Friday, January 22, 2010


I've tried really I have...

I've thought to myself, it's time for a lovely restrained. grown up sort of look in my home. The kind that come's from swatches, and story boards. Carefully planned. Calculated. Lots of quiet linen. Things that match.

But, In the end I can't help myself. Things I love take over. Crazy. Beautiful. Sometimes at odds with each other, wonderful things.

These Vogue photo's were taken in the old Brooklyn brownstone of Olya and Charles Thompson. My kind of wonderful...

xxx elle

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My boy, my boy, my boy...

Steele has taken some self portraits, for an art project at school. They have that Jim Morrison edginess that seems so ubiquitous with young boys!

He will render them in pencil and charcoal.

None come even close, to capturing the essence of all that he is.

His wisdom, wit and kindness.

His sensitivity, generosity and humour.

The sheer loveliness of his presence in the world.

That's my boy!

xxx elle

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wise words for the weary.

Do you have doubts about your life?
Are you unsure if it is really worth the trouble?
Look at the sky: that is for you.
Look at each person's face as you pass them on the street: those faces are for you.
And the street itself, and the ground under the street, and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you.
They are as much for you as they are for other people.
Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing.
Stand up and face the East.
Now praise the sky and praise the light within each person under the sky.
It's ok to be unsure.
But praise, praise, praise.
Miranda July from 'The Shared Patio', found on Running After My Hat.

A Maludious afternoon.

My friend Malu grew up in the beautiful Stellenberg, a manor house built in the early 1800's and home to her family for some 80 years.

Its glorious gardens are the work of Malu's mother, Sandy Ovenstone, and they are every bit as beautiful, timeless and gracious as their creator.

This formal garden was designed by the great David Hicks, it consists of two symmetrical knot gardens seperated by an arched walkway.

Over time, Sandy grew a little tired of its relentless rigidity and in a show of feminine triumph, some unruly flowering was allowed to flourish. In deference to the good Sir Hicks, Sandy still maintains one side in his original design.

If you ask me, Sandy's wild interpretation is altogether more endearing. The garden is divided into many themed 'garden rooms', each with a unique style and purpose.

This then is the garden of contemplation...

And this a little herb garden, surrounded by a much larger vegetable one. Malu wont let you leave without a few armfulls of whatever is ripe and abundant on the day of your visit. (I'll be cooking melezane for weeks at this rate!) Everywhere you look is a feast for the senses. Fountains. Old wrought iron gates. Garden walls with the patina of centuries.

Its a place of bliss.

And there are lots of smaller houses on the estate.

If you want to wake up to the view from the window in this lovely old homestead when you next visit Cape Town, it's available for short lets. But only to very nice people.

And of course, only very nice people read this blog.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ways of dying...

On the way home from a few days at the cottage at Boulders, I drove through Fish Hoek, and saw a search and rescue helicopter circling above the beach.

I could see a life saver's boat being tossed about in the rough surf, and like one of those ghastly people, who slow down to look through splayed fingers at the scene of a car crash, I went down to the beach to investigate!

Worse still, a friend who had followed behind me by car, joined me (at my encouragement) for an eye-witness account! O the shame!
I guess I was expecting an exciting rescue of some sort, I have seen bathers being pulled from the sea, and fishing vessels run aground on the rocks close by. All these encounters ended happily.

But not today.

Instead, the Shark warning flag was up.

There are look-out towers on the mountain slopes, that enable 'shark watchers' to warn the life guards on duty when there are great white sharks, coming in close proximity to bathers or surfers. The guards then raise a flag, and a siren signals people to leave the water.

In fact, unbeknownest to us, earlier in the day, a warning had been issued through the print and internet media, advising the people of Cape town of increased Great White activity in the False bay area.

It was too little, too late for Lloyd Skinner, a 37 year old engineer visiting from Zimbabwe, who died in the jaws of a shark some twenty minutes before we drove by.

Just a man, visiting the beach with his girlfriend on a beautiful summer's day. Who could have imagined such an outcome, to such a wholesome, innocent quest.

I drove home, sobered by the terrible news, ashamed of my insensitive curiosity and bemused by the fate of this man. When Tyne Daly, an elderly local, died in the same way, some four years ago I felt the same puzzlement.

Of all the ways to die, this most primal, savage end seems inexplicable. Out of the billions of people that inhabit this earth, only a very few will die this way. Mr Nielson better known as Sid, always says that everyone has to die, and there are lots of ways of dying. But it seems absurd to think that someones destiny can include such an ending. Dying at the jaws of a Great White Shark.

The next morning at Cafe Neo, my friends and I watched foreign tourists take photo's of the newspaper headlines. 'Fatal shark attack at Fish Hoek

Something to show the folks back home...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tiptoe through the boudoir with me.

I find Skye, flushed and elated at the top of the stairs.

'Mum', she announces, 'I've tidied my boudoir.'

Of course I know without asking, that no broom, mop or polish has found its way to those rooms.

That child has been moving her things around again!

In fact, Skye is so delighted with the results that she has taken some photo's!

Frames from Cape to Cairo;

Assorted paper mache roses;

Old paintings by Skye, sewn together with ribbon and thread;

Tiny bits of her travelling tales;

Little pieces of beauty made or found...

It's late at night and the family cluster together in little constellations of familial connections.
There's no place on earth I'd rather be...