Tag Archives: Africa

NAPA WALLEY RANCH

A cinder block fireplace, shag carpet, and “babyshit blue” colored walls were a few of the daunting details in the 1950s Napa Valley ranch house that Dione Carston and her husband, Ham, faced when they moved in several years ago. Dione, an avid equestrian and interior designer, stylist, and owner of Steed Fine Hoarding & Tack in St. Helena, has filled her own home with her far-flung collections and groupings of high and low objects, antiques, and flea finds.

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Above: The large wingback chair with elephant ears was from an estate sale; Dione recovered it in vintage Kubo cloth with hemp fringe and zebra print cow hide (a vintage bear throw is draped on top). On the wall are two museum-quality hippopotamus shields from the Arussi tribe in Africa.

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Above: The mahogany veneered paneled walls and lights are original to the house. Dione painted the “asylum pink” cinder block fireplace in Benjamin Moore Black Bean Soup.

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Above: Crystal decanters sourced at thrift stores sit atop an R & Y Augousti tray from Paris. The reproduction drop leaf table is a consignment shop find; the Swedish Demi Lune Chairs are from Restoration Hardware. On the wall is a collection of Ham’s oil paintings, an over-sized clock from Target, and a vintage stuffed pheasant.

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Above: Dione took the doors off the cupboards in the kitchen to create open shelving. The butcher block counter top came from Lumber Liquidators, with Ikea cabinets beneath (with rope for handles). The sink is also Ikea. The plate is a gift from a friend (for something similar, go to Vandalized Vintage by Trixie Delicious on Etsy), and the pendant lamp is an Alameda flea market find.

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Above: A collection of cleavers from a local flea market.

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Above: The side table in the bedroom was brought back from Mexico, while the chair is a consignment store score.

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Above: For Dione, “Bedrooms are for sleeping and loving—nothing else. They should be simple, serene and as restful as possible. No technology or televisions, just a place for the mind to rest.” She pulled out the inbuilt closet and placed a Moroccan carved headboard in its place; the walls are painted Benjamin Moore Linen White. Dione had the custom indigo dyed rabbit pellet bed spread made to order. The Philippine rosary is a thrift store find.

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Above: Dione had the shower curtain made from linen and leather remnants. On the floor is a durable coconut hair carpet (she copied the idea after spotting it in the lobby of a European hotel); she also has it on her kitchen floor.

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Above: An arrangement of dogwood branches on Dione’s dressing table. Dione, a onetime make up artist, is an avid horse rider. The blind is made from bamboo garden fencing that Dione cut to size and staple-gunned into the window frame. To wit, her collection of cowboy boots, which are reflected in the mirror (including Hermes boots found on eBay).

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Above: Dione hangs her necklaces from steel push pins.

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Above: “I put together a room like an outfit with layers of texture and color,” says Dione of her dressing room. The leather and steel body cast is a lamp and was a find from the Les Puces at Clignancourt in Paris. On the wall, is a bear with peacock boa and tiara for good measure with a vintage zebra rug on the floor.  On her taxidermy, Dione says, “! hate hunting and the killing of animals and only buy vintage taxidermy. I feel I am giving them a final resting place. It’s my bleeding heart part of me.”

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Above: On the porch off the kitchen is Dione’s “aviary real estate,” nests bought at Pier One that now house finches. The green table is an upside down cow’s watering trough. For shade, Dione installed a bamboo garden fence roof.

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Above: The entrance to the ranch house is nestled among a stand of trees; Dione also keeps stables for her horses.

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Above: The exterior of the nearby stables that Ham built for Dione’s two horses.

http://steedfinehoardingandtack.blogspot.it/

http://www.homedecorgroup.com/home-ideas/tough-glamor-at-home-with-a-napa-valley-designer/

http://laurejoliet.com/

http://www.remodelista.com/

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IDEAL C

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When I found this wonderful German typewriter on a dusty and messy shelf of a Bargain Corner shop in Swakopmund, I was excited. I thought it could be a perfect happy birthday present for my husband.

