Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Sunrise, seagulls and bicycles. Polly awake early for the last day of the GR300 MTB race that came past the studio at the start and finish.

With a couple of the small paintings sold, I need to get disciplined about doing a bunch more.

Met a few interesting characters around town for possible portraits. Anton, the pirate, who caretakers a small school that is run from one of the buildings in the middle of town. A radar technician, he has been in the road for five years when his family moved to Australia. The Preacher, who has Indian and Malay parents, is one of nine children and works his way up and down the coast doing painting contract work after a lifetime in the Navy and as a preacher. Bleze, with his table of herbs and scary looking stuff (Knysna’s finest, I’m sure), whose herbal remedies are as frightening as he is welcoming. Dreads, piled under a knitted cap, in rastafari yellow, red and green colours he is weathered and engaging.

Trying time-lapse photo sequence of my latest portrait on the easel ‘The Pirate’. To capture the technique I use. Particularly, for the eyes of the portrait, as I field a zillion questions about them. Worked out how to do the shutter interval bit, with the effective Yongnuo remote release. Not sure how my shadows, and the studio lighting will impact the photos?

Hair gone for the annual cancer challenge.

‘Lomp’ a small painting, from a picture taken at the elephant sanctuary in Nairobi, Kenya. There is something comical about baby elephants trying to understand how their feet work.

‘At Play’

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm   
Wine attacked my clean, new, going-out shorts! Fab evening at Freshline. The genius who served us, a tad disappointing. Food, excellent, with bunches of laughter.

New meds to try and make Polly comfortable after her restless nights. Lungs a bit of a worry. Her early days of smoking behind the cowshed on the farm, catching up with her?

Edith and Fredy here from Switzerland. Sunset braai on the patio. T-bone steaks cooked Coreta style, with the bone down towards the fire, turning end over end, to render the fat, with a last quick singe of the meat over the coals. Delicious. We cut the meat from the bones, and put the bones back over the fire to crisp. One sort of caught alight, which isn’t quiet what was intended! The sunset from the patio, perfect.

A new morning jog route up towards the school playing fields. The long uphill a good tester, and I was glad that Craig’s stiff legs kept the pace down. For some reason, I managed to chafe badly, making my cycle ride over the red bridge a tad uncomfortable. 

Payment received for the portrait of Sinni, and he will be heading to his new home. He has been a great attraction in the studio and will be missed.


Messing About with Paint


I have added a new Album to my On Line Gallery with paintings of my elephants that are still available.


With the forest elephants in Knysna, it seemed appropriate to bring out the herds, and the special pace they have in my life. Painted in Botswana and Tanzania, they provided hours of entertainment, observing their antics.

At full moon the elephant bulls have moved back into the breeding herds and there is much posturing.

The younger ones doing their utmost to look fierce, pushing and prodding each other, while teenagers have a full go at each other; shaking heads, billowing and chasing shadows.

Larger bulls, preferring the stare you down method, with the larger of the two standing nonchalantly with his legs crossed not a bit phased by the attitude of his younger challenger.


Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

Braai time in the vineyards. Gentle sunset. Faint stirring of the trees. Seductive.

Mum sounded much better, after hurting her back in the shower, to go with her fractured pelvis and torn hip ligaments. Going to be awhile before she is moving about freely.
The River Nile in South Sudan is the most neglected development issue. Particularly given the useless road system and high cost of building roads through swamps. I pushed hard to get projects funded to upgrade the river infrastructure, one of which (to support the displaced population) has been approved for funding by the Government of Japan. Of even greater significance, the $4.5 Million project will be managed by a female, Japanese, Project Manager who was part of our development program in Juba.
Six monthly melanoma check a tad unnerving. Nothing to be concerned about, other than the ego bruising body scan. 
Perfectly angled to maneuver paintings from their storage in the roof. Between rafters, conduit pipes and the sharp edge of the ladder. For a moment. Balance. Legs of the ladder buckling under that ‘one step too high’. My shoulder bearing the brunt of the tumble. Half roll taking my knee through the painting. For now, a halt to the packing.
Sold another couple of small paintings. Nothing that will impress the bank account, but enough for a few cases of wine. Also donated the paintings of cart horses to the Cart Horse Protection Association for their art auction.

Warm in the vineyards. The idea of autumn shunted into a siding for now. A few chores sorted, and little enthusiasm for packing, we took a drive into Cape Town to shop for new glasses (the wine type) and look at kitchen options for the apartment.
Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

An exhibition at the cottage of the paintings I did in the Thirty Day challenge. The curved, white bench seat making a perfect exhibition space.

Dinner with Mum at the Manor House, transformed with stunning black and white photographs on the walls of life on the Zevenwacht Estate. The high ceilings give them room to breath, and intrigue dinners.

