Our first house in Gatooma had mud brick walls and thatched roof. It was (as we discovered) a poor white side of town, complete with wife-beating neighbour. We fled as soon as we could to what I always thought of as the railway-carriage house.
Quite a nice place but built as a series of rooms: one room led to another, led to another and so on. Not a corridor in the place.
This house had a huge orchard. Since the orchard was quite old, and this was the 1950s, looking back I realise that it must have been established by a pioneer. Apart from the usual things like bananas, oranges and mangoes, it had grenadilla, pamplemousse grapefruit, and even a huge old mulberry tree that bore such copious fruit that each year the ground underneath would be stained purple. It even had a little bamboo grove.
One day our pet cat proudly dropped at our feet its latest catch: a small writhing green mamba.
From there we went to live on the Cam Mine: concrete floors painted red, hot water heated each evening in a 40-gallon drum plumbed into the house and stoked up with firewood. People often didn't bother to lock their houses when they went out - talk about the age of innocence
I am reminded of the little house I shared with my mate Neville.
Located in the nicer Bulawayo suburb of Hillside it was a very small house on a very large piece of ground. The garden was totally unkept and in fact was more like a piece of bush. We affectionately called it "the little house on the prairie".
The monthly rent on the place was only $48.00!!! As I say, it was small. Neville's bedroom was attached to mine and he had to walk through mine to get into his. The lounge was so tiny that after we put in a lounge suite there was virtually nowhere to put your feet. There was a small room attached to the lounge wherein we set up a bar and spent nearly all our waking time. The kitchen was a very low ceilinged room that appeared to have been added after the fact. Compared to the rest of the rooms the bathroom was disproportionately large.
After conducting extensive interviews we employed the oldest houseboy in Bulawayo. His job was to make us bacon and eggs for breakfast and wash our clothes. I don't think he was ever once successful making two fried eggs without breaking the yolk of at least one.
I think Neville would agree that we had the very best of times in that little house boozing it up with our mates, occassionally entertaining a lady or two and laughing at our old houseboy's attempts at making fried eggs.