EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BUILDING.(When you know nothing about building).

It’s 9 months exactly since we sold our home and packed up our life in Johannesburg for this sleepy seaside town. In this time we have had a baby and built a house – a process which I was expecting to be just like the child birth, only without the drugs. We heard the horror stories. We watched every single episode of Grand Designs. We were under no illusions.

But something strange happened. It has been such an enjoyable process. Yup, you heard right. We have not had one fight. Not one sleepless night. We haven’t fired any contactors. In fact, we are having our builder and his wife over for dinner as soon as we have moved in – which by the way is in two glorious weeks.

How did this happen? Well I am sure that this is mainly due to the builder we commissioned. His name is Elliot. And he is a super friendly, helpful, honest and ethical man. (0736448843). Infact one night our new neighbour called to say that she had heard someone in our house, and that we should go check it out immediately, so we did. It was only Elliot and his team who had decided to work late that night.

Then onto our tiler Patrick (0735938619). Another awesome guy. The neatest work ever and the loveliest team of ladies which clean up after the tiling is done. How amazing!

Kitchen cupboards and built in bedroom cupboards were beautifully crafted by Flip – an ex woodwork teacher. (0832917796).

Windows and doors were supplied by Rudy in Port Alfred from Inso Aluminium (0466244262). Another great experience working with his team.

Electrical work supplied with smiles by Jonny Chowles (0466481385) and Matt from Thospark (0466244755).

And then there’s the strangers and new friends along the way who have helped us along the way. A whole community has helped us to build our new forever home, and I cannot wait to have them all over for a house warming – with ELECTRICITY (which should be connected on Tuesday – another BIG thanks to Ruth and Kanyisa from Eskom, and Andrew Whitfield from the local DA office for their sympathetic ears and for getting the job done.)

We cannot thank you all enough.

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HOMELESS AND HUNGRY. DESPERATE FOR WORK (except Saturdays and Sundays).

It gets me every time. People who need the money but are not prepared to work for it. I see it everywhere. The lady who begged us to help us with some cleaning around the house never came back to work (after she borrowed R100 of course). The informal tradesmen who rely on the little work they can find in this tiny village, wait for pay on a Friday and spend it all at the local bottle store, too drunk to return to work on Monday. The small businesses who get the job, and then provide such a shoddy service. The salespeople who never return calls or provide quotes. The business owners who don’t greet you in their store. Or the shop that closes early everyday.

It’s a virus that will be the death of us as a community, and as a nation.

We want the money, but are not prepared to do the job.

I CAN SEE THE SEA FROM HERE, (but I can’t see my feet).

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Pregnant at 40 is not for sissies. Let me just put that out there – along with my gigantic belly. I mean pregnant isn’t easy at the best of times, but hells bells, I am struggling.

I’ve had it pretty easy up until now. Apart from the violent nausea in the beginning – I kept forgetting I was with child. Probably due to the fact that I was moving my whole life to a new province and building a house at the same time. But now. Now I can’t forget. There’s something that happens to every pregnant woman. After the first few magical months of the miracle of conception. The truth is. Somebody. Just. Get. This. Thing. Out. Of. Me.

T minus 28 days.

MAY IS IGNORANCE AWARENESS MONTH

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It’s also Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month. And sadly, the two go hand in hand.

I won’t lie. I was also one of the blissfully unaware a year ago. I had heard of Tourettes. Seen it in movies. You know, the odd guy who swears and twitches all the time. Hilarious right?

And then. A year ago. It knocked on my door.

My beautiful 5 year old boy began blinking really hard. Oh sweet we thought, Grandpa used to do that.

And then a few days later his head began twitching to the side. Next thing we were on our way to the hospital emergency room. We were on holiday at the time and had no idea what we were facing. It looked as if Griffin was having little seizures.

After many doctor appointments (there are 5 paediatric neurologists left in Johannesburg – no doubt they’re all in sunny Brisbane) in the weeks that followed, I heard the words:

YOUR SON HAS TOURETTE SYNDROME.

My heart broke. My world stopped. How could this be? What did this mean for him?

What the hell were we facing?

Basically Tourettes is categorised as involuntary vocal AND motor tics. Sometimes at the same time. Sometimes one at a time. Sometimes they’re worse than other times. They come and go. Change all the time.

What can be done about it?

Absolutely nothing. There are some meds, all designed for other scary things like high blood pressure, schizophrenia, parkinsons and so on. Each with a long list of awful side effects. None of which I would want to inflict on my little boy’s super-intelligent-growing brain.

What we do know about Tourettes is that it’s an anxiety disorder. 70% more likely to affect boys. Is very closely related to OCD, ADD and ADHD.

