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By the end of last week I had to admit defeat.  It was abundantly clear that we would not be able to move in this Friday.  So we’re now officially a full year overdue.  We’ve pushed the moving date out by a week but have neglected to inform the contractor of our change of plans.  So the site has been a hive of activity for the past several days with different sub-contractors falling over themselves and each other.

There will be one small delivery of furniture on Friday, just to keep everyone on their toes.  We had some things stored in a friend’s flat and that has to be vacated by the 3rd so there will something of a mini-move.  Just enough to instil a little bit of panic, I hope.

This is how things looked this morning:

Taken from the kitchen (90% complete) towards the bay window.

Taken from the kitchen (90% complete) towards the bay window.

The Oggie flooring is almost complete throughout the house and it looks beautiful.  They were working on the stairs today which made the upstairs inaccessible.  One or two more enterprising workmen used a ladder.

Kitchen, taken from the bay window.

Kitchen, taken from the bay window.

Living room floors.

Living room floors.

And the brick paving of the driveway got started this morning:

Compressing the soil in front of the garage.

Compressing the soil in front of the garage.

Looking up the driveway towards the street.

Looking up the driveway towards the street.

Looking down towards the path that leads to the park.

Looking down towards the path that leads to the park.

Eventually a pedestrian gate, matching the driveway gates, will be installed in the opening on the left of this picture.  The wall on the left is one we built just inside our boundary, allowing us to leave our neighbour’s old, decrepit wall intact.  Which seemed to be the way she wanted it to stay.

We also started the process of laying instant lawn today so hopefully some of the dirt and dust will have settled by the time we do actually move in on the 10th.  Having paving down on one side and grass on the other should make a big difference.

Over the past 4 weeks I’ve started to think of myself as being a person ‘of no fixed abode’ and it’s not a great feeling.  We came back from Cape Town hoping to move into our new house by the beginning of June.  That moved to late June and in desperation I actually booked the movers for July the 3rd which is next Friday.  For a while last week it looked as though it might be possible, but since my site visit this afternoon, I have started to doubt the wisdom of that.

We’ve been really fortunate in having the use of a friend’s lovely home set high up on Westcliff Ridge with beautiful views out over the densely forested northern suburbs of Johannesburg and sunsets so spectacular as to take our breath away.  Our plan was to be installed – even if camping – in our new house by the time our host returns from his travels on the 4th of July.

Johannesburg winter sunset from Westcliff.

Johannesburg winter sunset from Westcliff.

Daisy exploring the 4th floor of our current 'guesthouse'.

Daisy exploring the 4th floor of our current ‘guesthouse’.

Relations with the contractor have been strained – to say the least – for some time now.  It seemed to take a very strongly worded email though, to get him to realise the extent of our discontent and work has speeded up over the last ten days but it’s too little too late to be in any way redemptive.

The most serious delays have been caused by the company contracted by Esprit to do all the electrical work.  Weeks have passed with no electricians on site and no amount of pleading and negotiating has made any difference at all.  It has become clear that there are issues between the two companies and it is difficult to change ‘electric horses’ midstream.  As with all building projects, the failure of one team to keep to their schedule has a domino effect as each sub-contractor is in some way dependent on the one before him so we have seen one deadline after another pass unheeded.  And I have become used to people who appear to be able to make promises with not the slightest intention of ever keeping them.

So this is where we are:  The brick paving company scheduled to pave the driveway and pathway down to the park, having been deferred several times, are supposed to arrive tomorrow.  What  I could see of the driveway this afternoon – those bits that were visible under piles of rubble and rubbish, made that seem like something of a pipe dream.  So we’ll see.  The paving job is expected to take a minimum of four days.

Inexplicably, one lone painter has been tasked with the painting of the entire house both inside and out.  He is nowhere near finished and already there are areas he’ll have to redo.

Because of a lack of supervision, the gateway into the park was built and demolished twice before being completed.  This delayed the gate manufacturer from being able to take final measurements.

Arched gateway to park. 3rd time lucky.

Arched gateway to park. 3rd time lucky.

On the right side of the photo above you can see the start of steps which will lead from the raised lawn down to the path.  You can also see the western end of the pool.  Except for the corners, all the coping tiles around the pool are in place.  Curtis pools have been very reliable so far and have done their best to work around all the date changes.

