I wrote several books. I thought I would publish some bits as posts.
The Place of Angels was a centre where all sorts of people visited – but this is how it started – how we bought the house it functioned in.
(From the book The Place of Angels)
How we found our house
We had lived in our house for fourteen years, by the time The Place of Angels came about. Two of our five children who had grown up there, were still at home and we ran two businesses on our property which consisted of two and a half hectares of land, most of which was virgin African bush filled with animals of all kinds, birds, monkeys and snakes. There was a big old swimming pool in the garden where we enjoyed having ‘braais’ (barbecues) and swimming in our spare time.
Our home was always filled with activity, children and new projects on the go. But our small businesses were under constant stress to make ends meet. Money was a commodity missing in our lives.
I told the story in my book Conversations in a Cupboard, of how, out of the blue, I started hearing a voice that I called Sheel, which taught me and guided me for nearly eighteen months. I changed from a depressed middle-aged woman constantly on tranquillisers to a person with a goal and new drive.
We lived in a large Edwardian Freestyle house in South Africa. This wonderful old house had enough rooms for all our five children. We had procured it in the strangest way. I had fallen in love with the gracious old house on the hill and saw that it was for sale. The estate agent collected me to view it. But it was way out of our means, far too expensive. I had to let any idea of owning such a large and elegant property go out of my mind.
We already lived in a house that we had bought for a ridiculously low price as a result of a joke made by Dave, my husband, to its owner at a party “Oh we’ll buy your house for Rxxxx.” And his offer was accepted!
But it was too small for seven people. It was our lucky break into the property market. Disappointed by not being able to afford the house on the hill we spent several years extending the house we had to fit our family. Every time I drove past the house on the hill, I longed to live there instead but, by now, someone else must have bought it. I tried to forget it.
One day, going down the hill on his way to drop one of our children off at her playgroup, she distracted him by calling out “Daddy, Daddy, there’s our house! We are going to live in that house!”
He turned his head to look at the house on the hill, and there was a large sign that clearly said ‘FOR SALE’!
So we went to look at it again. I was smitten, he less so. We put our newly extended home on the market. And because it had increased in value, we knew we could afford the house on the hill. But, in fact, it had became so large, it was difficult to sell. But anyway, we moved into Allways as the house was called – the house on the hill – on condition that we sold our home and paid occupational interest which was really a rental.
Allways and the hectares of natural forest that surrounded it, gave us many years of adventures, and the most wonderful situation for children to grow up in. At various times we had the privilege of raising chicken, ducks, bantams, dogs, guinea pigs, white rats. There was space for every kind of pet you could think of. There was too much land to look after even though the cultivated section that surrounded the house was tended by gardeners who helped us. The weeds grew behind us even as we tended to the section in front of us. It was a never ending battle with nature. At one time we grew roses and sold cut flowers. That was hard work!
During violent times in the 1980’s, the woman who worked for us and her husband became ‘wanted’ people because he had unfortunately witnessed the murders of a chief and all the councillors in a vicious and barbaric massacre. With the co-operation of other people as well, they built a house on the upper terrace of our land just below the swimming pool where they were able to live in safety for many years.
Allways was right next to the highway, yet remote and isolated. It was not part of any neighbourhood. Our children grew up ‘in the country’.
Now I am remembering, I recall the strangest thing. Outside in the workshop that twelve years later became my light room ( I explained how I was told to construct this in my book Conversations in a Cupboard), I once moved all the tools out into the garage, painted everything in the place white and furnished this rustic space with white curtains and a bed for me to rest on. It was my ‘getaway’ room from the hurly burly of the main house. How strange that I had such an impulse so many years before!