Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Adrenalin infuses each breath of Knysna as the Oyster Festival kick starts. Overboard for 29 hours, and surviving (a talk by Brett Archibald), seemed to make our 2 hour cycle insignificant. Although my sensitive bum might not agree!

Somewhere between, storms and sunshine. Pizza. Red wine and laughter. Glowing fires and freezing hands. Worlds collide. This one. Gentle. 

Lights in the studio changed to LED tubes that have a better colour temperature than the old fluorescent tubes. Significantly lowering our electricity usage, increasing sustainability by not having to dispose of gaseous tubes and improving light quality. Minor security upgrades installed that will hopefully deter passing vagrants while not annoying people coming into the studio. 

Full studio for the Artist Tuesday movie. Herb and Dorothy challenging notions of what art is, and highlighting how much of the development process (which formed a large part of their collection) of the final art piece, is being lost in this digital age. 

My morning as a ‘Waste Warrior’. Artful Waste Challenge to bring awareness of the junk being washed into the estuary as part of the Oyster Festival done in a howling gale. Fortunately the rain stayed swayed for the window we were out walking collecting junk. The pile, and nature of which, was astonishing. The artworks, despite the wind were original and spectacular. 

A couple of small paintings sold, with a bunch of traffic through the studio as Oyster Festival reaches its peak. Envious of the runners that seem to be everywhere as the town fills for the Forest Marathon. 

Diary of an Adventure

Addo Adventures

Addo Adventures

We drove through the magnificent Titsikama forests, the roadside dusted with pink and a striking mauve flowering bush. Trees, tinged with yellow at the changing of season.

Turning left from the sea, a sudden transition into the garden kingdom of the Addo Elephants.

Smaller than their Northern brethren, dusted with red sands, they exude the carefree attitude of the surfers who call this stretch of coast paradise. A whole heap of elephants surrounded the car, pausing to ratchet up the levels of anxiety as trunks pondered how much mischief to create. We sat entranced.

Secretary bird. Full of attitude. Stabbing at the ground before throwing a tantrum and prancing off. Careful, however, to ensure that the best profile continually faced the camera, and the light was just ‘so’!

Monkeys sneaking into the chalet while we sat on the patio watching the graceful kudu. They stole little, but created a mess of broken eggs, half nibbled biscuits and chocolate. Fortunately, they didn’t bother with the wine or Nespresso.

Star filled sky. Glowing coals. Black backed jackals calling. Long forgotten stories, conjured in twisting smoke. The sound of trees being pulled apart as old tuskers searched for delicacies. 

A moment. A lifetime.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Juba Town is crazy with streets full of traffic. Shops open and well stocked. Street side restaurants busy and people all over the place. Tents erected for weddings and the soccer fields have nets attached to the goal posts. Players jog around the field and go through their warmup drills. A semblance of normality, within which, even the speeding military vehicles and convoys of new armoured personnel carriers don’t seem out of place. Dogs are back on the streets, slowly exerting their dominance on life.

Sunrise jog, managing to do an extra loop. The first time I have managed that for almost a year. Hopefully my Achilles will survive. Back at the house, I found that I had locked the keys inside. I looked to see if any of the windows were unlocked, which of course they weren’t. However, I knew that if I could get up to the emergency window bars, I could undo the lock and at least then see how to get through the glass window.

I had to wake Eddie to get guys from the office to bring a vehicle with its roof rack so we could get up to the window, as its almost three meters from the ground at that point. Sher arrived, and we undid the lock, only to find that there isn’t enough space between the window and the barrel bolt to unhinge it. A bit of force sorted that and we could swing open the bars. A combination of cunning and a progressively bigger hammer, finally had the glass of the window removed and we could send a skinny, flexible guy through to open the door. We did damage one of the shrubs getting the vehicle up to the house, but for the rest nothing was actually broken.

American style brunch, with pancakes (made with a special milled flower from a Whole Foods type place) and Canadian Maple syrup. Phones and radios chirping constantly with updates on the attacks in Bentu and Nassir. Both which seemed to have fallen to the government forces again. All holding our breaths that there won’t be a new round of atrocities. Fighting around the PoC adding to the tension and volatility of life in Juba Town.

Don’t see a lot of birds around Juba, with the Marabou storks and yellow billed kites the exception. Occasionally I have seen a coucal when I’m out for my morning jog, and the odd owl silhouetted against the sunrise. To this, I can now add the unmistakable blue flash of a malachite kingfisher and crowned plovers.

