Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Finished the portrait of the woman from Hanoi in Vietnam. National Woman’s day. Their beauty adding to the romance of the prettiest street in the city, shaded by the ancient dracontomelum trees of Phan Dinh Phung Street. The balance between my unpolished Impressionistic Smearing and the delicate features of the woman, a tad muddled.

The studio hosted a stop for 120 people participating in the ‘The Amazing Word Journey’, an evening during the Knysna Literary Festival. Apartment transformed into a kitchen and food preparation area to serve the three course meal, in batches of 40 people.

Sam Cowan the speaker about her book, ‘Whisky to Water’, against a backdrop of my paintings on ‘Overcoming Adversity’, which included a couple of paintings from my private collection that have never been displayed.

I didn’t do a good job of explaining the paintings and with minimal time, interrupted by serving, eating and cleaning up between courses (all done by an efficient catering team from White Washed).

No difficulty in finding puddles to stomp through on my run after the rain. Gloves keeping my hands warm in the cooler weather. Did manage to break my glasses which is a bother.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Full moon jog. Sweat across my glasses lending the lights across the lagoon that ‘starry, starry night’ feel. Chilly enough in the early hours to need tea to warm my hands. Owl hooting in the stillness.

An App to track my carb and nutritional intake. Instead of a quiche for breakfast I can have a bottle of red wine. Perfect! I’m sure it’s miserly with the calories expended on my jog and cycle.

Doctor happy with the impact the lifestyle changes taken to manage my diabetes are having and I can ditch the first of the medications. Blood tests to see how far down the road of managing the disease without medication I can go.

Mark visiting for a few days. Extra special after the health issues of the past year. And within the context of the paintings displayed in the studio, ‘Overcoming Adversity’ for the Knysna Literary Festival, ‘Delicious Word Journey’.

My pair of shoes that, admittedly I shouldn’t have left laying around, made a wonderful snack for a bored Border Collie. Pleased that he chose the leather to pull apart rather than the Persian carpets! Does mean that I now have blisters from walking without socks!

On the easel, the painting of the young Hanoi woman taking shape. An usual mixture of Burnt Sienna and Indian Yellow for the skin tone as the usual Quinacridone Rose and Yellow Orcha wasn’t working.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Last lighttrack up in the studio. Only a bit of blood involved. Waiting for the new table top for the trestle and the studio will be ready for the Knysna Literary Festival ‘Delicious Word Journey’. Thrilled that the studio will host Sam Cowen for the evening.

Tree trimmed to form a ‘green cloud’ outside the patio. A few stray bits need to be taken down and we can almost start looking at crafting the tree shape.

Quick trip down to Kommetjie. Prince not impressed with the wind noise, or that of passing aircraft. The waves on the beach an added terror. His walks sporadic affairs between bouts of panic. He was much happier to play in Alan’s garden.

We did manage a walk across the park to the Green Room for cappuccino. The Green Room is simply idyllic. A place you want to roll up, put in your pocket and take out every time you want a coffee in a tucked away, laid back, surfers paradise. They have their own craft beer that I was silly enough not to taste, or at least bring away with me. The service is that blend of focused personalized attention and casual forgetfulness. Perfect.

At the other end of the spectrum, lunch at the Steenberg Bistro. Fortunately I wasn’t driving so I could stare at the impressive Norval Foundation Art Gallery nearing completion at the entrance to Steenberg. Fantasmagorical and something to dream about for my paintings.

The Bistro offered crafted dishes of near perfection. Stunningly visual, with the complex flavours we have become used to in Vietnamese food. Delicious. The estate wines on the wine list were hideously expensive, which I don’t understand. Why they should be priced any differently to the tasting room which is part of the same building is both annoying and mystifying.

Battery in my iPhone needed replacing, which was efficiently done at WeFix. Did meant that I managed to loose the data in my diabetic management App. Fortunately the blood glucose tester memory stored the key data, without any notes. Hopefully enough for my visit to the doctor to establish whether I can come off my medication and manage the diabetes through my life

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Straight lines and dodgy eyesight. Not that I was ever any good at putting up things in straight lines! However, with my ‘diabetic trampoline’ blood sugars these days, I’m not actually sure I’m able to even see when they are skew.

Wall-easels up in the studio with the paintings surviving the first onslaught of wild weather. My shoulders not enjoying the ‘Sistine Chapel’ contortions at the top of the ladder putting up the new track lighting. No blood involved and only one case of having to back-track the connections to find my incorrect wiring.

Terry’s modifications to what I thought would work, resulted in a cleaner look without the old overhead fluorescent panels. A mix of warm and cool white LED globes at 60 and 120 degrees giving energy efficient light that is gentle without compromising effectiveness.

A gazillion different ideas about what to paint for my demonstration slot at the Arts Festival Gala Night. Acrylics for a crowded auditorium with a bunch of other stuff going on, the sensible choice. Didn’t expect to be doing so much of the painting with the palette in the dark! The abstract-impressionist subject of the macro of the pincushion forgiving to errors in selecting the incorrect colour.

