I was summoned at the weekend by The Oyster Box’s Head Honcho to discuss his proposal for my weekend residency at the newly revamped colonial-style hotel, a veritable institution among old Natal hostelries.
Over the finest cream tea to be had anywhere, our residency agreement was speedily finalised. I mean, am I the biggest fan of the Oyster Box or what? I was hugely relieved to note that the recent refurbishment of this grand old lady of South African hotels has not in the slightest bit diminished her haughty yet laidback seaside grandeur.
When Head Honcho put on the table a kind offer for me to stay as their guest (any weekend I like) in a suite which, I imagine, very few other than Nelson Mandela get to see the inside of, it was a firm gentlemen’s handshake, smiles all-round and a stiff gin and tonic and salted peanuts were waiting four-poster-side before Alfred had even dropped off my Vuittons.
Coolness. I was left to wander around the old girl, a hotel where my parents used to take me as a snotty-nosed sapling for a Coke Float and Chocnut Sundae way back in the day. So I swooned over the way Red Carnation Hotels have expertly blended in the new with the old, maintaining the dignity and character of Old Lady Oyster Box, and wielded the Canon 50D with no little relish.
OK. So I got a tad fixated on the old lighthouse, an Umhlanga icon situated directly in front of the hotel and a humungous source of wonderment to me as a child. This is how it all turned out…
I'm fine with that. The view from where I scoffed my cream scones on the Indian Ocean-adoring verandah. The view from the newly-named Hatman Suite which larges it up on the top floor is not too shabby either...
Post-cream tea deliciousness, I was tempted to plunge into my new rimpool but decided not to disturb the reflection of my lighthouse and spoil it for the other patrons. That's how I roll. Decorously.
So I got creative instead and paid homage (that's ho-marge, as in French) to My Lighthouse with some crafty compositionness. Hope you like this...
And, not being one to leave it there, I thought I'd capture another angle, knowing all the while that these vignettes (vin-yets in the French) from my new weekend residence might serve to cheer all of you up this Monday... anything for my Hatpeople.
Cool. I’ll leave it there. Perhaps, if you all behave really well, I’ll release i-marges of the Oyster Box’s magnificent new decor d’ interieur, pardon my Franglais, in a later post. Let’s just say that I’m not at all displeased with the totally sick suite Head Honcho has thrown my way. Catch you in the Lighthouse Bar on Friday evening, Honch. I trust you’ll have those G&Ts lined up on that bar of great splendidness. There’s a good chap!
* Please feel free to help yourself to more info on the sumptuousness of the new Oyster Box by checking in here and/or here. Tell them Fred sent you.
In the sixth of my weekly interviews with interesting people living in and around the idyllic seaside town of Umdloti on South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal coast, I asked the Big Five questions of Adapt IT internet boffin (and developer of Durban’s official World Cup 2010 website), Richard McLennan…
FH: You are known as the man behind Adapt IT’s development of Durban’s World Cup 2010 website. How did you get started in internet technology and how did you get to here?
RM: Firstly, I have a very good team of people I work with on The Durban Host City Website, I am just one of the cogs in the machine so to speak. In terms of how I got here, it’s a fairly long story so I’ll keep it short and in point form:
· Raised here on the North Coast in the sunny hamlet of Umhlanga Rocks. After school spent 2 years in the SA Navy as a diver.
· Three years crewing on ‘Superyachts’ in the Med and Caribbean, before returning to SA, completed my Dive Instructor as well as Commercial Diver certifications. Taught Commercial Diving for a year at Durban’s PDI, great job, crap money. Moved on to IMMAC shipping for 6 months as Dive Supervisor, good money, crap job
· After a number of close underwater calls decided enough was enough and thought a career in the IT world looked far more promising… honestly, what’s the worst that can happen when you drive a PC for a living? Completed a Diploma in Visual Basic 5 whilst working as a diver
* Landed a web developer role for a very funky new media agency in London called Wheel where I ran a Development Team, jumped ship to a customer, the wonderful Marks & Spencer. Had an awesome couple of years at M&S helping build their very successful –ecommerce business.
· Headhunted by Monsoon Accessorise to setup their e-commerce business which I ran for 2 years
· After Sarah and I had son Connor in October 2006, we decided in early 2007 it was time to return to SA, work/life balance had become a lot more important to me…
· Three weeks after arriving back in SA, I joined a secret Old Mutual initiative building a new direct insurance and home loan business. Unfortunately, 12 months later we pulled the plug due to the global credit crisis and recession, a real pity as the products would have been groundbreaking for the SA market
· Approached by Adapt IT in Jan 2009 to programme manage the Durban 2010 web project
FH: OK. Straight into the question everybody wants answered! Adapt IT took a lot of flak for the 2010 website which, some said, did not give value for the amount of Durban ratepayers’ money spent on the project… how would you counter that assertion?
RM: It’s funny, everyone has heard of Adapt IT and the Durban 2010 Website, “oh ja, the R6.5 million website, what’s up with that?”