Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Princesses for a day’, oil on canvas 60cmx90cm in its new home.

The wonder of cortisone that enabled me to run at times that were maddingly quick. Scary. Blood sugars surging into the stratosphere. For now, sticking with the low insulation dosage, with copious amounts of water and exercise to bring them down into something mangeable.

A small study of a Springbok, the scale of the Etosha commission. If not quite the abstract effect I had in my head. Also managed to get the painting of Hana on Onrus beach finished, before head into Jozie to see my Mum.

Jenny did a delicious diabetic-friendly zucchini noodle and halloumi stroganoff, with a spicy cream sauce, cashews for that bit of crunch, and served with a green salad. A light Italian style wine ‘Bella Vino’ perfect on a warm evening.

Modderfontein hills run with the sunrise glinting off the hurtling Gautrain. A carpet of purple Jacaranda blossoms. My shoulder a tad unhappy with the effort of getting me up the hills to say nothing of my wobbly legs.

The ‘Cornerdeli’ in Modderfontein definitely worth a stop. You do have to get past the tempting pastries that showcase their Portuguese heritage to get to the mouthwatering cheese and charcuterie selection.

Learned that the wax bit of the Parmesan cheese should be included in the food dish and the wax falls a small lump that can be removed while the cheese melts into the dish.

‘Springbok’

Oil on canvas

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Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventure

Decided I wanted to do a companion painting for the Irises and Foxgloves. A square format, so not a traditional diptych. A tad concerned that the square canvas i was able to get is a tad small.

Unexpectedly the painting of the nature garden in Montagu that has been in our kitchen for years is off to its new home in Port Elizabeth.

From the ‘Plate’ cooking book, a lemongrass, sesame oil, chili, soya sauce and spring onion marinade for rump steak. Amazingly, I found all the bits amongst the various shops in our small town. Cooked over a hot fire, the flavours were subtle and delicious.

Suddenly. It’s my birthday. Incredible that 365 days have past. The wind howling, with a few spatters of rain that make the fire, and a glass of red-wine, that tad special. Of course my sister and Dad Sterley are no longer with us.

Carpets and rugs, filled with magical stories of Afghanistan. The rich madder red vibrancy of the rug from the carpet bazaar in Angoy, on the Tajikistan border. Delicate silks from Turkistan weavers. The luxurious pile of the sheep wool carpet from the market in our Kabul compound. That magical prayer-rug (that I’m sure I paid too much for) from our favorite carpet shop in Shahre-naw, Kabul. This while surrounded by my paintings from that incredible time.

From my diary …

Today the world is white! Snow is falling and this part of the world is beautiful.

Landing in Kabul through thinning cloud produced a landscape of brown and white. Snow drifts piled against buildings uniform in their drabness of the city much larger than I expected. It has some 2 million residents, 30 000 taxi’s, 200 000 cars and zillions of bicycles! Twisted aircraft wreckage lines the runway and it was with some apprehension that I stood in line to confront the fierce olive fatigued immigration officials. Certainly I did not expect the smile that greeted my announcement that I had no Visa, nor the friendliness of the driver that brought me here to my home for the next while.

The Great Masud road leaves the airport, a double lane highway along which you rocket at speeds constrained only by the fearlessness of the driver. Lanes don’t exist and where necessary the other side of the road becomes additional lanes. On one side, a single row of shops in various state of ruin run alongside the road with cultivated fields behind them. The other side has more elaborate structures long abandoned by groups such as Hoechst. There are obvious signs of repair with beautiful stone walls, interspersed with high security compounds. Unexpected colour from massive brightly painted trucks. Works of art in this mono chromatic landscape, laden with goods from Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Iran.

The UNOPS offices are in a run down apartment block. Inside, they have been renovated providing comfort enough when the electricity is working, but outside they look appalling. There is a new compound being built, the first phase of which will be ready for occupation in a few weeks. This will not include me as I take up responsibility for the rehabilitation of the University woman’s residence building. Well, that’s today’s story! From this table I can see children skating on the ice, and a few hardy people are flying kites. A landmark I was told I would find here.

