Napier

It’s a long weekend in South Africa, with today (Monday) being National Women’s Day. I decided to spend it in Napier, a small village two hours from Cape Town, on a personal retreat – just having a break from my usual routine and my senile delinquent cat. I brought my crochet, beads, books, laptop (for podcasts), and a hot water bottle. I’ve stayed at a quirky and ancient little guesthouse called Napier All Sorts. It’s on an enormous erf with a farm at the back (so far I’ve only seen sheep), a vegetable garden from which I’ve been encouraged to pick my own peppadews and spinach, and a craft and coffee shop at the front.

Centenary memorial built June 1938, and also commemorating the Ox Wagon Harvest.

House built in 1912 (not old to many of you, but old enough)

In between the crocheting and reading and, yes, some Netflix, I took myself for a walk on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t go far but it was a beautiful late-winter’s day and I was glad I’d made the effort.

Spring is on the way

The NG Kerk, whose bells (and possibly ideology) dominate this little semi-rural village

I had not felt the need to be particularly sociable but thought I should make an effort to be friendly so spent an hour with Leon on Sunday morning in the shop and then being shown how he makes his pewter chess sets in his workshop downstairs (fascinating!). He himself has interesting stories to tell about his life, but the real shocker was being shown his collection of war memorabilia. I was not prepared for that.

There were medals and documents and uniforms and guns from both sides of the Boer War, the First World War, and the Second. My grandfathers fought in the First World War, one for Britain and one for Germany. They were both conscripted, as far as I know. My paternal grandfather moved to Switzerland in the early 1920s and then left for South Africa in about 1933 because he could see trouble brewing. As a German national, he would have been called back to Germany, this time to fight for Hitler, and he was having none of it.

I’ve been reading a lot about the Second World War, and also my ex-husband is Jewish, so perhaps that is why I nearly fell over with shock at seeing an original Nazi flag pinned to the wall, pictures of Hitler and his cronies, SS uniforms, a lot of swastikas, and a framed document signed by AH himself.

Sunday was also sunny but chilly and the wind was more insistent. I wandered off through some farmland and tried to let the strong breeze blow the cobwebs out of my mind.

Later in the day, tucked up cosily on the couch with a hot water bottle and a stiff Laphroaig (neat, no ice), I considered what a strange life we human beings have led on this little rock revolving round the sun in a single universe beyond which there is a galaxy of inumerable more.

I picked up my crochet hook and carried on with my rainbow jersey.




25 thoughts on “Napier

    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      Yes, self-catering. I prefer it that way. I suppose I got used to the words erf and erven when I worked in software development, one of the programs I worked on was to do with the Deeds Office and property.

      Reply
    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      Me too. Although it did cross my mind that it’s a little self-indulgent. I mean, it’s not like I have to go into the CBD every day and work from 8 to 5 in front of a computer….

      Reply
      1. Going Batty in Wales

        What is wrong with self-indulgence? Like anything it can be taken to excess but you don’t indulge yourself all the time, you have the time to go away, you can afford it and you believe you will feel better for it.

  1. tgonzales

    Jill: I’m so glad that you were able to get away for a bit. I loved hearing about the stories of your grandpas. I’m happy to say that I’m heading out on a 4 day retreat in another 3 days. :) Love and Hugs, Tamara

    Reply
  2. katechiconi

    I don’t think needing a change of scenery is self-indulgent, it’s good mental hygiene. Those of us who work in the home also (especially?) need to look at a different set of walls and view out of the window from time to time. It sounds as if you picked a lovely place to be ‘somewhere else’ in. I’ve done it myself in the past, in a tiny cottage with a wood stove, and a hot springs and spa treatments in walking distance. I was there for a long weekend. It was bliss!

    Reply
  3. Nice Piece of Work Post author

    Mental hygiene – an excellent term which I have now adopted, thank you. I have been thinking about selling my house and moving out of Cape Town for a long time now, and at one point I thought Napier would be a very good choice for me. I’ve changed my mind about that (an old house would need constant maintenance, and the new houses are just plain ugly), but it certainly has a lot going for it. It was more rural than I’d realised, which is wonderful, and a very creative community of artists and crafters has grown within it.

    Reply
  4. cedar51

    https://www.hawkesbaynz.com/ and here is my Napier – a place known particularly for Art Deco but also wines, and gannets and anything else…

    I love the idea of “mental hygiene” – I probably should go off on that retreat I was nattering on about – weeks ago. I was just thinking about this arvo, a place that is almost on top of a long stretched out beach…

    Love your new rainbow top unfolding…

    Reply
    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      Hawke’s Bay looks just fine and dandy! What are you waiting for? My long weekend away did me a world of good, and I’ve come home with a clearer mind and a better sense of my future plans.

      Reply
    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      Perhaps he did have some memoriabiliia from the Allies, but I didn’t see it – there was an awful lot to take in in a relatively small space, from the Boer War and WWI alone, and just the sight of that Nazi flag sent me reeling!

      Reply
  5. nanacathy2

    Napier looks a lovely place, so clean and neat. I can see how a weekend away would be healing, I am glad it did you good. That collection must have been really unsettling. Love the crochet.

    Reply
    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      I’m using the Granny-Go-Round pattern that a friend in the US sent me as a gift. I bought new yarn to make it but I can already see that it is going to be too big (I did the Medium). Will make the next one with more of a scrappy look. Always my favourite! Crocheting seems to be good for me right now, and also I’m so relieved that my left hand has completely healed and I can in fact still do that stuff!

      Reply
  6. DawnGillDesigns

    Well, that must have been very interesting. It’s always good to be given the opportunity to meet people with opposing views and differing interests. I think I’d have found myself rather challenged and probably speechless. I hope you were well ventilated whilst in the pewter workshop ;-)

    Reply
    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      No, I can’t say there was any ventilation at all. It was in the basement of his house. He gave me a little pewter figurine as a memento (a pawn from the Robin Hood/Nottingham chess set) but I shan’t be keeping it.

      Reply
  7. insearchofitall

    I love the idea of a mental health vacation. Haven’t been able to go anywhere alone in years. Just brilliant. All artists take time away to restore creative juices. It looked like a lovely place to be for awhile. The war memorabilia would give me the creeps and anything to do with AH would put chills all over my body. I drove past Dachau once on our way out of Munich. Every hair was standing up on my body and I started driving way over the speed limit to get as far away as possible. I can’t even imagine going in to visit. It felt like I had been there before. I think the basement museum could put a damper on an artists holiday. Love your knitting project. Hope you found the peace you were hoping for during that week.

    Reply
    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      I did, thank you. Perhaps due to being an only child, I have probably always been at my happiest in my own company. Also, one learns to be self-sufficient from an early age – I never ever get bored. I should aim to do this once every couple of months, but not where the owner is a war junkie.

      Reply

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