Sunday 28 June 2009

IF - ‘Worn’ and a giveaway….


Dance Me To The End Of Love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Leonard Cohen


‘Dance, pretty Mama, dance!’

Eh, banangi! That Benny and Mimi?  Man! They can dance until their shoes are worn through.

What kind of music makes you dance until dawn? Share it with us here and at the end of the week, I’ll get our own resident music maestro to pick a name at random. The winner will get a signed, matted giclée print of this painting – and I’ll donate the cost of the print to Dr. Maithri’s Swaziland Project in your name.   Howzat?

Wednesday 24 June 2009

The Art of Dyeing



I dyed this morning. And it’s Guy’s fault.

You see, last Sunday I was sprawled on the sitting room floor reading The Times Book Review when Guy sauntered in trailing a couple of acres of grass clippings across the freshly vacuumed carpet.

“Are you making coffee?” he asked.

“No,” I replied tersely. “If you look closely, you’ll see I’m reading the paper.”

There was a momentary silence and then this.

“You’ve got 7 grey hairs.” Guy announced and flounced off in a manly way to the kitchen.

Cut to supermarket ‘Hair Care’ aisle and me standing in stupefied amazement as I gape open-mouthed at three and a half million hair-colour products.

“Lord love a duck,” I muttered and strode bravely forth to investigate.

I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say that after long hours of deliberation, I chose a Penelope Cruz look-alike in the vain hope that Woody Allen would cast me in a sequel to Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Then I can leave Guy and his grass clipping and date George Clooney instead.

And speaking of vanity, I will most certainly not be venturing out today – possibly not ever again. Not with my brunette ears and a stain the size of an enormous birthmark which trails down from my hairline to my right eyebrow. Even my t-shirt looks like it has been pooped on by a flock of birds. So that will have to be binned. To add insult to injury, my left pinkie finger looks as though it should be amputated because that, too, has turned dark brown. Obviously one of those hand-shaped condoms they supply you with had a leak.

All this…this…trauma! All in the name of vanity and 7 grey hairs.

black ears


Is it worth it?

All together now…………NO!

Instead of sitting at home sulking with my brunette ears and a finger, I'm going to practise my Diski Dance. Care to join me?

Sunday 21 June 2009

IF - Drifting



A hot, steamy bath is a luxurious and sensuous way to clear the debris of the day, open intuition, soothe the psyche and indulge the self. Light some deliciously scented candles, fill the bath with bubbles, lie back and relax while drifting off to that tropical paradise far, far beyond reality.

Meanwhile, your man is in the kitchen preparing a meal to suit the mood. Could it be that delicious Vietnamese prawn salad for which he is justly famous? Possibly….


Guy’s Vietnamese Prawn Salad:

  • 12 king prawns, cooked and shelled
  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce, or butter lettuce
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 cucumber, finely sliced
  • 1 large mango,
  • 3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon shelled peanuts, chopped
  • Sprig of mint for garnish
  • 2 limes, finely sliced


  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 red chilli, seeds removed and sliced

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing, stir vigorously with a fork and set aside. Separate the lettuce leaves, wash and pat dry. Then rinse the bean sprouts and trim off any straggly tails. Next, combine prawns, mango and herbs in a bowl with the dressing.

Arrange the lettuce leaves, bean sprouts and cucumber slices on a pretty serving dish and add the dressed prawns, mango and herbs. Fling over the peanuts and serve with sliced limes. Paradise on a plate!


Wrap yourself in a fluffy towelling dressing gown and join him on the veranda to watch the sun go down as you sup on the succulent salad and sip a dewy glass of that Spier Private Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2008 which you stowed in your suitcase on your last trip to Cape Town. Blissfulness…..

Friday 19 June 2009

Summer Boys


The Unseen Playmate

When children are playing alone on the green,

In comes the playmate that never was seen.

When children are happy and smiling and good,

The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.

Nobody heard him, and nobody saw,

His is a picture you never could draw,

But he's sure to be present, abroad or at home,

When children are happy and playing alone.

He lies in the laurels, he runs on the grass,

He sings when you tinkle the musical glass;

Whene'er you are happy and cannot tell why,

The Friend of the Children is sure to be by!

He loves to be little, he hates to be big,

'Tis he that inhabits the caves that you dig;

'Tis he when you play with your soldiers of tin

That sides with the Frenchmen and never can win.

