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Tag Archives: house

 

When faced with potential disaster, and overcome it, there’s a great urge to make things better.

 

Like it was so close but we managed to escape catastrophe unscathed, it’s not possible to carry on the day as usual.

 

What better thing to do than put our new learnings into action:

 

Rubbish is a fire hazard, so let’s get rid of it!

Wild growing shrubs can also easily catch fire, especially during drought, so let’s pull them out!

 

So now the empty corner plot at 23 Greatmore Street is clean again:

People power: Together we can clean up even Woodstock! :)

People power: Together we can clean up even Woodstock!

🙂

 

Because this is how the council leaves it:

All the council had to do was to maintain it clean.

All the council had to do was to maintain it clean.

😦

 

Seems like this is going to be same procedure as every year, because this is how we cleaned up last year:

All cleaned up and neat! This 'earth' is actually compacted rubbish that collected over the years and needs to be removed.

All cleaned up! This ‘earth’ is actually compacted rubbish that collected over the years and needs to be removed.

 

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The fire brigade managed to get the blaze under control quickly, thank goodness!

The fire brigade managed to get the blaze under control quickly, thank goodness!

 

I would’ve never thought that 3 shacks could threaten to burn down the entire neighbourhood: Especially with the drought crisis, informal settlements pose a dangerous fire hazard!

That’s what I learned after a representative of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management assessed the abandoned plot at 27 Greatmore Street.

The verdict: We were very lucky the fire didn’t spread to the neighbouring properties. Who knows what would’ve happened then. Well, clearly disaster enough for the City of Cape Town to be very concerned!

From my perspective, no luck was involved, but the combined efforts of neighbours fighting the fire with whatever means we had, keeping the blaze at bay until the fire brigade arrived just minutes away from our house going up in flames.

 

See our everyday heroes in action

The fire brigade is hosing down the fire:

Lots of smoke and steam from the fire:

After the fire all the rubbish is still smouldering:

Our back wall is so hot from the fire it is steaming:

This fire and then the water hosing is causing structural damage to our house:

 

But the real heroes to me are still our neighbours who did what had to be done without thinking twice:

As the fire had started in the early morning hours, we were all not dressed properly as we climbed onto our roofs to combat the flames with what little water we had.

In moments of potential disaster, nothing matters but action. It is thanks to this heroic act that nothing worse happened. Luckily, no-one got hurt, but we’re all left with structural damage to our properties.

If you don’t want this to happen to your home, report any illegal housing constructions right away: Report a problem building.

 

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A firefighter is hosing down the smouldering debris at 27 Greatmore Street.

A firefighter is hosing down the smouldering debris at 27 Greatmore Street. Watch this space for more pictures to come.

 

 

Today in the early morning hours the informal settlement at the abandoned plot of 27 Greatmore Street went up in smoke. The flames leaped so high, they came over our second storey roof and burned through the telephone overhead line.

 

 

It was thanks to the group living rough on the empty field next door that I was alerted about the fire. They saw the smoke rising behind our house. As I ran upstairs to look, I could already see the flames licking at our windows, which means they were about 5 metres high.

 

We have all emergency numbers on our fridge, so I called the fire brigade who had already been informed by our community.

 

As the house started to react to the heat of the fire with bangs and cracks, I realised I had to protect our back wall.

 

Since the drought crisis we collect our rainwater in water canisters, the only problem was just:

How to get those 50 litre containers from the other end of our house up onto the roof?

 

First I had to untangle our folding step ladder and then, and I’m not really sure how, but I managed to heave that 50 kg water container up onto the top of the ladder and from there up onto our flat roof.

 

By that time the flames were coming at me and our roof fascia was smouldering. I poured the 50 litres down the back wall into the fire. I just lay the canister on its side and dragged it along the roof while the water was spurting out to get as much surface wet as possible.

 

Opposite me, from the back of Oxford Street, our neighbour stood in his blue boxers atop the roof, hosing down the fire with what little water pressure they got. It was reassuring to see we were just doing whatever we can.

 

I was busy heaving another canister up, when the fire brigade finally reached the blaze and contained it quickly.

Just in time, as our water distribution efforts were only holding back the fire for a short while.

 

It appears no-one got hurt as the people living in the shacks had made a runner.

 

As the firemen were hosing down the smouldering debris, the smoke cleared away and revealed the mess of burnt rubbish. The fire had eaten up everything and blackened the ground to a grotesque landscape like from an apocalypse movie.

 

Our back wall got so hot, that it was steaming as soon as the fire hose hit it. The plaster and one of our windows cracked.

 

Thank goodness for fire regulations which demand to set back the windows 1 metre from the boundary wall, I see now that this is for a good reason!

And thank goodness our windows are double glazed, which means only the outer pane cracked.

And thank goodness we’re storing water at home, it came to an unexpected helpful use.

 

As quickly as the fire had spread, it was all over within the hour. It was still before 8am when the fire brigade left.

