Thursday, 30 December 2010

A Tribute

The African storm has finally subsided and for Mama the clouds have cleared to make way for that magical light that is liquid sunshine.

After a long and courageous battle against Pulmonary Fibrosis Tessa passed away on Monday, 27th December surrounded by her family.

She brought warmth, light and colour into our lives and the world is a drabber, sadder and drearier place without her. No words can describe the loss we feel, but she will forever remain a bright, shining star in our memories - warm, bold, brave and strong.

This blog was meant as a memoir for her children, but through it she found new friends who lifted her spirit and helped her fly. Thank you.

Warmest regards,

Beani, Georgie and Guy Edwards

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Luxury Travel


“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more importantly, it finds homes for us everywhere.”   ~ Jean Rhys





I love looking up and realizing the hours have passed without my noticing because all the while I've been so deeply immersed in my book. Surely that is transportation of the most definitive kind? The ultimate in travel and exploration? And, best of all, you don’t need luggage.

**Do have a look at the Link Viewer at Illustration Friday for some wonderful art from artists around the globe.  This week's prompt is "Transportation".... so why not give it a go yourselves?  Go on, I dare you! **

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Quangle Wangle's Hat



Today, October 7th is National Poetry Day.  To celebrate we are all supposed to write a poem about home.  Since I haven't had time to pen some prose, I'll just leave it to one of my favourites - the delightfully weird and whacky Edward Lear. 

What I did manage to do a couple of days ago was paint a picture of a hat.  (After all, home is where the hat's at...right?)  Although it is by no means as wonderfully beribboned or jangly and jaunty as Quangle's, it is rather fitting, I feel, for the approach of Autumn.  One must not have a chilly pate.  Not under any circumstances.


facebook.sept 002



The Quangle Wangle's Hat


Edward Lear

On the top of the Crumpetty Tree

The Quangle Wangle sat,

But his face you could not see,

On account of his Beaver Hat.

For his hat was a hundred and two feet wide,

With ribbons and bibbons on every side

And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,

So that nobody ever could see the face

Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

The Quangle Wangle said

To himself on the Crumpetty Tree,--

'Jam; and jelly; and bread;

'Are the best food for me!

'But the longer I live on this Crumpetty Tree

'The plainer that ever it seems to me

'That very few people come this way

'And that life on the whole is far from gay!'

Said the Quangle Wangle Quee.

But there came to the Crumpetty Tree,

Mr. and Mrs. Canary;

And they said, -- 'Did you ever see

'Any spot so charmingly airy?

'May we build a nest on your lovely Hat?

Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!

'O please let us come and build a nest

'Of whatever material suits you best,

'Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!'

And besides, to the Crumetty Tree

Came the Stork, the Duck, and the Owl;

The Snail, and the Bumble-Bee,

The Frog, and theFimble Fowl;

(The Fimble Fowl, with a Corkscrew leg;)

And all of them said, -- We humbly beg,

'We may build our homes on your lovely Hat,--

'Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!

'Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!'

And the Golden Grouse came there,

And the Pobble who has no toes,--

And the small Olympian bear,--

And the Dong with a luminous nose.

And the Blue Baboon, who played the flute,--

And the Orient Calf from the Land of Tute,--

And the Attery Squash, and the Bisky Bat,--

All came and built on the lovely Hat

Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

And the Quangle Wangle said

To himself on the Crumpetty Tree,--

'When all these creatures move

'What a wonderful noise there'll be!'

And at night by the light of the Mulberry moon

They danced to the flute of the Blue Baboon,

On the broad green leaves of the Crumpetty Tree,

And all were as happy as happy could be,

With the Quangle Wangle Quee.


Friday, 1 October 2010

Beneath African Skies



turag Niger, West Africa - Tessa 2010



Children of the Sun and the Wind


Mohammed Ebnu

We still live
on the brink of nothingness,
between the north and south of the seasons
We still sleep
on stone pillows,
like our fathers
We still follow the same clouds,
resting in the shadows of thorn trees
We still drink down our tea while swallowing fire
and we walk barefoot not to frighten the silence
And in the distance
at the edge of the mirage
we still watch, every evening
the sun fall into the sea
And the same woman greets us
while she posts lookout for the dusk
in the middle of the map
She greets us, then is lost
in the eyes of a child
smiling from the lap of eternity
And we still wait
for a new dawn
We still wait to begin again

Thursday, 30 September 2010

If to dance is to dream......


