Notes from my travels and life as an artist working in the dynamic world of International Development

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Cycle up the Brenton hill, not the steepest of climbs, but it winds up for quite a distance before dropping back down to the sea. All of which needs to be repeated in reverse. Slowly!

It does give you enough time to see the changes taking place across the hills and forests turned to ash in the fires. Tendrils of brilliant green bracken pushing through the black earth. An improbable patch of snowdrops sparkling in the afternoon sunshine. The first hints of Spring.

Frustration sorting my crazy blood sugar levels that have left me a tad hungover and grumpy. Cold hands, with ups of tea to warm them up

Prince unsure of the noise made by the pouring rain, but thrilled to be charging through the low tide mud. A dead fish, perfect for rolling in. The cold wash, not part of his game! Being brushed, another stressful encounter as was his first walk through the town on a busy morning. Traffic noise and impossibly far intersections. Lots to learn.

Sticky Clemengold glazed chicken with butternut wedges, it’s origin etched firmly in oriental soil. Cooked in the Weber, rather than the oven. A visual and taste delight.

‘Elephant Walk’, painted while I was in Botswana sold and in its new home, high on the dunes overlooking the Wilderness sea.

In the studio, with the underpainting dry, a painting Belinda to emerge. The delicate paintings ofTheodore Earl Butler an unexpected inspiration A far cry from the bold primary colour of the sunset I had in my head. Pastel?

A muddy cycle, with the far mountains dusted in snow, on a stunning sunny day

Sticky ClemenGold-glazed roast chicken with pumpkin wedges

• RECIPE BY Hannah Lewry




• PREP TIME 30 minutes, plus 10 minutes’ brining time

• COOKING TIME 1 1⁄2 hours, plus overnight brining

• WINE / SPIRIT PAIRING Woolworths Hartenberg Chardonnay 2016

Woolworths is committed to sustainability via our good business journey. Seasonal (and other) products might not always be in stock.


• 160 g fine salt

• 55 g brown sugar

• 2 T red wine vinegar

• 1 litre water

• 3 oranges, juiced (keep the skins)

• 1 lemon, juiced (keep the skins)

• 1 whole free-range chicken

• 6 ClemenGolds

• 1 garlic head, halved

• 1⁄2 pumpkin, cut into large wedges

• 2 t fresh sage

• 4 T olive oil

• 100 g butter

• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• 50 g mixed seeds, roasted


To make the brine, mix the salt, sugar, vinegar and water and bring to a simmer. Add the orange and lemon juice and skins and cook until the salt and sugar have dissolved.

Place the chicken in a large container and pour over 2 1⁄2 litres water and the brine. Cover and chill overnight.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry using kitchen paper. Stuff with 1 halved ClemenGold and the garlic. Tie the legs together with string.

Arrange on a large baking tray with 3 sliced ClemenGolds, the pumpkin and sage. Drizzle over the juice of 2 ClemenGolds and the olive oil, dot with butter, season and roast for 1 – 1 1⁄2 hours, basting regularly with juices until the chicken is cooked through. Serve warm with the roasted seeds.

Cook’s note: The secret’s in the citrus brine! Brining a whole chicken adds flavour and tenderness to the meat. Add orange and lemon skins, plus an overnight session in the fridge (patience, people!), and you’ll have the juiciest chicken you have ever eaten!

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

A sunny spot for breakfast at Nadine’s on Leisure Island, with a happy dog covered in marsh mud.

Wild-side. Coffee out of the back of a bakkie. Served with a smile. The ‘Going Somewhere Slowly’ blog. Laughing wave crests. Prince charging around the beach

Strength of Women 8Didn’t quite want ’40 shades of grey’ on the studio wall that was to be the feature for the new Women’s Day exhibition. In Tokyo there is a small art gallery that only features a single painting at a time. The artwork is supported by reference reading that is relevant to the work, inviting one to engage with the particular work. In my head, this simplicity, and calmness what I was looking to achieve.

