Diary of an Adventure

Veg Table – Knysna

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While the idea of a vegetarian meal doesn’t hold the horrors it would have in my earlier years, it would not be an automatic choice when selecting a meal. However, the culinary delights conjured by Chef Brett are something that should not be missed, and something to revisited.

Working at the wood fired, cast iron, beast that is his stove, a culinary Phantom of the Opera at his piano, Brett produced four excellent courses (Caprese salad with heritage tomatoes, stuffed baby bell peppers with red rice and lemon pesto, Gorgonzola gnocchi with roast walnuts and rocket, and finally shortbread with caramel ice cream floated in chocolate) that had us using our fingers to polish our dishes.

There is a ‘oneness’ with the forest, a grass track leading to the cottage, nestled amongst the towering trees. Candle light, unobtrusive, inviting to the dining area, an extension of the kitchen, dominated by the range from which, all things magical are possible. Brett’s garden provides much of what is served, with the forest adding its wealth, in this instance giant porcini mushrooms.

You need to bring your own wine, which allowed us to delve into Craig’s cellar. The star: a New Zealand Marlboro Sauvignon Blanc.

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Diary of an Adventure

An Adventure in the Hemel and Aarde Valley

High Seasons Farm in the Hemel and Aarde Valley

The smoke, set free from the braai fire, bolted from the chimney to join whispers of clouds cavorting in the moonlight. Thus, heaven and earth connected in this valley of beauty. It’s as if God practiced in a bunch of places on earth, took out all his lessons on what worked, and created this valley of perfection.

The mountains are gentle and inviting, funneling the cool breeze from the sea up to sun heated meadows. Green from the streams that feed lakes sprinkled with ducks, frogs and water lilies. Gum trees, architectural statements in the landscape, their bark constantly changing light mirrors in air of spectacular clarity.

Polly friendly suspended decks under gay umbrellas, enjoying chilled champagne from one of the numerous speciality wineries that line the snaking valley road from the sea. The boot of the mobi-kennel holding boxes of unknown wines to try while watching the fire and counting the minutes before the steak needed turning.

Old oak trees, strategically placed in the fields for leprechauns searching for a home. Nguni cattle, mobile art forms and hours of entertainment for Polly.

Messing About with Paint

Flame Tree

Flame Tree Web

Oil on Linen 35cmx50cm

On the easel the layout for a group of 3 young men in Lakes State who reminded me of the restless youth in South Sudan, responsible for the current unrest and deaths, linked to cattle raids, politics, ethnic rivalry and the dry season.

However, on my way to Juba 3, I passed a flame tree the orange blossoms vibrant against the blue sky. Hence, the restless young men will need to wait for another day.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Juba Adventures
16th Feb 13
Went out on my long jogging route, the roads of Juba Town already busy. Rafa and Blackie, the dogs from the UNOPS guest house, joined for a bit which was fun. The traffic meant that for sections of the road it was like running through a dust storm. The churches were in full voice and street vendors had their fires going, the first patrons waiting.

My painting ‘I Have Seen it All’, of a woman in Aweil, South Sudan. She was turned out to meet the Director General of DFID, adamant that she was going to have her say about needing education for mothers. Her intensity, sparkling.

I have seen it all web
Oil on Linen 40cmx50cm

Woke early with shots somewhere in Juba Town. With all the unrest in Jongelei, and the shots, I decided not to head out for my jog in the dark. Probably unnecessarily cautious.

The usual mix of South Sudan craziness. One staff member caught up in the Jongelei fighting. Fortunately not close to where the incidence took place. We had a contractors truck set alight by the guys who have been causing all the drama. The driver and his assistant fled into the bush and we are trying to locate them.

Summer has decided to arrive with a vengeance, temperatures heading into the 40 range. The generator at the apartment decided to quit working sometime during the evening, which gave the aircon – which had been working its heart out – a break.

