Tag Archive | yeoville living


I’ve read many, many novels and seen countless films wherein the living space of a character, occurring in the dingiest neighbourhood, is portrayed very romantically. Loft conversions reached from street level via roll-up on-street steel doors, industrial spaces converted to sumptuous apartments are revealed after an arduous trek up a steep staircase, handsome men brush their teeth at kitchen sinks …  These scenes are, admittedly, usually set in London or New York where, apparently, the dictum of “worst property in the best location” does not apply as importantly as it does here in Johannesburg; a dictum which I ignored when I bought my flat.

In defence of my bad judgement, I was numb at the time: my circumstances were so inconceivable to me that I didn’t even bother to shop around; I bought the second flat I viewed. It didn’t matter to me that my friends would be too afraid to visit me; my daughter had cut me out of her life, what did I want friends for?

When, three days after moving in, the building’s hot water supply was cut off by the city council due to misappropriation of funds by the body corporate management company, I accepted the inconvenience with dumb stoicism and an unhealthy dose of self-pitying martyrdom: surely I deserved as much hardship as was thrown my way?

And then the delightfully unexpected happened and my daughter slowly came back into my life. She was careful not to let her distaste show when she visited me but, once she came to live with me, it soon became apparent that she was deeply embarrassed by our address. Weekend after weekend she chose to stay with friends after a night out, rather than be dropped outside our building by her friends’ parents, lest they be hijacked or harassed by the junkies camping out in the park across the road.

I’d more or less made up my mind that we would have to move, when South Africa awoke one morning to a wave of xenophobia. The news reports were nauseating beyond belief. My neighbours in the building were made up mainly of North Africans; they stayed off work, too frightened to venture out into the threatened violence against them. I myself felt fearful as I drove home every day.

As is often the case, a final sign came to me in the form of a routine bi-annual courtesy call from the estate agent who had sold the flat to me! Yes, I decided, it was time to get out of there.

The flat went on the market on Saturday, hopefully it will sell quickly. It has been a holding space for me during my darkest hour, but that hour has passed and it’s time to go out into the sunlight again. Louise Hay says to release your space to the new owner with love and that love will, in turn, await you in your new space.

And, as my wise friend Charlie always says, so it goes …

ive learned



Now if this electron is displaced from its equilibrium position, a force that is directly proportional to the displacement restores it like a pendulum to its position of rest.
Pieter Zeeman

The pendulum of my displacement has stopped swinging – at least for long enough for me to share some pictures of the progress I (together with my fantastic crew of helpers) have made on the flat. I’m glad to report that the glue came off the floors easily enough and Our Alice and her sisters applied lots of elbow grease to get the shine coming up nicely. My painter has started working his way around the rooms, the bathrooms will be tackled by a different contractor.
My best friend from my school days, Tania, gave me a wonderfully thoughtful housewarming gift; she sent around her handyman for a full day to help me hang pictures and shelves, and to attend to various plumbing gremlins.
There’s still a long way to go yet, but I am very happy in my new nest.

floors looking better

first morning coffee

it's starting to look a bit li_edited


pot on stove




heidelberger poster hung

time for afternoon coffee

And my flatmate? Princess Ally is ignorant as to what all the fuss is about.  She acts as if the two of us have lived here forever …

ally afternoon nap



It’s a wonderful world. You can’t go backwards. You’re always moving forward. It’s the wonderful part about life. And that’s terrific.
Harvey Fierstein

Well, I guess it’s a good thing we can’t go backwards, because when I saw my new flat standing bare I wanted to run back to my old home as fast as I could.
Curtains and furniture conceal a host of sins, and – when I viewed the flat prior to signing the offer to purchase – I was only looking at the bones of the place. I felt the olde world ambience of the building and fell for it, without stopping to look up at the ceilings and to notice the lurking grime and peeling paint.
I was appalled by the wall-to-wall carpeting, but delighted that the original parquet flooring underneath was in good condition. My first appointment as the legal owner was with a flooring contractor to lift and cart away the offensive carpets.

limore begins

I was horrified to find that the carpets had been glued down and that I had to fork out for another contractor to come and remove the glue.

gluey floors


The bathrooms are a nightmare and – although I am taking a cleaning team in tomorrow to give them a good dose of elbow grease – I can’t wait for the makeover I plan to give them in the coming weeks.



How anybody could bear to take a shower while looking at this beats me:

bathroom mold_edited
The kitchen was the biggest shock, while plaster fell onto my head from the roof; two cockroaches skittered over my foot. All surfaces are sticky to the touch and the cupboard doors don’t close properly because of built up dirt. I have a week to sort this out, with the help of a very capable handyman.




The balcony I envision to be my tranquil haven at sundown currently looks like this:

After being completely overwhelmed by the scope of work that lies ahead, I took a few deep breaths and began making lists. I’ll conquer this and make a nice home for myself. I have the stamina and – above all – I have the time: one day at a time.
Keep watching this space.

As much horror as we have always created, we are a species that keeps moving forward, seeing new sights in new ways, and enjoying the journey.
Martha Beck