close of the Crimean war that those who had the opportunity to leave for South Africa readily seized it and many hundreds more would have come had they had the opportunity...

Barbara Durlacher continues her entertaining and well-researched account of how her forebears came to settle in South Africa.

To read earlier episodes and lots of other articles and stories by Barbara please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind – Part Five" »

July 28, 2010

Fair Stood The Wind – Part Four – Life And Working Conditions In The East End Of London In The 1800s

...My memory is quite fresh as to a Marshall Haynau, an Austrian I believe, who was reputed to have flogged women, or had them flogged. Well, he came on a visit to England, and amongst other places, visited Barclay & Perkins Brewery. By some means the employees found out who he was, and if the police had not been called in he would scarcely have escaped with his life.

“Chase him, boot him, pelt him well,
Make his back and his sides to swell,
And that will show how very well
We like the man that flogs the women”...

Continuing her richly detailed family history Barbara Durlacher quotes from the memoirs of her ancestor William James Symons.

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind – Part Four – Life And Working Conditions In The East End Of London In The 1800s" »

July 21, 2010

Fair Stood The Wind, Part Three – Background To The Immigration

Barbara Durlacher, continuing her family history, presents the background to the migration of British families in the Nineteenth Century to what is now South Africa.

To read the first two episodes, and lots more articles by Barbara please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind, Part Three – Background To The Immigration" »

July 14, 2010

Friends For Tea

...As I sit down he flutters anxiously around until he settles on the table within a few inches of my hand and sits, regarding me with a piercing black eye with a slightly malignant expression, until I bring out his daily treat. Then I scatter a few pieces of grated cheese on the corner of my table, and we contentedly enjoy our meal together...

Barbara Durlacher delights in dining with her feathered visitors.

Continue reading "Friends For Tea" »

June 30, 2010

Fair Stood The Wind – Part Two: Decision To Emigrate To South Africa

...“Enough of this struggle to find work! Enough of the insults and curses from hard-hearted overseers and bosses! It’s as much as a man can stand. I’m putting our names down to go out to the Cape of Good Hope,” and without pausing for further thought, he completed his application and rushed home to tell the family the news....

Barbara Durlacher continues her account of how her family left England in the Nineteenth Century to seek a new life in South Africa,

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind – Part Two: Decision To Emigrate To South Africa" »

June 16, 2010

Fair Stood The Wind – Part One

Barbara Durlacher today begins a sumptuously-detailed family history – an account of why her ancestors sought a new life in Africa.

Continue reading "Fair Stood The Wind – Part One" »

June 11, 2010

The World Cup

A jubilant Barbara Durlacher welcomes the start of the World Cup tournament in her homeland, South Africa.

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October 21, 2009

The Amusements Of Bath

Barbara Durlacher turns a spotlights on some of the delights of Bath, the English spa town.

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July 29, 2009

Flash Fiction

Barbara Durlacher introduces us to Liesl Jobson who writes 'flash fiction'.

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July 08, 2009

Some Thoughts On Meditterranean Food

In this tasty article Barbara Durlacher introduces some delicious words concerning food.

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June 26, 2009

Do You Read The Obits?

...Then, as the sun sank slowly behind Table Mountain and the bugler played the haunting strains of the Last Post, two sailors carefully hauled down the Union Jack, folded it, and put it away for the night. It was enough to bring tears to the eyes, but as we stood there in our tight cocktail finery and high heels, with the crew stiffly at attention, the heat of the sun-baked flight deck beat through the soles of our shoes and our appreciation of the patriotic nostalgia of the occasion was muted by the desire to go below to ease our throbbing feet and grab something cool to drink....#

Barbara Durlacher, while reading the obituaries of Royal Navy men in The Daily Telegraph, is reminded of golden days and happy occasions.

To read more of Barbara's first class columns please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Do You Read The Obits?" »

June 17, 2009

The Life Of Bells

...hearing a distant bell across the meadows is a beautiful experience. Lonely or sad, cheerful or happy, bells have such a distinctive sound that it is easy to become dependent on their regular chimes and come to regard these inanimate objects as individual personalities...

Barbara Durlacher recalls the bells of England, Russia, Italy and Austria.

Continue reading "The Life Of Bells" »

May 27, 2009

Meerkat Manor

...I have privately christened one of these farms Meerkat Manor, after the TV program of that name, as there are scores of these engaging animals in a field to the right of the sand road to the farm. Here, signs ask visitors to drive slowly and take care not to run over the small suricates...

Barbara Durlacher tells of the Free State, a hidden South African “gem’’ waiting to be discovered by more tourists.

To read more of Barbara’s stories and articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Meerkat Manor" »

May 20, 2009

Fancy A Meal At The Vulture Restaurant

...As a valuable aid in keeping the veld clean of dead potentially diseased livestock, today's farmers are actively setting up vulture restaurants as an ideal way of disposing of dead animals and eliminating infections...

Barbara Durlacher tells of efforts to restore the balance of nature in South Africa.

To read more of Barbara’s excellent stories and articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Fancy A Meal At The Vulture Restaurant" »

May 13, 2009

Ghosts, Steam Trains And Friar Tuck

A message from a “long-lost’’ cousin after 40 years refreshed a host of happy memories for Barbara Durlacher.

Continue reading "Ghosts, Steam Trains And Friar Tuck" »

May 06, 2009

A Dream Of Trains

Memories of train travel in the 1970’s light up this letter by Barbara Durlacher.

Continue reading "A Dream Of Trains" »

April 29, 2009

Rajasthan: The Pushkar Camel Fair

Barbara Durlacher paints a vivid word picture of an exotic setting in this story which features a young woman called Sheema, who is soaking up the atmosphere in Rajasthan with a view to writing a story.

This tale will be continued at a later date.

Continue reading "Rajasthan: The Pushkar Camel Fair" »

April 01, 2009

Travels Of My Younger Self

...I was lucky to travel around Europe before the tsunami of mass tourism hit and destroyed so much of the essential flavour. Moreover, I did it alone, and was able to experience countries and meet the locals on a one-to-one basis, and not as part of a coach tour or a noisy group of 20-somethings whooping it up and drinking themselves silly....

Read this splendid column and you will readily agree that Barbara Durlacher was born to be a travel writer.

To read more of Barbara’s articles and stories please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Travels Of My Younger Self" »

March 25, 2009

The World's Favourite Picture

...‘Tretchi’ loved publicity, and never shunned the limelight, and he always had an apt quip for the occasion. He was never upset by adverse remarks or bad publicity, taking the view that they could say what they liked, but he was the one laughing all the way to the bank...

The inimitable Barbara Durlacher tells of Vladimir Tretchikoff, painter of the Chinese Girl, the world's best selling picture.

Continue reading "The World's Favourite Picture" »

March 18, 2009

Humpty Dumpty

A Congolese youth had been set a task to write a 500 word story around the phrase ‘the door slammed shut’. Barbara Durlacher, who was trying to help him, decided that it might be an encouragement if she did the same.

To read more of Barbara’s stories and articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/ See alos her splendid photographs by clicking on our Gallery.

Continue reading "Humpty Dumpty" »

March 11, 2009

Daniel's Brother

Barbara Durlacher tells the sad, sad story of a man who came into money.