“On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined”

Lord Byron


I'm all dressed up, my date is here and the helicopter awaits.   I pick up the beautifully embossed invitation to The Third Annual Willow Manor Ball which has been tucked next to the flowers on my bedroom mantle piece and with a whiz, a whir and a whoop we are on our way!


A little background first....

The lady who defined 20th century fashion was born in 1890 into a wealthy and distinguished family in Rome, where she spent her childhood. She was outrageous from a young age, offending the nuns who taught her in her strict Roman Catholic school and disgracing her family when she attended a ball in Paris wearing only a length of fabric wrapped around her body, which promptly unravelled! When she was 23, she travelled to Paris, and then to London, where she met William de Wendt, whom she married the following year. After the birth of their daughter – Gogo - in 1919, The marriage didn’t last - due to financial difficulties and William's unfaithfulness - and the couple divorced in 1920. This left Schiaparelli a single mother, and fuelled her determination to succeed independently in the fashion world. She moved to Paris and met the celebrated designer, Paul Poiret, who introduced her to the art of couture.

Elsa Schiaparelli wearing a jacket of her new magenta color known as, Shocking.  (Photo by John Phillips//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Elsa became famous for being superbly original in her designs and marketing. She printed press releases on fabric, for example, and produced fashion shows that were uniquely spectacular. These days such performance in relation to fashion is commonplace; in Schiaparelli’s time it was unheard of. Her collections and shows most often had themes. One collection was inspired by African iconography; another drew inspiration from sailors’ tattoos, and dresses bore snakes and anchors. Other collections included 'Musical Instruments', 'Butterflies', 'The Pagan Collection', 'The Astrological Collection' and 'The Circus Collection'. Each collection of highly original and the often eccentric clothes caused scandal and success.


She had a wide circle of friends, with whom she often collaborated. She was good friends with the writer, filmmaker and artist Jean Cocteau; Schiaparelli once reproduced a drawing by Cocteau on an evening cape in embroidery. She was recognised as an artist by such people as Marcel Duchamp, Picasso and Stravinsky, and closely connected to the Surrealist movement - for example, Schiaparelli’s 'Lobster Dress' was a collaboration with Salvador Dali. This connection with the wider art world set Elsa Schiaparelli apart from most other fashion designers - she was not merely interested in beauty or fleeting fashion trends, but in art, culture, ideas and innovation. Essentially, Schiaparelli was distinctive in her involvement with the wider intellectual and creative world.

I shall be wearing an Elsa Schiaparelli creation of course – she one of my all-time favourite designers. This bronze-gold gown is, I feel, perfect for the time of year.  I shall wear it with these shoes – just for a bit of funk  – and an African inspired necklet also designed by Schiaparelli.


willow dress

elsa necklace1 

elsa shoes1









As my hair is neither here nor there, I will have to wear a hat. I rather liked this one, but Ranulph said that I looked as though I was about to go on safari in the Serengeti.


elsa hat2

So instead – and to link to the African theme I chose this……hut. Perhaps a few little yellow diamonds scattered like moon dust would add a certain je ne sais quoi. What do you think?

elsa hat4

I’d had decided some time ago to invite Ranulph Fiennes as my (hot) date. He accepted with an alacrity I found utterly charming. I do love the unique combination of reckless adventurer, intrepid explorer, acerbic wit, flawless raconteur, excellent writer and a man of deep – but not overt - familial love. I think you’ll all find him rather entertaining!


Last, but of course no means least, for our most sensational of hostesses, I have a little thank-you gift in the form of some rather luxurious personalized writing paper from the world renown Smythsons of Bond Street just because the lady loves the scent of old paper and words dancing on a page.



 Dance, dream, discover, devour - and desire just a tad! Tess, this is too, too marvellous darling.  Thank you!


Saturday, 25 September 2010

Just an old fashioned girl.


“Nothing is so dangerous as being too modern; one is apt to grow old-fashioned quite suddenly”

Oscar Wilde 



 I love receiving letters. Written in ink and filled with words carefully chosen and eternal. I'd be happy with just one page -- I'm not hard to please. Maybe I'm just a hopelessly romantic dreamer…

With Twitter, Facebook, emails and instant text messaging, writing a letter is so very old fashioned. Hardly anyone writes letters any more: at least not the kind of erudite, humourous missives that are the hallmark of great correspondence. As we are so often told, we live in the digital age. Now we correspond with friends, relations and businesses through email, not snail mail.




