After restoring our home, built in 1893, for the last three years we are almost complete (a year in Provence has nothing on us!), though I think with an old house you are really never finished! One of the highlights of the build was when we gave an old water tank to the Midlands Meander Education Project, which they were able to install in the home of a young woman in Mpophomeni. Her letter of thanks for such a simple gesture really touched my heart and knowing that she now has water at her home, is so meaningful. A little kindness goes a long way, as they say!
At the Pietermartizburg Christmas fair, I took along mainly my new gift stock and I have to say that I stayed true to myself when I realised that almost everything I have selected is proudly South African, either from job creation projects or hand made in this beautiful country. I will continue to source new stock items next year to bring you wonderful choice and if you can't make it into the shop, these wonderful items will all be on our website, available at the click of a button.
I like to think my shop has improved over 2010, but even more so that of my website. I have already started scaling down my shop hours to be open only Thursday to Sunday from 10-4pm, to combine quality of time with my family in this beautiful area, and business. More and more people are starting to see the value of purchasing over the web. Our web credit card facility should be up and running by the end of January 2011which we plan to launch with a less 50% sale on selected items. Watch this space.
I enrolled on a 'Social Media' course in the middle of the year and, though time (and diligence!) did not permit me to spend as much time as I would have liked completing this course, I have great plans for 2011 to become a 'boff' (so Greg, if you're reading this you have something to hold me to!). I meet people on a daily basis in my shop who balk at even the idea of an sms, never mind Face Book and the world wide web, and often think to myself "well you have a choice to follow their lead or go the whole hog and move with the times" and with young children I really think we don't have a choice. So Simply Sam now has its own Face Book page and if you do a search on Google you will find we are now almost always at the top of the search.
I have lived in South Africa all my adult life, but often say to people that the British flag is tattooed on my heart. So you can imagine how uplifting is was at the Soccer World Cup this year to see my three children being 'British' for a few hours when we went to watch England play Slovenia in Port Elizabeth. And to be surrounded by my 'own' people was simply awesome! Seeing the Gautrain in JHB recently made me realise that the world cup may have been and gone, but it has left us with some fantastic infrastructure we can be proud of in this 'third world' country of ours.
One of the highlights of my year with my family was participating in the Kings School survival day which included eating chicken heads and feet (walkie talkies as they are called in South Africa), crawling through mud, finding marbles in the ice with bare feet, as well as various other 'family bonding' activities. I think the highlight for my family was watching me fall into the freezing cold water of the Dam, as I tried to pull myself across. They obviously knew I was going to fall in, they were just wondering when! We are so lucky to live in the beautiful Natal Midlands and seeing how our family has bonded has made the transition over the past three years more than worthwhile. We are lucky to have the most wonderful schools on our doorstep and happy children. Our best friends moved closer to us, from Pretoria to Hilton, and we have met some wonderful new friends and now feel we are part of a great community. And if all that wasn't enough, to celebrate my 17th wedding anniversary, I booked us into the cave at Antbear in the Drakensberg and my husband got down on one knee and presented me with a diamond eternity ring. Now that's what I call lurve! And the cave comes highly recommended too!
To 'almost' end my 2010 blogging, I have a poster in my shop which was made by a local lady out of bubblegum wrappers which says "Trust in God". It was bought with some of the first profit I made in my new shop, here at the Country Courtyard. When we first moved here three years ago, I used to take our children to Catechism in Cedara, a good fourty five minute drive from here. I had a dream of starting Catechism here in Nottingham Road and it really seemed like such a big deal, in fact quite over whelming. Having had the support support of
With my love of writing it has been wonderful to discover the art of Blogging and to be able to snap photographs of things I love, and be able to share them with like minded people 'out there' is very satisfying. We have ended with a bumper month at our shop, Simply Sam Antique Brocante & Gifts, in Nottingham Road, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported my life long dream of owning an antique shop and living the country bumpkin lifestyle. I have had endless fun. I'm hoping in 2011 I will take my dream to the next level by visiting and purchasing beautiful antiques directly from France.