For more of Barbara’s articles and stories please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Daniel's Brother" »

March 04, 2009

Makarapas And Vuvuzelas

Less than 500 days to go before the kick-off of the World Cup in South Africa.

Barbara Durlacher introduces us to some of the lesser-known aspects of football watching in SA.

For more of Barbara’s ever-interesting words please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Makarapas And Vuvuzelas" »

February 18, 2009

Ailsa Doesn't Live Here Anymore

...What an end to a kind woman’s life. In a few hours, there’d be nothing to show for all those years of loving and living in this closeknit community; nothing for those who’d known her to remember her by, and no trace of her many kindnesses over the years...

Barbara Durlacher’s tale concerns one of the saddest days in any human life.

To read lots more of Barbara’s quality stories and articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Ailsa Doesn't Live Here Anymore" »

February 11, 2009

Gone With The Wind

…She packed her scattered manuscript into a suitcase and – so one story goes – raced to the train station where she was lucky to catch Latham before he boarded the train to New York. In her hurry, the suitcase burst open and the manuscript fell onto the platform, and the scattered papers were gathered up and stuffed back into the case just before the train pulled out of the station…

Barbara Durlacher tells of Margaret Mitchell and her novel Gone With The Wind that was turned into what was to become perhaps the most famous film ever made.

Continue reading "Gone With The Wind" »

February 04, 2009

The Team Leader

...Jonas soon found that being a member of the gang was exciting and had many benefits. There was the money to be made from the copper wire from the stolen telephone cables; handbags nicked from careless woman shoppers yielded cash, credit cards and cellphones, or the careless driver at the traffic lights, busy on his cellphone was usually oblivious of the black arm grabbing a briefcase or laptop left conveniently on the passenger seat...

Barbara Durlacher’s well-told tale presents a sobering insight into life in present-day South Africa.

Continue reading "The Team Leader" »

January 28, 2009

A Winter In The Mountains

A writer seeks solitude in a mountain cabin in the dead of winter. Will she get much writing done? Can she survive in such hostile surroundings?

Barbara Durlacher tells a splendidly atmospheric tale.

For more of Barbara’s stories and articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "A Winter In The Mountains" »

January 14, 2009

How Things Have Changed

...Amazing how things have changed over the years. Today’s woman is too busy to consider sewing for the family, her presence in the office takes precedence over everything. So often the introduction of “Babygros” and disposable nappies, fast-foods and man-made fibres that can be tossed into the washing machine and tumble dried have put paid to all the old crafts and skills passed down the generations by our forebears...

Barbara Durlacher remembers bygone days.

To read more of Barbara’s articles and stories please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "How Things Have Changed" »

January 07, 2009

Baby Marrow Soup

Who knows what you might see while making zuccini soup?

Barbara Durlacher tells a surprising tale. To read more of Barbara’s words please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Baby Marrow Soup" »

December 10, 2008

The Beira Bucket

Barbara Durlacher tells of an "ordinary'' bucket which could be seen as a symbol of the futility of many African political aspirations.

Continue reading "The Beira Bucket" »

December 03, 2008

Handle With Care

...‘Will ya look at thaaat...’ he exclaimed in amazement as the storm increased in intensity, and hailstones as big as tennis-balls hit the windscreen. The wipers were helpless against the strength of the water falling from the skies with the force of a Niagara and Bob sat forward, and futilely wiped the inside of the glass fogged with the condensation of his and the dog’s breath...

Barbara Durlacher tells a tale about the disaster which overtook an Australian sheep farmer on his way to market.

For more of Barbara’s stories and articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Handle With Care" »

November 26, 2008

The Laingsburg Disaster

...I travelled on the first passenger train service back to Johannesburg, and when we reached Laingsburg it was difficult to believe the evidence of our eyes. It looked as if an atomic bomb had exploded over the town. Huge gullies had been eroded for miles along the banks of the river, enormous trees were piled higgeldy-piggeldly like matchsticks and there was devastation everywhere. It was heartbreaking....

Barbara Durlacher recalls a day in 1981 when heavy rains washed away a village in the Karroo.

To read more of Barbara’s varied and ever-interesting articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "The Laingsburg Disaster" »

November 19, 2008

Christmas In June

Barbara Durlacher presents a wonderful word portrait of high summer on the Scottish Borders.

Continue reading "Christmas In June" »

November 12, 2008

Johannesburg Spring

...The carpets of brilliant orange, purple, magenta and ice-pink of the mesembrian-themums which a couple of weeks ago spread across rockeries have faded and the star-shaped fruit are forming. When ripe, children love sucking the sweet-sour juice and the Afrikaans name 'suur-vygies’ describes them well...

Barbara Durlacher tells of the arrival of Spring in Johannesburg.

For more of Barbara’s wonderfully varied articles and stories please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Johannesburg Spring" »

November 11, 2008

Johannesburg Spring

...The carpets of brilliant orange, purple, magenta and ice-pink of the mesembrian-themums which a couple of weeks ago spread across rockeries have faded and the star-shaped fruit are forming. When ripe, children love sucking the sweet-sour juice and the Afrikaans name 'suur-vygies’ describes them well...

Barbara Durlacher tells of the arrival of Spring in Johannesburg.

For more of Barbara’s wonderfully varied articles and stories please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Johannesburg Spring" »

November 05, 2008

Yes, Yes, To Insects

Barbara Durlacher tells of a exhibition designed to help children learn about the human race’s reliance on the diverse range of plants, insects and animals with which we share this earth.

To read more of Barbara's splendid stories and articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Yes, Yes, To Insects" »

October 29, 2008

Feathered Friends

...Several Kurrichane Thrushes thrive here together with the Cape Robins who cock an enquiring eye in my direction whenever they see me, while a Common Shrike is so tame it will take morsels of cheese from my hand. It keeps an eye on my every movement and arrives for a feed within minutes of my appearance...

Barbara Durlacher tells of the hugely varied bird life in her Johannesburg garden.

Continue reading "Feathered Friends" »

October 08, 2008

Beloveds

Barbara Durlacher engagingly tells us of the cats in her life.

Continue reading "Beloveds" »

September 24, 2008

My Parents

...In my memory those days were filled with laughter, sunlight and happiness. I basked secure in my parent’s love and each new day was an adventure. Winters were icy cold, the Highveld frosts made colder by the uninsulated iron roof only warmed by the valiant efforts of one tiny Victorian fireplace in the sitting/dining room over which we huddled on frosty nights...

Barbara Durlacher tells of her parents, and her happy childhood in Johannesburg.

To read more of Barbara’s engaging stories and articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "My Parents" »

September 17, 2008

The China Hen

The contents of a china hen bring back heart-aching memories for a mum in this unforgettable story by Barbara Durlacher.

To read more of Barbara’s stories and articles please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "The China Hen" »

September 10, 2008

The Researcher

Who is that quiet woman who rides the bus every day, keeping herself to herself?

Barbara Durlacher’s story is a warning that one should never jump to hasty conclusions.

To read more stories and articles by Barbara please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "The Researcher" »

September 03, 2008

Tim

Barbara Durlacher’s story concerns a hitchhiker who is in danger of outstaying his welcome.

