The free newsletter aimed at fostering goodwill among residents, merchants and visitors to Melville
Letter from the Editor
The day before we were leaving on holiday I noticed a persistent drip from the geyser overflow pipe. It was a Saturday mid-December when most plumbers had closed shop. I found an emergency team in operation and for related rates they obliged. “Your geyser is cracked,” Johannes told me, “I’ve turned it off and you’ll have to get a new one.”
The warranty for the geyser had expired in October and I noted its replacement was something to look forward to on our return on January 1. Optimism, of course, because we all know Johannesburg does not begin functioning until mid-January at best.
Back home, we decided to use the opportunity to explore other possibilities. Inspired by the energy-efficient house of the Davie family in Richmond, we opted to live with the inconvenience of bathing away from home while researching solar and gas options. Thoughts of solar were dashed by an expert who claimed there were too many trees in the street to make it worthwhile.
I called Dillon Davie who is now an energy audit specialist and whose guinea pig we’d been when he first started out. He recommended a gas geyser supplier who came out the same day and gave the thumb’s up. Insurance paid out most of what it cost to purchase and install the gas unit and we’re hopeful it’s going to be a convenient and energy saving decision.
Other good news came with the quick reaction from Rochelle at Pikitup. Despite it not being Pikitup’s responsibility, she had her chaps remove blocks of cement left on our corner by the private company that unearthed Melville’s streets as well as shards of sanitary ware courtesy of faceless neighbours.
I was now on a clean-up mission. I located the manager of Johannesburg Roads Agency for our area. He in turn put me in touch with the relevant authority which promptly cleaned the storm water drains and replaced broken drain covers.
On another upbeat note, last year we rediscovered The Loft restaurant in 7th Street. After I had rejected several restaurants that were smoke-infused, Bruce did his all to accommodate us – he even personally took the trouble to make me a perfect omelette and salad which was not on the menu.
Other residents seem to have followed suit.
I’m hopeful this all bodes well for Melville in the year after the World Cup.
Happy Year of the Rabbit.
IN THIS ISSUE
- Magical Moment – Christine Pretorius finds a farm in Auckland Park
- A Growing Relationship – it was not love at first sight for Jane Griffiths
- An Eccentric in Melville – Suzanne Brenner tracks Luigi dos Santos
- African Adventure – Jolandie Rust embarks on a solo bike journey around Africa
- Cupcake Heaven – a delicious new shop in 7th Street
- Junkie Treasures – second-hand finds in 4th Avenue
- Save Water, Save Power – Dillon Davie tells us how
- Melville SCF Update – what volunteers are doing for Melville
- Farewell to Good Company – RIP
- Credits and contact details
Who would have thought of a magical little farm in the heart of Auckland Park? Christine Pretoriusreveals all.
We should have been forewarned as the invitation for dinner came from a world-renowned botanist and his botanist wife.
In front of the rose beds a long table with a crisp white tablecloth awaited us bedecked with Buchu brandy, traditional ginger beer, fruit punch and ice cold prickly pears. In the twilight, we observed a Botticelli Madonna perched on a little dam, someone meandering through the herb garden, laughter drifting over from the fires…
The gorgeous madame of the house was calm and welcoming and our host with his unique brand of sublime gentleness was at hand filling empty glasses and exuding bonhomie that put everyone at ease.
The theme of the feast was the Cedarberg region, the home of Buchu, Rooibos and good wine, and also of famous SA poet, botanist and food expert, Louis Leipoldt. The menu had footnotes, a gesture of goodwill towards guests from Germany who cannot speak Afrikaans. But even for Afrikaans speaking guests like myself, the menu notes opened a door of wisdom:
- Buchu – (Agathosma betulina) a highly aromatic shrub found only in the Cedarberg region of SA;
- Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) – a traditional herbal tea found only in the Cedarberg region of SA, where the commercial production is still centred.
And so on. Mouth-watering butternut soup was followed by three traditional bredies (stews): waterblommetjie, green bean, and tomato accompanied by beetroot from the garden and pumpkin fritters. The waterblommetjies grow in the little farm dam, and are picked one by one as they appear and are frozen until a sufficient batch has been saved up.
In-between the seven courses the guests wandered through the garden in admiration of various exotica such as the Ethiopian coffee tree (from which coffee is laboriously ground) white aubergines, and old-fashioned pink roses.
It was like something out of Fellini. By the end of the dining experience, all the guests were in a soporific state of bliss. And as we prepared to leave, a soft drizzle provided a final blessing to an evening that now seems an exquisite dream.
A GROWING RELATIONSHIP
“Years ago, when I first planted vegetables, I didn’t realise it was the beginning of a cherished relationship”, writes Jane Griffiths. “It all started innocently enough. I was just trying to grow interesting chillies to cook, I wasn’t that interested in the growing process.”
