Tenderi, Our Hillandale House Swimming Bath 1957. Mom, Diana, Brian and David with Manzi our cocker spaniel


Hillandale, as it’s name implies, was a lovely area just outside of Que Que with lots of ups and downs. It looked onto a range of undisturbed hills, wooded with msasa, mfuti, mnongo and especially mountain acacia trees. In September, before the rains came, these hills turned red and yellow and then the bright new green of spring. Mom and Dad had bought a 20 acre plot there in 1952. It included the trigonometry beacon, the highest point in the area.


Now, in 1956, we were shortly to be without a house. Dad agonized over whether building a house on the plot would be a practical move or not. The hospital was on the opposite side of town, five miles away. Most of the road was unpaved, dusty and corrugated.

“Its too remote,” said Dad.

“The further the better.” said Mom.

Mom prevailed.

Dad set about planning the house, in between the practice and politics. There were terraces of big stone walls half way up the hill, above a circular driveway.  In the middle of the driveway stood a big mimosa tree with its thorny crown of yellow pom-poms. The slope was steep above the existing terraces.  Mom  loved the view of the wooded hills.  A view, Dad always claimed, elevated  thoughts above everyday strife to another plain altogether.  How high could they build?

Dad sited the house above the terraces just before the slope became impossibly steep. We could see the hills stretching all the way from the steel works ten miles to the south west  and far to the north.  We would leave the bush above the house intact. Once in a while we could spot monkeys on Taylors Hill a mile away.  There were all sorts of birds.  Our next door neighbor had shot a leopard just the year before, much to Mom’s sorrow. It felt as if we owned the world then, although a walk along a path through the bush brought us to a water tower, which we could climb for another view.  It overlooked Amaveni Township, which housed about 5000 Natives. Our isolation was an illusion but for us it was a “Shangri-La”.  It never occurred to us to worry about security.

Mr. Mc. Gaw took an afternoon off work at the mine to survey and stake out the site.

Popular Mechanics was the “in” magazine. We even acquired back issues and pored over every one.

We would auction off all the old furniture we had inherited from Dr. Zacks when we had moved to #1 Silver Oaks Road the decade before.  Everything would be new and modern.  Built in cupboards were the new thing: pass through cupboards the state of the art.

Dad designed pass-though cupboards between the kitchen and the dining room to minimize the intrusion of the servants.   A similar unit was designed between the laundry and passage to the bedrooms.  Mr. Lucky, “a true craftsman” would build them out of indigenous hardwoods.

Graph paper became rough and worn as we designed and redesigned, in the midst of the excitement over our new farm.

Mom meanwhile was designing the most important part of the house.   We would be so far from town after all.  She insisted on priorities.  The swimming bath needed to be put in first.  It would be invaluable when tempers were frayed in suicide month, October, before the rains came, and the house build was in progress.

Mom prevailed.

Below you can see a map of the exact location of the Hillandale house as well as a lot of other Que Que sites identified in collaboration with Aaron and Morris Sloman.

View Map of Que Que/Kwe Kwe (Southern Rhodesia) in a larger map


  • Robert Sullivan

    Reply Reply January 21, 2011

    As a boy of some 10 years old our family visited you in the house. I well rember the details of the stone patios, pass-through cupboards and the swimming pool. You describe it all so well

    • Diana

      Reply Reply January 21, 2011

      Yes, I remember the day I came home from school and saw Granny Sullivan’s room being made over. I knew she had died. Mom was making preparations for your family’s arrival, so it was a time of great sadness for me, but also one of anticipation. It was the only time our only cousins ever visited us.
      You were enthusiastic about our farm, and suggested to your Dad a move there. Uncle Jack wisely asked what you would all live on then?

  • chayne

    Reply Reply January 27, 2011

    Do you know what happened to the Teppersons.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply January 27, 2011

      Mr. and Mrs. Tepperson were living in a flat in Berea, Johannesburg not far from my parents. I last saw them in the early 1980’s. I believe that Meyer and Simon immigrated to Canada…Toronto area I believe but am not sure. Maybe some of our readers can verify that.