For more of Barbara’s words please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/joburg_days/

Continue reading "Tim" »

August 20, 2008

Poppy-Geranium

The life of a professional drag artist is no joking matter, as Barbara Durlacher’s story reveals.

Continue reading "Poppy-Geranium" »

August 13, 2008

Let It Be Morning

Barbara Durlacher tells of a novel which puts a different perspective on the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

Continue reading "Let It Be Morning" »

August 06, 2008

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Barbara Durlacher tells a tale involving the fate which befalls too many pretty young women.

Continue reading "The Law Of Unintended Consequences" »

July 30, 2008

Caught In The Act

Barbara Durlacher tells a sad story prompted by recent terrible events in Johannesburg.

Continue reading "Caught In The Act" »

July 23, 2008

The Gift Of Ageing

...Now I’m old, I can eat when I like, dress as I like, and live my life as I like, all within reason and making allowances for others...

Barbara Durlacher express a jubilant and encouraging attitude to life which has accompanied the arrival of silver hair.

Do read more of Barbara's many and varied columns by clicking on Jo'burg Days in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "The Gift Of Ageing" »

July 09, 2008

British Settlers In South Africa – 3

Barbara Duralacher highlights details of that ill-fated ship, HMS Birkenhead.

Continue reading "British Settlers In South Africa – 3" »

July 02, 2008

Springbok Radio

Barbara Durlacher is delighted to announce the return of Springbok Radio, a station which enriched the lives of thousands of South Africans.

Continue reading "Springbok Radio" »

June 25, 2008

Early British Settlers in South Africa – Part Two

Barbara Durlacher tells of her grandparents who were early settlers in South Africa.

This is the second in a series of four articles.

Continue reading "Early British Settlers in South Africa – Part Two" »

June 18, 2008

Early British Settlers In South Africa - Part One

Barbara Durlacher, in the first of four articles about early British settlers in South Africa, tells of a shipload of Irish girls who volunteered to be shipped out in 1857 as potential brides for men and soldiers on the Cape Eastern border with Kaffraria.

The second article in this series will appear next Wednesday.

Continue reading "Early British Settlers In South Africa - Part One" »

June 17, 2008

The Man In The Plastic Bags

Barbara Durlacher tells of the sad, sad life of a man clad in plastic bags.

Continue reading "The Man In The Plastic Bags" »

June 11, 2008

The Provencal Table

…Entering a café on the main square, crowded with enthusiastic mid-day diners we were directed to a tiny table. Here we sat down to one of the most memorable of several fine meals we were to enjoy in cold and wintry Provence.
This is the season for hearty, stick-to-the-ribs foods, and traditionally the time when game is on the menu. Today’s speciality is daube de sanglier, wild boar, proceeded by a brandade of salt cod, delicately seasoned finely pounded creamed salt cod served on a slice of crisply toasted baguette…

Barbara Durlacher enthusiastically experiences in the pleasures of Provencal food.

Continue reading "The Provencal Table" »

June 04, 2008

Beloveds

…Their capacity to understand and interpret the human world around them, and, almost always, turn the situation to their own advantage, must be unrivalled for creatures of their small size…

Barbara Durlacher tells of the much adored cats that have shared her life.

Continue reading "Beloveds" »

May 14, 2008

Sandstone Steam And Cosmos Festival

Barbara Durlacher is entranced by the marvelous old workhorses of the age of steam at a festival in South Africa.

Continue reading "Sandstone Steam And Cosmos Festival" »

April 30, 2008

Dance With A Dragon

Barbara Durlacher tells a highly-entertaining tale about a 21st Century dragon.

Settle down for a right royal read.

Continue reading "Dance With A Dragon" »

April 23, 2008

Wider Worlds To Conquer

Not every creature enjoys going out to conquer the wide world, as Barbara Durlacher’s story reveals.

Continue reading "Wider Worlds To Conquer" »

April 16, 2008

The Sounds Of Africa

…I listened with tears in my eyes as I heard all the vitality and endurance of Africa in the music, along with the beauty of what can be achieved when its people are doing what they enjoy most, dancing and making music together…

Barbara Durlacher is deeply moved by a performance in Johannesburg of composer David Fanshawe’s African Sanctus.

Continue reading "The Sounds Of Africa" »

April 09, 2008

The Blue Angel

Barbara Durlacher tells of the “Blue Angel’’ who came to the aid of a stricken Polish seaman.

Continue reading "The Blue Angel" »

April 02, 2008

A Trip To Town

Barbara Durlacher tells how a trip to town resulted in a young lad putting his life in danger.

Continue reading "A Trip To Town" »

March 26, 2008

A Monumental Run

Barbara Durlacher tells the story of two men who ran along the Great Wall of China - all 4,500 miles of it!

Continue reading "A Monumental Run" »

March 19, 2008

The First Day Of My Life

Barbara Durlacher plays tricks with time.

To read more of Barbara’s words please clock on Jo’Burg Days in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "The First Day Of My Life" »

February 20, 2008

Stella, The Star

Barbara Durlacher tells the exhilarating story of Stella, who, when her ambition to be a ballet dancer was frustrated, became a shining star on an altogether different stage.

For more of Barbara’s stories and articles please click on Jo’Burg Days in the menu on this stage.

Continue reading "Stella, The Star" »

January 30, 2008

Revisiting Yeoville

Barbara Durlacher visits the part of Johannesburg where she once lived, and is profoundly shocked by what she finds there.

Continue reading "Revisiting Yeoville" »

January 23, 2008

Antarctic Seas

When you venture into Antarctic seas you need more than Google to help you on your way, as Barbara Durlacher’s short story reveals.

Continue reading "Antarctic Seas" »

January 16, 2008

Flora's Christmas Visit

Barbara Durlacher’s story tells of a particular South African scam.

Continue reading "Flora's Christmas Visit" »

January 09, 2008

What Will The Future Bring?

Barbara Durlacher turns her attention to two books which shine the spotlight on South Africa’s uncertain political future.

Continue reading "What Will The Future Bring?" »

January 02, 2008

The Pile Of Fur Coats

Be extra careful who you target when you seek revenge at a masked ball. Barbara Durlacher tells a disturbing tale.

Continue reading "The Pile Of Fur Coats" »

December 26, 2007

Nicest Guy In The World

Barbara Durlacher tells a tale of devious double- and triple-dealing.

Continue reading "Nicest Guy In The World" »

December 19, 2007

The Passing Of South Africa's Pasenger Trains

...The mail train to Cape Town pulls up at a drab station and glimpsed from a comfortable compartment the bored travellers stare at the colourful crowd. From the guard’s van two wicker baskets of carrier pigeons, six cardboard boxes of day-old chicks, three bicycles and four mail sacks are offloaded; milk-churns clatter. Porters shouting “Mind yer baaacks!” push trolleys heavily loaded with suitcases pasted with hotel and steamer labels. Food and drink sellers move up and down offering koeksusters, lollies, peanuts, fruit and cold drinks. Passengers climb warily to the platform to stretch their legs. One returns triumphantly waving a “Diamond Fields Advertiser”. Now the ‘lounge-lizards’ can catch up with the morning’s news from Kimberley and the Orange Free State...