The prolonged absence of electricians has delayed the installation of the generator, the pool pump and the water tank pump.

The installation of the kitchen has ground to a halt while we wait for the electrical work to be completed.

One the plus side, Oggie, the flooring company, after being deferred several times, was able to start this week although not in the peaceful, cleared environment I’d hoped for.  They have laid the floors in the library and most of the living room and hope to get to the kitchen tomorrow.  They have also almost completed the upstairs flooring and it’s all looking beautiful.  Now we have to hope that the wood doesn’t get damaged by workmen – who should have been finished weeks ago – tramping all over it.  They still have to do the stairs but until all other upstairs work is done, they are unable to start.

Downstairs flooring.

Downstairs flooring.

flooring just inside the front door.

flooring just inside the front door.

Anthony, who is installing the sprinkler system, has kept all his appointments and has managed – despite the chaos – to lay the ‘sleeves’ he needs for his water system.  Top soil has been delivered for the front garden.  Lawn was supposed to be laid next Monday but it looks as though that might have to be delayed.

The bedroom and dressing room cupboards are almost complete and are looking good.

Dressing room south wall.

Dressing room south wall.

Dressing room west wall.

Dressing room west wall.

Dressing room north wall

Dressing room north wall

 

I’ll sleep on it tonight but I suspect I’ll have to defer our moving date by at least a week.

Visiting Izzie in her 4th month in a cattery.

Visiting Izzie in her 4th month in a cattery.

 

I can remember exactly where I was the first time I heard a Beatles song.  I was seven years old.  I can remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’, Viktor Lazlo’s ‘Sweet, Soft and Lazy’ and Keiko Matsui’s ‘Tears from the Sun’  And I can remember exactly where I was when I turned over a page of a House & Garden magazine about 18 months ago and fell in love with this light:

Globe lantern Jamb stairwell

 

globe light jamb closeup

I wish I knew what it is that makes one especially drawn to a particular item.  I cannot begin to explain what it is that immediately attracted me to this light fitting but the minute I saw it, I wished I could have one just like it and thought it might look perfect in my new stairwell.  I know where the Jamb showroom is in London and thought I might be able to collect the fitting and bring it back to South Africa myself.  But all that was before I checked the price.  It was just not going to happen.

Bernard had suggested that a chandelier might be good in the stairwell but I just hadn’t been able to find one that ‘felt’ right.  And I looked around a lot.

Just not me.

Just not me.

 

A globe - sort of - but not me either.

A globe – sort of – but not me either.

Delos in Cape Town is a great place to visit and they have no shortage of chandeliers. Occupying the old St Mary’s chapel –  built over a hundred years ago – in Albert Road, Woodstock, Delos is filled with fascinating artefacts and antiques.

The Delos Yard

The Delos Yard

Delos workshop (photo from SA House and Leisure magazine)

Delos workshop (photo from SA House and Leisure magazine)

I went there several times but in the end found the selection almost overwhelming and nothing appealed to me as much as the ‘Globe’ from Jamb.

Beautiful French Antique chandelier at Delos.   But not right for me.

Beautiful French Antique chandelier at Delos. But not right for me.

Then on a visit to London a full year ago, I visited the Petersham Nursery Garden in Richmond and look what I found – completely unexpectedly – in the indoor section:

At Petersham Nurseries

At Petersham Nurseries

It’s almost the same as Jamb’s but considerably less expensive.  Once again I debated the options of getting one home but it did seem like quite a lot of trouble and I continued to keep a look out here for something suitable.

While looking at door knockers in Suffolk, I was distracted by other globe lights.

While looking at door knockers in Suffolk, I was distracted by other globe lights.

And then, oh dear, in February before boarding a flight up to Johannesburg to check on the building progress, I bought the latest copy of one of my favourite British magazines again. And the plane wasn’t even in the air yet before I had finally found a chandelier that seemed just perfect…

This, I could live with.

This, I could live with.