‘To The Water’ heading to its new home from our private collection of paintings. An opportunity to display different work in the apartment.

Fabulous cycle down through the forest and up the Gouna Pass road. Fighting to keep upright on the loose stoney surface as the road gradient increased. Grateful that I didn’t need to worry about traffic.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Butterflies. Sweat. A bit of blood. Howling wind. Dust. Homtini Pass. Four hours. The longest ride in many years. Breakfast at the Garden Route Trail Park halfway through the ride ensured that my blood sugars didn’t go crazy.

Homtini (The name is apparently of Khoi origin and means either “mountain honey” or “difficult passage”), is one of the more beautiful of the passes in the string of passes between Knysna and George. Covering 5km, it winds down 45 corners and curves through the thick indigenous forest.

‘Pincushion Macro’ Small acrylic on canvas paintings I have been trying to get done for ages, based on the photo’s Kirsten took of pincushion protea on the table at River Deck after our walk on the wild side. Do wonder how they would work at 2mx2m!

Vietnamese dinner with the last of the recipes for the book on Diabetic Sensitive Vietnamese food. Ga Rang Gung (Ginger Chicken) and a fish option, served with the classic Vietnamese salad and dipping sauce. A starter of the pork and prawn rolls, with a couple using salmon rather than pork. Good Hope Pinot Noir (Stellenbosch) and Chardonnay (2014) from Newton Johnson (Hemel and Aarde), and Stoney Brook (Franschhoek), with a 2013 Radfordale (Paardeberg) all worked well with the subtle flavours of the Vietnamese dishes.

The ‘Wall Easel’ hanging system installed in the studio. Flexible for the various canvas sizes I have used over the years, it can also be used as a painting easel for the 2m canvas I have waiting.

A great feature in the Kalahari Review of a collection of my small paintings.


Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

With the alterations to the studio out of the way, and the new track lights not available for another week, the hanging system for the paintings still needs to be sorted.

A trial, ‘Wall Easel’, aesthetically pleasing and practical. Both for wind and for adjustments to take paintings that need to dry. This while maintaining the clear simplicity of the new space. The trestle table top planned for the studio a tad frustrating.

Sunrise Phantom cycle. So pretty riding down a ribbon of light. Sunlight playing in the dust.

Test Kitchen. Vietnamese fried wantons from Hoi An, and fried spring rolls from Saigon on the menu for Wayne to sample. Wet, or dry? Cook immediately, Or they stick turning into stodgy balls of mush.

The fried oil thing, horrible to work with. The air-fryer didn’t give the greatest results.

Tomato, pineapple and onion sauce not necessarily the best as a diabetic sensitive meal. When they work. Scrumptious. Champagne a definite.

‘Sleeping Rough’, an acrylic and marker pen illustration of boys outside the station in Knysna. I managed to do the underpainting for the portrait of the women in Hanoi.

‘Catfish and Mandala’ (Andrew Pham). A poignant, crafted book that brings our experiences of Vietnam into shimmering reality. The chapter headings are particularly fascinating, the Hyphenation in Pham’s journey. A depth of story in themselves.


Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Agapanthus Blue’, my painting for the Knysna Arts Festival ‘Unblocked’ exhibition where each artist is given a 20cmx20cm block of wood on which anything can be created.

Studio packed up to allow the contractors to get in an start the changes that have been under discussion for ages. The wall cladding and fragmented space being opened up with the removal of the partition wall and closing up of the window spaces.

A wide open space to discover and enjoy the paintings, and provides the opportunity for innovative hanging and displaying my work.

Vietnamese Steak au Poivre sauce with fillet, without the blackened veggies, more balanced. Leftover sauce and steak, with cauli-rice, made a tasty stroganoff. Pho ga (Vietnamese chicken broth). The spinach noodles together with julienne zucchini a great alternative, and a diabetic option, to the traditional rice noodles. The bottom of the bowl a treasure trove of flavours.

Felt like I was pounding the earth on my jog. Huge effort without a great deal of forward momentum, my body temperature soaring without the cooling wind that was nearly as lazy as Prince first thing in the morning.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Flame Lilie

Oil on canvas 76cmx102cm

An abstract approach to the painting of summer flowers in Steenbok Park. Responding to the abstract painting that Kirsten is doing that buzz with vitality.
The flowering coral tree reminiscent of Klimt’s painting with his ‘waterfall’ of blooms down the canvas, I struggled with dull, flat red colours on the canvas. The yellow of the hibiscus gave way to the orange-red curves of the flame-lily flowers. I softened the painting with the gentle colours of the agapanthus flowers.
One of those perfect mornings for a run, winding up through the forest with a light rain falling. Even the hills felt manegable.
Vietnamese food preparation. Oodles of time needed for all the fiddle bits. Terry modified the pork stuffed squid to account for my diabetic restrictions. Eliminating the sugar and first reducing the pineapple and tomato sauce to a tasty gooiness that also looked amazing.
The Pho was delicious, and much easier to eat at a table with decent sized chairs on a cool day, rather than the humidity of Saigon. Tasty fried Spring Rolls (using the air-fryer rather than oil) with crab, pork and prawns. A dry version of the ‘dipping sauce’ with crushed seeds and peanuts. The first of the recipes for the Diabetic Sensitive cookbook.
Knysna Art Society. Loved the clean, simplicity of the revitalized Old Goal space. Wondering how I can replicate the feeling with the modifications planned in the studio to create a larger area, and still manage all my stuff. Far too much stuff!
Somewhere I missed recording the sweet potato gratin recipe.
Sweet Potato Gratin

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Melt butter over medium heat and whisk together the cream, cheese and nutmeg until smooth.