Fermenting grape skins, discards from the harvest, the morning walk in the vineyards intoxicating.

‘Morning Walk’, a large (100cmx71cm), demanding canvas of the Cedeberg. A bit like a mixed up box of smarties! The painting changing in the light, as do the mountains. Vibrant, surreal colours that transform into moody, somber shadow. While the rock formations were central to the painting, it was the tonal aspects that were the most challenging. The hiker, almost immaterial. Somehow dominant.

The fist crop of figs from the trees in the cottage garden. Well the first we have been here to enjoy, and manage to compete with the birds and gardeners for. Rich red colours of Macedonia, exploding with flavour.

The fresh figs directing the dinner menu. Weber grilled duck breast in brandy with figs, chèvre and pomegranate pearls salad. Managed to avoid the singed eyebrows this time and did a better job or rendering out the fat. Could have cooked it slowly a tad longer.

The courtyard studio sweltering on a magnificent summers day in the vineyards.

‘Wash Day’ Oil on Canvas 100cmx50cm. The wide open skies of the Overberg on the Southern Cape coast. A workers cottage, with its washing, amongst the barren wheat fields.

Weber Grilled Duck Salad with Fresh Figs
serves 4
3 duck breast, finely sliced
1/4 cup of brandy
6 ripe figs, cut in half
8 slices of prosciutto, fried or baked until crisp or fresh goats cheese
200g mixed salad leaves
75 ml of aged balsamic
150ml olive oil
juice of one lemon
1. Score the duck breasts, salt and pepper before adding the brandy. Place in the fridge for 8 hours.
2. On a warm fire, grill the duck breast skin side down for 5minutes on a direct fire, with the lid removed, until brown taking care not to burn them. Cook for an additional 5 minutes on an indirect fire with the lid on. Turn over a grill over an indirect fire for 3 minutes with the lid closed. Remove and let them rest for 20 minutes
3. Toss all ingredients together and dress with lemon and olive oil
4. Thinly slice the duck breasts
5. Arrange in a bowl
6. Finish with balsamic and season to taste

Diary of an Adventure

Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

A collage of the thirty paintings that I did in the thirty days of January.

The paintings are of our everyday lives in the vineyards. A celebration of beauty, so at odds with the demanding years in South Sudan.

I will continue to paint these small canvases, for the pleasure they bring, and spend more time capturing illustrations in charcoal.

I have made the small paintings available for sale on my blog under the 15×15, 20x20cm headings for $100.00 and $150.00 respectively. This includes shipping.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

We are locked down in Juba Town as the military have sealed the town searching for weapons. Only a bother in that I have staff in hotels who may be vulnerable. It does mean that I’m forced to mess about with paint, which isn’t the worst thing to be doing on a Saturday.

My portrait, ‘Leader of the Pack’. Amongst the wheelbarrow boys who carry goods for those returning to the Protection of Civilian Camp at UN House, there is one who organizes them. Taller, older than the small kids who strain under their loads, he walks alongside the laden wheelbarrows and does the negotiation with the security guards to allow access.

Humid and sultry start in Juba Town. A short, slow jog on my bothersome Achilles. A bugle calling Reveille from the Bangladesh contingent a bit of a surprise. The smell of rain making the coucal’s happy.

At the airport, the chaos has been brought into a semblance of control. The scanner is working and the arriving luggage is screened and then put into rows, rather than the usual jumble. They have guys checking luggage tags and they even have protocol officers. Worked well on a slow Sunday morning, and we will see how it works when there are five plane loads arriving at the same time.

Braai time at ‘Juba Beach’, the name for the temporary housing we have established at the office. Sher did his secret Afghan chicken in yoghurt sauce on the fire, with parcels of ‘Koftas’, a minced meat dish that has equal amounts of garlic and meat.

A gazillion mozzies out after the short rainstorm. My bed the battlefield of dead, as Doom spray wrecks havoc with the ozone layer.

On our way through the afternoon traffic, turned chaotic by a blue light convoy and wild, sunglasses wearIng Presidential Guards, a woman driving a boda-boda scooter!

Marathon days at the moment, with a seemingly endless multitude of niggly issue to solve.

Some of the feedback from colleagues we have brought it to introduce improved, and best practice, in our work is quite sobering and I’ll need to see how to adjust my leadership in this crazy situation to overcome the gaps.

Lots of soldiers on the streets of Juba Town, stopping vehicles for weapon checks. Most polite, with the occasional one spaced out on some sort of substance.

My real concern is how to move my paintings home when they aren’t quite dry, knowing that everything could go nuts here while I’m away.

Dinner of cheese, pate and red wine with bunches of chat. Jim decided that I reminded him of the record cover from a small record label in Glasgow called Struggletown Records. He presented me with a t-shirt with the graphic of Everyday Struggle on it, which they have decided must become my brand.