Darlene Foster's Blog

Special Guest, Sally Cronin: Travels as a Child

Posted on: June 26, 2020

I am delighted to have the amazing Sally Cronin as my guest today as she tells us about her adventurous life as a child traveller.

Travels as a Child Cape Town, South Africa – 1963-1965 – Sally Cronin

My father was a Royal Naval officer, and by the time I was ten years old, I had quite a few adventures under my belt. When I was 18 months old my father was posted to Sri Lanka (Ceylon at that time) for two years to a place where my early memories were formed. In early 1959, when I was six-years-old, we moved to Malta for two years, flying via Rome airport, where my two-year-old brother escaped and was recaptured running across the tarmac under a plane.

But the biggest adventure would be in early 1963 when we left for Cape Town, South Africa, so my father could take up his shore-based post at Simon’s Town.

I was in my last year at primary school in Portsmouth, and there was some talk about leaving me behind for the two years as a boarder, with the navy paying for one return trip a year to visit my parents and brother. There was no way I was going to agree to that; I was already packed and ready to go.

Our house in Portsmouth was let out for two years to another naval family that had been posted to the area. We all underwent a medical examination and had a number of top-up vaccinations. Then we flew out of RAF Brize Norton on a charter flight with other service personnel going to Africa, and I have a vivid memory of the seats facing the rear of the plane which seemed very strange. We took off in the early hours of the morning and were woken about 5 a.m. for a greasy breakfast of egg and bacon, which we children, of course, wolfed down. It was a very long flight and there was no inflight entertainment as there would be today. I had a pile of books to wade through so I was very happy.

We arrived in Nairobi to be met by a liaison officer who drove us out of the city in the searing sunshine of the mid-afternoon. Despite living in Sri Lanka with its humid summers, it was my first experience of the dry heat of Africa. I was fascinated by the mirage effect the scorching sun produced on the long straight road ahead of us, with trucks and cars floating several feet off the ground. I just knew Africa was going to be full of wonders. That night we stayed at a safari hotel with rooms around a central courtyard; packed with souvenir sellers. I remember my mother bought a beautiful carved wooden giraffe for me that survived until only recently when a leg broke off in our last move nearly 60 years later.

The next morning we were driven back to Nairobi early for a mid-morning flight to Cape Town, only to be placed in detention as my brother and I were missing one of the necessary vaccinations. Yellow Fever requirements had been overlooked at our medical because they had not been aware that we would be staying in transit (more than 12 hours) in Kenya which was considered high risk for the disease. My parents’ earlier Yellow Fever vaccinations from their time in Sri Lanka were valid, but as I was a baby when we were posted there, I had not been vaccinated. It looked like we would be refused entry into South Africa without it. I remember my father leaving us in a small room with our luggage, to make telephone calls, and eventually, he returned with a doctor who gave us children the vaccination and stamped the paperwork. They were not happy that it had not been administered inside of the regulation time frames but allowed us to continue with agreement from the authorities in Cape Town that we would be quarantined for 10 days on arrival.

The Royal Navy put us up at a hotel in Newlands, a southern suburb of Cape Town, and my father took up his post at Simon’s Town. We had a liaison officer who took my mother around to both my brother’s new school in Rondebosch and mine, which was Newlands Public School, in preparation for starting after our quarantine was completed. In South Africa at the time, children started formal education at 7 and stayed in primary until 13, unlike the UK which was 5 to 11 years old. I was expected to learn Afrikaans as soon as possible, so I was put in the class with children of 12 years old for general studies but joined the 7-year-olds for their Afrikaans lessons. It made for a very interesting transition period, but having already been to three schools during our travels, I just got on with it.

Sally in her school uniform

After six weeks, we moved into a house rented by the navy for us in a suburb of Newlands and close to a large park. I was bought a bike to get to school, and I also used it to explore the local area at the weekends. It was customary when families left to return to the UK after their two years, that dogs and other pets were found homes with new families. It was not long before we inherited a rather battle-scarred boxer dog, called Bosun whose bark was thankfully a cover for a huge heart. For two children trying to adapt to new schools and language, it was a great comfort to get a slobbery welcome when we came through the door.

Having tea on the stoep in Newlands

We settled in to enjoy the wonderful life that living in Cape Town offered. We went to the beach most weekends, including on Christmas day. I had a body surfer and spent my time in the water, only appearing occasionally for some fresh peaches. We would join other naval families on long weekends in the Ceres Mountains in the Northern Cape, where we stayed in rondavels and swam in a huge swimming pool filled with freezing water from the mountains… All our meals were cooked on the outside BBQ including boiling a kettle for tea. In the evenings we would have dinner with the group and then us older kids would leave the adults to their demi-johns of local wine; heading for the now darkened pool with its cold water and frogs for a last swim.

