Friday, December 31, 2010


May all your genies show up in time for the coming gloriousness!

xxx elle

Old faithfuls

The land of the blogdom has taken me away from my first love.

All those hours last in a maze of bloggedness means less time for my books.

I have been unfaithful with my i pad, turning simulated pages with unfeigned delight.

Now I am even contemplating a KIndle.

O the shame!

In truth, one can't be unfaithful for too long.

For the weighty loveliness of a book, a real book, calls...

O, to see them stacked in piles on bed side tables, next to the loo, climbing the stairs or gracing bookcases grand and small is an endless delight.

Here at Rodwell, I can just imagine the treasures in Virginia's personal library.

Books are the best accessories a home could wish for.

An i pod next to bed is no replacement!

Of course, there is always Deborah Borness.

xxx elle

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Cheer

Mr Nielson better known as Sid, introduced me to Brene Brown and I'm passing on the favour to you.

Dr Brown is a research professor in social work who has spent the last five years of a decade long study, looking closely at shame and empathy.

Find her theory of Wholeheartedness here

Don't you feel better already?

xxx elle

See Jane Dress

This glorious creature is Jane Aldridge.

Jane's blog is full of Jane.

Jane in one fabulous vintage ensemble after another.

It's a tough job but somebody has to do it.

And Jane does it splendidly!

Her shoes alone will have you faint with envy.

You'll want to copy her every look.

Become Jane's vintage twin!

Even a cockroach brooch looks covetable on our Jane!

And she's funny and charming too.

Find her here, and feel the love.

xxx elle

Doctor Doctor, can't you see I'm burning burning

Mr Nielson better known as Sid, and I sat up in the gallery and looked down upon a hall of wonders.

Hundreds of young doctors, and some of their mentors about to graduate into the field of medicine.

I felt humbled.

I thought of all my unfinished degrees ...

 Skye glances up to find us in the upstairs gallery.

And then en masse they wave their certificates in relieved gratitude.

They are all so beautiful.

Wouldn't you feel better if these three came in to take your blood pressure?

Later as we celebrate in the garden at Talana, an unexpected group of carols singers arrive!

And are lucky to find a very appreciative crowd!

Then Ma makes one of her marvelous speeches in a kitchen full of doctors, cause what's a party without a legend or two...

xxx elle


Watch out for the intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge
as your heart
falls out of your mouth

Ann Sexton from 'Admonitions to a special person'

found on running after my hat

xxx elle

My boy, my boy, my boy...again

 After three daughters Mr Nielson better known as Sid, and I were convinced that my fourth pregnancy would present us with another, so we were more then amazed and delighted when it turned out to be our son Steele.

Even our doctor, used to earnest instructions from us to remain silent during the delivery gesticulated wildly towards the 'evidence' between Steele's legs!

And whilst there was something so romantic about having our own version of 'Little Women', nothing could prepare us for the unique wonders of raising a boy.

A little testosterone goes a long way!

 Here Steele is, gearing up for a night out with the boys.

Nothing like a few drinks and a game of pool in Mr Nielson's bar to get the evening going.

 And then they're off!

 Turning on the charm already...

That's my boy!

xxx elle

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


When my daughter Tiffany was a little girl she developed a fine sense of the tribal.

This no doubt was passed on to her by her dear mother, cest moi so she cannot be held liable for such foibles!

Tiff wanted everyone she liked to be Jewish, just like her. That way, they would instantly feel like distant cousins you could invite round for dinner.

'Is Princess Di Jewish? ', she would ask expectantly. 'Brittany Spears, Dame Edna, The Spice Girls? ... Well, it was the nineties after all and Tiff was short on candidates!

Of course, Tiffany has been in heaven now for thirteen long years, where she has no doubt discovered that such things don't matter in the end at all.

Still, I think she would have loved this letter from Shel Dorf, the co-founder of Comic-Con to Julie Schwartz editor of DC comics, in which he attests to Superman's tribal links!

Shel decides that since Superman was created by 'a bunch of Jewish kids from Cleveland, this makes him Jewish.' Then bemoaning the fact that Superman was unlikely to have even known he was of 'the tribe', Shel is comforted when he looks up 'Lois Lane's' real name only to discover that it was Lois Farbotnik.

'So a union between them would have been kosher!'

Tiff would have been proud!

xxx elle

Remembering Zahida...

South Africans were horrified and ashamed at the news a few weeks ago, of the death of Anni Dewani who was honey-mooning at The Cape Grace in Cape Town.

And while everyone lamented the existence of such ugliness in our city I could not help thinking of my friend Zahida Sabadia who died under similar circumstances more then a dozen years ago.

Zahida was a beautiful young doctor, married to psychiatrist Omar Sabadia.

When Zahida was hijacked in the city of Pretoria, Omar made a dramatic appearance through the media, begging for the release of his beloved wife.

When her body was found a few days later next to her abandoned vehicle, Omar was the picture of husbandly grief, but within days it became clear the he had recruited two of his past patients to murder his beautiful wife.

Zahida had a warmth, charm and grace that was unforgettable, that made her stand out, as many do who die too soon.

Like Anni Dewani...