Produced by a Porta Romana in Britain, this design seemed just right.  The bronze colouring would pick up on the wooden flooring and the beautiful leaf design would echo the view of the trees in the park.  I thought I was sorted.  I’d barely checked into the guest house when I googled Porta Romana and found the chandelier on their site.  Part of a new range called ‘Enchanted Forest’, the photos were accompanied by the text below:

Finding light Porta Romano text

This description reinforced my feeling that the design would work well over our stairwell but when I saw in the small print below that the chandelier had been featured in a Sotheby’s exhibition, I began to have some doubts.  Further trawling through the internet revealed the price and if I’d thought the original Jamb fitting was out of my range, this one was out of my galaxy. Perhaps I need to stop looking at foreign décor magazines. With our exchange rate what it is, what used to seem expensive now seems positively outrageous.

I decided to stick with simple downlighters until something suitable happened along.

A few friends had suggested that I look at La Basse-cour  in the 44 Stanley Avenue development in Milpark and finally, last Friday I did just that.  And there I found it, the perfect light fitting, I hope, right on my doorstep at a perfectly reasonable South African price.  Again, it is not quite the same as the Jamb example but it’s close enough to create the same atmosphere, I think.

I've chosen the biggest of the three.

I’ve chosen the biggest of the three.

Another perspective.

Another perspective.

I’m looking forward to seeing it in place eventually but that’ll be another story.

 

 

The work-from-home office has been running quite successfully from the cottage for the past two weeks.  There were the usual teething problems, internet hiccups etc but the technical glitches are being gradually ironed out.  The interior spaces still need some tweaking and the builders are still installing guttering, but in general, it’s working out pretty much as planned.

To put a stop to dirt and grit being tramped onto the lovely wooden floors, we needed to do something about the access quickly and I asked a friend of mine who runs a small gardening business to give me some help.  I had a good idea of what the end result should look like and this morning Marion arrived with her little team of workmen and got straight to work.  She also recommended someone to install the sprinkler system for that small area, which will run off a separate control panel from the main house.  He came along too and by the end of today we had not only a very promising garden but also a functional watering system.   After all the delays, excuses and mistakes we’ve become accustomed to hearing over the past year, this almost seems too good to be true.

Cottage Garden from the East.

Cottage Garden from the East.

The picture above is taken from the cottage carport on the east side.  The strip of red in the background is the gate from the street to the main house.  It still needs to be painted white.  The terra-cotta pots on the veranda came from our old home.  They have been ‘stored’ in a corner of the site since the end of February and have somehow survived the dust and general chaos.  In fact the cymbidium has a spray of buds and looks likely to flower soon.

In the middle of the white, boundary wall on the left, you might notice a ‘box’ with two black dots; that is a burglar alarm beam.  Seemed like a sensible place for it a few months ago but now I will need to be careful not to allow anything to grow tall enough to interfere with the beam.

This small patch of garden is on the south side of the cottage so we’ve chosen plants that don’t need a lot of sun, including azaleas and clivia.  We’ve also planted several baby ‘tickey’ creepers along the wall.  They’re slow-growing but will ‘soften’ the walls nicely once they’re established.  To avoid any need of a lawn mower, we’ve put down pavers interspersed with ground cover.  Hopefully all the bits of bare ground will be covered soon.

Cottage Garden from the West side.

Cottage Garden from the West side.

And while we’re talking about gardens and watering systems, I thought I’d include a photo of the water tanks which have been installed – not without some difficulty – in the ‘bunker’ behind the pool.

One of two water storage tanks.

One of two water storage tanks.

This water tank is directly in front of a second, identical one.  Each tank holds 4500 litres of water much of which will come directly off our roof during the rainy summer season.  With our municipal water supply having been quite erratic over the past few years, it seems like a good idea to have other options in place.

Throwing concrete slab on 'underground' room.

The ‘bunker’ while still under construction and before the start of the pool.

Looking at the photo above again, it is clear that a lot has happened since it was taken, but progress does still seem to be painfully slow at this stage.  Hopefully the garden will be more cooperative!

 

It’s been almost 3 months since we migrated down to Cape Town to wait out the final stages of our building project.  When we left Johannesburg, we were hopeful that the house might be finished by April and when it became clear that it would not be, we set our sights on the end of May. As the finishes started going in, we also realised that one of us, but preferably both of us, needed to be either on site most of every day, or close enough so as to be able to get there fairly quickly to answer the seemingly endless string of queries that crop up at this stage.  So, on Sunday the 17th of May, we packed up in Cape Town, loaded Daisy into the car again and set off on the long road north back to Johannesburg.

