Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The glorious world of Antonio Gaudí

Wow, life is crazy right now! I've barely had a chance to breathe, let alone blog! So this is going to be very short but very sweet. When I logged onto Google this morning, I was pleased to discover that today marks the 161st birthday of awesome architect and visionary Antonio Gaudí. It made me smile and I was going to leave it at that when I had the sudden thought that some people may not know who this incredible man was and (more importantly) that they may never have seen pictures of the truly spectacular buildings that he designed. So consider this a little lesson in modern architecture:

Antonio Gaudí was a Spanish architect and many of his buildings can be seen in Barcelona, Spain. His work is famously influenced by elements from religion, nature, architecture and mechanics, and he famously integrated crafts (ceramics, stained glass, ironwork and carpentry) into his designs. Gaudí was a visionary unlike any other, and his buildings are some of the most visited sites in the world. He is truly one of my favourite architects of all time. Here're some examples so you can see why:

Casa Milà
Also known as Le Pedrera, meaning "The Quarry", this building was completed in 1912. Situated in Barcelona, Spain and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Casa Battló
Locally known as Casa dels ossos, meaning "The House of Bones", this building was originally constructed in 1877 by one of Gaudí's teachers Emili Sala Cortés. In 1904, it was redesigned by Gaudí and is now considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Barcelona.

Park Güell
Originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, Park Güell is now a municipal garden situated in Barcelona and is home to Gaudí's famous salamander sculpture El Drac or "The Dragon". Completed in 1914, it is one of the largest architectural works in south Europe and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sagrada Família 
This Roman Catholic church in Barcelona is the last architectural project that Gaudí was working on at the time of his death in 1926. Despite it being incomplete, the church was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is renowned for it's amazing interior, especially the ceiling details of the nave. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

Kitty Cuddling at the SPCA

As you all know, I decided a couple of weeks back to stop feeling sad about the world and actually do something to try and make a difference. So, after going to an orientation workshop, filling out all the necessary paperwork, and getting a not-too-painful tetanus shot, I awoke bright and early on Sunday morning for my first day of volunteering at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA. As I drove to Grassy Park, I felt a mixture of nerves and apprehension: what if I just wasn't strong enough to handle volunteering? The last time I had spent any length of time in an SPCA was when my mom and I had to have our very old dog put down and, as I walked through the doors and was hit with that familiar smell of animals mixed with disinfectant, I could feel my resolve crumbling.

I'm really glad that I didn't turn around and leave right then and there and, after some quick introductions, I was swiftly led to the cattery (I had requested to start my volunteering there). I don't know about you, but when I think about stray animals in any sort of shelter I get flashes of the evil dog-catchers in Lady and the Tramp and picture sad animal faces staring out at me from dark and damp concrete cells. But, I am very pleased to report, that the sight that met my eyes was nothing at all like my Disney-inspired imaginings. The cattery is divided up into different rooms (most of the cats have a friend that lives with them) that have both an indoor and outdoor section, separated by a glass window. At night, the cats are put inside where they have a desk, their beds, food, water, kitty-litter trays, and a panel heater that is left on all night in winter. When the staff/volunteers arrive in the morning, they open the window so that the cats can get into the outdoor area, where they have all of their toys, scratching posts, more blankets, and climbing apparatus. Disney failed to include those luxuries in his animated portrayals!

I met Raymond, who cleans out the rooms every day, and I helped empty kitty-litter trays, fill up clean ones, and let the cats outside whilst bonding over our mutual home-province the Eastern Cape (with Raymond, not the cats.) And then came the best part: I got to spend the rest of the morning loving some kitties! Note to all: do not wear clothes that you mind getting cat hair/claw marks/disinfectant spray all over. In order to avoid passing on any cat diseases, it is important that you spray yourself down with disinfectant after leaving every enclosure and, if you're like me and let the cats crawl all over you, you'll be covered in hair within the first five minutes! If you ever feel like life is moving at too fast a pace and you need a quiet moment to sit and gather your thoughts, then this is definitely for you. There is nothing quite so calming as stroking a purring tabby, having a full-grown Tom snuggle on your lap, or playing with a 3 month old kitten.

After my four hours of volunteering were up, I left the COGH SPCA with a completely different mindset than the one that I had had on the way in. Yes, it's heartbreaking to see any animal in a shelter no matter what the reason, but yesterday morning gave me a much-needed glimmer of hope. I didn't see scared, malnourished, or abused cats, but friendly, beautiful, and happy ones with so much love to give. So if you're like me and can't have a pet of your own (although that didn't stop me imagining taking them all home with me!) think about volunteering. You really can make a difference in an animal's life as well as in your own. 

Visit http://www.spca-ct.co.za/volunteer.asp for more information.

Friday, 7 June 2013


Some of my design work to keep you inspired on this slooooooow Friday afternoon :)

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

60 years of love

Today is a very special day: it's my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. 60! Can you imagine? I can't even picture being friends with someone for that long, let alone being married to them! But, despite coming from very different backgrounds (my granny was from a wealthy Welsh family while my grandpa was a Rhodesian farmer) here they are 60 years later still very much together.   

I know that it was a very different time - 1953 seems like so long ago - but it feels like people were so much more committed to each other back then. Maybe it's because divorce was nearly as taboo as being unmarried after the age of 30, but I still have a huge amount of respect for the way in which couples really fought to stay together. Sure, in the case of bad marriages this wasn't always a good thing, but today's a happy day and so I'm going to be optimistic about marriage as a whole. I only hope that one day I find someone who can stand to be with me in 60 years time! And then we'll live happily ever after .x.