Barbara Durlacher conjures up vivid memories as she mourns the passing of South Africa's passenger trains.

Continue reading "The Passing Of South Africa's Pasenger Trains" »

December 05, 2007

Oven Gloves And Tablecloths

Barbara Durlacher tells of Mariba, a lady whose eyesight is failing as she struggles in South Africa to earn money to feed her family in stricken Zimbabwe.

Continue reading "Oven Gloves And Tablecloths" »

November 28, 2007

Waxwings

Barbara Durlacher is impressed by Jonathan Raban’s novel Waxwings, which, though set in one city, attempts to encapsulate life in the USA today.

Continue reading "Waxwings" »

November 21, 2007

The Sounds Of Africa

...I listened with tears in my eyes as I heard all the vitality and endurance of Africa in the music, along with the beauty of what can be achieved when its people are doing what they enjoy most, dancing and making music together...

Barbara Durlacher enjoys a performance of David Fanshawe's African Sanctus.

Continue reading "The Sounds Of Africa" »

November 14, 2007

Wisteria And Lilac On A Spring Morning

…One by one, gracious and elegant old homes with spacious gardens and beautiful mature trees were sold, and in quiet gardens where golden Labradors and bulldogs once snoozed in the sun, fountains played and Madam’s silk skirts swept the well-tended gravel, the excavators dug deep into the unyielding red soil and dynamite completed what the mechanical shovels failed to achieve…

But now a Heritage Trust is fighting to preserve Johannesburg’s grand old buildings, as Barbara Durlacher reports.

Continue reading "Wisteria And Lilac On A Spring Morning" »

October 31, 2007

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Barbara Durlacher reviews the novel The Memeory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Memory-Keepers-Daughter-Kim-Edwards/dp/0141030143/ref=sr_1_1/203-7165522-0895149?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192733546&sr=1-1

Continue reading "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" »

October 24, 2007

Internet Lovers

In Barbara Durlacher's intriguing tale an internet love affair turns out not to be what it had seemed.

Continue reading "Internet Lovers" »

October 10, 2007

Summer In Europe

Barbara Durlacher was dreading her European train journey but it proved to be "a marvellous experience, something I'd longed to do for years, ever since I’d seen a picture in a travel brochure of an elegant couple raising their glasses to one another while sitting in a glass-domed observation car, enjoying a fine meal and glass of champagne...''

Continue reading "Summer In Europe" »

October 03, 2007

In A Land Of Plenty

Barbara Durlacher enjoys a novel which emphasises the importance of a close-knot family.

Continue reading "In A Land Of Plenty" »

September 26, 2007

Life Is Good

Yes, life can be good, but an accident and a family of hungry mice can darken the outlook, as Barbara Durlacher’s surprising tale reveals.

Continue reading "Life Is Good" »

September 19, 2007

Blackberrying

Barbara Durlacher tells of the courage of a widow who is determined, despite all disappointments, to keep her family together.

Continue reading "Blackberrying" »

September 12, 2007

The Borrowed Book

…“Did you visit the Fitzmaurice’s home on Monday this week?” his bullying voice continued, not giving her time to catch her breath.

“Yes, you obviously know I did. I called in for a few minutes to return a book I’d borrowed. I didn’t see either of them, just spoke to the maid who said they were in bed.”…


Barbara Durlacher tells a tale with a shocking conclusion.

Continue reading "The Borrowed Book" »

July 25, 2007

A Tribute To Eva And Stephania

Barbara Durlacher pays tribute to two of her beloved friends who died recently – two women who showed a gritty determination to survive during the terrible days of World War Two.

Continue reading "A Tribute To Eva And Stephania" »

July 19, 2007

The Viennese Girl

Barbara Durlacher tells an astonishing story based on real lives – a story which contains as many twists and turns as a full-length novel.

Continue reading "The Viennese Girl" »

July 12, 2007

A Trip To Katse Dam

…The Highveld scenery is wide and spacious; with golden grasslands and scattered outcrops of suikerbossie [Transvaal Protea], small wattle and gum plantations and then the blue expanse of Loch Vaal with its attractive sail boats…

Barbara Durlacher journeys to see the Katse dam, one of the biggest civil engineering projects in the Southern Hemisphere.

Continue reading "A Trip To Katse Dam" »

July 05, 2007

Out Of Africa

Barbara Durlacher tells us of Karen Blixen, author of the famous book Out Of Africa.

Continue reading "Out Of Africa" »

June 28, 2007

Two Dedicated Men

Barbara Durlacher pays tribute to two outstanding South Africans.

For more of Barbara’s words please click on Jo’burg Days in the menu on this page.

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June 21, 2007

The Yellow Basket

Barbara Durlacher tells of a rescue on a hot afternoon.

Continue reading "The Yellow Basket" »

June 14, 2007

The New Baby

A visit next door to see the new-born baby is an initiation into womanhood for a 12-year-old girl in this story by Barbara Durlacher.

Continue reading "The New Baby" »

June 07, 2007

Taking A Bubble Bath

Taking a bubble bath is not invariably a happy experience, as Barbara Durlacher’s story reveals.

Continue reading "Taking A Bubble Bath" »

May 31, 2007

The Golden Lining

Barbara Durlacher tells the tale of a lady driven to taking extreme measures.

For more of Barbara’s words please click on Jo’Burg Days in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "The Golden Lining" »

May 24, 2007

Dust In The Air

Barbara Durlacher chose Henry Moore’s picure ‘Underground’ as the inspiration for this sombre story.

For more of Barbara’s stories and articles please click on Jo’Burg Days in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Dust In The Air" »

May 17, 2007

Bleak Prospect

Barbara Durlacher tells a tale of a young man on a desperate journey to find his father, who has gone to California. But what are his chances of doing so?

For more of Barbara’s entertaining words please click on Jo’Burg Days in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Bleak Prospect" »

May 10, 2007

A Card Up His Sleeve

Barbara Durlacher tells a spicy tale about the cleverest card-sharp in the business.

Continue reading "A Card Up His Sleeve" »

May 03, 2007

The New Swimming Bath

Barbara Durlacher tells a delightful tale of childish enterprise gone wrong.

Continue reading "The New Swimming Bath" »

April 26, 2007

An Unusual Bargain

What sort of bargain can you buy at an auction for just one rand! Read Barbara Durlacher’s well-told tale – and chuckle!

To read more of Barbara’s stories and articles click on Jo’Burg Days in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "An Unusual Bargain" »

April 19, 2007

What The Headmaster Did

Barbara Durlacher tells an inspirational story of what a man with a dream can achieve. The story is based on the experience of one of Barbara’s friends who was on a tour of the Zulu battlefields in Natal. Barbara, who felt compelled to tell this story, has not used the head's real name.

Continue reading "What The Headmaster Did" »

April 12, 2007

Try This One For Size

Barbara Durlacher tells a tale of diappointment, and plans for an interminably long holiday.

Continue reading "Try This One For Size" »

April 05, 2007

When The Builders Came In

Barbara Durlacher tells a story of enforced guilt.

Continue reading "When The Builders Came In" »

March 29, 2007

The Pink Feather Hat

Barbara Durlacher tells a colourful tale about a woman who thinks too much of herself.