Loaded Up Again.

Loaded Up Again.

Fortunately we both enjoy road trips and Daisy has proved herself to be a very good traveller.  The long, open road, spooling out ahead gives one ample time to adjust to the change of environment from the laid-back coastal atmosphere of the Cape to the frenetic, somewhat disorganised one of Gauteng.

Leaving Cape Town

Leaving Cape Town

The last of the mountains before entering the Karoo.

The last of the mountains before entering the Karoo.

We stopped in Laingsburg for coffee and look what we found at the filling station…

Now I'd also like a car with a picnic basket...

Now I’d also like a car with a picnic basket…

And eventually, after about seven and a half hours on the road, we arrived at Kuilfontein Farm, about 12 kilometres outside of Colesberg.  We’ve been stopping over there for years, not least because they have a special section of accommodation called The Paddocks where dogs are also welcome.

Approaching the Farm.

Approaching the Farm.

Homeward B Kuil gate sign

Farm Buildings

Farm Buildings

We set off quite early on Monday  morning but not before giving Daisy a bit of a run. Homeward B Kuil Daisy   We arrived back in Johannesburg at about 2pm in time to check into yet another guest cottage and to do a quick check on the progress of the house. We had thought we might be able to move in during the first week of June but what we found was not very encouraging and that idea has been scuppered.

This does not look like a house ready for occupation in 12 days.

This does not look like a house ready for occupation in 12 days.

The flooring and carpeting was scheduled to go in this past week but instead, we’ve had to postpone both installations for approximately 2 weeks.  Ideally both the wooden floors and the carpets should go in after all other internal work is complete. It has become clear over the past few weeks that the contractor and the electrician have had some conflict and the electrical work seemed to have come to a complete halt.  At this stage the contractor is – unsurprisingly – avoiding all contact with us and from my point of view that’s probably best as I simply don’t know what I could find to say to him right now.  I rather hope I never have to see him again, ever.  For the past three months all our dealings have been with the site manager only.  Fortunately on Tuesday I eventually managed to contact the electrician directly and the impasse has been breached.  His team is back on site and making good progress.  In the four working days that we’ve been back from Cape Town, we’ve managed to move things along quite a bit so it seems we made the right decision to be here fulltime from now on.  Although, having said that, this gypsy lifestyle has begun to pall somewhat.

View of house today, May 23rd 2015.

View of house today, May 23rd 2015.

The green netting is around building materials that have been stored in the park much to the dismay of some of our neighbours.  Repeated requests that the builders keep this area tidy and keep the quantity of material stored to a minimum have gone unheeded.  We will have to do some serious grass planting and rehabilitation here when spring comes around. Where the wall ends on the right, you can just make out a space before the neighbour’s fence begins.  Our gate into the park will be going into that space.  The opening you can see in the wall just as it turns a corner back towards the house, is the underground ‘bunker’ which will house the increasingly essential generator and also, water storage tanks which were delivered and installed – not without some difficulty – last week. To cheer ourselves up after our first visit back on Monday, we went for a walk in the park which – unlike the house – was looking immaculate. May 18 Park 1

An unexpected bonus of having to manage this stage of the building process from a distance, has been the discovery  – so far – of two lovely, privately owned guest houses very close to our new home.  Feeling that I cannot always rely on the generosity of friends on my flying visits up to Johannesburg, I’ve recently stayed in both the Abbey Guest House in Craighall Park and the Windmill Guest House in Parkhurst.    I doubt I would have ever discovered them had I not found myself in the strange position of being a visitor in my hometown and they have both proved to be lovely surprises. Should I ever find myself with a very full house and unable to accommodate friends, I’d have no hesitation in booking them in to either of these two ‘home-from-homes’.

Abbey House from the Driveway.

Abbey House from the Driveway.

When the electric gate at Abbey House opened, I was quite surprised to find a very similar ‘farmhouse’ style house to the one we’re building.  This guest house was custom built and there is plenty of secure, off-street parking which is essential in Johannesburg.

Bedroom - one of 11 rooms.

Bedroom – one of 11 rooms.

Garden Path

Garden Path

Water feature in the garden not unlike the one I am planning.

