31 May 2012

Hello Napier

The Soapbox
It certainly is nice to be back in Napier after our excursion into the proverbial backwaters of the Western Cape. Montagu, McGregor and Paternoster were all on our itinerary and we endeavored to experience as much of them as possible – and perhaps in a way to compare them to our own little village. Two things stood out in McGregor – firstly the fact that it is very flat makes it ideal for exploring on a bicycle (although if you have not ridden a bicycle in 20 odd years, like me, sitting down for the following day or two can be an ordeal in itself!). Secondly – there is a lot to explore, especially from an architectural point of view. There are almost no ugly houses in McGregor. Most of the old houses have been beautifully restored in the original style and all the new houses have been built in the old style – making for a very scenic village indeed. Of course it is much smaller than Napier with only around 350 permanent residents in the historically ‘white’ part of town (on weekend around 100 more people ‘flood’ the town.) Good restaurants abound and the gardens at ‘Temenos’ are an absolute ‘must see’. We were treated to all the local gossip and news in the ‘Overdraught Pub’, courtesy of owner Carol from the McGregor Country House and some of the colourful local residents – 12 people and it’s overflowing. (Happy to see a Napier Beer coaster on the bar counter!) Like Napier, the people are very friendly and quite a few have promised a reciprocal visit.

Montagu, although still beautiful and in a breathtaking setting has become big and perhaps overly ‘touristy” with many of the bigger chain stores and supermarkets erecting mini malls and modern structures. The cost of this is the loss of small town ‘warmth’ and atmosphere. It was only at “The Olive House Restaurant” (The only restaurant in South Africa serving authentic Croation dishes) that the owner took time out to interact with us in a very personal way - and was able to make us feel we were once again in a small village.

Paternoster is beautiful. Again, the architectural integrity is intact. The houses, all being built in a similar style and all painted white (only the shutters are painted in various shades of blue and grey), the overwhelming feeling is of being in a typical Greek island village. Having said that, the village is almost entirely inhabited by weekenders and holiday makers, with few permanent residents. Being there midweek in early Winter meant Paternoster was something of a ghost town with most restaurants closed and homes deserted. The weather was miserable and it was awfully cold - the wind biting, making walking on the beach almost impossible. We took the opportunity to “curl up with a good book…or three.) Although a visually very pretty village, we were not unhappy to take to the road again.

By now you are probably asking yourself what this has got to do with you and why the soapbox has evolved into a travel log (of sorts!) Well – this trip, and a most delightful one at that, was an affirmation that our home is in the place where we truly want to be, and that although there are many awesome towns and places out there, Napier can certainly give them run for their money.
We are so happy to call this village home. I trust most of you feel the same!

You CAN make a difference
Do you have something to share? Do you have time to volunteer an hour or two a week and share your skill, talent or craft with others? The Napier Health and Welfare Committee are conducting a skills audit of volunteers. We would like to focus and build a Napier community through programmes that help to:
• Enrich someone else’s life, young and old
• Affect a transfer of skill, knowledge and capacity
• Provide the opportunity previously out of reach
• Develop individuals to manage their own development
For example, there has been a request for dance and music lessons. Another of the needs identified is for “no longer used” good sport equipment and clothing, i.e. soccer boots, skateboards, and musical instruments. Do you have any cluttering your cupboard or garage? We will gladly collect. Please phone 082 638 2041
For more information, contact Elaine Hodgson 0n Tel: 028 423 3533 Cell: 082 638 2041

Driving Miss Daisy
We offer a position of employment to a chauffer!
Preferably a distinguished mature person, who is reliable and well groomed.
His duties shall include collecting my Husband at our abode outside Napier, providing safe passage to Cape Town, to and fro between clients, and home again, this 3 times per week.
He should possess a valid Driver's License!
...and preferably a Limousine. (Nudge, Nudge. Wink, Wink)
Any willing Party may contact Emma on 0826963584

Letter to the Natter:
Dear Napier Natter
Just a short note from us both to say a sincere thank-you to Napier for such a fabulous evening on Saturday night! It is the first time we have been to Pascal’s and I have no doubt, will certainly not be the last!