Continue reading "The Pink Feather Hat" »

March 22, 2007

Angie The Japanese Guide

Barbara Durlacher tells us of a Japanese-speaking South African tour guide called Angie – and the part she played in rescuing a round-the-world yachtsman.

Continue reading "Angie The Japanese Guide" »

March 08, 2007

1915 - And All That

In this brief tale Barbara Durlacher encapsulates the ghastly mundanity of warfare.

Continue reading "1915 - And All That" »

January 11, 2007

Beatrix Potter - A Wonderful Life

Barbara Durlacher tells of the life of Beatrix Potter whose stories, featuring such characters as Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Mrs Tiggywinkle, brought delight to millions of children – a delight which for many has lasted throughout their lives.

Continue reading "Beatrix Potter - A Wonderful Life" »

December 14, 2006

A Maroon BMW And A Heap Of Chips

The businessman is in a hurry, but what is he hurrying towards?

Barbara Durlacher tells a story, based on a real event, of an incident at a service station.

Continue reading "A Maroon BMW And A Heap Of Chips" »

December 07, 2006

The Golden Bridge

What price should be paid to ensure that a Grand Prix motor race is free from blowing dust? Barbara Durlacher tells a story of love and death.

Continue reading "The Golden Bridge" »

November 16, 2006

The Fast Lane Experiment

Around 15,000 people die each year in road accidents in South Africa. Unroadworthy ‘combi’ buses and taxis, driven by unlicensed black drivers, cause many of these deaths. Combis, built to carry the driver and eight passengers, habitually carry from twelve to sixteen. When stopped at roadblocks, police find vehicles without brakes, headlights, wipers, and – occasionally, a steering wheel. A large shifting spanner is used instead.

Barbara Durlacher paints a frightening word-picture of traffic chaos.

Do read more of Barbara's varied and ever-interesting articles by clicking on Jo'burg Days in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "The Fast Lane Experiment" »

November 09, 2006

Swallows Before A Storm

Swallows hurl themselves before the onrushing wind as a storm advances towards Johannesburg. Like distant drums, the thunder marches from the south, and householders unplug computers, fax machines and printers in case of a lightning strike…

Barbara Durlacher describes turbulent storm which presaged the arrival of South Africa’s summer.

For more of Barbara’s vivid words please visit Jo’Burg Days in the menu on this page.

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Continue reading "Swallows Before A Storm" »

November 02, 2006

The Amakwedeni

Barbara Durlacher tells a tale about the dire effects of an African tribe's male initiation ceremony – a tale which regrettably is based in fact.

Continue reading "The Amakwedeni" »

October 26, 2006

The Discovery Of The Sea Route To India

Barbara Durlacher, inspired by a mural depicting the arrival of the first white men in Africa, painted by one of her friends on a wall of the Cullin Museum at the University of Witwatersrand, is moved to express her admiration of the brave mariners who discovered the sea route to India.

To read more of Barbara’s fascinating articles and stories please click on Jo’burg Days in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "The Discovery Of The Sea Route To India" »

October 12, 2006

Daniel

Barbara Durlacher’s South African story confirms that sometimes a tragic accident can have a happy ending.

To read more of Barbara's stories and features please click on Jo'burg Days in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Daniel" »

September 14, 2006

A Bistrot Kind Of New Year

Barbara Durlacher muses on the man who might have made a difference to New Year celebrations in a French bistrot.

Continue reading "A Bistrot Kind Of New Year" »

September 07, 2006

A King Out Of His Time

Barbara Durlacher presents a fascinating portrait of Ludwig II of Bavaria – known to many as the Mad King. Ludwig's story is as melodramatic as the powerful operas of Richard Wagner, the composer that he sponsored.

"Ludwig’s legacy lives on, in some of the most extravagant and beautiful palaces ever created,'' says Barbara, "and from which today the State of Bavaria collects huge sums of money in tourist income, far in excess of anything this visionary king ever spent on building these extraordinary creations.''

Continue reading "A King Out Of His Time" »

August 31, 2006

A Small Present

Poor Mary has to travel many miles from her home to a distant city in another country, there, hopefully, to sell hand-made goods...

Read Barbara Durlacher's article about the plight of the poor in Zimbabwe, and experience pity and anger in equal and generous measure.

Continue reading "A Small Present" »

August 24, 2006

The Provencal Table

...This is the season for hearty, stick-to-the-ribs foods, and traditionally the time when game is on the menu. Today’s speciality is daube de sanglier [wild boar] proceeded by a brandade of salt cod [delicately seasoned finely pounded creamed salt cod served on a slice of crisply toasted baguette...

Barbara Durlacher introduces us to the food of Provence – and if you don't feel hungry after reading this then your appetite has gone on holiday.

Continue reading "The Provencal Table" »

August 17, 2006

Sipho's Story

Sipho was so good at his job as a vet's assistant that Baas Kenny begins to wonder how he ever managed without him. But things do not go well for poor Sipho…

Barbara Durlacher tells a sobering and sad story set in today's South Africa.

Continue reading "Sipho's Story" »

August 10, 2006

A Lucky Escape

Barbara Durlacher tells of an unnecessary car chase that was not the least bit funny.

Continue reading "A Lucky Escape" »

August 03, 2006

Very Interesting

Question: ‘Who is the worst person you have ever sat next to on a plane?’

Answer: Perhaps intriguing would be a better comment. A beautiful woman on the way to Dallas. We had a lovely chat and she went to the bathroom next to me when we got to the airport. She came out as a man!

After reading this in a magazine Barbara Durlacher was inspired to write the following tale.

Continue reading "Very Interesting" »

July 27, 2006

No Time To Play

…I scuttle between tv and kitchen, keeping an eye on steaming pots, boiling kettles or roasting pans. It takes skilful juggling to keep everything on the go without burning the bottom out of good stainless steel saucepans…

Barbara Durlacher’s early evenings involve split-second timing as she tunes in to must-see TV programmes and cooks a meal.

Continue reading "No Time To Play" »

July 20, 2006

The Art Of Acting

Barbara Durlacher considers the demands on the skills of TV and film actors.

Continue reading "The Art Of Acting" »

July 13, 2006

Lavender Ladies

In this colourful and wonderfully nostalgic column Barbara Durlacher recalls the Lavender Ladies, the lavender-hulled vessels of the Union-Castle Steamship Company which plied between Cape Town and Southampton.

Continue reading "Lavender Ladies" »

July 06, 2006

Precious

… He could buy a watch, and a torch, a radio and a pair of shiny leather shoes. He would get Ntombintini a sewing machine, and a handbag, a new thick warm blanket, and a shiny pink dress for their wedding …

But to get these things Precious has to leave his village and go off to the big city to find work.

Barbara Durlacher tells a heart-breaking African story.

Continue reading "Precious" »

June 29, 2006

On Listening To The Evening News With Attention Momentarily Distracted

There’s news happening just around the corner and you don’t know it, as Barbara Durlacher reveals.

Continue reading "On Listening To The Evening News With Attention Momentarily Distracted" »

June 22, 2006

The Fire Islands

Barbara Durlacher writes alluringly of of the Fire Islands - a chain of seven islands resembling a heap of scattered coals, ninety miles off the North African coast.

