During all my time in Rhodesia, I only ever went fishing once and that was at Maleme Dam, I think I was only about 8-9 at the time.
One Sunday, my parents took my sister and myself, plus a couple of friends of theirs, out to Maleme Dam. I remember going down this very, very steep hill and seeing this long stretch of water down in the vally below. We drove about half-way down the right hand side of the dam, along a very rough dirt road and parked underneath some trees, just opposite a very large rock, which jutted out into the water.
My step-father and his friend then cut a couple of long sticks from the bush, tied a length of twine to one end of the stick, a hook was tied to the other end of the twine and Lo and Behold (Rex Tar accent here, please) my sister and I had a fishing rod each. We were then taken onto the top of 'The Rock' shown how to thread a worm onto the hook and told to put the hook in the water.
Much to my surprise and delight, a few minutes later I had caught my first fish!!! I then threaded another worm on my hook and the same happened again. All morning I was pulling the fish out as fast as I could get my baited hook back in the water. My little sister was catching fish just as fast as I was, except she was to squemish to bait her own hook, I had to do that for her.
During the middle part of the day we sat on blankets under the trees, eating cold meat, potato salad and beetroot, followed by fruit salad and cream. I remember a small fire being made to boil the kettle for tea for us females, while the men drank bottled beer, don't know if it was Castle or Lion. Later on when it got a bit cooler, we started fishing again, but as I was now getting very sunburnt, I was made to go back under the shady trees for the rest of the day, much to my disappointment.
Late afternoon, everything was packed up and we all climbed into the car, ready for the journey back into Bulawayo. All was well as we made our way to the foot of the very, very steep hill we had come down that morning. However, four adults and two children, plus all the picnic equipment, plus all the fish the six of us had caught that day was just too much for the little Ford 10 motor car. About a quarter of the way up, the poor old car just stopped. It just didn't have the power to go any further, so we all piled out, except the driver, and pushed and pushed until the engine started again. The five of us were then left to walk the rest of the way up out the valley.
To say I was exhausted as I trudged up the hill, is an understatement. However, when I did reach the top, I turned round to see how far I had walked. I will always remember seeing the sun glinting on the water way down in the valley, the trees and bushes cloaking the sides of the hills, the blue sky, the warmth of the sun on my skin and the hot dusty smell of the dirt road beneath my feet.
Years later, the Rhodesian Railways monthly magazine, which always had a lovely colour photo of a Rhodesian scene on the front cover, published a photo of Maleme Dam and 'The Rock' on which Toni and I had stood fishing all those years ago, and here it is....