A new home for sitsitso

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A new home for sitsitso

It’s with much excitement that I am announcing, that soon sitsitso will have a new home on the internet. After much deliberation and months of brainstorming, I have finally found a new name for my journal of beautiful spaces.

The new site, called soonafternoon.com, will essentially be exactly the same as sitsitso – albeit the name change – and hopefully have even more inspiring stories than before. I have come a very long way since writing that first post back in 2015. Through the years, this blog has led me on so many wonderful pathways and I am so excited about the next phase and the future of soonafternoon.

Among more inspiring stories, I’ll be launching my first ever product on soonafternoon as well. If you’d like to stay up to date with whats happening, be sure to head over to the new domain and sign up to the monthly newsletter.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Minimalism

The minimalist grey and white bedroom

Minimalism

Last year I wrote a story on the beautiful round house of Pretoria artist Margaret Nel. The annex featured here, was a later addition to the Le Corbusier inspired circular building. It is a calm, minimalist space, but with the same dose of character one finds in the main house.

Beautiful minimalist bedroom

Minimalist bedroom
Silent corner in a minimalist bedroom

The design of the space is undoubtedly minimalistic; an aesthetic I particularly enjoy. The look is very hard to achieve however and I always find it fascinating how something so simple, can be so difficult to create. The words by graphic designer Paul Rand: “Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated” rings particularly true here.

A minimalist dining room

A minimalist home on sitsitso.com
Minimalist dining room

I find the annex to be a great exponent to the minimalist sentiments put forward by seminal designers like Mies van der Rohe and Dieter Rams. As strong advocates against visual pollution and excess, their efforts towards simplicity requires an appreciation for possessions based on their aesthetic quality and integrity.

The Annex

Throughout the annex, every item is well considered and beautiful. Even the books are attractively displayed – colour coded and visually appealing. By having only a few items in the space, each piece makes a greater statement because it does not have to compete for the viewer’s attention.

Blue minimalist kitchen
A minimalist kitchen design

There is a dialogue between the items within the space. The nature and character of the pieces make this visual conversation feel lighthearted and humorous, but in a clever, tongue-in-cheek kind of way. I love for instance, how Nel juxtaposes geometric elements like the large black and white checkered pillows and woven rug.

grey bedroom

Monochromatic grey bedroom
Grey monotone bedroom

The home is timeless and contemporary at the same time. The blue tiled kitchen, mid century furniture, and notty pine ceilings, are all reminiscent of the 1960’s design. But, paired with the sharp geometry and grey and white walls, the space has a fresh and modern appearance that transcends specific time periods.

Hallway minimalism
A minimalist hallway

If you enjoyed the Annex, be sure to have a look around the main house. The design has a similarly curated aesthetic but with a dash of quirky humour that I am sure you’ll find just as enjoyable.

 Story & photography by Barbara Cilliers



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The Midlands Meander

posted in: TRAVEL, Uncategorized | 0

View across to the Lake House at Rawdon's country estate

The Lake House

Rawdons Hotel in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

Every time I’m in South Africa, I try to visit a piece of the country I’ve never seen before. The Midlands is a place I had heard of on many occasions and been wanting to visit for quite some time. The name evokes scenes of misty hills, dark green woodlands and gleaming lakes – landscapes you’re more likely to find in the northern parts of England. But as I soon discovered, this quaint piece of countryside in the heart of Natal, delivers on all of the expectations that is promised by that name.

The lake at Rawdons country Estate

Rawdons Country Estate
The lake at Rawdons country estate in the Midlands

On our recent road trip through KwaZulu-Natal, we decided to pass through the Midlands, staying at Nottingham Road – a small village tucked away between rolling green hillocks of Mooi Rivier and the foothills of the Drakensberg. The area, also known as the Midlands Meander, is less than a two hour drive from Durban, and very easy to reach by car.

Lake-house-vegetation
Lake house view

Rooms at the lake house

During our visit we stayed at the Rawdons Country Hotel, a tranquil estate with an old English charm. Surrounded by wide green lawns and massive oak trees, the hotel offers a breathtaking view of two lakes and the pine woods beyond. All day long the lake is full of life, with waterhens hopping on the water and ibises fishing for food. At night, while the finches disappear inside nests among the reeds, the evening air becomes abuzz with an orchestra of toads.