Water feature in the garden not unlike the one I am planning.

Covered Veranda

Covered Veranda

Abbey House Veranda 2

Another view of the veranda.

Another view of the veranda.

If I could have simply transferred the entire veranda (with the exception of the Kudu head) to my new house, I would have been very happy.

Living room.

Living room.

I loved the overlay of rugs on both the veranda and in the living room. The floors of the entrance area, dining area and veranda at Abbey House were all done in a smooth concrete finish which we call cemcrete.  I had requested it for my veranda but somehow or other, this had been misunderstood and the contractors – in my absence – had laid tiles instead.  Becoming quite desperate to get the house finished, I had decided to simply accept them but, on seeing how beautifully the cemcrete flooring worked at Abbey House, I changed my mind, dug in my heels and insisted that the tiles be lifted.  That would have been a messy and noisy job but fortunately I didn’t have to be there.  We’re now waiting to have the originally-planned-for cemcrete surfacing poured.

Big Generator in the driveway.

Big Generator in the driveway.

Generators are becoming essential for Guesthouses and hotels in Johannesburg with power outages becoming a daily occurrence. About 10 days after my stay at Abbey House, I needed to return to Johannesburg and found it was fully booked on the days I needed to be there so I set about looking for something else in the area.  I decided to try Windmill House as I had been past it a few times on exploratory drives around Parkhurst, my new neighbourhood.

Article in a Neighbourhood Newspaper.

Article in a Neighbourhood Newspaper.

(I’m not too sure about “Posh”.  That seems to be pushing it a bit.  But it has become a very popular neighbourhood for ‘starters’ and ‘downsizers.’  A friend who lives in Victoria, Canada, one described it as being a place for ‘Newly Weds and Nearly Deads’…  This might be a good description of Parkhurst.  We have friends who have moved back there for the more compact homes and gardens, having started out there between 30 and 40 years ago.) Windmill House describes itself as a B&B and is smaller than Abbey House, having only three suites.  It is tucked away on what must be on of the last dirt roads in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg and it is nestled close to the same river that runs through the park in front of our new house.  In fact the garden of Windmill House runs right down to the river. It is quirky and utterly charming. Wind 3

The Windmill Itself.

The Windmill Itself.

The bedroom had a double volume ceiling and exposed beams.

The bedroom had a double volume ceiling and exposed beams.

Driveway leading to pool and river garden.

Driveway leading to pool and river garden.

Windmill House Veranda

So although it is very frustrating to be trying to manage this building process from afar, there have been some upsides to going home as a visitor.  Johannesburg is nothing if not full of surprises.

During this house-building process, I have often wondered what it is exactly that shapes and influences our individual concepts of ‘home’.  Why is it, for instance, that I have always wanted a Weathervane and why do I have an obsession with garden swings?

Classic Weathervane

Classic Weathervane

Not many houses in my town had weathervanes in my formative years.  In fact, I don’t think I can think of a single one.  Perhaps it was the English literature on which we were raised; all those books with beautiful illustrations of country homes, gardens and barns.  Or perhaps it was the time I spent as an exchange student in America.  I was strongly influenced by the architecture and ‘street appeal’ of so many American homes during that time, although I think I absorbed some of it by a process of osmosis.  Even since then, I have gravitated towards the combination of white woodwork and wooden floors.

Pig Weathervane on a friend's Suffolk farm.

Pig Weathervane on a friend’s Suffolk farm.

Weathervane from a distance on Suffolk farm.

Weathervane from a distance on Suffolk farm.

Searching for photos of weathervanes online, most of them are found in the States although England also has a fair share.  Driving around Cape Town I have spotted a few, always on older houses or newer houses built with a nod to the old vernacular style.

Weathervane on an old Victorian house in Claremont, Cape Town.

Weathervane on an old Victorian house in Claremont, Cape Town.

So, given the relative scarcity of weathervanes locally, I was quite surprised to come across Weathervanes Exclusive, a company based in the suburb of Tokai, Cape Town (www.weathervanes-exclusive.com) and about 10 days ago, set off to see what they had to offer.

Weathervanes Exclusive

Weathervanes Exclusive

For some reason, despite the lovely website, I didn’t have very high expectations and so it was an absolutely wonderful surprise to find, down a little country lane, a beautiful property set against the mountain and a perfect loft studio/workshop housing a plethora of weathervanes and brass sundials.