The wall a tad overwhelming for the single small painting ‘Forgotten’ from South Sudan, however, I may have included too many works. A single chair, a reminder from the Phillips in Washington DC. A spot to sit and spend time with the paintings.

The grey paint colour leaving streaks across the wall. A late decision to remove a couple of the old spot lights that were a distraction, added additional tones to the wall. Jessica and her team managing to meet the crazy deadline to get the wording in place.

Splendid sunset accompanied the bubbles for the opening Women’s Day exhibition ‘Reflecting the Strength of Women’. An evening of lighthearted merriment that flowed effortlessly. Paintings engaging. Demanding attention. Stimulating conversation

Prince, a tad stressed after his day in hospital for a biopsy on his nose. Fortunately he doesn’t seem to be bothered by the stitches making his time in his head cone protector minimal.

Surprisingly warm for a jog alongside the estuary. Stiff legs, not thrilled to be out, despite the earlier cappuccino walk with Prince.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Easthead jog. Puddles to stomp through after the rain. Sea freezing, or at least ‘knee headache’ temperature.

Owl hooting at the stars. Prince barking at this new sound, and anything else that scares him, or doesn’t take his fancy. Agility school seems to be the right fit for Prince. The close interaction calming his separation anxiety and he is thriving on the stimulation. Lots of work needed on getting him to stop, and return to us, when he is only interested in playing.
Feeling a tad hungover. That headache, slurred speech and bit of a tremble. All achieved without wine! Have to love that morning sugar low. With the increased exercise, I probably need to eat more. However, not too many calories which will increase the insulin trend for weight gain. Not sure whether the bulge in the rear tyre of my bicycle is a better indicator of that than the scale! Crazy balancing act.
Crate for the painting going to France is ready and the vexing issue of the fumigation certificate finally sorted. This without additional blood!
My legs ran out of fuel on the cycle up Simola hill. Or it could have been my lungs that struggled for enough air. It was certainly a long, slow climb. Thrilled to find that the contour path through the forest wasn’t affected by the fires. Although the drought is taking its toll, with much of the lush undergrowth crisped.
Opening Jan Avo Pomme
Opening of my ‘Homeless’ exhibition at the AvoPomme Creative Hub. The fabulous bright, airy, industr
ial-feel space, with its soaring double volume providing different levels from which to view unique perspectives of the portraits.
Ricardo did a magnificent job of hanging the paintings so they float in the space. Tasty, themed ‘homeless’ snacks were served from their Urge Urban Café. The live saxophonist a touch of magic. A fun evening.
No surprises that the spinach spaghetti with a bolognese sauce made as much of a mess of my shirt as pasta spaghetti ever did!
Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Prince is thrilled with himself, having learned how to open the front door, by bashing the handle down with his paw and using his shoulder to open the door. It does make leaving him alone in the apartment that extra bit trickier



Across the Generations', a painting of Aunty Helen's and Kelly's hands. Rich Madder red with Ultramarine blue providing the anchor for the pallet. A delicate mix of Indian Yellow and Quinacridone Rose for Kelly’s hands, with Raw Sienna and a grey of Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna as highlights. For Helen’s fingers, I used white with the darker purple to create contrast. My eyes, frustrating, if making for interesting painting!

Sunshine, if still chilly, and hardly a breeze, perfect for the beach. Prince not at all sure about the waves or the water, which were both far to scary.

Cut back the star jasmine in the patio garden to the metal ball support as it was starting to look a tad wild. Hopefully this will result in a mass of summer flowers.

Nose a shade of pink after a walk at Steenberg Park with Prince running crazy circuits through the water, slithering across the wet board walk and into the marsh. Happy dog days.

Managed a cycle up Phantom Pass and a spin out to Leisure. Nothing too crazy, but quick enough to elevate my heart rate so as to get reference points for my blood sugar levels. Dietitian happy with my insulin management and cleared up what is critical to stay alert for, as well as the eating before and after exercise issues that should help to stabilize my blood sugar. At least my BMI and other markers are where they should be!