Whose parents need to know the truth of what happened on that terrible night.

xxx elle

Good Gracious

The Cape Grace is in the news for all the wrong reasons right now.

Looking across the waterfront at its splendid illuminated beauty reflected in the water, with Table Mountain as the perfect backdrop, it's hard to believe that a tale that ends in sadness can ever have begun in the midst of such loveliness...

For The Grace lives up to its name.

It is a place of exquisite refinement, understated and seemingly effortless in its simple style.

Designer Kathi Weixelbaumer was recently commisioned to oversee a complete refurbishment of The Grace, and she in turn commisioned African Footprint to design and hand paint all the textiles used in the hotel.

The murals, wall-hangings and soft furnishings all tell the elaborate story of the fairest Cape, and of the Dutch East India Company around which the city grew

Mr Nielson and I like, nothing better then stopping off with our friends at The Bascule Bar to end a great night out on the town.

With the waters of Table Bay in such close proximity, it's hard to believe that you are not aboard some fabulous ship!

And evidence of African Sketchbook's handiwork is to be seen here too.

The Company was started by Di Christian, who was later joined by Anne Thistleton.

 Together they have created a unique textile design environment which not only employs and trains unskilled workers, but also sets a high standard of quality and detail.

These elegant silk dupioni curtains handpainted in calligraphy, which tell the story of The Grace as well as the maritime origins of the present day Victoria and Alfred Waterfront are yet another example of their work.

In front sits one of the 500 antiques Weixelbaumer purchased to create a collection of  furniture, art and accessories that best reflect the history of the city as a trading route.

This beautiful mural found on the fourth floor Lobby adds to the theme of storytelling about the Cape..

It seems surreal to think that it was in this peaceful and gentile space, that the Dewani's began an evening that was to go so horribly wrong...

xxx elle

Just wing it

found on the improvised life.

xxx elle

There's a doctor in the house!

It's been six long years.

Long years of saturated learning and endless endurance

The slow burn, of pain and fear in a patients eyes that stays with you late into the night.

The children.

The gratitude of healing.

New life that breathes for the first time in your hands.

And life that ends with your vigil at the bedside.

It's been six long years, and Skye is a doctor.

And now to Bara, the largest acute hospital in the world for two years of internship.

Then a year of community service.

Don't put your daughter on ward rounds Mrs Worthington!

xxx elle

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

'Restless Objects Now At Rest"

I love these beautiful works by the artist Kirsten Hassenfeld.

They have a purity of being that feels somehow like sacred art. 

Perhaps there is something in the history of a found object that makes it vibrate in a different way.

After many years of working with paper, the artist felt drawn to the unpredictable nature of found objects as raw material. Her connection to the environment and the natural world also encouraged that leaning.

That which is unwanted, that has outlived its useful life is given restoration here as part of a glorious whole.

xxx elle



We drove through the old farm gates of halfaampieskraal with a feeling of unbridled excitement.

It was just as Skye had described; the vast wheat and canola fields lay like faded sheets hung out to dry in the midday sun, and a party of white geese minced across the dust road, as if they had timed our welcome.


Cows surveyed our passage with a bored resignation, and weaver birds flicked by carrying fresh reeds for their nests. We had that lovely sense of knowing when the days ahead seem filled with endless possibility.

Jan-Georg Solms, owner of Halfaampies exudes nobility. This comes from being part of an Afrikaaner dynasty that goes back many generations in the farming community of Napier.


When weekend guests began to outnumber available accommodation in the manor house, Jan-Georg and his life-partner Cobus Geldenhuys transformed the old farm schoolhouse into a cluster of glorious en suite bedrooms.


They offer a romantic refuge for visitors overwhelmed by too much fresh farm air,and food from the manor house kitchen.

An unexpected lunch prepared by Zoe, the beautiful young chef, is one of those meals I will always remember. Farm boerewors alongside greens fresh from the garden, thick slabs of white farm butter and artisan bread served with Danish feta and plump red minted tomatoes.

I can't begin to describe the loveliness of sitting out on the stoep overlooking the bleached wheat fields, with lunch presented to us on large vintage platters. The addition of music, laughter and beloved friends made it unforgettable.


You cannot help but fall in love with Halfaampieskraal, so much so, that by the time Cobus looking for all the world like a Mills and Boon hero, finally walked through the kitchen door I was hard pressed not to fling myself into his arms.

Ok, fine, I did fling myself into his arms but such is the spell of Halfaampies that impulsive acts of adoration are quite understandable!

Later, after drinks by the pool, a walk along winding country roads and a visit to the resident farm animals we retire to our respective boudoirs and await the summons of the slave bell.

When it tolls and we make our way over to the dining-room, nothing prepares us for the dramatic splendour of the music, candles and flowers that await us.

A waterblommetjie risotto starter is followed by individually prepared lamb pies, accompanied by huge platters of roasted veg and fresh salad. The chocolate fondant desert is enough to make a grown man cry! For more!

Times seems to pass with an unfamiliar fullness at halfaampieskraal.

Each moment seems plump with life. 

In the end it is The Farmer, The 'Greek' and The Chef  seen here with an adoring Cath, who will steal your heart.

xxx elle