Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

Tucked into the folds of the Langeberg mountains outside of Rooiberg, sits the Saggy Stone Restaurant and micro-brewery. It’s a busy spot for something that is 20km, much of it dirt, from the main road and the fierce sun no doubt contributed to the large volumes of beer being consumed, not lease by a party of gratefully hikers. Our food was generous and tasty, the service excellent and only the need to drive two hours back to vineyards stopped us from spending more time with Dad and Mary.

The Da Vinci exhibition at the Chavonnes Battery Gallery was intriguing. The gallery space that has been built amongst the stone foundations of the original battery buildings is stunning.

News coming out of South Sudan of the scale, and brutality of the violence, horrifying. Our humanitarian operations now the focus, and how to implement them with the staff safely relocated.

Wind chimes stirred by the breeze, a special sound bringing memories of Christmas in Tazzie. Christmas lunch under the trees at the cottage. A menu of Terry’s pâté’, Stilton, tomatoes and salad bits, with Moët and 2011 Black Rock. Indulgent and scrumptious. We sat on the couch with Lesa and Alan watching the lights come on across the valley.

Website updated, with the customary sprinkling of errors which seems to be an inevitable consequence of making a bunch of changes each time I’m home. Still haven’t found a way to do the updates remotely, particularly from South Sudan.

Carpets spread under the pine trees, cushions and carpetbags. Dogs, people, wine, food and sunshine. The family day setting at the cottage.

My cold (no malaria thank goodness) is driving me nuts!

We wound our way through the pretty Elgin valley with its hidden blue lakes amongst the green mountains, across the pass to Franschhoek and our lunch spot at La Quartier Francais. The patio provided shade, the menu a host of intriguing options and the colourful yellow and green umbrellas, a cheeky cheerfulness against the blue skies.

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Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

The summer garden at the cottage is a mass of white and pink, with the odd shades of purple thrown into the mass of green. The brilliant yellows of the spring garden have faded and the hot days have yet to turn the lawn yellow. The fountain is finally working after a few hitches caused by me reading the volume of pump incorrectly and we haven’t quite settled on what lighting (if any) is appropriate. Polly thinks its the best water dish she has ever had, and she is enjoying lying amongst the ornamental grass that is thriving around the pond. We will need to see if goldfish are a useful addition.

Dad is recovering slowly, more patient than I would have expected, with much of his humour still in evidence. He is managing his stick with panache, and it may be a permanent feature even if it isn’t necessary. Sitting down to lunch, I did manage to smash through the patio chair, which emptied a fair amount of wine over the table. Terrible waste.

The days are full and busy with friends passing through the cottage. Lunches and dinners at favourite spots and the table on the patio like a magic revolving platter of food and wine. Terry gave me new Reidel wine glasses which I was forced to try. Excellent.

Our anniversary lunch at Jordan was scrumptious, the poppy soufflé well worth the wait, and the rack of lamb simple and delicious. The skies preened in blues and the vineyards were green and full of promise for an abundant harvest.

Terry patiently accommodated the flurry of mails and calls during our meal as the crisis in Juba unfolded. The team there competent and calm as the chaos escalated.

Concerts at the amphitheater an integral part of summer in the vineyards. Jazz from a bunch of young artists good enough to everyone dancing on the lawns between pick-nick rugs. Music from Andrew Loyd Weber under the stars, trees silent as we listed to the amazing voices of the soloists.

Collected Mum from the airport for her stay at the cottage, the deck under the trees refuge from the summer heat. Sunset found us at Hesta’s new house for a meal full of colour and flavour. Terry’s pâté’, berries, cheeses, fresh beans from Mums garden and a loaf of olive bread to accompany the vanilla notes of the Webersburg Cabernet Sauvignon and crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Polly took my new jogging shoes for a walk in the vineyards. The day gold green soles an environmental hazard. Mark pointed me to a small, specialised running shop in Durban road, Bellville. They didn’t have anything to fit Polly, but after discussing my peculiar jogging style and blister prone feet, I have a pair of Ghost.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

A minute silence at the UN Senior Management Group to respect the life of Nelson Mandela. Flags around Juba Town at half mast, a candle in the early morning.