After a year my sister Diana joined us from England and it was great to have her with us. She worked on the Cape Argus newspaper and featured on the front page from time to time when they needed an attractive face to front a story.

The Edinburgh Castle ship  https://commons.wikimedia.org

When it came time to return to England it very sad to leave the friends we had made during the two years, and also our much loved Bosun. Thankfully my parents found another naval family who would give him a new home and we made our tearful goodbyes. We left Cape Town in the late summer of 1965 on the Edinburgh Castle, part of the Union-Castle Line, and incidentally, the same ship my sister Diana would later re-join, but this time as part of the crew as a ship’s purser. We left the harbour and sailed straight into a violent storm, and for the next couple of days we were virtually the only passengers eating in the dining room; clearly, we had inherited our sea legs from my father. For all the passengers who had not crossed the Equator before, there was a ceremony to mark the occasion. I have vivid memories of sliding along a slippery pole without falling off, being given a certificate, and feeling very proud of myself for the achievement.

My father’s next posting was as Commanding Officer of RNAS Inskip, a wireless transmission station in the wilds of Lancashire, about 20 minutes on the bus to my school in Preston and 30 minutes to the holiday town of Blackpool. I was enrolled into the Priory grammar school for girls and again because of the age disparity, I found myself in the second year, but behind everyone in the class with regard to virtually every subject, with a great deal of catching up to do. I had developed quite a strong accent during our time in South Africa; quite useful when you are the only English child out of 100 and wish to remain under the radar. But it was not long before I had adopted a passable Lancashire accent which allowed me to blend in. I remember that first wet and cold winter vividly and wished I was back in Cape Town playing with my friends in the sunshine.

Bio for Sally Cronin
I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another twelve books since then on health and also fiction, including four collections of short stories. My latest book is a collection of verse, micro fiction and speculative short stories titled Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words

I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.

Where to find Sally and her books:
Amazon Author Page US: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
Amazon Author Page UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-smorgasbord-blog-magazine-and-sally-cronin/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1

Here is my review of What’s in a Name? by Sally Cronin https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2146165416?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

If you haven’t already, I would suggest you connect with Sally. Her blog is full of great posts, book reviews, jokes, food, music and much more.


168 Responses to "Special Guest, Sally Cronin: Travels as a Child"

Reblogged this on Campbells World.

What an interesting childhood Sally had. Great post.

Thank you Anne.. not sure it did my academic qualifications much good but I certainly discovered a great many wonderful people and places.

An adventurous life is a better education than any school can give!.

Certainly builds confidence and itchy feet, probably why we have upped sticks so many times since.. hugsxx

Lovely post. Sally has led a storied life.

Thank you Jacqui.. certainly provided a rich assortment of characters to write about..xx

Most people who travel always have great stories to tell and Sally does it so well.

Isn’t that the truth? I haven’t traveled much but what I did, I realize people tend to adapt to their surroundings, their circumstances, and make a life for themselves. I love it.

Thank you for hosting this adventure Darlene, and writing it brought back many happy memories. hugsx

You are so welcome. You and Amanda have a lot in common!!

Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
I will leave you tonight with my African adventure as a guest of Darlene Foster.. author of the Amanda Travel series.. I think Amanda and I would have got along very well.. I hope you will head over to read the post in full.. thanks Sally.

Also thanks very much for your review of What’s in a Name Darlene.. so please you enjoyed meeting my co-conspirators in the book.. xx

You are so welcome. I loved the characters and their stories.xo

I can just see that long African road with the heat haze and floating vehicles. What an adventure, but two years is such a short time when you are having fun. I wonder if Sally ever used the Afrikaans she learnt?

Thanks Janet and sad to say the younger Sally found the swear words she was introduced to by school friends came in very useful back at home where no-one understood them….xx

So the learning was not wasted!

Two years for a child can be a long time. I´m sure Sally made use of some of the words, maybe not the good ones though! I loved that description too.

Always some new nuggets I eke out of these snippets Sally the world traveler. Fab guest post and great to see Sal here at your blog Darlene. ❤ xx

Thanks Debby…I shall have to keep a few nuggets for when we meet in person lol…♥

Oh, Sal, once we let loose, there’ll be no holds back lmaoooooooooo ❤

lol…just make sure there are no recording devices..♥♥

No Alexas allowed! ❤

never having one of those in the house….♥

Thanks, Debby. We are always learning more about our friend, Sally.

