Hey! Where’d the kitchen door go?

So there we were, sitting, talking, drinking red wine (this is the planning stage, see?)… and we talked about which way the bathroom door should swing. And a few minutes later we’d moved the kitchen door.

OK, to understand all of this you would need to look at the rough floor plan. See that area labelled “Hall”? It’s semi-private space — between the bedrooms and the communal bathroom. But the kitchen also opens up into it. So what happens when you have a party? I don’t know about you, but our friends hang out in the kitchen. And that makes the “hall” public. Not good for the kids who maybe want to withdraw from the party.

So, we decided to close the existing kitchen door, and to relocate the doorway to the wall between the “entrance” and the kitchen. I’ll then build a cupboard or something into the dead corner — unused space has always bothered me, and in this house design, the “hall” area is not used for anything more than a glorified passage. A good house design doesn’t have passages :-)

Plan B

After we put in the offer on the house, I fired up my architectural CAD package (of which I have several, all quirky in different ways) and drew the floorplan as I remembered it. I then figured out how to add what we wanted to the basic plan without going so far as breaking the whole place down and rebuilding.

It’s scary how close that original floorplan I drew matches the place, once we took possession and measured everything and CADded it up. (pic <- background is my original drawing, foreground the rough actual measurements).

But we looked at the place, and firstly Tamsyn’s room (Bedroom 3) was frightfully small, and secondly there’s a huge big electrical box of frogs on the wall where I wanted to break through to extend the main bathroom.

So plans B and C were hatched, plan B being that the existing activity room (which started out life as a single garage) becomes the main bedroom, with Tamsyn going into Jessica’s room (Bedroom 2) and Jessica going into the main bedroom, and plan C involving building. Which relies on plans being approved. Which may or may not (with a large bias towards “may”) lead to old age terminating the waiting process.

OK, Plan B it is. The existing activity room is 6100 x 3050. We want a queen size bed, cupboard space, and a full bathroom (bath, separate shower, toilet, and of course a basin). Plans B-A, B-B, B-C, and so forth, and so on, were hatched. We’re currently on B-lostcount, somewhere around H.

Stay tuned to our exciting programme to find out whether we can fit all these elements into the available space!

So… we bought a house.

It’s a long story, starting with an idea which didn’t work out, progressing via choosing a high school for Jessica, and culminating in a decision to look at places in Fish Hoek. Budget : under or slightly over a million. Which is pretty much entry level in Cape Town at the time of writing.

So I phoned all the agents in the area (or at least the ones I could find on the web) — later found out that the agents in FH work together in a strange way, unlike the agents I know. Not that that matters, Major Kim phoned back, took us to see four places. The first was great but in need of attention, the next two were too small, and Tanya didn’t like the other one at all. So we put a very low offer in on the first place.

And got it, after a round of negotiations… for a little under a mil. So when you hear reports of the property market in downswing — we pretty much started it :-)

So now we have… one fixer upper, in Fish Hoek, close to everything (except the liquor store, but that’s Fish Hoek for you).

John M. Browning, American Gunmaker

Book Review

I didn’t know of the existence of this book until I saw it for sale on BidOrBuy. Now, everyone who likes guns (should) know who John Browning was, but I don’t know how many people actually realise the impact this man had on the development of firearms in general.

The story starts with Jonathan Browning, JMB’s father, who moved to Salt Lake as part of the great Mormon migration (because of religious persecution) in 1847. He, too, was a gunmaker, and this is where JMB and (some of) his brothers got started (they were 22 siblings in all). The book follows JMB’s life, describing not only his well-known frequent trips to Winchester, but also the less well-known two year period where he did missionary work as required by the Mormon church (It seems that JMB’s religion was no deeper than required by society, he didn’t have time for anything but designing guns, good ones). The story ends, as we know it must, in Belgium, where JMB died, in his son’s office at Fabrique Nationale.

The book gives extra insight into the familiar stories (the salesman from Winchester, the shotgun Winchester didn’t want), but it also contains a lot of new (to me) material. There’s also a lot of background information which recaptures the era and gives a better understanding of how things were and why things happened the way they did.

“I wonder from time to time,” John once confessed to one of his sons, “whether we are headed in the right direction. For instance, we are making guns that shoot farther, harder, faster, and calling it progress.” He shrugged, “If just getting farther and farther from your starting place is progress, I suppose the meaning we usually give to the word is correct. But if we limit the meaning to movement towards a destination where the most pleasure and satisfaction are to be found, then this progress we brag about is just a crazy, blind racing past the things we are looking for — and haven’t the sense to recognise. And,” he grinned, “in the matter of guns, that makes me crazier than most.”

Recommended to anyone with any interest whatsoever in JMB.

John M. Browning, American Gunmaker, by John Browning and Curt Gentry. Amazon is currently out of stock, but Midway does show stock. Or use your google-fu.