Loft Studio

Loft Studio

The choice of designs was quite overwhelming and it was helpful to have samples on hand of all of them.

A Choice of Options.

A Choice of Options.

Having pored over the website at length, we had selected a few favourites.  I was rather inclined towards a witch and cat on a broomstick, an owl, the absolute classic rooster which  is perhaps always the safest option – and the retriever.  There were no spaniels on offer or we may have been tempted by one of those.

Tempting - given how I've felt over the last year...

Tempting – given how I’ve felt over the last year…

Getting to see and handle the actual product was good and after some thought and quite a bit of research, we concluded that a good silhouette is quite an important weathervane feature and although sorely tempted by the witch, good sense prevailed:  We settled on the retriever, a reference to the four beautiful golden retrievers, Jason, Bonnie, Tessa and Cody, who have shared lives and homes over the past thirty-something years.

Golden Retriever assembled in the studio...

The Weathervane Man with a Golden Retriever assembled in his studio.

 

...and how we hope it'll look positioned on the roof.

…and how we hope it’ll look positioned on the roof.

Tessa aged about 13.

Tessa aged about 13.

Cody on the stairs.

Cody on the stairs.

The next decision will be deciding just where on the roof to position the weathervane. I think it should go on the point of the roof above the library where it will be unobstructed and high enough to catch the slightest breeze.

The left peak, above the long narrow window, seems like a good place to position the weathervane.

The left peak, above the long narrow window, seems like a good place to position the weathervane.

I wish all aspects of the building process could be this enjoyable.  Now I just might start thinking about a sundial for the garden.

Another outing, in search of chimney pots, turned into a nothing more than a picturesque wild goose chase…  But more of that another time.

 

 

A flying visit to Johannesburg this past week showed up a little progress:

Cottage kitchen installed.

Cottage kitchen installed.

The counter tops in the cottage, guest suite and main house are in Caesarstone, colour; panecotta. Although I think chose these handles, I now want to change them…

Kitchen from another angle.

Kitchen from another angle.

West Boundary Wall going up.

West Boundary Wall going up.

Through the opening of this temporary gate, you can see the boundary wall down the western side of the property.  After endless trouble from our neighbour, including veiled threats, we have resorted to building this wall within the boundary line on our own property.

Sandbags outlining the pool.

Sandbags outlining the pool.

The pool company, Curtis Pools, has started work.  They have ‘outlined’ the pool with sandbags for now while the filling in of the surrounding garden continues.

Cottage has been painted and the veranda tiled.

Cottage has been painted and the veranda tiled.

Pavement/Sidewalk View of cottage.

Pavement/Sidewalk View of cottage.

The picture above is probably my favourite from the past week as it looks like something is nearing completion at last.  A concerted effort has finally been made to clean up the pavement.  The board in front of the tree is the pool company’s advertisement.  The square to the left of the gate is the door in front of the electricity meter board and will be painted the same colour as the wall.  If you look carefully at the top of the wall to the right of the gate, you can see that the electric fencing has been installed.  We’ve tried to make it as unobtrusive as possible.

And finally, with reference to the photograph of the patio doors in my previous post, I came across the photo below in a magazine recently.  It shows rather well what the finished product of our doors should eventually look like.

Example of completed stacking patio doors.

Example of completed stacking patio doors.

At this stage it’s hard to imagine that our veranda and garden will ever even vaguely resemble this, but hopefully we’re moving forward inch by inch.

With the focus of my attention having been so fully on moving house for the past several weeks, I haven’t been keeping up very well with progress on the building.  It is a relief to be able to concentrate on the new house again.  Below is a collection of photographs showing more of less how things looked when we left Johannesburg last Saturday:

Electric Sliding Cottage Gate Installed.  To be painted white.

Electric Sliding Cottage Gate Installed. To be painted white.

The emphasis for the past two months has been on getting the cottage completed so that the office can function again from a fixed base.  The ‘box’ fitted into the wall to the right of the gate (for those of you overseas), is the electricity meter board for the entire property.  Meter Readers, who carry keys to these boxes, are supposed to do regular readings.

Cottage Flooring going in.