  • Michael Ward

    Reply Reply January 27, 2011

    Diana, I have such happy memories of Hillandale. I spent much of mychildhood there, first when we rented Rocky Ridge from Maggie Hossell and then for many afterwards at Long Acres which was so lovingly developed and landscaped by my beloved Dad and his helpers. I know those two houses were off the Gokwe Road but I still counted them as Hillandale. The views around were stunningly beautiful as only African scenery can be, and Mum loved the hills behind our house – the ones you could see from Tenderi. I visited Tenderi many times, having been friends with your brother David from our Falcon College days. I wonder what Hillandale looks like now. So many memories, and I would much rather treasure them in the form that we knew and loved them.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply January 27, 2011

      You can see from the google satellite map that our “Tenderi” hill hasn’t changed too much.. the Theinesens (?sp) the farm on the back side of the hill still in tact. It always was rather desolate looking. When my folks subdivided, the lots were still large…the Cox’s house and the ?Davey’s (the pharmacist at Bruntons) below us and Mrs. Raeburn (later Elmer and Liz Philipson) towards the water tower. I see almost all of the bush is denuded towards the water tower. Where was Maggie Hossels place? And Long Acres…do you see them on the map…you can get there roughly by knowing how far it was from Amaveni Township and following the road. i’m amazed at how close in you can zoom. We’ll flag them if you locate them. The hills around there still look wooded to me. Also didn’t you start out in a house on the Gaika behind QQHS somewhere? That must have been a lovely old rambling colonial house like our G and P house I’ve shown in previous blogs.
      Yes, it was all so beautiful then. Notice the phenomenal population increase from less than 10,000 in 1953 to 200,000 despite AIDS, famine and ethnic violence, has mostly occurred on the industrial side of town. Even so, best to remember it all the way it was.
      Nice to hear from you again! All the best to you in 2011.

    • Helena Scott (nee Crook )

      Reply Reply February 22, 2011

      So many memories evoked by this. We lived in Hillandale until 1975. Very happy years. Michael, I can picture your house so clearly in my mind. So many years of friendship with Philippa and Jane. All that time spent in your house with you family – your mum and dad, your gran. Riding through the hills first on those donkeys then on the horses. How many years ago now?

      • Diana

        Reply Reply February 23, 2011

        Helena, So glad the blog reawakened wonderful memories of Hillandale. It was lovely there and I see from the google map not much development has taken place. I’d love to be able to pin point the your houses also on the map. Unfortunately google doesn’t have the map streets or numbers marked we have to do it by navigating from landmarks…We could do it if you would like to skype me sometime and I could share the document with you as we navigate to the locations.

  • Antoinette Dick (nee Fourie)

    Reply Reply February 23, 2011

    It was at Hillandale that mama suddenly paused in the midst of dishing up our spagetti lunch and said to papa in her French accent, “We’d better hurry up to the hospital .. the baby’s coming”. Not three hours later Jean-Pierre (“Stompie” as my grandfather would come to call him) had arrived on the 19th July, 1958. My “baby brother” who turned out to be the tallest of we four, lives in Hre. today with his Greek wife Koula and their 3 children. Louis lives in Pretoria with his wife and family, and France is buried near Chishawasha Mission, Hre. I live in Walton, Kentucky, U.S.A. today.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply February 23, 2011

      I remember the name Stompie…although that would put him twelve years younger than me. Nice to get your family whereabouts currently. Were your family ever small mine workers in the Midlands? Did you live in the Dutch gabled house on the hill opposite the Theinisens (???spelling). I’m sorry to hear France passed. Where is Chisawasha MIssion?
      Tell me more!

  • Dave Lewis

    Reply Reply April 16, 2011

    Diana: My cousin Mike Irwin had forwarded me the link to your blog. I am delighted to come accross it. He was looking up Hillandale since my grandmother had lives there in a House called Stoneleigh in the 1950’s.

    I am the eldest of the Lewis Family and with 17 years between me and John the youngest one of the five of us were in school in Que Que from about 1950 until the early seventies. My siblings are (in order) Tom, who lives in Munich, Brian, who lives in the South of France, Margie ,who lives in Rhode Island but who has spent the last few years in Malawi working for the Clinton Foundation AIDS Prevention programme, and John who lives in Harare.. My wife Betsy and I live in Genoa NV near Lake Tahoe but spend six months a year on a historic farm I own on the Chesapeake Bay. I believe you may well have been in touch with Margie in the past.

    Your Dad was also our family Doctor and i was under his care for an extended stay in the old Que Que Hospital with rheumatic fever (from which thanks to his care I made a full recovery). and later for bilharzia. We lived on Greenham Avenue at the corner on the way out to the school and hospital. and later on Riverbend Farm on the Sebakwe accross the Bembezaan.

    i look forward to reading all your stories and I am sure I and my siblings will have many to share with you. Our renewed intrest in Que Que was sparked when a friend sent Tom what would now be called a blog written by Gervas Hughes in the 1920’s. There is a facebook link to it which i have shown Below:


    more to follow. Dave Lewis

    • Diana

      Reply Reply April 18, 2011


      Well I am so glad the blog is getting around and your family is a great example of the great White Diaspora from Southern Rhodesia. You have certainly landed yourselves in some choice places in the world. I lived in Richmond, VA for seven years so know the Chesapeake pretty well, my ex-husband and I learned to sail at the Annapolis Sailing School and subsequently had many adventures in the Bay running aground. Soft shell crabs….mmmm good. Now we are on the OR Central coast, beautifully unspoilt. Always a free room if you do a trip from NV.