Still no ice cream, and in another lifestyle whammy, nearly as serious as the no-wine, no bare-feet. Even on the beach. Crazy.
Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

First dinner out as a diabetic, gently managed by Clare and Terry. Tablets and insulin injection packed with the mineral water. A tasty starter of salmon with a spot of grapefruit and crème fraîche (designed for pairing with Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc) on segments of cucumber to accommodate my carbohydrate intolerance, with a fillet on the braai and salad. A handful of blueberries my desert allowance.

Wind, blowing off the snow covered mountains, unpleasantly cold for the walks required by a Border Collie ball of energy. Our days defined by his needs. Morning walks at first light, with an afternoon stint in the dog run on Thesen. The RAV, again a mobi-kennel, his safe haven

Without wine to drink, there are suddenly a gazillion tea bags in our lives, which I'm tearing up and using as a soli supplement for the patio garden pot plants. This no wine life is going to take a bit of getting used to.

Lesa and Alan visiting for a few days, forcing me out of the studio, where I have become a tad hermit like. 'Phantom Ride'. the approach to Phantom Pass at first light, named for the exquisite brown and grey moths which appear again and again each year in spring.

Knysna artists exhibition at the Mall for a couple of days. Quality, artistic interpretation, and relative value part of the endless questions by the knowledgeable elderly who spent time engaging with the various artists works.

Sugar levels responding to the care Terry is taking in searching out the hidden sugars in many of the standrad foodstuffs we eat. Tolerant of me bouncing off the walls of restrictions.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Oyster Festival, the studio busy with people wondering about. Good news that Steenberg are going to sponsor wine for the studio movie evenings and are happy to link their brand to the studio activities. Of course, this would happen as soon as I’ve been banned from drinking wine!

I have the blood sugar measuring stuff all sorted and am able to make holes in my finger without leaving a trail of blood everywhere. My eye sight all over the place making reading difficult and the insulin injections a bit of a lottery. Fortunately my painting are smears of paint that contain few details.

On the easel an underpainting for ‘Phantom Ride’, the approach to Phantom Pass at first light. 

Following the fires, we have seen an increase in the bird life on Thesen Island. The amethyst sunbird has been a frequent visitor to the flowers of the coral tree, and now to the bird feeder that Terry has setup on the back patio. Perfect for a series of small paintings.

My submission to the National Portrait Award has been handed in. From the sample of submitted work I was able to see there are some exceptional entries. No idea what criteria the judges will be using, however, the results should be exciting. Interestingly, mine were the only landscape oriented portraits that I noticed.

Drinking tea with the sunset somehow doesn’t have the same appeal as that glass of wine.

Short ride out to the Red Bridge. Amazingly tough for such a short ride. No blood and no impact on my blood sugar levels.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

My times around our various cycle and running routes have been getting slower, with the ride up to the Brenton view point a slow struggle (I was a distant last). Following a series of punctures, I have been concerned about binding of the back disc brake, which would account for some of the slowness, however, this wouldn’t account for the pedestrian running.
A tad more concerning is that I haven’t been able to drink wine, as every bottle tastes corked. That damp, sweaty, cardboard taste. That, with no real appeal for food (croissants with cheese and ham don’t count. Neither do ice-creams or chocolate milkshakes), I have become seriously boring. 
With radical weight loss, increased fatigue, and drinking huge amounts of water, it was time to visit the doctor. Diabetes the diagnosis with the need to radically cut down on all sugars to bring the levels down to normal.
The meds have kicked in with shakes, cold extremities, nausea, shortness of breath, and headaches as my body comes off its sugar high. Afghan socks marvelous at keeping my feet from freezing and a tea mug keeping my hands warm.