Goat kebabs on the small braai on a warm evening in Juba Town. Cooked them a tad longer than ideal on the very hot fire. Will be glad to get back to the Weber!

I had a good jog and started my painting, a portrait of a chess player in Juba Town, his face twisted in concentration. I used a monochrome pallet to reinforce the planes of his face. A dab of colour to stop it from being boring.

Awake early and ready to head out to the office, in convoy as an added precaution, setting out as soon as its light, to miss the expected traffic build up as a result of road closures. Probably all unnecessary, but better to have options. The best part, the smell of fresh bread baking along the streets of Juba Town.

A thin strip of asphalt, bounded by drifts of red powdered sand against what remains of a concrete curb, and potholes carved out of once was a road. Through the dust, with heavily loaded trucks leaping through the holes, a guy on rollerblades, in a colour coordinated black and red skin suit. Nuts!

Dinner under the stars at Central Pub, the conversation lively, the food rubbish.

The coffee machine is cleaned, linen stripped from the bed, the house empty without paintings that have all been packed for Cape Town.

For this year, the end of adventures in Juba Town.

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UNOPS SSOC Juba 2013

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Sunset jog, the call to prayer and an owl somewhere in the bush, that is rapidly disappearing as they build more houses at Juba 3. For now, there are still only a couple of regulars out on the circuit. Bush fires, and sweltering days the indication that the rainy season is over? Aircon not only welcome, but sanity preserving, essential.

News of Dads mild stroke a shock making the distance that much harder to deal with. Glad he is out of hospital and on the recovery road.

For my painting of the Impala Lilies, I used a green underpaying to give added depth to the flowers. Underpaying is something I’m beginning to use more frequently, particularly as my raw linen canvases are finished. A balance between using less paint to increase the translucence of the petals and getting the intensity of the colour. As the paint dries I may smudge it to soften the lines.

The house shaking under a series tremours. Not unexpected this close the Great Rif Valley, but still unusual. A few early morning shots the aftermath of the protests by street traders at their removal.

Perfect weather for the year end braai. As is now standrad, Sher and Yoga did an excellent job of sorting the food and logistics, with chicken and goat kebabs that were tasty and colourful. Lots of lime and chilli for those who needed additional zing. Reisi marshaled the Christmas gift challenge masterfully, with some of the gifts being swapped multiple times and enough people and gift variation to make it interesting and fun.

Pizza next to the Nile on a very warm Juba Town evening. Service tragically slow, turning a peaceful location into growling discontent.

We have another couple of million allocated to us for work to assist the expected dry season clashes in Jongelei. The difficulty will be getting in early enough to get it all completed before they start without getting bogged down in mud. Interesting to see how the ares of conflict tie into the history of the civil war and how ‘patched over’ problems are resurfacing as they weren’t properly dealt with then.

Amongst the chaos that seems to be building as we deal with the multidimensional challenges of bureaucracy, auditors, year end, budgets, proposals, and egos with a weary team, the unexpected haven of a pond filled with water lilies near to the area that has been allocated to us for staff housing.

Making the most of the cool morning, a jog with the sunrise. A bunch of people out on the circuit which meant I ran quicker than I normally would. That ego thing! There were new yellow and purple summer flowers out. I can only imagine they are short lived in the heat?

Messing About with Paint

Impala Lilies

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Impala Lilies
Oil on Canvas 50cmx40cm

Or my painting of the Impala Lilies, I used a green underpaying to give added depth to the flowers. Underpaying is something I’m beginning to use more frequently, particularly as my raw linen canvases are finished. A balance between using less paint to increase the translucence of the petals and getting the intensity of the colour. As the paint dries I may smudge it to soften the lines.