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This smart, deeply black metal office mechanical typewriter is an “Ideal C” model, manufactured by Seidel & Neumann in Dresen – Germany, 1917 circa. The typewriter has a universal keyboard with four rows. A lever on the left of the keyboard operated the carriage return and line spacing. The serial number 661786 is located under the carriage. My Ideal is still writing perfectly with its black ink tape.

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Karl Robert Bruno Naumann (below) was born 10 October 1844 in Dresden. He was a skilled and highly trained engineer travelling around Germany as a young 16yr old repair journeyman. He has improved his engineering skills along the way, even with clockmakers. Bruno founded his own company around 1868 in Dresden, Germany on a shoestring. At first, Bruno was concentrated like many small engineering firms on mechanical repairs and small manufacturing but later, he saw the huge potential in sewing machines and bicycles. By the turn of the century, the company decided to invest in the production of motorcycles and typewriters.

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After the phenomenal success of their “Ideal” model, which had four upgrades and their folding “Erika” typewriter, they also invented “Erika Picht” typewriter by Oscar Picht for blind people.

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The Seidel & Naumann Ideal typewriter had four model changes. Their folding Erika typewriter, named after Bruno Naumann’s granddaughter, was still a best seller. The Erika No1 was the first folding typewriter in the world. Other typewriters followed like the Bijou in 1925, the Electric and the Gloria.

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The Seidel & Naumann machines were used by the German Military in the 1930’s including the dreaded SS with a custom – made key which featured the “SS” symbol on the key number three. They say Hitler used a Seidel & Neumann typewriter. In addition to that, for many years Nazis hiding from justice used the number 18 in their clandestine communications. It was a code for Adolph Hitler. In the alphabet A=1 and H=8.

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This is a picture of the factory before its destruction in the Dresden bombings and firestorm.

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Above: this is the only copy of the giant Hamburg – Seidel & Neumann factory, that I have found. The chimneys burned black day and night producing thousands of machines 24 hours a day.

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Above: the Erika portable typewriter. Here you can see just how portable the small machine was even aboard ship. Circa 1910 – 1930.

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A vintage French advertising poster for Ideal typewriters.

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Above: “Bargain Corner” shop in Swakopmund that is where I bought the “Ideal C” typewriter. This place had a very particular atmosphere. It was a sort of a local Flea Market selling cheap African junk and memorabilia.

 

PERFECT ARCHITECTURES

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Weaver birds nest – Namibia.

Weaver birds get their name because of their elaborately woven nests (the most elaborate of any birds). The nests vary in size, shape, material used, and construction techniques from species to species. Materials used for building nests include fine leaf-fibers, grass, and twigs. Many species weave very fine nests using thin strands of leaf fiber, though some, like the buffalo-weavers, form massive untidy stick nests in their colonies, which may have spherical woven nests within. The sparrow weavers of Africa build apartment-house nests, in which 100 to 300 pairs have separate flask-shaped chambers entered by tubes at the bottom. Most species weave nests that have narrow entrances, facing downward.

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Sociable weaver (Philetairus socius) nest in a quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma), Fish River Canyon, Namibia.
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SOUTH AFRICAN DESIGNERS WEAVE A TREE HOUSE FOR ADULTS
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Maybe we’re crazy, but we’ve always wondered what life as a little baby bird would be like, all safe and cozy in your handmade nest. Which makes this new “Organic Lounger” designed by Animal Farm, a Cape Town design firm, so fantastic.

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Inspired by a weaver-bird’s nest, the cubby has a steel frame, and walls made of woven branches. It can hold two adults and a small child, and you access it through the bottom, via a rope ladder.

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The chief designer, who really does insist on being called Porky Hefer, says he’s currently working on a larger nest that’ll seat four lucky adults.

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http://inhabitat.com/animal-farms-cozy-human-nests-hang-from-the-treetops/

THE POP UP HOUSE

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The Namib Desert. A four wheel drive, long dusty roads and our mobile home for the following fifteen days.

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The Duwisib Castle is a historical monument situated in the heart of our 6,000-hectare farmland built in 1909, by Baron Captain Heinrich Von Wolf. With scenic views and camel thorn trees, it is no wonder the Baron decided to build his fortress at this special location.