The pretty rooms at the Lake House, Rawdons Country Estate
The pretty rooms at the Lake House, Rawdons Country Estate

Rooms at Rawdons Estate

Tucked away between the trees at the edge of the water is the Lake House. Perfect for larger groups or families, the house offers two spacious rooms that open onto a semi private lawn. The interior is an elegant mix of antiques and country-cottage furnishings. My favourite was the kingsize canopy bed, the wood-burning fireplace and romantic bathroom with clawfoot bathtub.

Lake House Entrance

The Lake House in the Natal Midlands
The Lake House in the Natal Midlands

Master Suite at the Lake House

The Rawdons Estate also houses the Boars Head Pub, an independent brewery known for its naturally brewed ales and lagers. Here one can sample an array of quirky-named ales like tipsy tiger or pye-eyed possum, as well as their very own gin and tonic on tap. If you think you’ve quaffed quite enough, you can brim your belly from a hearty selection of pub dishes like beer battered hake (my favourite) and hunters pie.

The lake house bathroom
Bathroom at the lake House

The Rawdons Hotel is the perfect base from which to explore everything the Midlands has to offer. Or for a simple day of relaxing, just curl up with a book next to the pool. Apart from the beautiful scenery and luxurious atmosphere, what I appreciated the most about the hotel, was their friendly staff and their efforts at making our stay feel super special.

My favourite spots in the Meander

Breakfast:

The Blueberry Café

Coffee:

Terbodore coffee roastery

Browsing & shopping:

The Piggly Wiggly Country Village and Ground Cover Leather company.

Lunch:

Chicken pies from the Windmill Country Stop

Beers followed by dinner:

The Hogs Head Brewery

 Story & photography by Barbara Cilliers


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Home Story with Carla Erasmus

A photo of Frankie the dog

Home Story with Carla Erasmus

Interview with the cofounder of Bofred Feature Furniture

The air is warm and prickly as we manoeuvre our rented Hyundai up the steep streets of Cape Town’s city centre. Up ahead, the large flat body of Table Mountain towers like a majestic monument. Behind us, the deep blue water of the atlantic glimmers in the sunlight. It’s a bright and sunny day in Southern Africa, and we’re on our way to meet Carla Erasmus, co founder of Bofred; the feature furniture brand based in Cape Town. Carla has warmly agreed to an interview and invited us to her home, where we’re gingerly greeted by her curious, and oh so photogenic dog, Frankie.

Frankie, a very photogenic dog
Homestory with Carla Erasmus owner of Bofred

How did you get started with Bofred? What was the inspiration and driving force behind starting your own thing?

“Boredom really… I got bored with working really hard for other people and executing their creative visions. I had my own. That gave me confidence to take the leap. I was stuck in a 8-6 job. Underpaid and creatively frustrated. That’s enough to make you be brave enough and start your own thing!”

At what point did you realise or start to feel that Bofred was worth pursuing and that it could be a viable business?

“I still don’t know. We have three years behind us. I work really hard, I give it my all. I’m an early riser and a confident business owner. That must count. I think it’s a viable business because I LOVE my job. I strive for perfection and originality & creative indulgence… We have many opportunities ahead of us that excite me.”

Homestory with Carla Erasmus from Bofred
Bofred Homestory

Was there a point in time where you almost gave up? Tell us about that – and why you kept going nonetheless.

“I want to give up when I realise I could make more money… I made a lot more before I had my own company. But money isn’t everything you know… and I am not giving up…”

Which piece that you developed, are you most proud of?

The Arch Table Lamp. I LOVE it.”

What motivates you in your work or where do you find your inspiration?

“I go to lots of art exhibitions. Im an artist and a photographer – and not strictly a designer. My designs are just sculptural yet practical items for the home. I find most inspiration in art and music.”

Bofred Homestory with Carla Erasmus
Homestory with Carla Erasmus from Bofred

Interview with Carla Erasmus

Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her. If not, who would you most love to learn from?

