Wednesday, 16 September 2009

little and large

This past weekend was the Swartland Agricultural Show.
It's lots of fun to visit, especially if you like farm animals (which I do)



These are some of the prize winning cattle, lined up according to their breeds. I loved the handlers in their red overalls and white boots.



Our friend Christina came to visit because she'd never been to the skou, and it turned out to be a day that was all about transport.



she went for a ride with Greg on the Harley



she got to sit in some really big harvesters



and I mean BIG!





but some were more her size.



Some of the vehicles were more old fashioned. Eight horse power seems much more exciting than the 1800 in our bakkie (pick up truck)



Some were very elegant



And some reminded us that we are all inordinately proud of hosting the world cup soccer next year.



But, when all is said and done, it is always the cute girl that steals the show!

Monday, 7 September 2009

60 squares



My eldest son, Simon, came to lunch on Saturday with his girlfriend Larissa, and spent some time helping to take out the last of the lapa poles. See how the pole has rotted away in the concrete? We are really so lucky that the whole thing didn't fall down on our heads.



So now that the lapa is down, we are full of plans and ideas about what do do with the space.
(Yes, I know I used that pic in my last post. Yes I know it's my garden and I could go outside and take another (different) one. But I don't want to.)

We're back to square one, but as Seth Godin says, square one is an under rated place. So we need to make sure we enjoy being there.

Do we just cover the space in shadecloth so that we can escape the summer heat more cost effectively?

Do we build a big room onto the house? With an extra bathroom and a fireplace and windows all around? The area we are looking at covering is 12m long and 5m wide. The lapa had the same surface area (but a different shape) but somehow it didn't feel like a fixed space because it was open on three sides.

Our house is a very old (by South African standards). Typical farmhouse style... a long passage down the centre and three rooms on each side. So part of what we would want to do if we do build a solid extension would be to make sure that we don't ruin the look of the house, or its old fashioned feel.

Do we sell the left hand half of the bottom of our garden to help pay for these grand plans? (because anything that is built there ... down behind that green water tank in the distance ... doesn't interfere with our view). Or do we build something there ourselves, and boost our income with the rent (once we'd paid off the loan we'd have to take out to pay for it).

What would you do? How would you fill sixty square metres of space?

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

its gonna be a long, hot summer

We live in a place where the summers are blisteringly hot and dry. A place where, if you are lucky enough to have a swimming pool, you think twice before dashing outside to cool down.

So we built a lapa... a wonderful thatch construction, built with sturdy bluegum poles and a thick thatch roof. It was close to 60 square metres in size, and winter or summer it became the place where we lived. It was a place to do projects. It was a place to share food and laughter. It was a vital part of our home.

Until, sadly, we realised that it hadn't been built properly and it was beginning to shift away from the house. The first construction company had vanished into the wild blue yonder, so we got another company... a family business with three generations of thatchers... to come and fix the lapa.

Sadly, they were not any better than the first company, and earlier this year when a third roof pole suddenly snapped, we realised something had to be done.
So we did the logical thing, and contacted our insurance company (Standard Bank) who had sent an assessor to approve the original construction.

And they, being more interested in taking premiums than paying out policies, refused to pay because the construction was unsafe. (Yes, we told them their assessor had approved it).

Now we are trying to get the ombudsman to acknowledge our presence, but that's a whole other story.


So last week, Ollie came to help us take the thatch off.


He didn't realise how much there was!


Getting the concrete off the roof without it landing on anyone's head was pretty scary


Reuben and Ernie and Rauan came to help this weekend to take the structure down. I made lamb stew and lemon meringue pie and lemonade and stayed out of the way.


Getting the last few poles out was hard work, even though they were totally rotten under the ground.


Once the poles were out, they were stacked in the garden for use in the next big project.


And the space outside is big and empty.

But, like I've said before, there is always a silver lining...

Greg sees it as a blank canvas for the next structure. Looks like it will finally be a chance for us to learn some straw bale building skills. So watch this space.

(but I still feel bereft)