Who lives here? Brink and Alet Gardner
Type of Home? Converted Coach House dating back to the mid 18th Century.
Occupation? Brink: Heads up a private college in London Alet: Writer and artist.
Destination? Countryside in Kent, England.
On our recent trip to England we were fortunate enough to reconnect with many dear friends. We caught up with Alet and Brink over a delicious homemade breakfast.
As a published author Alet is a creative in every sense of the word, she writes, cooks, sews, paints, the list goes on…. So it is no surprise that wondering around their home is a feast for the eyes. Brink might not be a self-confessed creative but when you marvel at their garden and the beauty that lies therein, all the hard work done by himself, it is clear as day that these two make the perfect creative duo.
After 46 years of marriage, these two are not only an inspiration for creativity but also a living testimony that hard work and love really pays off. Brink and Alet run many marriage seminars. And no, marriage seminars are not just for those facing difficult times in their marriages, but also for those wanting to invest in and perhaps learn the secrets for a successful and harmonious marriage.
The Coach House dates back to the mid 18th century, and as the name suggests was once the horses stables.
As expats, born and raised in South Africa, Brink and Alet’s home has a colonial feel to it. Though you might imagine dark wood this home is far from dark. Alet has lightened some of their original dark wood furniture to give the kitchen a very light but yet still colonial mood. Original artwork from South Africa throughout the home emphasizes this. It could be described as English Country meets Africa.
Exposed brickwork and antique furniture gives this kitchen charm and compliments the modern kitchen that makes for relaxed living.
These tools once belonged to Alet’s father and are now a family heirloom. He used some of these as a young thirteen year old lad aspiring to be a carpenter in Trade School. Aren’t they just wonderful displayed on the wall? Creativity runs in the blood.
The bust is the work of a South African artist and used to belong to Alet’s father- in- law.
The painting depicts the famous residential area in Cape Town, South Africa, called ‘District 6′.
I love how Alet sees beauty in the simplest of things that not only represent beauty but are functional too.
Coming out here, the moss covered pot plants, stoned walls and Alet’s little flowers grown in syrup tins makes you want sit here and sip Rooibos tea all day long.
Needless to say the breakfast was divine as was the ambiance with flowers from the garden and a bunted parasol.
The Cosmos flowers here below are a true reminder of South Africa once again.
What inspires you? Brink: I’m always inspired by a challenge – being it a new business venture or a boat trip up the Thames. Alet: Beauty and creativity – creating with words, lines and colours, embroidery stitches, making my very special aprons for very special ladies, and of course preparing a feast for my husband, family and friends. We are also both inspired by the many tales of saved and happy marriages that we are privy to.
What is always in your refrigerator? A drawer full of fresh fruit and veggies, and a lovely cheese or two.
What do you love most about your home? Alet: The heart of our home – the open plan kitchen and our beautiful garden. Brink: A combination of a few things: the privacy and countryside around us, and with the spacious double-glazed windows… being able to enjoy nature even on the coldest days.
What book is currently on your bedside table? Brink: True Riches by Jeff Lestz, Radical by David Platt, Bible. Alet: A stack of books! I’m battling through Einstein’s biography by Walter Isaacson – not willing to acknowledge that it is a bit heavy for me; Bill Bryson’s Thunderbolt Kid for the humour in it, and 3 books to inspire me in my writing: Dalene Matthee’s Pieternella van die Kaap, the creatively written The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and my father-in-law’s Bannelinge oor die Oseaan (stories of POW’s of the Anglo Boer War). And of course my 25-year old “new” Bible in case I didn’t get round to some quiet time during the day.
Alet what book are you currently writing? My book is currently at the publisher…Kospotte van Egipte en Italië, my dad’s experiences as a South African army cook in North Africa and Italy – in training in South Africa, on the ship, in the North African desert, as a POW in Benghazi and in Italy, and as an escaped POW in Italy.
House or boat? We enjoyed our twin engine boat while we had it – Brink loving the challenges and excitement, Alet [the non-swimmer] navigating and worrying and in the end enjoying it. When we moved into our dream house, the boat was put on the “back burner” – quite literally when arsonists destroyed it six months later. We have beautiful memories though.
Best advice to married couples? Do not take each other for granted, but keep working at it with appreciation, unconditional love and forgiveness [the small irritations, the shortcomings, the mistakes, the blunders, even the very serious stuff]
Thank you Brink and Alet for allowing us a peek into your beautiful home!
Photography by Rochelle Coote
© Danish Exchange, 2014