'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Cumbrians Abroad –and the collarless shirt

In recent years, for some reason, I have taken to wearing a collarless shirt – the grand-dad/Nehru shirt that was popular back in the 60s. I have noticed that the collarless shirt is now very popular with men of a certain age (mine) and of the Cumbrian persuasion. On the recent trip to the Western Cape, travelling from the airport we stopped at Thandi for some breakfast. It's one of those places sort of not far enough from Capetown and too near our house for us to usually stop, but, breakfast on the flight had been non-existent and I/we needed scrambled eggs, beans and fried tomatoes. Thandi is a Black Empowerment Project (BEP) with a Fair Trade vineyard and we'd seen and bought the Thandi brand from the Co-op in Aspatria. We'd often passed it but have only ever stopped there once. We had been impressed with the look of the place and the attention to detail and service and thought that it was worth a second visit. Breakfast was good and the staff attentive and happy. We have seen a few of the BE projects over the years and they tend to be badly organized, untidy and unhappy. I was also strangely interested in the pronunciation of the word 'butter' by the waitress. I commented to Ren-Woman (t'wife) that I thought she may be just mimicking my Cumbrian accent.

As I was doing that finger licking thing I do with the baked beans juice the white guy appeared. There's usually a white person or two involved in these projects – volunteers and advisors and not necessarily a good thing. In this case it was a good thing. The white guy was the eccentric and affable Alan Clowes. What was initially eccentric was the fact that he was wearing exactly the same collarless shirt as me. 'Where did you get the shirt?' I sez. 'Marks & Spencer – Carlisle – where did you get yours? ' he sez. 'Marks & Spencer – Carlisle' I sez. Bizarre!!

The turnout is that Mr. Clowes is a Cumbrian from Kendal and has been at Thandi working as a volunteer with Christine (his long suffering wife) for 2 years. They are there as a result of Friends of Thandi - based in Kendal. The Clowes bring donated bikes, guitars, banjos, plant and equipment and the Kendal Rugby Teams last years strip to Thandi and keep an eye on business and devote what seems to be endless energy to the well-being of the community. Alan has also had a bash at teaching English to the Thandi partners. Hence the 'butter' pronunciation and the cry from the kitchens of 'pass me them uniuns marra'.

Alan is currently looking for people to: teach plant & equipment care and maintenance; teach playing the banjo; teach English as foreign language; supervise a daytrip for 70 kids and parents to the seaside; donate some money; set up a Saturday farmers and craft market; and on and on …..

We've been back twice during the recent stay: once with the A-B and family. A-B (a Cumbrian of a certain age wearing a collarless shirt) may find himself volunteered for some blacksmithing teaching; the second time was for Sunday lunch (roast beef, Yorkshire pudding..) with the Scouse African and the Angel. Scouse African may find himself volunteered for something but has only succumbed to the collarless shirt once in recent weeks.

Buy the Wine. Visit the Web Sites. Get Involved. Volunteer for Something.

  1. To create more permanent jobs.
  2. To train older workers
  3. To train young people
  4. To plant more orchards
  5. To plant more vines
  6. To open a laundry
  7. To open a mechanical workshop
  8. To open a Computer training centre
  9. To enable the community to support itself
  10. To enable Thandi to support other projects

Contact Thandi



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