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Friday, 16 December 2011

The Silly Season

Welcome to the annual South African silly season. The season when all (well, most!) of South Africa closes down for three or four weeks. I thought it appropriate to write today about how the season regularly, without fail, lets down the general public by allowing supermarkets to run out of stock. But first, let me tell you about our local supermarkets.

Liz and I have this small farm in a locality called Martindale. We don’t actually farm, but rather use it as a lifestyle home. The house is huge and has been here for several generations – it started out before WWll as a shop on the corner of the dirt road that goes up to Peddie, and has been added to from time to time by different owners. Our closest supermarkets are either in Grahamstown or Port Alfred, each about 38kms away from here. It used to be that during the school holidays we would shop in G’town and during the annual Arts Festival we would choose PA. In each case this was to avoid the crowds. The supermarket we most often use has always been dictated by its demographics, but since the opening of the new Rosehill Mall on the road out of Port Alfred to Port Elizabeth, we have been more and more using the Super Spar there. It’s cleaner, the aisles are wider, and it is altogether a more pleasant place to shop.

I noticed a couple of days ago when I was doing our shopping that the silly season had started. The aisles in Spar were narrower, having been lined with rows of Christmas goodies to tempt the Vaalies who are down for the season. Port Alfred, even though short on hotels, is a magnet to hundreds, if not thousands, of seasonal tourists, many of whom either own a second home down here by the sea or rent one for the season. The town will be full of big Mercedes, Beamers, Audis and dozens of 4 x 4’s for a few weeks. Forget about finding a parking space near to the town center for the period. Fortunately the new mall is out of town and has plenty of parking.

Which brings me back to stocking up the shelves. Every single year – there’s been no exception, and it happens all over the country – in the days leading up to and after New Year, you will find the supermarket shelves becoming depleted of stock. Out at the farm we are fortunate – we know what is going to happen and usually stock up before our local supermarkets put their prices up for the season. The one item I have noticed is always missing from the shelves is dog food – whether tins or dry pellets, the shelves are guaranteed to be empty by about 3rd or 4th of January, and will remain empty for several days. The silly season will end when the schools go back in mid January. Meanwhile Liz and I will mostly stay at the farm, taking in Nature, and planning our future in North Carolina.

By the way - our farm is for sale at a giveaway price. This is a chance for someone to make a metaphorical killing. Contact me for details.