Lockdown, day 365

Midnight tonight marks one year since South Africa went into hard lockdown to ward off the dreaded Corona virus. It’s hard to believe how time has flown. Firstly, let’s be clear on one thing – we did not ward anything off. All we achieved is to slow it down, prepare hospitals and minimise the number of deaths. Actual infections are far far higher than officially recorded, some regions’ health systems have completely collapsed (not entirely due to Covid), and many people have lost everything. Everything – that means jobs, homes and loved ones.

I won’t go into what I’ve lost but suffice to say it’s been a nightmare of a year and as I type this we are waiting to hear what new regulations and restrictions will be put in place ahead of Easter. Easter is when South Africans act as if they haven’t just had a 3-week holiday just two and a half months ago and they sell their granny’s jewels to take the longest holiday they can squeeze into 2 days of actual paid days off work. They hit the roads like lemmings; all going in the same direction so they can all gather on the same beaches and meet all the same people they see at home every other day of the year. They die in road accidents in their hundreds per province and this year will also pick up the virus to bring home and spread at work. The poor do the same thing except they pack into sardine can minibuses so it all spreads faster and wider.

So yes, a third wave is about to hit us. Some say like a tsunami. I have a glimmer of hope in humanity and common sense and that people will have learnt to not be total dicks next time around.

And everyone will complain when the President announces restrictions to try prevent as much damage as possible.

Oh lockdown .. thou art a bitch.

I have spent most of this past year pottering around in my garden and baking. The garden is lovely and I am as round as a little piglet. As I type this, my latest easy-peasy favourite dessert is in the oven – a peach cobbler. See photos of a few recent ones, below. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve made this past year. I always attack the corner first, that’s where the crunchiest bits are.

  • Recipe: 1 cup flour – 1 cup sugar – pinch salt – teaspoon vanilla essence – half a teaspoon baking powder – 1 cup milk.
  • Mix all dry ingredients and vanilla, add the milk.
  • 60g butter, melted in bottom of baking dish in the oven while preheating to 180 degrees C. (Don’t let it burn but allow it to bubble a little bit).
  • Place 2 cups sliced fruit (peaches and/or plums are the best, apples and pears work too) in the dish on melted butter, and then pour the mixture over.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.
  • Break off cunchy corner as soon as humanly possible and blame the mouse or dog. Or just call it cook’s privilege.

After several days of excessive heat it’s raining today – and very welcome rain it is, too, because it was dry and wind-blown. On that note, here are some photos of my friend Frank’s FABULOUS garden. It’s small but packed with special plants and bulbs and a pond and all sorts of wonderful little nooks and crannies. Frank is also a tour guide, one who specialises in hiking and field trips to floral regions. He knows more about South African plants than anyone else I know. I had lunch at his home recently and snapped a few pics with my cell phone.

The mafia, the ghost and the garden

I enjoy looking at the stats on this blog now and then. I don’t have a huge following but it’s nice to see someone is reading some of the posts.

Since starting this blog about 9 years ago the three most popular posts have been about a lovely urban garden, a wonderful old ghost story, and a depressing account of how a quaint fishing village not far from Cape Town has become a haven for poachers who operate like a mafia. Although those posts go back to 2012 and 2014, they are still consistently visited. This means Google algorithms work and I tagged them properly. It also means people want to know about ghosts, the local mafia, and the garden. It’s the garden I’m most intrigued about because as lovely as it is, I had no idea it could be so popular.

As for the mafia post, I’m hoping it’s searches for the town itself that draw readers. Despite what goes on with the poaching (and the fishermen who are exploited), Paternoster is wildly popular with Capetonians. There isn’t masses to do there but for a quiet weekend, great food, and walks on the beach, you can’t beat it. During the wildflower season it’s the ideal place to visit. As I type this, I wish I could transport myself there. I did say in the original post that I wouldn’t be in a hurry to return but I have been back many times and I’ve grown to love it. The mafia-style issues, they are not mine to worry about and I can do nothing except support those people who do care for the village.

There’s a restaurant there that’s received enormous international attention but my favourite food is still what is served at the guesthouse known as Ah! Guesthouse. See photos below.

The garden from 2012

The ghost from 2012

The mafia from 2014

A series of photos of the food and hosts at the wonderful guesthouse where I’ve had the privilege of staying a few times in Paternoster. It’s called Ah! Guesthouse and is one of the best places to stay on the west coast, with some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. Oh and they serve dessert with breakfast – what more could you ask for? See the website here.

Because no visit to the West Coast is complete without a view of Table Mountain.

Dylan Lewis

I first heard of Dylan Lewis about 20 years ago when a group of impressionable students and little old church ladies erupted with outrage at one of his pieces displayed in the vicinity of the University of Stellenbosch. They labeled it satanic and called for its removal lest young minds be sullied. The piece in question was titled Male Trans-figure II and is described by the artist as “… celebration of the vital energy, life force and spirit of all that is truly wild.” Their outrage caused a ruckus and many of us were curious to see what the fuss was about. Below is one from the series; this one is Trans Figure IX. Scroll down for a selection of pieces less likely to cause outrage.

Dylan Lewis is an internationally renowned sculptor inspired by the nature around him. This is evident in the way he laid out his wonderful Sculpture Garden in Stellenbosch. High up the mountainside, past the manicured lawns of the rich and infamous, past the wine estates for which this region is most famous, you eventually come upon a most unassuming entrance and you’ve arrived. Lewis has transformed this 7-hectare piece of land by creating contours and waterways, planting mostly indigenous fynbos, and placing many of his works around the garden. New pieces are added all the time, and the most recent ones are gigantic in size, reflecting the new direction he’s taking.

The result is simply magnificent – from unused farmland to a wilderness of valleys, hills, fields, and several water features sourced from a natural spring and mountain river. The garden is open to the public, by appointment, and one can wander alone or with a guided tour – I highly recommend the guided tour because this is art that warrants explanations and history.

Dylan Lewis’s early career featured big cats and his series of leopards is well-known – there are even some wild ones still living in the mountains above the Garden. One wonderful piece is displayed at one of the entrances of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and there are several at the very hoity-toity Delaire Graff wine estate in Stellenbosch, as well as various others around the Cape, probably in many wealthy private gardens. Read more about Dylan Lewis here and here.

My photos taken on a recent visit to the Gardens. The birds are his father’s artwork.

Is this not the most magnificent piece of work?

I’m still hoping to raise enough funds to pay off my touring vehicle – the link is below. All contributions are welcome!

Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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