Tag Archives: south Africa

House Madeline – a concept house

Concept:~ {An abstract or general idea inferred or derived from specific instances}

It is finally happening. At long last we are going to build our dream home! At times it seemed like our dream was just going to stay that…a whiff…a dream. But even when all the odds were against us, we managed to persevere and push through.

Our fascination with this build started 5 years ago. Read about it here and here.  We fell in love with a tin can…a shipping container…and knew this was part of God’s plan in sending us to Johannesburg. Container housing was still a fairly new concept in South Africa in 2010, although in certain countries it was already rife and accepted.  The whole concept of debt-free and off-the-grid living immediately struck a cord with us.

Earlier this year we secured a piece of land in Florida, Johannesburg, and if all goes according to plan…our first 2 containers will be delivered next week! I wish you can understand how excited and thrilled we really are.

The land in Florida

The land in Florida

At long last we can build a concept home that could be a solution to our country’s dire housing problem. Have you spared a thought to the destitute and homeless lately? I haven’t lived on the streets thus I cannot fully comprehend how bad it must be.

We are humbled. We feel blessed and grateful that God chose us for this work. Everyone has a work to do. Each one of us must fulfill our God-given purpose. I cannot wait to finally start on mine!

I have started a new blog for this specific purpose. It is new…I should upload a few pics shortly.

www.housemadeline.wordpress.com

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What makes a city? Do people really matter?

I was pleasantly charmed by a movie I watched recently.  “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen, is set in Paris and Owen Wilson plays the character of Gil Pender, a screenwriter trying to write his first novel.  While exploring the city by night, he mysteriously transports to the 1920’s and meets all his favourite writers, musicians and artists.  He falls head over heels in love with the city.  However his fiancé does not share the same sentiment and ironically he falls out of love with her.

Midnight_in_Paris_Poster

Now, I have never really had a deep desire to visit Paris.  Maybe because I thought it was overrated or people fussed about it too much.  In any case, hubby and I had an opportunity to backpack through Europe a few years back.  We were set to spend 2 nights in romantic Paris.  We tried finding our hotel but really struggled to get around because no-one would respond to us in English.

We ended up leaving “romantic Paris”…we couldn’t find any romanticism.  We ended up walking around for hours.  I build up this grudge against the Parisians and immediately decided they were arrogant and snobby.  There was no way we would spent our hard-earned money there.

Quite disappointed we left Paris

Quite disappointed, we left Paris

We left and spent an extra two nights in Barcelona!  Wow, what a city!  Ironically we had a total different experience!  We had a lovely, warm reception, and people made an effort to help us.  It quickly became our favourite place, and I would go there on the drop of a dime.

Now 8 years later, I’m rethinking everything…especially after watching this movie.  Also, a friend of mine and fellow Blogger, Wade Manning, moved to Paris recently, and I really enjoy reading about his experiences.

In hindsight, I realise I was a bit ignorant.  I could have made an effort to learn the basic: Bonjour Monsieur, parlez-vous anglais?”  But I also ask myself why they could not make an effort to be more friendly?  Why must they be so snobbish?  Maybe our decision to leave prematurely robbed us of some brilliant experiences.  And that is what travelling is about…learning about new places, people and cultures.  And we chose to abort “living the French way”.  We never got to eat any French food or visit the Eiffel Tower… none of that!

So I pose the question:  “What makes a city? Do people really matter?”  My conclusion is…yes, people matter.  People can either make or break your trip.  Coming from sunny South Africa, I am proud to say that our people are said to be some of the friendliest in the world.  I have met countless tourists and visitors and they would always commend us.  “Ubuntu” is what and who we are.

Desmond Tutu explains what Ubuntu is:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

Children of South Africa

Friendly children of South Africa

I love that…and I try to live that.  Our general culture in South Africa is one of Ubuntu, and yes you do get rude and angry people who choose not to live by this concept.  And this is true for every country in the world.  Maybe we just ran into the wrong people on that disastrous day we arrived in Paris.