Didn’t expect to end up in hospital as they try and sort a few complications and introduce insulin under observation. The injections less intrusive than expected, especially for someone who doesn’t like needles.
Not sure why people need to have their various beeps, whistles, tones and speaker calls of their cell-phones playing while they sit in a hospital bed. Fortunately, in a hospital ward there are all sorts of tubes, sharp instruments, drugs and plastic bags to conjure up a myriad of deaths.
Day 3 of having a Border Collie rescue pup in our lives, started at around 1am, when he decided it was play time. 
Not having any idea of his bathroom habits, as he hasn’t lived in an apartment before, with no garden access for those routine toilet breaks, we are highly sensitive to his getting up and strolling around. We have learnt that being scared of the dark, taking him out in the dark hours for a toilet break doesn’t work.
We also know that if he gets bored, then he tends to decimate the nearest fun object. Somehow I managed to scratch my arm and bleed excessively over the clean linen, which he found fascinating. His only distraction a raw-hide chew type thing that he could chase like a hockey puck across the wooden floor, in between bouts of tearing it apart. All quiet noisy!
After his cappuccino walk at first light, and that all important toilet stop, we were a tad surprised to find the apartment relatively clean and in one piece. Sunny, if chilly day. Bath time to sort any ticks and fleas.
As he has managed to decimate the three soft ‘puppy’ toys, the search was for something that would keep him occupied, wouldn’t bounce excessively, or have any toxic bits (plastic) that he could swallow. Keeping him occupied is a relative term as in reality you are the interactive play-mate.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

That ‘broken wing’ effect with the strain on my elbow from painting the large canvas, ‘Colourful Story of Leaves’, which is finished. Fortunately the client who expressed interest in the painting has decided to take it. 

I haven’t been hugely successful at carrying out commissions, however this past year I have engaged much more proactively with the client during the painting process. After getting agreement on the initial concept, I have sent them regular updates of the painting process, explaining what I’m trying to achieve. Hopefully this keeps them engaged in the process and ensures that the final painting exceeds their expectations and feels like the unique, custom painted picture that it is.

I also received confirmation that DHL are happy to bring my paint across from France. A whole ton of procedural stuff that only emphasizes why Amazon are doing so well. Push the button, and the goods arrive!

Gentle cycle up Phantom Pass, after yet another puncture. Again, fortunately at the start of the ride, which meant attentive help at Bespoke Cycles.

Multi-coloured birthday cake, required that extra bottle of wine. Phillip brought out the amazing Driehoek Shiraz which was voted as the best Shiraz in the world. With our impromptu dinner, a 2010 Moulin-a-Vent Grande Cuvée. And that extra bit of cake. I didn’t drive home!

Only a bit of blood assisting to put up an Owl Box outside the studio.

Mo and Rose, Robertson, looking out across the cacti garden to the mountains under clear blue skies. A glass of wine, bird calls and the sounds of industrious gardeners. A tad nostalgic, as my first ever job (13 years old) was working in a specialist cactus and succulent nursery. Walking past some of the specimens, I can still remember their names.

Our lives changed with a seven month old Border Collie cross, rescue dog, a new addition. We collected him in Cape Town and he slept most of the way back to Knysna. So different to Polly who paced the back seat the whole time.

Prince (the name he came with) was abandoned on the side of the road at birth and after being taken in at the SPCA and a couple of foster homes, where he was given behavioral training. Hence, while we have a young, strong energy fiend, we don’t have a monster.

He is scared of the dark, and everything that makes a noise, or casts a shadow. The scary clock and the two wooden guinea-fowl at the top of the stairs are top of his ‘fear list’, with the popping of the heater close-behind. Being a ‘suburbia’ dog, the sounds of the street outside the studio with people, cars, and birds are all a bit frightening.

He managed his first evening out with a bunch of people at Coreta’s house without any problem, and seemed happy enough running around the dog-run with the other dogs. Diva has sort of accepted him and there is a hint that they could become great friends.

A ton of early morning and late night walks ahead, with longer runs in our future.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

My stomach a tad unhappy with something, made for a slowish jog to East Head. Managed the burger much more easily!


On the easel, the ‘Colourful Story of Leaves’, a large 1,2×1,2 m canvas of the oak tree avenue at La Motte, in their spectacular autumn leaves. A cascade of gold, yellow and orange against blue skies. The crunch of leaves under my feet as I walked through Central Park a vivid reminder as I do an under-painting in blues and grays, with a smidgen of yellow and green left on the pallet.


