Wednesday, 25 November 2015

McGregor of my best escapes...

Staycation, McGregor. Please can I go back, tomorrow.  Lateral Paul and I have just spent a day and a night there and I can’t remember when last we arrived at a destination and morphed into relax mode in .5 seconds. 

McGregor is calm. I’ve 'staycated' at a fair amount of country villages over the last few months and I think McG takes my top spot for R&R in the true sense of the word. Lateral Paul loved it so much he’s thinking of buying property... yes please to that.

The town, established in the 19th century, is in the heart of the Breede River winelands and is just as I imagine it to have been many moons ago. I’m told not much has changed over the past few decades, and therein lies its magic. I adore country towns but it’s quite rare nowadays to find somewhere so utterly peaceful….a place were tensions dissipate on arrival and city stress doesn’t stand a chance. White washed thatched houses, one main street and dusty side kind of happy place.

Ons Huisie, also called Almond Tree cottage, was where we stayed and we so loved it. It’s perfectly un-posh, rustic and unpretentious, with two bedrooms (sleeps four in total) and all the comforts. Well, not exactly all, as there’s no Wifi which turned out to be the best thing ever, as no digital means an opportunity to connect, read a book and be free from incessant Whats App notifications.

 Inside Ons Huisie... rustic charm, & lovely finishing touches...

First thing we did was flop into deck chairs in the self sustaining garden, a lovely space bordered by striking purple bougainvillea, succulents, climbing roses, cacti and hedges with brightly coloured little birds and a beautiful stray cat I fell in love with...

Milky cat beard... too sweet...

Come evening, we headed off to The Old Post Office, a famous whiskey bar that is reputed to have the second largest whiskey selection in the Cape, after the Bascule at the Cape Grace. We had delightful conversation with the owner, a Salford, UK native, called John Oldham. He also introduced us to a local beer brand called Saggy Stone. Since my trip to Tokyo 2 years ago, where beer was way more affordable than wine, and oh so tasty, I’ve become a froth fan so it was great to sample the local fare. Dinner was at the equally well known Karoux, an intimate restaurant space that seats around 20 pax indoors, run by Aimee and Ryan Josten. Excellent cuisine, a lovely ambience and they allowed us to take our own wine which was fabulous because it was a bottle of Springfield’s Work of Time, a Bordeaux style blend that is a masterpiece!

John from The Old Post Office...

Karoux restaurant, amazing by day or night...

Sunday morning found us having breakfast at Tebaldi’s at Temenos, where Lateral Paul immediately made friends with a local olive farmer. After making swift work of my poached eggs, I left him to chat and ambled off meet a friend at How Bazaar and buy lunch at Dudley’s Larder, the little deli next to Karoux, owned by Aimee and Ryan, that stocks delish cheeses, charcuterie, free range duck eggs and more. Suffice to say our lunch on the stoep at Ons Huisie was a sumptuous feast, with superb chardonnay from Springfield (currently my absolute fave wine brand) and an excellent local red.

The best in locally sourced wine, cheese, asparagus, bread rolls, all from Dudley's Larder...

So if you need an escape, for any amount of days, take a drive along the jaw droppingly beautiful Route 62 and head off to McGregor. Let your only distraction be listening to the birds and watching bees plunge headlong into flowers-I kid you not, I had time to notice that, as the picture below proves. 

Embrace the slowness why don't you. I’ve already booked to go back, so watch this space for Part ll of my McG getaway as I plan to do way more that you’ll find really interesting.

Bee going bottoms up...


My staycation at Ons Huisie was courtesy of the efficient and welcoming Mira Weiner from McGregor Country Getaways, / 076 411 9477.

I'm @allisonfoat on all my social media platforms – follow me, I’ll take you places.

Photos taken by myself on a Canon DSLR 600D and iPhone 6+

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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Wallpaper ~ bring your surfaces alive & re-direct your eyes...

Wallpaper – and I don’t mean the screensaver on your desktop or smartphone – is, by all accounts, here to stay. From 200BC when the Chinese first glued rice paper onto their walls to the opulence of the French courts and the roaring 20’s when it was all the rage, wallpaper is a versatile way to create a unique home.

Wallpaper is an asset to any room. From soft pastel stripes to bold scenic themed walls, it’s as much in demand as ever and has morphed into a true design winner. Whether an entire room or one solitary wall is papered, wallpaper captures the eye and the imagination, makes a statement and establishes an atmosphere. (This article first appeared on 14 November 2015 in the Decor supplement of the Saturday Argus newspaper South Africa)

Tretchikoff... by RSW

It’s readily available in rolls at various stores throughout South Africa but with tech being what it is today, many people opt to innovate and personalise what goes onto their walls. Stunning wallpaper demands attention. “It creates impact”, says decorator Pieter Burger of PB Designs. “Sometimes clients want a 3D experience when they walk into a room and that can be created using any image, even their own, if the pixels are high enough. Burger says that wallpaper has been on trend with his clients for almost two years. Powerful imagery and striking design draws you in and straight away, an ordinary space gets a lift and the people within it are transported.