Quelle tragedy! Nothing will be left for posterity. Think of those wonderful exchanges between Evelyn Waugh and Nancy Mitford for example, or Kinsley Amis and Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath; the letters of people like Oscar Wilde, the Bronte sisters and Noel Coward. Entertaining, informative, sad, witty and even rude – and each a precious slice of social history.

letter books


The other great thing about letters is that they have the advantage of being tangible objects. You could treat them like the latest novel, curl up in your favourite spot in the house, and devour the thick wad of paper full of gossip and news. You could create a mood with your letter the same way you could create a mood with a novel - this is much harder with an email which will have to be read off a screen, in a no doubt office-like environment, while pop-ups go about their business, browsers crash, and instant messaging partners interrupt you.

I sent my brother-in-law a book a couple of weeks ago for no special reason other than the fact he had once mentioned that when he watches the swallows leave at the end of summer, it makes him cry a little. I found Horatio Clare’s book ‘A Single Swallow’ and, along with a little painting I did, popped it in the post to Peter.

It’s important to explain here that Peter is a truly magnificent mix of Rex Harrison and Winston Churchill. Looks like Rex, talks like Churchill – and holds fast to the lost age of chivalry and so eschews the age of technology with a shudder. He will positively not correspond via “that blasted electronic mail nonsense”. I’m so glad he doesn’t, because I want to share with you his beautifully written thank-you note.


p.letter1p.letter2 "One swallow does not a summer make"  Aristotle


Emails are great for getting in touch quickly and easily, but as literary vehicles they are severely lacking. Digital messages tend to oscillate between the deathly dull and formal and the blithely irreverent (complete with BTW, FYI, LOL's and garbled text-speak) with precious little middle ground. Letters can be revealing, expansive and humorous while emails, even at their best, tend to exhibit only one of these characteristics of good writing. Of course, many of us use social media such as Twitter and Facebook, sometimes to great effect; but publishing revolution or no publishing revolution, I find it hard to imagine that generations to come will one day download the "Collected Tweets of a Literary Genius" on to their e-reader.

**Post Script.  Thank you all for standing by while I underwent horrid treatment, drugs and a myriad of tests.  I will never be able to express my gratitude for your loving wishes and warm thoughts.  Every friendship is my very special treasure.**

Monday, 9 August 2010



"The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life. The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds -- how many human aspirations are realised in their free lives -- and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!"   John Burroughs (1837 - 1921), Birds and Poets, 1887


birds doodle 001

The only way to deal with a seemingly inequitable world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. I adamantly refuse to be caged by this illness that has tried to capture me, so I have started my very own rebellion!  



As this personal rebellion gathers momentum, I shall close this blog for a little while in order to undergo the restoration, conservation and repairs which are required to (hopefully) eradicate this horrid scary monster. It is true isn’t it, that birds sing after a storm so there is no earthly reason why people shouldn’t feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them? That is what I’m determined to do.

Sizobonana, kwaheri, zbogom, auf wiedersehen, ciao, salám, na razie, au revoir and totsiens my lovely friends…..for now.

**Postscript:  The 'Friendship' and 'Fish Trio' lino cuts I promised to send to those who wanted them are slowly being pulled, matted and mailed.  Forgive delays, please - there have been so many unwelcome interruptions.  If you've forgotten to send me your snail mail address and want one of the prints, please drop me an email**

Monday, 26 July 2010

On reflection.


The Illustration Friday prompt for this week is 'Double' which immediately made me think of reflections. Everywhere you look, you can see a myriad of fascinating, odd, glorious or just downright spooky reflective images.  In a mirror, or a rock pool.  In a window or a puddle.  A spoon does it upside down and a kettle makes for weird fair-ground distortion.   Perhaps even your shadow could be considered a reflection?

on reflection


This is my doodle jar and its reflection hovers just a centimetre or two above reality. Try not to get too close. From a distance almost everything looks real.

Postscript:   One of my more recent maxims is that a doodle a day is far more effective than an apple at keeping the doctor away. So I do doodle daily. Do you? If not, give it a try – it’s very soothing!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle.




I’m thrilled to announce the arrival in Great Snoring of a very special mammal. The little fellow burst out of his white padded enclosure and onto my lap accompanied by a shower of shimmering stars. I recognised him immediately and shrieked with delight. Guy dropped his granny-knicker-pink newspaper into his bowl of muesli and looked at me in alarm. “What the….?” I held the little chap up for his close inspection. “Good grief, girl, you squeal any louder and….oh, it’s your armadillo”. He picked his newspaper out of the bowl, shook it briskly to get the oat flakes off and continued reading. It wasn’t that he was unimpressed by my beautiful little multi-coloured creature – it’s just that he’s English and the English are not known to be excessively effusive.

