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My god­child is cheeky.

She’s 11, and has more than enough to say for her­self. Full of wit­ti­cisms, that one.

The other day she was moan­ing to my mom about some­thing. Ouma, fast ap­proach­ing 80, was ir­ri­ta­ble and clearly at her wit’s end when she snapped at Leake: “Just do what­ever you want”.

To which Leake replied: “When a lady says ‘Do what­ever you want’, rather take a deep breath and do noth­ing.” What’s that say­ing? Out of the mouths of babes... It was also she who one day said to the poor Labrador: “Stand aside, you are in my beauty space”. And told her fa­ther that they needed a big­ger car be­cause then her sis­ters could sit “there at the back in Harten­bos” and she could be “right at the front in Stel­len­bosch” in her own peace­ful zone when­ever the fam­ily went any­where.

(Quick foot­note: Ouma also speaks her mind. Re­cently, she and Leake were sleep­ing over and just be­fore bed­time my mom prayed out loud for the two of them. Leake must have started fid­get­ing be­cause in mid-prayer my mom sud­denly ad­mon­ished her in her stern Ouma voice: “Leake, sit still so I can fin­ish pray­ing”. She then car­ried on calmly in her church voice, list­ing all the peo­ple in need of care from up above.)

But back to my god­child’s first pearl of wis­dom: “Rather take a deep breath...” Good ad­vice for the be­gin­ning of a new year, wouldn’t you agree? I think we’d bet­ter pre­pare our­selves for a few hic­cups in 2019, what with an up­com­ing na­tional elec­tion, the rand tak­ing strain, and the petrol price con­tin­u­ing to soar...

But I love it here. And there’s cer­tainly no short­age of beauty. Just take a look at the gor­geous beach homes in this is­sue: Ja­cob­s­baai, Lange­baan, Agul­has, Stil­baai and a lit­tle spot in Scar­bor­ough near Cape Point.

Then there’s Ra­mona Afonso’s gar­den in Jo­han­nes­burg. What a won­der­ful sur­prise! She and her hus­band were the run­ners-up in our 2017 Fix it with Flair com­pe­ti­tion and when Elza, our Jo’burg pho­tog­ra­pher, took pic­tures of their kitchen back then, she phoned us ex­cit­edly af­ter­wards to say: “Never mind the kitchen, you should see their gar­den!”. And sure enough, this fam­ily’s cre­ative touch is ev­i­dent both in­side and out­side their home. Ra­mona even cooked up a feast for us – she’s clearly artis­tic on all fronts (check out page 102).

An­other high­light of this is­sue is a reader’s let­ter about a beau­ti­ful gar­den in the town­ship of Sharpeville. Suzette Nortjé writes about how she ac­ci­den­tally dis­cov­ered a lovely oa­sis there and has taken plants and other gar­den good­ies to Sa­muel Thokoa be­cause she found his space so in­spir­ing.

We all talk and write and com­plain too much about how bad ev­ery­thing is, and it’s prob­a­bly in­evitable. But this is the year we should try to fo­cus on the good things in life. Han­neli Den­ner summed it up so neatly when de­scrib­ing her dream home in Ja­cob­s­baai. “We are so con­tent here. We only have one life and we be­lieve in liv­ing it! Seize the day!”

I hope this will also be true for you.

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