Tag Archives: cape town

autumn garden

Inspired by Jane and Cathy with their spring gardens, I’ve just taken some pics of what’s happening in my AUTUMN garden right now. It’s my favourite season, even more than spring, and Cape Town’s southern suburbs had beautiful rain all through the night. Here are some of the colourful bits:

Lycianthes rantonnetii, or blue potato.

blue potato sun

Philadelphus coronarius, or mock orange, next to the front gate, in full bloom. The scent is unbelievable. In about two weeks time, the blossoms will fall off and it will look like a mini-snowfall on the ground underneath.

mock orange sun

Perched next to the front door, my beloved red crassula. Eighteen months old and looking like an underwater creature today :)

crassula sun

Next to the driveway, this stunning yellow hibiscus was here when I moved in.

hibiscus sun

The last pic from the front garden, two baby ice-cream bushes (breynia disticha) next to the letterbox, recently freed from the grip of some creeping weedy things and doing very well.

ice cream sun

Moving to the back garden now. The overcast day doesn’t do justice to this pic of the Duranta erecta (golden dewdrops). The flowers really are a glorious purple.

duranta sun

On the patio, this plectranthus was a tiny cutting two weeks ago. It grew so big and so fast it seems to think it’s a banana tree.

plectranthus sun

Some nasturtiums in pots, which those hungry black and yellow caterpillars just love to gobble up. I yell a bit when they’ve decimated a whole plant, but I do get rewarded by butterflies.

nasturtiums sun

The last three surviving petunias. I had to move the hanging basket because they weren’t getting enough sun. There’s also a convolvulus in there but it hasn’t flowered yet.

petunia sun

Tradescantia going beserk, hanging on the trellis. Who said you can’t grow things in old peanut butter jars…?

tradescantia

And then this – Stapelia clavicorona (yes, most unfortunate name) or milkweed toad plant. It lives in the pot it came in on a stand next to the kitchen window, and just seemed like a bunch of greeny-purple sticky-up shoots until yesterday morning, when it produced this. I was ambling around in my dressing gown throwing seed for the birds when I spotted the bloom. I nearly fainted with excitement, and then shrieked so loudly that my neighbour whatsapped me to make sure I was alright.

toad 2

A close-up. It’s magnificence, combined with the wondrous surprise of it even being there at all, is matched only by its vile stench. Google tells me it is also known as a carrion flower. All I can say is that carrion is getting a bad rap because the smell couldn’t possibly come close to this foul odour.

You can see there are another two buds just popping their heads out on the right.

milkweed toad 1

Every day I am grateful for the garden and the beautiful part of the world I live in. I’m really missing seeing friends, going out for sushi, having my hair trimmed (and the grey roots dealt with!), not to mention earning a living – aaarrrgggghhhh – but I acknowledge how very fortunate I am. Sending lockdown love to you all xxx

Lockdown, day #whatever

Well, we’re in a right bloody mess, aren’t we? South Africa’s lockdown has been extended to the end of April. We have 1,800 confirmed cases and 18 deaths, so the guys in charge figure this is working. I know it’s easy to be critical from a distance, so I’ll just say that I’m sure the government thinks its doing the right thing “for the people” and leave it there. I will abide by the regulations, although I think some of them are excessive and pointless.

We can’t buy alcohol, so I’m hoarding two bottles of white wine under the bed and some gin behind the bookcase. (I don’t know why I’m hiding it, actually, since I live alone. The cat’s unlikely to be interested in a martini.) We can’t buy cigarettes and I only have four packs left, so I’ll have to start smoking something I can find in the garden. I’ll be going shopping in the morning (I have to choose the supermarket closest to my house), but I can’t buy wool to crochet a blanket or a new pipe for the vacuum cleaner because those aren’t deemed “essential items”. FFS.

Things I have been doing during lockdown, apart from fighting lethargy:

Signed up for an online language course – I’d really like to be able to speak German, also probiere ich es aus. Aber es ist schwierig! My accent must be atrocious but my friend Lara has a husband who is fluent in German, she said she’d lend him to me for a bit after lockdown. That will help.

Started reading the first of three volumes about the Third Reich, by Richard J. Evans. There are huge gaps in my knowledge of history, and my ex-husband recommended Evans as one of the best historians of this particular period in Europe. I’m up to the late 1920s, when the crash of the stock market in New York changed the world’s economy forever, and the implications for Germany and the Nazis.

Been making a few masks, but mainly just for people who ask for them specially. I use three layers of 180-count cotton fabric, as recommended by the WHO. I made the first one with pleats but it annoyed me so now I make them like this (easier and more comfortable):

mask 1

Painted a bookcase. Try to do my Pilates routine every day, to the accompaniment of a blues soundtrack from Spotify so that I forget to count.

