a walk in the park

If life is like a box of chocolates, I feel like I left my box out in the road and a ten-ton truck drove right over it. I managed to make the effort on Wednesday to spend an hour wandering round Arderne Gardens in Claremont, on my own.  When Alex was little, we often used to go there to feed the ducks and roll around on the grass. She used to call it the Wedding Park, because on Saturday afternoons enormous parties of beautiful brides and grooms and their extended families would disembark from fleets of beribboned limousines for photo time.

This is the first tree you pass on entering the gardens from the main road. Many pixies live in and around it but they are shy, I didn’t see a single one. Or maybe Wednesdays are their shopping days and they were all down the road at Pick n Pay, stocking up on peanut butter and marie biscuits.

fairy tree

I am very ignorant about trees, and as I walked around I jotted down the names of some of them – water pear, blueberry ash, copper beech, Cedar of Lebanon, forest saffron, hoop pine, bunya-bunya, jacaranda, and – my personal favourite – the “Bushman’s poison tree”. I’d like to think I’ll be able to identify them in the future, but it’s unlikely (although you never know when you might need a bit of fresh poison so I’ve made a mental note of exactly where that one is growing).

The littlest pond has all dried up (please please let it rain soon…..) although the elephant ear plants were still managing to grow round the sides. Heart leaves – what’s not to love?

dry 1

 

warm and tender love

We listened to Percy Sledge on the way to work on Saturday morning, and this song has been in my head ever since.  For me, he has one of the most heart-melting voices in the world, and is right up there with Wilson Pickett and Little Richard. Rob rolls his eyes a lot, I think, because he’d rather have Def Leppard and Uriah Heep. We’re different like that :)

A woman who bought the smallest patchwork throw I’ve ever made (I think it was my first or second one) sent me two pics of it when she got home yesterday:

margo-1   margo-2

If she wants to use it as a table cloth, who am I to argue? A sale is a sale :)

 

evidence

Work in progress: bedspread with 14cm-squares. Taking a bit longer than usual.

14cm

Experiments in fabric pots. Yes, pots. That is the word I have chosen.

fabric-pots

The view from my sewing machine. Note the little pile of bird seed on the tiles. Yesterday I had three sparrows, two pigeons and an olive thrush. I am happy with these humble visitors. If the sunbirds want to spurn me, it’s no skin off my nose.

bird-seed

and, lastly, some growing things: the clerodendrum had to be relocated because it was getting more shade than I’d realised (like 99%). After two weeks it was close to death. Peter replanted it in a sunnier spot and I have hovered over it every day since, even giving it a side dressing of bonemeal. It seems to have found some inner strength.

clerodendrum   plectranthus   osteospermum   dietes-grandiflora

What’s the equivalent of bonemeal for humans?

Ruth’s bedspread

I was very disappointed to discover that the grey-water system in the new house only links to two bathrooms (one of which is seldom used). I couldn’t understand why so little water was coming out every day, as the washing machines (yes, two of them!) are in near-constant use, and also a hell of a lot of washing-up gets done around here. (Don’t look at me, and don’t ask. Just don’t).

So, under even tighter water restrictions, Rob fiddled around with some of the water outlet pipes and we now have an efficient – albeit rudimentary – “system”, involving lots of different-sized buckets carefully positioned over various drains. Twice a day, I decant from the bigger buckets into smaller buckets and go staggering round the garden with them trying to keep the plants alive. It’s very bad timing to have tendonitis in my right arm but how can you not use your right arm ffs, so I keep on regardless.

I don’t know how I got started on this, actually, but clearly I am obsessed with trying to get my garden growing the way I want it!! — I was planning to show you Ruth’s bedspread, which still needs a backing but will be ready in time for the market on Saturday.

ruth-1

She asked for shocking pink and navy, with a lighter blue and some grey here and there. I didn’t have anything useable in bright pink, so bought 2 metres of mediumweight linen and spread it out over the kitchen counter to break the solidity of it with some printing in whites and grey.

printing

She’s also asked to make some little fabric containers – I guess something like this (found here), so I’ll have some fun playing around with that idea today.

fabric-baskets

mixed blessings

The good news is that Andrea loved her bedspread, this is the picture she sent me of her guest bedroom.

andrea-guest-room

She has now asked me to make cushions with guinea fowl on them, and some pillow cases. She brought her friend Ruth (also Swiss) along on Saturday morning to the Country Craft market, and she has ordered a patchwork bedspread for her guest room (luckily the bed is more realistically sized than Andrea’s). I love Swiss people.

Other good news is that the gooseberry bushes are doing well – one better than the other, since it gets more sun, but good to know for next season. (All grown using grey water, fyi).

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After Friday’s big rain, we had two hot days, and then another good rain during the night. February is usually the hottest month in Cape Town, but we at least have some water saved up now. I have had to relieve the tomato plant of her two offspring: she is completely drained and withered, and these girls clearly used up all her energy. Mothers of young children may remember this feeling well.

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They are kind of beefy and dark and, let’s face it, are unlikely to end up in a salad. But they are something, and as such will sit on the kitchen counter for a while.

Other news: yesterday, at Kirstenbosch Market, a dog urinated on my leg. I was standing on my side of the table talking to a woman about pillow cases, when I felt a warm liquid running down my right leg. She had two dogs, on leads, and one had nosed under the tablecloth and, well, just made use of me. She apologised profusely and handed me her bottle of sparkling water to wash off my jeans and foot and sandal (I used it all!) and then we all sort of laughed. Her mother came along and told us that the dog had once lifted its leg against a woman’s shoulder while she was sitting on an otherwise-empty beach with her husband. Dogs. This is why I can live without them.

And not-so-good news: my phone got disappeared yesterday, while I was at the market. I’d either left it on the table (for maybe two or three seconds) or it got removed from the pocket at the front of the body bag I always wear. If something had to get nicked, I’d rather it was the phone than my cash, but it’s disheartening all the same. First errand of the day: get into nearest Vodacom shop and get a new sim card. I would hate to lose my number, I’ve had it for fourteen years.

 

even Ken is excited

We have woken up to a wonderful downpour and the sound of good solid drops of skywater crowd-smacking onto the roof. The sky is a beautiful steel grey and it’s a cool crisp 16 degrees. I rushed outside to feel some water on me, and there I saw Ken had beaten me to it – that’s him doing his happy little rain dance, albeit on his side.

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It isn’t due to last long but it certainly is marvellous right now.

Here’s a bedspread I started last night, after finishing the neutral Swiss one. I was desperate to work with some very vibrant colours :)

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Back soon x

When in neutral…

Andrea’s bedspread: this afternoon I finished stitching the panels together (12 by 13 of them, to make 300 by 280cm) and topstitching, and tomorrow I’ll tackle the back. I had to spread it out over the dining table and chairs to get it all in one photo, and even then I couldn’t manage it.

andrea-1

There are some guinea fowl in grey, and some in brown, and a few proteas, and a bit of other handprinteds here and there, the rest is a combination of light to medium weight upholstery fabrics, mainly cottons.

andrea-2

This is for Andrea’s guest bedroom, and she specifically wanted neutral colours. Did I mention she is Swiss? Am I the only one who finds this amusing?

andrea-3