Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

The world is quiet on a late summer evening. Sky full of stars. Glass of excellent red (La Vierge ‘Nymphomane’). Hint of jazz. Lights along the lagoon. Owl hooting somewhere amongst the roof tops.

Legs weary after their cycle through the forest. The ride along the ‘Coffee Pot’ trail beautiful through the indigenous Forest, full of life after a couple of days of rain. Which made the ride, with the strong men, demanding. My bum a tad bruised. Glad for the extra control afforded by the wider handle bars and new grips that kept me from being thrown from my bucking bicycle. Nothing elegant about my wrestling over branches, stones and through the mud.

The trail follows the route of the old 2-Ft. narrow gauge railway line that transported timber (mostly Yellowwood) from Diepwalle to Knysna for milling and shipment. Affectionately known by the people of Knysna as the ‘Coffee-Pot’, for the engine that was fitted with bulbous spark suppressors to prevent forest fires from the steam engine.

Thrilled to see my art used to illustrate stories in the Kalahari Review. The studio quiet after the craziness of the past few months. My heads sorting the ‘monochromatic’ parameters on Fabriano paper.

Stunning crisped chicken skin, with cauliflower mash, chicken breast and a Venetian duck ragu at the J9 kitchen. Don’t think the Master Chef judges had anything that tasty, and the Graceland 3Graces was delectable.

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


Wild Garden

Oil on canvas 50cmx90cm

Reflections on the water at first light. Ripples of colour drawing you into their depths. Reminiscent of the blinding light and vibrant colours in the paintings of Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida. Bold minimalist strokes of energy. My painting of the paddle boat, a metronome of the day past the studio, stilted. Waiting for the reflections to bring it to life?

After the rain, mud to squelch through. Gardens green, flowers preening in the sunshine. Forests vibrating with life. Burnt areas cleared. Openness that breaths.

That jolt of panic, as the tyre grips soft sand, throwing the bicycle towards the drop-off, and feet loosing touch with the pedals as I get my balance wrong over a bump in the road. Faster, further, lungs heaving, legs complaining. More fun, more often.

Weather variable enough that a fire is welcome, the comfort of an extra rug. Laughter, chardonnay days.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Review of the studio‘Obsessed with this gallery. The man with the yellow shirt is the artist and the paintings are done with his magical fingers. I bought a postcard printed with his paintings to support him It’s been like he was living in his gallery’

The Forest is asleep. An unnatural quiet. Drought. Sun relentless. Tentative shoots after the last rain, crisped. Fungus dried white. Streams of pebbles. The ascent through the Forest, ‘bum hurting’ steep. A gazillion stairs on the board-walk path. Tree tops shimmering with Knysna Lorie’s in their brilliant plumage. 

For my painting ‘Band of Brothers’, based on the team heading back after their 3 week Odyssey experience, I pushed the figures down into the lower half of the painting to give them more prominence. I wanted them to dominate the canvas, yet still highlight that they are still growing into their individual personalities. 

Clare made remarkably tasty Spinach parcels with feta. (Loose it recipe), which while working with the Pinot I was drinking, would probably work better with a great Chenin. Certainly, a ‘wine tasting’, or ‘pairing’ sort of dish. 

On a perfect autumn evening, the braai, a must. Ensuring all those in passing boats salivated with envy. To finish, a decadent dessert of roast nuts in dark chocolate.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Fires raging, turning the skies into apocalypse ‘Turner’ sort of sunsets.  

The first of the photo-books of paintings (Afghanistan) that are still available for sale has been printed. The quality better than expected and certainly something to be completed for the other countries and painting collections.
For now, my life is controlled by the arc of a pendulum encased in the Viennese Regulator that has decided to no longer keep its regular beat. Sometimes it stops after a few minutes. Sometimes it will even chime through a couple of hours. Mostly, it seems to be throwing a tantrum. Nothing has changed in where it hangs above the staircase. Admittedly, being away a fair amount over the past month has meant that it hasn’t been wound regularly. 

Didn’t manage to negotiate the soft sand on the contours through the forest. Couldn’t even blame my broken glasses on my ending in a heap after the bicycle decided my bike handling, and riding strength were totally embarrassing. The soft sand ensuring it wasn’t a bone, or skin flaying sort of fall. Ego a tad bruised after trailing in the climbs and then being dumped on the trails through the forest. Which, were beautiful in the early mist.

Summer picnic. Pink nose. The waters of the Knysna river taking the heat out of the day. Friends, chilled wine, alfresco food and laughter, embraced by ancient Yellow Wood trees. The assistance of the lift for all the cooler boxes down to the riverside site that touch of decadence. 

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Restlessness stirs. Sea siren, driven on the silhouette of a wooden cutter that sailed through the sunset. Carefree child, and her dog. Oblivious to the world outside her paddle board. Adventure beckons.
Terry improving slowly. Stubbornly high blood pressure still a worry. The key, not trying to do too much.
In my painting, elephants in the forest at Hoekwill Forest Station. Colours of tree lichen, that touch of Cezanne. Turquoise a more contemporary approach. I simplified the painting with an increased focus on tonal aspects to add mystery and allow the mind to determine shapes in the forest.
Joubert-Tradauw Pinot Noir is not a typical Pinot. It’s as if someone decided to take the traditional PinotNoir expectation and let it bake in the Karoo for a few decades. There is a hint of ‘renoster-bos’, infused with the timeless complexity of the Karoo. Delicious.
An excellent olive and chorizo dish cooked on the Webber, pure decadence. Smokey olive oil caught in crusty bread. Only knowing that Clare had prepared a bunch of other food kept me from scraping the last bit of flavour from the dish.
Illustrations from Juba, South Sudan, featured in the Kalahari Review
A Pokemon stop outside the studio creating all sorts of mayhem. Kids on bicycles and skateboards swerving wildly about the place as they focus on the images on their phones, rather than chairs, tables, easels, people or cars.
Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Great strides made by Mum as she moved from ICU to the general ward and the out of hospital. A bit of a road ahead before she will be mobile.