Continued knitting a jersey for a friend’s 3-year old grandson in Bristol, who will probably never get it now. I haven’t found it very absorbing, which is a pity – I used to love knitting. I knit while watching Narcos, six fabulous seasons of the origins of the drug trade in South America and its global impact. I’ve almost come to the end, but have picked up a few useful Spanish expressions. Maybe I should have signed up to learn Spanish instead of German – aunque como van las cosas, no puedo visitar México.

Spent a lot of time on social media trying to help an NGO, The Service Dining Rooms, raise money and awareness for the plight of the homeless community in Cape Town. People have been very generous, which is extremely heartening.

Pottering in the garden and with my container plants. Some of the plants on the patio have mealy bug or woolly aphid or whatever that horrible white fuzzy thing is called, so I’ve made up my own spray with garlic and cayenne pepper. Hope it works. I also feed the plants regularly with stuff made from fish droppings or something similarly stinky. What can I say – the plants are thriving, but it definitely gets a bit smelly out there sometimes!

Over and out for now. Good luck with your lockdown. Maybe we’ll all come out of this with a different and better perspective on life, and a greater sense of gratitude for what we have.

 

 

closed for business

It’s depressingly quiet out there. Very little traffic on the main roads and highways, a restaurant with only three tables in it last night, empty school grounds, and all events cancelled. Including the craft markets, which are my main source of income. Fun times.

I have no time for people who panic and, even if I was selfish enough to want to stockpile toilet paper and tins of sweetcorn, I wouldn’t have room for it all – my fabric and sewing stuff will always have priority. The regulations in South Africa about what to do and not do are very clear, and are in line with international best practice. If everyone accepts them for the time being, that’s the best we can hope for right now. I also have no time for conspiracy mongers or prophets of doom.

Talking about doom….I spotted these in the gift section of my local nursery last week. Rather ironic and incongruous items to have displayed on the shelves, I thought. And no, they didn’t come home with me.

pangolins

Take care, everyone. And if you feel like watching President Cyril Ramaphosa demonstrate the elbow greeting, have a squizz here or here.

mixed berries scarf complete

Right, it’s done. The scarf that I started knitting up here with Lisa’s gorgeous yarn has just had its ends woven in.

It’s all garter stitch, and I simply cast on two stitches then increased one stitch at the beginning of every row. So wonderful just to be able to pick it up and put it down whenever I needed a little break from more strenuous activity. The longest side of the triangle measures 90cm, and I just stopped when I ran out of yarn. It’s not long enough to go round my neck on its own (unless I tuck it into the jacket or coat collar, if I’m wearing one) without being pinned at the front, but I love brooches so this suits me perfectly. You may notice the very beautiful silver, jet and mother-of-pearl gecko above, which came to me from a dear friend in Colorado (originally met through blogging). It is one of my most precious possessions, plus I have always had a soft spot for geckos. She didn’t know that when she sent it to me!

Now, somewhere in this house there is a bag with a chunky garter stitch tank top that needs to have the shoulders stitched up. I must find it soon because I can feel a necessary break coming on…  Moving day is only 5 days away – you won’t hear from me again before then, so see you on The Other Side :)

PS. The weather for tomorrow looks to be like the last perfect autumn day for Cape Town, so I’m looking very forward to the Kirstenbosch Market – the neck cushions to be given away have been allocated (via this blog) to people who became customers over six years ago. They remain customers and have always been wonderfully supportive of my various nutty ideas, but they’ve also become friends. Life is good.

 

 

cushions and houses

On the working side of life, I’ve been making cushions using the designs I usually print on pillow cases. I was keen to maintain the patchworky random look, so no two will ever be the same.

Still experimenting with sizes and layout – but it’s a brilliant way to use up small pieces of fabric left over from the bedspreads. The Kalk Bay shop has expressed an interest, but they would want the cushions to be a standard size. “Standard” – hmmm, a strange concept for me, I’ll have to give it some thought….

On the domestic front, we received three offers on the house within 24 hours of it being on show. We happily accepted the best one, and transfer is scheduled for the end of May. Aaaaaaannnnd, best news of all, Philip and I are now the proud new owners of a beautiful house in Claremont (a suburb of Cape Town about 10 minutes drive from where we currently live). It’s green and leafy and quiet, and the house is perfect for two people who both work from home and who like to entertain (on a relatively modest basis). It’s been wonderfully and attractively modernised, in pristine condition, and we don’t have to make a single change. So, 1 June will see quite a few removal trucks rumbling along in various directions between Mowbray, Rosebank and Claremont – housewarming to follow soon after :) Deep sigh of relief, gratitude and contentment!