I suppose it was fitting that my affair began with hot and spicy chillies. But they left me wanting more. And as I sowed further seeds, my fling turned into a relationship.
As with any relationship, it requires all those familiar elements: commitment, love, generosity, tolerance, communication, respect and let’s not forget compromise. Before I knew it, those lazy Saturday afternoons hanging in a hammock lost in a novel, were being sweatily and joyfully spent with my vegetables. As my garden expanded, so did my knowledge and understanding of plants, soil and cycles. I learned to replenish my soil, listen to my plants and observe insects. I stopped worrying about it being perfect and just let it be. I received its gifts of abundant harvest with gratitude and learned from the failures. As our relationship flourished, I slowly became a part of instead of apart from my garden.
In our 21st Century of absolute convenience and consumerism, we are disconnected from nature. We have forgotten the simple rules of engagement and somehow believe that we cannot only live separately from nature, but also take as much as we want without giving anything back. And that is not how a successful relationship works. We are a part of nature and if we continue to live as if we are a privileged and separate species, we risk losing everything.
The cycles that I observe in my garden connect me to a deeply rooted natural and universal order, evidence that nature will continue to do what she has always done. I have observed the harmony of insects and their “time share” of favourite flowers. There are never traffic jams on insect highways. Mulch, layered on the surface, soon decomposes into rich food for multiple organisms. In this intricate balance of life, death and decay, nothing is wasted and everything is recycled and reused.
If I have learnt anything from my relationship with garden, it is this: by giving nature the respect she deserves, by placing her at the centre and observing and learning from her, I have not only become a more successful gardener, but a more contented person.
Jane Griffiths is the author of Jane’s Delicious Garden and Jane’s Delicious Kitchen published by Sunbird Publishers, a division of Jonathan Ball Publishers.
AN ECCENTRIC IN MELVILLE
It’s often said that the people make Melville special. Colourful characters like Betty the mielie lady and the cyclist with a rucksack on his back who booms greetings which cause a ripple of smiles. And then there’s Luigi dos Santos. Suzanne Brenner caught up with him.
You may not know his name, but you’ve seen Luigi. He walks the length and breadth of Melville and then some. On the day we met, he arrived in a tartan kilt. “Why?” I asked. “Just because I’m eccentric,” he replied with a smile that is always present.
Luigi celebrated his 80th birthday last year and is still “exploring his options” of what to do with the rest of his life. He was born in Angola, “out of wedlock”, he explains, and lost both parents not long thereafter. His grandfather did his best to step into the breach but when Luigi was 5½ he was “adopted” by a local convent, where he lived until he was 15.
After his military training Luigi found a job on a passenger ship which opened the world to him. He decided to become a cabaret artist singing Latin and Spanish songs and dabbled in showbiz for years to come, including when he came to South Africa in 1971.
In Melville for 14½ years, he resides at The Old Apostolic Church where he plays the organ on occasion and he’s chuffed by the street number for the church which he made after attending the School of Mosaic down the road.
A strict vegan, he earns his crust by distributing products for Reeva Forman and Golden Products and by selling stationery – “mainly A4 paper, cartridges and flip charts”.
Luigi says he’s grateful for the support and friendliness of those who live here and will happily chat if you stop him on his travels.
If you’d like to buy any of Luigi’s products, call him on 072 254 9992.
On April 27, Melville local Jolandie Rust sets off from Cape Town on her ambitious plan to become the first woman to circumnavigate the entire African continent solo on a bicycle. Here she shares some of her story…
Since I can remember, I have been an explorer and an adventurer at heart.
At three years of age, I nearly gave my parents a heart attack when I packed myself a knapsack and went on a walkabout. There was a big wide world out there and I wanted to see it. I did tell my mother I was going out but she apparently didn’t take me seriously.
In 2004, I cycled through Israel and four years later I cycled solo from Johannesburg to Cape Town. I became the second woman to do so and in the fastest time. A year ago I became the first person to cycle around South Africa covering a total distance of 5 951 kilometers in 100 days.
For over three years I have worked at making my dream a reality and I have now pledged to set off on April 27, whether I have all I need or not.
Offer moral support and follow Jolandie’s journey via her blog at jolandie-rust.blogspot.com
Rubinella Cupcake in 7th Street, Melville, is the new shop on the block which its owners describe as “a flower emporium and cupcake wonderland”.
Cameron McAlpine and Robyn Grobler have brought new energy to the street. “Rubinella works magic with flowers, conjures up cupcakes in every flavour and supplies gifts and other goodies to those in need of something for someone special,” says Robyn.