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Much of the raw materials used in the construction of the fort were imported from Germany. After landing at Lüderitz, the materials were transported by ox-wagon for over 600 mms through the Namib Desert. The castle consisting in 22 rooms.

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A frugal breakfast, early in the morning. Me and my husband were heading off on a self-drive camping adventure. We drove 4500 kilometers in two weeks. Our pop-up tent and the small camping table with the cotton checkered tablecloth, camp stove, plastic plates and cups. The caveat: just make sure you always stop and fill up whenever you can for fuel and drinking water because, once you leave the city, you leave the tarmac and you end up in the middle of a beautiful nowhere.

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Sossusvlei, Namibia’s famous highlight in the heart of the Namib Desert, is a huge clay pan, enclosed by giant sand dunes. Some of the most spectacular hills of sand are, at a height of 300 m, the highest and largest sand dunes in the world.

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Wind continuously reshapes the patterns of the huge dunes of the Namib Desert. It timelessly forces the grains of sand on the flat windward slope upwards to the crest of the dune. Here they fall down in the wind shade. The leeward slope is therefore always considerably steeper than the windward side.  Below: it is me on the top of the “Dune 45” like a tightrope walker 300 meters high.

Below: at the top of the “Dune 45”, like a tightrope walker 300 meters high.

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Below: Sossusvlei Lodge. We just spent a night here. A real bed has been our reward after so much effort.

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Below: Welwitschia Mirabilis. Welwitschia was discovered by the Austrian botanist, explorer and medical doctor, Friedrich Welwitsch, in 1859 in the Namib Desert of southern Angola. This species is called “mirabilis”, which means marvellous in Latin. This plant can live up to 2,000 years.

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Below: a local market.

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After driving for three hours in the cocent sun, a short break was necessary with a good cold beer. A Tafel Beer of course. It is a fine quality, smooth tasting natural lager with a wholesome flavor and aroma, which makes it perfect for any occasion. This beer has its origins at Hansa Brewery in Swakopmund. Cheers then!!!!!

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In the vast arid space of Northern Namibia lies one of Southern Africa’s best loved wildlife sanctuaries: “Etosha National Park”. It is a unique place in Africa.

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Zebras and springboks are scattered across the endless horizon, while the few waterholes attract endangered black rhinoceros, lions, elephants, giraffes and a large number of antelopes.

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Etosha, meaning “place of dry water”, is enclosing a huge, flat calcrete depression (or pan) of about 5 000 km². The pan itself contains water only after very good rains and sometimes for only a few days each year, but it is enough to stimulate the growth of a blue-green algae which lures thousands of flamingos.

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A hippie family from Netherland we met in Etosha Park. They told us that they had gone through the whole African continent on this battered Peugeot. They had two small children with them. Crazy people!

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Below: my African kitchen. I’m preparing lunch with avocados and a fruit salad. Light and juicy, and simply fantastic. We had lots of boxes full of food. The ice box made up for my cutting table.

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Like two temporary nomads we celebrated the same ceremony every night:  we pop up our military tent. We used an iron ladder to reach the jeep’s roof. Our tent was like a tiny dot in the luxuriant nature. The green mosquito net was not enough to protect us from African biting insects. The bed inside was made of a thin mattress with two pillows and a light duvet. The floor was hard on my back and the space was quite small for two adults, but sleeping under a star canopy was making you forget all discomforts.

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On the way to Damaraland to find Namibia’s wildlife.

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Damaraland is the old apartheid name given to the region south of Kaokoland and north of the main road to Swakopmund.

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Above: Twyfelfontein Lodge.

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In front of a roaring fire with our local friend and guide, Silvio, who is now running a very cozy restaurant at the lighthouse in Swakopmund with his wife Esbi.

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Above: on our way to Skeleton Coast we had to cross a dry river bed. My husband had to lower the tyres’ pressure in order to float over the deep sand. Our reliable Toyota never let us down.

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The Sunday picnic with Silvio and Esbi on the coast.

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The Skeleton Coast is named after the beached whales and seal bones which covered the shore area when the whaling industry was still active. It generates its fair share of “human bones” too…

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Skeletal shipwrecks caused by rocks offshore in the fog. More than a thousand vessels can be found along the coast!

