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

Being on the down-slope side of a corner, which is also the edge of the mountain slope is not a good place to be. Especially with loose sand and stones! The cycle up Simola and along the contours a tad beyond my bicycle handling, and fitness ability.
I did weave across the road to get some king of momentum up the Simola climb. My time (840 best his year), an indication of my lousy cycling strength. 
At the soft sand on the edge of the mountain, I jumped off my bicycle, glad that at least I wasn’t negotiating those frightening clip-in peddles. When my peddle struck a rock in one of the forest trails I was equally glad that I could use my legs as stabilizers.
The forest track is a tough run, and no less (if quicker) cycling challenge.
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 on the beach. 
Kirsten here. Days of walking, food and bubbles planned. 
Fiddleheads curled in different directions. Ferns and Sesame street moss. Jubilee falls, an undemanding walk that follows the stream through the indigenous forests that were designed for a Fairy Tale. I managed not to fall in at the stream crossings and didn’t brave the freezing waters of the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.
Excellent chicken pie at Mother Holly’s before heading back for the Featherbed Nature Reserve walk. A ferry ride across the lagoon, before the tractor ride up the East Head and the start of the walk down. The views across the lagoon and out along the coast line are magnificent and the walk easy with a multitude of flowers along the way. Something special about walking along the old railway line route almost at sea level. My Achilles still a tad unhappy with the steps.
Morning food-handout to homeless, an opportunity to get photos for my next portraits. Disturbing eyes of hardship, suffering and hopelessness, interspersed with faces of character. Grateful for food in an empty day. 

Messing About with Paint

Leisure Island Adventures

Stunning sunset walk. Polly looking for mischief.

Lines on canvas. The forest. With elephants trashing loggers equipment, it seemed appropriate to have an elephant in my painting. Or rather, the semblance of one. A bit of a struggle with what appeared to be a lifeless mass of paint on the canvas.
As it has for hundreds of years, on the main road through Knysna, the smell of pine – heavy in the air – from freshly logged trees, being hauled on somewhat roadworthy trucks to the sawmills.
Terry spoilt us with her scrumptious terrine, before a decadent chocolate moose dessert. A fair amount of wine ensured we didn’t waste the end of week recycling bag.
Design-wise, a furniture manufacturer in Knysna that specialises in meticulously crafted solid wood furniture. The workshop, a bit like Geppetto’s, infused with the magic of the forests. Special that this will be part of the apartment as they will build the kitchen cabinetry.  
The stairway from the beach at Brenton, winds up the dune, with a couple of breather breaks on the way to heaven. Impressive that Polly was able to manage the stairs after her beach walk. 
Stopped in at the Knysna School of Arts & Design, in a revitalised building that was once the studio for Malachi Smith. The Leon Ver Meulen canvas was particularly striking.

Diary of an Adventure

Leisure Isle Adventures

Surf breaking across the entrance to the heads. Sunrise and sunset beach walks. The wind chilly. Distant snow on the mountains.


A Moment in Time. Oil on Canvas 70cmx101cm. A painting of the Heads in Knysna. The cloud formations reminded me of a ship and in painting them, I decided I liked the idea of a sailing ship entering through the Heads. I have also done a small, 20cmx20cm canvas ‘Through the Heads’ of the sailing ship.
Along the main road through Knysna, they have set up planters each of which is sponsored. At the moment they are filled with marigolds and daisies. Vibrant in yellow and white.
Polly moulding into her ‘surfer dog’ image. Hair matted with saltwater and beach sand, whipped into dreadlocks by sticking her head out of the window of her mobi-kennel. She is less sure of the high tide, when the sand is soft and the waves that bit rougher, knocking out her back legs. The beach sand relocation program to inside the house is making rapid progress.
She is also becoming a Seattle Coffee groupie. Morning coffee with the cyclists at Hein’s one of her favourite stops.
Painting the small picture ‘Waiting to Play’ of a yacht on the Knysna Estuary, I was reminded of a scene from the movie about William Turner when he takes a dollop of red paint and splots it down on a canvas painted by Constable, eventually creating a buoy amongst the blue sea. I added my own red splot.
Dinner with Ronnie and Mimzie amongst the trees at the Phantom Eco Lodge, with its fabulous view out over the Knysna lagoon. Didn’t see any of the Phantom moths (Spring only?) that give name to the pass, and despite the ethereal mist, didn’t come across the ghost of the Italian women and her horse, struck by lightning, whilst trying to save the silk farmers from poverty.
A short, demanding walk along the circle route in the forest at Bibby’s Hoek. A fair amount of mud under the ancient canopy, with lichen, creating intriguing spots of colour amongst the green. No elephants, which wasn’t surprising given the noise being made by a bunch of kids enacting their own Survivor movie. Excellent venison pie at Molly’s Tea Garden, which is part of the small Millwood museum. With your own pot of coffee and attentive service, it makes a worthwhile stop.
The hills are covered in purple Erica. With the valleys full of morning mist, it’s little wonder that they call this the Garden Route.
Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

