Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

Theater called which required moving away from the vineyards and being out in the dark. Did our best to go in disguise to confuse the monsters lurking on the fringes of the Platteland. Socks, shoes and jacket meant that I was almost unrecognisable.

The production of MacBeth, adapted into Afrikaans, left us drained and exhilarated. The tension created through the play, particularly the last quarter, with the building of a tower of crystal wine glasses, mesmerizing.
Its a cool start to what promises to be a warm late summers day in the vineyards. Already there is that hint of autumn from the mountains, and the leaves on the grapevine are starting to turn red and litter the patio. 
Roads around the vineyards still full of tractors taking the harvest to the wineries. I wanted to show the harvest in my painting, within the context of the enormity of the task facing the pickers. Using the turning of the vines to add focus to the large canvas. I needed to tie the easel down in the courtyard studio as the buffeting wind threatened to turn it over. 
A day pottering around Stellies with Edith. Frequent chatting stops for coffee or a break from the sun. Sushi dinner under an ultramarine sky, the town bursting with life and energy. Polly happy to hide under her protea bushes for the day. A charcoal illustration, Morning Coffee, of Stellies.

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Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

An exhibition at the cottage of the paintings I did in the Thirty Day challenge. The curved, white bench seat making a perfect exhibition space.

Dinner with Mum at the Manor House, transformed with stunning black and white photographs on the walls of life on the Zevenwacht Estate. The high ceilings give them room to breath, and intrigue dinners.

Fermenting grape skins, discards from the harvest, the morning walk in the vineyards intoxicating.

‘Morning Walk’, a large (100cmx71cm), demanding canvas of the Cedeberg. A bit like a mixed up box of smarties! The painting changing in the light, as do the mountains. Vibrant, surreal colours that transform into moody, somber shadow. While the rock formations were central to the painting, it was the tonal aspects that were the most challenging. The hiker, almost immaterial. Somehow dominant.

The fist crop of figs from the trees in the cottage garden. Well the first we have been here to enjoy, and manage to compete with the birds and gardeners for. Rich red colours of Macedonia, exploding with flavour.

The fresh figs directing the dinner menu. Weber grilled duck breast in brandy with figs, chèvre and pomegranate pearls salad. Managed to avoid the singed eyebrows this time and did a better job or rendering out the fat. Could have cooked it slowly a tad longer.

The courtyard studio sweltering on a magnificent summers day in the vineyards.

‘Wash Day’ Oil on Canvas 100cmx50cm. The wide open skies of the Overberg on the Southern Cape coast. A workers cottage, with its washing, amongst the barren wheat fields.

Weber Grilled Duck Salad with Fresh Figs
serves 4
Ingredients
3 duck breast, finely sliced
1/4 cup of brandy
6 ripe figs, cut in half
8 slices of prosciutto, fried or baked until crisp or fresh goats cheese
200g mixed salad leaves
75 ml of aged balsamic
150ml olive oil
juice of one lemon
Method
1. Score the duck breasts, salt and pepper before adding the brandy. Place in the fridge for 8 hours.
2. On a warm fire, grill the duck breast skin side down for 5minutes on a direct fire, with the lid removed, until brown taking care not to burn them. Cook for an additional 5 minutes on an indirect fire with the lid on. Turn over a grill over an indirect fire for 3 minutes with the lid closed. Remove and let them rest for 20 minutes
3. Toss all ingredients together and dress with lemon and olive oil
4. Thinly slice the duck breasts
5. Arrange in a bowl
6. Finish with balsamic and season to taste

Diary of an Adventure

Greyton Adventures

Time here, doesn’t so much stop, as cease to be relevant. Under blue skies, the sun uses the mountains as a natural reflector. Pouring heat down that has the zinc roofs of the old houses contorting in agony. Ancient oaks, spread their branches. Relief, green filtered shade. Wine, alive. Laughing at the wilting lettuce, trying hard to be appealing.
Old Potters Inn, on the Main Road, where horses meander happily. Noting the smart 4×4’s of the visitors amongst the somewhat road-worthy local vehicles. The swimming pool welcome at the end of a hot day. Our accommodation, comfortable and quaint. Purple gate in a hand packed stone wall, enticing.
An alfresco meal, Tuscany family long table style, under the stars as the bells toll in the still evening.
Messing About with Paint

Morning Walk

Oil on Canvas 75cmx110cm

A large, demanding canvas of the Cedeberg.