Michelle Maxwell’s show was outstanding and we were delighted to be seated us at such a brilliant table. The food was delicious and the service slick, friendly and attentive.

Should you be in touch with Michelle at any stage, please kindly convey our heartfelt thanks for a truly top-class performance. It was a pleasant surprise to find out on the evening that she was one of two other ex St Cyprians girls there on the night, myself being the third!

Kathy and Barney Mulock-Bentley

The Light of our Lives.
Koopkrag is nou by die volgende plekke te koop. (Electricity can now be bought at the following outlets?
Hop In Family Market
Midnight Kaffee
Spes Bona
Kallie se plaas (in die deurgangskamp)
Kroukies (Sanna Kraukamp)
Ok Napier

Koopkrag kan ook op die Internet gekoop word, waar na registrasie dit ook met selfoon d.m.v. `n sms aangekoop kan word.
Registreer by www.paycity.co.za (To register for internet electricity purchases)

What's happening in Napier.

The weekend of the 16 June is Patatfees! Exciting things happening from The Red Windmill on one end of town all the way through to Moerse Farmstall on the other end.
Make sure you put your scarecrows out!

On 22 Friday June, the incredible Emile Minnie will be performing at Pascal’s of Napier. His voice is Sublime, his piano playing is phenomenal. Come and see this captivating artist light up the stage with his humour and energy. Songs include “Love is a stranger” by the Eurythmics, “Holding out for a hero” by Bonnie Tyler and “Born this way” by Lady Gaga.
R160 p.p. includes a full 2 course meal. Booking absolutely essential.

Heritage or Hassle (Part 2)
Now and Then by Frank de Villiers
From the previous heritage dissertation we continue with issues involving the preservation of our local heritage, i.e., threats, evasions, battles.

An overriding threat to any old building is that, if a contemporary appropriate use cannot be found for it, that building's chances of survival become slim. A few cases in point...
The old gaol in Bredasdorp, built in 1861 in Hope Street, is quite an imposing structure, with semi dressed stone walls, plaster mouldings and an ornamental bell tower complete with a brass bell. (the whipping post disappeared some time ago). The building has been standing empty for a number of years. A use for the building is sorely needed. Like any building, it does need maintenance to stop degradation, and maintenance means money needed.

Heritage Western Cape, in their almighty wisdom, granted permission for the demolition of an old building in Church Street, Bredasdorp. However, the municipality refused to grant a demolition permit on a technicality unrelated to the building's heritage value, so the building survived. The building happens to be the very first shop ever in Bredasdorp.
It is still serving as a shop.

In Bredasdorp, the old showground, with its communal structures, became obsolete and was replaced by a supermarket and an architecturally contrived walled, gated and guarded “old dorp”, ironically (or maybe sardonically?) named “De Oude Arena”.

An insidious and very common threat is the gradual attrition rate of inappropriate piecemeal changes or additions to an original structure, also the erection of inappropriate features close to it. (amputated Dutch ovens, “modern” windows, concrete fences, crass signboards, etc.). Eventually a building can be bastardized to such an extent that it becomes historically irrelevant.

Buildings in Napier have escaped heritage requirements for a number of reasons.
One reason , they were erected before the formal creation of the heritage committee. So, you get Absa Bank in Napier, a neon lit, plate-glassed edifice sitting in the midst of Victoriana.
Other cases that slip through the regulations include deliberate action, using stealth and fait accompli as weapons to get their way, and then cases where owners plead innocent ignorance of the regulations.
An example of the latter involved the erection of a standardised American styled timber house, designed by a commercial company, in a prominent position within the heritage zone in Napier. Tom Hood, a regular estate writer for Village magazine, got in on the act and berated the committee loudly and publicly and somewhat ignorantly, for being obstinate over the planned dream house. He conveniently omitted the fact that the new owner received the benefit of much free architectural advice on what to do. (we do try to be helpful, you know – we're not just dikbek building polisiemanne).