For me, however, it was love at first sight. My blogpal Jinksy of Napple Notes is the creator of this diminutive masterpiece of mammaldom. Affixed to one of his flanges was a little poem. (Jinksy is a poet extraordinaire who creates the most wonderful word pictures you could ever imagine. And there is always a twinkle of mischief somewhere. For me, she brings to mind a glorious combination of Joyce Grenfell and John Betjeman – this will probably annoy her greatly! You never know with Jinksy.)

Here’s Arnie Armadillo

A psychedelic fellow

Who can fly across

The bluest arc of sky

To bridge the rainbow gap

‘Twixt you and I.

I shall treasure my little Armadillo always.   He will be my talisman and I shall take him on all my they via armchair or aeroplane, cruise ship or camel. Thank you, Jinksy.

Speaking of travels - the Friendship lino-cuts I'm sending to all my friends across the globe are now properly dry and are in the process of being matted, wrapped and mailed.  Please excuse the wait, they will be with you soon-soon.  Things tend to get done rather more slowly now that my  Arriba, arriba! Andele! Andele! mode has been immobilised -  temporarily, of course!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The light of wisdom and the guidance of friends.

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, for it is in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” 


celebrating friendship The glowing and growing of friendship.

I am truly overwhelmed by your comments on my ‘Stormy Weather’ post. For your thoughtful, gentle, warm, tender and generous words, I thank you all for lifting my heart and making my spirit soar. Each and every word you wrote is a treasure and will be kept close to me - and to my family - forever.  I wish I had a deeper wisdom to enable me to express exactly how enormously meaningful your messages are for me and how they have made a space in my heart that will forever be filled by you - all of you.

I made this linocut to celebrate the many precious friendships I have made throughout my life; during the two years I've had my blog, and those I am still making through this amazing medium. I will write to each of you via your blogs because I would like to send this little gift to you in order to celebrate the links we have made - all of which have touched me to the very core of my being.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Stormy weather


“'Tis the set of the sail that decides the goal, and not the storm of life” Ella Wheeler Wilcox


I did not fully understand the dread term 'terminal illness' until I noticed how difficult all the things I had always taken for granted became gradually more and more Herculean to achieve. Like running and dancing and sailing and riding…the puff factor took over far earlier than it had done in the past. Painting, writing and even reading became less easy because the cocktail of highly toxic drugs I was being given turned my mind to mush on occasion. Listening to some - most - of my music made me cry and entertaining friends for supper or lunch became just wretchedly exhausting rather than the exhilarating, inspiring, memory-making fun it had always been.

I felt I needed order – in everything. My clothes; my lotions and potions; the way in which things were laid out in drawers, in cupboards, on shelves, in the FRIDGE for gods’ sake. Symmetry became vitally important – every picture had to be straight, each cushion had to be plumped and laid just so. Duvets and pillows had to be immaculate, not a wrinkle or a crinkle anywhere. Yeah, a kind of madness descended. However, it seems to me that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order - and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order. You decide to leave your wrecked body to medical science, you contact your solicitor, you write letters to your children to read when you’re gone. There is a list of last wishes to make, a Living Will to have witnessed. All which I have done in a curiously businesslike fashion. By the book, by the numbers, carefully, cut-and-dried, deliberately, efficiently, exactly.  All fixed, framed, in a groove.  No tears or gasps of self pity. Spooky stuff. Orderly and oh so disciplined. The antithesis of Tessa, frankly.

And yet I have this driving, almost manic urge to try different styles of painting. I want to weave cotton into dazzling pattern. I want to sculpt and throw pots and learn calligraphy. I want to write poetry, novels, memoirs. I want to cook and clean and create. I want to set up a Salon du Muse, but I don’t want to talk – I just want to listen…and learn.  I want to save the freakin' world, man.

It’s really difficult to describe my state of mind at the moment. The only analogy I can proffer is that my head feels full of roiling, boiling storm clouds. Like an African storm – all dark, furious, growling and growing. That deep drum roll of far off thunder which gathers momentum until the explosive blast of it makes you jump despite the fact you knew it was coming. An incandescent flash of lightening – which in itself brings a certain mental clarity. Then the clouds erupt and the explosive deluge strikes the ground like a million whetted spears. Blinding, soaking, streaking, sodden.

Then across the skies the clouds clear to make way for that magical light that is liquid sunshine. There, right then, is the moment when chaos subsides. When the soaked earth releases its redolent, pungent smell of life. Those are moments when I can paint again, and write and talk to my friends. When I can look reality straight in the eye – and deny it.