Continue reading "The Fire Islands" »

June 15, 2006

Nothing To Report

Civil insurrection? What civil insurrection? Life goes on as normal for most folk while news is being made, as Barbara Durlacher reveals, looking back to events 30 years ago.

Continue reading "Nothing To Report" »

June 08, 2006

First Voyage

Barbara Durlacher captures the excitement felt by a young woman on her first sea voyage to another country.

Continue reading "First Voyage" »

June 01, 2006

Love Takes Strange Forms

Barbara Durlacher tells an intriguing tale of murder, illicit love and a 40-carat diamond.

Continue reading "Love Takes Strange Forms" »

May 25, 2006

The Crowded Roads Of A Long-Distance Runner

Barbara Durlacher writes about the growth of long distance running, highlighting the South African Comrades, one of the longest and toughest foot races in the world.

Continue reading "The Crowded Roads Of A Long-Distance Runner" »

May 18, 2006

The Turning Point

...The very lack of education and schooling has made me read books, hundreds and thousands of books, and nowhere can one find a better source of information. I feel that I’ve reached a point where, in my general knowledge at least, I am as good as the next man – better perhaps, in some fields...

Barbara Durlacher tells of an event that moulded her life.

Continue reading "The Turning Point" »

May 11, 2006

The First Child

“Will ya look at thaaat,” admiringly exclaimed the Irish nurse. “He’s ready to take on the world like a mini prize-fighter.” But the new mother is not pleased by what she sees, as Barbara Durlacher reveals in this vivid account of childbirth.


Continue reading "The First Child" »

May 04, 2006

The Quiet Street

In this magical piece of writing Barbara Durlacher involves us in the centuries-old traditions of the Japanese tea house, and the studied, formal world of the geishas who devote themselves to entertaining and pleasing rich and powerful men.

Continue reading "The Quiet Street" »

April 27, 2006

Parking

You can usually find a place to park the car, but where do you park and 80-year-old granny who forgets to cook for herself? Barbara Durlacher tells of a happy solution to a major problem.

Continue reading "Parking" »

April 20, 2006

Six Hours In London - January, 2006

Barbara Durlacher enjoys herself while visiting some of London’s newer landmark attractions.

For a flavourful taste of life in South Africa read Barbara’s weekly columns. Click on Jo’Burg Days in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Six Hours In London - January, 2006" »

April 13, 2006

No Books To Read

So many books in the world - yet in South Africa there are children with no books to read. Barbara Durlacher is baffled by a conundrum.

Continue reading "No Books To Read" »

April 06, 2006

The Vegetable Basket

This story was written when a caption to a photograph in ‘Aquarelle’, the house magazine of the Watercolour Society of South Africa caught Barbara Durlacher’s eye. This identified a lady with the name of “Rugani”, and triggered a childhood memory. The story is based on a family of that name who lived and worked extremely hard, running a market garden down the road from where the author lived in Bramley, Johannesburg in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. Sent by her mother to buy a basketful of vegetables Barbara still recollects the quiet suburban peace of that pretty suburb. Today it is a cacophony of hooters, roaring delivery vans, black ‘combi’ taxis and used-car dealerships.

The Rugani family sold up long ago, and moved to the northern edge of rapidly expanding Johannesburg, where they continue to grow and sell vegetables. But this time, it is a huge undertaking employing hundreds of workers and a large acreage of ground, and produces thousands of tons of food each year.

Continue reading "The Vegetable Basket" »

March 30, 2006

Sequel To The Bride Who Wore A Blanket

Barbara Durlacher continues the astonishing story of Stephanie Kobierzycka, who, after hearing that she was on a Russian hit-list, had to flee from Poland in a metal container packed with bottles of vodka.

Stephanie's article appeared in Open Writing last Thursday. To read it type her name in the search box on this page.

Continue reading "Sequel To The Bride Who Wore A Blanket" »

March 23, 2006

The Bride Wore A Blanket

Stephanie Kobierzski tells of a chance meeting, and her extraordinary marriage. Stephanie was born and spent her youth in Warsaw, Poland. Towards the end of the war she met a man she had not seen for six years, and married him on the same day.

Open Writing columnist Barbara Durlacher is one of Stephanie’s good friends. Next week Barbara will continue the astonishing story of the bride who wore a blanket.

Continue reading "The Bride Wore A Blanket" »

March 16, 2006

Tulipmania

Barbara Durlacher tells us of Tulipmania, a mad demand for rare plants which “infected’’ the wealthy citizens of Holland in the 17th Century. A flourishing brewery in France was exchanged for a single tulip bulb.

Continue reading "Tulipmania" »

March 09, 2006

The Outcrop

Barbara Durlacher tells a tale of a disasterous diving trip.

Continue reading "The Outcrop" »

March 02, 2006

The Lift - A Bedtime Story

The little girl dreams of riding in the lift in the tall skyscraper… Barbara Durlacher’s gets inside a child’s mind to write a story about a trip to town with mother.

Continue reading "The Lift - A Bedtime Story" »

February 23, 2006

Afternoon Tides

Barbara Durlacher tells a tale of surf, sea, and a magical rescue.

Visit Barbara's Web site www.u3a.org.za/u3awritingsa

Continue reading "Afternoon Tides" »

February 16, 2006

A Tale Of Classic Cars

Barbara Durlacher tells a story involving a very clever engineer, a collection of classic cars, a lost key, and a dog called Bozo.

To read some more enjoyable stories and articles visit Barbara’s Web site www.u3a.org.za/u3awritingsa

Continue reading "A Tale Of Classic Cars" »

February 09, 2006

Two Days In Tangiers

…The taxi passed a tiny donkey with a figure sitting sideways, covered from head to foot in a burnoose with only a pair of dark eyes showing… Barbara Durlacher writes of a colourful, suspenseful and unexpected overnight stay in Tangiers.

Continue reading "Two Days In Tangiers" »

February 02, 2006

The Sunday Drive

Barbara Durlacher’s gripping tale encapsulates an ocean of domestic misery which reaches a dramatic conclusion.

Continue reading "The Sunday Drive" »

January 26, 2006

Shoshaloza Trains

All is not well with South Africa’s train services, as Barbara Durlacher reports. The service grinds to a stop so frequently that commuters have taken to burning station buildings in a futile protest against inefficient and inept railway management, but to little effect.

Continue reading "Shoshaloza Trains" »

January 19, 2006

The Roof Of The World

Barbara Durlacher recalls a thrilling ride in Land Land Rover, up the Sani Pass to the Roof of the World.

Continue reading "The Roof Of The World" »

January 12, 2006

The Last Fitting

…Approaching quietly, the hairdresser bent his knee in the traditional salute, then asked her requirements. ‘Straight back from the forehead, a bunch of curls above, and ringlets dropping from ears to shoulders,’ came the reply. He deftly removed the pins and clips and gently brushed the tangle of dusty tresses. ‘Scurvy varmint,’” hitting him with her fan, ‘“Stop pulling and torturing me. Do as you are told, I’m not easily fooled by your antics; follow my instructions!’ …

The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth, Gloriana, is being readied to have her portrait painted – a portrait which could turn the course of European history. Barbara Durlacher writes as though she was a witness to the event.

