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

Cold fingers, despite higher than usual blood sugars after a Christmas lunch of pâté de compagne and Il de Pain bread, with trifle as a dessert.

Black, mud-stained feet from playing with Prince at low tide. The noise of the waves still too much for him.

Vietnamese flavours for the Christmas Eve dinner. Fresh spring rolls with pork and prawns. Duck breast with Asian salad. Fish simmered in ginger and caramel sauce. My spring rolls, defined as ‘clumsy’. The wooded Chardonnay the best wine for the various flavours in the Vietnamese food. Minimizing the sugar used in the caramel sauce did mean that there was none of the ‘stickiness’ that we had in the meal inHanoi, but it didn’t kick my sugar levels out of kilter either. Another three weeks before Terry’s cast comes off!

The end of a quiet day, with the street outside the studio busy with holiday traffic and the alcohol fueled chatter of people walking home. Oodles of pink flesh on display after a perfect, sun filled day.

‘Crumpled’, my portrait of a 92 year old women in Hoi An, Vietnam. The simplicity I was striving for being lost in the contours and crumpledness of her face. The complexity of the years driving the painting? Raw Sienna, permanent magenta, Ultramarine blue and Naples Yellow with Alizarin crimson the key colours. I did include touches of Cerulean and Cobalt blue.

Became part of the ‘mechanical’ mountain bike family, managing to trash the crank assembly on the way up Phantom Pass. Did find another reason to be ‘flat-pedal’ cyclist, in that wearing trail shoes you can jog with your bicycle. However, I was glad it wasn’t too far before Coreta rescued me.

Messing About with Paint

Vietnam Adventures

‘Cards’, and the companion painting, ‘Another hand’

Acrylic on linen 40cmx50cm 

Hanoi, Vietnam. 

From Terry’s photo, ladies playing cards next to Westlake. 

Frenetic, expressive smearing of paint onto the linen canvas. Craziness after a heart-beat walking through the traffic? 

Raw Sienna, and Alizarin Crimson for the face, with a darker mixture of Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Red. Naples Yellow for the background. Quinacridone Rose and Cobalt Blue for the clothing.

‘Another Hand’

Acrylic on Linen 40cmx50cm 

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Mobi-kennel packed as though we were leaving town forever. The road down to Cape Town a ribbon between yellow and green canola and wheat fields that stretched between the sea and the mountains. A couple of stops to let Prince stretch and to see how, and if it’s possible, to get anything to eat as a diabetic at service stations.

Cafe Roux, for a Sessions evening of Cat Stevens. The ossabuco (beef rather than veal), definitely moreish, although the addition of peppers to the ‘sofrito’ (the slow-cooked holy trinity of onions, celery and carrot) wasn’t too my taste, and there were oodles of tomatoes that turned into a sweet dish. As there was no saffron risotto served with the meal, it probably should have been labeled as a ‘beef stew’. Journeys End Pioneer Chardonnay a great wine choice.

All sorts of squeaky bits from walking on the beach. Contortions negotiating the soft sand and rocks. Wet kelp posing a formidable challenge to remaining upright over the slippery surface.

A tad apprehensive (The diabetic thing again) about lunch at The Vine Bistro at Glenelly Estate, with a set menu that depends on what ingredients inspire Chef Christophe. He didn’t disappoint and while I had to ignore the delicious sounding dessert, the cheese board was no less decadent.

Montagu. Prince turning Mary’s garden upside down. The sprinklers of particular fascination. Sky full of stars. Smell of the mountains. Wind chimes.

Farewell dinner for Eugene, with a definite French slant. Foil-gras served on courgette bellini’s. Grilled duck breast with roasted vine tomatoes and green beans. Sage leaves fried in duck fat for that added touch of scrumptiousness. Tribaut Champagne and a smooth 2010 ‘Gentle Giant’ Bordeaux blend from Haut Espoir.

As expected, the bicycle groaned on its tortuous climb up Phantom Pass. I blame the wind for my wheezing and wobbly legs.

Felicity Cloake’s perfect osso buco.

(Serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil
25g flour, to dust
4 pieces of veal shin, about 4cm thick
50g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 head of garlic, cut horizontally
2 strips of lemon zest
4 sage leaves
200ml white wine
200ml good chicken stock
For the gremolata
1 unwaxed lemon, zest finely grated
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Pinch of sea salt

Set a casserole dish wide enough to hold the meat in one layer over a high heat, and add the oil. Put the flour on to a small plate and season generously, then use to coat the meat. When the oil is hot, add the meat to the pan and brown well on both sides until golden and crusted. Set aside on a plate.

Turn the heat down and add three quarters of the butter to the pan. When melted, add the onion, carrot and celery, plus a sprinkle of salt, and cook until soft. Add the garlic halves, lemon zest and sage to the pan and cook for a few minutes more.

Turn up the heat then add the wine to the pan. Return the meat, standing it on top of the vegetables, and bubble until the wine has reduced by half. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer.

Turn the heat right down, cover and simmer for one and a half to two hours, carefully turning the meat over every 30 minutes, until it is tender enough to cut with a spoon. Meanwhile, mix together the gremolata ingredients.

Dot with the remaining butter and allow to melt into the sauce, then serve with the gremolata and risotto alla milanese or wet polenta.

“I like to encourage people to eat this with their fingers – so much easier than fiddling about with a knife and fork!”. Napkins advisable.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Paintings in their new home in Provence

Prince had a wonderful time at J9 charging about looking for buried treasures that Diva had left about the place. Especially those hidden in dark spots under the deck and walkways. Spring high adding a water dimension to the hunt.

Coreta made Tartiflette au reblochon, with cauliflower rather than potatoes. The cheese mature enough that it walked. With steak cooked perfectly on the braai, pure hedonism. Craig opened a bottle of 2009 Radford Dale Gravity that was sensational.

Early morning busy with cars ferrying cyclists off to the start of the Seven Passes ride. It meant that my quiet cappuccino was actually chaotic. Fortunately the good humoured excitement was tolerant of a puppy that was under everyone’s feet.

Looking at blogs on traveling with diabetes, I came across one titled ‘Blood sugar trampoline’, which seems an apt expression. My morning blood sugars are within the acceptable range, however, I’m still getting those sugar-low headaches and grumpiness. Blood sugar trampoline?

Painted rocks for the ‘Knysna Rocks’ fun Facebook campaign, based on a Tazzie campaign to inject happiness into days which seems filled with bad news. I picked up my rocks from the beach at East Head after our walk and painted across six rocks, where when assembled it makes one painting, but each one is also an individual painting. Coral trees and Bougainville creating brilliant colored carpets of fallen blossoms, my inspiration merged in a zen-like simplicity.

Between the mountains and the sea, a ribbon of yellow and green, the spectacular drive to Cape Town.

‘A Touch of Yellow’

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

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

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.

Messing About with Paint

Boy and his dog

Oil on Canvas 90cmx60cm

The beach paintings of Joaquin Sorolla are full of movement and life, capturing the innocent pleasure of children in particular. This, my inspiration for the painting of the Boy and his dog.
Bold strokes, on an underpainting of Naples Yellow that pushed into the abstract expressionism boundaries for the painting. For the shadows in the painting, I used Purple Madder (Van Dyk 38) with Cadmium Yellow Deep as a contrasting colour. A mixture of Raw Sienna and Rose Quinacridone contrasted with Cobalt Blue for the water. Touches of grey made from Indian Red and Cobalt Blue were used to add sparkle to the white. Flashes of Magenta to ensure the unpredictability of the beach.