Time is a healer.  I think I’m ready to embrace and give Paris another chance.  As Owen Wilson’s character sums it up in this quote from the movie:

Adriana: I can never decide whether Paris is more beautiful by day or by night.
Gil: No, you can’t, you couldn’t pick one. I mean I can give you a checkmate argument for each side. You know, I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form and when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exists, these lights, I mean come on, there’s nothing happening on Jupiter or Neptune, but from way out in space you can see these lights, the cafés, people drinking and singing. For all we know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe.”

I think I’m ready to experience this now.  Paris is now once again on my list of places to visit, and this time I will go ready and armed!

Paris, nous voici!!

So again I pose the question:  “What makes a city? Do people really matter?”  What is your feeling?

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DIY: Around the world on a whim

Travelling broadens one’s mind.  It has been said that “Travel is the only thing you buy, that makes you richer.”

A few years ago I went travelling around our beautiful country.  To remind me of my trip, I decided to make a lampshade using a map of South Africa.  Here is how I did it!

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This is a quick and easy way to update any room…go ahead and try it!

Also featured in December/January edition of 4changemagazine.

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A short, but pleasant visit to the Overberg

During the holidays we visited with our good friends, Noel and Shandre Bastiaan, who live in Bredasdorp in the Overberg region.  It is roughly 180 km’s from Cape Town.

Overberg is a district in South Africa to the east of Cape Town beyond the Hottentots-Holland mountains. It lies along the Western Cape Province’s south coast between the Cape Peninsula and the region known as the Garden Route in the east. 

Overberg_Town_Map

It is really a well-kept coast of rugged, unspoiled beaches.  Because of time restrictions, we could only stay over for one night which meant we had to squeeze in a trip to the beach!  First up was Struisbaai.  We chose a very windy day…nonetheless it was gorgeous!

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Struisbaai is in a natural bay and is well known for its 14 kilometers of uninterrupted white beach with safe waters for swimming and long beach walks. Southern Right whales visit from June to December to calve and mate.

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After that episode with the wind, we headed home and Noel and Shandre were the perfect hosts.  In true South African style we had “potjie kos”.  In South Africa, potjiekos literally translated “small pot food”, is a stew prepared outdoors. It is traditionally cooked in a round, cast iron, three-legged pot.

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In true holiday spirit, Noel has a hammock at the braai area

The next day we headed off to the beach…again! This time to Arniston or Waenhuiskrans.  We had a perfect day…no wind, just sun and surf baby!

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Arniston is a small seaside settlement in the Overberg region on the Cape South coast, close to Cape Agulhas, the southern-most tip of Africa. Prior to the loss of the Arniston, it was known as Waenhuiskrans, an Afrikaans name meaning literally “Wagon house cliff”, after a local sea cave large enough to accommodate a wagon and a span of oxen.  read more…

beach

Truly a beautiful beach. Quiet, serene and refreshing.  Thanks to Noel and Shandre for hosting us.  Although not my first time here…definitely one of the highlights of our visit home this year!

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Do it yourself Woman!

Info courtesy of: SOUTHAFRICA.COM

Each year on the 9th of August, South Africans of all backgrounds, races and cultural groups join together in celebrating National Women’s Day. This annual public holiday commemorates an eventful day in South Africa’s history – 9 August 1956.

What makes this day so special to South Africans? It was on the 9th of August in 1956 that a large group of women began a campaign to bring an end to the pass laws enforced by the government of the time. The pass laws meant that all black people were to carry a special “pass” or identification document which they had to produce to prove they were permitted to enter a certain area designated for white people. This was a major law of the apartheid regime and greatly restricted the freedom of movement of black people.

Read more here.

So tomorrow marks a public holiday.  So in the spirit of liberalism it is the perfect day to: “Do it yourself woman!”   We women can do anything we put our minds to!

Why not try this super-easy craft project:

Quick and easy!

Now before you make a cuppa coffee remember to wait a few minutes for the mug to cool when it’s out of the oven!

Enjoy!

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We are the world

I always find it interesting when travelling to see how our cities’ architecture have been shaped by European influence.

