On South African Seaside Homes, Part One

Warning! This Post Contains Some Bad Language.

For years now, those South Africans who can, have taken their money and invested it in often hideous second homes by the sea. Freed from the constraints of day-to-day urban dwelling, they let themselves go in every way, shape and form, resulting in the architectural ruination of towns and villages which have the misfortune to be near a beach. One can see this phenomenon at work in Yzerfontein, in Pringle Bay, in Betty’s Bay, Rooiels, Onrus and Hermanus. When you see the abominations which have sprung up in these places, you are instantly thankful for the draconian planning regulations which are robustly enforced in our cities.

There’s a lot to be said for letting yourself go in a second home. It’s a chance to relax, to unwind, to escape. But rather leave that until after your second home is built. Put in that vulgar bar that your wife won’t let you have at home, drink too much and eat unhealthily every time you go there, but at least wait until the external building work as been completed before “expressing yourself”. Please.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some beautiful second homes out there as well. But you’re going to be hard-pressed to find them amongst the ugly escapism of what apparently passes as good taste for the average South African second home owner. Each to their own, of course, but damn, your own is ugly. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to get some snaps together and show you what I mean.

But in the meantime, here’s one that was made earlier.

This is a recently completed holiday home in Suiderstrand, Western Cape. It’s not my taste, but it’s certainly not as bad as some. However, what the building lacks in character and downright horrendous appearance, it makes up for in the name.

Remember in that first paragraph, where I said that people seemingly found the need to let themselves go rather too much? Well, in my humble opinion, this guy has let himself go way too far.


Because yes, the owner of this particular property has chosen to name it “Sir Fukalot”:

(Sorry Mum)

When I saw the sign, words failed me and in documenting it here today, words are again failing me.

What do I know? Maybe it’s a big sex advert or something. It can’t be a house name though, can it? Because there are a number of stages that one needs to go through to get a house name plate onto a wall. You have to firstly come up with the name. It’s at this point that I have already failed when it comes to “Sir Fukalot”. I’ve named a website, two kids and a cottage and I think I’ve done ok. And one of the reasons I think I’ve done ok is that none of those four things is called “Sir Fukalot”. Not one.
It’s not something that even crossed my mind when I was considering suitable nomenclature for any of those things. Or anything else, for that matter.

But hey, that’s just the first step. Then you’ve got to get your idea past anyone else who has a stake in the property. And if I had come up with the name “Sir Fukalot” for our holiday home, which I wouldn’t have done anyway, I would then have to tell my wife that I thought that naming our holiday home “Sir Fukalot” was a good idea. I wouldn’t do that, either.

Wife (amazingly) placated and agreeable, you then take your idea to the signmaker. “Hello, Mr Signmaker,” you say. “I’d like you to attach the words “Sir” and “Fukalot” in chromadek to a distressed piece of scaffolding board which I will then have mounted on the outside wall of my holiday home, so that everyone passing will know that the building is henceforth to be known as “Sir Fukalot”?”

To be fair, the signmaker just wants to make some money from the crazy Afrikaner.

And then you have to have the balls to put it up. And to use it in everyday conversation:

“Yes, please deliver the sofa to Sir Fukalot in Suiderstrand.” or
“I’m hoping to leave a bit early on Friday as we’re going to Sir Fukalot for the weekend.” 

Although I presume that having gone through the previous steps, these last two won’t present much of an obstacle.

I shall, as promised, document some unfortunate examples of how not to design and name a second home by the seaside in the near future. There may already be a tumblr account set aside for exactly that purpose.
And as I mentioned, there will be plenty of places which are architecturally worse than this one.  But I will struggle to beat “Sir Fukalot”  for sheer brass neck when naming one’s seaside design disaster.

4 Comments | Tagged , , , , | Posted in annoying people, cape agulhas, learning curve, that's a bit mad, this is south africa

Chris Pierson on why football is better than swimming (or anything else)

This weekend, I have been mostly reading My Favourite Year, [Amazon] edited by Nick Hornby and described as “a collection of football writing”, in which several (or more) authors describe their favourite season of their favourite club, together with appropriate commentary, anecdotes and references to their own life at the time. It’s more interesting than it sounds, really.