“Oooooh, tough one. I perhaps need a mentor. I read a lot about other small businesses and their success stories – so I absorb what other creatives are doing around me. So I can learn from their mistakes and make insightful decisions in my business.”

How would you define your home style or style of your home?

“It’s lots of found items from travels and heirlooms. Lots of art and photographs and books and textures. I don’t really follow trends – I just buy what I like and I can use in my home. Everything has a story, I know where everything is from, when why and how. Nothing is bought in sets of 8. Nothing matches the drapes. As one evolves – as one should – I let go of things and replace the insignificant purchases.”

Do you have inspiration sources that you apply to styling your home?

“Nope. I get influenced with work research and work and home collide. But I am a huge fan of young London based interior designer, Studio Ashby.”

Home visit with Carla Erasmus from Bofred
Carla Erasmus Home Visit

What is your favourite room at home and why?

“The little corner seat at the front of the house. It’s a built in window seat. Trees being the view and dappled sunlight. Morning coffee / Friday night wine corner / Saturday morning meditation / Sunday lazy reading nook.”

What’s your favourite piece at home? Why do you love it.

“I bought a Staffordshire ceramic dog at a SPCA in Underberg, Kwazulu-Natal, and it’s my favourite possession. It cost nothing, literally I think R20 – but I gave a large donation because I’m an animal activist and it would only be fair. They did not realise the value. I LONG for a pair. My favourite pieces is the ART in my home, it grows and move around in the house… so it’s ever changing and ever pleasing.”

Do you have an architect, artist or an iconic designer who inspires you?

“Jacques Grange! ( interior designer ) & Eileen Grey // Cy Twombly as multi-disciplinary artist & Giacometti. No, too many to name. List is endless.”

Staffordshire ceramic dog
Another ceramic dog

What place do you escape to? A place you like to go to, to recharge or an address that makes you feel good?

“I go back “home” where i grew up – Durban – every three months. I visit my parents, my sister and her family. That’s solid quality time. And I can just be.”

“For me to recharge, take me to a secluded cabin, no electricity, no signal, no instagram – no evidence that I existed in that space – a waterfall…. my dog and my husband. Western Cape has endless magical spots such as these that I enjoy with my family and friends.”

Do you have a philosophy of life, or advice you follow religiously?

“Go to bed early. Go to bed with an empty mind. Go to sleep relaxed. Talk to your dog, your partner or read an easy read. Listen to music. Laugh. Get off your phone. And wake up early. Have a coffee, go for a walk, make a healthy breakfast and start work bright and early!”

Interview with Carla Erasmus, Cofounder of Bofred
Interview-with-Carla-Erasmus-Cofounder of Bofred

Interview-with-Carla-Erasmus-Cofounder of Bofred

Name one piece of advice you could give to someone who’d like to be pursue their own dream or business idea:

“Be Brave. Be original and have fun!”

If you could go back in time and meet one famous person, who would you want to meet and why:

“Geogia O Keefe. she had a lot of dogs. We would hang out and paint in her garden.”

What is your favourite destination outside of South Africa, and why do you love it?

“I haven’t travelled enough… but I loved travelling to Sri Lanka for a friends wedding – and we backpacked for three weeks after that…”


Name 5 of your favourite spots in Cape Town for…

Breakfast or coffee: Hemelhuijs.

Spending a hot summers day: In Yzerfontein sipping crisp Chardonnay at my mother in law’s home and taking a quick sunset dip in the freezing Atlantic!

Spending a cold winters day: If it’s raining: At home, with snacks and documentaries. If it’s just cold: Hiking up the mountain and enjoying the views and the fresh air!

Finding inspiration: At an art exhibition – hopefully by myself – on a saturday morning, SMITH or Stevenson Gallery.

A night out with friends: A night IN with friends. Or greek in the courtyard at Marias.

For more info about Bofred and the beautiful furniture they make, take a look at their website and instagram.

 Story & photography by Barbara Cilliers



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Elegant apartment in Berlin

Elegant apartment in Berlin

Elegant apartment in Berlin

Possibly one of the best things about working as a photographer is that I get to see and experience so many different apartments in Berlin. Sometimes I come across a few homes that are particularly pretty and elegant.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing a wonderfully bright and spacious apartment near Boxhagener Platz in the vibrant neighbourhood of Friedrichshain in Berlin. The 137 m² square flat is available for rent on Spotahome – an online booking platform that offers thousands of furnished apartments around Berlin and 18 other cities across Europe.