      Margie, had quite a correspondence with my Mom and I wrote a card to her when Mom passed away (Sept 2005) and it was ‘returned to sender’ and still have it! I enclosed a Thinking Day photo from the 50’s of Tom in his Scout uniform which I still have. Margie must be having an interesting time and huge challenge in Malawi doing much needed work.

      Yes, I would love to hear your personal stories, memoirs and letters as well as photographs which I might use in the blog or insert into the book to flesh it out. its all about the details. Nearly done.

      Thanks very much for the Gervas Hughes memoirs blog site. Its very interesting reading. The pioneer years in QQ were really tough.


    • Tim Hughes

      Reply Reply July 12, 2012

      Hi Dave Lewis,
      I am the son of the late Gervas Hughes and would like to read what was written by him in the 1920’s. The facebook link that you provided has expired.
      Please email that “blog” to me.
      I would also like to swap QQ yarns with you.

      Regards Tim.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply July 15, 2012

      Dave, Unfortunately I did not printout Gervas Hughes “blog” from facebook and that link no longer connects. Do you by any chance have a copy you could scan and share with me? Gervas’ son is also interested in having a copy.

  • Leslie Schultz

    Reply Reply July 4, 2011

    Have just been sent your web site by an ex pupil who I taught in Umniati before moving to Que Que in the early 70’s during which time I held a post at Fitchlea Primary School – the description of your family home leaves me feeling pretty sure that it was there that I had the privilege of living for a few years prior to the break up in my marriage…….. I have relocated to Scotland with just a few of my possessions but a s a p will search through the photos I did bring with me for anything that depicts my time in that wonderful house and garden, etc

    I know I am going to love reading through all your stories of “those good old Que Que days!” Regrettably I don’t have time for more now but this comes with my sincere thanks for the special memories that your articles are bound to evoke!


    Les Schultz

    • Diana

      Reply Reply July 5, 2011

      Leslie, Its lovely to hear from you. My Father designed the Fitchlea subdivision during one of his mayoral terms as the city planners were taking too long and various officials dragging their heals!

      My parents emigrated from QQ back to Johannesburg in 1975 or 76. The terrorist war was hotting up by that time. I am not sure when they were able to sell it. I was already a US citizen and dont know the details of the sale. Mom and Dad returned a number of times to QQ up though the 90’s but never returned to the Hillandale house. They wanted to remember it the way it was. I was married there on the lower terrace. We had the reception on the upper terrace with the swimming pool decked over for a dance floor on a perfect May afternoon 1967. It was a beautiful setting with the garden fully developed.

      I would love to see your pictures and hope you’ll stay connected.

  • Jon

    Reply Reply September 4, 2011

    Diana this is great reading! My sister lived in Hillandale in the late 70’s. The kopje and trigpoint you refer to was from where terrorists opened fire on Amaveni one night and we had a ringside seat. The previous days I had been on the kopje messing around as nobody expected terrs to be that brazen.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply September 5, 2011

      Jon, You must have quite a story to tell. A few years after we built, fear of a Mau-Mau uprising like Kenya was circulating. Dad was a member of Parliament by then (1958). He would do his surgeries at the hospital beginning at 5 am on Tuesday’s and dash out in his scrubs (changing into his three piece suit in the car as he drove) to make the opening bell at Parliament house to be counted by noon in Salisbury (the UFP had only a small majority) returning on Friday night.. Friends suggested we arm ourselves and Dad produced his WWII army Smith Wesson from the safe and we all did target practice one day, but we didn’t take it seriously. My parents believed the Whitehead Government would be able to curb Black Nationalism into a peaceful acceptance of gradual majority rule. Agitators remember were detained without trial, but Russia’s flood of AK47’s beginning in Jan 1960 changed all that. My parents left SR in 1976 after 30 years in QQ.

