Smath's Blog

2 responses
honeymoon / Travel / Turkey
7 Jun 2012 - 10:31

Turkey. I have been daydreaming about visiting Turkey for so, so long. This place has history on the scale of Rome. When I learned of Cappadocia I knew that this was somewhere I would definitely want to visit.

Scott's been planning our honeymoon for months, and is apparently very good at keeping a secret because nobody was able to get it out of him. There were four people who knew where we were going, largely for practical reasons, and I was not one of them (also for practical reasons, since it was my surprise). I had several theories (one of which turned out to be correct!) but each had a counter point as to why it couldn't be there.

This was one of our least shevelled departures to date. The plan had been to let me know by giving me the travel guides that he'd bought when we were on the plane, but it was not to be.

The letters. The thank you letters. As usual we'd overestimated our capacity for getting things done before leaving. One such thing was writing thank you notes to various people who were involved in our wedding. Since we didn't send out conventional invitations, it was important to me that the notes were personally written and not just printed off templates. I wanted to include some of the professional photographs in a few of them, and we only received those last Tuesday. What stopped me from writing the notes beforehand and getting the envelopes all ready to go, we will never know.

Hand-writing approximately sixty letters is a time consuming business. More so than I might ever have imagined, and we ran out of time to mail them. No matter, we thought… we'll stop in at a Postnet in town en-route to the airport (after this much effort we weren't going to risk having the SA Post Office disappear them). But we were late. And it was raining. And we were taking a taxi to the bus via the Postnet, and then the bus to the airport and all in Cape Town's rush hour (a little after 3pm).

There was no way that we would make it to both the Postnet and our flight on time. Crap. Ok, well, we knew there was an SA Post Office at the airport - we'd send them all registered from there. And so off we went to the airport with our little baggie of sixty hand-written thank you notes, all sealed and without stamps. What we failed to take into account was that South African government institutions will rarely work past 15h30 and so after we'd checked in (still without me knowing where we were leaving for) we set out to find the Post Office. Needless to say it was closed and we were now stuck standing in the middle of what felt like Grand Central station, on a time budget and trying to figure out what to do.

Scott knew. Scott always knows what to do.

"We'll find stamps here in the airport and send all the South African letters from in South Africa using the regular post box, and offer up a sacrifice to the postal deities to increase our odds that the letters will make it there. Then, all the international letters we'll take along and mail from Istanbul!"

I had to ask him to repeat himself. And he did - we'll send the rest from Istanbul. After months and months of saving the secret, this was how I'd learn that we were going to Turkey? I felt a fleeting flash of annoyance at him for being a jackass, but that was rapidly replaced by the best kind of excitement ever! I would learn once we were in Istanbul that we were not only going to Istanbul, but also to Cappadocia and if we felt like it, also to the south of Turkey where they have gorgeous tropical beaches.

Other than a bad landing in Johannesburg, all three of our flights were largely uneventful (though I did manage to leave one of them without my 5-year old ipod nano, which made me a little sad). After getting in to Istanbul it took about an hour and a half to actually get out of the airport, and we took the subway and trams into town. Istanbul has a great subway system, and when we were on the tram, we passed by one amazing sight after another. I felt like I was in a documentary - what were all of these incredible old buildings that we were passing?

Scott's booked us into a really nice hotel and it is in a brilliant area. After we'd dumped our bags we took out for a walk. We walked and walked and walked. We were both so exhausted, but we traipsed the streets in our area like a pair of undead lovers until late at night. Today we have plans to visit some of the recommended places listed in the Wallpaper guide and I'm expecting to have happily aching feet by tonight.

I think that my Scoddy may just have outdone himself. What a freaking lucky girl I am. It still all feels like a dream.

0 responses
30 Apr 2012 - 15:45

We are Scott and Sam. Here are a pair of caricatures of us.

Scott and Sam / hadsie and smath. Thanks for the caricatures, Nadine and Cathy and Kep <3
But in real life, Scott looks way less dorky and I look like way less slutty.

About Us

We're a pair of Drupal software developer / designers and we are interested in trading homes with you. Scott is from Vancouver in Canada and I'm from Johannesburg in South Africa. Like the good nerds that we are we met at a software conference in Barcelona, a halfway point between our regular lives, and fell in love. Now we have a home in Cape Town, South Africa, and try to split our time equally between Canada and South Africa spending time with our loved ones. One of our favourite things ever is travel and since being together in 2008 there has not been a period of longer than 2.5 months that we've remained in the same place and we squeeze in whatever trips and adventuring we can along the way.

For work we're both involved in various freelance projects, and have two of our own startups - Wedful and Hello Pretty. So for this reason its important that we have decent, reliable internet access wherever we stay.

We're just married! It was our wedding here in Cape Town in March. We leave Cape Town on June 5th for our honeymoon to a surprise destination (woo!) and then to visit friends and family in Canada.