So much to learn! Lol ❤

Lovely to see, Sally here, Darlene… what a wonderful childhood full of adventure and things you can’t learn in the classroom 🙂 x

Thanks Carol.. and so right, you learn a great deal from being in someone else’s backyard.. would not change a childhood of travels for anything.. xxhugsx

I think travel it is the best educatation a child can have…Hugs xx

I agree with both of you, travel is a great education. I took my daughter out of school for one month in her second grade to travel around England. The teacher said she would learn more in that time than she could teach her in two years! My daughter, who was eight at the time and in her 40s now, has never forgotten that trip.

It is wonderful to learn more about Sally here. She certainly has had a rich and diverse background. I’m incredibly envious!

Thank you and glad you enjoyed. I am very lucky to have had the childhood that I did..in fact travel has always played a big part of my life.

I agree and am very envious of her. I didn´t get on an airplane until I was 27 years old.

Such an eventful life for a child. And such a terrific influence on a fabulous adult!

Ahh.. thanks Annette..it certainly taught me to be adaptable and to enjoy the fascinating richness in other cultures ♥

It is amazing how our childhood influences us as adults. I agree, Sally is fabulous.

Being the child of a military man or woman can be an exciting and tough gig. I love the picture of Sally in her school uniform. Thanks for sharing, Darlene.

Thanks Pete.. it does have its drawbacks, mostly the fact that you know that any friendships, particularly in those days pre-Internet are going to be short lived. I kept in touch for several years by snail mail but at that age it fizzles out as you keep moving..x

That is my favorite picture as well. Thanks, Pete.

What an interesting childhood you had, Sally! Wow!

Thank you Debra.. certainly gave me a great many tools for later life..

It´s better than a movie!!

What an interesting childhood you had, Sally.

Thank you Tori…I certainly appreciate it more and more as I get older…hugsx

Thanks, Tori! Aren´t we lucky to have met Sally!

Loved every word of it. Your brother must have given your mother a heart attack a few times. I’ve had three Boxer dogs down the years so the image of him greeting you from school was vivid in my mind.

Thanks Danny and my mother frequently told me that I was the one who made her pull her hair out.. I did like to push the envelope when it came to explorations on land and sea…we went on to have another boxer Jane a couple of years later and my eldest sister has had 6 over the last 50 years..xx

Thanks, Daniel. Sally is another dog lover!

I loved all this, Sally and Darlene – what a magical experience for you as a child and I adore your photos. Toni x

Thank you Toni.. it was magical, I won’t claim that I always felt comfortable immediately but as soon as I got the hang of the local accent…I was set lol..xx

Thanks, Toni. I love the pictures as well.

Reblogged this on Judith Barrow and commented:
Fascinating post with Sally Cronin – fabulous supporter of all writers

Thanks for reblogging this post, Judith!

My pleasure, Sally and Darlene. Sorry I’m late with response – having a week of editing – head in the clouds – or, I could say, in another world. x

Wow, what an interesting childhood you had, Sally! My grandfather worked out in South Africa for years, but unfortunately I never got to visit him there. All your travels must give you many ideas for plots.

Thanks Stevie.. at the time I think adapted each time and got on with it and it is only in retrospect as the memories come back that I appreciate how lucky I was. And yes a great boon for a writer. hugsx

And kids are very adaptable too. As long as Mum and Dad are around, then they’ll take what comes I think.

I agree that feeling of security is so important..xx

I have found, generally, that kids who travel at a young age are usually more flexible, tolerant, and adaptable as adults.

Perhaps that’s why I’m a home bird. I’d much rather stay at home than travel. I never travelled anywhere until I was about 19, when a friend and I went to Salou. She loved it, but I was homesick! I’ve been to many places around the globe since, but always look forward to coming home again.

Great post from Sally and so interesting to hear about her time in South Africa – well, a little bit of it as I’m sure she has many tales to tell from those days.

Thanks Mary.. and yes, certainly some tales to tell and sparked off by writing this piece.. nearly 60 years ago and they are filed somewhere in the archives of my mind…x

I´m so glad Sally shared this snippet with us. I´m sure there are many more tales to tell of her time in Soth Africa.

I’ve read about Sally’s childhood before, but not about her stay in South Africa in so much detail. What a fascinating childhood! I’m not surprised she’s been on the move ever since! Thanks for sharing a wonderful post, Darlene, and thanks to Sally. ♥

Thanks Olga, and I agree moving every two years as a child did generate a nomadic trend. Who knows it may be reactivated at some point but probably more locally..hugsx

Thanks for popping by, Olga. I was happy to feature Sally here on my blog.

WOW! What an adventurous life!

Thank you Marina… and one I am very grateful for..hugsx

Thanks, Marina. Often the truth is better than fiction!