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January 05, 2006

A Newcomer To Southern Skies

“The telescope stands on one of the largest and most accurately laid concrete platforms ever created in South Africa, constructed without a bump or flaw and with less than one millimetre difference in the levels anywhere on its surface…’’ Barbara Durlacher was formerly opposed to the building of an expensive telescope in her homeland, but now she hails it as a scientific wonder.

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December 29, 2005

Letter From Cape Town

Memories of train travel in the 1970’s light up this letter to a friend by Barbara Durlacher. And a good memory for faces reaps a dividend.

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December 22, 2005

The Cosy Cocoon

Barbara Durlacher packs an enormous amount of tension and drama into this short story.

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December 15, 2005

Dragonflies Over The Okavango

“The alluvial delta is an artist’s palette of primary colours. Yellows and ochres; greens and clear blues. The occasional touch of red from a hunting camp draws the eye; a thread of smoke from a campfire or land clearing stains the sky for miles around, and over it all is the golden sunset air, dusting with ethereal pollen the peace of unspoilt nature…’’ Barbara Durlacher flies over the Okavango delta.

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December 08, 2005

A Visit To Fouriesburg And The Katse Dam

"...clusters of stonewalled thatched huts grouped warmly together in sociable huddles, the smoke from their early morning fires drifting thinly into the still, cold air. Early risers, warmly wrapped in their colourful blankets, clumped around in gumboots, seeking a warm corner while they waited for the pot to boil and the early morning porridge...'' Barbara Durlacher brings you the full flavour of Africa.

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December 01, 2005

The Two Matjiesfonteins - A Study In Contrasts

“The only indication of a landing strip was the windsock flying - juicy and fat-bellied - in the strong coastal wind. As the small company plane approached the area, the first indication of a change in the landscape was the flat-topped mountain. Rising so unexpectedly out of the featureless terrain, copper-coloured buttresses glinting in the morning sun it was immediately the focus of all eyes….’’ Barbara Durlacher again displays her magical ability, possessed of all good travel writers, of making you want to go and see the places she describes.

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November 24, 2005

The Trapped Bird

Barbara Durlacher tells of a troubled elderly lady who runs away from a retirement village. The final paragraph of this account will astonish you.

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November 17, 2005

Cape Spring, 2005

“In Constantia great armloads of arums grow along quiet streams, and small pockets of rain-daisies bloom in corners drawing the eye with their brightness…’’ Barbara Durlacher paints an enticing portrait of South Africa’s Cape region in the spring of the year.

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November 10, 2005

Life In Joeys Sixty Years Ago

In this wonderfully evocative prose-poem Barbara Durlacher paints pictures in the mind as she recreates the Johannesburg of 60 years ago.

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November 03, 2005

The Red Books

Barbara Durlacher pays tribute to Arthur Mee, author and compiler of the Red Books, the famous Children’s Encyclopaedia which has brought her so much pleasure down the years.

When she was six Barbara said "If the house burns down, the two things I’ll save are the Red Books, and my Teddy Bear!”

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October 27, 2005

Blood Relations

What a good son Alec was. All those presents for his mother. Until the day the police came to call… But a mother is prepared to forgive anything, as Barbara Durlacher’s story reveals.

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October 20, 2005

A Very Different World

Barbara Durlacher takes a bleak thought-provoking look into the future.

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October 13, 2005

Floods In Lech

After a wonderful holiday in Africa Barbara Durlacher’s daughter, Elizabeth, returned home to Switzerland, there to find her village devastated by floods.

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October 06, 2005

The Charm Of Desert Areas

"Donkeys were used to pull the ore trains in Van der Stel’s time, as beasts of burden, and as the major, if not only, form of transport. They are still used for transport by the poorer folk, who are collectively known as the “Karretjie-mense” (cart-people) as they depend so completely on these animals. For many years the South African Police used camels to patrol the desert, and a commemorative statue stands outside the Upington Police Station to this day...''
Barbara Durlacher, who has an eager eye for detail, takes us touring in a desert region of her homeland, South Africa.

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September 29, 2005

Cape Spring

"...in spring, the Cape shines with a brilliance found nowhere else in Africa. Diaphanous curtains of rain sweep across the mountains but after a shower the clouds blow away and the reflected blue skies on the rain-washed streets lend an air of magic to commonplace scenes.'' Barbara Durlacher's words make you long to immediately pack your bags and head out to see the places she has described.

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September 22, 2005

A Trip To The Market

"She could feel his eyes on her. Hot, burning eyes...'' A trip to the market can be a dangerous journey for a young South African woman, as Barbara Durlacher's story reveals.

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September 15, 2005

The Owl House

Barbara Durlacher tells of The Owl House, and the reclusive woman who created it in the remote village of Nieu-Bethesda, South Africa.

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September 08, 2005

Impressions Of Botswana and Zimbabwe - July, 2005

"...Then, as the sun was sinking, we got within sighting distance of the birds. There, far against the soft blue of the late afternoon, was a band of pink, moving gently from right to left. Through my binoculars I saw a great congregation of water birds. One could see pelicans and red-legged stilts and, slightly further back, flamingos by the thousand...'' Barbara Durlacher delighted in the scenery and the wild life on a trip to Botswana and Zimbabwe in July - but she was depressed by what she saw of the ruination of a once prosperous and viable country by the totalitarian regime in Zimbabwe.

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September 01, 2005

The Lucky Dress

Handsome Naval officers, jewels, bright clothes, a ship-board cocktail party... Barbara Durlacher mixes the ingredients for a romantic re-union.

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August 25, 2005

The Equine Ballerinas Of Kyalami

Barbara Durlacher tells of the wonderful troop of Lipizzaner "dancing'' horses of Kyalami, the counterparts of the famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna. The dramatic story of how the Lipizzaners came to South Africa is prime Hollywood material. An ex Polish Cavalry officer, Count George Jawolkowski, became involved in creating the only performing troop of "dancing'' horses outside Austria. As a young girl Barbara took riding lessons from George.

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August 18, 2005

They Said It Was Only A Tremor

Barbara Durlacher tells of the terrible consequences of an earth tremor which earlier this year led to the closure of a South African gold mine.

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August 11, 2005

The Bus From Athens

Barbara Durlacher recalls a long and exhausting journey from Athens to London on the Magic Bus - a journey during which she learned an important lesson.

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August 04, 2005

Have You Visited The Pilansberg Yet?

"The dams have wallowing hippos, and there are rhino, many warthog, large numbers of lion and big herds of elephants...'' Barbara Durlacher suggests a visit to the Garden of Eden that is Pilansberg National Park, a 90-minute drive from Johannesburg.

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July 28, 2005

Smoke From The Campfire

She was not sure if there were any predators here. Best to keep the fire burning brightly. Barbara Durlacher recalls the smell of wood smoke and the majesty of the Milky Way while doing a stint of night watch on a camping trip to a game park.

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July 21, 2005

New And Old Johannesburg

Barbara Durlacher tells something of the history of Johannesburg - and the effects of modern transport and the ever-increasing demand for space on the city, and on its new version of itself, Sandton.

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July 14, 2005

Hamburg - In The Eastern Cape

Barbara Durlacher gives a fascinating account of how the town of Hamburg in South Africa's Eastern Cape region came to be founded. Barbara has a German-born ancestor who lived in that area.