No ordinary cupboard door... (RSW)

Says Kurt Sunkel, owner of Studio22, a family owned printing business, “the requests for wallpaper are increasing. Residential clients favour graphics with either abstract or cartoon-like images, the latter for children’s rooms”. Clients select from his company’s online store and if they have an image that is high res enough, it’s easy to reproduce it onto wallpaper. Many people take it further and replicate a theme or pattern onto other accessories, furnishings and surfaces, such as cushions, drapes, bed linen, table tops and floors, so the look flows to all aspects of the room.

Vinyl panels (RWS)

When I was growing up in the 70’s, wallpaper was very in vogue. I get very nostalgic when I see it used today. I loved it when my mother – the true ‘handyman’ in our house - would paste new wallpaper in my bedroom each time we moved apartments. The design opportunities presented today mean that old concepts are shifted to new dimensions and we can imprint our own identity onto a surface, however and wherever we desire it. The options are limitless.

Surface designer Robin Sprong, of Robin Sprong Wallpaper (RSW) in Woodstock, has been on the cutting edge of wallpaper and surface design for the past decade, and has taken imagery on paper and vinyl to new dimensions, literally and figuratively, representing superb South African artists like Walter Batiss and Tretchikoff, with a licence to reproduce their work. RSW also works with various local creatives such as Cape Town based Skinny La Minx, a design company in Cape Town that’s all about “mid-century style, Scandi-inspired, Japanese-crazed pattern & colour, with a dose of African chic”, and Room 13, a boutique graphic design studio specialising in crafting design solutions. Sprong recently returned from exhibiting at Dutch Design Week in Einthoven, Holland, where he and his team collaborated with others to bring made-to-order surface design to the fore. “Being able to express exactly what you want is the essence of customisation,” said Katrine Robenhagen, art director at RSW, who works closely with Sprong. “There are three things our clients want- to select straight from our catalogue, to use their own design or image or have a bespoke design made up especially for them in association with our illustrators.”

Robin at work...

Interior designer Manuela Candido is a huge fan of wallpaper and frequently recommends it to clients who often aren’t aware just how much wallpaper has evolved. “Once I show them a catalogue they are so excited to use it”, she said, “and nowadays fabric houses have exquisite collections from which to choose.” At Home Fabrics in Woodstock, one of the country’s leading fabric and wallpaper houses, “clients select from our catalogues with collections by top international designers such as Tricia Guild and Christian Lacroix”, explained sales executive Bennet Koen.

Guest toilet by Manuela Candido...

But as with everything, it all comes down to time and money. If you’re into DIY and have the time and patience, doing your own installation will save on costs, although the list of tools required for the wall preparation, application and finishing off is a long one that will affect your budget. Simple paneling that doesn’t require intricate aligning of patterns and shapes makes DIY doable but it’s a huge job. Some paper is pre-pasted as well so all you need to do is use a wet sponge to activate the glue and voila, it’s ready to go. If it’s a textured wall look you’re after, paintable wallpaper will give an amazing effect and you can even colour in your own wallpaper if the mood grabs and you want to get interactive. If doing an entire wall is too much of a challenge and you’re looking to enhance aspects of a space, other decorative options include doing vinyl panels, wrapping refrigerator and cupboard doors or adding an interesting look with decals (peel and stick) on anything from kitchen and bathroom tiles to  ceiling borders or door frames. When it comes to the more ambitious projects where panels are larger and need expert matching up, such as with RSW, it’s best left to the professionals.

Papered fridge & cupboard doors, & decals on the tiles...

Wallpaper is wanted. It’s an aesthetically appealing décor across South Africa that fosters imagination and inspiration. Says Sprong,“We constantly see and touch an infinite number of surfaces on a daily basis that blur past our eyes without a second glance. By influencing these surfaces, we can create moods, enhance an atmosphere, as well as express and create meaning through unspoken words that bring spaces to life with their colour, style and design”.

Bring your walls to life, re-direct your eyes and let your imagination run wild. 

References (all stores mentioned enable online shopping):
Robin Sprong Wallpaper for bespoke and catalogue surface design:
Manuela Candido Interiors: 083 5833867
Pieter Burger Design: 083 3018916
Home Fabrics, Woodstock: 021 4258297
Studio 22 Online for printing on wallpaper
Skinny La Minx:
Tools: Builder’s Warehouse, Laughton’s, Jack’s Paint and Hardware.
How to apply wallpaper, via Studio22:
Paintable wallpaper:
Wallpaper by the roll: Budget Banners 0214473717

Interactive wallpaper (colouring in, decals):

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