I would also like to say that I love you all, new friends and old.  You are the wings that lift my spirit and help me fly.  Oh yes you are.  In fact, you are that Salon du Muse I wanted - and it's not just a stuffy old room in Bloomsbury or an elegant boudoir in Paris, it is one that has a view of the world.  It has the words that dance between people. It's like walking into the light, remembering being alive together. Now what could possibly be better than that?


Saturday, 3 July 2010

Giant Illustration Friday Oscillate 

©Tessa - July 2010 (Mixed media: acrylic, paper, digital on hardboard)


"Pray look better, Sir... those things yonder are no giants, but windmills."


In 1605 a novel appeared which has become one of the most beloved stories of European literature. It is the tale of Don Quixote, the tall gaunt knight-errant, gentle buffoon and dreamer astride his fallible steed, Rocinante. Accompanied by his potbellied, illiterate squire, Sancho Panza, these eccentric characters are as famous as Sinbad, Tarzan, Odysseus, Hamlet, or Superman.

Don Quixote, the eponymous hero of this 17th century novel by Miguel de Cervantes, is a dreamer and an affable buffoon, an aging gentleman who sets out from his village of La Mancha to perform acts of chivalry in the name of his grand love Dulcinea. He rides a decrepit horse, Rocinante, and is accompanied by his 'squire', the peasant Sancho Panza. Quixote's imagination often gets the better of him; in one never to be forgotten incident he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants. It is a testament to the novel and Miguel de Cervantes' vivid characterization that the term quixotic now describes anyone who takes on an idealistic or benevolent  quest against great odds.

The original story, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, was immediately popular — with six editions in 1605 alone — and has never lost its prominence. Cervantes not only created one of the greatest comic figures of world literature, but with his realist and humanist techniques he originated, some critics assert, the modern novel.

Don Quixote lived in a world created in his imagination, which had been fuelled by his obsession with chivalric tales. He dreams of resurrecting a world he had long read of: chivalry, battles with giants and evil knights and the rescue of virtuous maidens. Instead, our intrepid hero deals with windmills, bedclothes and much disappointment. Throughout his many adventures Quixote often seems ridiculous, yet he maintains his staunchly hopeful attitude and belief in chivalry with enthusiastic brio. The book inspired the 1959 play Man of La Mancha, in which Quixote’s quest is summed up in the song “The Impossible Dream”

In this song from the musical, Quixote explains his quest and the reasons behind it and in doing so he captures the essence of the play and its philosophical underpinnings.  Even though it's become a kind of musical cliché, to me it's still pure magic.


To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...
To right ... the unrightable wrong ...
To love ... pure and chaste from afar ...
To try ... when your arms are too weary ...
To reach ... the unreachable star ...


This blog post is dedicated to those of you who have indeed helped to make dreams possible for those who live in a small, forgotten mountain kingdom in Africa.  From the people of Swaziland, Dr Maithri and his team we say ngiyabonga, usale kahle - thank you and be well.   And to my special American friends....Happy July 4th!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Rippling outward still further


The momentum is growing.  Kelly of Ripple is doing the most incredible work in her bid to help the mammals and sea creatures who are victims of the Deep Water Horizon Gulf Oil Spill.  Artists from all over the world are contributing original works to raise funds to benefit charities working hard to alleviate the suffering caused by this horrendous disaster.  Please visit her blog to see for yourselves.  It's a true affirmation of what we are able to do by reaching out around the globe.


lightblue fish pngBlue Trio ~ Lino Cut (1 of 6 available) on 350 gsm cotton rag


Who hath desired the Sea? -- the sight of salt wind-hounded --
The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber win hounded?
The sleek-barrelled swell before storm, grey, foamless, enormous, and growing --
Stark calm on the lap of the Line or the crazy-eyed hurricane blowing --
His Sea in no showing the same his Sea and the same 'neath each showing:
His Sea as she slackens or thrills?

Who hath desired the Sea? -- the immense and contemptuous surges?
The shudder, the stumble, the swerve, as the star-stabbing bow-sprit emerges?
The orderly clouds of the Trades, the ridged, roaring sapphire there under --
Unheralded cliff-haunting flaws and the headsail's low-volleying thunder --
His Sea in no wonder the same his Sea and the same through each wonder:
His Sea as she rages or stills?

Who hath desired the Sea? Her menaces swift as her mercies?
The in-rolling walls of the fog and the silver-winged breeze that disperses?
The unstable mined berg going South and the calvings and groans that de clare it --
White water half-guessed overside and the moon breaking timely to bare it --
His Sea as his fathers have dared -- his Sea as his children shall dare it:
His Sea as she serves him or kills?

