The mysterious disappearing strikeplate

‘Well, it didn’t just happen! Someone must have done it!’

I thought of my father yelling this at my siblings and me about the various things that went wrong in our household while we were growing up – broken glasses, vanished keys, ripped sofa covers, that kind of thing. We’d all vehemently deny any knowledge of the occurrence, and as a result we’d all usually share some sort of punishment.

Well, the mysterious disappearing strikeplate in my house over December also didn’t just happen – but trying to work out who, how, when and why is making my head hurt.

The way I discovered it was like this. I start work at about 6am, and because my study is right next to my son’s room, and he only gets up for work around 7am, I usually quietly pull his room door closed before I sit down at my computer in the morning. Usually, the door closes fairly solidly, with a ‘click’ as the bolt slides into the strikeplate (I had to look up these terms on the net – here’s the link if you also don’t know what the various parts of a door-handle are called:

But on this particular morning, the door wouldn’t close – or, rather, it did close but it didn’t ‘click’ and stay closed. Later, when my son woke up, we examined the door together to see what was preventing it from staying closed – and discovered something extraordinary. The strikeplate and its two screws had been removed.

Now, I know what you’re going to say: it had probably come loose and fallen off at some stage, and then got pushed under a bookcase or something, and I’d only just noticed it then. But that’s not the case, and here’s why:

• The exposed wood was noticeably clean – in other words, the strikeplate had obviously been removed recently.

• The screw-holes weren’t stripped – there were no little bits of wood around them, and when I bought a new strikeplate and screwed it in, the screws (standard size – they come with the strikeplate) bit cleanly into the wood.

• If the strikeplate had become loose, we would have noticed it – it would have rattled when touched and it probably would have prevented the door from closing.

• If the screws had somehow come loose and fallen out, and the strikeplate had fallen off, we would have found either the screws or the strikeplate or both – yet even a very careful search of the area around the door revealed none of these.

Given these observations, there does seem to be only one explanation: at some stage during December, somebody carefully removed the strikeplate and its screws. Who? When? Why? I’d love to know.


• Of course, finding a new strikeplate (pictured above – it’s the left-hand piece) in Malmesbury proved incredibly frustrating – Jack’s Hardware does stock strikeplates, only not at the moment; BuildIt doesn’t stock them at all (and the woman who served me was hostile even by Malmesbury’s antagonistic standards); and WPK was its usual completely useless self (they stocked only entire door-handle-and-lock sets at a hefty price). I finally found what I was looking for at SuperSPAR – they really do save Malmesbury from being the most aggressively unhelpful place on the planet.


Yet another blast from the past

Regular readers of Paradysville will know how much I love my blasts from the past. This one was a reunion after a separation of about 20 years – Mark and I couldn’t really put our fingers on precisely when we lost contact, but he left South Africa in 1996 and it was probably before then, as our lives had already taken very different paths.

Mark and I met around about the time I was pregnant with my first child, probably in 1990. Here are some pics (below) of us having a weekend away in Tulbagh in 1991 – Daniel is about six months old and I’m already pregnant with sprog #2.

Mark Tulbagh 1991

Tracey and Daniel Tulbagh 1991

Mark (who now lives in Sri Lanka) and I reconnected on Facebook a couple of years ago, and he and his friend Ahmed came and visited Riebeek Kasteel last week.

We played the cardgame Cheat! (known in South Africa as Bullshit!, apparently), at which Ahmed was frighteningly good. Ahmed, who has a rather competitive streak, also won the two rounds of boules we played. In the pic below, Daniel (in the red T-shirt) is the babe-in-arms in the pic above.


Tracey and Mark


Here are a few other recent blasts from the past:


Worth walking: the Perlemoen Trail


After the disappointingly shambolic organisation on the Donkey Trail earlier this year, I was a little pessimistic about walking the Perlemoen Trail, which runs along the southwestern Cape coast from De Dam to Die Kelders near Hermanus. The feeling of dread deepened when we were informed that, in spite of having booked many months in advance, somehow the organisers hadn’t got it together to book us into three different BnBs (each in a different town, for each of the night’s stopovers), so we’d be billeted in the same BnB for the entire time. In itself, this wasn’t a disaster – as long as I don’t have to get down on my hands and knees to get into bed, I’m happy – but it did display a certain worrying lack of organisation.

One of the downsides of staying in Pearly Beach for all three nights is that we were required to eat dinner at each of Pearly Beach’s 3 restaurants. The first night’s freshly fried fish and chips at the Pearl Beach Klub was delicious, but by the time the third night rolled around and we hadn’t seen so much as a lettuce leaf , we were getting a bit weary of fried food.


But those niggles were quickly put to rest by the sheer fabulosity of the hike itself. On our first day (17km), our friendly guide, Jason, led us on a ramble through coastal bush and along beautiful beaches, sharing with us his vast knowledge of the area.


This included an hour-long walk along the Jessie’s Bay beach – I had to have a pic of me taken there (above), as Jessie is the name of both my late mother and my granddaughter. Towards the end of this beach, Jason and I were walking ahead of the rest of the group, chatting away, when we spotted a dead seal ahead. We went up to it for a closer look; I bent down and stared very closely at its furry face – when suddenly its eyes popped open. It’s hard to say who got a bigger fright, but there was no altercation, as the now very wide-awake seal ran for the sea and I ran for my life. I thought Jason would never stop laughing.


The second day was also about 17km (don’t believe the distances provided on the website – they’re all wrong), mainly along beaches, and including a river crossing (below) – but it was low tide so that was easy. In fact, we were very lucky all the way with nature and the elements – although it was fiercely hot (sunscreen is a must, and it must be reapplied often), we had a lovely cooling breeze at our backs the whole way.


Two of us swam in a lovely tidal pool, with water just cold enough to briefly knock the breath from your body and instantly cool down your core temperature to comfortable levels. And we wandered through a kind of ghost town (below) – a holiday resort built without benefit of an environmental impact assessment, and which was almost immediately overwhelmed by sand dunes.


On the last day we explored various caves, which was fascinating. We crawled into one with torches, and disturbed thousands of bats; the one below, Duiwelsgat, is lit from high above by a huge hole in the rock; and the last one, the Drupkelders, is privately owned and is the only cave on the southern African shore through which a freshwater river runs.


I loved every second of the hike, and highly recommend it. Because the walking is fairly easy, even over the longer distances, and there’s so much to see and learn along the way, I think it would be perfect for a family with kids.

caves group 2

* Aside from the static accommodation, I had one other small niggle: we had to cough up an additional R250 (for all 5 of us – R50 each) to cover the cost of the petrol for ferrying us hither and thither. It’s not a lot of money but the irritation factor of having to hand over this extra bit of cash, on top of the thousands already paid into the Trail people’s account, is huge. Why not just build this into the cost of the trail?An additional R50 on top of R2 700 is barely even going to be noticed.