'I showed them the country by car' - this reader reminisces about road trips with her kids


Marty de Klerk is a 68-year-old woman who used to road trip all over the country with her two children. When she first dropped us an email earlier in April, I was so intrigued by her story that I just wanted to hear more, and we started exchanging emails.

I can picture myself visiting Aunty Marty on a Sunday afternoon, drinking a cup of tea with her and snacking on some droë wors or eating some pies. She's the type of woman I could probably sit all day with and listen to fascinating stories of all her adventures on our South African roads.

There's already a few questions I would want to ask her about the vehicles she has owned and driven in her time.

It certainly made me think of all the trips I'd done with my parents as a child all over the country too, and it definitely made me remember the padkos. 

READ | Road trips and 'padkos' - A tradition that might be lost in modern-day South Africa

Marty is an avid Wheels24 reader, and she responded to Charlen Raymond's article about Road trips and 'padkos' earlier this month.

This is Marty de Klerk's story: 

"As a child, we travelled through this beautiful country of ours by train and always had padkos with us. My late mother loved doing a whole neck of lamb and then slice it with a sharp knife, so we had that with the sandwiches and boiled eggs. I have two children, and I showed them the country by car. They're six years apart, and I started doing this when my daughter was six, and my son was ten months old.

"In October I'd give them a book about the country and tell them to pick a route that they would like to take during the December holidays. We'd sometimes spend a week on the road before ending up in Cape Town where my mother lived to spend Christmas with her. I generally stayed in self-catering places with them, never without padkos for the first day on the road, and always had a small crate in the boot with spices and a fold-up braai so we could buy some meat or boerewors to braai on the side of the road at comfort stops.

"They've seen the country, and we had lots of fun! I'm 68 now and have a friend that turned 75 last year, so at the end of August 2019, the two of us hit the road. We first travelled to PE and stayed there for a week, then did the Garden Route to Cape Town where we spent five days in Melkbosstrand, and then we went up the West Coast to Garies. From there to Augrabies, and Upington, and then back to Pretoria.

"What a fantastic trip, and always with the padkos whenever it was possible to make some! 

Marty de Klerk

Wheels24 reader Marty de Klerk sent us this picture of herself.

"I'm glad I've been privileged to have done all of that by road and rail. The memories will always be with me. 

"My father passed away when I was nine-years-old, and my mother remarried two years later to a man that worked for the then SAR&H. This ensured regular trips through the country by train. The route between Cape Town and Durban was covered by the Orange Express, and between Cape Town and Joburg by the Transkaroo. I can't remember if the PE/EL route had a name for the train.

"Those years, the trains changed from electric to steam engines at Touwsrivier, and later diesel engines replaced the steam engines. De Aar was the big junction for different routes, and the train would stop there for sometimes as long as two hours. As children, we loved it because in the "dorp" was this café that served the best pies and gravy one could dream of at the time.

"I can't recall the name of the café, but I can still taste the pies!

fiat 128

The Fiat 128 was a small family car which was built by the Italian carmaker from 1969 to 1985. Image: Netcarshow.com

"The first time I travelled alone with my children, I drove a little Fiat 128 and remember packing the boot in a specific way to make sure I get everything in. One day en route to Port Elizabeth, I was stopped at a roadblock and was asked to open the boot for an inspection! I opened it and kindly told the policeman that they're most welcome to unpack it for inspection, but they just have to repack it the same way again.

"Needless to say, they weren't up for the challenge, so they told me 'it's fine', I can go. 

"Going through the Northern Cape at some stage, I took my (then) husband's brand new BMW for the trip to have the luxury of the aircon in the car. Later I drove various Datsun/Nissan cars like the 1600J (metallic silver), a stardust Pulsar, a red Pulsar, and then a red Ford hatchback. 

"Last year's trip was done in an Atos! We stopped at some very interesting "Padstalle" like Weskus and Daggaboer where the "roosterkoek" is to die for! On a Sunday afternoon in Pofadder, we had some fabulous chicken pies at a local little eatery/home industry. 

"Words like padstal and roosterkoek are very descriptive in the Afrikaans language but not the same in English. 

"Wheels24 has managed to open my can of memories (not worms this time) and made me realise just how grateful I should be."

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