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July 07, 2005

It Started As A Whisper

A whisper can lead to the loss of life, as Barbara Durlacher's short story reveals.

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June 30, 2005

It's A Hard Life When You're On Your Own

Barbara Durlacher tells a story about two "outies'', men of the open road - a story with an ending that will shock the reader.

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June 23, 2005

He Almost Lost It All

"How sad, and what an indictment of this extravagently rich city, that it seems it is only the elderly who perch so precariously themselves on the edge of insecurity, who can really appreciate the fear and anxiety of ageing pensioners, forced for many different reasons to live alone...''

Barbara Durlacher's true story about the plight of a lonely, feeble old man is set in Johannesburg. Hundreds of thousands of elderly people are caught it in similar sad situations in cities and towns around the world.

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June 16, 2005

The Mitford Family

Barbara Durlacher introduces us to members of the eccentric, literary (some of them) English family, the Mitfords. One of the six Mitford girls, Nancy, wrote some of the finest and funniest English novels of the Twentieth Century. Nancy, and other members of the family, were far too extraordianry to be characters in a novel.

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June 09, 2005

A Postcard From Venice

Barbara Durlacher's poem is as rich and colourful as the city in which it is set.

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June 02, 2005

A Fabergé Disappointment

Barbara Durlacher enjoys the sights of Moscow but experiences keen diappointment when she goes to see the fabulous Fabergé eggs.

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May 26, 2005

The Buttonback Chairs

So many memories, so much history is bound up in two button-back chairs. With those chairs as a starting point, Barbara Durlacher presents an engrossing, richly-detailed South African family saga.

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May 19, 2005

Afternoon Tides

"A fin moved in, directly towards the swimmer...'' Barbara Durlacher tells a brief, dramatic story, with a surprise in the last paragraph.

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May 12, 2005

A New Language

"Is change always for the better,'' asks Barbara Durlacher in this thoughtful article about the haste to obliterate the Afrikaans language in South Africa, a country which one day may be known as Azania.

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May 05, 2005

A Visit To Montecasino

Barbara Durlacher guides us round Montecasino, an Italian-style village re-created in Johannesburg, a slightly Disney-like but charming 40-acre theme park dedicated to leisure activity.

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April 28, 2005

The Vervet Monkeys

Barbara Durlacher tells of a troop of vervet monkeys - possibly once captive and intended to be used for the production of vaccines in a virology lab - which survived on the Witwatersrand Highveld in South Africa.

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April 21, 2005

The Package From Amsterdam

There was a squealing of brakes, slamming of doors, then a furious ringing of the entrance security bell... Barbara Durlacher tells of the day when the Drug Squad arrived to investigate the noisy gang upstairs.

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April 14, 2005

Two Weeks In Croatia

"The over-riding impression of the Croatian and Adriatic coast is of bare, sparsely forested mountains, towering over clear blue seas; arid, windswept, empty island archipelagos where even the tiniest patch of cultivatable ground is utilised; old stone houses and friendly people...'' Barbara Durlacher, roaming far from her South African homeland, paints a portrait of Croatia that will make you long to go and see the country.

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April 07, 2005

Two Days In Tangiers

Barbara Durlacher, in a column which begins with menace but ends in delight, paints a colourful word picture of Tangiers.

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March 31, 2005

The Twelve Apostles

"Wonder what he's got in mind? Have I got myself into something I can't handle?'' Barbara Durlacher writes enticingly of an invitation by a bronzed and good-looking man in his mid-30s to go swimming from one of South Africa's most famous beaches.

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March 24, 2005

The Vegetable Basket

In words more vivid than any photograph, Barbara Durlacher captures a Johannesburg scene on a summer's morn in 1941.

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March 17, 2005

The Changing Bird Population Of Johannesburg

Barbara Durlacher reports that climate changes are resulting in variations in the bird life around the city of Johannesburg.

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March 10, 2005

The Picture Frame

George, who is renovating a house with the intention of renting it out, buys a one-rand bargain at an auction sale. But what happens to that bargain? There's a chuckle in the tail of Barbara Durlacher's story.

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March 03, 2005

Makoko, The Toy Boy

Barbara Durlacher tells of the famous Max, who "detained'' a fleeing burglary suspect. Oh, by the way...Max was a huge silverback gorilla.

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February 24, 2005

Design For Living

Barbara Durlacher introduces us to Hugh Goyns, a splendid chap who gave the very best guidance on now to have a happy retirement.

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February 17, 2005

A New Development

The city of Johannesburg is marching inexorably further and further north as its suburbs expand. As urban sprawl devours more and more of the lovely Highveld grassland, Barbara Durlacher remembers childhood days when she could ride a bike down sandy roads through unspoilt country.

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February 10, 2005

I Always GiveThem Something

This column by Barbara Durlacher will set you thinking about whether the impulse to do good necessarily results in good being done.

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February 03, 2005

The Laird's Dream

"At first sight, the Lord Milner Hotel...seems incongruously out-of-place... Like a faded snapshot, the Victorian buildings doze in the bright sunlight.'' Barbara Durlacher tells the story of James Logan, the Scottish emigrant son of a humble railway worker, who became the fabulously wealthy "Laird of Matjiesfontein''. The hotel that he built has now been lovingly restored.

Be warned. Barbara's wonderfully evocative prose will immediately make you want to don your travelling boots and set out for the place she describes.

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January 27, 2005

Sad Day

Barbara Durlacher is deeply moved by the death of her neighbour, Aidan, and pays this heartfelt tribute to a man who flew a Spitfire during the Battle of Britain.

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January 20, 2005

All Her Lovers

Barbara Durlacher reveals why someone would pay £200 for a dingy strip of khaki.

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January 13, 2005

A Tale Of Classic Cars

Barbara Durlacher tells the story of how Bozo the dog became involved with a very special collection of classic cars.

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January 06, 2005

The White Gogo's Mokhukhu

"Lots of lovely trees, and 24-hour security, especially important near an area occupied by blacks,'' Mrs Crabbe tells Tandi the black girl, describing the complex where she lives. Barbara Durlacher's story reveals that the "worlds'' occupied by Mrs Crabbe and Tandi are still far apart.

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December 30, 2004

The Other Matjiesfontein

Barbara Durlacher, painting a vivid word picture, introduces us to a quiet high plateau corner of her South African homeland.

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December 23, 2004

The Dubai Flight

Barbara Durlacher longs for those leisurely days of travelling by ocean liner as bad smells assail her nostrils on a flight to Dubai.

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December 16, 2004

Sam's Christmas Gift

Some stories cry out to be told. Barbara Durlacher's downbeat tale reminds us that for all too many people Christmas can bring sadness, along with the joy.

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December 10, 2004

Visit To Cannobio

Our new columnist Barbara Durlacher writes of a holday visit to Cannobio, a beautiful place on the shore of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy.

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December 03, 2004

Mr Duck-Duck And His Family

Barbara Durlacher tells us of Mr Duck-Duck, an Egyptian goose with a healthy appetite who patrols the gardens of the complex where she lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This is Barbara's first contribution to Open Writing. She will be writing regularly for us in the forthcoming weeks and months. Watch out for more Jo-Burg Days!

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