We're looking for someone to trade with for 2 weeks in Montreal from June 18th to July 2nd (those dates are fixed for us). The person using our apartment could actually stay in our apartment from the day that we leave - the 5th June - for free.

For the Vancouver portion we're looking for somewhere downtown anytime from July 2nd until around the end of October. If you are interested in trading for a portion of that time instead of the whole time then please let us know because that might work for us too.

If you live somewhere other than Vancouver or Montreal and think you'd like to do a swap with us please let us know! We love visiting new places.

If you'd like to find out more about us you can look at our Facebook profiles (Scott / Sam), Twitter (Scott / Sam) or our websites (Scott - / Sam -

About our apartment

We live on the 4th floor in a building called Cascades, in apartment 413. We're at the end of the row and there is consequently only one neighbour (Josephine), and she is nice and keeps to herself.

There is a 24-hour security guard at our building. If you plan to rent a car, we can arrange a parking spot for you inside the building. But in our opinion you can do nearly all the things that you'd want to without having a car for most or all of your time here.

There's a short term letting service in the building so if you'd like to invite friends over they could rent their own apartment in the same building. We have a big L-shaped couch and a double inflatable mattress and many a friend have crashed on them (sometimes for as long as two weeks!) and you'd be welcome to have friends stay over. It's a studio though so you'll need to be comfortable with them as they'll sleep in the same room as you.

In 413 you will find:

  • A small but very complete kitchen with quite a fancy oven / microwave combo unit, a dishwasher, stove-top Moka coffee maker, 2-plate stove and all the things you will need to cook something amazing. Also in the draw is a full stack of take-out menus if that is more your thing.
  • Wireless internet as well as a printer and desktop computer with Skype installed in case you want to call home.
  • Lots of maps and travel documentation on Cape Town. We love Cape Town and there are tonnes of wonderful things to do here.
  • An amazingly comfortable extra-length queen bed. We're not kidding. It might be the most comfortable bed that you have ever slept in. It is one of the first thing that anyone who stays in the apartment remarks on.
  • A little patio where if you look out to the left you see the ferris wheel at the V&A Waterfront with a splash of ocean behind it, and if look right you'll be looking straight at Signal Hill, the little mountain next to Table Mountain, that we're on the edge of.
  • A washing machine.
  • A fairly large table that you could either set your laptop up and work at (like we do) or use for dining.
  • A little bathroom with a shower and a bath. We have plans to renovate this and will do so if we can before we leave but its possible that there won't be enough time.
  • Loads of international adaptor plugs.
  • A hair dryer.
  • Multiple sets of bed linen and towels.

Please take note that we don't have a TV. We're not TV people. You could watch DVDs on the desktop computer (it has a 19" monitor) if you want to. Also, we don't smoke and we wouldn't be ok with someone smoking in the apartment please.

About Green Point

It is in a vibey, central location in Cape Town. It is 15 minutes to walk downtown, 10 minutes to the V&A Waterfront, and about 10 minutes to walk to the Cape Quarter area. There are loads of fantastic restaurants in the blocks around us (we can give you recommendations), and there are great bars and nightclubs too if that's your thing. Green Point is arguably the top gayborhood in the city and there are a fair few great gay & lesbian clubs, restaurants and bars in walking distance.

We love our apartment so much and perhaps we are biased but we think you will too.

0 responses
corny / mao / mao zedong / roflmao / WTF
10 Apr 2012 - 11:22

Groannnn!. Sorry.

0 responses
2 Apr 2012 - 14:57
Exhibit A: Scotty McCreery
Exhibit B: Alfred E Neuman

Surely I am not the only one who sees this... ?

8 responses
5 Feb 2012 - 09:29

Updated: the final product!

Our finished bookshelf: the packed version.

I am pant-peeingly excited about this. Last week, my dream bookshelf was finally completed. This is an idea that I have been brewing and thinking about since about the middle of last year, so to see it finally go up and completed was the most satisfying thing.

The source of my inspiration was these two shelves from Bookshelf Porn:

Bookshelves seen on Bookshelf PornI've been through dozens of pages on that website to try and find the exact link for each bookshelf but I haven't been able to. If anyone knows where they're from please let me know so I can update this.

We've done renovations in our flat before and learnt from the experience that to get someone to actually show up to do the work you're hiring them to do in Cape Town is a feat not to be underestimated. We've had multiple people in the industry simply not arrive, never to be heard from again. We were all set to have the person who built our kitchen install the bookshelf too, but sadly he did not come and we were left storing a large pile of wood in our 40-something square metre flat for months. We tried re-arranging with him on three occasions, and when it got to the fourth we admitted defeat and turned to the Gumtree.

The wood: We used 32mm thick Supawood because it is really strong and looks great. We took the risk and measured (I am a very bad measurer, added to which the walls were built in the 1970s and are not straight), and ordered it ourselves from Lumber City in Woodstock. I would never have attempted this if our original cupboard guy hadn't stood us up so many times. Desperate times called for desperate measures. Sure enough there were some bloopers made, but Martini Works rolled with it and adapted the shelves to match.