Small painting finished of an aloe with snow covered mountains. ‘The Preacher’, on the easel. A portrait in the ‘Homeless of Knysna’ series. Wracked by the monsters of war, he is one of the many veterans that wonder on the fringe of society. Broken by mankind’s lust for violence.  

Movie evening in the studio for the screening of ‘Pollock’. A vibrant group that had us squeezing in extra chairs. 

“If people would just look at the paintings, I don’t think they would have any trouble enjoying them. It’s like looking at a bed of flowers, you don’t tear your hair out over what it means.” Jackson Pollock.

Therina here for a few days. Terry did one of her scrumptious oxtail dishes, with rich sticky sauce. Rain hammering at the window trying to join the merriment. Graceland wine, pure silkiness.

Terblans Walk, a 6,5km – 2hours walk through the indigenous Knysna forest. A test for my Achilles, which is still sporting its magic blue tape, as the walk takes you a long way down to the river before climbing back to the service road. It’s on crossing the road that you are surrounded by a fern forest which is spectacular. Steps slow to try and imbibe the serene energy of the forest.

We took the drive back along Kom-se-pad, to the R339 between Uniondale and Knysna and stopped at the Diepwalle tea garden at the Big Tree for extra strong coffee and compulsory carrot cake!

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures



short walk in the forest at the Garden of Eden, before walking around the East Head rocks on a stunning morning. 

Kirsten suggested that I look at the work of Elaine de Kooning. Particularly, her portrait work, which was opportune as I started work on a portrait of Sinni, one of the homeless guys we pass on our way for our morning cappuccino. 


His hat, reminiscent of Van Gogh’s 1887 self portrait. However, it’s his piercing eyes that set him apart from his fellow homeless. William (not Prince William, he insists), Trompie, Chris and Tanya. All happy to have their photos taken.

I wanted to convey his transparentness. Part of our everyday lives. Yet not there at all. The hat, more attention grabbing than him as a person.

Sinni lives in a small boat and feeds his pigeons each morning. He was saved from drowning a couple of weeks ago, after falling into the lagoon while washing the adventure boats. A kindness shown to him by giving him a job, that could have had fatal consequences. Hands lacerated by the barnacles as he desperately tried to get onto the jetty.

Yet, still transparent. The homeless we don’t see.

“A portrait of myself, almost colourless, in ashen tones against a background of pale veronese green”
Van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo, dated September 16, 1888

‘Patterns’, an abstract work of the sea looking down from the cliffs of East Head. Done as a study for a larger canvas I have. Not sure I will be able to replicate it given that I have no idea what I was doing. Indian yellow, with Turquoise Blue, Phthalo Green and Cobalt Teal rubbed into each other. A spot of Transparent Gold Ochre and Primary Magenta for the patterns. As it was looking a tad bland, I used thick ridges of Phthalo Green and Cobalt Teal. 

First paintings of the New Year sold from the studio. The sales have highlighted how poorly prepared I am for the parceling of sold paintings. I know that a dedicated wrapping station is advocated for a studio, however, my muddling through isn’t good enough. Correct sized protection sheets. Wrapping for air transport. Carry bags. Branding. I also need to get a news letter written and my email list sorted.

The air still. Holding its breath. Cowered by the heat. Gentle lapping of waves on the low tide, estuary beach.

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

Leisure Island Adventures

The last of the apartment walls that need to be removed is a pile of rubble, opening the apartment onto the new terrace above the garage. The tiling has started and the kitchen extension is sorted. We visited our cupboards, which are still shells. The craftsmanship, remarkable. Unlikely that they will be ready when we move in the middle of Oct.

A small painting of the Forest. Escapist as the daunting 1.7 m canvas I ordered confronts me each time I walk down the stairs. No idea what I will use it for and I feel a bit like Michelangelo starring at a block of marble waiting for the figure to emerge. “The best artist has that thought alone which is contained within the marble shell; The sculptor’s hand can only break the spell to free the figures slumbering in the stone.”


I stumbled across the work of the American Impressionist artist, John Henry Twachman, which so breathtaking. His seascapes feel as though they have the key elements of what I have been trying to capture in my paintings. His wildflowers, stunning works.

Storm tossed surf breaking at the Heads. Salt laden air. Roads flooded. Fireplaces, red wine and wet dogs. I did manage to break another of our few picnic Riedel glasses. Not clever, but no blood.

Awake in the early hours, something I can’t even blame on the red wine monsters. Being the driver, saved me from compounding the overindulgence the previous evening at Mario’s. In all fairness, the additional wine was a result of the salt grinder top breaking (not me this time) over Craig’s meal and he had to wait for a new dish to be prepared. Terry drove us home.

‘Beacon’, oil on canvas 60cmx90cm. Sunset from the Heads. The beacon that marks the entrance for ships. Phosphorus waves lapping at the beach.