Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Birthday Build

We traveled up to our plot at the beginning of February for four days. The trip's main purpose was to move as much as we could of furniture and items from  the main room  into the small bedroom. This was done with a view to reviving our building program which had not moved on for the last two years.

On one of our strolls, I took a photo of this pony. Nothing quite beats a view which includes a horse!

Roy returned there two weeks later, a day or two after a major milestone birthday of his, and he moved into the caravan for the next two weeks. Our brother-in-law joined him for the weekend before the builders were due to start on the Monday. He was of invaluable help as cook and bottle washer, as well as passing tools and materials to Roy as he built a platform over the door and wedged the staircase into position for the builder.

Brother-in-law was sad to see how many metal decorative tools had been removed from the Gomo Guti Gate since he last saw it a couple of years ago. 

This staircase was purchased second hand in 2011 and we sanded and painted it with NS4. It has been stored since then in the main room of the building so this means there should be less clutter now.

Brother-in-law departed on the Monday as Roy  went to fetch the builder and his helper from Suurbraak. 

The builder is 65 years old and usually only builds for 3 days of any week but as he was feeling energetic, he ended up working a full five days and then three days of the following week. Roy values the skills of this old timer who has such a wealth of experience and Roy gives him a free rein.

Firstly, after chipping away at excess bits of concrete, the screed, which had to be thrown in two sections, was laid, one half on Monday, the other half on the following Monday. This allowed for transfer of items from one side of the room to the other, once the first half had dried and been polished. By throwing a screed on the floor, as already done in the bathroom and little bedroom, the final finish would mean that we can move along with building cupboards and installing a sink.

The second half had to be mixed by hand because overnight rain had played havoc with the concrete mixer's spark plug. The texture has to be just right, producing a mixture which does not run but which compresses into a moist, pliable texture. 

The staircase was not tall enough.   Before the staircase could be installed, the water tank on the stoep had to be moved to it's now permanent position, in order to make space for a  stepped brick platform which would boost the staircase.

Next on the to-do list was to extend the pillars above deck-level. Preparation entailed throwing bricks expertly onto upper deck and carting up buckets of cement. 

Once the pillars were set, Roy installed metal railings. These railings do seem overly extravagant for this building and it's purpose, but we didn't pay a cent for them. The seller of the staircase was anxious that he would "get stuck" with these railings that he had ripped out during his house renovations and we were only too happy to take them off his hands. 

Unbelievably, they were a perfect fit and were used without any need for resizing. When we acquired them, the footprint of the building was already established, so it is quite amazing how suitably they have served us.

You can see the mark on the concrete surface where the water tank used to stand.

Roy finished off the platform with wooden planks, covered it with thin plywood, material and sealant.  Next time, he will cover this with Malthoid and finalise with another coat of sealant.

The next chore was to use up the last of our bricks on a project for the future. Can you guess what it is for? It is along our back boundary fence at the highest spot. (which is not very high, and we do need height for the purpose) 

Besides the inside coloured screed, in order to use up the last of our current building sand, a start was made on the outside stoep screed. 

After a celebratory lunch at the local Wimpy with the team, with arrangements made for next time,  Roy and John spent the last day finalising some unfinished items as far as possible.

Before setting off for home, Roy delightedly snapped these March Lilies, which are growing from seed, harvested in my Cape Town garden.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Summer Break

We went up to the plot for a week between Christmas and New Year, staying just long enough to greet 2014 in the peace and quiet of the countryside.

Things were looking pretty green, considering that it is summer. Some rains in November seem to have made a difference.

I had thought that we should consider cutting down the huge Black Wattle, firstly because it is an invasive alien and secondly, because a neighbour's tree like this fell over recently in a strong wind. 

But after sitting in it's shade for four hours on a very hot day, we decided to postpone that action until our other trees are much bigger and are able to offer similar relief.

On our return to Cape Town, our botanist neighbour identified some of the natural plants which are flourishing...some indigenous, some not.

 Three indigenous Athanasia (Daisy) species
 Athanasia Juncea
 Athanasia Quinquedentata

Athanasia trifurcata – kouterbos or klaaslouwsbos – unpalatable and thus often a pioneer in old lands; sands or shales; whereas the other two are mostly shale species

Hermannia species - doll’s rose; indigenous

Searsia (Rhus) pallens – indigenous taaibos

 Helichrysum patulum – indigenous; kooigoed

Selago sp - indigenous

  Pteronia ovalifolia??

Otholobium arborescens?

Melinis repens in foreground (Natal red top; indigenous but invasive from summer rainfall areas); and the tall one is Hyparrhenia hirta (thatching grass; ditto re origins, and very invasive in Renosterveld and along roads)

This dry spiky one is Trifolium angustifolium and it is extremely prickly and a nuisance in the dogs coat. 

This prolific plant with its  little gooseberry type casings is an unknown alien...somewhere else on the planet, someone is struggling to get it to grow in their garden!!

Apparently Conyzas are alien but there is an  indigenous Conyza Scabrida...
we are not sure about this one..

I am told that botanists need flowers and even fruit in order to make a complete identification. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013


I came across an old tattered Bible bookmark from my youth. I see the date on it is 1972. I am going to toss the bookmark but feel reluctant to toss the writings on the back. It is in tiny, teenager font, in faded pencil, which I can barely read. The only way to free myself from this bookmark is to type up the writings .....(OCD!)

The Lord God: Gen 1: 1- 12; Ex 33: 12 - 23; Job 38: 1-13; Ps 86; Ps 97; Is 40: 10-31

The Holiness of God: Ex 3:1-6; Ps 99; Is 6:1-7; Eph 5: 1-18; Heb 12:14-29; 1 Peter 1: 13-25; Rev 1:8-18

The Wisdom of God: Ps 104: 1 - 24; Jer 10: 10-16; Job 28: 12-28; Prov 8: 10 - 36; Rom 11: 25-36; 1 Cor: 17-31; Eph 3: 1-12

The Power of God: Gen 1:24-31; Job 37:5-24; Ex 14:13-31; Ps 107: 21-43; Dan 3: 8-28; Nahum 1: 1-7

The Law of God: Ex 20:1 - 17; Deut 4:1 - 13; Mat 5:17-37; Luke 6:27-38; Luke 10:25-37; Luke 18:18-27

The Judgement of God: Gen 6:5-13; Gen 7:1-4, 11-24; 1 Kings 21: 1-20; Dan 5:1-9, 17-31: Acts 4:32 -5:11; Luke 13:1-9; Rev 20:11-15

The Mercy of God: Gen 9:8-17; Numb 14:11-20; Deut 30:1-9; Ps 103; Ps 106:32-48; Ps 136:1-12, 23-26; Jonah 3

The Love of God: John 15:4-21; Rom 5:1-11; Rom 8:28-39; 1 Cor13; Mat 6:25-34; 1 John 3:1-11; 1 John 4:7 - 21

The Grace of God: 2 Cor:9