Archive | September, 2014

British Colonial Safari Style: Jack’s Camp

As promised, the ultimate example of British Colonial Safari Style. I’m looking into prices for my left kidney and playing the lotto this week. You never know your luck!!

Jack’s Camp, Botswana.  

Jacks Camp, British Colonial Safari Style

The response from those who have been there is always the same: first your question is echoed, ‘Jack’s Camp?’ followed by a reflective pause –  ‘It’s different.’ And there they leave it, the difficulty of describing it hanging in the air like a half-built bridge.

Wow, is all I can say.  The story behind Jack’s Camp, as from their website, Uncharted Africa:  ‘While on a trapping expedition in the Makgadikgadi Pans during the 60’s, Jack Bousfield stumbled upon a site that so captured his imagination, he set up camp under an acacia with the unshakeable expectation that others would feel the same…The choice of such a striking locale, owed much to his original taste for the savage beauty of a forgotten Africa where he lived until his tragic death in an aircraft accident in 1992. As a homage to the vision of his father, Ralph, his son, and his partner Catherine established Uncharted Africa Safari Co starting with Jack’s Camp which was refurbished at the beginning of 2003 – in a traditional East African 1940’s safari style.  Ten green roomy and stylish canvas tents with en-suite bathrooms and indoor and outdoor showers (for those who want to feel the Kalahari breeze on their skin) have been fashioned in classical style and are set into a palm grove creating an oasis of civilization in what can be the harshest of stark environments…Persian rugs underfoot and cool cotton sheets form a striking contrast with the rugged wilderness viewed from the comfort of one’s own verandah.’

And refined comfort, it is indeed. Who would mind taking a dip in the middle of the Kalahari under these gorgeous tents….

Jacks Camp, British Colonial Safari

Jack's Camp, British Colonial Safari

Jack’s Camp takes the safari-style recreational activity seriously – who’s up for a game of billards under tent? Love the ‘saloon’, dotted with campaign style-furniture, even campaign-style bar!

Jacks Camp, British Colonial Safari

All ready for afternoon tea – love the mixture of persians, wood, and busy fabric-lined walls.

Jacks Camp, British Colonial

All set-up for supper – how more colonial can one get? Lanterns serve as only light source – that and the red Kalahari-sunset.

Jacks Camp, British Colonial Safari

All set-up for breakfast – love the crisp white linen, silver water jugs doing duty as make-shift vases. And how gorgeous are those Deyrolle-style scientific prints?

Jacks Camp, British Colonial Safari

The ‘mess’ at Jack’s camp. Taking queues from the great colonists – scientific prints, books, amazing bush finds – see the ostrich eggs & plume, tribal art and amazing Peter Beard photographs on the walls.  

Jacks Camp, British Colonial Safari

One of their other camps – San Camp – have a look at the more basic campaign style furniture – butlers’ tray doing duty as drinks table, camp-style cupboard and those amazing steel-frame beds. I really love how they’ve managed to marry the traditional San colours, with the more traditional fabrics – referring to the pillow roll at the top of the beds.

Jacks Camp, British Colonial Safari

Dark furniture, classic officers’ campaign chest, tribal art, and subtle references to its English heritage – love the red ticking bed canopies and floral print ottomans. A true colour & pattern mishmash marriage made in heaven!!

Jacks Camp, British colonial Safari

Jacks Camp British Colonial Safari

 Not even the bathrooms where overlooked in terms of making it completely campaign-style authentic. Even the campaign style loo! Love the bits of traditional english paneling….

Jacks Camp, British Colonial Safari

Your outside shower – solar-heated, under an acacia tree. Does it get more perfect than this? I think not.

Jacks Camp, British Colonial Safari

Jacks camp, British Colonial Safari

Jacks Camp, British Colonial Safari

pic credits: 1,2,4: internationaltravellermag;  3: go2africa; 5: nextadventure; 6,13: afar; 7: cntraveler; 8: unchartered africa; 9: blacktomato; 10, 11: wildromanceafrica; 12: hotelsandlodges; 14: benchinternational; 15: blacktomato


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British Colonial Safari Style

British Colonial Safari Style, Out of Africa

source: mylusciouslife

Time for one of our ‘Decoding Design’ posts again! This time up, British Colonial Safari Style!!

