BACK IN THE DAY A lifetime of caravanning memories
ANNELIE STEENKAMP from Pretoria writes: My grandfather Johan (Johnny) Zanoli was a child when his family moved to South Africa from the Netherlands. He met my grandmother Dinie Coleman at the Hartbeespoort Dam, where the Zanolis had a weekend home. My grandparents married in 1944. As soon as he could afford it, my grandfather bought a caravan and he and my grandmother travelled the country in their Ford Roadster.
ROOM WITH A VIEW. Annelie’s grandfather Johnny Zanoli loved to camp. This was his first caravan, on a road verge somewhere in the Eastern Transvaal in the 1940s.
My father Frits Zanoli was born in 1945, but having children hardly put a damper on Johnny and Dinie’s love of travel. One of their road trips took them to the Southern Cape, where Dinie’s family lived: They visited Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn and Willowmore, and they camped at Hartenbos.
HOUSE ON WHEELS. Johnny and Dinie Zanoli with young Frits, Annelie’s father, circa 1948.
Soon the family outgrew the old caravan, so my grandfather built a bigger steel-and-aluminium one with a beautiful interior made from wood. Later they upgraded to a Jurgens, but the old one (now painted cream and green) still had pride of place in their driveway in Alberton.
I was raised on camping holidays. My father Frits and mother Annatjie wed in 1968. For their honeymoon, they went back to Hartbeespoort in my grandfather’s old caravan. Shortly after I was born in 1970, my parents took me to the Kruger Park.
BABY ON BOARD. The whole family gathered in Port Elizabeth in 1970 for a caravanning holiday – Annelie was only 8 months old!
In July 2014, we went to Forever Resort Swadini, near the Blyde River Canyon, with my parents. My mom had a stroke while we were there and a month later she passed away. My parents basically began and ended their life together in a caravan.
As a child I used to think they were crazy to want to camp all the time. But recently, as I paged through their old photo albums, I realised: Of course my dad loved it – it was what he grew up doing!