The painting changing in the light, as do the mountains. Vibrant, surreal colours that transform into moody, somber shadow.

While the rock formations were central to the painting, it was the tonal aspects that were the most challenging.

The hiker, almost immaterial. Somehow dominant.

IMG_1320

IMG_1319
Morning Walk detail

Diary of an Adventure

De Hoop Adventure

Smoke curling to meet the stars that fill the night sky above embers, pulsating with life. Dunes, a brilliant white, tantalize. Elegant, Bontebok graze, unperturbed by our presence, while ostrich roam in labyrinth patterns.
Hand packed stone walls, scream white manicured walls of the Cape homestead buildings. Ficus, sentinels on the barren landscape. Massive, corded trunks binding the earth. The spread of their shade, embracing.
A path, of white stones. Leading from the window to the blue skies across which the wind howls.
Our house, well appointed and comfortable. Ample fridge pace for bubbles, and even ice in the freezer on arrival! Dad and Mary had arrived before us to ensure that there was wine ready after our bumpy journey.
Charcoal and paper challenging. Stark aloes, white dunes. A world divided by the hand packed stone wall.
The sea, impossibly coloured in blues and greens. Dad managing the long walk down from the top of the dunes to the rest area. My bum complaining at the additional strain of thick sand. Excellent First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc in the comfort of the restaurant, a fitting end.
Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

Jumping through all the hoops for compliance for the cottage. Worse than a medical as they check gas, electricity, water, beetles, structure and whether it should actually even be here!

An overcast, moody sort of start to the day. Excellent weather for an early walk in the vineyards. Legs a tad heavy after the full moon hike up the mountain at Delvera. One of those things that we have spoken about doing for ages.

Opted for the longer route, which meant a 50 minute walk from the Estate through the vineyards and up a single-track path to the start of the climb. The route is well market, however the cross-crossing network of mountain bike trails can be confusing. The step hights are on the giant side that soon had my legs in a jellyish state.

The highlight was the last section through the old Yellow Wood forest. Quite incredible. Of concern was that we were amongst the minority who didn’t have wine or beer to celebrate the walk. The sunset. The moonrise. Or, whatever! Water being our responsible choice. The cloud obscured the moon for a good bit of the trip back down the mountain, and we found the route back challenging as there seemed to be lights from different walking groups going all over the place. Fortunately Terry had a good sense of where we needed to go. And with the moon brilliant, we managed the last incline, to find that we were also prize winners of a new pair of hiking boots!

The Chef’s dinner table at the Wild Peacock. They aren’t known for the quality of their chef, who focuses on cafe style meals, but for the quality of their food deli. They provide speciality deli foods to most of the top restaurants, and have a cellar of select wineries.

The evening weather was beautiful and we were able to sit outside, with the breeze carrying a faint chill to keep you awake. Visually the food was stunning. The pistachio nuts in the terrine, a diagonal line of green on the plate that picked up the green of the rocket leaves, contrasted with the pale yellow-green of the apple compote. A necessary flavour balance to the rich duck Pâté. The candied tomato was this brilliant spot of red, softened by the red pepper essence mash and Sea Bass. The Parmesan crisp a neutral balance that tasted yummy. A morsel of ancient cheese with fresh figs and a sprinkling of honey. The candle light creating a seamless flow of golden colours through the shimmering honey and muscadel wine. A dessert of white panna cotta across which the red berry coulis danced.

The wine selection was equally good and they made each serving size small enough that you weren’t overwhelmed. Instead excited by what was still to come. Excellent stuff.

Hydrangea’s and Day Lilies, a painting from the summer garden at Le Petit. Clever planting created the contrasting colours. The larger canvas, after a month of painting small paintings giving me more freedom. Although I did find that I needed to get back away from the canvas to the other side of the cottage to see how the various tonal aspects were working together.

Secured a lease on the house on Leisure Island for the nine months until January. Will see what we can sort with the studio in that time.

It meant a trip to the far side of the world at Hout Bay. Visited a couple of galleries with great pieces. Much larger than I have been painting, and they certainly need big spaces to be appreciated. The seascapes in particular were intriguing and pose a challenge to my approach.

Messing About with Paint

Hydrangea’s and Day Lilies

Oil on Canvas 50cmx60cm

A painting from the summer garden at Le Petit. Clever planting created the contrasting colours.

The larger canvas, after a month of painting small paintings giving me more freedom. Although I did find that I needed to get back away from the canvas to see how the various tonal aspects were working together.