Residential flats, Barcelona - Spain

Old building, Joburg - South Africa

Big Ben, London - UK (photo Alan Hutchison)

City Hall, Cape Town - South Africa

Acropolis, Athens - Greece

Monte Casino, Joburg - South Africa

Ironically, I am struggling to “find” our style.  I mean South African style.  Our cities and towns are crowded with Tuscan Villa’s that don’t reflect our uniqueness at all.  If you think you found a house or building that encompass our style, please take a picture and send it to me!

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My love affair…

Chelsea at the beach

Kirsten at the beach

These pictures give new meaning to the words “beach bums”.  I always try to get posterior pics of the girls when they pick up shells at the beach.  Aren’t they cute?

It’s holiday’s like these that I miss home and the beach the most.  Johannesburg is 588 km’s from the closest beach which is in Durban.  That is sad, taking into account that I used to be 45 minutes away from the beach when I stayed in Paarl, in the Western Cape.

Sometimes I feel I have nothing in common with this city.  Then there are days when I love it.  I guess I have a stormy love affair with the city of gold.  Ah well…I can always try the dams of Joburg?  I have been to Emmerentia Dam, Florida lake and then the big one…Hartebeespoortdam, which technically is not part of Joburg but situated in the North West Province.

I know for sure…you can’t compare the two cities to each other.  They are so different. The one is temperamental with 4 seasons in a day.  The other is fierce and fiery with thunderstorms that make you shiver.  The one is calm and easy…the other is fast-paced and driven.  I guess I am fortunate to have the best of both worlds.  I love my South Africa!

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Visitors from all over…including a gnawer, a mongoose and a rugby team!

Last night I was happily going on with my business in the kitchen preparing sandwiches for the girls for school.  As I was spreading butter on the bread I noticed a small grey ball of fur in my blind spot and my hair literally stood on end. I was horrified and went stone-cold for a second as I realized it was a mouse.

Uuurgh, I hate small 4-legged furry creatures in my home!  And now there is one right here in my kitchen…in the cupboard!!

Mouse

This was the path he followed all along the wall and literally jumped up and slipped in the cupboard. The opening must be less than 1cm thick and he just squeezed right through it.

Now we have been living here for close to 3months and we have never had a mouse (or at least we never saw one).  We accounted this to the hear-say stories about snakes on the property.  We also recently discovered we have 2 meerkats on site!  They seem to live under my dream home…the container home.  I must say…I was pleasantly surprised when I saw one the other day.  He was so cute!  But he was too far to get a nice picture.  So I downloaded a picture from the internet.

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This is not the exact specie but it looked similar.

For the last 2 weeks, the charity 1in1out has been hosting a group of 85 two-legged friends from Wales, England and Canada on-site.  Then I realized it’s because we have had so much traffic in and out the house since the visitors came that Mr. Mouse nestled in so nicely.  He must have slipped in while the kitchen door was open.  (Need to get those gauze doors)

This was our view from the kitchen a few weeks ago…

Before

And this is how it looks now…

The busy team

It’s a flurry of activity.  The guys and girls have sacrificed their holiday to come and work and make a difference to our poverty-stricken South Africa.  Among them is a rugby team from Cardiff, Wales.

The team interacting with some kids from the Lindelani Informal Settlement in Freedom Park.

They have some rugby matches lined up for the duration of their stay with local teams.  If they’re not playing, the whole team is involved in upgrading the 1in1Out site.  If all goes well, the site will be transformed into a skills development centre to benefit the immediate community firstly, then others there-after.

Constructing a floor

Here you can see the guys busy constructing a floor for the intended crèche.  The idea is that the space between the 2 red containers will be converted into a common play-area for the kids.  The team leader, Bill Hebner from Canada, is a huge advocate for container living as he himself has lived in one.  So he knows firsthand the benefits etc.

They have done a tremendous amount thus far.

Shuffling some sand away

The team from First National Bank

The team from First National Bank also jumped in.  Here they are painting the RDP house.

The team packing food

This is how some of the team members spent their Saturday night…packing food for the destitute.

We thank God for them.  They have come to make a difference…and indeed they are doing so.  As for my other guest…not sure how to get rid of him.  We have sporadically placed rat poison in strategic places.  Obviously this poses a danger as I have 2 small kids.  Do you have any suggestions that are safe and not harmful to the environment?  Please send them through!  Help…my house smells like mouse!

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