Rudyard Kipling



Monday, 14 June 2010

The Ripple Effect - Haematopus ostraleguis






Who could not love a bird called a Haematopus Ostraleguis?  According to my very well handled and battered bird book, Oystercatchers are found on coasts worldwide - apart from the polar regions and some tropical regions of Africa and South East Asia. My rather naive representation of this black and white species of Oystercatcher is found all along British coastlines and waterways. Bold in voice and body, this handome bird is often seen probing the shores with its stout red bill for earthworms, cockles and mussels, but rarely has it ever been seen to actually polish off an oyster.  Well, certainly not by me - but that could be because I manage to get to those tasty molluscs first if I can!  In the early evenings their enormous, tight flocks create an incredibly loud en masse chorus of 'kleep-a -kleep' piping trills which inevitably has everyone teetering over backwards as they gaze skyward in thrall.  During courtship, this fellow can be seen tearing along the sand like a madman behind or beside his intended mate in the hope of winning her affection and deterring his rivals.  I often wonder if, by the time he has managed to woe her, he is not too exhausted to perform the required act of procreation!

On a more serious note, here is a message from Kathy Light on why the prompt for this particular Illustration Friday topic is so important:

"It's hard to make ripples in oil soaked water. But throw enough stones and you will!

It's not about the politics or the corporation. It's about the animals. It's about not feeling helpless in the face of an overwhelming disaster. We're illustrators. We don't lose touch with that kid inside who marvels at the creatures who swim below and fly above the sea. We draw them. We are inspired by them. We need to help them.

The Ripple blog was started on the 45th day of the Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe. The oil spill in the Gulf is now over 50 days old with no sign of stopping. We may be too small as individuals to do some grand gesture- but together our small gestures can be grand.

This week's Illustration Friday topic is "Ripple"  and I ask you to consider creating your work this week as a small 2.5"  x  3.5" sketchcard. The subject should pertain somehow to the Gulf - the oil spill - the oceans and the creatures that live in it and around it. The cards can be submitted to  as a jpeg along with your links and a few sentences about you (ie: where you live, etc).

These will be made available for a small donation of $10.00 to either  The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies ( or The International Bird Rescue Research Center (  I have no affiliation with them. Every penny will go. When the cards sell, We ask for a donation confirmation and you will be asked to sign the back with a thank you. Then mail them to the address you are sent. If we all do small acts together- we can cause a ripple- and it can grow. We can DO SOMETHING.  Thank you, thank you for checking this out and thinking about it." ~ Kelly Light

You can see some wonderful contributions by other artists by clicking on this link

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The Fairest Cape


“Perhaps it was history that ordained that it be here, at the Cape of Good Hope that we should lay the foundation stone of our new nation. For it was here at this Cape, over three centuries ago, that there began the fateful convergence of the peoples of Africa, Europe and Asia on these shores.”  ~ Nelson Mandela, Inauguration Speech, May 9 1994

blog.pix 001Hemel-en-Aarde Valley 

At the very tip of Africa the Western Cape lies bordered by two oceans - the warm, balmy Indian Ocean to the east and the ferocious and frigid Atlantic to the west. The constant reassuring presence of the immense peaks which form the backdrop to a land so lovely that the emerald lakes and indigenous forests of the Wilderness area, the sun-drenched vineyards of the Cape Winelands, the magnificent passes to reach the interior and the sweeping, golden acres of the Boland, seem part of fantasy landscape that often defies description.

So rather than rhapsodise further, I shall let some of the photographs from my recent journey home do the talking....


cape collage.2010

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A light touch


holkham.pondJune6.10 Norfolk Zen ~ Holkham, June 7


My favourite time of day is just as the sun gently touches the horizon when all thoughts of what must be done stop and small pools of light come alive.


marshpond.6 JuneHome to roost ~ Holkham June 7

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A Cultural Potpourri


Some of you know me as that chronically homesick African who was whisked away from her beloved land quite recently by an Englishman to live for a while in his country.  What can a girl do but pack and follow?  Especially since the Englishman in question in my husband of 30 something years and he feels – probably quite justifiably – that it’s his turn to spend time in the country of his birth after having lived most of his adult life in mine.

Problem is that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t rid myself of that little niggling ache for home.  So rather than sit and mope, I endeavour to transport Africa to England as often as I possibly can by bringing the people and places I love so much to life on canvas. With broad strokes of brush and pots of vivid colour, I attempt to recreate moments of a life filled with laughter, love and adventure.

