Contemplative deep in the Camdeboo, a.k.a. the Valley of Desolation outside Graaf-Reinet. (Camdeboo, another Khoi San word meaning "green valley.") (Photo: D Accone)

Contemplative deep in the Camdeboo, a.k.a. the Valley of Desolation outside Graaf-Reinet. Camdeboo is another Khoi San word meaning "green valley." (Photo: D Accone)

The end of January marked a milestone. My mom, brother and pair of hounds travelled across country 1,000 + miles from Pretoria to Walker Bay to spend some time testing our almost completed house the only way you can, by living in it.

So what’s does Xairu have to do with it? It’s the name we’ve chosen for the house. It’s a San word used by the hunter gatherers who inhabited the area many years ago. They used it to describe the general region. It means “paradise” and we agree.

Pronouncing it provides an altogether different challenge, and we’ll take anything from the linguistically correct dental Alveolar click version /kǁaɪruː/ (I finally get to apply a few years of undergrad linguistics, yeah!) through to the more likely Portuguese-influenced /ʃaɪruː/, and anything in between. Alternatively, just call it paradise.

But back to the pudding proofing, in this case proven not only in the cooking and eating, but sleeping, showering etc. Inhabiting the unfinished and partially furnished house demonstrated its great livability, and identified a few snags to be fixed. (Many of these snags relating more to the fact that construction was not yet finished e.g. plumbing.)

A bed I'd like to dive into. I was excited by this photo because it showed the shutters from the inside, the curtains in place, and the linen I had great joy selecting.

A bed I'd like to dive into. I was excited by this photo because it showed the shutters from the inside, the curtains in place, and the linen I had great joy selecting.

It was wonderful starting and ending my day with calls from Walker Bay, snippets of, “We’re just heading out for a walk along the cliffs,” to “The folding deck chairs are very comfortable,” to wonderfully humourous photos of meals sans dining room table.  I’ll have to post that later. (Update: we think it was delivered last week.)

My family achieved a marvellous amount in less than a week’s stay — testing every knob, key, tap, latch, appliance etc. Unpacking all the crockery, cutlery, pots and pans. Leaving paradise ready to inhabit for the holidays with a simple key in the door.

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