Saturday, 30 April 2011

Don't be a drag, just be a queen

Wednesday, 29 July 1981: Age 6. In Class 1 at Berea West Junior Primary School in Westville, Durban. Our teacher had organised a tiny portable black-and-white TV on which we watched the fairytale wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Di.

Sunday, 31 August 1997: Age 23. Lee and I were living in London on a two-year working visa. Early that morning, as we and our mates Zaga and Derrick waited to board a boat on the Thames for a daytrip to Greenwich, we noticed the shocking newspaper headlines: Di and Dodi Dead. And as we cruised downstream, I remember all the flags on properties along the river bank lowered to half mast.

Saturday, 6 September 1997: Lee and I watched the funeral of Princess Di on TV, in our first floor bedsit on College Crescent in Swiss Cottage, and from the Juliet balcony  we managed to catch a glimpse of the funeral cortège as it made its way along Finchley Road and out of London to her final resting place. I will never forget the site of that hearse, heaving under the weight of hundreds of flowers that had been cast onto its roof by mourners lining the route. My heart ached for her two young sons.

Friday, 29 April 2011: Age 36. Quite creepily the same age as Diana when she died. Three decades on from that first Royal Wedding, I found myself ensconced in front of the telly, with goosebumps all over and tears streaming down my face, as her handsome eldest betrothed his beautiful bride. Things had come full circle, and my heart smiled.

I bought this diamante tiara back in 1997, during my lunch break, from a funny little haberdashery down a funny little side street in Soho, when I was working for the Wardour Street branch of Ann Summers. I thought it was very fitting for Goran's Pooh Bear to wear yesterday, as we enjoyed the pomp and ceremony from the cosiness of the couch.

I must be honest, I was not particularly fond of Kate Middleton's much-lauded Grace Kelly-esque dress. Specifically the severe V-neckline and strange pointy breasts (can anyone say Madonna in Jean-Paul Gaultier's conical bra circa 1990?), and I thought the white Carrickmacross lace they chose for the sleeves looked cheap. I do understand the Irish reference, but Chantilly lace would've been much classier. Let's face it, no-one does lace quite like the French. That said, in its entirety, the dress was a rather moving tribute to the late, great Alexander McQueen (the irony of his 'royal' name was not lost on me). I think creative director for the fashion house, Sarah Burton (no relation to Tim), actually did a much better job on Kate's sister Pippa's über elegant maid-of-honour dress.

In terms of hats, worst-dressed has to go to Princess Beatrice for the ridiculous choice of 'antlers' she chose to wear on her forehead (and incidentally, whose mum Fergie I found weirdly conspicuous by her absence; apparently she wasn't invited!)

English socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, on the other hat, er hand, wins hands down in my books for the most exquisite designer fascinator, by Irish milliner Philip Treacy (who bizarrely enough also created the former disaster). My heart literally skipped a beat when I saw that cobalt blue beauty perched dramatically atop a chic French twist. I think from head to toe she looked absolutely stunning.

Congrats to Will and Kate! I wish for them a long and happy marriage, and a healthy heir (plus a spare!) for the throne.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Home sweet home

In 2005, Lee and I bought a 1,100 square metre stand on the south slope of Northcliff hill. It was basically just a poor neglected tennis court on a rambling old property which was in the process of undergoing a sub-division. (And no, for the record, we did not name our son after Goran Ivanišević. That is pure co-incidence, I swear!) What clinched the deal for us was the stunning panoramic view of Jozi's city skyline. From Hillbrow Tower and Ponte City on the left, all the way across to Brixton Tower and the Herdershof police married quarters in Triomf on the right. In 2007 the actual build of our new 'Transvaal Contemporary' style home took place, followed by two phases of landscaping in 2009 and 2010.

At the moment we've got 200 square metres under roof, inclusive of the double garage, and the plan is to at least double that. Luckily we're on a decent size stand, so there's plenty of space to play around with. Our original design showed Haus Gruben as a double storey, with Phase One (complete) being the ground floor, and Phase Two the first floor. I have, however, decided that I am not prepared to forfeit the luxurious sense of space afforded by all our double-volume rooms downstairs, so am busy working on plans to extend at the back of the property instead. Namely a cantilevered extension to the outside of the garage, above much of the existing driveway, with a 'man cave' upstairs and undercover parking for visitors beneath.

With the recent addition to our little clan, addressing the safety aspect of the pool and the pond is our main priority right now.  And we need to find an aesthetically pleasing solution soon, before said addition becomes mobile. Otherwise, we've decided not to be overly paranoid about things because the reality is that kids can, and will, hurt themselves wherever they go - school, a friend's house, etc etc. But obviously whatever we do to make ours a more family-friendly home will ensure a less stressful living environment, add value to the property, and give us a better return on our investment when, one day, it comes time to sell.

Over the past couple of days I've been going through all my progress pics, from 2005 till the present, and am quite astounded by the amount of blood, sweat and tears that have already gone into this project. I think besides Goran, Haus Gruben is definitely my / our biggest accomplishment to date.

Below: Looking across at the south slope of Northcliff hill, with the water tower on top

Below: The iconic Northcliff Water Tower

Above: On a clear day you can see the Northcliff Water Tower from the top of the Voortrekker Monument, just south of our sister city Pretoria

Below: The drive up to our house

Below: The old tennis court

Below: Our architect Marc and builder Grant

Below: My beloved Monty (RIP)

Below: The old tennis court practice wall - an ode to the past

Below: Three of Lee's six koi, named after the members of Rammstein

Below: Our resident common river frog, who is singing his little heart out as we speak

Below: Hänsel und Gretel

Below: Our unique view of Hillbrow Tower directly in front of Ponte City

Below: I love collecting work by local artists, especially people I know. This photograph is by Janine Kuschke.

Below: From our bed we can watch the moon and planes as they make their way across the sky

UPDATE: Click here to see more photos taken several years later (August 2014)