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Good morning Africa! Sand’s everywhere and, under the scorching sun, water becomes the most precious element. It seems you have never enough. Are we too spoiled by our so called civilization?

KOLMANSKOP I

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In April 1908, August Stauch (here above), the railway station master at Grasplatz registered a 6 month prospecting claim of 10 km wide along a 24 km stretch of the Lüderitzbucht-Keetmanshoop railway line.

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In May 1908, Zacharia Lewala, who had formerly worked as a coachman in Cape Town and/or on the Kimberley mines picked up a diamond on a stretch of the railway line on which he was working.  He reported it to his supervisor and the news was conveyed to Stauch –  (Here below Zacharia Lewala).

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In September 1908 the German Colonial Government proclaimed the “Sperrgebiet” making a large territory along the coastline from the Oranje River all the way to 26 S and 1oo km from the coastline “Forbidden Land”.

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Rough diamonds.

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A diamond rush followed. In 1909 Stauch found the Idatal (named after Stauchs wife Ida), a valley where the desert winds made the diamonds visible. In the moonlight men were on their knees and hands picking diamonds from the surface. (Above local miners).

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In 1909 mining also started at Kolmannskuppe. The place was named after a British transport driver, called Colman.

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During a desert storm he managed to survive but had to abandon his ox wagon. His wagon, standing on a hill (kuppe) became a landmark, named Colmans Hill (Kolmannskuppe) and when a town was built next to the mine the old name was kept although it is actually built on another hill opposite the original Colmans Hill.

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Kolmanskop was built in this gem-rich land, in German colonial style, complete with all modern facilities, including a hospital, ballroom, casino, ice factory and sports center. Its tram and x-ray machine were the first in Africa, funded by the diamond wealth.

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The Kasino. It was built in 1927 as the last building in the centre of Kolmanskop. It was used for many things. It was a big restaurant, it was a church, a theatre, a sports hall and many other activities took place hear.

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The main hall was a sports hall and a theatre among other activities.

“The theatre sponsored visits of shows and operettas from overseas and a 8 – piece orchestra that played for all the formal dances as well as tea dances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. All the ladies turned up in the latest fashions. The club served tea, coffee, beer and spirits while the orchestra played sweet music. Some couples did the tango or one step. The brave ones tried the Charleston”.  (Marianne Coleman, daughter of Ou Kat Coleman foreman at Kolmanskop)

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This was the residence of the mining engineer Leonhard Kolle who stayed here with his family until 1935 when they moved to Oranjemund. A beautiful house with a huge veranda along the whole building. On the right hand side you see trees. This was not common in a desert town.

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Of course there had to be a hospital in a wealthy and organised town such as Kolmanskop. The picture above shows the first hospital in Kolmanskop.

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Some of the equipment used is shown in a small room in the ”Old Shop”.

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Later on the hospital was enlarged to what it is today.

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There were some 40 children in Kolmanskop. Of those 25-30 attended a school in Kolmanskop with classes up to grade 4. The picture above is from 1926. The teacher was Mrs Hussmann. She lived in a nice little house between the architect and the quarter master.

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The shopping street – ”Kolmanskuppe Ladenstrasse”.

The town declined after World War I when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. The geological forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand. Kolmanskop is popular with photographers and filmmakers for its settings of the desert sands’ reclaiming this once-thriving town.

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Dust Devil is a 1993 horror film written and directed by Richard Stanley. The film was described as being like “Tarkovsky on acid” by Steve Beard of The Face.

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The King Is Alive (2000) is the fourth film to be done according to the Dogme95 rules. It is directed by Kristian Levring. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.

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Samsara is a 2011 non-narrative documentary film, directed by Ron Fricke and produced by Mark Magidson. Samsara was filmed over four years in 25 countries around the world. It was shot in 70 mm format and output to digital format. The film premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and received a limited release in August 2012.

http://on-the-rand.co.uk/Diamond%20Grounds/Sperrgebiet.htm

http://stories.namibiatourism.com.na/blog/bid/270034/Kolmanskop-Swallowed-by-the-Dunes#Comments