  • Neil Nicholson

    Reply Reply January 19, 2012

    Hi Diana, my father (John Nicholson) bought the house in Hillandale off your father in 1980. I have a picture taken of my brothers and sisters at the very spot in your photo. If my memory serves me correctly, your Dad had my father do some work that required explosives many years before, and on seeing the place, he vowed he would acquire it one day. My Dad was the Mine Manager on the Gaika until about 1977 or 1978 when he acquired a small gold mine of his own on the road to Sebakwe Port (The Green Horn) I remember the Phillipsons (the local Vet) were our neighbours when we first moved in to your old house, but they left for Canada shortly after. I think the house you mentioned that had a thatched rondavel overlooking the pool belonging to the Hossels was later owned by Doctor Arthur Crossley and his wife Dulcie, (close friends of my parents for many years) The house in Hillandle also had a thatched building at the bottom of the garden, and I believe it was commissioned by your mother for the Girl Guides, would that be correct? We used to climb the hill behind the house on a regular basis. It was a magical place.
    My father, and his father both worked on the G & P in the past.
    Incidentally, your Dad diagnosed and subsequently removed my appendix many moons ago.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply January 20, 2012

      Neil, I am so glad to hear that our dream house became your dream house too in years to come–a true Shangri-la, far from the maddening demands of the medical practice that intruded on our meals, and sleep and every activity it seemed when the house was so accessible to the European surgery next door on the G and P.
      Yes, there was a stone and thatch two roomed cottage off the circular driveway below the house, that existed when we bought the property, and yes, it was crammed to the full with Girl Guide camping equipment on one side and props for the pantomimes on the other…the canvas backdrops for the plays would be spread out over the lower terrace lawns (between the circular driveway and the house) and everyone would come out to work on them…Guides and Brownies to slosh on the basics and then Mrs Candy, Combrink, Mr. Bellamy and so on would do the details. The lawn turned brown in the meantime and took quite a time to recover.
      While our house was being built we rented the Taylor house…it didn’t have a swimming pool, but nice garden, just below Tenderi, so it was very convenient to reviewing progress and problems as they arose on the house build. It was cati-corner to old Doc Richards house.
      Dr. Crossley joined the practice after I left so I never knew him, but was very well liked by the practice itself and the community received him well also I understand.
      Yes, it was a wonderful wild place, Mom hosted many Guide hikes across what was then the property owned by Kay Raeburn (later Elmer Philipson) over to the water tower working towards our cooking and tracking, and orienteering badges and bird watching badges and so on.
      We used to walk up to the trig beacon and down the other side to the Theinisen (?sp) house to get a ride to the new Junior School. They had a small holding there…
      I was married at Tenderi…all the terraces provided such a lovely setting on a perfect day in May. We boarded over the swimming pool and had dancing there.
      Cherish the memories.

  • Neil Nicholson

    Reply Reply January 20, 2012

    Thanks for the response Diana, I am really enjoying reading your blog. Being quite a bit younger, I had no idea that your DAd had been so instrumental in the development of Que Que. How your parents found the time for all they were involved in is beyond me. My dad would find all this so interesting. I remember many of the people that you mention, Mrs Kay Whittaker, Dora Candy etc. In fact my sister married Dora’s youngest son Grant (unfortunately they have since divorced) I have found the historical side of Tenderi fascinating, as I knew nothing beyond the fact that it had belonged to Doctor Hirsch, and that my Father had dreamed of owning it one day. I have a picture of my Mom (Patricia NIcholson) in one of those bicycle parades (I’m not sure which year) having won first prize for “The New Look” sometime in the early 50’s I think….
    Please keep up the good work.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply January 21, 2012

      Neil, yes their lives were extraordinary, but they were extraordinary times, and the place offered them the opportunity to use their talents to the fullest, which wouldn’t have been possible in sophisticated society in England or even their native Johannesburg. The place shaped them as much as they shaped it. They were such different characters with such different interests, together they pretty much covered the spectrum…Tenderi was the retreat, where they renewed themselves.
      Your picture of your Mom in the parade must be quite a gem. Que Que was a town with much spirit, trying to keep pace with the outside world.

  • Stan Reynolds

    Reply Reply October 6, 2014

    Hi Diana,
    Thanks for the interesting stuff on Que Que and a lot of very old memories.
    We lived on Hillview Poultry farm two miles out on the Gwelo road.
    Please could you put me in touch with David Lewis. I have been trying to locate him for many years now.
    I have fond memories of your dad. He took out my appendix in 1962.
    Kind regards
    Stan Reynolds

    • Diana

      Reply Reply October 9, 2014

      Stan, Glad to have stimulated your memory cells. I’ll dig up David Lewis’ address you should hear directly from him. Happy to facilitate connections.

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