One of the battles fought included That Log Fence In Church street, Napier. Apart from the fact that it was erected illegally, it did not comply with heritage requirements....looked like Fort Chattahoochee, in the wilds of old Texas, and from which the US cavalry would at any moment, emerge. So, after protests by the owner, lawyers, letters, appeals to Heritage Western Cape, it was decided to leave be.... Luckily and ironically, the thing has, in time, weathered nicely.

So, just a few of our issues....

In closing, I must include the universal all-invasive threat of a superficial contrived oldness, i.e, housing-estate-dumbed-down-CapeDutch, (what architects call CapeCrutch), Disneyland fake architectural pastiche, such as Century City, The Lost City, with their plastic spires, Jo'burg and J.Bay Tuscan, et al...all leaning dangerously towards corny kitsch.

The spirit of, e.g., the Cape Dutch style, can be kept alive in contemporary terms, as exemplified by the works of architects such as Gawie Fagan and Revel Fox, who distilled the basic essence of the style in its proportions, textures, rhythms, contextual dispositions, and who subtly re-interpreted these qualities in a modern idiom.

“The solid to void relationship reflects the casuistry of life”

The benchmark
3 seater stinkwood “riempie” bench for either indoor, or for a ‘stoep’ Made in the 40’s or 50’s. Needs new ‘riempies’ but frame very sturdy and in good condition.
R3000 neg. Tel: Andre Fourie on 072 458 6656

Can anybody shine a light on this issue?
Scott asks:
Is it possible for the Natter to pursue the issue of the Kerk clock light – it hasn’t worked for several months?
It is (for better or worse) the prominent architectural feature of Napier & as such, should be maintained.
The Natter would appreciate any information from any of the Natter readers regarding this.

This day in History – 31 May 2012

1279 BC - Rameses II (The Great) (19th dynasty) becomes pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.
70 - Rome captures 1st wall of the city of Jerusalem
1621 - Sir Francis Bacon thrown into Tower of London for 1 night
1665 - Jerusalem's rabbi Sjabtai Tswi proclaims himself Messiah
1759 - The Province of Pennsylvania bans all theater productions.
1790 - US copyright law enacted
1879 - Madison Square Garden opens
1884 - Dr John Harvey Kellogg patents "flaked cereal"
1900 - British troops under Lord Roberts occupy Johannesburg
1902 - Boer War Ends; Treaty of Unity signed, Britain annexes Transvaal
1908 - Miss Pottelsberghe de la Pottery is 1st airplane passenger.
1910 - Cape of Good Hope becomes part of Union of South Africa
1961 - Union of South Africa becomes a republic, leaves Commonwealth
1969 - John Lennon & Yoko Ono record "Give Peace a Chance"
1991 - Oldest bride - Minnie Munro, 102, weds Dudley Reid, 83, in Australia
2008 - Usain Bolt breaks the world record in the 100m sprint.

Quotable Quotes

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they’re sexy.

Hallmark Card: 'I'm so miserable without you, it's almost like you're still here.'

The Last Laugh (courtesy of Frank Hawkes)

Alerts to threats 2012 Europe from John Cleese.
The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from ‘Miffed” to “Peeved”. Soon though, security levels may be raised again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross”. The English have not been a”A bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re- categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance”. The last time the British issued “A Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pi**ed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British Army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it had raised it’s terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender”. The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides”.

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniforms and Sing Marching Songs” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose”.

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs all have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised it’s security level from “No Worries” to “She’s be alright, Mate” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll have to cancel the Barbie this weekend” and “The Barbie is cancelled this weekend” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

P.S. And as a final thought – Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray.
Welcome back to 430BC.

The Napier Natter appreciates your feedback, comments and idea's. Keep them coming.
Until next time

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