'Tis he, when at night you go off to your bed,

Bids you go to sleep and not trouble your head;

For wherever they're lying, in cupboard or shelf,

'Tis he will take care of your playthings himself!

Robert Louis Stevenson


Friday 12 June 2009

Isn't She Lovely...Isn't She Won-der-ful.....

"Poor brownie bear….," she howled. "Poor, poor brownie bear."

Everyone turned to look at the sobbing child in astonishment. She was clutching onto the railings as though her life depended on it, tears streaming down her cheeks, her cloud of blond curls lit golden in the sharp highveldt sunlight. ‘Poor brownie bear,’ she repeated piteously. "No Mummy, no Daddy, no Tessie, no Janie…poor, poor brownie bear."

Her father scooped her up and hugged her tight to him. By this time the dark-haired, freckled faced toddler who had been standing next to her was bawling as loudly as she was. As a graceful woman crouched down to comfort the second child, a crowd, drawn by the rising duet of distressed sobbing, had gathered around the bear enclosure at Johannesburg Zoo.

Our parents never took us to a zoo again. The only large animals we ever saw from then on in were those roaming free across the wild African savannah.

My sister Janie - muse, mentor and best friend in all the world - has a birthday today. She is 18 months younger than me, but I look to her for advice and guidance because she has always been far less volatile and impulsive than I am – and considerably more wise. But she still cries for brownie bears – both the human and animal variety!

Janie and friends in Lamu

Janie is one of those exceptionally annoying people who are blessed not only with beauty, but brains and talent in abundance as well. She’d been published by the age of five, for goodness sake! It may only have been in our prep school magazine, but that didn’t make it any less impressive. Here, for your edification and delight, is the extract:

“When I grow up I want to sit at home in a big chair and knit socks and make babies.”

Whether it was because, even at that age, we’d already travelled a great deal with my parents and she just wanted the stability of home, or that it really was her ultimate ambition, we’ll never know. She most definitely has never sat at home and knitted socks – far from it. The girl is an out and out adventurer and explorer. As for babies, she has one lovely daughter, a son-in-law she adores and two of the most deliciously delightful grandsons you could ever imagine.

Janie and Jemma with the Ellies - then

Grandsons Wizz and Alex - now

Together, Janie and I have conquered the world. If I were to recount all our adventures together here, it would become a book – so we’ll leave that for another day.

Another birthday - another country

Safari kitchen - Janie calm, Tessa in a tizz

Suffice it to say that she is a truly excellent cook - her dinner parties are legend - and a gardener who can transform a patch of red African earth into an Arcadian paradise. Irritating, eh? And believe it or not, she is also great mechanic on top of all her other attributes, and the fact that our old Landie made it from the very tip of Africa, across that vast continent to our destination at the foot of the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda in our epic expedition a few years ago is testament to her skills.

Mechanic in Malawi

Landie running smoothly - Zimbabwe

Happy Birthday, darling Jay, and happy days!

Jay in her studio

Oh, I did I mention that she is a sculptor and ceramic artist? No? Well, look at these……

Janie has promised to tell us about her adventures in pottery here on this blog one day soon, so do keep an eye out for that post because I know you’ll enjoy the trip.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Waiting for Gözleme

That’s Guy up there, on his birthday, in the little open air market in Atyaka hungrily waiting for his gözleme. Gözleme are the most delicious filled crepes that are folded over and grilled on an oiled hotplate. No matter where you are in Turkey, you’ll find a gözleme stall somewhere - even in the most remote villages of Anatolia.

Up there in her stall is Aysha, a genius with a rolling pin. These paper thin crepes are probably one of the cheapest and most satisfying feeds you can get in the entire world. Washed down with a glass of ice cold Ayran with a little mint, it is an ambrosial meal. Do try, you’ll love ‘em!

Here is a fail-safe recipe given to me by Ali, our most congenial and knowledgeable host at the beautiful little villa where we stayed for those two quite blissful weeks.


200g plain yogurt
pinch salt
250g self-raising flour (approximately)
100g baby spinach
50g finely chopped chives
200g feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
lemon wedges, to serve

Beat yogurt and salt together in a large bowl until smooth. Gradually add flour until you have a stiff dough. Tip onto a lightly floured board and gradually knead dough, incorporating any remaining flour until dough is soft and only slightly sticky. Transfer to a clean bowl and stand covered for 30 minutes.

