A split second decision not to take the old ladies to the beach but to our usual weekday park this morning led to an inspirational Sunday morning encounter.

It was still and getting warm as we dodged the sprinklers. Then I saw a dog arriving that I was sure we hadn’t met before and she was a pitbull that looked mean and dangerous. Big Friendly and I decided to avoid contact with her and we left the park via the far entrance and made our way to the field below, with the dogs at our heels.

We were walking along the edge of the field, along the fence which looks onto the back of the Nur Orphanage, when I noticed a man watering a gorgeous patch of garden. It was herbs and flowers and some veggies and sunflowers and geraniums and Okra and fennel. It was a heavenly patch of growing, there, along the fence. I spoke to the man, exclaiming, “what a lovely garden!” and he got really excited and enthusiastic. In absolutely broken English he told me he was Aziz, from Cairo, Egypt (he made pains to explain) and he had been in South Africa for 17 months. He loves Mandela, his one sunflower plant had 27! flowers (he called them fruit), he something something about a room and a lock, and he wanted to give me (he gestured with his hands in a cupped position) “plant with roots!”.

Before long I had a fist of basil leaves, mint and lemon geranium and firm instructions to wait. Next came two cosmos flowers and a tip of pink geranium. Then I had to wait while he cut a bunch of spinach and gently washed the leaves before putting them in a plastic packet. Finally he pulled out, washed and trimmed three green onions for me.

I got into the car, where Big Friendly and the old ladies were patiently waiting for me, with the fresh, fragrant and delicious smell of herbs, flowers and veggies.