A medical doctor, Robyn had a yearning to do something creative where “hard work and passion yielded tangible, beautiful results,” so she joined forces with Cameron, a web developer responsible for the store’s POS system, the website and the decor.
Pop into Rubinella Cupcake for a cuppa and a cupcake while you wait for an unusual flower arrangement. Or support their ‘flower subscriptions’ which ensure a regular supply of fresh arrangements in your home or office.
For more information, phone 011 726 5063. Website: www.rubinellacupcake.co.za
Are you looking for a retro vase, vintage shoes or a reading lamp? If so, Junkie is the place for you.
Described by its owners Michelle de Villiers and Nicky Rofail as a charity department store because it carries such a wide range of things, Junkie opened its doors in 4th Avenue, Melville, last year.
All goods have been donated and in turn the owners support, among others, the Melville Koppies and animal charities.
The name is a pun and Michelle says junkies can re-invent themselves in the same way she and Nicky reinvent many items for a clientele that ranges from “food stylists to sassy teenagers looking for funky finds”.
The ambience is friendly, spotlessly clean and well-ordered. “It changes all the time so there are always new reasons to pop in,” says Michelle.
Junkie is opposite Cool Runnings near Main Road Melville.
SAVE WATER, SAVE POWER
Apathy often stops us changing old habits. Here Dillon Davie tells how to get started.
Ours is a dry country. The recent summer floods that swept across our land might be followed by months of dryness, of brown lawns and dwindling rivers.
We’re also a country that has been struggling with power supply for some time now, with a legacy of cheap, coal-powered electricity leading to wastage and inefficiency. Rolling blackouts and ever-rising electricity prices are the result.
Fortunately new technology has come to the party and offers an elegant solution that reduces household water use, and also saves the power we use in our homes to heat that water.
Typical shower heads operate at 20 to 24 litres per minute, enough to empty out a 200 litre geyser in about 10 minutes and offering no saving over a bath. Low-flow shower heads use only a third as much as their typical counterparts, putting out only 6 to 8 litres a minute, but without losing the pressure that makes for a satisfying shower experience.
Less water used, and more power saved on a daily basis. Just what South Africa needs.
MELVILLE SCF UPDATE
The Melville Sector Crime Forum (Brixton CPF – Community Policing Forum) worked tirelessly behind the scenes in 2010. Cynthia Rose updates us.
While strengthening relationships with the SAPS, community members renovated the SAPS Client Service Centres for both the Melville satellite and Brixton Police Stations.
The success of the World Cup was measured by close to zero incidents of crime in the suburb and the SAPS continue to tackle problems head-on. Other good news is that lawless nightclubs on 7th Street seem to be a thing of the past.
Special projects included:
- the establishment of a Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) for our community;
- the redecoration of Melpark School by community members and schoolchildren.
The year ahead promises similar positive activity.
Get on board with our structures by contacting email@example.com.
FAREWELL TO GOOD COMPANY
We salute three leading lights of Melville who are no longer with us.
- Gordon Mulholland, long-time resident, father, actor, friend and full of laughs.
- Marc Lawson Turnbull owned Advance and Melville Place Art Gallery in Fourth Avenue.
- Mariada Goosen Roderick helped put Melville on the map in the ‘80s with her magnificent annual Melville Mardi Gras.
We miss them.
THE SECURITY INITIATIVE needs 13 members to break even. Exciting collaboration plans with UJ and key businesses to keep our suburb safe are in the pipeline. Please join now. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 082 888 1997.
THE JES FOORD FOUNDATION Melville depot is looking for donations for pamper packs for local rape survivors. Phone Jennie Ashwal on 073 279 2818 or email email@example.com.
VOLUNTEERS are needed at the Brixton SAPS station to help assist victims of violence and crime. Phone Jennie Ashwal on 073 279 2818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR ALL YOUR WRITING NEEDS
* Annual Reports * Media Releases * Brochures * Speeches * Scripts * Newsletters * Note-taking * Transcriptions * Letters * Sub-editing * Proof-reading*
Phone Suzanne on 011 482 1072 or email email@example.com.
GARDENER OVER THE WEEKEND? John is a whirlwind weeder, planter, patio cleaner and will also take care of small painting and building jobs. Call him on 083 428 7406. Reference: Suzanne 011 482 1072
PROWRITE WRITING SERVICES for all your outsourced writing needs. Contact Suzanne on 011 482 1072 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Melville News Free Subscription – see right hand column.
Melville News Team – see below right.
Melville News is an independent newsletter wholly owned and distributed by Suzanne Brenner.
© Unless otherwise stated, all content is the copyright of PROWRITE WRITING SERVICES CC.