It is common knowledge that rust – oxidation – is the result of iron, or metal alloys containing iron, being exposed to the elements – oxygen and water – over a period of time. From a distance the rich hues of this rusty fence post stands out in the veld. The snipped off wires a clear indication that it is no longer needed.

The pitted surface is clear in a closer view. Even this abandoned metal fence post has provided shelter for a creature.

The next four photographs were taken in our local cemetery. The first is from a railing surrounding a grave over two hundred years old.

Sadly, this twisted broken end tells an all too common tale of the vandalism of graves by scrap metal collectors. Not only has it caught a winged seed of a plant, but has clearly provided a useful perch for a bird.

This is one of very few remaining caps on what is left of rails around a different grave – most of the others have been twisted or sawn off.

Who can tell for how much longer these curled metal shapes will remain before they too are removed for a pittance.

The rust borne of ages past.


Those of you who have moved to a new town will empathise with the difficulties one faces when seeking a home to purchase. An obvious priority is that the house must fit within one’s budget, yet there are many other aspects to consider. The real estate world drums out the message ‘location, location, location’ … in our case, having spent a considerable amount of time travelling between home and school, we were keen to find a house that would be within reasonable walking distance of the schools our children would attend, not only at the time but as they grew older. Then there was the matter of the railway line – in some towns the siting of a house on one side or the other can make a difference of one kind or another. Not here, the estate agent told us, happily pointing out that a judge lived here, an advocate there, a professor somewhere else … This estate agent had several houses on his books and took us to one close to the one we finally settled upon. I had spent a year living at the coast and had been horrified at how quickly everything rusted there. As most of the houses we had looked at didn’t have a garage or, if they did, not one large enough to house our trailer, gardening equipment and so on and the fact that our town is only about 60km from the coast, we inevitably asked “Is there a problem with rust?”

At the time the estate agent was standing at the end of the driveway of a house we had looked at and had his hand balanced on the post box affixed to a wooden pole. It was not this one, yet looked very similar:

He looked at us with a straight face – perhaps not aware of the irony – and declared “There is no rust in Grahamstown.”

Needless to say, we concluded the sale of our present home with someone who appeared to be a little more honest!