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

Boating Pond

It isn’t the cleverest idea to burn ones fingers, and an even worse idea if you are a finger painter! Testing the edges of my limited ability in the kitchen, with Terry still out of action for another month with her broken wrist.

Fortunately, it’s only a couple on my right hand, which are more of a nuisance on the bicycle than in the studio. The singed fingers a result of not realizing how hot a pot from the oven stays after you have finished using it.

Ginger, garlic, chili (It needs a special warning about the lingering effects on your hands that burns your eyes after you have removed the pips) red onion, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, fish-oil, salt, pepper, sugar for the ‘banana flower’ salad, pork stuffed calamari and galangal carmalised fish. Sugar and flower free sponge cake and creme anglaise for the trifle.

Testing Vietnamese recipes, using local ingredients that are diabetic sensitive, for the recipe book we are planning. The influence of Vietnam, with a hint of Christmas!

Managed the chopping stuff without blood. My leg, however, a bit worse off from coming into contact with the painting racks and my arm from playing with wild-child. Somehow, managed to get blood and paint spread all over the place.

On the easel I have an old women from Hoi An in Vietnam. A very traditional looking women that is challenging as I strive for simplicity. Her weather beaten skin, full of harsh reality, however it’s the twinkle in her eyes that remain the essence of the painting.

Spectacular morning light shining on the waters of the estuary. Gazillion reflections from the visiting yachts as we headed out up Phantom as the sun was waking up.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Paddle Steamer’

Oil on canvas 60cmx90cm

Harbour Town Adventure

Water. Complex. Demanding. Knuckles smearing paint. Paddle steamer at sunset across the Estuary from the studio.

The paintings at the new Avo Pomme exhibition perfectly capturing the emerging growth from the ashes of the fires. Delicate life, exquisite in its simplicity. Bernice’s canapés, once again, transcending the paintings.

That fragment of a view between sweat drops on my glasses, hurtling through the forest in carefree abandon. A yellow flower against blue skies and the view out to the Heads across the black earth.

Clare made ‘Pizza’ for diabetics, with brinjal slices, which looked and tasted amazing. Fillet with a sauce that oozed the fragrances of the mysterious East. Mint, lime, chilly, ginger and garlic. A taste of the weeks ahead in Vietnam? Sutherland Pinot Noir that taste of summer.

Studio busy on the holiday week, my grumpiness sort of manageable. The painting for the antique wooden boat poster heading to its new home.



Brinjal pizza

RECIPE BY Rosalin Mconie



PREP TIME 30 minutes

COOKING TIME 35 minutes


For the brinjal base

• 2 brinjals

• 1 T salt

• 3 T olive oil

For the sauce

• 2 cloves garlic

• 1 T olive oil

• 1 can chopped tomato

• 1 T fresh parsley, chopped

• 1 t dried oregano

• 1/2 t salt

For the topping

• 30 g fresh basil

• 300 g mozzarella cheese


Cut the aubergine lengthways into 2cm thick slices and sprinkle with salt. Lay the aubergine on paper towel to absorb the excess moisture and leave for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C

For the tomato base, heat 1T olive oil and gently sauté 2 cloves of chopped garlic.

Add a can of chopped tomatoes, 1T freshly chopped parsley, 1t oregano and ½ t salt. Simmer until the sauce has thickened.

Dry off the aubergines and make sure to remove any excess salt. Place on a roasting tray and brush with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes.

The aubergines should be cooked through but not too soft and mushy. All ovens work differently so check your aubergines after 15minutes and then every 5minutes there-after.

Once the aubergines are done, spread a tablespoon of tomato base on each slice, add layers of basil leaves and finish with grated mozzarella.

Place them in rectangular, shallow ovenproof dish then slide it under a hot grill until the cheese has melted and begins to crisp. Serve immediately.

