Ifafa and the Violinist

Ifafa Beach - 1960s - (c) Holly Maxwell Boydell. www.TheHollyTreeTales.com - Coast. KwaZulu Natal. South Africa. East Coast. Indian Ocean.


A Diary Note written in my journal on Saturday 28th February 2015


Utterly blown away! Not by the wind this time, but by life. Again …

I have just had the most surreal experience – or, rather, yet another surreal experience. Think I dreamt this one. Not sure if this is really me. Is it?

Went to a most beautiful venue, in the Borders countryside, to attend a small charity concert of piano and violin music, to raise funds for dental care in Tanzania. Heard the first few words of the Violinist, and my ears pricked up … he’d grown up in Kenya and Zimbabwe. The music was utterly divine … and interval came too soon.

I met the Violinist – we both hail from stunning parts of Africa – and he asked me where I was born. I said “Durban”. He asked, with a light of memory in his eyes, “What’s that place … it’s south of Durban … it has a wonderful lagoon.” I gawped. I stared. I nearly stopped breathing. It could not have been… I stood there staring at him… He said “Now, what’s its name ..?” I could only stare. I had my hands clapped over my mouth, my eyes wide open, I thought I’d walked into some weird Wonderland. I took my hands away from my mouth. I squeaked “Ifafa?”. His face broke into a grin, he said “IFAFA! Yes, that’s it!”. I nearly passed out. I wanted to cry, laugh, dance – actually, just wanted to weep.

I told him that Ifafa is the place I go to in my mind every time I need to escape … that I had been thinking about it so much, that I often ‘smell’ and ‘feel’ the lagoon, that I miss it all so much, and that no one has ever referred to Ifafa anywhere in my life since I was a young child, except one or a few people whom I am close to and who knew it too.

The story grew more fantastic, and wonderful, but that is the bit that blew me away. I am still wondering if it happened … but it did. How do I know? Because, weirdly, these sorts of things have been happening for much of my life, and they are so precise, so spot on, that there is no way they can be random. God said he would give back more than the locusts took … I can see the promise unfolding.

What a revelation. What a moment. What a beautiful evening.

Ifafa, you are i far far away, but I love you … and one day I shall find a way to return.



Holly x


And from my photograph collection, a picture taken on a brief visit to Devon, UK (2013) when I was reminded of Ifafa too …

A corner of Hope Cove in Devon, which reminds me of Ifafa in 1960s South Africa.

A corner of Hope Cove in Devon, which reminds me of Ifafa in 1960s South Africa.




Update, Tuesday 2 January 2018

Looking back through some of my blog posts, I reread this diary note and felt that it was time to reveal who the ‘mystery’ violinist is, whom I met with his delightful wife when he was performing at a recital at Monteviot House, near to where we currently live.

The Violinist is Andrew Sherwood (ARCM), who is also a Conductor and Composer.  He was born in Kenya, grew up in Zimbabwe, and lives in England. If you would like to know more about Andrew, his bio appears on the Harare Chamber Music Festival website , on Wikipedia, on the Trinity Laban Conservatoire Of Music And Dance website, on a WordPress blog called “Music Notes” … and no doubt in many other places.

Andrew Sherwood is a joy to watch and to listen to, and has clearly earned himself an outstanding reputation for musical excellence in many parts of the world.  I felt so privileged to have met him and his wife, when and where I did.

Life certainly has many beautiful moments.


* ♥ *


PS. To add a very special note to this update, I must mention one more lovely thing …

On his gap year travels during 2017, my son surprised me by sending me a couple of photos of Ifafa Beach and Ifafa Lagoon!  He was staying with one of my dearest friends, as close as siblings from birth.  They had decided to go on a little ‘memory’ tour.

It was an immensely touching moment when I received news from my son that the lagoon is still there … looking very much as it was in the 1960s when, as children, we had played in the waters, ate freshly caught crayfish, gathered sugar cane from beside the railway tracks, ate evening meals with our families, played games and read books by paraffin lamp light, listened to the chatter of monkeys, spied mongoose, watched huge ships sailing along the Natal coast, to and from Cape Town and the rest of the world …

I hope that one day I shall breathe that air and bathe in those gorgeous, crystal waters again.

* ♥ *


Ifafa Beach - rescanned - 1960s - THTT signed
Ifafa Beach in the 1960s. One of my most favourite places in all the world.




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