As in the case with ‘Coastal British l Colonial style’, also known as ‘Plantation style’, the ‘British Colonial Safari style’ was born more out of a sense of practicality and a ‘make-do’ attitude, than anything else. A mishmash of styles and patterns, gives it its unique look, that although ‘clashing’ in the true sense, makes for something truly unique. Now where this style differs quite significantly from that of British Coastal Colonial, is that we don’t have beaches, palm trees and lots of greenery to incorporate, but rather deserts, mountains, swamps, and savannah fields. Definitely more ‘diesel and dust’ to describe it bluntly. And I should know, I’ve been living it the last two years!

The Swahili word safari means long journey, originally from the Arabic سفرية (safarīyah) meaning a journey

source: wikipedia

So what elements can we take away from this style?

Campaign Furniture
This refers to furniture specifically manufactured to fold or ‘breakdown’ fold for ease of travel. Originally formulated for traveling armies, going back as far as the time Julius Caesar, but most commonly associated with British Army Officers. Its popularity got an even bigger boost with the with the rise and expansion of the British Empire, thus the colonial period. The most common item of campaign furniture is the chest of drawers, often referred to as a military chest or campaign chest. A standard campaign chest will be made of either mahogany or teak and break down into two sections with removable legs. The brass corners and strap work offer some protection and typify the distinctive “campaign look”. Some items of campaign furniture are instantly recognisable as made to dismantle or fold. Brass caps to the tops of legs, hinges in unusual places, protruding bolts or X-frame legs all give clues to the functionality of the piece.

british colonial safari, campaign furniture

source: bloodandchampagne

Colonial, campaign furniture

source: houseandleisure

Safari Colonial 001

source: wikipedia

Animal hides & taxidermy

Again, this was practical and to make do with what was on offer.  They most likely shot for the pot, and nothing went to waist. With flooring most likely being more basic in nature – mud, cement or wood (if they were lucky), the odds of having a shop close by with an array of carpeting options, was most unlikely. Animal skins would have to do. At least it kept floors warm and provided some softer texture underfoot. Taxidermy served as trophies and decoration.

British Colonial Safari, taxidermy

source: focusdamnit

A mish-mash of styles, prints & textures

Victorian Colonials left their rigid lives behind, but did remember to pack their formal furniture – for one thing they were not keen on, was to forego their creature comforts.  Along the way, they adapted Asian and African motifs into those traditional designs. This melange became British Colonial style and it is easily recognized by its sturdy, yet sometimes fanciful pieces, of teak and mahogany as well as its use of rattan, leather, and animal prints.

Hardwoods, such as teak and mahogany, were particularly suited to the humid climates of the Empire. Unlike softer woods, like pine, that tended to warp in the tropical humidity, these woods stood up to the most extreme conditions and were readily available in most of the colonies. Often furniture was carved by native craftsmen using British designs, and you’ll frequently find little flourishes of Asian, Caribbean, or African art, intermixed with the original carving. As in the case of their Coastal Colonial counterparts, the safari-set tended to be more formal in nature – think heavy dining room- and bedroom suites. Can you imagine how difficult it had to be to get all of this stuff to the required remote location? Most likely drawn by ox wagon, no wonder only the essentials made it there – a bed, place to eat and chairs/sofas to sit on. The rest was a matter of find or made-do.

Asian details help to distinguish Indian Colonial design. Inlaid ivory and gilt mirrors adorn tables, chests, and dressers. Scrolled legs are more ornate here than in the West Indies or Africa, reflecting the Hindu architecture and design found in India. Print pillows, throws, and flowing drapes accent the heavy dark woods. Turkish and Persian rugs, acquired on travels, also added color and added warmth to the predominately tile or wooden floors.Soft floral references – english china, Sanderson bed quilts, antique botanical prints on the walls – it definitely lends a softness to an overall very masculine look and was clearly the elements that made its way there form motherland. Glass, crystal, porcelain, sits happy next to boning and ivory table elements.

Animal hides on the floor, such a graphic zebra skins, make for an offbeat look.

Karen Blixen’s sitting room is a perfect example thereof – the cute little Victorian bookcase, sitting next to Sanderson-print sofas and in the background, there are references of some Asian influences, in the form of the folding screen.

source: gracie-senseandsimplicity

British Colonial safari, style, pattern

source: theheartoftheroom

Cabinet of Curiosities
These cabinets were filled with interesting bush finds – birds’ eggs, interesting insects, skulls, rocks, semi-precious stones – anything that tickled their fancy – a clear reflection of all the strange and wonderful finds of their newly adopted country. This was further emphasised by animal prints, maps and realistic botanical prints of their new surrounds. It must have felt like finding a treasure chest!