Elegant apartment in Berlin
Elegant apartment in Berlin

Elegant apartment in vibrant Berlin

The 2 bedroom, south-facing apartment is sunny and spacious, with an open plan living area and bright white kitchen. The decor is a mix of natural colours, with lots of wood and texture combined with reflective surfaces that open up the space, making it feel even brighter.

Luxury apartment in Berlin

Luxury apartment in Berlin
Apartment in Berlin

Apartment in Berlin

While the high ceilings add to the lofty feeling of the apartment, huge artworks on the walls create impact and drama – a nice pairing to the otherwise muted, monochrome colour pallet. The painted face-brick walls and jute rug also adds a rustic quality to the overall modern aesthetic.

Loft style apartment in Berlin

Elegant Berlin apartment
Apartment for rent in Berlin

I love the use of mirrors in the kitchen, which cleverly draws in the rest of the room, making the space feel even larger. Both bathrooms are also tiled with a slightly reflective mother of pearl mosaics from floor to ceiling. It has a slight pink to green hue, that goes very well with the crisp white and ultra sleek bathtub and basin.

Luxury apartment Berlin

Apartment in Berlin’s vibrant Friedrichshain
Apartment in Friedrichshain Berlin

For more information about the property and how to rent it, you can check out the detailed listing on Spotahome’s website. I also really liked this one, in the same vibrant area of Berlin. The bright open space and face-brick adds the same loft-like quality. If you’re looking to move to Berlin, you just may find your next apartment here.

 Story & photography by Barbara Cilliers



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Nosh Deli Berlin

Nosh Deli Berlin

Nosh Deli

Restaurant in Schöneberg

I do not write about restaurants all that often. And there’s a really good reason why. In order for a place to make it to these pages, they have to meet three specific criteria. Number one is off course a beautiful interior with a great energy and atmosphere. Secondly, the food needs to be better than my mom’s cooking. Finally the service has to be really great. Trust me, in Berlin, this trifecta is not that easy to find.

But, in the heart of Schöneberg’s Rote Insel, a couple of blocks down Leberstraße, there is a tiny deli, that ticks all three of these boxes. Around two and a half years ago, owner Erdal Balli, transformed the garage that once stood here, into the vibrant eatery now called Nosh.

Restaurant Nosh in Leberstrasse

Nosh restaurant in Leberstrasse Berlin
Berlin restaurant in Schöneberg

Balli, who used to own Stellwerk down in Steglitz, is no stranger to the culinary scene. You may recognise his surname on a few kebab shops around Berlin, owned by Balli’s family. After 12 years of running quite a sizeable restaurant, Erdal decided to scale down to a smaller, more flexible eatery, to make more time for his family. His head chef from Stellwerk, now commands the kitchen at Nosh, where food from all kinds of cultures come together.

Nosh restaurant in Berlin
Nosh restaurant in Schöneberg

The Menu from Nosh Deli in Berlin

The menu is a cosmopolitain mix of influences; from Mongolian Beef Pasta to Ukrainien Wareniki. Derived from the Yiddish “naschen” which means to snack or nibble, the name Nosh is a testament to the restaurant’s east-european jewish influence and Balli’s own connection to the Russian and jewish communities in Berlin.

When I mention to Erdal how I always notice fresh flowers whenever I’m there, he quickly attributes it to his wife Viji’s keen counsel. She coincidentally runs Mokalola cafè next door and makes sure that Erdal keeps his finger on the finer details.

Always fresh flowers at Nosh
Tables at Nosh

Clearly though Erdal has quite an eye for good design himself, and laughingly admits to a slight obsession with beautiful chairs. The tasteful interior is the result of his own directives; from the mid century chairs he sourced from e-bay, to the tables he had custom made. The wonderful factory lamps from a former GDR factory, he salvaged, cleaned up and had rewired. They now serve as beautiful statement pieces above each table.

