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The heroism of a very brave man who battled to save his house in the fire of 1970 was celebrated in an article in the Cape Argus. The hero was Eden Hodgson, a one-legged veteran of World War I. With the fire raging towards him, he was on his roof saturating the thatch. At one point, his house was completely surrounded, but he did not let up and his house  survived unscathed. It survives to this day.

Eden Hodgson watches Jock van Niekerk at a local bowls game.


Eden Hodgson had another claim to fame. He was the brother of one of South Africa’s most famous artists, Irma Stern. She visited Betty’s Bay on many occasions, and on one of her visits she painted two murals, one on either side of the fireplace in the sitting-room.

Eden Hodgson died and the house changed hands. One of the new owners hired the services of an extremely efficient cleaning lady when he moved in. Having instructed her to give  the place a thorough going-over, he and his wife set off on a mountain hike. When they returned a couple of hours later they discovered to their horror that the wall had been restored to its former pristine state. The Irma Stern mural had succumbed to a combination of Vim and Handy Andy.

This is a true story!

A popular sweetener among diabetics and those wanting to lose weight has been found to be deadly to dogs and birds.


Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener in baked products, chewing gum, toothpaste and lozenges.

But vets have warned people to keep their pets away from it. While the sweetener is safe for humans, it can lead to pancreas and liver failure and even seizures if eaten by dogs.

It appears that xylitol is also toxic for wild birds. Joburg vet, Dr Brett Gardner, examined the bodies of 30 Cape Sugarbirds that had died within 30 minutes of drinking a solution made with xylitol, from a feeder in a Hermanus garden. Gardner suspects the xylitol triggered a huge insulin release, causing an irreversible drop in blood sugar.

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This is a question I have sometimes been asked by theyoung or by relative newcomers to Betty’s Bay. Those of you who have been here a while will know that what many of us called “Little Beach” when we were kids later came to be named “Jock’s Bay”, in honour of one of the great characters of Betty’s Bay, Jock van Niekerk. [His house over-looked said bay.]In fact, one can regard Jock as one ofthe principal pioneers of the area, so great was his influence on the early development of our town.