The laundry is sorted, the coffee machine cleaned and my bag is packed. Ending, for now, this adventures.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures


Tea Time, Oil on Canvas 40cmx30cm
Waxbills and Red Bishop birds are companions on my jog around Juba3. Seeing Alison’s great photo of waxbills I decided to do a painting. Not that I have ever painted birds before! After a massive fight, with feathers everywhere, a painting asserted itself.

In the north of the country, there are fears of the impact that the Quela Quela flocks will have on the harvest. There has been no spraying for a number of years, and the flocks have reached humongous proportions.

In Juba Town, our Chinese contractors celebrated the Mid-Autumn festival, sometimes called the Harvest Moon. The full moon that rises on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calandar, is traditionally celebrated with mooncakes, which unfortunately, I didn’t get to try.

The lurking rain did not materialise to spoil the braai, which Sher and Yoga sorted for the UNOPS team. Excellent goat kebabs in Sher’s famous Afghan marinade, meat skewered between green peppers and tomatoes. A visual delight. Manoel did his best to ensure that his Brazilian jungle juice cocktail (An evil mix of granadilla, condensed milk and vodka) put soul into the evening.

Shooting close to the office first thing in the morning. Cops and Robbers stuff, or cops and cops stuff, with one person killed. They have closed the roads making life a tad more difficult with the resulting traffic chaos.

A bunch of evening functions have messed up my jogging schedule, and although its possible at night under the security lights, Im weary of snakes.

Awake at 2am listening to the rain on the metal roof. No frogs this early. An interesting observation while driving through Juba Town to the office, dodging motorcycle riders who weave aimlessly across the road, without any regard for where motorcars are, is that all their mirrors are angled so they can watch what they look like while they are riding.

Messing About with Paint

Tea Time


Tea Time
Oil on Canvas 40cmx30cm (Available)

Waxbills and Red Bishop birds are companions on my jog around Juba3.

Seeing Alison’s great photo of waxbills I decided to do a painting. Not that I have ever painted birds before!

After a massive fight, with feathers everywhere, a painting asserted itself.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures


Farewell dinner for Mustafa
UNOPS South Sudan Transit Guesthouse

Traffic in Juba Town has returned to its normal shambolic state. Motorcycles doing their best to get everyone on board killed. Taxi’s looking for a Guinness World Record for overloading at every stop. Pedestrians dodging blue water trucks and speeding 4X4’s who all think they are the most important thing on the road. Police, in their white uniforms sit watching the unfolding chaos.

Japanese Peonies, taken from an arrangement given to us by the school kids in Yokohama. I didn’t know where the painting was going and tried not to over think it, but rather let it take its own course.

I ended up simplifying the composition as the foliage was distracting. Also ended up adding more negative space on the right hand side of the composition for balance.

Japanese Peonies
Oil on Canvas 60cmx50cm

There has been sporadic small arms fire some way from the house, so no worries. Still seems a tad strange to be painting flowers with an ear tuned to the radio in case there are any security updates. I have a bunch of people out at churches so need to pay more attention than I normally would have.

The crows are playing a drumbeat in the curved metal roof of the house. They haven’t figured out that they cannot stand on the slippery curved metal, so land and slide scrabbling for purchase against the pull of gravity. Noisy, if funny. Lots of thunder about after last nights lightning. No rain.

Martyrs Day, and cool enough to sit working on the patio, to the sound of red bishop birds going nuts in the bushes. Very special.

The Project Managers organised a farewell dinner at Transit Guest house, which had its origins in Somalia. Tasty, without being fiery. Various types of chicken, a lamb dish that looked a tad scary and a tomato/cabbage salad.

On my jog, muddy after the rain, I passed a clump of purple wild flowers amongst the green. Stopping to take a photo to use for a painting I spotted a coucal in the bushes!

My painting doesn’t have a focal point, which I may need to fix. Will glare at it for a bit and then see.

Juba Wildflowers
OIl on Canvas 60cmx30cm

Long days, and early mornings have left me a tad short of humour. The sound coming from the back wheel of the car didn’t sound right, which on stopping proved to be a ginormous nail. Fortunately the closest garage had a tyre repair facility, with a scary jack and a guy who did all the hard work of changing and repairing the puncture. Total cost, $5.00 with a tip. Going to check the outrageous invoices we are getting for repairs!