Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Suzi’s Christmas table, beautiful set, a runway for Santa and his sleigh. An outstanding meal with good company, where time stopped.
Rain bringing some relief to the hot, dry days. Not that it impresses the holiday makers and turns busy restaurants with their outside seating into centers of chaos. A chance for exhausted fire-fighters to catch a breath.
Possibly the best burger in the world. The Epicure (Lyon, France) inspired, Kirsten burger with Foie gras and cramalised onion, served on a grilled black mushroom. Recreated on the patio of the Studio Apartment, under a playful full moon. Le Chevalier Dino, a smooth, chewy, serious Bordeaux wine, full of Eugene’s laughter, quite splendid. PAPILLOTES DE NOËL from Révillon Chocolatier (sent from Aly in France) to finish the evening, scrumptious.
A summer, cheery painting, ‘Agapanthus’. The intensity of the roses a bit unexpected, creating a balance for the intensity of the blue sky. A tad more detail than I was initially looking for.
Sun bleached hair. Bronzed skin. Beat up merc, plied high with surfboards. The sound system worth ten times the value of the car. Lost on Phantom Pass, looking for a backroad to J-Bay. Perhaps there is an undercurrent relationship between surfers and mountain bikers, in a similar way to that between whales and elephants? Or perhaps is just that we inhabit the coolest parts of the world? 
The small water feature on the patio garden has been appropriated by the Cape Eagle Owls as their bathing and drinking source. A large stone will hopefully assist them and be easier to manage than balancing on the water pump. Their fledgling, embarking on its first flights. 



Louis Welden Hawkins (1849-1910)

La tour Eiffel [The Eiffel Tower]

After 1889

Oil on canvas

H. 55; W. 45 cm

© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Franck Raux

Built for the 1889 Universal Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower immediately became an object of fascination for artists. In 1888, Seurat produced a pointillist work of the then unfinished tower. In the following years, the Douanier Rousseau, Signac, Bonnard and Utrillo also painted images of it, each in their own style.

For his viewpoint, Hawkins set up his easel on the esplanade of the former Trocadero Palace, built for the 1878 Universal Exhibition. The foreground is taken up by a rear view of a bronze statue by Falguière symbolising Asia. This sculpture can still be seen today on the forecourt of the Musée d’Orsay, alongside the other allegories of continents that adorned the Trocadero Palace esplanade until its destruction in 1937. The Eiffel Tower occupies the right hand corner of the painting. Its feet are cropped, as are the upper levels. Blue sky and an urban landscape (from the embankments of the Seine to the buildings of the Ecole Militaire), form the background of this work. The unusual framing makes it almost photographic in style.

Hawkins, the son of an English father and an Austrian mother, studied painting in France. Having been associated with the Symbolists in the 1890s, he changed direction at the end of the century and, after 1900 turned to late Impressionism, a style that was very successful internationally at that point, and thus offered valuable commercial openings. Both the framing and the free use of colour – in particular for the statue, painted with broad yellow, orange and blue brush strokes – give this painting a pseudo-modern style which was popular in all the salons of Europe at the time.



Claude Monet 1877 Argenteuil, Flowers by the Riverbank

Oil on canvas 53.8 x 65.1 cm 

Pola Museum of Art, Hakone, Japan

“I have painted the Seine throughout my life, at every hour, at every season. I have never tired of it: for me the Seine is always new.” —Claude Monet

Monet returned to France from London in 1872 and settled in Argenteuil (a town on a picturesque stretch of the Seine, eleven kilometres from central Paris), where he lived until 1876. His contemporaries Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet and Alfred Sisley joined him and, for a time, Argenteuil became a hub of artistic activity. 

It was during this time that Monet created some of his most characteristic paintings. In order to observe the effects of sunlight on water more closely, Monet often worked from a boat-turned-studio.

Monet’s garden was always waiting for him when he returned to Argenteuil, weary from the noise and congestion of Paris. In The Artist’s Garden in Argenteuil, for example, done in 1873, the artist invites us into his private corner of paradise at its height, blooming freely in a spectrum of colors. You can almost pick the flowers with your imagination, actually feeling the texture of the artist’s brushstrokes.

But Argenteuil kept growing, invaded by chemical factories and iron works polluting its water and atmosphere. So Monet would be forced to leave in 1878 for the less developed Vetheuil which was farther from Paris. Argenteuil, Flowers by the Riverbank, one of Monet’s final works done in the town, is really an adieu, a farewell to what is often considered the zenith of the Impressionist movement. .

River of Light: Monet’s Impressions of the Seine by Douglas Skeggs, published by Gollancz, London, 1987.

Diary of an Adventure

Lyon Adventure

Listening to the unfamiliar sounds of the city waking, against a background of chirping birds. Street sweepers. Suitcase wheels bouncing over cobbles. Traffic. Hooters and the occasional voice raised in anger, or appreciation.

Homeless occupying benches and doorways. Unexpected. People frozen in front of static electronic train schedules. Strike, causing mayhem and anxiety.

Fields of gold and green, with the occasional burst of colour from wild flowers.

Brasserie L’EST
Come hungry. Very hungry. Should come as a ‘health warning’ with the notification that you have a successful reservation at L’EST.

The portions are seriously generous, with none of the artful use of space to display the food trend. Rather, mouth watering aromas that fill the evening sky making passers bye stagger with envy. The food is the reason to come, but the service is choreographed excellence.

Disc trays held aloft by magic, as the four fingers of the hand under the tray can’t possibly support the glasses, food, and bottles of wine. That this is then brought down to sit on the butlers stand, seemingly snapped out of the left trouser pocket, in a ‘Merlin’ approved move, is worth watching every time.