Before our ugly duckling wall revealed its inner swanliness.

No post of this nature would be complete without an ugly "before" picture. This is what the living space of our apartment looked like when we bought it. Digging the carpet tiles.

The very beginning: Magic Marker outlines!

The very beginning: Magic Marker outlines! First I took to the wall with a pencil and eraser, and once I was satisfied with the compartments I broke out the spirit level, a metal ruler and the Magic Marker and inked them on more permanently.

Colour pots.

The paint: We used 7 different colours for the walls. I bought tester-sized pots from Builders Warehouse. In addition to that we painted two coats of wood primer (base coat) on, and 2 coats of gloss enamel over that. After the 2 coats of gloss enamel we had to go over some areas again. Down the side, we painted 3 coats of chalkboard paint.

Bookshelf compartments painted.

Bookshelf compartments being painted. I knew it would be an extremely fiddly job painting inside of all the compartments so I decided to paint them onto the wall before the shelf got installed.

When those colours first went onto the wall they were a huge shock as they were so bright and busy, and we were quite used to our dull empty white wall. We knew though that it would be toned down once the shelves were up and painted and stacked.

Figuring out measurements

Figuring out measurements. Now that everything was drawn up on the wall, it was time to figure out the dimensions of all the separate pieces we'd need to order.

I did this by re-drawing a rough sketch of the shelf on paper and using different colour highlighters to mark off each piece so that we could figure out where we could incorporate the longest pieces.

If you try this at home, remember to deduct the thickness of the board from each bit when you write down the measurements (in our case, 32mm). One mistake that we made was to put the two outermost boards on the side of the bottom board, instead of resting ontop. We wrongly thought that the structure would be stronger for it, but in fact the opposite is true.

The frame was assembled on the ground first and then flipped up and attached with L brackets to the wall

The frame was assembled on the ground first and then flipped up and attached with L brackets to the wall.

Getting there... finally the frame is up on the wall!

Getting there... finally the frame is up on the wall!

Installed shelves, ready for painting

Installed shelves, ready for painting. As you can see, the paint lines were not 100% straight because I measured the little feet down at the bottom incorrectly. It was fine though, because touching the compartments up was way less painful than it'd have been to paint them all from scratch.

Smartiepants Scott had the brainy idea to buy a small artist's paintbrush to use to do the corners and it made a world of difference touching up all the little blips around the edges with that.

After the first layer of wood primer (base coat)

After the first layer of wood primer (base coat). We applied two.

Completed! The unstacked smadsie bookshelf in all its glossy beautiful glory!

Completed! The unstacked bookshelf in all its glossy beautiful glory! In the end we did:
- 3 coats of paint of each of the 7 colours on the back,
- 2 coats of primer (base coat)
- 2 coats of gloss enamel
- 3 coats of chalkboard paint down the exposed side (will post another pic)

3 responses
5 Jan 2012 - 20:29

We're just winding down from an incredible holiday with Scott's folks visiting from Canada and I'm using a bit of spare time in our hotel * on the last night of our trip to tame my email and some news feeds so that I can start the new year off with a clean inbox.

I have to rant about this particular item: a job posting that was submitted to the South African Drupal community by a representative of the South African government. Read it and weep, drupalers. Some of my favourite lines from the job posting:

The Western Cape Government is guided by the principles of Employment Equity. Disabled candidates are encouraged to apply and an indication in this regard will be appreciated.

This is funny because it is unconstitutional in South Africa to ask about disabilities unrelated to the job. I could also argue that it would be unconstitutional to discriminate against me on the basis of disability, which similarly should apply to discriminating against against me on the basis of my lack of disability. Perhaps I should apply and note my attitude-disability towards our government.

...any job applications sent by fax or e-mail will not be accepted. All job applications, including Z83 forms, CVs and certified documents, must be posted or delivered by hand to the address listed

Firstly, no real human being applying for a job as a web developer is going to voluntarily apply by fax so you can strip this ridiculous clause out of your ridiculous ad. Secondly - WTF! Read the quote below to see what certified documents are being asked for:

Applications with reference number must be submitted on a Z83 form, obtainable from any Government Department and must be completed in full, should be accompanied by a comprehensive and current Curriculum Vitae (five pages maximum, CVs will not be returned), certified copies of identity document, driver's licence, matric certificate and academic qualification and the names of three referees.

I've had some frustrating experiences working with South African companies, and based on my experience of bureaucracy in government (and don't even get me started on the BBBEE bullshit. Yes I swore on my blog. That's how outraged I am by the rules) this would take the cake.

I would rather be cursed with going to the dentist every day for the rest of my life than work for you, South African government.

* ...and what a brilliant hotel it is! We are staying in the Graskop Hotel in Graskop ** and each room is dedicated to a different South African artist, and features original work by that artist. On our first night we were in the Claudette Schreuders room, and tonight we are in the Martli Jansen van Rensburg room.

** You were expecting it to be somewhere other than Graskop... ?

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