Thursday, May 3, 2012

At the seaside

We had a cottage at the seaside. My parents bought it when I was two. Living in gold mining towns, often dusty and small and farfarfar away from the sea, they bought this little piece of paradise in a coastal town in the Eastern Cape, near the university they went to (and then I). One small bite of the Eastern Cape and it steals your heart and beckons loudly forever. Thus, their purchase.

This was not a seaside holiday house in the manner of those that are found there now. This was referred to as our shack at the seaside, and rightly so. It wasn't on the sea - in fact it was a good, brisk, ten-minute walk to the beach. It didn't have any amazing views or large numbers of glass sliding doors opening onto a patio and rim pool. It was, in fact, a rather ramshackle, four-roomed square of a house, with an outside bathroom which had lots of ginormous spiders and no electricity.

And we loved it. With every cell of our bodies. And, even though it's no longer ours, I still do.
Spending six weeks a year there (one of the joys of working on a mine back then was lots of holiday time) over Christmas was like heaven. The four rooms were: a lounge into which the front door opened which led into my sister's and my room with two highly sprung metal single beds, some shelves made of bricks and planks, and a dressing table with two large drawers and three small. The three small ones were for my sister's clothes, the two big ones were mine. Always.

Our bedroom led into the kitchen which had a back door that opened onto a bricked path across which we'd fly on dark nights to the bathroom, under a tin 'afdakkie'. Off the kitchen was my parent's bedroom which contained a large double bed and a huge wardrobe which always had 'secrets' in it until Christmas and a top shelf on which my father kept coins for some reason.

The whole house smelt slightly mouldy, as seaside houses do. The lounge floor was covered in grass matting that we'd lift up twice during the six weeks: once at the beginning to sweep away the year's dust and once at the end to sweep out the tons of beach sand that we'd carried in on our salt-soaked, sun-kissed bodies throughout the holiday. Pure bliss.

This story is far from finished, but I've promised myself that I'll press 'Publish' more often this month, so I'll end Part 1 just here.