Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blue Bend

There is a tranquil spot at the mouth of the Nahoon River in East London which we sometimes visit. Blue Bend is what it used to be called in my youth, but today, with rampant development, much of its charm has been lost. But get onto the rocks on the Beacon Bay side of the mouth, and you get lovely views up the river towards the Dassie Trail, across it to Nahoon Beach and Reef, and then down the river and out to sea. It was here I did a few sketches one scorching day a few summers ago.

There is a bit of bleeding on the left due to the type of drawing book, which doesn't lend itself to scanning unless one removes pages. But I think the charm of the place is still evident in this drawing of a man standing, and others lying or playing on a spit of sand on the Nahoon side of the river.

This is probably my favourite drawing of the series. These were all people hanging around on the edge of the river. You can see a guy with a large tractor-tyre tube, another in a speedo, and some with towels draped over shoulders, while out at sea a ship charges forth.

In the same area, on the muddy banks at Nahoon River mouth, a group boys play, while a woman stands pensively.

This was done from the top of a sand dune east of Bonza Bay near German Bay, looking back towards Nahoon Reef, and beyond that to the East London harbour in the Buffalo River Mouth.

Boy on the beach. I can't recall which of my sons this is, but it may just be Douglas, then aged about 12.

Back on that placid stretch of water at Nahoon Mouth, a canoeist takes a paddle. We enjoyed crossing the narrow river and heading upstream 100 metres or so, then letting the fast-receding tidal water take us downstream.

Foreshortening. This is Doug again, and his foot looks overly large because it is so much closer.

This is my nephew, Stuart Bentley, before he put on a huge growth spurt.

Another of those drawings I do without looking down at the page. This time it's my son, Luke, again done five or six years ago.

At the time Stuart and his mom, my late brother's widow Hazel, lived in a house in Ridgeview Crescent, Beacon Bay, which had a stunning view down onto the Nahoon River, as shown here. In the distance can be seen the bridge linking Beacon Bay with the rest of East London. But there was a time, in 1970, when that bridge collapsed - or rather it's predecessor, the Jack Batting Bridge, did. It was all due to the floods of August, that year, when 855mm of rain - that's nearly a metre! - fell in five days. Nahoon Valley, on the right of this picture, was submerged. The rain had stopped when we got out of school (Clifton Park, now Hudson Park) and reached the bridge. A cop told us we could cross at our own risk. An entire support had subsided about three metres, which meant the road took a huge angular dip, before rising again. We walked across as the flood waters surged in a brown torrent just underneath us. Nearby, the roofs of all the houses along the river were all that remained visible. Among those damaged was that of Mossie Kemp, the estate agent, which was just alongside the bridge. Army engineers then built what they called a Bailey Bridge, which was probably something used in making crossings for tanks. I think it was one lane only, which meant long delays both ways for a few years until the current, new bridge was completed around 1972.

And so to water of another kind. This is fairly cryptic, but is in fact my brother-in-law Gus Weyer surveying the Madonna and Child waterfall on the Hogsback.

We had a major Bentley family gathering on the Hog in 2006 to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday. That's the feisty matriarch in the middle of the picture. She was still game for a good few walks through the forest - which she repeated when we last visited in 2010. On the right seems to be my lovely wife Robyn (I do both of them little justice), while above is my niece, Lara.

But all holidays must come to an end. In fact, these are sketches I did from my bedroom window of a guy with a pick-axe preparing a section of sidewalk for the laying of brick paving at a house across the road.

And then there was just moi. It must have been a tricky time, judging by the hare-in-the-headlights expression.


  1. Hi Kin,
    Just come across your blog via google and found it so interesting....all the picture and sights you mention, I remember so well. I grew up in Nahoon - Annandale Road just down from Sofintinis Castle and used to frequent Nahoon beach and river all the time. You mentioned your brother-in-law Guss Weyer....would he be related to Sharon Weyer who came from Kimberley - her brother Desmond (also called Guss)has a pharmacy somewhere around Selborne or Vincent (I think)....Regards, Katiecam...

  2. Hi. Not sure how to operate this, but just to confirm that is the same Gus Weyer. Now works for Dischem in EL. Kind regards, Kin