About this site

Piers and Lin du Pré bought their new Fleming 55 / 129, Play d'eau, in 2003.

She was berthed in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350 until she was sold in October 2021.

This site charts the thrilling adventures they had in her.

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Recent Posts

They sang and danced

The restaurant and kitchen staff sang and danced a South African Zulu Happy Birthday
click to enlarge

I was just about to leave my table after an excellent dinner in the restaurant of the South African Protea Hotel, when I heard singing from behind me.

I turned, and from the kitchen doors came a seemingly endless procession of restaurant staff, chefs and kitchen staff carrying a birthday cake and singing a South African Zulu Happy Birthday.

Harmonies and dancing

This was not your typical British ‘Happy Birthday’ which, more often than not, sounds more like a dirge than a blessing. No way. This South African Zulu singing was beautiful, richly harmonious and sung with such gusto. Deep bass, melodious tenor and wonderful alto and soprano voices, all singing without restraint. With swayings, clappings, smilings, laughings, some took turns to dance for me! Right in front of my table.

My initial embarrassment faded in a fraction of a second as I became caught up with the excitement and reality of this special performance. Taken by surprise, I found I was on my feet clapping with them and loving every single second. For those precious moments, the rest of the world didn’t exist.

It seemed to last forever as verse, after verse, after verse was sung.

Did you have a good birthday?

My luscious birthday cake, dripping with rich chocolate icing
click to enlarge

A quickly as they all appeared they disappeared, still clapping, except for my waitress, Khosi.

‘Did you enjoy your birthday?’ she asked shyly. With tears in my eyes I stammered a feeble reply. ‘Simply stunning.’ With the bright-eyed look of a co-conspirator she whispered, ‘Good,’ and turned to fetch a cake knife, leaving me emotionally exhausted.

Sadly I leave tomorrow, but the sounds will still be echoing in my mind. ‘Did you enjoy your birthday?’ What a crazy question!

How I’d love to learn Zulu. Maybe next time…

The artists

I applaud the staff of the Protea Hotel.

Sfiso (Manager), Carol, Thenji, Khosi (my waitress), Londiwe, Lwazi, Miso, Bongiwe, Vusi (Putsho) and Mthoko. Thank you all so much.

But the question remains – who arranged all this?

from my special memory banks
soon to be back on
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

7 comments to They sang and danced

  • Pip Flynn

    Glad you celebrated in style, albeit without your lovely wife by your side.
    Now I wonder who planned the surprise???!!!

  • Lin

    Pip, you guessed. I telephoned the day before and asked for a small cake to celebrate Piers’ birthday. Wow, they went over and beyond all my hopes. What lovely people at that hotel, as we have noticed on previous visits there.
    I hope Piers packed his cards that I sent with him. Thanks to all the family for sending those in advance.

  • Hil

    Oh Piers, what an incredible and utterly unique performance and gift – something that will remain in your heart for ever. Those kind of performances can never catch the full emotional and surprise elements in a recording, but in your description you have conveyed it all to us. Oh wow, what an incredibly intense few minutes- and thank goodness you went down to dinner!

    Lots of love, Hil x x x

  • We are very happy to know that you ” enjoyed your birthday” The GM arranged this for you Sir- but we were very happy to celebrate with you

    She will be very happy to know that it was done and you loved every moment of it

    • So good to hear from you. I didn’t have time to say good-bye to Heather (GM) so please thank her for me and show her the post. I’d seen the fog in the valleys and was concerned I’d miss my plane home.

      Again, please pass my thanks to all the staff. If only I had more than one birthday a year….

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