I’ve known Liz for a few years and she is the kindest soul you ever did meet. At Hooray, we’d been spotting her story on different blogs and magazines over that last few months and we loved reading about the romance of their little family and beautiful home. But we, being the romantics that we are, wanted to share even more about this adorable couple with you so we asked Liz to go ahead and answer a few burning questions of ours… Especially in relation to, you guessed it, their impending wedding!
HW: For those of our readers who may not know anything about you please give us some background on who you are, what you do and where you live?
EB: Who I am hmm, well, to be completely honest, I am still figuring that out. What I do know about myself so far, is that I believe in listening to that gut feel, that instinctive inner gorgeous gold bell which chimes softly when faced with my daily life. I believe in moments and not things, in quality, time and simplicity, in nature and good health, and most importantly, above all, I believe in love.
My name is Elizabeth-Ann, and I am engaged to my soul mate, Warren Bradley. We live in an old 1900’s school building in the Hermitage Valley just West of Swellendam with our dog, Frankie. The property is one hectare and we are currently trying to create a natural food forest with it. We got into permaculture in about October last year and we are all for it. You know when you meet someone and they’ve just got into yoga, or gymming, or juicing and they can’t stop telling you about it? Well yeah, I’m pretty much like that with permaculture, but instead of talking about how my under-bum was worked yesterday from squats, I talk about fruit tree guilds, magical mulch and what time of year you should plant watermelon. We are still in the very beginning stages of getting things going, but we have started, and that is the most difficult part.
When I am not in the garden, I am in my studio illustrating and making. I do freelance illustration for children’s books, fashion look books, and album artwork. I also sew, embroider and crochet bespoke doll commissions which range from birth celebrations, weddings and commemorative pieces, sometimes using vintage treasures with special meanings or memories attached. I am currently making a doll for a 7 and a half year old who loves to sing and act and has a thing for stripy tights and wellies. I absolutely love the commissions that I get because I can create something special for someone that encourages their talents, or simply makes them feel loved. Warren hand makes all the wooden accessories that go with the dolls, for example tiny camera’s, goggles, umbrellas and tennis rackets. Warren is a man who loves to dig, he works hard and isn’t afraid of getting up close and personal with soil, slugs or porcupines. I like to call him the protector of the forest. When Warren was in school he asked the principle if he could grow vegetables in the playground, and if he could help the construction workers dig whatever they were digging. So yes, Warren is a man of the earth.
HW: What made you move away from Durban and what made you choose Swellendam?
EB: Before we moved to Swellendam, I was working in a corporate environment and I wasn’t in a very healthy situation. Warren and I decided that we wanted to find a place of our own that was quiet, but not too isolated, somewhere that had a lot of space, nature and potential. We wanted to be able to live a life free of city stress and to become as self-sufficient as possible. We went on a road trip from Durban to Eland’s Baai, all the way down to Rooi Els on the Western coast. After a lot of searching with no real affirmations of where we should be, we decided to give the matter a rest.
Without me knowing, Warren kept searching online for properties all over South Africa, and one day while at work, I received a mail from him containing a link to a place called, Die Skooltjie. I was so over looking at houses at this point that I kind of ignored the email and kept on working, but then found myself glancing over the images every 10 minutes or so. The house just had something about it. It all happened very quickly and after a few days of negotiating, we were on a plane to Cape Town, borrowed Warren’s brother’s car and drove the 2.5 hours to Swellendam to view the house. When walking around the garden, I could just see us there, I could see our children there. It was a done deal. A month later I had resigned, our flat was packed up and we drove 16 hours in one day to start our new life in our new (old) house. In short, Swellendam chose us, our house chose us. It used to be a school in about 1940, and it is still living up to it’ name because we have learnt, and are still learning a lot about this wonderful thing called life.
HW: How did you meet your husband-to-be?