Our current home – now in North Norfolk - as well as being filled almost to ceiling height with a multitude of paintings by artists infinitely more talented than I, is also littered with smile inducing memories of that complex, beautiful and tumultuous continent. There are colourful carved birds perched on table tops, vibrantly painted tin geckoes climb the walls, a wonky wooden zebra teeters on a windowsill beside a chameleon and two outrageously daubed giraffe. There are bowls and sculptures, beads and baubles in abundance. Oh, and books. Books by Andre Brink, Chinua Achebe, J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Justin Cartwright, Ben Okri, Breyten Breytenbach, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Alexandra Fuller, Rian Malan and other afrocentric literary luminaries line the shelves.

So you see - it all works perfectly. He lives in his country and we still share mine.

Although I’ve lived in many parts of Africa, Cape Town is where I was born and raised so it seems appropriate that I should take you there first.  Please, come with me to that beautiful city nestled in the curve of its famous mountain and allow me to introduce you to the colourful Bo-Kaap area of the city and to the Cape Malay people who live there. And since food is always an important evocation of people and places, perhaps you’d like to share a meal as well?


The Cape Malay Quarter, or 'Bo-Kaap' as it is known locally, sprawls along the slopes of Signal Hill and presents a scenario of enduring historic and cultural significance. With their soft, caramel skins and wide smiles, the Cape Malay people are a beautiful and important part of the fascinating cultural potpourri which makes South Africa unique as a rainbow nation. It is also their food, which introduces exciting mixtures of pungent spices, that has had a heady influence on traditional South African cuisine. Indeed, the Malay-Portuguese words such as bobotie (a curried ground beef and egg custard dish), sosatie (kebabs marinated in a curry mixture) and bredie (slowly cooked stews rich in meat, tomatoes and spices) are integral in our cookery vocabulary.

The Malay influence comes through in the curries, chillies and extensive use of spices such as ginger, cinnamon and turmeric. More Malay magic comes through the use of fruit cooked with meat, marrying sweet and savoury flavours, with hints of spice, curry and other seasonings. The food has a nuance of seductive spiciness, true testament to the culinary capabilities of Malay women world wide. I cannot think of a dried apricot without the image of our cook Lizzie, smiling her heart-warming smile, a wooden spoon in her hand, gently stirring a pot of simmering curry and fruit.

Lizzie’s bobotie is legendary and I still have her recipe in my book of kitchen treasures. Bobotie (pronounced ba-boor-tea) is a curried ground beef dish, baked in a rich egg custard. Some recipes call for you to combine the curry powder with the ground beef, whilst others advise you to fry the curry powder with the onions. The method is really unimportant. Once the custard covering the beef begins to bake, it keeps the meat moist and absorbs the fragrance of the curry and spices. What makes bobotie such a popular traditional South African dish is that it is exceptional served hot with geelrys (yellow rice), but just as good served cold with a peppery green salad with a tart vinaigrette dressing.  Oh, and don't forget the blatjang! Wonderful book with great South African recipes - click for link.

Saturday, 5 June 2010





Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new... but who can understand and measure its sharp breath, its mystery and its design?  ~Paracelsus

Yes, Paracelsus, I couldn't agree more.  How serendipitous, then, than the NaBloPoMo theme for June 2010 is NOW.  Time is running out and I'm trying like a crazy person to keep up with it.  You know the kind of thing - too many pots on the boil and you can't see through the steam?

Although I'm reading, painting and photographing like fury, I haven't been writing. Nothing, nada, zilch.  My blog has taken a back seat as well - and I miss that wonderful bloggy camaraderie very much indeed.  Those connections and exchanges are  precious grist for the writing mill.  Yeah, I have tip-toed very quietly into all the blogs I love whenever I can, but I seldom leave a comment nowadays. I think that's because I've felt absolutely overwhelmed by the sheer quality of  what is written, painted, photographed out there in the blogsphere and that any remark I make while in the grip of this weird brain fug would would be superfluous and trite.  So I just chickened out.   It is time now to change all that.  June 2010 will become my 'writing month' in every possible way.  Blogging, works-in-progress, exchanges with friends, poetry maybe....

It's a bit like getting back onto a surfboard again - so for the moment brevity is key until I get my balance right.   I will attempt to excite your judgement briefly rather than to inform it tediously.  (Thanks, Francis Bacon...I think.)

