Thursday’s Special: Grandfather’s Clock

Paula’s ‘Thursday’s Special Challenge’ this week is ‘Traces Of The Past’. Somewhere in one of our packing boxes which came over from South Africa, is hubby’s grandfather’s clock, which was presented to him in 1894 by grateful members of the church where he’d served as minister.


Many years ago, when we visited my sister-in-law in Ireland, hubby found the old clock languishing in her cellar. He asked if we could take it back to South Africa with us as she obviously didn’t use it. She agreed and it was taken on the plane as hand luggage. The case is black slate and marble and is very heavy, weighing over 20 kgs (44 lbs). We removed the mechanism and packed it separately so it wouldn’t get damaged en route. I remember us buying a small suitcase which would be allowed as cabin baggage, to put it in. The trick was to carry it through check-in and onto the plane as though it weighed next to nothing, or it may not have been allowed. Back home, we had it serviced and it worked as good as new, even the chime. It had a really beautifully ornate key for winding, which very annoyingly, the service guy said that he’d mislaid. He gave us a plain one as a replacement, saying he would look for the original in his workshop, but it never reappeared. Hmmm!

Although the date on the plaque is 1894, we were told that the clock is actually much older, so it must have been 2nd hand when grandfather got it. The ‘pair of bronzes’ it mentions, are a mystery, and no-one in the family has them, which is a great pity, as we would have liked those to go with it.


The church is no longer standing, having been demolished in the 1980’s, but I found this postcard picture of it on the internet.


Once our house renovations are completed, it will be fun to unpack all our boxes and give this old clock a special place in our sitting room.





Thursday’s Special: Traces Of An Inca Empire


For Paula’s Thursday’s Special, ‘Traces Of The Past’, I’ve chosen this photo of one of the most important places on my Bucket List. The ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru, is believed by most archaeologists to have been built as an estate for the Inca emperor, Pachacuti (1438-72). It had lain hidden amidst dense jungle-covered mountains until 1911, when American historian, Hiram Bingham, announced his discovery of it. Can you just imagine the excitement he must have felt on suddenly discovering this magical silent landscape for the first time?

The well-preserved ruins overlooking the Vilcanata river valley, and surrounded by colossal green mountains, seem to almost cling to the steep hillside. Even if you’ve seen photos of this wondrous structure, it doesn’t in the slightest prepare you for seeing the breath-taking and awe-inspiring sight, firsthand.

You realise when you get there, that you don’t just ‘visit’ Machu Picchu, you feel as though you are making a pilgrimage there. The Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda wrote, “Machu Picchu is a trip to the serenity of the soul, to the eternal fusion with the cosmos; where we feel our fragility. It is one of the greatest marvels of South America. A resting place of butterflies in the epicentre of the great circle of life. One more miracle.”


Thursday’s Special: An Outlaw’s Hiding Place

This week’s ‘Thursday’s Special’ is a challenge dedicated to the past. Paula says, “It can be a past that is abandoned and about to be forgotten, or past that is still functional and intertwined with present.

On our recent visit to England, I revisited a place not far from my home town, which brought back fond memories of my childhood. Sherwood Forest was a favourite place for weekend outings with my parents and sister, and in those days there was no entrance fee or protection of this now world famous tree, ‘Robin Hood’s Major Oak’.


As a child, I really believed the legends surrounding this amazing tree which is thought to be almost 1,000 years old. As my sister and I climbed around inside the hollow trunk which has a girth of  33 ft (10 m), I used to imagine Robin Hood and his Merry Men, together with the fair Maid Marion, hiding themselves there from the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham and his cruel henchmen. I remember that there were shelves inside the trunk, where the intrepid outlaws were supposed to have stored their food provisions.


Nowadays, it’s fenced off from the public and supported with an impressive network of scaffolding, which I suppose is  very necessary for its preservation, but somewhat disappointing to the child still in me, who was longing to run across and touch this wonderful old tree and to feel the thrill of being inside that old tree trunk once more.