 

And as another hot and sunny day commences in Cape Town be extra careful: Especially now during summer season coupled with a drought crisis, it is so dry, anything can just go up in flames.

 

 

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It doesn't take long to dig out a variety of nails from our garden soil.

It doesn’t take long to dig out a variety of nails from our garden.

 

This is the reason why I start excavating when our dogs start digging: Rusty nails.

 

They are everywhere in the ground of our garden. When the dogs are digging, I have to extract the nails, preferably before the dogs even reach them. Who knows where they come from, but best to get rid of them before they come too close to any soft dog paws.

 

Only one hole dug by the dogs contains a variety of numerous nails making me wonder how it came to be that The Broken Palace was destroyed.

 

From masonry nails to tiny screws, from bolts to cut clasp nails to staple fasteners, this is a collection of pretty much every nail type there is. So how did all of these come to be in our ground?

 

If you know more about The Broken Palace please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂

 

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What a find: A sealed Heynes Mathew Ltd. vial. It even still got some liquid inside.

What a find: A sealed Heynes Mathew Ltd. vial. It even still got some liquid inside.

A lot of the items we excavate from our garden are puzzling: I have no idea what they are or what they were used for, nor how old or from where, and most importantly: why they are buried in our ground.

The more surprising when it’s still intact and traceable: I’m always amazed that it is still possible to excavate entirely intact bottles. After removing the garden soil with a digger back to ground level, hacking at the clay earth to loosen it up, and dogs digging up the rest:

How amazing that this vial didn’t break. And it’s sealed! With something inside! 😮

It is even possible to read the pressed imprint of the manufacturer’s signature: Heynes Mathew Ltd.

Now, there’s something to research! And it comes up with results, even with dates:

Extract from The Cape Town Guide (1897) p139:
“Heynes, Mathew & Co. – This firm so widely know throughout South Africa was established in Cape Town at the beginning of the century. Their operations increased so rapidly that they found it necessary a year or two ago to construct new premises, and these are now amongst the most attractive in Cape Town. Heynes Mathew & Co.’ Building is six stories high, and is situated at the corner of Adderly and Longmarket Streets. The first floor is let to various tenants, but the remainder of the building is devoted to the requirements of their large business. They manufacture numerous specialities for their trade, and are agents also for many remedies which have a world-wide reputation.”

Even though the Heynes, Mathew & Co. building has been demolished, it appears the company still exists: HEYNES MATHEW LTD – DIVISION OF SA DRUGGISTS

Maybe they can help me date the year when this vial was made. 😮

If you know more about The Broken Palace, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂

 

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I excavated this from our garden. What could it be?

I excavated this from our garden. What could it be?

 

After excavating what appears to be a door knocker, I thought I had dug out a door bell next.

Wondering why you’d want both – maybe the people at The Broken Palace were especially hospitable – I’d better double check.

 

As I started researching my find I quickly realised things didn’t add up. The mechanism of a push button door bell would look very different:

This 'original art deco vintage wooden electric door bell push press button' looks similar to my garden excavation, but when it's opened up to show the mechanism, it's clear that this doesn't match up.

This ‘original art deco vintage wooden electric door bell push press button’ looks similar to my garden excavation, but when it’s opened up to show the mechanism, it’s clear that this doesn’t match up.

In contrast:

 

Instead there are three prongs sticking out at the backside similar to the Australian thee pin plug:

This ‘black 3 pin extension lead AU/NZ plug top’ looks quite similar to my find.

This ‘black 3 pin extension lead AU/NZ plug top’ looks quite similar to my find.

In comparison:

 

 

So maybe this is an antique cord plug for lamps or fans like these:

These antique replica mid-century plugs look quite like my excavation.

These antique replica mid-century plugs look quite like my excavation.

Quite a resemblance:

 

However, the shape of the three pins is quite different. Some similar looking plugs refer to ‘early’ electric style, so maybe this is what plugs used to look like in South Africa in the early days of electricity?

If you know what this could be, or have references to antiques in South Africa, or remember The Broken Palace, please get in touch: TrulyJuly@web.de 🙂

 

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Our new garden design: Chillout area with braai at the back.

Our new garden design: Chillout area with braai at the back.

 

Progress in our garden is slow: There’s still so much fixing going on around the house, that our backyard is mostly abused as a storage facility.

So when finally the east wall got done, we had some extra space freed up to move the concrete blocks.

And the rest was left to play:

Like tending to a zen garden, an empty space is quite inviting to be reflective and creative.

 

The first time the concrete blocks turned into an interactive group seating area:

 

Now the concrete blocks form a centre piece, as the garden work will continue along the garden wall. They cover quite a bit of ground, which will prevent dust being blown around. And they stretch out like a giant sofa, an outdoor lair, complete with backrest and bird bath. And of course, the braai at the back:

 

With water restrictions plans for our garden are changing, so let’s see what the next giant lego reshuffle will look like. 🙂

 

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