On a floured surface, split dough into 4 equal sized round pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a circle.

Place quarter of the spinach and chives over half the circle, then sprinkle quarter of the feta over it and season. Fold dough over and press edges gently. Repeat this process with remaining dough.

Preheat a barbecue hot plate or large frying pan. Brush one side of each gözleme with olive oil and cook until base is golden. Brush top side with olive oil, turn and cook until golden.Brush with melted butter, cut into 4 and serve with lemon wedges. Heaven on a plate!


3 cups plain yogurt
3 cups water or to taste
Salt to taste
3 tb chopped fresh mint
Plonk all the ingredients into a blender, whizz for about 30 seconds, pour into a jug and put into the fridge for about an hour. Serve in long glasses with a sprig of mint – and there you have a delicious and refreshing Turkish smoothie!

Tuesday 9 June 2009


Hello dearest bloggy friends – I’m back! Back from a beautiful land where time has stood still in many places and where the people are warm and smiling and generous. A place where men wear richly patterned kufi, perched on their heads like little acorn caps and where the women, with their white headscarves and billowing skirts over baggy trousers called salvar, trundle along slowly on donkey carts to pick up their children from school.

We stayed in a small stone house with cool tiled floors and sash windows and big double doors which opened onto a long veranda swathed in bougainvillea and bright hibiscus. High up on the side of a mountain, surrounded by the scent of pine and wild thyme, we overlooked a timeless rural landscape of citrus groves and tiny patchwork fields of corn interspersed with neat rows of every conceivable variety of vegetable know to man. In the distance the silver dome of a mosque glinted in the sunlight and the blue tiles of its slender minaret fought for dominance with an azure sky, its tip sharpened like an arrow pointing to heaven — the call to prayer resounding through the warm afternoons. Beyond that Homer’s ‘wine dark sea’ is laid out like a silken blue carpet to the far horizon.

But more of our Ottoman odyssey a bit later – first we head on down to Swaziland and Dr. Maithri to meet Gogo Ndzimandze and Gogo Alvina.

Many of you have reached out to help Dr. Maithri build his humanitarian bridges in that tiny mountain kingdom in Africa where thousands of children have been orphaned by the scourge of AIDS. In an attempt to raise funds to help these little ones, many of you have also bought limited edition prints of my artwork so that the proceeds can go directly to Dr. Maithri and his team in order to try and secure a brighter future for the orphans and their elderly carers. Dr. Maithri has been carefully weighing up how best to distribute the contributions that have been so gratefully received and wrote to me this morning to let us know who we will be helping.

I just can’t tell you how thrilled I am, and I just had to share the great news with all of you. Rather than blather on in my excitement, I give you Dr. Maithri’s email: (Gogo means ‘grandmother’ in siSwati.)

"........I have been having discussions with Matron Zwane and we've decided on the two Gogo's whom we feel are most in need.

The first is Gogo Ndzimandze whom I wrote about in the post 'Does It Matter Whose Child' here.

She has 14 children whom she has taken in following the deaths of all her 5 children.

All 14 sleep in one urine soaked room.

We went there this morning and found the children eating scraping the bottom of a pot of porridge cooked yesterday...

I am going to organise to interview all the children and take photos of each one... I will also go with them to the place where they collect water so you and your readers will have more of an idea of their daily lives...

Your gift of milli meal and eggs will be a blessing beyond words.

The second Gogo and family we'd like to support... is Gogo Alvina...

For decades Alvina has been the cleaning lady at the Good Shepherd hospital.

She sweeps and mops the floors of the wards...

Her 3 girls and 2 boys died of AIDS.

Leaving behind over 12 little kids for her to look after...

She retired from the hospital once... but found it impossible to care for the she pleaded with the administration to keep her on as a contract worker...

Once again your gift will be a blessing beyond words. I will interview the family in the next few weeks, and send information/photos/stories.

I want to thank you once again from my heart for this gift of grace which you are bestowing upon these people.

Much love dearest friend,

I will be in touch soon,


So you see – thanks to all the wonderful, caring people who bought my art, Gogo Ndzimandze and Gogo Alvina will be able to give at least one meal a day to the 26 little ones who are in their collective care for the next year…and, hopefully, for even longer. I join Dr. Maithri in saying to those amazing people in our blog world, Siyabonga. Thank you.