Cottage Flooring going in.

When it came to the wooden flooring, I have to admit to having been an absolute sucker for marketing.  I have loved all the Oggie flooring print advertisements since I first became aware of them.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a room photographed for one of their adverts that I haven’t wanted to move into.

Oggie Ads

Oggie Ads

A visit to their showroom, right back in the beginning when we first started this project, confirmed for me that Oggie floors were the way to go.  And so far, I’ve not been disappointed.  The installers worked beautifully and the floors look great. We chose oak planks in grey mist finish.

Flooring looking good.

Flooring looking good.

Cottage Second Bedroom, South Facing Window.

Cottage Second Bedroom, South Facing Window.

Above is an inside view of the re-positioned window in the second bedroom of the cottage. The carpeting has also been laid in the two bedrooms and since this photo was taken, the skirting boards have been installed.

2nd skylight on the left installed and small west facing window.

2nd skylight on the left installed and small west facing window.

The west facing wall of the cottage looked a little ‘blank’ to begin with, especially from the outside, so we decided, quite late, to add a small west-facing window which you can see in the photo above.  You can also see the two skylights; one west facing and one north facing.  We have used Velux skylights throughout the cottage, guest suite and house.  We had one in our previous home which we loved and we’re very familiar with them in England.  They all open and they don’t leak.  All the skylights have blinds.  We’ve gone with manually operated blinds as they’re simpler and perhaps there is less to go wrong….  We’ve had expert service from Wolfgang Hinze who has the sole agency for Velux in Johannesburg.

Tiling underway in the upstairs cottage bathroom.

Tiling underway in the upstairs cottage bathroom.

The cottage has a very compact downstairs guest bathroom (a toilet and basin – sink for the Americans…) and a small bathroom upstairs comprising a basin, toilet and a shower over a bathtub.  We’re using the same white subway tiles in all the bathrooms on the property.  This little bathroom needs a sliding door and we’re having a some trouble extracting this from the door company.  They have supplied the door but seem to have stalled over the sliding mechanism.

The start of the kitchenette cupboards in the guest suite.

The start of the kitchenette cupboards in the guest suite.

As soon as the cottage is finished and ready for occupation, we’re moving the pressure onto to the guest suite.  Once that is complete, we might have a place to stay when travelling back to Johannesburg for site meetings etc.  The photographs do not show the sloping ceilings very clearly but you  can work out where the slope begins from where the white paint starts.

The small windows above the counter echo those in the main house kitchen. The boundary wall down the east side is very close to the windows.  Close enough to have wall-mounted pots for herbs growing just outside.  At the very least, I will have some sort of garden decoration mounted on the wall beyond the windows.

Taken from living room, looking south through the library.

Taken from living room, looking south through the library.

It was good to be able, finally, to get a sense of this space, looking from the living room, south through the library.  For over a year, this double door space has been boarded up and the library space has been used as a site office. Eventually there will be sliding doors in this space.  Again, while all the doors in the main house have been delivered and installed, we are still waiting for these.  Sliding doors seem to equal delays for some unknown reason.

Taken from library sliding door opening, looking north, through living area and patio to garden.

Taken from library sliding door opening, looking north, through living area and patio to garden.

Now this opening has been boarded up again as we’re using the space as storage for the office furniture that we hope to get moved into the cottage this coming week.  So below is what the library looked like on Friday…

Library used for storage.

Library used for storage.

Below is a reminder of what the north library wall should one day look like:

Shelves (white) will surround the sliding doors between the library and living room areas.

Shelves (white) will surround the sliding doors between the library and living room areas.

The sliding doors (when they arrive) will slide behind the shelving; ie between the back of the shelving and the wall.

Compacting the front (north) garden.

Compacting the front (north) garden.

The level of the front garden has been raised considerably but there is still quite a way to go.  I am reasonably satisfied that I will not hit broken bricks and other rubble each  time I try to plant something, having been very specific about this from the start.  I’ve watched this process carefully over the past few weeks and they seem to be doing a very thorough job.

The pool company is supposed to move on site in about a week, so finishing this is important.

 

Recent Site Meeting.

Recent Site Meeting.

 

The Patio Stacking Doors in place.

The Patio Stacking Doors in place.

