The Story Weaver...

                                           telling Prince Albert’s stories since 2002

                                                                                       August 2020

It’s been a quiet month as Prince Albert adapts to the extended lockdown and we really missed our tourist friends and visitors. On 30th July we heard leisure tourism had been given the green light to re-open, we expect visitors will head for the peace which is Prince Albert. 

Coffee shops and restaurants have been able to serve guests on-site and the lovely warm Winter days mean that sheltered spots in gardens and on verandas have become the place to sit and enjoy a meal or a tea time treat. Café O at the O for Olive farm is five kilometres from town and has always served their meals on their veranda or under shady pergolas in the garden, and a drive along the gravel road to the farm makes one feel one has had an outing. The Rude Chef, Lah-di-dah and African Relish have all established their niches with take-aways, lunch and suppers. 

On Sunday our traditional roast lunch is delivered to our home on a tray by a cheerful Lazy Lizard staff member.  Home cooked meals are also available from The Green Lentil, Jacqui’s, Karoo Lodge and Pandora.  Now leisure tourism is allowed again they’ll be lots of choice for meals in your self-catering accommodation.

The Saturday Market has re-opened, with strict COVID hygiene protocols in place. Although we cannot sit and ‘kuier’ (an evocative Afrikaans word for socialising) as we used to, the fact that the colourful stalls stock fresh vegetables, home bakes and take-aways and sell books and bags, has brought a smile back to Saturday mornings. 

Here's Pandora with her delicious home-bakes.

On-line businesses are buzzing. Handmade Karoo Handgemaak is nearly ten years old and the ladies continue to create their lovely knitted and crocheted toys, blankets and embroidered kitchen linen. Since they can work from home they have been able to generate vitally needed income,  you can visit their on-line shop here. Here are some of the team in a photo taken last year.

The Showroom Theatre’s Wednesday Movie Club evenings and Saturday children’s film screenings might have closed BUT they are now streaming films - which means their weekly offerings can be watched from the comfort of your home. You can find out more here

The Prince Albert Friend is our monthly get Karoo Community newspaper. The editor and production team made the decision to go on-line when lockdown first started. I know of former Prince Albert residents in the UK,  Eire, Australia and Germany who are thrilled to be able to follow local news. It’s a bilingual publication, so those who read Afrikaans can appreciate the whole edition but if you don’t, there are lots of articles in English. The latest issue and past editions can be accessed here.

Speaking of Afrikaans, Oudtshoorn poet Poem Moonies has just published a history of Prince Albert: Stories uit Lap: Die ontstaan van Prins Albert (Stories from ‘Lap’: the origins of Prince Albert) Poem was born and grew up here and his book honours the memories of those who built this community, their language, culture and their faith in God. Click here for more information (in Afrikaans).  
Photo of Poem Monnies by Marlene Malan

Sense of Community is still the watchword here and the Prince Albert Community Trust has been feeding children daily at the PACT/POP Centre since 22nd March and recently passed the 40 000 mark of meals served.

It also supplies food to several other feeding schemes: the Bejaardesorg at Sydwell Williams for retired residents, the primary school in Leeu Gamka and Mickey Mouse pre-school in Klaarstroom. The team considers it a privilege to work with the dedicated folk who daily provide meals for the vulnerable.  All these schemes have been privately funded and if you can assist your contribution would be deeply appreciated. Click here for details.

Another community initiative was the Nelson Mandela Day clean-up organised to clear wind-blown litter from the North entrance to town. More than 40 people arrived with their gloves and bags, all masked and working at a safe distance, they cleared a stretch along the road and intend making this a weekly Friday event to keep the town neat and tidy.  The following week the programme expanded to Prince Albert Road.

Last month I told the story of Deborah van der Bijl and our endemic mesembryanthemum, the Bijlia dilatata. and I mentioned another of the plants Deborah collected: the neilii cana. Sue Dean of Renu-Karoo Nursery contacted me to say that the neilli cana may well be Glottiphyllum neilli (below) which is present on the Wolwekraal Nature Reserve and sold in their nursery from seed-grown plants.

Then I received a lovely surprise, local restauranteur, Jeremy Freemantle let me know that the famous botanical artist Cythna Letty was his Great Aunt, his paternal grandmother's sister.  I had misspelt her name - my apologies, Jeremy.  I hope to bring you more about Cythna in a future newsletter but Jeremy’s message and an article in the last Prince Albert Friend stirred memories of some interesting links between past residents and illustrious descendants, so that is where we are heading for our Prince Albert story this month….

Dr Pieter Christoffel Luttig was born in the Prince Albert district on the farm Uitkyk in 1870. He attended school here and obtained his BA degree at Stellenbosch then traveled overseas and completed his medical degrees at the universities of Edinburgh and Leipzig. He returned to practice in Aliwal North. where he became engaged to Agnes de Wet, whose father was a member of the Cape Parliament. The Anglo-Boer War erupted and Pieter and his prospective father-in-law were arrested and interned in Beaufort West. Pieter was released on parole on condition that he return to his home village and report to the military three times a week. His mother must have been so relieved to see him, since two of his brothers had joined the Transvaal army, one had died in action and the other of dysentery.  

The diary Pieter kept during this period is lodged at the Fransie Pienaar Museum and shows the strain which Martial Law placed on the Prince Albert community. He was not allowed to practice medicine, so he worked on the farm, smoking fruit trees and peeling peaches for canning; read classical and medical books and attended music and choir meetings. He was eventually allowed to assist Dr Mearns and in 1901, on his retirement,  took over his practice. The following year Pieter married his Aggie. They served the community for 32 years, which included the dark days of the Spanish Flu pandemic, the topic of the Prince Albert Friend article.

They had four sons,  two daughters and many grandchildren and one of their great-grandsons visited Prince Albert in June 2016 to inaugurate the parkrun trail here. His name is Bruce Fordyce, the Comrades Marathon runner who established parkrun in South Africa. We had no idea of his Prince Albert connection until that visit. 

The Ford in the photo above, showing Dr Luttig dispensing medicine at Leeu Gamka, is still here in town and its registration number is CCA 1.

I’ll tell some more tales of other past and present locals  with interesting connections in future newsletters.

I'll end with a happy photo of Spring daisies in our street. Please stay safe and wear a mask when you must venture out.

If you’d like to see more photos and brief notes about Prince Albert and the district, please visit the Prince Albert experiences facebook page, which I update on a daily basis. Many photographers generously share their images of this special place.

My Ghost Walks and Historical Rambles will resume one day...
if you are curious about my walks or have already joined me and would like to comment you can do so here!

Now that you can plan your visit to Prince Albert, remember you can
 find your accommodation here.



The Story Weaver

Prince Albert

Tel: 023 5411 211  e-mail:

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