3. In a 10-inch square baking dish, arrange an even layer of sweet potatoes. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the cream mixture and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and cream, seasoning with salt and pepper, to form 8 to 10 layers. Press down on the layers to totally submerge the sweet potatoes in the cream mixture.

4. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking until the cream has been absorbed, the potatoes are cooked through, and the top is browned, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.



Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Pushing the Oars’

Oil on canvas 120cmx40cm

Water. Hills shrouded in cloud and welcome rain falling. Heart stopping phone call about water cascading out of the apartment. An open tap on the patio following a day of of water outages due to pipe burst in Town.

Not the best news after earlier finding a leak in the painting storage area. Fortunately wine boxes the only casualty. Especially with the delivery of a few large canvases on the floor and not in the storage racks.

‘Pushing the oars’. Sampans on the busy waters of the Mekong Delta, searching for the slowest part of the river flow. The brown waters not what I wanted to dominate the painting, and while acknowledging the strength of the women who ply the eight foot oars of the boats, it was the delicate butterflies of the Delta the feeling I wanted.

Sweet potato gratin, with ribs on the Weber and a zucchini and pesto salad (Taste magazine), with a touch of Pinot on a beautiful evening.

Beach. Prince the reluctant follower, skirting the scary waves, before deciding that his mobs-kennel was the safest place. Progress of sorts.

Cast off Terry’s arm and she is starting to try out her new wing. Still going around in circles a bit as it’s a tad weak after the six weeks in plaster. The ‘transact’ a reminder not to do too much.

Very special to have Lesa and Alan visiting for a few days.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures


‘Flower Sellers’

Acrylic on canvas 150cmx70cm

King Arthur’s carousel horse from Disney. Music box playing in the early hours. Wind stirred memories.

‘Pushing the oars’, a dance of purple. Sampan boat rowers. Mekong Delta, Vietnam. The initial scratching on the canvas conveying so much that the subsequent painting only seems to detract.

A bowl of ripe tomatoes, ideal for the feta and tomato tart in the Taste magazine. The philo-pastry base not an option, or the flour that the recipe called for. Fortunately, aubergine an alternative, with a cream-cheese and cremefraiche filling.

Wines from the J9 collection, Newton Johnson, Walker Bay Pinot Noir and Radfordale ‘Frankenstein’, 2013, with the crispy Weber grilled duck.

A tad clumsy. Cold fingers. Headache. Slurred speech. Been awhile since my blood sugars have stayed this low.

Riding on the Jeep track above Simola, that heart-stopping moment when passing what could be elephant dung. Sweat stained glasses and a bit of imagination. Dislodged earth from the embankment.

My painting schedule thrown out of kilter to make space for the Garden Routes summer brilliance. Cascade of red. Yellow hibiscus on the patio. Purple agapanthus at Steenbok, and delicate red flame lilies, with their ‘tongues of fire’. Watsonia in dazzling shades of pink on the drive through to Nature’s Valley.


1 hour 15 mins


1 hour 15 mins

An Aubergine Quiche with roasted cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Recipe type: Dinner or Lunch

Cuisine: Vegetarian

Serves: serves 4


• 1 large aubergine, sliced into 1 cm slices.

• 150g halved cherry or baby plum tomatoes

• 300g feta cheese crumbled into little chunks

• 150g cream cheese

• 60 ml cremefraiche

• A good grating of parmesan

• 5 free range eggs

• Generous drizzling of olive oil

• salt and black pepper, garlic salt

• basil or parsley leaves for garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 180

2. Line a quiche or lasagne dish with foil and brush with a little olive oil.

3. Lay the sliced aubergines on the oiled foil, and brush with more oil and seasoning , making sure they get a good coating on both sides.

4. Put in the oven and after 20 mins or so, add the tomatoes, which should also be oiled and seasoned.

5. To make the quiche mixture, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and cremefraiche together, whisk in the eggs one by one and add seasoning and a good grating of parmesan.

6. Whisk together to make a smooth creamy custard and lastly crumble in the feta cheese,

7. After another 20 minutes when the vegetables are softened and browning around the edges, remove from the oven.

8. Make sure the aubergines are covering the bottom to form a vegetable base.

9. Pour the cheesy quiche mixture over the vegetables, allowing some bits of veg to poke through.

10. Sprinkle over the fresh herbs and cook in the oven