Asian-style fillet roast on rice noodles

RECIPE BY Abigail Donnelly



DIETARY CONSIDERATIONS Dairy free Fat conscious


• 1 T sunflower oil

• 500 g beef fillet

• 190 ml soya sauce

• 2 garlic cloves, crushed

• 1 x 5 cm piece of ginger, grated

• 1 t fish sauce

• 2 T brown sugar

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• 1 spring onion, sliced

• fresh peas, for serving

• 1 small cucumber, sliced

For the garnish

• a couple of sprigs of fresh coriander

• a couple of sprigs of mint


Cover 250 g rice noodles with boiling water and set aside for 15 minutes.

Mix 1 finely chopped seeded red chilli, the juice of 1 lime and 3 T rice vinegar.

Drain the noodles and pour over the dressing.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Heat 1 T sunflower oil over a high heat.

Seal 500 g beef fillet, remove and allow to rest.

To the same pan, add ¾ cup soya sauce, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 x 5 cm ginger, grated, 1 finely chopped red chilli, 1 t fish sauce, 2 T brown sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until the sugar dissolves.

Return the fillet to the pan and coat with the sauce. Finish in the oven. R

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

It’s been a long time since I was in a kayak and it showed as we fell out almost immediately. However, we managed the paddle around to the yacht club without further mishap, despite the water chop and power boat wakes. Fun ahead.
Curiosity, settling into some form of understanding. Appreciation of incredible amount of work taken to generate the volume, and complexity of the art on show. Frustration. All too traditional. Where was the ‘pokemon’ and computer game world in which this generation exit?
The Boat Shed finally awaking after being damaged in the fire last year. First visit to the Lofts Boutique Hotel, a light space opening through to the water. A relaxing space, eclectically furnished, with the anticipated vibrancy of Ile de Pain nearing readiness. Already we have been able to sample the new kitchens products as the staff bring around baskets of weight gaining scruptiousness.
Eye1.JPGOn the easel, a portrait of a homeless women. Uncomfortable at having her picture taken, doing her best to disappear into the background. I based the portrait on Bertha Morisot’s work that she did on brown paper. Naples yellow, and raw sienna, with a touch of burnt umber, as an underpainting to create the paper background, allowing the Naples yellow to dry before applying the raw sienna.
Waters of the estuary busy with the arrival of the summer yachts. The launch of a new Knysna 500 catamaran bringing the Harbour to a standstill.
Sheets streaked with blood. Somehow I managed to create a hole in my elbow during the night. Dangerous person am I.
Luxembourg.jpgLuxembourg 2016 Art Prize, Selection Committee’s response
“A remarkable artistic approach with great sensitivity. We sense a very strong creative instinct in you and an empirically-oriented approach. Try to intellectualise further what you feel.”
Messing About with Paint

Spring Exhibition

For Spring 2016, surround yourself in colours full of the energy of a new season.
Flora, the Roman goddess of flowering plants, was depicted wearing light spring clothing, holding small bouquets of flowers, sometimes crowned with blossoms. Ovid identifies Her with the Greek flower-nymph Chloris, whose name means “yellow or pale green”, the colour of Spring.
Step into a magical wonderland of Impressionist flowers, one of the great joys of spring.
Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures


Keel boats out at play in the sunshine. Fish Eagles calling from blue skies.
My calves screaming after the never ending climb up the Pezula hill. Fantabulous burger at Easthead suitable compensation.
Forest run.jpgThe studio cold in the mornings before the sun visits. A couple of small paintings finished, and others packed and sent off to their new homes. An emotional handing over of a copy of the portrait of the ‘The Pirate’ to Anton. My objective in painting this portrait series to show that homeless people still have dignity, achieved in this instance.
Decadent, is how Fromager d’Affinois pronounced: [fromage dafinwa], is described. A French double-cream soft cheese made from cow’s milk, invented in heaven. That is, the small town of Pélussin in the Rhône-Alpes region, and sent to us by Jennie.
‘Oupa’, a portrait of a builder working at the Heads. Hard as Stinkwood, with skin the colour of tannin filled waters, it feels as though he is one with the Forest.
Monday Blues.jpg
I used the Fabonacci sequence to fix the composition within the spiral. The eye falling at the golden ratio focal point, by adjusting the angle of the face. Raw Seinna my point of departure for the face, with Permanent Madder and Ultramarine for the dark patches. A grey mixture of Venetian Red and Cobalt Blue and one of the crazy paints from my mystery box, called Indigo. I added Quadr Rose to soften areas that were looking a tad harsh.

