Claire L Cardwell in I love South Africa, Lifestyle, beBee in English Writer (The Naked Architect) • Blue Designs (+27 82 399 0180 / +27 66 232 3676 - WhatsApp) Mar 5, 2017 · 4 min read · 3.3K

South Africa is not for sissies....

South Africa is not for sissies....

When I first moved to South Africa in June 1999 I was told that 'South Africa is not for sissies' not to bother to complain about something but to 'make a plan' and that 'the difference between a tourist and a racist is 3 weeks'.

I was appalled by that last statement.  'Well,' I was told 'in your case it might be four or five weeks, but this time next month I guarantee you will be racist.'  I was horrified to realise that a month later it was true....  Now before you all start jumping on your bandwagons, I was not racist against black, indian or coloured people I was racist against the whites.  Very racist as it turned out.  Even now 18 years later I still feel ashamed of being white - 99.9% of the time you will have a much more rewarding and interesting conversation with a black person than you will with a white one.

I am very lucky to have many friends here in SA, from all walks of life, all colours and creeds. They range from the head of the Natural Healers Association to actors, journalists, radio commentators, lawyers, doctors, gardeners, house-keepers and assistant lion tamers (like me in the picture above which was taken about 8 years ago).

I have had some awesome experiences here, from my car being jumped on by an adult male lion, getting chased by rhinos in Kwa-Zulu Natal to nearly getting struck by lightning on Northcliff Hill.  I have traveled all over the country and it is amazing.  It's the only country in the world where you can ski and surf on the same day.

There is something for everyone here, we have incredible game farms, beaches, mountains and wineries and the people are really friendly and helpful.

I've had the chance to start my own business here and as a woman in the Construction Industry it was v. tough at first, some builders didn't take me very seriously and would think nothing of running me down in front of the client....  They didn't laugh for long though! 

Anyway I thought I would post a few pictures taken over the years here and give you all a flavour of what I think makes South Africa so special.  Yes I know it's a bit like the wild west, but all you need is a big smile and a fast car and you've got it made!

Plum Pudding Guest House - 2006, Auckland Park.  It's owned by some good friends of mine, I often go there for coffee on the way back from Council.

My Dad feeding the elephants, Glen Afric 2006

(Glen Afric is a game farm owned by some friends of mine).

We even have our own version of the Eiffel Tower - this is in Parys, Freestate 2007

The sunsets are magnificent, this was taken on the way back from the Freestate in 2007.

Table Mountain viewed from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town 2011

Noordhoek Beach, Cape Town 2011

Chapman's Peak Drive, Cape Town 2011

Camp's Bay, Cape Town 2011

Fisherman - Kalk Bay, Cape Town 2011

Lighthouse, Kalk Bay, Cape Town 2011

Elephants at Askari Lodge Game Reserve, Northern Province, 2014

Young Buffalo, Askari Lodge 2014

Jacobsbai - Northern Cape West Coast 2009

Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Town 2009

Roadblock, Askari Lodge, 2013

Street Market, Eastern Cape 2014

Hole in the Wall, Eastern Cape 2014

Rush Hour, Sandton City, Johannesburg 2012

Elephant Crossing, Pilansberg Game Reserve, Northern Province 2012

Koppie - Pilansberg Game Reserve 2012

Paella Day at Plum Pudding 2014 - Gloria (pictured here on the left) outdid herself!

Lion Cub - Glen Afric Game Reserve 2007

My mother getting up close and personal with a baby elephant - Glen Afric 2008

Outside Standloeper's Restaurant, Northern Cape 2011 - you have a 12 course fish dinner.....just fish and more fish and more fish....  I could barely stand up afterwards.  In fact my father just rolled me into the car...

Jacaranda Blossom - every November the suburbs are purple here in Joburg!

I think it's vital to talk about all aspects of Architecture - whether it be planning, construction, design or green building. I have written 3 E-Books & over 110 articles. Please feel free to let me know if you have any queries regarding architecture, planning & construction & I will assist you.

I am originally from the UK and moved to South Africa in 1999. I started Blue Designs in 2004 after working as a Driver for Avalon Construction on a luxury home in the Featherbrook Estate. In my spare time I am a keen artist and photographer.

I can be reached on +27 11 025 4458 (mobile landline) or at

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Claire L Cardwell Mar 11, 2017 · #82

Thanks for the share @Pamela 🐝 Williams!

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Claire L Cardwell Mar 11, 2017 · #81

Thank you @Pamela 🐝 Williams! I think South Africa would be more than happy to accept some American Political Asylum Seekers! Try it! I did!

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Pamela 🐝 Williams Mar 11, 2017 · #80

Such beautiful photography Claire! You caught the 'spirit' of South Africa! As I contemplate the future of my country I consider different 'options'; maybe South Africa! You brought the beauty to us. We definitely share the same 'racial' views. Sharing! :-)

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Claire L Cardwell Mar 9, 2017 · #79

It is great living here @Franci🐝Eugenia Hoffman! About a 15 minute drive from my house there is the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. There is a waterfall and black eagles that nest above it. Less than an hour to the Northwest there are two amazing game lodges - Askari Lodge and Glen Afric.

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#77 @Claire 🐝 Cardwell, thank you for expanding your comment and sharing your knowledge. I feel like I on a South African adventure with an expert tour guide. It must be exciting and interesting to live there.

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Claire L Cardwell Mar 8, 2017 · #77

@Franci🐝Eugenia Hoffman - it was at one point over R20 to 1 Pound..... When I first came over here it was R10 / Pound and R7 to the US Dollar and R6 to the Euro..... It held fairly steady until about 3 years ago - then it started dropping like a stone. Every time Jacob Zuma or Julius Malema opened their mouths, it dropped again..... It is quite cheap to live here, petrol is about R13 / litre and a packet of smokes ranges from R25 - R40.... A packet of 4 Porterhouse Steaks would be about R60-R80 and the vegetables and fruit are really cheap and very tasty. Because we get second grade fruit and vegetables (top grade is normally exported) they are left for longer to ripen. Summers are long - from September to the end of March the temperatures are about 27-30 degrees Celsius during the day and about 18 at night. Winters are quite cold here in Joburg 21 during the day and 0 at night. It's the altitude that is responsible for the temperature swing - we are about 3000m above sea level.

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#72 That is so sad and unfortunate.#75 Wow that is impressive.

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Claire L Cardwell Mar 7, 2017 · #75

#74 You simply must come and visit @Franci🐝Eugenia Hoffman - it's R13 to $1 at the moment so you will feel like a multi-millionaire!

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