Fascinating. Did you have any sense at that age of apartheid Sal?

Very much so Geoff. I had grown up with a different perspective on how different cultures blend together, particularly in school at home and in Malta. I found it difficult to follow the rules and the rebel in me did worry my parents as they were on the hook for our misbehaviour, although I know my mother paid our nanny under the counter more than the recommended amount and allowed her husband to stay over sometimes.At ten I did not understand why I could not be friends with anyone who I liked.x

I can quite believe the confusion and how difficult it was for your parents to toe that line

What a fascinating story, Sally! Wonderful opportunities to experience different cultures. Love the pic of you in your school uniform and, as a parent, I can imagine how yours must have felt when your brother was found running on the tarmac, lol! Thanks for featuring Sally, Darlene.

Thanks, Teri. I love learning more about our fellow bloggers.

Thanks Teri…my father had gone ahead of us so it was just my mother, my two sisters and me with my younger brother at 3 years old.. I think my mother did well to keep us all in line but turn your back for a moment and those toddlers are off, especially if they are plane mad.. in fact when my father heard the story he built my brother a bi-plane out of a coffee table and four pieces of wood for wings.. my brother loved it.x

Your mother was very brave to travel with young children. xo

She was quite used to it.. I think the only trip we made all together was to and back from Cape Town.. Probably explains why she enjoyed a schooner of sherry from time to time!! xx

Having been to south Africa a few years ago I found your description of these years especially interesting Sally. As others have wondered i too thought about apartheid. Reading your response earlier, I can imagine it would have been very hard to understand why you couldn’t play with whomever you wished. Do you think that experience as a child has helped you or affected you through your lifetime?

Thank for the question Sue. I hope that the experience influenced the way that I treated people both in personal relationships and in my career. The prejudices were very much present in the UK in the 60s and 70s and I was actually banned from the house of one of my friends because of my friendship with a young Dutch Indonesian Naval officer. It shocked me then and it still does today that people are judged by the colour of their skin, not on their character. The current protests are highlighting many areas we need to do a lot better, but we cannot change history, only the present and the future.

Thank you Sally. I agree we can only change the future and learn from the past. So fascinating to read your experience.

A great question, Sue. I truly believe that travelling and spending time with other cultures can reduce prejudices and affect how we treat individuals. I agree with Sally’s answer.

This was terrific! I love reading stories like this, about travel and life in places I haven’t visited. Thanks, Sally, and thanks, Darlene!

I’m pleased you enjoyed the post, Amy. I too love reading about other’s experiences in different countries.

Thank you very much Amy.. have a lovely weekend. x

What a lovely experience, Sally. Thank you for hosting Sally, Darlene.

Thanks for joining us John.. glad you enjoyed.. hugsx

Thanks, John. It is a great post!

A really great post, Sally. I so enjoyed learning about your time in South Africa. I also had to learn Afrikaans in a short time frame and can remember the teacher taking me aside to teach me the alphabet in Afrikaans. I have never forgotten it. I love Cape Town, my favourite place in South Africa. Thanks for hosting Sally, Darlene.

Thank you Robbie…I have very happy memories of Cape Town.. the weather was wonderful and we spent so much time outside as a family… hugsx

It was my pleasure to have Sally here as a guest and sharing her memories of living in Cape Town as a child. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. xo

Wonderful to see Sally could pay you a ‘visit’ Darlene 🙂
Your childhood sounds like one amazing adventure after another!

Looking back it was full of adventure and wonderful memories..hugsx

Thank you Jacquie.. very happy memories..I was very lucky..hugsx

I love hearing about Sally’s travels. And I can imagine how living in different countries shaped her as a child and later as an adult. Lovely post, Darlene.

Thank you Diana.. I do think it gave me the confidence to take up opportunities to live and work abroad later on in life, and gave me some wonderful memories of course..hugsx

Thank you, Diana. I too enjoy reading about Sally´s amazing life and was pleased she agreed to share it here.

What an exciting childhood. I would have loved all those travel experiences! Living abroad is such a great way to learn about other cultures–and your own as well.

I agree Sharon. I so wanted to see the world as a child, but didn´t actually get on an airplane until I was 27 years old! Thanks for stopping by.

Thank you Sharon and I agree travel does broaden the mind especially at that age when everything is absorbed…hugsx

You were young but old enough to remember very well of your life in Cape Town, Sally. Your experience added richness to your life.

My two nieces were in elementary school age when my engineer brother-in-law was assigned to Cairo by the Navy and worked there for five years. When they came back to the US, they made presentations to the classes about their life in Cairo.