A couple of brave souls for the dry-run  studio movies that are planned for winter. As it was a British movie, Terry made fish pie (Jamie Oliver), of which I was a tad sceptical. It was amazing and I was glad that there were leftovers! A few niggles with remote control changes from the video that runs on the screen showing my finger-painting style and the dvd player. The chairs comfortable, and the blankets unnecessary on an unnaturally warm evening.

Forest run. My legs, still stiff from the earlier hills, struggeling over the uneven surface. Coordination shot.

Promised storm has arrived. Fire warming the apartment.

Disconnected bark ….

Grown old within the forest, 

Tree stands alone

His branches touching others, reaching out

No other woody-limbs responding

Left to wither, scorned by spruces

When really, maturity brings

Strength, wisdom, stature

Dignity to withstand the loss of youthful sap.

His deeply weathered, protective canopy

Grown thin

Tree’s autumn leaves

Announce life’s natural rhythm 

Always there, seldom seen

He is alone, within a forest grown 

Silent, statuesque 

Tree’s pride awaits his fall

Terry Ellen 

June 2016

Jamie Oliver’s Fish Pie
Prep time
30 mins
Cook time
30 mins
Total time
1 hour
Serves: 8
for the mashed potato topping
  • 1kg potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 400g frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
for the fish pie filling
  • 500ml (2 cups) milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 200g frozen hake fillets
  • 200g frozen smoked haddock fillets
  • 200g frozen shelled prawns
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
  • 40g (1/2 cup) mature cheddar, grated
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot of boiling water or in a steamer and cook until soft.
  2. Pour boiling water over the peas to de-frost them then blend in a food processor.
  3. Mash the potatoes then mix in peas, butter and lemon zest. Season to taste.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200°c.
  5. To make the fish pie, poach the fish in the milk with the bay leaf. When the fish is cooked, remove the fish and flake into large chunks. Reserve the milk.
  6. In a large, oven-proof frying pan fry the onion and carrot in a splash of olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and fry for another 30 seconds.
  7. Add the flour and stir then add the milk the fish was poached to create a creamy sauce.
  8. Add the English mustard and fish and stir well then add the cheese and lemon juice and stir.
  9. Season to taste.
  10. Top the fish filling with the mashed potato and create indents with a spoon which will become nice and crispy in the oven.
  11. Place the pie in the oven and allow to bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and crispy.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes then serve.
Diary of an Adventure

Thesen Harbour Town Adventures

Translucent sails against the shimmering water. Slow cooked pork belly (the Voignier, Weber grilled type), with green beans and Mum’s crunchy Tai green salad, overlooking another stunning sunset across the lagoon. Ateraxia Pinot a stunning accompaniment. Especially when combined with a taste of Vosges Pink Himalayan crystal salt, caramel chocolate.

