Category Archives: books

a Stellenbosch day

Alex and I took some time out yesterday and spent it in Stellenbosch, a university town in the winelands about 25 mins from Cape Town (university…get it?! nudge nudge….)

We stopped for coffee, strolled up and down the streets, window shopped, visited Verbatim, the bookshop that a friend of mine started with her partner a few years ago, bought Howard Jacobson’s latest novel, had a picnic down by the river (grilled haddock and baby tomatoes and salticrax and grapes), got a bit lost, got caught up in school traffic by mistake in the afternoon, enjoyed the views, the art galleries, the library, the people. A very relaxed pace of life out there, for the consumer at least!

We had recently heard that Stellenbosch was going to be South Africa’s first entirely ‘free wifi’ town, so Alex had her ipad permanently clutched in her paws to test this out.  I stopped to look at some crochet crafts in a window, and just then two reporters from the Sunday Times popped up with cameras and notebooks to interview Alex for the story they were doing on the subject.  (Note to self: buy 10 copies on Sunday….daughter = famous!!!)

It was a hot sunny day (29 deg), and by the time we got home mid-afternoon, along the businest N1 I’ve ever known, I was ready for a little nap.

To be continued…


Gussie Gold and the mystery of whatever it is she’s knitting

I read Catch-22 and Good as Gold years and years ago, and now that I’ve picked up Gold again, Heller‘s brilliant brand of American-Jewish humour has hit me all over again in the funny bone of my brain.

Excerpts from chapter one, where he’s talking about his stepmother, Gussie Gold:

She was always knitting thick white wool. When he complimented her once on her knitting, she informed him with a flounce that she was crocheting. When he inquired next time how her crocheting was going she answered, ‘I don’t crochet. I knit.’


Gold’s stepmother was knitting an endless strip of something bulky that was too narrow to be a shawl and too wide and uniformly straight to be anything else. It was around six inches broad and conceivably thousands of miles long, for she had been working on that same strip of knitting even before her marriage to his father many years before. … She never wanted for wool or for depth inside her straw bag into which the finished product could fall. The yarn came twitching up through one end of the opening in her bag, and the manufactured product, whatever it was, descended, perhaps for eternity, into the other.


‘What are you making?’ he’d asked her one time out of curiosity that could no longer be borne in silence.
‘You’ll see,’ she replied mysteriously.
He consulted his father. ‘Pa, what’s she making?’
‘Mind your own business.’
‘I was only asking.’
‘Don’t ask personal questions.’

Love. Laugh. Knit.

To be continued…

This and that

I thought I would have a nice break after our Open Day and before the Tulbagh Spring Arts Festival. I would get so much done. I would sort out my work room and have my car serviced and maybe even see a movie during the day. Now it’s almost time to prepare and pack for Tulbagh and I have done none of the aforementioned. But I have been busy…

I finished and delivered an order for three light fittings yesterday, for a person in my life who has only ever been supportive and kind and thoughtful. One of the fittings was for (what we now call) a Moomflower, the first one that was no longer experimental (i.e. doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work, I can stick it in the spare room where no-one will see it.) Alison asked for maroon, red, grey and a tiny bit of yellow so it would complement the colours of her bedroom.

I wasn’t sure about the yellow flowers so I tried to minimise that sharpness of colour with a bit of maroon ribbon. A says she is delighted, but if she changes her mind about the yellow it’s easy enough to remove and replace them. The other two fittings were crocheted in Vinni’s 100% cotton in natural, just such a wonderful yarn to work with.

Thanks to Rachell in her Little Room somewhere in the UK, I am excited to be participating in a CROCHET-ALONG, have never done one before. I have ordered my copy of Jan Eaton’s book from Loot, and have voted for a theme, and feel like I’ve made it as a Serious Crochet Person :-) or should I say, a person Serious about Crochet?

So serious, in fact, that I have allowed myself to be talked into teaching someone how to crochet. Avril is a relatively new friend, and every now and then she sends me a photo from her phone of something she sees that makes her think of me – a flowery cushion in a shop window, a crochet book on sale, a sports car. Okay, not the sports car – just checking that you are concentrating here. Anyway, we are going to have a tutorial on Sunday, and I think we’ll start with a granny square. That’s what I started with, a million years ago, teaching myself from a library book on basic crochet.

In other news, I have a meeting to attend this afternoon and recklessly volunteered to contribute a plate of something edible for the tea afterwards. I’m going to try Stephanie’s recipe for Flourless Fat-free Chocolate Cookies, seems simple enough that even I can’t mess it up!

To be continued…

Book Lounge

Last Wednesday evening I attended the launch at the Book Lounge of a marvellous new book on text editing, one of whose three authors used to be a colleague of mine. As usual, I had my camera with me but when I got home and downloaded the pics, I found none of them were of John, his book, the audience, or even the lovely grub.

The first one was the view of Table Mountain from the window. The Book Lounge is in Roeland Street so, looking up, you can clearly see the cable car station at the top from that angle.

Second one: a very cheerful (if rather meaningless) painting of big fat flowers, perched on top of many shelves of books.  I guess I just like the colours.

Third pic: part of the wall of the downstairs of the shop, which is entirely covered in the most exquisite and whimsical drawing, mainly in black and white but with a bit of colour here and there, against a pale blue washed background. Downstairs is where the childrens’ books are kept, and also Philosophy, Art, Design, and Crime. (No, not really Crime – just wanted to see if you were paying attention!)

I love the girl with her hair and feet in the air watering the plant on the building next door.  I couldn’t find the artist’s signature but I’m sure it’s there somewhere.

And just in case you are thinking that clearly I don’t care so much about the books themselves, I would add that I think John’s book should be a prescribed text for anyone who writes (reports, business stuff, academic theses, etc) and anyone required to edit that writing, particularly in a country where the majority of people have English as a second, third or even fourth language.  (In South Africa, we have ELEVEN official languages, by the way.)  My own comment in discussion time, incidentally, was that some of the most poorly written texts I have ever come across have been written by people who have English as a first language!

To be continued…