The UNDP guest house (where I will stay this week) is a massive house, built on four levels with marble floors, chandeliers, a sweeping staircase and décor that jars my every sense. My room is comfortable, too hot with the heater and freezing without it, but there is a common lounge and dining room looking out to the garden.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Builders, and my shoulder being out of action, turned the patio garden into a sad, neglected, forlorn bunch of pots. Water pond cleaned out. Jasmine balls pruned into shape. Old plants replaced with new herbs. Transformed.

Rowing Boat

Acrylic on canvas 20cmx20cm

In the studio, a canvas for the larger painting of irises and foxgloves. A peach colour underpainting of Indian Yellow and Quinacrine Rose, with touches of Permanent Carmine, in bold sweeps. The blue of the Iris flowers seemingly beyond grasp. In my box of magic paints, Indigo Blue. (Van Dyk Ferrario No. 57) and Mineral Violet Deep (No 47) that touch of inspiration. For the foxgloves, I used a mixture of Alizarin Crimson (Winsor&Newton Artists) and Violet Rose Madder (Ferrario No 48)

Some dishes are surprisingly tasty. Certainly, the Yotam Ottolenghi Eggplant, Lamb and Yogurt Casserole is one such meal. ‘ … noisy yet peaceful, lip-smacking yet warm, simple yet daring.’ The flavours, definitely moreish. Particularly on a chilly evening, with the wind still howling. The heavily wooded Chardonnay from Constantia Uitsig a much better food companion than the young red I had.

With the sunrise, first 10km run after the collar-bone surgery. Nothing too crazy.

Yotam Ottolenghi Eggplant, Lamb and Yogurt Casserole

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 2 hours

For the eggplant and lamb mixture:

2 or 3 eggplants (aubergines) (about 1 1/2 pounds/680 grams), cut into 1-inch/3-centimeter cubes

1 pound/450 grams ground lamb (lamb mince)

1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 cup/15 grams fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped

1/3 cup/80 milliliters olive oil

1/4 cup/65 grams tomato paste

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 (14-ounce/400-gram) can whole, peeled plum tomatoes with their juices

3 cups/700 milliliters chicken stock

1/3 cup/20 grams roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the topping:

2 cups/450 grams plain Greek yogurt

3 large egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 lightly packed cups/70 grams finely grated Parmesan

1 cup/100 grams roughly crumbled feta

Scant 1/3 cup/40 grams pine nuts

2 packed tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit/240 degrees Celsius.

2. Add the eggplant, lamb, onion, oregano, oil, tomato paste, garlic, cinnamon, allspice, red-pepper flakes, 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper to a 10-by-13-inch/26-by-34-centimeter (or similar) roasting pan (tin) and mix well to combine. Bake until the mixture is well browned, stirring twice throughout and breaking apart the meat with a spoon, 30 to 35 minutes.

3. Remove from the oven and continue to break apart the meat very well (don’t worry if you break apart some of the eggplant, too). Add the canned tomatoes with their juices, lightly crushing the tomatoes by hand. Stir in the chicken stock and parsley then return to the oven and bake for another 35 minutes, stirring twice throughout, until the sauce is thick and rich and the eggplant is very soft. Remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to 475 degrees Fahrenheit/250 degrees Celsius.

4. While the casserole is in the oven, prepare the topping: Whisk together the yogurt, yolks, flour, garlic and half the Parmesan with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Once ready, spoon the yogurt mixture over the lamb and eggplant, gently spreading to cover. Top evenly with the remaining Parmesan, feta, pine nuts, parsley and red-pepper flakes.

5. Bake until golden and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

And to Drink …

This variation on moussaka calls for a lively red wine that won’t be drowned out by the dish’s assertive flavors. Why not a Greek red, like a xinomavro, if it’s not made in too oaky and tannic a style? Limniona is a rare red grape that’s been resurrected; from a producer like Zafeirakis, it would be ideal. You could try a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from the Adriatic coast of Italy, or a frappato or Cerasuolo di Vittoria from Sicily. If you happen to have an older Château Musar around, from the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, this may be an ideal time to serve it. Or, if you want to be bold, why not try one of the new wave of retsinas, Greece’s traditional white infused with pine resin?

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘On the estuary’

50cmx60cm

A small painting of a yacht on the estuary. The reflections in the water the focus of the painting. However, the multiple folds of the sails, entrancing. I used an underpainting of Naples yellow, with an initial painting in acrylics, before finishing the painting in oil.

