People often say that McGregor is magic, and many residents say it’s destiny to be living here. As I’ve mentioned before, my day job offers me the privilege of getting an intimate view into people’s private space. That, and Christmas in July, has kept me really busy over the last few days.
I will share a little more about Christmas in July at some point, but it’s a particular residence with some short-term accommodation that I thought I’d tell you about. It’s an interesting property, situated on the grounds of the original McGregor mill (a second was subsequently built), the main house was a whipstock factory. Not many people know that in the mid-late 19th and early 20th century, many of the country’s whipstocks were made here, and a large proportion exported to Germany. Crafted from bamboo that thrives here but is not indigenous. South Africans will know that certain species of bamboo must be eradicated. Some McGregor residents are a little conflicted about this because the clumps of bamboo represent a significant part of our economic history.
All four of the pictures of this collage include clumps of bamboo: clockwise from bottom left, on the boundaries of the properties across the road from us. And yes, those are regular passers-by. The bottom right is a bamboo grove on the corner of our plot behind the house. It’s now smaller because our new neighbours have removed the bulk of it that’s on their property. That photo has another story, too, and for another time, because I took it to show the damage caused by a fire….
Anyhow, back to what I really wanted to tell you about – this property has been turned into a retreat-like haven with two private self-catering cottages that, between them, will accommodate up to five guests.
Monk’s Cottage was built more than 15 years ago as a workshop at the bottom of the tranquil, monastery-like part of the garden, and now renovated with a shower room, separate bedroom and living area. The twisted Karoo willow that gently shades and guards the door will a story to anyone who will listen. I love how the kitchen cupboards have been crafted from old shutters and handles from old cutlery.
The shape of the window also adds to the monastic feel. But that’s where it stops. The cottage is cosy and comfortable.
The main house is at the top of the property and a walk through the garden is full of surprises: more clever use of things unexpected, and which just work. This stone garden is such a clever way of managing the consequences of the drought which just left so many of us with bare, dusty ground.
Kismet, the second cottage, abuts the main house and it has been cleverly renovated and furnished with re-purposed and well-loved pieces that were destined to arrive in McGregor. The owner delights in explaining where they came from and how she selected each special piece, “it’s kismet – fate!” Like Monk, but even more so, she has cleverly re-purposed the most unexpected of items like the copper base of an old geyser for the hand basin in the shower room. The bedroom is cosy and feminine – just the decor I’d have loved if I didn’t have cats!
Although I took some of the photographs of Monk a year ago, it was only nine days ago that I took the photographs of Kismet and of the garden.
I shared the one on the top right of this collage, as soon as I got home, and then had to write some blurb for a publication, while all the time wanting to find time to “play” with these images.
For some reason, it’s been a hectic patch – Christmas in July, as I mentioned, a birthday, an unexpected house guest and in the middle of it, the departure of dear friends from the village, not to mention a new addition who made his entry into the world before “his” knitting was finished… not necessarily in that order…
This, my usual week-end kitchen duties and a trip to Cape Town next week, for the final event associated with the Access Trust for which I have to prepare a speech/presentation…means that I’ve really not had much time to focus on anything.*
Hopefully on our return, next week, things will calm down to a mild panic and things will get back to normal – such as they are!
All photos other than the first collage, some of which may have been with a smartphone, all the others were taken with my Samsung 16.4 mp bridge camera. Collages and editing with Picasa.
Until next time, it’s cheers from me!
The Sandbag House
*and for the Grammar Nazis: those are terrible sentences, I know, but they reflect my current level of not-so-organised chaos!
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