Most of the time, I expect these doors to be open and because veranda space is important to me, I thought carefully about having them at all.  But with downsizing to a house with effectively one open-plan living room, being able to use the outside veranda space in all weather is very useful.  There will be fixed glass panes in the curved spaces above the doors.

Barrow Art

7 Wheelbarrows Hanging on the Wall…

And someone, somewhere in the chaos of this building site seems to have a sense of style!

Boxes Everywhere

Boxes Everywhere

Home is chaotic.  Boxes are piling up in every room.  Some are marked for storage, some for charity, some for Cape Town and some even for England.  Caroline casts repeated, acquisitive glances over the various piles of  belongings and she is not interested in charities.  I feel like a smuggler in my own home as I hurry a few possessions into my car in an effort to reach far needier communities.

Our buyers are very enthusiastic and have now visited on three different occasions with an entourage of relatives, painters, decorators and builders and spent up to two hours in the house at a time, measuring, discussing and debating.  Daisy, the nervous spaniel,  becomes quite desperate with anxiety.  I have put her on tranquilisers but they seem to be having little effect.  She behaves as though the new family are dangerous intruders, which – to her – they probably are.

Daisy can actually mimic a Rottweiler.

Daisy can actually mimic a Rottweiler.

The London kitties hide upstairs while Monty lurks in the shrubbery and shows up at mealtimes only.

Monty on his favourite chair.

Monty on his favourite chair.

He sauntered across the lawn on Wednesday evening only to stop dead when he reached the patio and discovered that his favourite chair was no longer in place.  It had been carted off in the morning along with some other bigger pieces of furniture, never to be seen again.  He is getting more and more suspicious and I’m afraid he will disappear into a neighbour’s roof as he has done on one or two other occasions.

The start of serious downsizing.  This truck carried off lots of things and I haven't given them a thought since.

The start of serious downsizing. This truck carried off lots of things and I haven’t given them a thought since.

It is not peaceful.  In between packing boxes we’re trying to speed up our building process and quite a lot is happening there now.  It seems as though the cottage/office will be ready for occupation by the 24th of February.

Cottage Upstairs.  We've added a window and extra skylight since this picture was taken.

Cottage Upstairs. We’ve added a window and extra skylight since this picture was taken.

Not only have we added a small window and an additional skylight to this room, I also met with Bernard just last Sunday and asked him to change the position of the two windows already in place.  I felt they had been placed too low and had been worrying about them for months.  They were moved within days and I’m much happier with them now.

South facing cottage window has been repositioned.

South facing cottage window has been repositioned.

North window in new position.

North window in new position.

 

The main move is happening on the 23rd, when all the furniture and boxes that are going to the new house, will be taken away for storage.  The garden pots and outdoor things are being moved on the 20th which is also when our daughter will be moving into other temporary accommodation.  And the office movers will come on the 24th.  The logistics are quite complicated.  Especially when I always envisaged quite a leisurely move from one house directly to the other, spread over a few days.  No such luck.

But last Tuesday I had reason to be in the suburb of Fourways and while I was there I visited one of my favourite decorating shops, The Private House Company.  I had a lovely time wandering around looking at all the beautiful house and garden furniture.  I delayed going home as long as possible but eventually returned with renewed enthusiasm for ‘starting over.

Pvt House showroom

Private House Showroom

Private House Showroom

Pvt House showroom 4

I love the natural, quite tactile elements that this decorator incorporates into all her rooms. She manages to capture a sense of Africa without leaving one feeling overwhelmed by it.  I’ll be going back there.

And yesterday I escaped to Cape Town for a few days.  I had a commitment down here made many months ago when I thought we’d already be completely settled in the new house.  As the time drew nearer I started to question whether or not I should still come but I couldn’t wait to get a little bit of distance on all the disruption at home.  I got off the plane into temperatures 10 degrees cooler than Johannesburg where we’ve been enveloped in the most oppressive heat wave for the past week and was immediately relieved to be here.  But most importantly, I walked into the cool, uncluttered calm of our small Cape Town house and knew at once that we’re doing the right thing in Johannesburg.  I shall return on Monday to tackle the downsizing, throwing out and decluttering with renewed vigour as we enter the final countdown.

Sunset over Camp's Bay.

Sunset over Camp’s Bay.