A different perspective walking through town at the start of the day to start my stint at the Old Jail for the Knysna Arts Society new exhibition ‘Woman’. I had one painting in the exhibition ‘Customs Market’, painted during my time in South Sudan.

A homeless man and his dog walking along the pavement, searching through dustbins for food scraps, an all to familiar sight in our town. What was remarkable was that he picking up litter along the way and placing it in the rubbish bins.

‘Saving Kandinsky’ by Mary Basson is a fabulous read into the world of Gabrielle Münter, Kandinsky’s partner for the years he transformed into abstraction. The notes accompanying her paintings are absorbing and inspirational

Freedom! Ortho happy with the healing progress of my collarbone. No sling required, although no cycling, lifting, or anything that requires power, from the shoulder for another couple of months. Physio not required either, which is fabulous. Sleep, still problematical, with sleep time discomfort, exponential.

Cobwebs dusted from my running shoes, an easy 7km jog through the islands to start the day. The first in eight weeks. Mindful of the one-to-three days between running sessions. My wildly fluctuating blood sugars, a complicating factor.

Chef Hirsh did an amazing Kingklip fish dinner, with bacon, chili, yogurt and lemon. The sauce, fabulous. Fingers sufficing in the absence of bread. A starter of labneh and Thai pesto, zucchini spirals with salmon. Terry did a diabetic-friendly almond ice-cream that was definitely moreish.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

A bouquet of blue irises and maroon fox gloves to commemorate the life of my sister, the subject of a small painting. Didn’t quite get the blue-purple of the irises correct, but pleased with the movement in the still-life painting ‘The lines remind me of Kandinsky without becoming completely abstract.’ Kirsten

The Kammado Jan out of hibernation. A hunk of pork loin on the bone, from Chelmsford Farm, simply grilled for three hours with fresh rosemary and blue-organic salt. Crispy skin, tender meat and mouthfuls of yumminess.

Inspired by the paintings of Thomas Baines and his travel sketchbook’s, an elephant in the shelter ‘(protection?) of a large iron wood tree. The trees In the Tuli Block, Botswana – particularly next to the Limpopo River – are magnificent.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

If bending trees weren’t enough of a warning, kite-surfers screaming across the Estuary were. Only hardened cyclists braved the roaring winds for the Oyster Festival races. The Ultimate Fitness Festival?.

Sling keeping my shoulder from moving, too crazily. The blessing of a Mungo, superb woven towel, easing the chaffing. Blood sugars back into their normal range after the trauma, and a couple of coffee walks easing bruised muscles.

Cable ties my new friend holding the canvas against the easel, as ‘wingless’ I can’t catch the canvas as it does it’s bit to escape the abuse of my fingers smearing paint about. The large number of straight lines a tad challenging for my painting of the Norval Foundation exhibition.

While we we had to eliminate the beans from the Pork and Cannellini Bean casserole recipe, the sauce of the dish was sensational. The pork a tad on the dry side, which was disappointing. However, the Eastern flavours worked fabulously with the seared Bok-Choy.

Harbour Town full of athletes as it’s Forest Marathon time. Studio busy with the registration traffic generating its own energy.

Bartinney wine dinner at the Turbine. The lamb bredie, paired with their Cabernet Sauvignon, scrumptious.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Radically changed exercise routine. Standing up. Getting dressed. That, one handed button fastening. Pulling on socks. A shirt. Shoes. Bathroom contortions. Exhausting.

No surprise that my body, under stress after surgery, has my blood sugars dancing on the ceiling. Medication adding its own complexity.

‘Let me tell you about a man I knew’, by Susan Fletcher is a delightful book about Vincent Van Gogh’s time at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum. Words are brush strokes, woven through some of his well known paintings, framed within the factual accounts from his letters to his brother Theo.

Rich and indulgent. Beef fillet steak with Roquefort and port sauce, a recipe from the French countryside. With both Coreta and my shoulders trashed, Craig stepped in as Terry’s Sous-Chef de cuisine.

‘Luncheon at the Boating Party’, by Renoir, at the Phillips Collection, in Washington DC, is magnificent. My first visit, I was acutely aware of a woman standing entranced. Captivated by the power of the painting. My painting of ‘Collector’s Focus: Nudes in the Sanlam Art Collection’ at the Norval Foundation, captures a moment of captivation. The deep blue walls, a foil for her yellow dress.

