New Year Greetings from Swellendam, and a warm welcome back to Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Gallery & Guest Cottage at the beginning of what seems to be another very turbulent and worrying year ahead.
Once again we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all who have supported our efforts over the last while; your continued support has helped us to sustain ourselves during these very trying times.
We are grateful for the commissioned work, large and small, which has so helped us work through these turbulent times, and also to those who visited the studio over the holiday season and bought something from us to take home with them.
Much of the past while has been spent working on a commission for very big indoor and outdoor planters. The wet work, including some extras, is more or less done and as soon as we have the final finish and colour requirements from the client, the pots will be fired.
We’ll also be firing the smaller commissions and orders that have come in, and also some new work for the gallery.
Overall, we are busy and productive with some ongoing work right here at home – a lot to be thankful for in these uncertain times ..!
It is alarming to hear that the rates of Covid-19 infection, hospitalization and death in our country are growing; and even in a small rural town like this, we are aware of and know people who are really suffering with the virus and some who have succumbed.
A second wave of the Coronavirus is causing such unbearable pain, suffering and hardship around the world, including our own country, and after a brief respite in ‘lockdown’ level 1 towards the end of last year, here, we are back to ‘lockdown’ level 3.
There are several local welfare and charity initiatives set up to help those who have fallen on harder times during the pandemic, providing food and comfort to those hardest hit, and the local population is always willing to spring into action when called on to help.
Local medical services are operating under increasing strain as the virus continues to spread in and around Swellendam.
This version of Level 3 ‘lockdown’ includes several severe measures which have had a devastating impact on the economy, agriculture, and an already struggling domestic travel industry over the summer.
Some of these measures and restrictions which were introduced at the beginning of the holiday season include the total closure of all beaches in our part of the world, a complete ban on all alcohol sales, night time curfew from 9.00 pm to 6.00 am, closure of land borders with neighbouring countries amongst others.
These measures and restrictions have had a specially devastating impact on the wine industry of the Western Cape, an industry that employs over 300 000 people and is central to the economy of the region.
The wine growing region in our part of the world is largely to the west of us and to the south, very close to Swellendam.
This article by winemaker Bruce Jack paints a very touching and disturbing picture of what is being faced:
By contrast, we hear that the grain famers of the Swellendam district have had a very good harvest, and things are looking promising for them, which will have a beneficial impact on the town. We wrote about this in our September newsletter, before the harvest came in, and if you scroll down, you will find it there.
In our immediate area we are seeing growing unemployment, poverty and misery all around us, and daily there are people ringing our door bell asking for something to do, a ‘piece job’, just to get something to eat.
Others desperately asking for a sandwich.
According to Statistics SA, more than 17 million South Africans, one in five, rely on social welfare grants from the state; and even in this small rural town there are unbelievably long queues of desperate people standing in line for their welfare grant payments on their designated days.
Our own strategy for now involves going out as seldom as possible with masks and hand sanitizer, and only for those things we really need; there are bottles of sanitizer around the house, gallery, studio, and cottage; washing hands etc etc, and most specially staying away from busy or crowded places if we can.
As expected, visitor numbers are significantly down on previous years, and the usual flow of foreign travelers to this part of the world seems to have almost dried up completely for now.
It is doubtful that we’ll experience any real return of travellers to our region until there are enough vaccinated people who feel confident to travel again, and that seems to be a long way off.
The summer months have brought a slow, steady flow of visitors to the studio, and we have been fortunate to have also had several bookings in the cottage over the holiday season.
Accommodation at the Studio
Our guest cottage is available for an overnight stay or longer.
For further information please have a look at our accommodation page where there are pictures and a full description of what is available.
And as the year begins to get underway, we are again experiencing ongoing nation-wide power cuts – called ‘load shedding’ here.
Sometimes two or even three 2 1/2 hour events a day.
Not easy dodging these cuts in electricity supply and still remaining productive and upbeat !
It’s harder now to imagine where the leadership will come from to help change direction here towards something more positive.
This article written by Marianne Merten in the Daily Maverick this week provides a sobering look at what the coming year might hold for this country:
Sadly, due to the curfew this year, we were unable to take our stroll through town late on New Year’s Eve and make our by now traditional ‘Abbey Road Crossing’ over the main street.
Here’s a picture from last year’s walk:
Huge excitement during the summer when a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls hatched two eggs in a hollow in an oak tree right here in our neighbour’s garden.
Needless to say they provided the best photo opportunity imaginable. Here are some of the pictures of one of the adults and the two owlets:
We have found the available digital communications and media reassuring during the lock-down period, and like so many, we have been able to stay in touch with family, friends and customers around the country and the world.
Within the next month or so we will be hooked up to the internet with the newly installed fibre network in town and we’re looking forward to high-speed, trouble-free communications.
The paperwork is all done, and now we wait for the area to go ‘live’.
Our social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram have become essential tools in our working and social lives.
We have a new e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please add it to your address books, the old one will be phased out over time.
The studio, gallery and garden are open and working daily, and visitors are welcome.
Please call ahead if travelling from afar, just to be sure that we’re here and available on the day.
Wishing you all the best in good health and safety as we begin the new year.
Please take care of yourselves and each other ..!
David and Felicity
Bukkenburg – Swellendam
January – 2021
WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 342 5453
“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you“
Ralph Waldo Emerson