Posts Tagged 'sedgefield garden route'

Hibiscus Tea

When I was a city dweller fantasising about coastal living my dream sea-side house had white walls, bougainvilleas and hibiscus plants. Ten years on and, to quote the immortal Meatloaf, two out of three ain’t bad. My walls might be brown wood but I have an enourmous bougainvillea and hibiscuses in every colour.

The original owners were obviously crazy about hibiscuses. There are 17 huge bushes, decades old, which flower so riotously it’s vulgar.  When I googled ‘hibiscus’ yesterday the first prompt was ‘hibiscus tea’ – the preferred drink of the ancient Pharos.

Not just a tipple for Nefertiti, hibiscus tea naturally lowers blood pressure. A study conducted at Tufts University in 2008 demonstrated that consuming 3 cups of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea each day reduced systolic blood pressure by 7-14mm Hg in people with mild hypertension.

The two hibiscus species commonly used medicinally are H. rosa sinensis and H. sabdariffa. I’m not sure what species I have in the garden, but it seems none are poisonous, so I picked a variety and made the tea. It’s very fragrant, almost like incense or bubblegum, and probably an easily acquired taste. My mix of flowers resulted in a dark purple brew which stains – perfect to write that missive in hieroglyphics.

We’re Open!

Yip, this is shameless self promotion after weeks months of no posting. The season has started, holiday makers are here in abundance, and our hours are from 10 in the morning until 7 in the evening.

We open the gates, open the garage, and people stop by – on foot, on bikes, in cars, you get the picture. It’s fun having a shop again, it’s been ten years since we closed our book store in Joburg, and I’d forgotten how much of a blast retail can be. Meeting people, the thrill of cold cash. . . and we can sit on the deck in the sun and have a glass of wine while waiting for customers.

Gross Fowl Tale

One of the garden Guinea Fowl got its foot tangled up in some fishing line. It hopped on one leg during winter and only survived because Gavin fed the creature twice a day. Gavin made a few attempts at a rescue capture but the wild flapping and high pitched screeching put paid to that idea – the bird was also a bit flustered.

Last week, suddenly, there was no more limping and the line was gone. So, too, was one of three toes which pitched up on the paving in the back garden.

Empty Shops & Bank Repos

The night I sleep best is the second one of any given month. The mortgage and utilities are paid and I have 28 days to get the next payments together. Things are bad in our little coastal paradise – half the shops in town are empty, the local school has shrunk and fee non-payments are at an all-time high, many of my friends’ husbands are working all over Africa to send money home.

The sign above says it all. Family Home. Not any more.


Summer evenings on the deck mean white wine for us and cheese for the Drongos. They are so persistent, and so obsessed with dairy, that we just call them cheesebirds. This year a Butcher bird has joined the fray.
We keep a block of cheese in the bar fridge upstairs and break off small pieces for the Drongos, which they will eat straight out of your hand. The Butcher bird doesn’t quite get cheese etiquette. . . or maybe he’s just a lot smarter than the Drongos.

Eyes small bit of cheese . . .

Eats small bit of cheese. . .

Small bit of cheese next to big block of cheese. . .

Why eat small bit of cheese. . .

When you can eat big block of cheese?


We spent the week-end on the beach, not in swim suits, but soaking up the sun in jeans and t-shirts. After a closeted winter breathing in wood smoke, the sea air and gull calls smelt and sounded like freedom.
I don’t enjoy the winter months like I used to, my bones feel creaky and my energy levels deplete with the effort of making a cup of cocoa. Another cold front is blowing in today, I can see it building across the sea on the horizon. But, the flowers are out, the dawn is earlier, and I’m stocking up with white wine instead of red.

Buddha Garagista

Not only are we slowly being squeezed out of the house by burgeoning stock, the car has been ousted from the garage.

Our most recent shipment arrived two weeks ago and is finally unpacked. The wooden crates are lying around the back garden, waiting to be broken up and packed away neatly. If we just wait a year or two the Golden Shower will gradually cover this one, saving us a bit of effort.

Home Gallery and Scary Bathrooms

The upstairs gallery is so full we've had to squash stuff into the corners under the eaves - and Gavin is off to Vietnam on Monday to get more.

The upstairs gallery has been such a hit that it has expanded – into the rest of the house.

The growth has been a huge relief financially, but living and running a shop in the same space is probably better suited to a family much neater than ours.

I had an email from a Johannesburg couple in January saying they were coming down on holiday in March and would love to see what we had for sale. I gave them our address and phone number and promptly forgot about it.

Most people phone to say they are coming which gives me a chance to shove dirty dishes into a cupboard and make the beds. The Joburg pair had a GPS and the first I heard from them was their voices wafting up from the garden.

They were lovely, raved about the house and gallery, and bought enough to pay our mortgage for two months. My pleasure was marred by sheer terror that they might need the bathroom. It would have been Hobson’s choice. The downstairs bathroom which has not changed one iota since I did this post, or the upstairs bathroom where the boys had performed their morning ablutions (a lot more horrible than you can imagine).

This used to be our lounge - still is in the evenings.

Daydream Believer


A letter arrived from the school’s Occupational Therapist last week – Thomas has concentration issues. He works diligently when the teacher watches him, but when her flinty gaze is averted he downs pencils and stares out of the window.

A question from his teacher on a completely blank page in his workbook asks, “Thomas, what were you doing between 10am and 12pm?” His reply to me – “It didn’t seem that long.”

Upshot is he has to go to the OT for 30 minutes once a week. She seems nice and her room is filled with huge balls and hoola hoops so he’ll probably enjoy it. He goes during class time too, which he sees as a bonus.

I can’t help but see it as the continued medicalisation of childhood. What Louisa May Alcott would have called boisterous and rowdy is now ADD or ADHD. What Lewis Carroll would have called day-dreaming is now concentration deficiency. Adjectives have turned into diagnosis and behavioural disorders, and it makes things a lot less fun.

Nude Gardening and Pogo Sticking

The last of the holiday neighbours left in the middle of the night, and I’m not entirely sure that it was only to avoid driving in the heat of the day.

We’re a family that lives in isolation for 10 months of the year and some of our habits may have moved slightly beyond accepted social mores.

Gavin uses the outside shower in summer and often, as he strolls inside naked to get a towel, he sees a patch of garden that needs watering. Nude gardening has its niche no doubt, but for holiday makers sipping a morning coffee on their deck it might be a bit startling.

Thomas treats neighbours with a mixture of hostility and overriding curiosity. He insists on endlessly pogo-sticking right next to the boundary wall. It might not be all that restful to have a small boy’s head peer at you at regular 5 second intervals as you adjust your bikini straps.

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