Cabinet of Curiosities, British Colonial Safari

source:https: etsy

Cabinet of Curiosities, Safari

source: 1:; 2: flickr

Tea/Drinks Trolley

The afternoon heat most definitely drove you onto the wide-set verandas or under canvas awnings, enjoying an afternoon cup of E   tea. The tea trolley laid out with fine bone china and scones. Colonials could not let go of certain creature comforts from their country of origin! Early evenings called for the much-required Gin&Tonic, even if just to keep the mozzies at bay. (Medicinal tonic water originally contained only carbonated water and a large amount of quinine, which was originally used as a prophylactic against malaria).

drinks British Colonial safari

source: flickr

drinks cart, british colonial safari

source: theglitterguide

Taking Colour queues from Nature

Walls were most often left white – to keep things cool and mozzies at bay. Warmer tones of brown, ochre and reds did find its way into homes, as homage to their relevant adopted colony. Colonial Kenyan homes displayed colours such as orange (a reference to hospitality, warmth, friendship and generosity) and white (colour of the sky, purity and health). Red is the most important color for the Maasai people from Kenya. These colours pop-up everywhere – from curtaining, furniture coverings or the odd wall painted a fiery Masai red.

british colonial safari, colours

source: pinterest

A suite at Giraffe Manor – funiture is kept basic but practical – mozzie net draped bed, books and light walls – all you need for an authentic colonial night of rest.

Giraffe Manor, british colonial safari

source: fromtheleftbank

Architectural Features

Karen Blixen’s Kenyan abode is a perfect example thereof – deep verandas, build from local material, in this case, locally quarried stone. Thatch roofs were also common and cost-effective.

Karen Blixen house, veranda, British Colonial Safari

source: rikkegoestoafrica

british colonial safari, thatch roof

source: theenchantedhome

High ceilings kept the heat at bay. Another prominent feature was the curved windows, which started making their appearance of the period of the British Raj in India, which launched and developed its own style. This can be seen in the visual below, a still shot from the movie, ‘Passage to India’.

Passage to india British Raj period, windows


british colonial safari, veranda

source: gracie-senseandsensibility

References of your journey

It could not have been easy, traveling over rough terrain, with ones most prized earthly belongings, from a far-away European destination. These leather suitcases and wooden crates, ended up doing double duty as extra storage – a makeshift cupboard or suitcases stacked, became an impromptu bedside table or decorative solution.

Colonial Safari, suitcases

source: mylusciouslife

Books, books and more books

Early chilly nights and rainy seasons that could last up to 3 months, provided plenty of downtime. The afternoon heat also kept one out of the sun, and what better way to sit on a wide veranda with a cup of tea, enjoying a book? If you’re worth your colonial salt, you would have brought along your personal library, and most likely kept an accurate account of your incredible colonial life! Some of the best writers and colonialists drew on their colonial adventures, which left us with literary masterpieces such Karen Blixen’s ‘Out out of Africa’ and Hemingway’s ‘Green Hills of Africa’, about his African Safari. These books where most likely leather bound, stacked behind glass-fronted bookcases, and served as a recreational activity, as much as it displayed ones level of literacy!

British Colonial Safari, books

source: elledecor

Karen Blixen’s study, where she wrote ‘Out of Africa’. Notice the tribal art and mounted rifles – a true reflection of her wild-wonderful life.

Karen Blixen Study, british colonial safari

source:https: flickr

Collections on duty

Colonial life was a harsh one – no European dared to venture outside without proper headgear as protection from the scorching sun and your walking cane was your best friend on your afternoon walks – you never knew if Mr Cobra might come and say howdy! These collections served double-duty – doing their job outside and served as interesting collections indoors.

hats, british colonial safari

source: buildhousehome

British Colonial Safari, collec

source: 1: flicker 2:  buildhousehome

Display your love for the outdoors

The Victorian Period was viewed as rather formal and rigid and the colonial outposts offered the opportunity to live a more relaxed, less rigid life. Even woman were free to take-up outdoorsy activities, such as hunting, horseback safari’s and camping. Homes reflected these passions, with equestrian elements, rifle cabinets and sports memorabilia popping-up everywhere. All contributing to a homely, active lifestyle.

Equestrian, british colonial safari

source: wunderkamer

Sports, British Colonial Safari

source: remodelista

British Colonial Safari

source: peakingthroughthesunflowers

Next post up, a place that ticks all the boxes for this style and on my bucket list……. now just to rob a bank or sell a kidney to get there….

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