Muscles weary from carting the boxes of books into the apartment. Treasures from our travels uncovered, bringing their memories. Mold a bother on clothing used as wrapping on fragile bits.
Kirsten introduced me to Alexi Von Jawlensky, who painted with Kandinsky which inspired the colours of his portraits. While primary colours predominate in much of his work, I used his colour contrasts as a basis for a much gentler portrait of Guy. The turquoise, raw sienna and blue of the waters outside the studio, to capture his carefree spirit.
The eyes, where it all starts. Did chicken out with the background, going a conservative route, rather than the dramatic one I had in mind.
With the wind taking a day off and the sun out to play, we closed the studio and headed to the Peroni beach bar in Craig’s boat. The colours of the waters magical, if a tad too chilly to swim. Wakes from every direction brought a mishmash of craft to the beach. A spot of Pinot and Champagne at J9, seemed to demand that we finish the day at Chatters for one of their fabulous pizza’s.
The cry of birds in distress woke me as day was breaking over the lagoon. Owls out hunting, the cause. Their hooting, menacing in its finality.
Outside the studio, the new light boxes have been installed finalizing the branding, and ensuring that the studio is unmissable. Inviting. Intriguing. Stylish. Impressive.
Studio lights 2
First tour group visiting the studio. Did the photograph pose bit and demonstration painting. As the group consisted of a couple of Japanese media people, it will be interesting to see what coverage the studio gets.
Sold a small painting, which was important as it was also a test run for the card machine.
New paintings from the studio
Oil on Canvas 20cmx20cm
Pilot Boat
Oil on Canvas 20cmx20cm
Diary of an Adventure

Thesen Harbour Town Adventures

My fingers are full of holes, and there is more blood than paint on the panel I’m making for the laundry cupboard. My skills at carpentry a tad lacking, and I certainly don’t have the correct tools. None of which makes a difference when you can’t get the measurements precise! In my defense, the panel was incorrectly cut at the building supplier, which crated mayhem.

I managed, after careful measuring to install the shutter door for the laundry perfectly, apart from it being upside down! With assistance from a large hammer, the panel is in place, without further bloodshed.
The studio floor, a mirror that embraces the shadows cast by the window branding. A foil for some of the carpets from Afghanistan that have settled, waiting to be flown to new adventures.
Of the many things I expected with having the studio open, I certainly didn’t expect that a strong yard broom would be one of my most used implements. There is an OCD obsession with seeing who keeps their pedestrian walkway the most pristine. In part, practical as having hordes (OK, a few at this moment) of feet carrying dirt into the studio creates another area to be kept clean, and the wind brings with it, all sorts of rubbish.
On the easel, a painting of a catamaran against a glorious sunset. Nothing dramatically challenging, after the energy needed to get the studio established. The view from the studio, breathtaking as the light changes.
Summer exhibition at the Knysna Fine Art Gallery. A stunning portrait on linen, and excellent sculpture work, whose shadows danced in the sunlight. Beautifully cut fabrics, easily mixing with beach slops on the eclectic mix of patrons.
Searching for elephants within the Phantom Forest painting has generated a fair amount of interest, and is certainly engaging people to see beyond the visual representation of the forest.
Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm
Diary of an Adventure

Thesen Harbour Town Adventures

At the studio, the new windows arrived at day break, and the efficient team from Mickelwood were soon breaking out the old doors and walls. With noise and dust exploding from the studio, we left for a day at the market and the festival on Leisure Island. By the end of the day we had new windows and a new, working, front door.

The wiring for the lights a casualty, as they were running in the wall where the window has been installed. A bit of a bother.

Apartment living, within the urban – laid-back – environment of Knysna, with its traffic at peak periods (this is not New York City), and overly loud locals walking past at restaurant shift change time, is switching off your music when the music drifting across the water from some distant party is pretty good.

Managing the garbage and recycling is part of the morning routine, and sometimes an evening one as well, depending on how many wine bottles the patio has consumed. We have a sort of system that will probably need a bit more thought once the kitchen is installed.

A flexible black rectangle with a non-stick coating, the grill mat that Coreta introduced me to made cooking sticky ribs a synch, and cleaning the Weber even easier. It’s wise to wipe the grill may before it gets cold to remove the fat and other bits.

Owls nesting in the tree outside the burnt-out Boat Shed building. The chicks seemingly unaffected by the pounding of jackhammers and demolition chaos.

The ever-changing estuary in front of the apartment, a fresh ‘canvas’ twice a day, as the tides change. Movement of water, with shadows formed by sunrise and sunset added dimensions. The potential for Land-Art. Organic, temporary in nature, a fleeting moment of organisation in a seemingly chaotic world.

First meeting held with the Knysna Basin Project Team to discuss the delicate biosphere of the estuary and what is possible.