At the age of eight, my dear friend Michael Smiley and I, were enrolled at Treverton Boarding School for boys in Mooi River, Natal. Located in the interior, of the province of Natal, we were only a 30 minute drive from the majestic Drakensberg Mountain Range.
It would take two train trips for us to get to school. The first train trip, our Mum’s would see us off, from Scottburgh, our home town, a 37 mile train trip, running parallel to the Indian Ocean to Durban – what an incredible view! From Durban we would need to change trains on our own, go to another platform, and board the train for Mooi River. Here we were met by the Headmaster of our school, who was like a father to all of us 180 kids. How special was that? We all loved him like he was everyone’s Dad!! This was approximately a 200 miles train journey for us. Having our own compartment, and meeting up with some of our 8 year old friends, was exciting. Sharing all the exciting things we did over over the holidays was one of the special things we look forward to, after every school holiday.
The reverse train trip, taking us home for our school holidays, was the same but in reverse. The headmaster would wake us from our beds in our dormitory at6 around 10pm, help us get dressed – drive us to the train station to board our train at 11 pm.He would always ensure that we both boarded safely onto the train. On arriving in Durban, we would once again have to change trains on our own, change platforms, in order to catch the train that would take us all the way home, down the scenic South Coast of Natal.! This was an adventure for us, even at this early age. I believe this is where having built strong friendships, certainly gave us a huge boost to our confidence, we felt comfortable, and in control for this journey – even at the tender age of 8. The emphasis throughout these early years, was to have fun, be happy and enjoy life at boarding school. Stay healthy with all of the activities available to us, an appreciation of always being in the outdoors. Horse back riding, history lessons in some of the historic Boer War locations near our school. We were allowed a great deal of “play” after school, whether it be in organized sports, or just playing together in the school’s enormous “playgrounds”, with so many friends! Yes, these were joyful “early years” that certainly molded me into who I am today.