Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Didn’t do a great job of the baby chickens on the Weber. Not crisp enough and probably needed another half an hour. Annoying, as they were delicious. Fresh spring rolls as a starter, with salad, sweet potato gratin and a bunch of cheese to help with that last glass of wine.

In the forest, tracks weaving between the trees, testing the limits of my balance and coordination. No blood, which is itself remarkable. Only one steep bit in the wrong gear that had me walking after overbalancing in the sand. A tad undignified.

‘Horsing Around’, oil on canvas 76cmx102cm. My reference photos, taken outside ‘Dustcovers’, the fabulous bookshop in Nieu-Bethesda. I pushed the painting hard to bring out the youthful, movement, so full of vigour, of the horse and rider. Using dashes of paint whenever I felt the painting was heading too far down the reality slope. The two figures in the background, to give perspective, also smudged into obedience.

Keeping an 18 month old Border Collie quiet is no easy task. Prince managed to damage his eye playing and needed eye drops to clear the infection. An hourly and two hourly regime that had us all exhausted.

Soft jazz, sunshine, wine and friends. Fabulous anywhere. Next to the water, with the Heads as a backdrop. Spectacular.

Core muscles feeling bruised and battered. Cycling in the forest, or the tension of watching the TDF??

Visited the rejuvenated ‘Art Cafe’ at the Old Gaol complex and to spend time amongst the paintings of the current exhibition ‘African Wealth’. Fabulous works of Sudan by Susi Rood and fascinating urban African portraits by Thanduxolo Ma-awu.

https://www.knysnaplettherald.com/News/Article/General/knysna-art-society-in-new-location-201807251043

Advertisements
Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Schools Out’

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

A small study of the adventures that lie beyond the wall at Kuilfontein Farm in the Karoo.

Afternoon sunshine, a civilised time to be out cycling through the Forest. Particularly civilised as after the ride, it’s possible to stop for a beer. Or rather a glass of white wine. Actually, a glass of chilled red wine. What was I thinking?

Not concentrating.

One of those silly things, not concentrating while out food shopping. A special. Seemed like a good idea. Dinner. Blood sugars sky high. The contents of the sausage an unknown. Despite being from our favourite butcher, no idea what he used.

If there isn’t a nutritional information breakdown, I should know not to buy.

Border Collies turning the apartment upside down. Prince, with his leg in a plaster to sort out a ‘hot-spot’, thrilled to have his friend Ricco visiting.

A touch of rain. Puddles to stomp through.

Looking at where we need to sort gaps in the Vietnam recipe book, I have gone back, and reread parts of Colour: Travels through a Paintbox by Victoria Finlay, intriguing stories on the pigments in Artists colours.

The yellow of Hoi An Old Town, is revered in the culture of Vietnam. It is a symbol of luck, splendor, wealth and respect. A color that is identified with imagination and enlightenment, glowing with the intensity of sunlight itself. Most Vietnamese families have an ancestral altar decorated with flowers and yellow objects.

In all likelihood, the yellow pigment has its origins in Gamboge yellow, also known as Rattan or Wisteria Yellow, Gummi Gutta and Drop Gum, is an organic pigment. Well know for its transparency, the warm golden pigment derives its name from its country of origin: Cambodia, itself named after the Latin word for pigment gambogium.

Made from the resin of the Garcinia evergreen tree, found across South East Asia, trees need to be at least 10 years old before the trunks can be lacerated or the branches broken to collect the tree’s milky yellow resin. The poisonous resin is collected in empty bamboo shoots, and roasted over fire to evaporate moisture, after which the bamboo shoots are broken to reveal dull yellow resin cylinders. Only when this resin is pulverised does it become a brilliant yellow.

Excerpts on Yellow from Colour: Travels through the Paintbox:

Dipping a paintbrush in water and waved it lightly over the unappetizingly brownish rock, he released a miraculous drop of the brightest yellow imaginable, almost fluorescent.

During the horrific Khmer Rouge regime in the 1980s, and then earlier in the Vietnam War, the color was almost impossible to find. This pretty paint can be dangerous in other ways. Winsor & Newton have been receiving small parcels of gamboge from their Southeast Asian suppliers since before anyone can remember, and probably since the company started in the mid-nineteenth century. When it arrives at the factory they grind it up carefully and sell it in tubes or pans as one of their more expensive watercolors. But some of the packages that arrived in the 1970s and 1980s from Cambodia and possibly Vietnam were different: the gamboge contained exploded bullets. The company’s technical director, Ian Garrett has five of them displayed in his office now. A reminder that some of the colours that are taken for granted, come from places where people have lived through unimaginable suffering.