Berlin Restaurant Nosh Deli

The restaurant recently extended their open hours from 12 in the afternoon on Monday through to Thursdays. The rest of the week you’ll find them open between five and eleven. During warmer summer days, you can enjoy your food on the outside terrace upstairs. But you don’t have to wait for better weather to nosh on a delicious meal. Even on a cold winter’s evening, their Halloumi salad remains one of my favourites.

Find it here:

Leberstrasse 21, Berlin, Germany

Follow them here:

Nosh Deli facebook page



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Classic Country Cottage

A cozy country-style kitchen with a homely atmosphere and provincial aesthetic

Classic Country Cottage

How to create a classic country style setting that is cozy and welcoming

A couple of weeks ago I featured the delightful Feine Laube, a holiday cottage on the outskirts of Berlin. The interior of the cottage is a charming mix of old and new, with a classic country style aesthetic that makes it feel really cozy and homey.

This week we look at ways to create the same classic farm style or cottage look in your own home by combining second hand and antique elements, earthy tones and natural textures. I’ve also found some great pieces on Etsy, to show you how to put it all together.

CLASSIC COUNTRY COTTAGE

Cozy cottage in the countryside
Cozy countryside kitchen

The Feine Laube cottage has a cozy country-style kitchen that welcomes you in with it’s homely atmosphere and rural aesthetic. Here at their countryside retreat, owners Arne and Alex have managed to create just the perfect balance between old and new, using classic timeless pieces and a muted colour pallet. Some older pieces have been painted in brilliant white and toned-down chalk paint, to freshen up the room and make it look more contemporary.

I just love the green window frames. It gives an instant cottage charm to an otherwise quite plain and muted pallet.

Cozy cottage kitchen in the countryside
Cozy cottage in the countryside
Classic country style bathroom
Classic country style bathroom

Throughout the cottage Arne and Alex have used second hand and vintage furniture and combined them with stylish contemporary pieces. The bathroom for instance is a brilliant mix of elegant modern fixtures and old classics. I love the cement tiles on the floor. The vibrant pattern ties the room together, adding some warmth and offsets quite nicely against the sleek clean white of the wall tiles.

English style cottage in Berlin
Classic country style cottage

The beautiful scatter cushions are from Arne and Alex’s home decor shop, called Berliner Landjungs. They’re made from vintage tea cloths and adds a really lovely touch. You can actually find many of the items in the cottage on their online Etsy store.  Below I’ve made a little step by step guide on how you can draw inspiration from the landjunge’s style to create your own classic country look. I’ve also created a Country Cottage Edit on Etsy, so you can find all the items in one place.

Have any more ideas on creating a country style theme? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you’d like to see some more of the beautiful cottage, go check out last week’s story on Feine Laube.

Style-step-by-step

1. Use well made classic second hand pieces

I think one of the most important things when creating a classic cottage look is to use elements that are truly old. Like something second hand or from a vintage market rather than something new created to “look” old. This way every piece has true integrity, with a story to tell. The aesthetic can very quickly loose it’s charm when the elements you use, lack that soul and integrity because they’re merely mimicking an old style appearance.

2. Enamel tableware for a classic country look

I’ve always loved enamel table ware. They have this great way of taking me right back to my childhood days on my grandmother’s farm. I love them even more for their capacity to last. There are tons of second hand ones out there with the most exquisite colours and patterns. Another great thing about them is that they are not merely decorative, but are functional as well. This one’s a must have for a classic country look.

2. Use natural earthy elements like wood, wicker and combine them with rough linens and soft throws.

By using wood, wicker and natural linens, you not only add some great visual texture to your space, but you add warmth as well. This contrasts really well with the cool and eggshell hues of this theme. Fabrics and soft throws or blankets with a lot of visual texture adds another level of cozy.

4. Use earthy tones and a muted colour scheme

To created a muted and calm space, use a cool and soft pallet with greens like olive and pistachio or stone grey tones. I really like this pallet from the Magnolia Market Collection. The toned down muted hues adds a calm effect to the space. And because they are cool colours, when you use them in conjunction with the warm natural colours of wood along with soft textural throws and linens, it creates that cozy feeling that you are after.

