Blog Archive

Sunday, February 06, 2011


I have promised to write about our trip in 2006 to Nieu-Bethesda in the Karoo. Feeling a bit nostalgic tonight, I decided to take a trip down memory lane. Can you imagine needing a holiday this early in the year. Work, bleh.

Anyway, I will post some pictures and take you on the trip along with me.

1. The 14km long dirt road off the N9 to get to Nieu-Bethesda. We traveled in Mother's car that year since we didn't think the Mini, which we were driving back then, would make such a strenuous journey without popping something expensive.

I had decided on Nieu-Bethesda because we wanted to visit The One's property in Murraysburg, about 70km to the west. And I had always wanted to visit the Owl House.

2. Nieu-Bethesda. That's all of it.

3. Nieu-Bethesda's main street. Yes, that is a real life mule-cart.

4. The Town Church

5. Our room at the Owl House Bed & Breakfast. And Funky, Mother's hot VW Golf. Now that car is powerful (1800cc) and has an aircon. The perfect long distance car. Well, we still made it there and back last year with our very trusty Nissan Sentra Debut (1300cc), Johanna. Sorry about the tech talk.

6. Some geese I let into the yard outside our room at the B&B. That's where Funky slept overnight. The poor geese..., uh, coming to think of it, they may have been ducks. I don't really know the difference, real city slicker. Anyway, the poor things were moaning pitifully outside the gate and I let them in. They ran to the patch of grass and voraciously started eating mouthfuls of it. A little later, the proprietor came outside to harvest some herbs for dinner, and was angry when he found them there. He chased them off around the back of the house. For all I know, they were gobbling his ganja stash. He looked like that kind of guy. Around the corner, we heard a scream, followed by a loud crash of what sounded like  a large container filled with water.

7. We hurriedly left our room and went to the Owl House. This is its unobtrusive facade. Here follows a short synopsis for you buffoons who don't know what the Owl House is:

Nieu-Bethesda is a small Village in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Helen Martins (23 December 1897 - 8 August 1976) was a young woman that had moved to this village to care for her ill mother. She inherited the house after her parents died some time later. Becoming bored with her dull life, Martins wanted to transform her environment. She began an obsessive project circa 1945 to decorate her home and garden. Using cement, glass and wire she decorated the interior of her house and later started building sculptures in her garden. A local man, Koos Malgas, helped her.

Martins drew inspiration from Christian Biblical texts, Eastern poetry and works by William Blake. The sculptures were predominantly owls, hence the name of the house. Most of the statues point towards the East as a tribute to her facination with the Orient. The other villagers were suspicious and derisive about ther work.

Her lifelong exposure to the crushed glass she decorated her walls and ceilings with caused her eyesight to fail in her later years (see photo number 10 below). She committed suicide in 1976 by ingesting caustic soda. She was 78 years old.

Her house has since been kept intact as a museum as per Helen Martin's wishes.

8. The Camel Yard, which is basically the house's garden. There are bent wire letters and cut out sheet metal letters fastened against the wire fence, spelling out poetry and Biblical texts. It is an somewhat eery but wonderful and magical place.

9. The Camel Yard, facing the other way. See the statues facing East.

10. The One's beautiful photograph of the crushed glass on the interior walls. Crappy camera plus talent still equals beautiful photograph.

11. The One and I in the Camel Yard. A big no-no, touching the sculptures. They are more frail than they look and often need restoration. Acid rain, just one more way we trashed the earth. Anyway, the statures were not made to last. Just look at us, too: much thinner, more tanned and four years' worth of more hair on our heads. No one can defy age.

12. A beautiful, serene stream that borders the village.

13. A maze under construction, made of young lavender. Four years later now, it must be beautiful. There is a square maze next to this round one.

14. Leaving Nieu-Bethesda behind the following morning on the next leg of our journey to Napier. It was the same kind of holiday as the one we just had with Mother and it was just as enjoyable.

Work, bleh. Big bleh.


Mother, Casper and Ilze visited us for lunch today. We really had a great time! Lunch was our own recipe for wraps - layers of cooked, seasoned mince and tomato puree with sage, crunchy lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, Thai sweet chilli sauce, white cheddar. Yum. Having the leftovers now.

Yesterday, of course, was spent doing cleaning and damage control for today. Yay, I love having a clean place.

No, you're not going insane. I have changed the blog's look a little.

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