the knitted shawl to beat all knitted shawls

There really is something enormously special about having something made just for you, isn’t there? This was made for me by Kathryn, and got flown over from the States to South Africa as part of my big surprise parcel. Back in April, she cunningly initiated a discussion about the three colours I would choose were I to knit up the Drachenfels pattern, which she had her eye on making.  I chose sagebrush, claret heather and tumeric, not realising she was purchasing them for me.

And that’s how come I now have this gorgeous item in my wardrobe….


shawl-1  shawl-five

It’s large and wide, so can be worn in different ways depending on the temperature. Cape Town evenings are still cool so I’ve been draped in Drachenfels quite often lately, but it will get it’s best airing come next winter :-)

Kathryn, xxx




not much to show

Not much to show for the last few days.  There’s been so much shit happening on so many political levels here, the sense of impending major chaos is draining. And it never rains but it pours – other emotional taxes have been weighing heavily, too. The upside (if it can be called that) to all this is that one tends to find greater pleasure in the smaller things…a sweet goodnight whatsapp from Alex, new buds on the new hydrangeas and gazanias, Col’cacchio’s divine pizza on the couch with Rob to accompany the final episode of One Of Us, lots of lovely birthday wishes from friends…nothing to be taken for granted.

But I did manage to [almost] finish two things: (a) an order from a friend in Somerset West for a patchwork throw for his bed;


212 by 255 cms of browns and creams and greys and honeys, with a bit of mustard and blue for contrast. I’ve used fairly heavyweight upholstery fabrics and I can barely lift the damn thing. I’ve started on the second one for him, a larger but lighter-weight one in yellows and creams and mustards.

and (b) a blanket for my own bed, started 5 years ago and forgotten about until I had to pack up house. A row here and a row there and before I knew it, the thing was huge!


Not sure whether to work a row or two of dc down the sides or not, just can’t decide. It doesn’t look right, but it also doesn’t look right without anything. Also really really heavy. And also all the ends to sew in.





Cape Town is an overcast 19 degrees today, but I took some pics anyway. This is what is now in my garden; each plant is still pretty isolated because I’ve dotted them around leaving lots of room for growth…

There’s also some lavender at the front, some crimson geraniums, and black-eyed susans in three different shades of orange for one of the walls. Slowly slowly growee gardee….

shopping for plants

Desperate to take advantage of the season and start getting the garden blooming, I headed out last week to Bloemendal Nursery in Philadelphia (yes, we also have a Philadelphia here!), owned by a friend of mine and her husband. It’s a peaceful rural spot and, once away from the highways and city noise and traffic, I can understand why people who live in the country always seem happier than those of us who don’t.

I hadn’t quite realised the extent of the nursery, however.  I made a goodly selection of plants and seedlings from my first stop…


…only to find another meadow-sized section of nursery…


…and then a further eight fields! Quite a range of plants to choose from, but luckily I had Heather’s advice on what would grow best where. Let’s just say I came home with a fully-packed car. But not before I was offered coffee and lunch (thanks, Fiona and Charlie), and came across a few herds of these bad boys:


Worst nightmare = locusts. Live ones. Live, moving, rustling ones. In packs.  shudder 

FO: beaded boho scarf

Finished object: ta da! Started here and very pleased with the result :-)  Decided to get fancy with some multicoloured beads to go with the whole vibrant boho look, as well.



I threaded the beads on and crocheted them into the last row on the two shorter sides, then added a slightly bigger red sputnik glass bead on both corners. Cape Town gets windy in winter, you know!- don’t want my scarf getting blown off….



It’s spring, plus this is a “new” garden for me, so some planting is in order. I can’t do much weeding or digging (not worth the risk of causing any stress to that sensitive place in my lower back where a disc went all slippy on me once) so I’m leaving the real work to Peter Malamba, a man from Malawi who knows his way around a Western Cape garden far better than I do!  He tells me that plectranthus, begonias and ferns will be the best plants to put under the thorn tree next to the wall, because it’s a very shady area.  We’ll do that, then :-)

Sticking some plants in pots is not beyond me, however, and I’ve put some gazanias in with the purple salvia. The one on the left below will actually turn out like that incredible fat yellow pink one still in its baggie.

spring-1  100_24151

And still on the spring theme, here’s the patchwork throw in greens that just needs backing now. It looks a bit drab because it’s overcast here today, but I’ve included some fabric that was part of my care package from Kathryn and they’ve added some pretty bright pinks to the mix.


Wishing you all a happy Thursday :-)


I would have thought there’d be no reason why most of you would have any idea what waterblommetjies are, but google tells me that this stuff grows all over Australia and also in parts of France and England. Who knew? Translated from the Afrikaans as “little water flowers”, we should really call a spade a spade: we’re talking pond weed here!

And it’s in season now. The guys on the side of the road in Franschhoek are hawking 1 kilogram bags for R25, and a sudden impulse made me buy a pack on the way home from the market on Saturday morning.


Waterblommetjiebredie is a traditional South African dish, like a lamb stew but with a lot of pond weed chucked in. I’m not vegetarian but I’m not really big on lamb at all, so I looked for a recipe that was less, well, less lamb-y.  There isn’t much, but I found this by fabulous local blogger Lana: lanalou style. I made mine without mushrooms (forgot to buy) and without white wine (didn’t forget but I’ve found it’s better to leave alcohol out of food dishes when I cook) (which isn’t often, as you know). And I won’t say any more on that subject :-)

And I won’t take a photo of the finished dish either, because, as we’ve all previously agreed, home-cooked food looks like baboon vomit in amateur pics. What I will tell you is that it was really really tasty, and it’s a million times better with bacon than with lamb.

And who the hell knows how my brain works, but there’s something about writing about pond weed that made me think of the 4 Yorkshiremen. And if you don’t know what I’m referring to, you can have a look here: cracks me up every time.