When I was little, we were often taken on holiday to visit our granny who lived in Cradock in the Karoo, in a house with a sign on the gate that said Carrington Lodge. It was lovely to sit on Granny’s lap. But if you weren’t on her lap, Carrington Lodge felt a little bit creaky and a lot spooky, for some reason. Maybe it was just that I was very small.
Out in the yard there was a row of cold unventilated garages which once were used to park carriages. Inside one of these, there were even remnants of an almost working carriage that nobody wanted to get rid of. Then, in the garden, there was the chicken run. From time to time, there’d be a ritual killing of chickens for supper. After the chicken was beheaded by Granny’s gardener, we’d watch, stunned, while it ran around till it dropped into the petunias. Running around like a chicken without a head. Isn’t that how the saying goes? All completely normal.
It was always wintertime in Cradock. I remember it being cold much more than it being hot. In wintertime in Cradock it was hard to get out of bed in the middle of the night. If you had to get out of bed for a pee, you had to walk down a passage past Granny’s room, over ice cold slippery old mosaic tiles, under the gaze of a stuffed kudu staring you out from above an archway with a velvet curtain. I was scared of the kudu, and I thought something would jump out from behind the velvet and give me a big skrik.
So I never did go down that passage until after sunrise. I always stayed in my room.
Granny believed in potties.
I wish Granny had had a friend like Jacques Erasmus from Hemelhuis Restaurant in Cape Town. Jacques might have encouraged her to do a friendly thing around the kudu trophy. It would have been so much easier to go down that passage if there had been tear-outs of Barbara Barnard from Fair Lady, and some unwanted sheet music, and the comic pages from Farmers Weekly or a Prince Valiant annual. Maybe a poster of Four Jacks and a Jill, or something.
I love how Jacques recently put up wallpaper around his friendly reindeer who presides over lunch at Hemelhuis.
Walls don’t have to be plain. Or boring. Or scary.
Grandmother’s Room – from the Earthcote Heritage Collection.