Category Archives: Tulbagh

Marmalade Angel

This is Susan’s shop in its new improved premises in Tulbagh, my favourite town away from home. The photos really don’t capture the atmosphere of the place and, although it’s slightly off the beaten track of Church Street, there was a steady flow of customers during the time I was there. And they all had cash on them. (Yip, cash, I tell you – love that stuff!


And if you go to the Marmalade Angel now, you’ll be able to find the unique Jam Tarts lamps for sale. Hoo ha.

And … some of my crocheted bracelets and button bangles:

Obvious enough to say, but it is enormously reassuring when someone else actually likes your stuff enough to give it shop room. Self-doubt can be a real creativity killer!

Right, enough of that — I have two markets this weekend (tomorrow is the Harfield Carnival and Sunday is Kirstenbosch), so I need to have me a power breakfast with extra caffeine, and get cracking.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

To be continued…

I <3 Tulbagh

I took an impulsive, unscheduled break in beautiful Tulbagh this week. I am home now, but I think I left part of my soul behind.

This is what I found there:

1. A wonderful friend with a wonderful cottage in the middle of nowhere, a sleeper couch, peace and quiet.

2. A lot of cows. Early in the morning, this one didn’t seem to want to have her photo taken. But I was intrepid.

I felt like a genuine wildlife photographer getting this shot. I’d silently tracked her a good 10 metres along the garden fence, and was rewarded by this split-second itch-scratch.

3. Apparently I was being tracked myself. Mia kept a beady eye on me from the roof.

4. A thousand mountains.

(Don’t worry, I won’t show you them all).

5. A little girl called Lila-Raine, for whom I made a quick headband:


6. A peacock who, with a display like this, must have mistaken me for a peahen. I was flattered.

7.  Garden creatures that had my heart stopping with horror when I first laid eyes on them. Tina assured me they were grasshoppers, but they looked like prehistoric human eyeball-suckers to me.  I kept my car windows tightly wound up at all times for fear that one of these things would fly or jump inside my car.

8. An amazingly gorgeous shop that belongs to Susan, Tina’s sister, in new premises in Buitenkant Street. More about the Marmalade Angel tomorrow.

Now you see why I didn’t want to come home.

To be continued…

Tulbagh Weekend Part III

There was one thing about the weekend in Tulbagh that wasn’t much fun at all – Saturday’s weather.

We woke up before dawn to the sounds of a hurricane ripping through the world outside. Well, at first I thought it was a hurricane because it felt like the house was about to be scooped up and whooshed off, and the wind and rain were like demons unleashed from the depths of hell. (I was a bit scared, okay?!)

The gazebo that Tina had put up in her garden and decorated with turquoise silk, crimson ribbons and silver brooches like an Moroccan wine bar had disappeared completely. The chairs (wrought-iron so quite heavy) had been blown across the garden into the fence. Ceramic bowls and purple cushions lay randomly scattered. The hammock was a rag. The rain belted down and the wind shrieked like a thousand banshees. Tina howled and shook her fists at the sky. The cats and dogs trembled under the bed. I put the kettle on and made coffee. What else, really, was there to do? (It turned out that there was actually something else to do, but it seems that Tina is quite used to cleaning up dog poo and it doesn’t faze her any more.)

Things didn’t look good. I drove into town at 8h30 where I was to set up the Jam Tarts stuff in Church Street, but clearly that wasn’t going to happen. All the other traders had been moved to the church hall round the corner but Tina’s extremely kind sister, Susan, came to my rescue – she runs a shop (the Marmalade Angel) from her house in Church Street, and suggested I use her garage to set up. We both doubted that anyone would even see me, let alone actually walk up the driveway at the side of the house to get to me. But they did!

The Tarts ended up selling loads of things and having a really excellent day. I truly wish it had gone as well for the other traders, but apparently the church hall was pretty empty because people didn’t know about it. The lousy weather also meant that people in Cape Town and surrounding areas who would have driven to Tulbagh for a lovely sunny Festival day no longer wanted to venture out.

By Sunday the bad weather had cleared up. I could finally erect my gazebo. Or not. I had managed to leave behind a crucial piece of the structure, so no gazebo for me. I made do by stringing Anne’s bunting across the bushes and hanging my light fittings and bags from the trees. Blankets and shawls were cleverly arranged along the wall (Rob’s idea). Seems someone managed to get a pic of him doing just that:

One last highlight: a sweet lady from Namibia bought a necklace from me, and also seemed keen to buy a crochet flower brooch. She eventually decided against the brooch but as she was leaving I remembered that we once offered a free brooch to the first 20 purchasers at a Kirstenbosch market, so I ran after her and pinned the one she liked onto her bag. She was so pleased that she made her husband walk up and down Church Street two more times, waving at me as she passed, and the third time he surrendered and hauled out his camera and took a photo of the two of us with the flower! It turns out it was her 60th birthday so, in honour of that, I took a pic of Naomi myself:

It’s funny how there are some things one never forgets, even if they seem relatively inconsequential at the time. I have a feeling I will never forget giving Naomi that flower.

To be continued…

Tulbagh Weekend Part II

…as I was saying, I stayed with Tina for the duration of the Festival.  She lives with two dogs and three cats in a magical cottage at the far far end of a farm a couple of miles out of Tulbagh. I say “magical” because Tina is an artist in every way – her home, her work, her clothes, her sense of style, her gorgeous eccentricity, her personality and perspective on the world. She makes magic, she sees magic in everything – she is magic!

I first knew Tina when I was 19 and she was 22; we were part of a group of friends living in Braamfontein (Johannesburg), young, foolish, risk-taking, trying to get a grip on who we were and how we wanted to live.  (None of us got it right, by the way – it seems to have taken a good twenty-five-plus years for some of us to even get close.) We lost touch, moved cities, married, demarried, developed new careers, grew up a bit – and found each other on facebook a year ago  (gotta love facebook).

Here are some photos I took of Tina’s home.  They convey her sense of the exotic and the baroque far better than I ever could with words.

The bedroom I slept in:

An early self-portrait:

Reflections of fantastical visions:

And a tiger mirror from Paraguay that I covet:

Tina’s house was part of the art exhibition side of the Tulbagh Spring Arts Festival.  Ribbons and signs along the road indicated the way and, once visitors arrived, they could follow the ‘golden nuggets’ through the garden and round to the gazebo for snacks and a wine-tasting.

As we say in South Africa, local is lekker!

To be continued…


Tulbagh Weekend Part 1

There is so much to tell about my weekend in Tulbagh that I won’t do it all in one shot.

There are peacocks everywhere in the town, and they strut around and shriek at each other as if they own it. I was met by these three lads as I arrived.

Tulbagh is a 90-minute drive from Cape Town, in a rich, lush valley surrounded by extraordinary mountains: The Obiqua, the Witsenberg and the Winterhoek. You can see the snow on the top of  some of the peaks – that means it’s still bitterly cold in the early mornings at this time of year.

And so every dog must have his own pair of pyjamas to keep warm. Here are Tina’s dogs, Marduk and Maya the dachshund.

I was lucky enough to be able to stay with my friend Tina for three nights while the Spring Festival was on.  Tina lives in a cottage at the end of a meadow at the end of a very long dirt road at the end of the town… and I will have pics of all that tomorrow.

Just to say for now that I (and Jam Tarts) had a wonderful weekend in a wonderful town, despite some unpleasant weather on the Saturday. I have SO MANY new ideas bouncing around in my head.

To be continued…