An early walk in the vineyards, still cool after the rain. My bum complaining on the hills. A newspapers, coffee shops, sushi sort of morning in Stellies, with the odd walk to get bits for the dinner menu to be cooked on the Weber. Duck breast, with brandy and orange sauce, and a grilled beetroot and goats milk cheese salad planned.

Singed eyebrows as the potent mixture of duck fat and brandy hit the hot coals of the braai. Flames, having been given life, impatient for more. I didn’t leave the duck on for long enough, which meant that despite crispy brown skin, the fat wasn’t completely rendered. The presentation stunning. Faults hidden by the entertainment value.

I met Queenie and Lily, two carthorses and their vibrant owners, in the middle of town. They were packing the day traders wares into the flatbed of their horse carts.The carthorses, part of our rich cultural heritage. Pleasing to see how well cared for the horses were and I was more than happy to do prints for them of the photos I took.

The mountains, shadows of the gable walls of the Cape Dutch homestead in one of my paintings for the 30 day challenge.

With the holiday season passed we took the opportunity of a windless morning to head to Blouberg for a beach walk with Polly. The sand patterned by the tide and wind, creating small reflecting pools of light.

The air full of the smell of crushed grapes. Our quiet walk around the Manor House disrupted by the winery getting ready for the harvest. The vines have been trimmed back and the grapes thinned out. The trees forming the windbreak have had their lower branches taken off to let in more afternoon light.

Week three of the thirty paintings in thirty days. Not quite ahead of myself yet, but I have enough ideas for the next few days.

Weber Grilled Duck Breast in Brandy and Orange Sauce

This dish is adapted from a 1960s Spanish recipe (originally with truffles and mushrooms), with input from the Splendid Table. It was served by Swiss chefs Otto and Urs Müller at El Bulli, the beachside shack in the coastal town of Roses they transformed into a legendary Michelin-starred restaurant.

Ingredients:
4 boneless duck breast halves, skin on (about 1-1/2 lbs)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
80 grams of butter
80 grams Gorgonzola
2 oranges for juice and zest
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup of brandy
Sprinkle of chilly flakes

1. Put brandy and truffle juice into a deep glass or ceramic dish, add duck, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours.

2. Remove duck from marinade, reserving marinade, and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, score duck skin in a crosshatch pattern. Season duck all over with salt and pepper

3. Grill the breasts, skin side down, over direct medium heat (180°C to 230°C) with the lid off the Weber for 4 minutes, moving the breasts temporarily over indirect heat while flare-ups tale place. Once brown, cook skin side down over indirect heat with the lid closed for 5 minutes to tender out most of the fat. Turn breasts over and cook over indirect medium heat for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Keep the lid closed as often as possible during grilling.

4. Melt the butter the orange juice, honey, chilly flakes and brandy and simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce has reduced by about 50%. Add the cheese and stir until the sauce reaches a syrup-like consistency, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

5. Let the breasts rest for 3 to 5 minutes. To serve, remove the skin and cut the duck into 1/4-inch slices. Drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with orange zest.

Weber Roasted Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad

Beetroot is something most of us only see in a jar. It was always easier to buy a bottle of grated beetroot salad than what it was to cook it yourself. This recipe is however very easy and helps you not to get your hands too dirty. The fact that it lasts for about 1 week if you keep it in a air tight container in the fridge is an added bonus.