Harbour Town buzzing with cyclists for the start of the Oyster Festival. Senses tuned to the vibrations of the approaching storm.

Diary of an Adventure

Pringle Bay Adventures

Our time here as suddenly come to an end. Days governed by endless beach walks, and the mesmerising movement of the sea outside the window.

With the arrival of the storm front, the water of the huge seas is dark and threatening. Gone are the gentle turquoise blue swells. The wild weather an opportunity to indulge in the heady aromas of citrus, cloves, red wine and deliciousness. Terry’s oxtail in a three-day stock of yumminess. Fresh bougette irresistible for the last spot of juice.

‘Storm’ Acrylic on canvas 60cmx90cm. Frenetic strokes on the canvas to catch the energy, anger, of the seas as they hurtles against the outcrop of rocks. A grey green for the dark waves, with a hint of turquoise and blue. Magenta touches for the shadows of the waves.

A large (2mx0,7m) canvas spread across the kitchen counter for an abstract seascape. Painting quickly to get soft edges before the acrylic paint dries. A trip through to Gordon’s Bay for a resupply of white paint. Rockfalls making the journey a tad perilous.

My blood sugars have been unbelievably stable with the more moderate exercise of walking on the beach for half an hour a gazzilion times a day, rather than my usual run or cycle in the morning and a couple of short walks during the day. Or perhaps, it’s that glass of wine at lunch time? (BG Ave 5,5 with a Standard Deviation of 0,8). And that was with a blood sugar spike (7,6 mmol/L) after a breakfast out, which included crumbed pea croquette’s.

Diary of an Adventure

Pringle Bay Adventures

Thrilled that portrait of Peter ‘Come-Along’ received an Honorable Mention at the 2018 London International Creative Awards, the Professional Painting Category. This to go with its Special Merit Award for Outstanding Art from the 2019 Figurative Art Competition.

Surfers, dolphins, paddlers, sup’s, runners, fisherman, walkers, families and dogs. The beach on a glorious day. The fishing fleet moving in at sunset.

For my painting of the surfer, I used the knuckles of my hand to create the ‘lumpy’ affect of the water below the breakers, and the edge of my hand for the breaking wave. A line of slightly darker toned water leading to the surfer which I painted with quick strokes, the black of the wetsuit against the water, enough of a contrast.

Prince up at first light for one of his multiple excursions to the beach. Seaweed, the game of choice as he hurtles after thrown pieces. My arms haven’t worked so hard since Polly chasing seaweed at Milnerton beach. The light providing different colours for a painting of the walkway to the beach. The mountains above Simons Town across the bay.

Holiday routine of a walk at first light, breakfast at the La Galerie, shopping in the village for firewood, wine, veg and braai bits, before heading back to the comfortable beach house to paint, read and watch the endless waves.

Sea-sand sweeping, never ending!

‘From the waves’

Oil on canvas 121cmx41cm

Diary of an Adventure

Pringle Bay Adventures

Phosphorusene dancing on the waves. The lights of the fishing fleet mesmerising. A beach of soft white sand. Border Collie mayhem. Sea water, far too cold to swim, and even the occasional foot immersion, chills. Montagu, the sheep, who walks on the beach at sunset, incongruous.

My bum stiff from walking on the beach, which is a few steps from the front of the house. Prince wanting nothing more than to spend every minute out playing. If the sea is too rough, the water of the river his play park of choice. Managing a wet, sandy dog a fearsome task.

A series of paintings of this ever changing view in my thoughts, as the wine level drops with the sunset. I have too many ideas. Too few canvases, and this. The first afternoon!

The colour of the beach sand perplexing. Magenta of muscle shells, with the pink shades of clams, flecked with bits of Raw Sienna and the blue-grey of dried kelp. Greens and turquoise for the sea

A splendid braai with a chimney that creates a vortex for the flaming wood. Crayfish tails from Kleinmond that tad special.

A cluster of shops at the village with a good selection of wine, as well as a few unusual bottles. Lemon and Lime, a comfortable deli, with great staff, who call you when fresh produce arrives. Breakfast at the Art Cafe