The wine list is manageable. That this had Crozes-Hermitage as their recommended ‘House’ wine, made it easier. Their champagne recommendation wasn’t shabby either, as a ‘Loop Doppie’.

Choosing from the seasonal recommendations, as well as favourites (scallops), and the impossible to miss out on (soufflé) resulted in a menu of hedonistic delight

Worth putting on any Bucket List

Escalopes de Foie Gras Chaud
Foie-gras de Canard Maison Cuit en Terrine
Noix de Coquilles Saint Jacques Roties
Risotto au Parmesan Reggiano
Cote de Veau Rotie en Cocotte
Soufflé Chaud Grand Marnier

Thienot Champagne
Crozes-Hermitage Petit Ruche
Crozes-Hermitage Syrah

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures


Oil on Canvas 60cmx50cm

A wonderful early evening at Juba Bridge next to the Nile, with the team. We managed to secure a spot next to the water, which is in flood after the rains. It didn’t seem to phase a fishermen, who stood nonchalantly in his dugout, casting his net. Almost a cliche with the setting sun throwing the cloud formations into billowing colours.

On the easel, the view of Vivier from the harbour in the afternoon sunshine. Being in France, in summer, with the sunflowers out was extra special, in this part of the world where so many of the Impressionists created their masterpieces.

I was going to add more detail to the sunflower field, but decided I liked its vague suggestion, that didn’t distract from the buildings. Will need to do something about straightening the tower as the problem with painting with my left hand is that the lines tend to curve to the right.

On my jog around the UN House circuit, the cloud formation above Rock City hills, displayed the limitations of the sky I painted. In a friendly sort of, this is the creator, sort of way.

At the Bishops residence in Viviers, beds of delphs in harmony with the pale stone walls. I had to finish my painting under lights which was a new challenge. A bit like painting without my glasses.

Started the day by locking my keys in the house, after a disturbed evening with rain hammering on the roof, thunder crashing and frogs in full croak. The storm left the patio flooded and the skies are still dark and heavy with more rain potential.

Ethiopian version of espresso doing its best to burn a whole through my feet, sitting next to the Nile river waiting for the meeting to start. The wind, on a stormy day, almost cool!

Messing About with Paint

Walled City


Walled City
Oil on Canvas 60cmx30cm (Available)

The old city of Viviers, the pale walls iridescent in the early evening of summer.

On my jog around the UN House circuit, the cloud formation above Rock City hills, displayed the limitations of the sky I painted. In a friendly sort of, this is the creator, sort of way.

Being in France, in summer, with the sunflowers out was extra special, in this world where so many of the Impressionists created their masterpieces.

Messing About with Paint

Summer Flowers


Summer flowers
Oil on Canvas 50cmx40cm (Available for sale)

The traffic circles in Saint-Égrève, on the edge of Grenoble, are exquisitely planted in hot yellows, reds and oranges. Leaves in tonal greens providing respite from the intensity of the flowers, while delicate white-pink flower sprays, are like fountains, cooling the scorching summer heat.

I kept the background simple, with a single shuttered window to provide context.

Diary of an Adventure


The cycle in the Village has turned, and we have fresh table cloths – red – at the Patisserie where we have our morning coffee and more-ish croissants. The baker greets us as he leaves with his baskets of baguettes and we (Hesta, Terry and Kirsten, that is) are invited for cafe at the Chateau Bar.

The team that vacuums the piles of leaves arrive on Wednesday, do a lousy job, and leave. The streets somewhat cleaner. Not a tidy lot these French.

Ginger, for dinner and live music. The streets of the square filling with people dancing. The band was versatile, the music good and the sky that magnificent ultramarine blue of the Impressionists.

Market day starts early, with the first vehicles seemingly parking in the garden at 4am. We wondered amongst the fruit, fish, meat and cheese stalls, the basket filling with ‘must have’ goodies. Leaves from the trees fluttering around us.

We drove for two hours, with the assistance of the ever helpful tourist map, to find the Roman bridge, which was 1,2km from the house! We passed a number of other bridges, a couple of villages and a Roman amphitheater. Fortunately we had a strategic supply of wine with us.

A small painting (postcard size) of a doorway on the hill in Marsanne, leading to unknown worlds. Others of the red shutters of one of the hill top villages, and the garden of our house, with a zillion more that I haven’t managed to get to. The charcoal and acrylic still giving me a tough time searching for suggestion and vibrancy through intimation.

The road snaked, drunkenly, through the Ardèche mountains, thick green woodlands giving way to barren white rock formations. Fabulous cycling country, as long as you like hills! We passed through picturesque villages, their twisting medieval streets no place for vehicles. Stopped at the markets, as much to rest queasy stomachs, as to search for that elusive Provencal table cloth, all overlaid by the smell of lavender. The crowds meant that we were more than happy to be back in our village, hidden from the world by its wild garden.

Pick nick alongside the Rhone, the city on the hill against a Turner sky, spectacular. The music se had come to listen to, somehow unimportant.

Joanna of Valois, a statue on the hill behind the city, our morning walk destination. Terry found the path, tucked behind an old goat shed, that winds its way up to the statue. Great views over the rooftops of the city, and across to the bridges across the Rhone. Not sure who decided it was the spot to erect a mobile phone tower.??

Chicken and Nüssli salad lunch, in our magic garden. The perfect time for sabrage. Red wine stocks a worry!

‘Magic Garden’. Charcoal and Acrylic on paper, a painting of our garden at the cottage in Vivier. I used the charcoal at the end of the painting to keep the colors clean, which with white, creates a flow through the painting.