Wednesday, March 31, 2010

South Easter Weekend!

Well, it's the Easter weekend, and we are off to the cottage to lounge around,( although hopefully not as suggestively as Charlotte Rampling) and enjoy a little family bonding.

There is nothing better.

No doubt the South Easter will be howling its way across the sea to the cottage but it is Easter after all, so its to be forgiven!

xxx elle


I have always loved attic rooms.

They appeal to the well hidden, sensible side of me. After all, growing up in South Africa, I was always advised to not waste the food on my plate, for fear of starving more Biafrans. This prudent counsel must be why I am fixated on getting 2 ply toilet paper ( only the best for Mr Nielson better known as Sid ), at the cheapest price in town! In addition I have a thing about making a weak cup of tea, without sharing the tea-bag! In any event, I digress.

Attic rooms conjour up all kinds of wonderful images for me. Of course, it must be said that my mind can veer off to Mr Rochester, and poor Bertha groaning in her roof-room. Worse still I might consider just for a moment, that irritating Kate Hudson trapped in a circle of satanic fire, between the rafters in The Skeleton Key.
But mostly attic rooms for me, are filled with nostalgia. They make me think of Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and broomsticks (both directed by Robert Stevenson), two of my favourite childhood movies.

Rooms beneath the rafters, can be airy and full of light, with sheer drapes that dance with an early morning breeze.

They can be wall-papered and cosy, ( think Laura Ashley here ) so that you feel held and comforted by the sloping ceilings and dormer windows.

You can squeeze a bathroom into the littlest roof space, and it's a perfect place to make use of a slipper bath from which to gaze out the window while you soak!

Attic rooms can be wonderfully romantic; the low ceilings can provide a kind of built in four poster effect to even the most modest bed. Just add a little chandelier and you've got honeymoon written all over you.

In fact they are perfect to brood in alone, ( hopefully not as miserably as Bertha in Jane Eyre ) or better still to share with a sibling ( think The Railway children here, ) or a best friend.

xxx elle

Singing in Stanford to the Bailey blues.

No visit to Blue Gum is complete without stopping in at Stanford, the little village that is close by.

And no visit to Stanford would be worth it's salt, without knocking at the door of Tom and Su, and finding them home.

Behind that unassuming front door, lies a little piece of country heaven, and Tom, Su and their beautiful daughter Ella manage to come through several weekends a month to enjoy its celestial delights.

Su, brother Grant and their sister Lulu, who owns Lucky Fish (everyone's favourite lifestyle shop at 44 on Stanley), have more style then any one family should have! There is something about the warmth, comfort and colour of all their homes that make them immeasurably charming and covetable.

Best of all, the sisters are as lovely as their interiors and just as welcoming...

xxx elle

Under bluegums...

Every now and then Mr Nielson better known as Sid, and I make a quick getaway to the country for a few days. Blue Gum Lodge is one of our favourite boltholes. We have sampled almost all of its delightful accomodation; mountain family suites, romantic 'elephant' and 'lion' boudiors and even the private 'villa'.

All of them keep us yearning to return, not just for Blue Gum's expansive gentleness and comforting silence but also for the delicious cuisine and adorable staff. The previous owners made social upliftment in the area a priority, and Moira our waitress, who once hid in the ladies room in terror of the guests, now confidently regales us with mirth-filled local tales and country gossip!

New owner Graham, has thankfully maintained its welcoming ambience along with all the little nuances, that make Blue Gum so addictive. After breakfast, his son Simon arrived, with bass from the river to release into the Blue Gum dam!

An historic moment no doubt, caught on my camera, for Kingfishers and future guests to enjoy!

In just the few days that we visited, Sid and I saw glorious porcupine scuttling through the thicket, and huge barn owls that eyed us wearily from their lookout posts along the gravel roads. Shy buck grazed close by late at night, and troops of baboon thundered down through the vineyards during our breakfast, all the while chased by the live 'scarecrow', employed to keep them away!
Can you blame us for coming back for more...
xxx elle

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

If only...

My son Steele and I were driving through downtown Cape Town today, when someone offered us a leaflet, as we stopped at the traffic light'

I always open my window and take one, even though I thankfully don't need car repairs, or short term loans which is what they usually advertise.

I take one and smile, because that is what you do for someone, who is forced to hand out leaflets at the robots for a pittance everyday.

Steele and I mused over today's offering:

Fortune Teller
Prof Moi From Kenya Consultation: fee R50. 00

The professor uses 'pure natural herbal medicine from the masaai land to heal his patients' He also makes use of his spiritual powers to treat problems like:

Bring back lost lover
Settling your debts
Worried about court cases
Employment difficulties
Penis enlargement
Bad luck
Ghosts and demons in your house
Heavy drinking and smoking
To perform at school...

The Prof also has the cure for 'heave (sic) woman flow, body pains and boils', as well as many other disturbing ailments!

We both thought it was very funny but of course, it also made us think of all the many countless people, ready to pay their R50. 00, in the gullible hope that such things are possible.

It made me think of journalist John Diamond's book, 'Snake oil and other preoccupations'. John, who (in a stroke of Divine irony) was married to Nigella Lawson, died of throat and tongue cancer some years back, and his book included an examination of the countless alternative healings offered to the desperate, and the dying.

Healing is a mystery. Death an inevitability. And. Life. An extraordinary possibility! That's why we should live it with every ounce of our being, as best we can. And if you are on a 'grape cure', eating shark cartilage, making Castor oil poultices or meeting with Prof Moi:

Please keep seeing your doctor too!

xxx elle

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Keeping it light.

'I'm not very taken with your blog at the moment.' My daughter Skye confessed as we shared a moment of introspection at the days end.

Skye was weary after a day in the hospital ward, attending to all the ills, that are a consequence of terrible politics in this country.

All the results of that inadequacy, the failure to address basic human needs, lie in those hospital beds.

The human cost of poverty: Babies dying of malnutrition, and neglect. People too diminished by hopelessness to fight their alcohol or drug addiction. Too detached to care about passing on aids and syphillis to their children. Burnt in shack fires. Sick from contaminated water. Breathing in the germs of over-crowding.

'This is not why I did medicine.' Skye said sadly.

I can understand why my blog feels so thin to her. Can see why she can't 'hear my voice' amidst the writing. 'Where are your stories? You have so much to say...' my daughter laments.

Perhaps the same sense of sadness, the odd juxtaposition of my own reality against the acheing pain of 'out there', means... that I must (for now, at least) keep it light.

Hot designers.

Tearing across town on a Sunday afternoon to the Cape Town Convention Centre, for a stolen few hours in searing heat is not a great idea. Much better to laze by the pool, or better still 'nap' with Mr Nielson, better known as Sid, in our air-conditioned boudoir.

Nevertheless, as sufferers of FOMO in varying degrees, Malu, Balu and I, (yes those are their names!) braved the crowds, and hit the design hall with feigned enthusiasm.

In between all the usual suspects, were little gems of ingenuity. Copy, copy, copy is oftentimes the mantra that dominates South African design. It comes from being a season behind the rest of the world, making it temptingly easy to rework whatever emerged out of Europe or America.
I rather liked these elaborate 'miners' hats, part of the uniquely South African dress code for local soccer lovers. Crafted with enormous creativity, and individuality by very enthusiastic fans.

Visitors to the 2010 world cup are going to love them, although they may find themselves less enamoured with the vuvuzela's that are usually accompany the outfits.

Of course. while I stood around enduring the noisy crowds, Malu and Balu restored themselves with a little neck and shoulder massage.

Unlike lots of the fare on show, my Friends are all real originals!