Please join me in celebrating my birthday and first year in Stanford at 3 pm on Sunday, 31 August. We shall meet on the field by the river at the corner of Sannie Badenhorst and Sillery Streets, where we shall enjoy an early spring walk. Humphrey, Beauty and Boefje will be there to receive you with plenty of sniffs, chases and frizbees. I shall provide doggie treats and free ‘doggie-do’ bags. Of course your owners are also invited. They will no doubt want to bring a small picnic like tea/wine and biscuits (it is my birthday after all!) and perhaps something to sit upon. There will be a prize of a free trip overseas plus all expenses paid to the first dog who guesses my age correctly (not easy!). Hope to see you all there! – Emma Kriel
Knowing Emma, who by the way, has published two books to date, and also the many dogs there are in Stanford, I was intrigued by this invitation in our local newspaper, Stanford River Talk, and just had to join this party. Poor Anna, our great Dane, and Kerneels, our very handsome mixed-breed, had to stay at home as Kerneels hates to be inside a car! First to arrive were Emma and her chows, with neighbour, Yvonne, and their 13 year-old labrador, Rits, all of them with red bows tied around their necks. Mike and Penny and their doggie-children arrived a little later, and they had beautiful pink bows tied around their necks. They were washed and groomed especially for this occassion, but dog being dog, it was not long before one of them had a cool-off swim in the river, and came to shake himself dry on the picnic blanket where we were sitting! Emma handed out treats, the humans had tea, wine, cookies and biscuits. And as the afternoon progressed, more and more doggies and their owners joined the fun… What a way to celebrate life, spring and friendship!
We first met Emma in the early 2000s shortly after I’ve read her first book, Close the door softly behind you. Since then I’ll have to buy her book for the third time now, as I’ve lent mine out and they just never found their way home again. A year ago Emma moved to Stanford, and as people are always curious about what brought newcomers to the village, here is what Emma herself wrote after being asked that question at a luncheon. “Is it the scenery, the charming cottages, the friendly people, they ask – sipping the full bodied local wine, while I take a moment to reflect – or is it the village atmosphere and the great walks? ‘Yes,’ I reply, ‘…it’s all of those, but also the many happy, well-groomed and frequently-walked dogs I see everywhere, sending me a clear message that indeed, this is the placae for us.’ My three pooches wagged their tails in agreement!”
“How does a woman who has only ever been a mother – to seven children! – find out who she is? She takes her caring to London, where she looks after various well-heeled English people (or their children). She helps nervous first-time mothers; a feisty old woman with Alzheimer’s; a professor with Parkinson’s who just wants to “cuddle”; and cooks and cleans for minor aristocrats at their villa in France; an old Lady’s two overweight Corgis; and ex Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath. Through these experiences — some painful, some joyful, all holding hope and laughter — she discovers more about herself and even meets a new love. She also realises what it is to work and care for people who aren’t one’s family and on her return, she sends a letter to be kept on file by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – an open letter to all the maids I’ve ever had and in grateful thanks for their loyal service. Join this middle-aged, slightly eccentric woman on this journey taken later in life where, in trying to teach her children independence, she discovers her own.”
Emma and her husband wanted a warm, busy house, full of laughter and muddy footprints and, under the leafy oaks of what was then ‘rural’ Constantia, that’s just what they got. Geese, ponies, dogs, an Oldtjorrie and a rag doll called Giblet completed the already remarkable family. After a mutually agreed separation Emma took her brood to the Knysna forest, where they continued to live the rustic lifestyle, this time without even running water!
Written in Emma’s distinctive, quirky style, the tale includes insights from her own childhood in Holland during World War 2. Along with the chaos of her family memoirs, come gems of caring advice to modern moms (like her own daughters).”
Emma’s books are for sale (R 170.00 each, including postage and packaging) via email: email@example.com
For readings, creative writing for schools and talks you can write her an email or send her a letter: P.O. Box 297, Stanford 7210, South Africa.
More photos of the birthday party at the river: