Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Exotic cars. Roar of powerful engines. Lights searing the darkness. Focus, the world encapsulated within their mobile phones. All, oblivious to the magic of the owl fledging screaming for food, a glance away.
Pâté de campagne with roast pears and chèvre chaud, our Christmas lunch menu. Broccoli and asparagus parcels with the red pomegranate that touch of Christmas colour.  
Tiger, pouring his heart into his music as the sun disappears behind the mountains. His guitar creating magic that invigorates, and yet is calming. That elusive artistry of natures fleeting perfection, encased in a web of music brilliance.
‘Tumbled’, oil on canvas 30cmx30cm. A commission of seagulls. Inspired by the daily drama of seagulls hurtling themselves at the owls sitting in the Harbour Town mast, hunting for food.
Jog along the lagoon, continuous social interaction as cyclists, runners and walkers keep a constant chatter. 

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Magrets de canard with cassis and pears for our anniversary dinner on the patio.

 Sage leaves fried in duck fat, and a citrus salad with asparagus, a visual and culinary feast. Good Hope Pinot and Mailly Extra Brut champagne superb.
Blues Festival. A tad noisy for my taste. However, Ann Jangle was a revelation. Fabulous company made up for the lousy wine on a stunning summer afternoon.
Took my bothersome Achilles out for a slow jog as the sun was getting up. The pathways and roads already busy with runners, walkers, cyclists and jet-lagged holiday makers. The cappuccino at the end most welcome. 

Sculpting with paint. Minimal, bold strokes. ‘Homeless’, my portrait of a man at Wit-lokkasie. The angular contours of the face reminiscence of a sculpture. His dark skin, and the composition in profile, strengthening the angles. Staring at the world through vacant eyes, he is absorbed in the unfolding tragedy of the forest fires that swept through the houses of Wit-lokkasie. 
I wasn’t happy with the tones of the face, which was dominated by a pink hue. The magic paintbox providing a rescue with the Monaco Madder toning down the pink. The high translucency of the paint adding richness to the portrait.
The sun trying hard to end its long day, bringing out a bank of clouds to help end its 16 hours of holiday sunshine. Even the owls are hooting impatiently!
As we head towards Christmas, the studio is busy with people passing through. Artists intrigued at my style. Holiday makers browsing. Shoppers searching for presents, or to fill a spot on a wall? Impatient partners wanting a moment of quiet to catch-up with their emails, while the bunch of kids are distracted. 
Merry Christmas to all

Magrets de Canard with Cassis & Pears – Marlene van der Westhuizen
From her book “Secrets of a French Cooking Class”, recently launched, Marlene offers these breasts from the ducks that are used for foie gras or confit are called magrets. The ducks have been carefully fattened and are fabulously tasty. If the duck breasts are quite large, you could easily halve the portion per person.

6 duck breasts

salt and white pepper

1 T freshly chopped sage

300 ml Pinot noir

1 T honey

2 cloves

1 star anise

2 bay leaves

6 pears, peeled, cored and sliced in quarters

75 ml crème de cassis

250 g blueberries

50 g butter

a handful of sage
Mix the salt, pepper and chopped sage together. Score the duck breasts’ skin well and rub the salt mixture into the incisions.
Place the breasts skin side down in a large pan and cook over a very, very low heat for about 30 minutes. The duck fat will slowly be released from the breasts and the meat will confit very gently in its own fat.
Turn the breasts only once just before serving. This will ensure that the breasts are really tender and still pink on the inside.
In the meantime bring the wine and honey to the boil in a small cooking pot. Add the cloves, star anise and bay leaves.
Add the pear quarters and boil them in the wine mixture until they are slightly cooked but still firm. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pears from the syrup.
Add the cassis to the wine syrup and bring to a fast boil, reducing the syrup by about half.
Slice the duck breasts into thin strips and arrange them on a warm serving platter. Toss the pears and blueberries gently together in the syrup and spoon the fruit and berry mixture onto the platter with the duck breasts.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan and flash-fry the sage leaves. Remove the leaves from the butter with a fork and drain them on a sheet of kitchen paper.
Use the leaves as a garnish and serve immediately.
Serves 6
Marlene van der Westhuizen
Marlene van der Westhuizen, is a well-known chef and author of a number of very successful cookbooks – Abundance, Delectable and Sumptuous are the best-known. She divides her time between Greenpoint in Cape Town and Charroux in France where she runs very popular cooking courses (with a waiting list of several years!).


Alexander Rose-Innes (1915 – 1996)

A South African impressionist painter, born in 1915 in Beauford West, Alexander Rose-Innes developed an aptitude for drawing at an early age. The Rose-Innes family moved to Port Elizabeth in 1927, where he began his art studies at the Art School of the Port Elizabeth Technical College, under Francis Pickford and Jack Heath. After completing his studies, he enrolled as an apprentice sign-writer, continuing to pursue his art in his free time.

Rose-Innes took up employment as a commercial sign-writer in order to earn a living. He joined the army at the start of the Second World War in 1940 and was based in Pretoria, Kimberley and Cape Town during the following five years. Following the war, he decided to dedicate himself to his art, and made the decision to move to Cape Town, where the New Group had an important influence on the local art scene.

Rose-Innes arrived in Cape Town in 1956, when he was 41 years of age. According to Bekker (1991:12), “In the 1950s Cape Town was, without doubt, the artistic capital of South Africa. Many of the leading artists lived and worked in the Cape. The art market was buoyant and the quality of works exhibited high, as was the public awareness of art and artists.” Rose-Innes initially began working as a sign-writer for a Johannesburg-based company, Neon-Fluorescent, in order to make a living in the Cape. Shortly thereafter he befriended the curator of the Michaelis Collection, Matthys Bokhurst, who encouraged him to continue painting and exhibiting his work.

Rose-Innes had his first solo exhibition in 1958, having previously participated only in group shows in the Eastern Province. In 1962 he exhibited in a group exhibition at the South African Association of Arts Gallery – together with Ruth Prowse, David Botha, Gregoire Boonzaier, Carl Büchner, Nerine Desmond and Frank Spears (Bekker, 1991).

He went on to have several solo exhibitions in South Africa and Belgium, and his work was included in numerous national and international exhibitions. In 1986, he was honoured by the University of Pretoria with a retrospective exhibition of his work and a medal for his contribution to the arts in South Africa.

Rose-Innes was a painter of “everyday situations like women selling flowers, people sitting in pubs and girls chatting” (Bekker, 1991: 28). He had particular interest in the scenes of the Cape Malay Quarter and District Six, figures and portraits of common people such as blacksmiths and fishermen, as well as the simplicity of still life compositions, Cape landscapes and domestic interiors. Rose-Innes portrays sensitivity towards his subject matter – always rendered in warm, subdued tones and following realistic conventions. The absence of strong colour notes, together with the use of close-up views, contributes to a sense of intimacy in his work. The subtle gradation of tone and the creamy thickness of paint application are prominent characteristics of his technique (Berman, 1996).

“It is impossible to distinguish between Alex the man and Alex the artist: his role as an artist dominates his whole life, while his deep-seated humanity permeates his whole art” writes Bekker (1991:24). His work was greatly influenced by both Russel Harvey and Gregoire Boonzaier – both of them close friends and colleagues. Esmé Berman (1996) argues that Harvey was of great influence, specifically with regard to his sombre colour palette and soft colour modulations.

Rose-Innes’ work can be accurately described as forming part of the Cape Impressionist tradition, influenced by the major exponents of that idiom. With regards to his subject matter, Bekker notes, “Alexander Rose-Innes is a conservative artist. He did not pursue innovation for the sake of innovation; nor did he follow fashionable trends. Yet his particular brand of painting has not only survived, but steadily grown in popularity.” Today his work forms part of most significant collections of South African masters in galleries and in numerous private collections.

Alexander Rose-Innes passed away in 1996.


Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Suzi’s Christmas table, beautiful set, a runway for Santa and his sleigh. An outstanding meal with good company, where time stopped.
Rain bringing some relief to the hot, dry days. Not that it impresses the holiday makers and turns busy restaurants with their outside seating into centers of chaos. A chance for exhausted fire-fighters to catch a breath.
Possibly the best burger in the world. The Epicure (Lyon, France) inspired, Kirsten burger with Foie gras and cramalised onion, served on a grilled black mushroom. Recreated on the patio of the Studio Apartment, under a playful full moon. Le Chevalier Dino, a smooth, chewy, serious Bordeaux wine, full of Eugene’s laughter, quite splendid. PAPILLOTES DE NOËL from Révillon Chocolatier (sent from Aly in France) to finish the evening, scrumptious.
A summer, cheery painting, ‘Agapanthus’. The intensity of the roses a bit unexpected, creating a balance for the intensity of the blue sky. A tad more detail than I was initially looking for.
Sun bleached hair. Bronzed skin. Beat up merc, plied high with surfboards. The sound system worth ten times the value of the car. Lost on Phantom Pass, looking for a backroad to J-Bay. Perhaps there is an undercurrent relationship between surfers and mountain bikers, in a similar way to that between whales and elephants? Or perhaps is just that we inhabit the coolest parts of the world? 
The small water feature on the patio garden has been appropriated by the Cape Eagle Owls as their bathing and drinking source. A large stone will hopefully assist them and be easier to manage than balancing on the water pump. Their fledgling, embarking on its first flights. 


Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Dog time. A weekend with two Border Collies for company. They soon had us jumping to their routine, which had the usual priorities. Food, cuddles and walks. At night they slept on either side of the bed to ensure there was no escaping them and they would not miss out. 
Studio busy with the start of the summer holidays. Changing a flat wheel for hopeless tourists. Smudged windows. Longer hours. Comments that make you smile. ‘At 86 my eyesight is very poor but I’m captivated by your paintings. They don’t look like a ‘blank wall’.
Thrilled that one of my paintings is hanging in the newly renovated holiday apartment at TH8. Colours of the forest painting vivid against the walls.
Moon, a shimmering reflection in the waters of the lagoon. Fires ragging through the forests, driven by the same winds that I battled against on my ride up Phantom Pass. The bicycle hoping over the corrugations.
By mistake I ordered the XL replacement fire-basket for the Lotus Grill. It takes a heap more charcoal and turns the placed grill into a roaring monster. Superb for steak, but needs careful regulation for something like lamb. Perhaps the teflon grill sheet will be the solution? 
‘Hint of Mauve’, Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm. From a photo by Veronica of the hibiscus flowers in their garden. Striving for the simplicity of Japanese flower paintings. The composition based on an antique Japanese screen, so I had a good idea that it would work. Even on such a small canvas. I was a tad more concerned about the background colour, again based on a Japanese screen, with the soft flowers.

Runners rage at the pedestrian bridge in the quays. Strava, record breaking, segment interrupted by the bridge raising to let through a fishing boat.
Unpretentious food, full of flavour, at the Twin Palms at the St James. It’s not cheap eating, and the portions are a tad small, compensated for by an interesting inexpensive wine list. 
At the waters edge, with views across to the heads and the lights, sunset is certainly the best time to book a table. The evening light allowing one to enjoy charm of white linen and country hotel comfort, without being distracted by the touch of shabbiness.
Short staffed, service was maddening slow and it would have been good if the Chef had spent more time outside the kitchen keeping us updated.
Summer, and the agapanthus flowers are spectacular. Mum’s summer garden, the inspiration for a painting dominated by the white agapanthus flowers against a blue sky. The blue flowers on the plumbago and miniature agapanthus, a pathway across the painting.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Squeezed between ‘Very Sexy’ and ‘Nudity’, was ‘S&M’! Such, the wines of our Shiraz tasting, on a long hot summer day, with a cooling breeze. Exactly, the conditions for savoury, rich, intoxicating Shiraz. Spicy pulled-pork, served with gnocchi and an avo, salsa salad, the carefully thought out meal from Suyenne. While at the Kleine Zaltze family reserve was the star, the Very sexy Shiraz from Cloof was the easiest drinking and outstanding value. 
The sun called us out to play on the beach. The first footprints of the day as the tide left behind its pristine playground. 
Whole grilled pumpkin on the Weber was a bit of a disaster, as it was actually a big squash, that disintegrated into a pile of watery mush when I tried to take it off the grid. Coreta rescued it by taking the flesh out, mixing it with feta and putting it in the oven. So delicious after all! Clare did a berry, mango, cream and yogurt dessert. Perfect after the fillet.
We moved the table onto the patio as the sunset and watched the lights come on over the water. Very special and quite unbelievable. The owl stopping past to join the fun.
Fighting with my painting of an elephant herd heading to the water at Addo. The smaller canvas size making it difficult not to have rock-type blobs, rather than elephants. The background, overpowering the composition.

Amazing that a year has already passed in the studio!

Small paintings from the studio, ‘ Malachite sunbird’