Brothers Jan Vanessa.jpg

‘Brothers’ heading to its new home


A sunshine prison on Hugh and Clare’s patio that eased limbs frozen from being in the studio. One of those spots that could, with easy company and good music, become a wine consumption disaster.


A piece of glass slashed the front wheel of my bicycle, making for a slightly nervy cycle through some of the burnt sections of the town. We cycled through Belvedere with little sign of the flames that forced the residents to evacuate. The gardens are looking a tad sad with the drought taking its toll. My body struggling to keep turning the gears over up the hills.


Wind howling, with little of the promised rain. A splendid opportunity for Terry’s oxtail served with filled peppers and squash. The J9 cellar unearthed a 2007 Crozes-Hermitage. Definitely moreish. Fortunately the Black Rock was a worthy successor. Bread and Butter pudding, Liam Tomlin style, with the fire warding off the chilly night.



Liam Tomlin’s Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding

Serves 4

3  Croissants

50g  Unsalted butter

1   Vanilla pod

300ml   Cream

300ml Milk

8  Free-range eggs

175g Caster sugar

50g   Raisins

50g  Dark chocolate broken into small pieces and chocolate

25 g Apricot jam

15g  Toasted, sliced almonds


Cut croissants in 5cm thick slices and spread with butter. Split the vanilla pod and place in a saucepan with the cream and milk, slowly bring to the boil. While it is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl. Allow the cream mix to cool a little, and then strain it onto the egg yolk stirring all the time.


Arrange the sliced croissant in individual ramekins, sprinkling the raisins and chocolate between the layers leaving the top clear. Pour the warm custard over, lightly pressing the croissants to help it soak in. Leave the puddings to stand for 15 minutes before cooking.


Pre-heated the oven to 160°c. Place the ramekins into a roasting pan and place in the oven. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to come three-quarters the way up the side of the ramekins to create a bain-marie. Cook the bread and butter puddings for 25-30 minutes until the custard reaches setting point. If it appears too runny, return to the oven for a further 5 minutes before checking again. Carefully remove the bain-marie from the oven and allow the puddings to cool slightly in the bain marie.


Warm the apricot jam with a little water to thin it out slightly. Brush the apricot jam over the surface of the puddings and sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top.


Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Tendrils of smoke, the last gasp of the fires that have ensnared our emotions, or the portent of another night of terror. Helicopters operating in the last light of the day. 

Although the fires are burning further into the forests, there is enough smoke in the air to agitate eyes, forcing a route change to our morning jog.

Paintings heading out to their new homes, with the portrait of the young homeless women completed. I decided not to do the curtain of dreads that were part of the reference photo’s, but rather let her defiance scream at the world that judges her.

For the hair, I used a wad of tissue to rub out sections of the paint. Arc’s of movement. various shades and tones of Alizarin crimson and raw sienna for the face, with a grey of cobalt blue and burnt sienna to create the shadows of the face.

A curry and wine pairing evening that should have had warning signs all over Hugh and Clare’s house. Not that the curries were in any way scary, but rather having to try each of the wines with the curries, and in a few cases, resampling was required. I’m sure there was more wine than blood in my system during the jog that felt endless.

Of the wines, the Pinot was stunning with the bobotie spring rolls. The rose (Cab Franc from Delaire) worked splendidly with the cream chicken curry, and the whites (A Riesling from Radforddale and Pinot Grigio from Terra Del Capo) worked perfectly with the Durban lamb curry. The reds didn’t feature. Although having been opened, they couldn’t be wasted!

Managed to get out for a cycle up Phantom Pass. The fires have burnt away the vegetation and only a few walls remain of one of the farms at the bottom of the Pass. It’s different now, with spectacular views down into the valley. Still challenging and a great ride. A bit of blood from not giving the correct amount of respect to a tree that has been blown over close to the cycle path.