But it was while I was reading Chris Pierson’s account of St. Albans City’s “Golden Year” of 1971/2 that I suddenly saw documented for the first time ever, the reason why I and many millions of others play social football, week in, week out, come rain or shine.

Across the globe, we are told, at any one moment just so many people are being born, or dying, or procreating or staring down the barrel of a gun.
I like to think that at any one moment somewhere in the world one of football’s ordinary punters is scoring an extraordinary goal. It has happened to everyone who has played the game. On some (perhaps) lone occasion you have sent the ball thundering past the helpless keeper from 25 yards, or else you have met the ball with head (eyes closed, of course) and sent it like a bullet into the top corner of the net.
Not every sport can offer such a thrill. However often you go to your municipal swimming baths you will not chance upon someone establishing a new world record. Yet, by the law of averages, every Sunday, some bepaunched and breathless punter from publand will strike home the ball in a way that the peerless Pelé or the mighty Bobby Charlton could not have bettered.
It can happen anywhere and, if you wait long enough, will happen almost everywhere. This is the beauty of football: a little bit of the sublime, rather more of the ridiculous and quite a lot of everything in between.

He’s summed it up perfectly there (and he also educated me on the bewilderingly complicated non-league pyramid nestling beneath the household names we know and love from watching TV each weekend). It’s not just for the camaraderie, the friendship, the illusions of fitness – although they’re all great. It’s for those moments when you’re as good as – no, you’re better than – the big names with their big bucks and big cars. It doesn’t happen every week, it wouldn’t be special if it did. Often, it doesn’t even happen every season. But when those elements come together in a perfect storm of footballing coincidence, just for a second, magic happens.

Those who play, will understand. You others have much to learn.

3 Comments | Tagged , , | Posted in positive thoughts, sport

Weekend summed up

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and so in an effort to save time and to get to bed sooner than I might otherwise have done, please enjoy the thousand words on our weekend away as depicted by this scene from Struisbaai beach yesterday morning:

That’s my girl on the beach, my boy in the waves, an invisible kite-surfer and blue skies forever.

Yes, it might be ever so slightly out of focus, but that was almost certainly down to sea spray on the lens, an over-abundance of sunlight and quite fitting given the two bottles of decent merlot I polished off the previous evening.

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Cheetah seized

I was browsing the rather bizarre UK Home Office flickr photostream this morning (as you do), when I came across a South African link – namely this cheetah:

He looks a little mournful as he was being transported illegally from SA to Russia, when he was detained at Heathrow earlier this year because he wasn’t microchipped.

The animal was one of four being transported from South Africa to Russia, however checks revealed it wasn’t micro-chipped, breaching strict regulations on the movement of endangered animals.

This detention led to two pieces of bad news for our feline friend: firstly, the promises of strippers and vodka were suddenly just history, and secondly, he will now spend the rest of his days at a UK wildlife park, on average about 20ºC colder than his usual habitat in South Africa. I hope this serves as a lesson to other cheetahs trying to make the move from Africa to Northern Europe illegally. You will be captured and punished.

You can see more photos of the cheetah seized at Heathrow in the imaginatively-named Cheetah Seized At Heathrow set. And while you’re at it, don’t miss the excellent Marriage Cheat Sheets Exposed set, in which some marriage cheat sheets are exposed, including some confusion over Maria’s siblings. Like whether or not they actually exist.

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Long weekend

Because the kids are off school on Monday (it’s half term) (for a day), we’re taking the opportunity to enjoy a long weekend at the cottage.
Hopefully the weather will be better than the day I took this photo.

Amazingly, the day in question was 24 short hours after Midsummer’s day and everyone was wondering whether we’d actually get a summer at all.

You can view the photo on black here.

Leave a comment | Tagged , , | Posted in cape agulhas, positive thoughts, quota photo, the parenting bunny, this is south africa