Thank you, Darlene for featuring Sally. .

What an amazing experience for those girls. I´m pleased you enjoyed Sally´s post, Miriam.

I enjoyed Sally’s post a lot. Thank you, Darlene.

Thank you Miriam, and I am sure that they came home with some wonderfully rich memories especially after such an extended time.. xxhugs

What a delightful story of your childhood, Sally. Your memories are clear, and your childhood was full of adventures. I can imagine your brother running under the plane on the tarmac. Thank you for this post, Darlene.

I am so happy to have Sally share her childhood adventures here. Glad you enjoyed it.

They were wonderful! 😀

Thank you Jennie.. and I think the sight of my mother followed by airport staff charging across the tarmac was pretty memorable too…I didn’t know she could run that fast..xx

I bet it is crystal clear in your mind!

Yes it is, funny how I can’t remember half the things we did last week! xx

Amazing adventures 🙂

I know. So great to read about!

They were, perhaps not as appreciated at the time as I do now.. but memorable.

Darlene, a wonderful guest post and I’ve loved learning about Sally’s exciting childhood!😀

Sally, I feel for you and moving to Lancashire after two amazing years in South Africa! How fantastic that you still have the giraffe your mother bought for you in Nairobi… very precious!❤️

Thanks, Annika. It is a great post. I think Sally had an adventure wherever she lived, each one adding to the tapestry of her life!

Thanks Darlene. .and nice plug.. thank you..xxx

I don’t do wet and rainy very well Annika. I think being in sunny climes most of my childhood has spoilt me…Lancashire weather was a shock to the system.. as was Ireland’s after 17 years in Spain. Pity about the broken leg on the giraffe but I still have the bits safely in a box.. ♥

I greatly enjoyed reading Sally’s account of her time in South Africa as a child. What an adventure!

Thank you Liz.. it was a gift that kept giving as I got older and it boosted by confidence and ability to adapt to new surroundings.. xx

You’re right. That would be a gift.

Thanks, Liz. It sounds like a great adventure for a ten year old!

A very interesting life to say the least…thanks for sharing.

Glad you enjoyed the post, Karen.

A fascinating post, Darlene and Sally. South Africa sounds like a wonderful experience.

Thanks, Cath. Seen from the eyes of an imaginative ten-year-old, it would have been amazing.

Thanks Cath.. it was certainly mind broadening and I entered my teens with a new perspective on the world.

Love reading a little bit about Sally’s childhood. #SeniSal

Thanks! She certainly had an interesting childhood.

Thanks very much.. I was very lucky to have the childhood that I did…x

Darlene, this was a wonderful post. Sally gives so much for the blogging community that it was delightful to have her on the other side of the fence. Sally, you looked like such a wise girl in your school uniform. ❤

Thanks, Carol. It was a pleasure to have Sally as a guest on my blog and to learn more about her incredible childhood.

Thanks Carol.. I think there was an attempt to rein in my rebel streak.. that must have been at the start of term… I looked a little less groomed as the weeks went on.. hugsx♥

I enjoyed every word of these memories of Sally‘s amazing childhood. The only part that made me queasy was the idea that she might have been left behind for a year or two while her parents moved to South Africa. So glad that did not happen! Well, perhaps I got a bit queasy also reading about the trip back to England during the big storm, since I get quite motion sick. What a childhood! What memories! And they are so well written.

I agree. That would have been so sad had Sally been left behind. Obviously, her parents knew better. So glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. xo

Sally is an amazing woman with an extraordinary life. Thanks for hosting her, Darlene. Hugs to you both.

I agree she is amazing! I am so happy to have her here.

Thanks Teagan, it was lovely to recall a time when I had two good knees and could still enjoy a bike ride…hugsx

Darlene – thanks for sharing this story of Sally’s experiences. Oh, I’ve led such a boring life compared to Sally, having grown up in New Jersey in the U.S. and traveling a little, but never on adventures and landing now, just one state over. So glad to know more about you, Sally! 🙂

Sally has had an interesting life! I´m pleased you enjoyed the post. xo

Thanks Barbara, but I am sure that you have enjoyed the same experiences in life, met interesting people and lived to the full. It doesn’t matter where, just how..hugs

What a fascinating adventure. No wonder Sally has so many interesting tales to tell.

Exactly!! No grass has grown under her feet.

Sorry not to have replied before Norah.. I was very lucky.. xx

No worries, Sally. It’s always nice to catch up when we can. 🙂

What a wonderful childhood, Sally And thank you, Darlene for sharing with us.

Thanks, Kelly. My pleasure.

Thank you Kally.. it was an amazing childhood and one I treasure.

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