EB: Warren and I met under strange circumstances. Warren’s mum was very ill, and he had temporarily moved back to Durban from Cape Town to take care of her. He was staying at a close friend’s house while doing so. This close friend just happened to be my close friend and landlord. Coincidence? I think not. (Like I said, my soul mate.) The thing was that Warren was still involved with someone else at this time, and even though that relationship was coming to an end, when we met there weren’t any hidden agendas or anything, no expectations, we were just becoming friends. Hanging out with Warren was just easy, like we had known each other in another time. When you know, you just know. My single friends hate it when I say this because when you don’t know, you don’t know, you know? People say that when you give up looking, that is when you will find the right person for you, but gosh that is so difficult to do. Warren found me at a time when I was embracing who I was and he recognised that.
So even though we met at a difficult time, with his mum’s illness and all, it was a beautiful time. It was like an ending had created a beginning. Warren moved back to Durban a few months after that and we went on our first date which involved a motorbike ride, no recollection of what we ate or who we saw, a lot of giggling and holding hands. Oh and Warren also said that he was going to marry me – he just dropped it in like it was a known fact by all. I was like, right, okay!
HW: He knew he’d be marrying you on your first date. When did you know?
EB: When Warren and I had our first conversation I think it was about me playing ukulele and how he is a collector of instruments. Who knows how we got onto that topic, but from those first words I knew we were made for each other. It was like my whole being was drawn to his. I couldn’t ignore something like that. Life has a way of presenting opportunities to you, but it is up to you to look up from what you are doing and take notice, make changes, take the next train to awesomeness. If you are too busy being busy, well, you will keep on being busy I guess.
HW: How did he propose?
EB: Warren had set up this whole romantic proposal involving the Drakensberg, hot air balloons, flowers. Typical me, I decided at the last minute that instead of going to the Berg for a weekend away, we should go on a road trip to the West Coast to find our new home. I remember Warren saying to me, “Are you sure you want to go to the West Coast instead of the Drakensberg. like are you sure sure?” I am quite stubborn and when I make my mind up about something there isn’t any turning back, so yes I was sure. So whilst on this road trip to find our new home, we stopped over in a little place called Piketberg. It was freezing, I was wearing a coat and a giant yellow knitted scarf that my mum had made for me. Warren and I went for a walk and found ourselves on huge boulders surrounded by fynbos and a setting sun.
The funny thing is that the guy who owned the bed and breakfast where we were staying, had followed us, and was now having a fat chat with Warren about pellet gun target practice, and how he would love for us to live there because then they could hang out and shoot targets together. I think the setting sun and Warren’s nervous look made this man stop mid conversation and he awkwardly started jogging away. I thought that his behavior was quite strange, but put it down to him living in a small town and not seeing a lot of people very often. I was admiring all the tiny flowers, sat down and turned to find Warren on his knees looking incredibly fidgety and giggly. And well, you know how it goes – gorgeous ring, tears, “did I even say yes?” etc etc etc.
HW: Have you started planning your wedding yet? What does it look like so far?
EB: For our wedding, we have a few options. 1. Elope to the court down the road to avoid all family intervention and then spend the wedding money on kitting out the house with solar panels and water tanks, or a surf trip to Bali. 2. Have an extremely small affair under our trees in the garden and offend quite a few people by not inviting them, or 3. Have a huge over the top bash with live music, barn dances and late night skinny dipping in the dam. Who knows what will happen at this point!
HW: When you think about the big day, what makes you feel most excited?
EB: I am not your typical bride who has been dreaming of my wedding since I was three years old, but I must say that putting on a beautiful garment, holding a beautiful bouquet designed by my dearest cousin, The Holloway Shop, and then looking around and seeing Warren’s eyes, as well as my close family and friend’s eyes, well gosh darn it! I would have to say it would be for the love I see in all of those eyes.
In chatting she mentioned that, because she makes custom-made dolls, if brides wanted to have a keep-sake ‘mini-me’ from their special day, she could make a doll wearing a dress in the same fabric as the bride! What a sentimental and beautiful keepsake that would be! Contact her through her site or on Instagram for more details.
** All images supplied by Elizabeth Ann Bradley