Knysna fires

https://youtu.be/z9vDoPJX7Xg

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

‘Karoo Skies’, oil on canvas 1,0mx1,5m. Kuilfontein farm. Mesmerising. Startling light. Autumn trees. Brilliant yellows. Huge blue skies. Windmills. Clouds, freeing imagination. Carried with the wind. Dreams.

Dark and chilly for my run. The owl also thought it was a daft idea to be out rather than sitting next to the fire with an espresso.

A year ago, our world went mad. The strong wind carrying a hint of smoke an unpleasant reminder of the chaos caused by the fires.

The first draft of the Vietnam recipe book printed. The colour photos of my paintings and illustrations not the best and there are a gazillion glitches that need sorting. Still, something to work from.

Sweet potato gratin, with a rack of lamb on the Weber grill, served with green beans and asparagus the menu for Terry’s welcome home dinner. Cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg filling the kitchen with the scent of decadent goodness.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Makes 8 servings

◦ 2 cups heavy cream

◦ 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

◦ 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

◦ 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

◦ 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline

◦ Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F

2. Whisk together the cream, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until smooth.

3. In a 10-inch square baking dish, arrange an even layer of sweet potatoes. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the cream mixture and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and cream, seasoning with salt and pepper, to form 8 to 10 layers. Press down on the layers to totally submerge the sweet potatoes in the cream mixture.

4. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking until the cream has been absorbed, the potatoes are cooked through, and the top is browned, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minut

Diary of an Adventure

Karoo Adventures

Nieu Bethesda

Half of this world is blue. Half, is dust!

Prince, sporting that ever so trendy ‘ash’ hair colour. Dust. Brilliance, of purple wild iris, amongst the grey dust.

In many ways, Nieu Bethesda has the same feel as Frida Kahlo’s Mexico. The odd brilliantly painted house amongst the cacti. That, slightly weird, alternative, lifestyle where the art, in this case, is infused by the ‘owl house’. Or perhaps, windmills and sunbeams?

Beautifully restored period houses line the dusty streets. Art gallery full of light with piano music carried on the wind. Dust Cover bookshop, a haven of intrigue. Vibrating with stories. Beautiful roses, thriving amongst the yellow autumn colours.

The Owl House, as strange as expected, without being creepy. Shadows cast by the various statues a constantly moving story. I wasn’t expecting the gracefulness, or the delicacy, of the concrete works. Craftsmanship thrashed out of an industrial medium.

I kept looking to see what aspect of her created world was reflected in the mirrors that are everywhere in the house. The crested moon mirror, reflecting the sun created on the glass above the door. Sunbeam floor polish, an iconic reminder of polishing Ouma’s stoep, the inspiration for her glass sun works that cover ceilings and windows.

Poignantly, profoundly, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Quatrain XCIX

Ah Love! could you and I with Fate conspire To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, Would not we shatter it to bits …. and then Re-mound it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

Dogs. Donkeys. Horses. Dogs. Concrete sheep. Dogs. Reptile statues. Dogs. Cats. Dogs. There are a lot of dogs in this sleepy town.

‘Karoo Lamb’, our lunch and dinner stop to collect the keys for our cottage. Service, informative and friendly. Food tasty, if a tad pricy. Unexpectedly, an exiting wine list. Dogs, Prince anyway, welcome.

The brilliant moon trashing the night sky stars. One of the highlights of this part of the world. Nothing that a great Riersvlei Shiraz from Prince Albert couldn’t sort.

There was the Karoo donkey cart, perfectly lit by the breathtakingly clear air. Galloping horse, shrouded by dust, with bareback devils. Characteristic, Karoo scenes. Brought alive by the kids hurtling around on mountain bikes, music blaring from mobile phones. The life-blood gurgle of the ‘leiwater’ channels, punctuated by the bells of the spectacularly white church.

The evening cold deserves a fire. However, without a fireplace, a Border Collie snuggle is a good a good alternative.

Portrait of Nigel, our craftsman and Botanical Tour Guide, outside the Owl House waiting for a canvas.