Needless to say I'm already 5 days late with this task but it's an auspicious day to begin again.  Happy Birthday, Guy.  We've come a long way, baby!

booch.watamu Watamu, Kenya

I met Guy under a Land Rover. It was his big hiking boots I saw first and when the rest of him emerged, I was struck by how brown and untamed he looked. I liked the red spotted bandana he wore round his neck and the sinewy muscle of his chest and arms. I liked his black unruly hair and those green eyes that looked so directly into mine. When he spoke, I laughed because he sounded so English and that wasn’t what I expected at all.

First grandson First grandson


Sunday, 30 May 2010

“No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise.” IF prompt is 'slither'

A mackerel remarked to a trout:

"So what was that swordfish about?

I found him quite rude

with a bad attitude

and a pointy and dangerous snout!


fish.fishFish Fish - 2009 

I have deep and abiding devotion

For what lives on the floor of the ocean.

There's nothing profounder

Than coral and flounder,

And the benthos is god's greatest notion.




Whether slippery, silvery, slithery, shiny, sleek or scaly – fish are undoubtedly the jewels of our underwater world.  And you can eat them.  Unless you're a vegan - obviously.


 "Ruling a large kingdom is like cooking a small fish." ~ Lao-tse, Chinese philosopher

In other words....handle gently and never overdo it.




Sea bass with its firm, large-flaked, juicy white flesh, is the perfect candidate for baking in foil. This is SO easy and quite divinely delish.  (Bows low to esteemed Mpishi Janie)

  • 1 sea bass (about 1.5kg), scaled and gutted
  • 1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 6-8 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 fat red chillies, deseeded and thinly shredded.
  • a walnut-sized piece of fresh ginger, slivered
  • 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • A good squirt of fresh lime juice
  • A pinch of sugar and sea salt

Heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven) gas mark 4. Score the fish 2-3 times on both sides and lay it on a sheet of well-oiled foil, shiny side up. Sprinkle inside and out with spring onion, ginger, soy, sugar, salt, lime juice and a little more oil. Fold the foil over the fish and then make a double fold over the top and tuck in the sides.

Bake the fish for 25-35 minutes, depending on its thickness. Test for doneness with your thumb - the flesh should bouncy but firm. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes before unwrapping. Serve with lime quarters, a sprinkle of the slithered chilli and more spring onions.

You could also whack this on the BBQ if the sun in shining and you feel so inclined. (Turn it over after about 10-ish minutes on one side.)

still life fishDoodle Fish ~ 2008 







Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Food, glorious food.


Thank you for all your wonderful words of encouragement and love and inspiration when things got a bit melancholy in my last post.  As I've said before - you, dear bloggy pals, are the chocolate buttons of LOVELINESS on the great Caramel Pudding of LIFE.

And speaking of food.....


How many of you have been presented with weird and wonderful menus or exceedingly dubious dinners during your travels? I’d love to hear your stories!

Here's one to tickle the taste buds....

In 1986, travel writer William Dalrymple finished college and spent his summer retracing the 12,000-mile route from Jerusalem to Xanadu that Marco Polo had (allegedly) traveled 700 years earlier. He published an account of his journey in his book In Xanadu, which contains this vignette about an unforgettable dinner experience he and his travelling companion Laura shared while on the road:

The waiter brought over a grubby document, creased at the corners and covered with tea stains. "Ingliz menu," he said, beaming at Laura. We opened the menu and studied it closely.

Kujuk Ayas Family Restrant



Ayas soap

Turkish tripte soap

Sheeps foot


Water pies


Deuner kepab with pi

Kebap with green pe

Kebap in paper

Meat pide

Kebap with mas patato

Samall bits of meat grilled

Almb chops


Meat in earthenware stev pot

Stfue goreen pepper

Stuffed squash

Stuffed tomatoes z

Stuffed cabbages lea

Leek with finced meat



Brain salad

Cacik — a drink made ay ay

And cucumber


Fried aggs

Scram fried aggs

Scrum fried omlat

Omlat with brain


Stewed atrawberry

Nightingales nests

Virgin lips

A sweet dish of thinsh of batter with butter






Saturday, 22 May 2010

IF - Early


This is for Guy, Georgina and Alexandra. 

With all the love in the world.


Early Light - Holkham, Norfolk 2010 001

Carpe Diem

- Holkham Beach, Norfolk 2010


She sat there and looked until the light began to fade and then slowly she felt the pieces of her life fall away gently and suddenly she understood what it meant and she sat there for a long time crying and laughing all at the same time.

I want to convince myself that I must learn to make every act count since I’m going to be here for only a short while - in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.  But, believe me, I am so very happy and so deeply grateful for the myriad of marvels I have witnessed and will continue to witness until the time comes.  And then.....well, who knows?