Still me

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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday, 24 April: Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness?

My kumquat tree in a large pot outside the kitchen door is bearing its first fruit.

But autumn on the high plateau (the highveld) of inland South Africa is hardly a time of mists and mellow colours as described by Keats in one of my all-time favourite poems. Autumn here means sunny days, turquoise blue skies, crisply cold mornings and chilly evenings with lows at about 5-10 degrees Celsius and daytime highs about 20-25 degrees Celsius.
I do admire those of you who know the Latin names of plants (like Melanie at Old Country Gardens and Mary at Across the Pond). We call this the powder puff shrub.

Another one I don't know. We call it a one-day lily as it only lasts a day. Just look at the design and colour combination. These lilies grow all over the garden, almost a weed!
Just saw the best idea for sandwiches. Cut out little rounds of white bread, butter and spread with cream cheese and place a nasturtium leaf on top and then a flower.

This photo is dedicated to Milo at Silver Bell Cottage. The common name of this shrub is Blue Cat's Whiskers and its Latin name: Clerodendrum myruoides. Apparently indigeous to South Africa.
By now the roses in the formal rose garden are straggly but still blooming. Both of these grow in pots next to the swimming pool. On the right is My Granny.

To my left is Claude Monet. My husband and I visited Claude Monet's garden at Giverney in France some years ago. A very special memory. After Richard passed away, a friend bought me this rose bush and it blooms continually.

This white evergreen arum lily is an example of Divine design. Who else but an amazing Creator could have folded a spotless petal around a stamen of yellow so perfectly?

The cosmos (bidens formosa) grows next to the roads and highways in summer, something like the bluebonnets in Texas. It is a favourite subject of painters and I am busy with an embroidery in silk thread of white and pink cosmos.
Hope you enjoyed the stroll around my autumn garden looking for treasures!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saturday 19 April 2008: Visit Uncle Tim's

Every second Saturday morning two friends and I take the R 23 heading for Johannesburg International Airport, take the turn off to Benoni and arrive at about nine thirty at a favourite haunt - a cluster of Victorian stores housed on an old farm and its outbuildings. Uncle Tim's Cabin is a must for avid porcelain collectors.
As you drive along High Road, through the plots and small holdings, just look out for the blue-jacketed horse which announces Uncle Tims. Amongst the antiques stores, secondhand book shop, the store that sells vintage movies and stamps, there is a saddle shop with all else a mount might need. The Riding School is adjacent and the Shetland ponies might be taking a stroll through the parking lot.
The front porch of Uncle Tim's is usually a riot of colour. On Saturday the flower boxes were planted with new winter seedlings.
The garden shop is a treat and a great place for fairies and gnomes to add to your flower beds.
The official entrance to another marvellous antique shop - Auld Lang Syne, which specialises in Royal Daulton figurines.
Our actual destination is La Broiderie, the best little bit of real estate for miles. It is our source of quiliting and embroidery supplies and where we take a Saturday morning class.

Good Thyme is a little nursery selling indigenous plants at very reasonable prices. And the Victorian summerhouse is full of herbal remedies, packets of seeds and toiletries made from herbs.
The old bus signals the entrance to a self-help tea garden which is served by the deli next door. After class we stop by for quiche and salad.
Uncle Tim's is habited by an enormous Boxer dog who lives at the second hand bookstore, several cats who snooze in the sun amongst our embriodery paraphernalia and bantam hens and chicks which think nothing of popping in if they aren't shooed out. But Wilbur and Aggie, two rescued donkeys, who live at the riding school, call the shots. As soon as we are busy stitching, they aim for the window at the back of the shop, where we feed them carrots and apples before they return to grazing in the paddock.

Wilbur has the biggest mouth, rather yellow teeth but takes a titbit as gently as any wellbred gentleman.
Would you like to join me Saturday in two week's time? Just take a flight from any major city in North America, Australia or Europe to Johannesburg International and I'll be waiting for you. We'll load your luggage into my car, hop on the highway and be at the tea garden in ten minutes. After tea and cake - homemade chocolate mousse, baked cheesecake, apple tart - to name a few of the offerings, we'll begin to browse and you will find just the treasure you need to put in that empty nook. After shopping, it's just a 30 minutes drive back to Thatchwick Cottage where the guest room is waiting! Any takers?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday, 15 April: P.S. Nice matters

P.S. I forgot another nice thing about last week! Jacaranda Cottage (which is in Australia) gave me my first blog award: Nice Matters. That really made it a bumper week.
And the butterfly is not in my garden. This holiday pic was taken at a Butterfly Farm, on the road to Stellenbosch, 30km from Cape Town. Vacationing in the Cape Winelands with a 2 year old and a 5 year old meant that we had to forego wine-tasting and gourmet restaurants. Instead we did much more exciting things, like this!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday, 12 April: East, west, home is best

No matter how great the vacation, home is best. I love the sunshine just starting to shine through the window in the sunroom.

Not that there was much time to sit around this week. It was hectic: scores of emails to answer, phone calls to return, meetings to attend and postgrad students wanting urgent consultations. It's a school and university break at the moment and my students are using the opportunity to have discussions about their progress or the lack thereof!

But every week has its highlights. Mine had five:
1 A thank-you call from a student for a meaningful discussion. He didn't have to phone but he did!
2 The beautiful smile my daughter sent her husband and I as she stood on the stage at her graduation on Thursday morning. The auditorium was full but she found us in the crowds!
3 Dinner with a special friend. We chatted for three hours non-stop and the conversation is far from over!
4 Lots of wet-nose-nudges and adoring looks from my two dogs. Oh, the joy of unconditional doggy love!
5 Friday night supper of sandwiches and tea with my walking buddies under the trees at the pond in the grounds of the local school where we walk.

" Galahad, if you chew that shoe, there'll be no more walks. Do you hear me??"
"Who's chewing anything? Can't you see I'm just guarding it or maybe Nike will commission me for an ad!"

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

9 April, Wednesday: Home again

I had a wonderful holiday in Cape Town and the beautiful Cape winelands. I grew up in Cape Town and it was the destination of all our family holidays for 30 years. But after the death of my husband, I just couldn't quite face a visit. Now the time was right. I spent a great weekend with my brother and family and as we toured the peninsula I just soaked up the beauty of the familiar sights. This photo of Hout Bay was taken while having a picnic lunch on a scenic drive, Chapman's Peak.
We bought angel fish at the fishing village for a barbecue on Sunday evening.
After Cape Town, I met my daugher and grandchildren for the rest of the week in the Cape winelands in the historic village of Franschhoek. And where did we stay - Lavender Cottage, of course!
The girls were delighted with their holiday home with its long porch, wicker fence and rose arch.
The historic church in the centre of town and the blue mountains beyond.
Vineyards and olive trees right in the village.