5. Add new life with some chalk paint

To bring your classic cottage into the 21 century, go ahead an give some of those old items a new breath with a lick of chalk paint. Old pieces like chairs or sideboards can be painted bright white to freshen up their look – like the kitchen table with natural top and white legs. I really like Deep Rock and Emmie’s Room from the magnolia collection.

Style-stealer

Create your own Classic Country Cottage look from these Etsy finds:




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Feine Laube Berlin countryside cottage

The garden of Feine Laube holiday retreat in Berlin

Feine Laube
Berlin countryside cottage

It’s just turned four o’clock. The sun is beaming spherical shadows through the dusty windows. I’ve just boarded the train at Ostkreuz when it makes its lazy start towards the east. Twenty minutes till my stop at Rahnsdorf. I’m on my way to meet Arne, the owner of Feine Laube – a delightful holiday cottage on the outskirts of the Berlin.

I first met Arne via Berliner Landjungs, an Etsy shop Arne runs with his partner. There you can find a charming selection of home decor pieces, from mid century chairs to vintage enamel tableware. Arne told me about their renovated “Ferien Wohnung” just outside the city and as a fan of their store, I was rather excited to see what they had put together.

FEINE LAUBE, THE COUNTRYSIDE RETREAT ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF BERLINFeine Laube
Delightful holiday cottage on the outskirts of the BerlinDelightful holiday cottage on the outskirts of the Berlin

I meet Arne just outside the station. As we walk to his car he excitedly tells me stories of the dilapidated building and garbage dump they started out with.

Bright golden rays flicker through rows of pine trees along the short drive to Feine Laube. Tucked away in a quiet street surrounded by woodlands, the cottage lies just a thirty minute walk north-east from the Größer Mugglesee. The large lake is quite popular among water-sport enthusiasts and those who love watching the sun dance and bounce on the water.

A cozy country-style kitchen with a homely atmosphere and provincial aestheticA cozy country-style kitchen with a homely atmosphere and provincial aesthetic

A cozy country-style kitchen with a homely atmosphere and provincial aesthetic

As I walk towards the flat roofed cottage at the rear end of a wild lush garden, I can almost smell the charcoal fire burning in the barbecue. I imagine basking in the sun as I pass by the white loungers while two sparrows splash in the pond beyond.

Inside, a cozy country-style kitchen welcomes me with it’s homely atmosphere and provincial aesthetic. Here at their countryside retreat, Arne and Alex have managed to create just the perfect balance between old and new, rural yet comfortable.

Here at their countryside retreat, Arne and Alex have managed to create just the perfect balance between old and new, rural yet comfortableHere at their countryside retreat, Arne and Alex have managed to create just the perfect balance between old and new, rural yet comfortable

Here at their countryside retreat, Arne and Alex have managed to create just the perfect balance between old and new, rural yet comfortable

Much like their shop, the cottage is a filled with lovely vintage pieces. It is in fact a kind of live-in showroom. As curators of beautiful things, the two have painstakingly refined every corner of the cottage.

Their handy work is visible in every room, from the hand-made lavender sachets, cushions made from vintage linen and pendant lights from up-cycled antique milk jugs. All of these items you can find in their store.

English style cottage in BerlinEnglish style cottage in Berlin
English style cottage in Berlin
English style cottage in Berlin

I’m almost surprised at how friendly and welcoming the place feels – quite unlike the modernist german design I’m so used to around here. You really get a sense of the affable and good humoured nature of the hosts.

Every room opens onto the garden, making it refreshing and cozy at the same time. It really is the perfect little getaway; wether it’s for long summer nights out in the garden or for cosy and comfortable wintery days.

holiday cottage on the outskirts of the Berlin

Holiday cottage in BerlinHoliday cottage in Berlin
Holiday cottage in BerlinHoliday-cottage-in-Berlin

As we head back to the station the sun starts to dip beyond the Berlin skyline. Arne and I muse on buildings we pass, dreaming of places we’d love to renovate. I say my farewell to Arne, walking back to the station. Happy and elated, my feet find their way to the platform, my mind still lingering in the Feine Laube garden.

 Story & photography by Barbara Cilliers



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