It has been a year since his first tic. And while Griffin has a very mild case of it today, we just don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Another big fat lesson for me to come to terms with: I can’t control everything. I cannot plan or predict tomorrow. But, what I can do is take the chance to teach the rest of you about it. Maybe because of it there will be one less sneer, or point, or stupid comment from strangers, teachers, friends and family.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

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“Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.” – Dr Seuss, The Places You’ll Go.

I feel like I belong in this beloved children’s book.

Luckily though, things have started moving along. We have appointed our builder. His name is Elliott and is a lovely round faced man who looks like he belongs in a jolly bakery than on a building site. We briefed many builders. Some didn’t get back to us. Some got back to us eventually. Most wanted to prey on our vulnerability. But Elliott seems different. He owns a small little family construction business. He has arrived on time, every time. His work is super neat. And comes very highly recommended. But mainly, he is a helluva nice guy. And though I promised myself that this time I wouldn’t be swayed by “the nice guy”, well, I was. I can’t help myself. I go on my gut most of the time, and so far, it’s been good to me.

So finally, after about a year and a half of waiting. The building has finally begun. Plot cleared of dense bush (and hopefully of all the puff adders). Bricks delivered. And foundations are being dug as we speak. We have been promised that we will be able to take occupation in 6 months time.

And then I called ESKOM. I needed to apply for a new connection. I have been told that they can get electricity to my house in a year. One year people. Yes. Its true. It is possible to draw up plans, get them approved, appoint a builder, build and complete the house, all before you can get power to it. FFS.

So now we are looking at solar providers. Its what we wanted in the first place. To be completely off the grid. Dependant on no body. So that’s what we are doing.

Just waiting now for the solar guys to get back to us…

Everything changes. And stays the same.

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Ten years ago this happened. I married my best friend. My soul mate.

Ten is such a small little word. And looking back it feels like a short amount of time.

But really thinking about it, ten is a lifetime.

Ten years ago I was 29 years old. Warren still had dark hair. My dad, my nephew and aunt were still alive. Our six year old son wasn’t born yet. In fact, according to us, we were never having kids (never mind two!). We hadn’t holidayed in Spain, Cannes or Namibia yet. Warren still drove a beige Ford Cortina.

It was 10 years ago exactly that we came here, to Bushmans River on our honeymoon, and bought the piece of land our new home is being built on today.

In 10 short/long years so much has changed. And so much has not. My soul mate is still my best friend. I still look at him with starstruck eyes.

I love him more than I did all that time ago wearing pink fairy wings under the oak tree. And I know, like the ocean knows the tides, that the next ten years will be as incredible.

The town that marketing forgot.

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I showed one of my son’s new friends from school a minion hat his aunt made for him. You know, a minion, the little yellow guy from Despicable Me? Well I thought errybody knew them. I was wrong. Kids here don’t. Never seen the movie, a picture, a lunchbox with matching juice bottle, a toy from Mac Donalds. Nadah.

Which I think is awesome. Because this also means that people here don’t know how awful Crocs are supposed to be. Or that tangerine is the must have colour of the season. Which skinny/boyfriend/low-rise/boot cut whatever, is in.

Come as you are.

The App Store.

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This is Kenton on Sea’s Google. It’s how you find anything and everything in this town.

Looking for the load shedding schedule? You’re not going to find it online. Want to chat with your kid’s teacher? Nope, you can’t pop her a mail. If you need to know anything in this little place you’re going to have to, well, speak to someone. Put yourself out there. Introduce yourself. Make eye contact. Shake a hand. Learn a new name. Strangers wave to each other here all the time. It’s just beautiful.

I haven’t seen one iPad since I have been here. I wonder if these people even know about Facebook?

I sure as hell am not going to tell them.

Just a bunch of real people, living real lives. Simple and true.

Let it go.

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The weather has been quite shitty here since we arrived. Until this morning.

After a super rainy and windy night, I opened my bedroom curtain to reveal a perfectly still day.

Postcard stuff.

So we were off to the beach. Before anyone.

And so it hit me. You can plan all you want. But some things are out of your control. You just have to be ready to grab the opportunity when it presents itself.

Life (here) is what happens while you’re preparing for it.

Taking it all in.

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We’re here. Chapter one has begun to write itself.

We’re settling in to our new life slowly. Which is the only way anything happens around here. The one thing I wanted the most is the one thing that has turned out to be my biggest frustration. There is no quickly here. No immediately. The town closes on a Wednesday at 1pm. And on a Sunday. Which is completely annoying at first, but I guess I will come to appreciate it.

Time. There is so much of it here. I just don’t quite know what to do with it all yet.