Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Last stop on our trip was filled with nostalgia. We visited with family and old friends from university days. On one glorious morning we walked along the coastline from Kalk Bay to St. James. This smallish beach was one of our favourite spots when the children were little. Lots of rock pools to explore, and a tidal pool just perfect for quieter swimming. I was even brave enough to take a dip!

Looks lekker, hey?

However, I'm happy to tell you there's one major change since I was last there. These beaches are no longer 'whites only'. In fact, as we were leaving a troop of schoolchildren arrived to enjoy the perfect day.

Colourfull... in all sense of the word!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

AFRICAN ADVENTURES Last Garden Route stop: Leisure Isle

It was the great Margaret Atwood herself who alerted me to something that I was already experiencing when I struggled to achieve the first draft of 'Cape Town', then called 'Clearly in the Dark'. I can't quote her exact words, but the gist of what she said was that, when you focus on your story, the universe conspires to provide the research help you need. Thus it was with me. Looking through a few old papers we'd brought from South Africa, I discovered I'd kept a calendar from 1989, so I knew when Easter fell that year. And no, I couldn't simply google it, because this was in the dark ages. Also, weirdly enough, I'd kept a fashion magazine from those days, and so could see what the cool girls would have been wearing.

But on a more serious note, I needed more insight into the political Struggle. This post tells how I found it.

Leisure Isle lies in the Knysna lagoon. In the early Sixties, my parents built a retirement home there, which turned into a holiday house for us as well. It was also the location of my cousin's restaurant, The Pink Umbrella, and many were the meals and cream teas, and scrumptious evening mealtimes we enjoyed there.

One time I went to stay with Mom and Dad. As was my wont, I strolled down mid-afternoon to go for a swim. An elderly couple were already bobbing around in the warm water, so I joined them and we soon fell into a conversation. It turned out we were both going into town that evening for a piano recital, but also discovered mutual friends, the artist Frank Spears and his wife Dorothea, who'd played an important part in my Cape Town student days. Here's the portrait sketch he did of me at that time:

To cut a long story short, I was invited to tea to see their paintings. When I told Daphne I was writing Renee's story, she immediately rose and went to get a copy of her own book, which she gave to me. 'From Tribulation to Triumph' provided me with the facts I needed. Yes, you'll find her name in the acknowledgements.

So this preamble leads me to my recent visit with Daphne. Sadly, she lost her husband some years ago. Despite failing eyesight, she still lives on her own, in the same house I visited that first time. She invited me to lunch. And here we are, at the restaurant across from where The Pink Umbrella used to be, sitting under an old milkwood tree. Amazing, isn't it?

Lastly, in case you need flowers for Mother's Day, here's one of Frank's paintings that always hung on the wall of our Leisure Isle house.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Let's hang around Knysna for a little longer. It's such a beautiful spot in which to linger! So I want to start by sharing an event I participated in when I visited in December 2011, and then switch to a very first world experience.

But first, let's have some lunch together at the East Heads cafe. Um, did I mention that this environment is the setting for my romantic adventure 'Alexa's Quest'? Hopefully to be published before too long.

So here we go. What will you order, I wonder? There's always fresh fish of course, and babotie, but also vegetarian dishes, and such desserts as cheesecake and carrot cake which are likely to be the most delicious you've ever tasted!

Please, take a seat. You can sit in sunshine or in shadow.

Did you enjoy that?

Now let's go to another event that featured delicious food. The venue was the kitchen at House Hammond. See the previous blog entry if that doesn't mean anything to you!

Yes, it's the launch of my cousin's book, a combination of memoir and recipes, guaranteed to delight both the imagination and your palate! Up till now, the book has only been available in South Africa, but since last month, you can download the eBook from Amazon. So check out 
'PINK AND OTHER COLOURS'. Here's the link for you to buy it now!!:

p.s. she truly has a most engaging and amusing writing style! And can't you just see that from this photo?

And here's Myrtle, who started her working life as a cook at the Pink Umbrella restaurant, went on to teach kindergarten, look after AIDS orphans and then became a town councillor. In the background you can see the open fireplaces, and the sliding doors onto the terrace. (Sigh!)

So now to the first world stuff. You see, when I visited at the time of the book launch, I went to my dad's dentist. Dr. Wiid built a beautiful bridge for me, and when my local dentist saw his excellent work and heard I'd be in Knysna again soon, she suggested he should do the crown I needed. I'll spare you the preliminary details which were quick and painless. But I wanted to share what happened then. 
"Take a look," Dr. Wiid said, and brought me upright in the chair. To my left was a computer screen which showed an image of my upper jaw. To my surprise, he began to design the tooth, right there, before my eyes. I tell you, it was just like watching my talented son working on an ad image: make it bigger there, change the shape a little here, move this over to the left a bit... you get the picture. 
Once he was satisfied with the shape, the look and the fit, the dentist said, "Okay. Come back in three quarters of an hour and I'll have it ready for you!"

And he did. Magic, hey?