Ingredients:

Roasted beetroot
1-2 kg Beetroot (I prefer to buy the bunches rather than the bags)
15ml Balsamic vinegar
40 ml Water
Coarse sea salt
Pepper

Method:
Prepare and indirect fire with 25 briquettes on each side or light the Q on indirect heat.
Trim the stalks and ends off the beetroot and wash thoroughly with a soft sponge.
Place the beetroot in a foil drip tray and pour the vinegar into the tray. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Now add 40ml water.
Cover tightly with foil and place on top of the grid.
Cover the lid and leave to cook for about 1 ½ – 2 hours depending on the size of the beets. (I prefer to use the smaller ones)
You can test if they are cooked by piercing one with a knife. If it slides in easy then it is cooked.
Let it cool and store in a container in the fridge. Cut and peel them as you use them. If you wash them well you won’t even need to peel them.
You can keep the remaining liquid and mix it with 50ml olive oil, a teaspoon sugar and 15ml balsamic vinegar to add a lovely dressing to the salad.
To serve:
Prepare the salad base using your favourite leaves. I love the crunch of wild rocket or even try baby spinach and some coriander.
Add cocktail tomatoes and whatever other goodies you like avo, onion, cucumber, etc.
Add the beetroot wedges, cheese and some pecan nuts to your salad and serve.
This salad is great as a side dish with chicken or fish but can be enjoyed on its own as a meal as well.

WE ALSO RECOMMEND

Thai Red Curry with Roasted Duck

Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

Moles driving me scatty, doing their best to destroy the cottage garden. Would think it would be easy to find the tunnels of something that makes mounds the size of small hills.

Misty walk in the vineyards. Eerily quiet after the wind of the past few days, an express train hurtling through the trees. My mind churning over ideas for paintings, responses to job requests that I’m not interested in and strategies for applications for those which I am.

At the bottom of the cottage garden, the deck under the pine trees is our haven from the afternoon heat of summer.

The table and chairs blending into the late afternoon light. Secluded, intimate privacy.

Polly content to dig her nest in the garden to create a bed of cool soil, where she can still monitor the comings and goings at the cottage.

I was requested to recommended a days Gallery Walk in Cape Town, which made me realize how long it is since I spent any time in the city. I know the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek gallery’s reasonably well. However, what is going on in Cape Town is a bit of a mystery.

After a sweltering week, the wind chimes are going crazy in the front of the cottage. The barometer bringing us cooler weather, and possibly event a spot of rain. The vineyards were shrouded in mist with a fierce wind cleaning out the remaining spots of red wine. The result of sitting out on a seductive evening, watching the lights across the valley.

For now, the third week of the ‘thirty paintings in thirty days’ has started. I have started to use a slightly larger canvas (20cmx20cm) to give me a bit more freedom, and reduce the contortions of my fingers on the small 15cm square canvas.

I wound the various clocks, a comforting rhythm to life in the cottage. A life that will change as the cottage has been sold and we will start our relocation to the studio in Knysna.

Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

Gentle walk, on a misty day in the vineyards. Legs still a tad wobbly from our walk up the mountain. Polly full of energy. The grapes, in the vineyards, turning purple. Still terribly sour.

Lesa visit in for a few days which gave us the excuse to head out to Stellenbosch to walk around the sculpture exhibition. Draw pictures on the tables at Brampton, with a bottle of wine for creative stimulation before heading to lunch at Clos Malverne.

Life in the vineyards settling into a new routine as the holidays come to an end and the burden of South Sudan lifts. Walk at first light. Cappuccino mulling over the news bits before the studio calls with its relentless schedule. The odd glass of wine with people stopping by the cottage and the enticement of Estates with their gardens and restaurants, always a distraction.

Around Stellies, planters filled with vegetables as part of the Free to Grow project, which aims to encourage home food gardens for food security to support vulnerable groups.

Vergelegen for the agapanthus garden which is at its prime. Fields of a gazillion purples, spectacular against green trees, with the mountains to frame the setting. The Octagonal Garden is past its early summer best, however the dahlias are splendid. Crazy that there is nowhere to get a coffee, and you can’t get a glass of their wine. The Stables Restaurant only opening at 12.

Franschhoek on a stunning day to visit galleries, drink cappuccinos on the terrace at Le Quartier Farancais before lunch at Roco.

The 30 paintings in 30 days challenge into its second week. The patio, my studio, in the midst of the cottage garden. Birds and the fountain, magical companions. The birds are a bit of a terror in their search for cheese, which has them walking across the table. Not ideal with wet paint in abundance.

Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

Hidden in the folds of the Groenland mountains above Elgin, the mist parts enough to allow you to enter into another world. Fresh, at Paul Cluver, is a small restaurant with a menu crafted around the three core elements of Chef Niki Hall-Jones philosophy. Simplicity, Seasonal and Sustainable.

The food was very good, the service excellent and if we hadn’t needed to drive back to Cape Town, we would definitely have gone for a walk, returning for the dessert and more of the wine from Paul Cluver.

The Sauvignon Blanc was a miracle of delicate wine making. Crafting a wine that is subtle, intriguing and crystal clear. Reminded me of the excellent Arneis whites from Piedmont in Italy. A big plus, is that the wines in the restaurant are the same price as the wines on the estate!

As a bonus it must rate as one of the best bathroom experience in the world.

Polly disturbed by the bushbuck that has been visiting the garden in the early hours. Very pleased with herself for alerting us to the dangers faced by this interloper. Being awake early did mean that we could get out for our walk before the sun was up and the heat made it unpleasant. My bum suffering again as we start adding the hills into our circuit. Polly wading in the dam has the cottage smelling like a farm.

A drive out on quiet roads to the small village of Kommetjie. Family lunch at Fisherman after looking at options for Lesa and Alan’s retirement cottage. The sea fabulous shades of blue and green, with the sun hot on the white sands. Lots of burnt bodies about the place.

A new coffee shop ‘Cup of Chino’ has opened in Stellies that combines Internet, printing and office services within a coffee shop environment. No shade for Polly which is a bother. This while doing circles around the umpteen requirements to get my PayPal account sorted so I can get paid for sales of my painting sales. Found out we have about seven different versions of where we stay. How we ever manage to find the cottage is one of those unknown miracles.

Tamy, an experienced pro. Wayne a novice. Sabrage in the vineyards on one of those seductive Cape evenings. Caprese salad, salmon moose shots, cheeses and a bit of boereworse to go with the bubbles.

New Year’s Eve dinner at the cottage. Country terrine to start, followed by whisky soaked salmon with a honey and mustard glaze on the weber. Green veggie parcels, with Gorgonzola and citrus. My eyes closing before the midnight hour, which Polly decided was unacceptable. Particularly with fireworks crashing about the place, and took for a midnight walk.

The unusual experience of doing a video interview, rather than a written test. Of course, after it was completed I came up with brilliant answers to the questions posed!

Diary of an Adventure

Thesen Island Adventures

Dew drops glistening in the morning sunshine. First rays of sunshine waking the silent forest. Flowers of gold. Rivers of silver foliage. Above Simola, the contour path allows for easy walking, restricted by our unfamiliarity of the routes and legs unaccustomed to the hills.

Alongside the Old Cape Road, tin houses merge into the forest. Infused by the shadows of elephants. Paintings waiting.

Breakfast at Cafe Throb, where Polly is allowed on the deck. The service, friendly and the food, invitingly moreish.

Next to the studio, a new Dallas Smith art gallery has opened. With the studio, the first part of the Harbour Town district will have four galleries. Each one, with dramatically different styles.

Lunch at 34 South, for their $3.00 special, of gurnard espetada. A colorful skewer of fish chunks, lemon and peppers. The fish was over cooked which was disappointing. Service was friendly if slowish. Not unexpected given that the tables were packed. To accompany the free glass of wine, we selected bits of sushi as well as an Ernie Else Chenin. Sitting at the waters edge, on a stunning early summers day, there was the concern that we would never leave.

Low tide and calm seas found us charging through the Knysna Heads, riding the swells in search of whales. The passage through the Heads is perilous to the ignorant, as the sudden thrust of the boat diagonally across the entrance and around a rocky outcrop proved. Exhilarating! The whales, elusive, giving us short sightings as they were moving quickly in their family groups.

Wet walk on the beach at first light. The sun hidden by leaden clouds so at odds with the pink sunset. Easthead for breakfast looking out to the Heads, and the seemingly gentle swell.

Discussions with the architect and spacial designer for the apartment and studio. Ideas tossed around within the constraints of practical realities. A journey started.

Quick lunch with Dad and Mary before an easy drive back to the vineyards through the Robertson valley, still resplendent in the last of the jacaranda flowers.

A special time, with special friends.