Still battling to get any assurances that there is a plan to provide water through the dry season to the refugees in Maban. The outbreak of Hep-E is spiking, and dwindling water availability potentially catastrophic. Last year we managed to keep tankers running, but this year there are too many people, we don’t have the funding and we are moving our resources to deal with the Yida crisis. I’m sending a couple of teams up this week to try and get some answers. Not our responsibility, but it will become our problem!

Opening of Kiden Kelle art exhibition in Juba Town. An amazing amount of work, creating textured pieces in paper mache from recycled materials. I ended up in the wrong place in the room, next to the artist who I had no clue about, and hence, all the protocol stuff happened with me in centre stage!

Pizza and red wine next to the Blue Nile, with the Da Vinci Jazz Band playing. Not bad for valentines evening in Juba Town! The weather was mild, the service good, the sound from the band dreadful and the company entertaining and enlightening. They had put out red baloons, there were roses on offer and all the staff were in red and black, as were most of the people who kept arriving. Getting out from the car park was chaotic, with a queue of vehicles waiting to get access. Glad we went, and left early!

The solar powered street lights around Juba Town have been a disappointment, with most dark as I go out for my jog. Having twisted my knee in one of the spots that was slightly darker than the black surrounding it, I have been using my headlamp to avoid further injury. Amazingly, I have discovered that the street lights have light sensors and only switch on when a vehicle or jogger, with a headlamp, approaches! A bunch still don’t work even then, but some do.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Juba Adventures
8th February 13
A day of smearing paint about the place. A painting of the ‘jump dancing’, which I find fascinating. You see school kids jumping in the playgrounds, and at the various ceremonies there are always a bunch of guys who are able to do the seemingly impossible. The canvas was smaller than I would have liked, but I’m still happy that I captured the essence of something special.

I also wanted to see how the charcoal and acrylic would transfer onto the raw linen from Switzerland. Reasonably happy with the portrait of a traditional warrior dancer. Fun, if exhausting.

Busy morning collecting more dots in meetings and getting sick people to various locations for treatment. The toll being taken on our staff through illness is becoming a real concern. Partly the stress of being here, partly the country and partly because people aren’t looking after themselves properly.
Juba Town, eerily quiet on my jog.
My painting of the refugees in Blue Nile has been selected for the next finalist round of the international Saatchi Living Colour competition. The next round of judging is by a bunch of art gallery curators. Will be interesting to see how its viewed alongside the crazy/abstract stuff.
Aweil Northern Bahr el Ghazal

Very warm, after a very hot day, the relief of the air conditioned vehicle staggering. My accommodation, a tent of dubious construction, under huge mango trees, which although basic was comfortable. I did see a lilac breasted roller on my way back from the airport which was special.

It’s almost incomprehensible that this patch of browns is actually a flood plain. For ten months of the year waters from the Central African Republic empty onto the plains, creating the biggest rice producing region is South Sudan. For now, the brown is broken by the odd patch of black, where the rice fields have been burnt. Water, equally brown is restricted to a few stagnant rivers and pools. Of the gazelles that roamed these plains, from which the name Bahr el Ghazal is taken, there are only memories. Decimated by war and automatic weapons.

Aweil has a railway line, which rumor has it, actually functions, linking Khartoum to Wau. The Main Street, an asphalt strip between mango trees. Bedajas adding their two stroke fumes between the donkey carts and 4×4’s. After our meeting with the governor, a meal that included some sort of wild bird. Tasty, tough!

The trees, driving out to our project in Amerjal, were amazing. Giants, tortured limbs twisted and gnarled. Remnants of an ancient forest of evil men??

Messing About with Paint

Saatchi Showdown Finalist

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My painting of the refugees in Blue Nile has advanced to the next round of the Saatchi Online Showdown and os among the 300 remaining artists.

The next round will be voted on by a jury led by Rebecca Wilson, Director, Saatchi Gallery, London.

The final round (30 works) will be voted on by Artist, Barnaby Furnas, who will select the 1st and 2nd place works.