Showing posts from December, 2018

Finis Terrae

I didn't discover the end of the world, yet. I only came to Tierra del Fuego, the Land of Fire, which is indeed a sort of Finis Terrae. The Argentinians call it Fin del Mundo.

There, I had the privilege to talk with the American lady scientist Natalie Prosser Goodall, who discovered and assembled the most intriguing collection of Arctic sea mammals further to be read about in my travel book Woanders / Somewhere else (for details see Some 40 years ago Natalie came to this wild country on a short stint as a student, met a local sheep farmer and stayed.

In the town Ushuia the last forepost of civilisation, I met a lady artist who is a descendant of the first inhabitants, the.Yaghan. They were living on their boats and the fires they entertained on their swimming homes inspired the name Tierra del Fuego.

For one year I shared with you, dear reader, the endless variety of womens' adornements I discovered  on my travels. Thank you for having followed me on thi…

Braving the Cold

Normally I am not a fan of Northern climes. Much too cold for my liking, but what can you do if you have a Norwegian lady friend and she happens to get married in her home country in early spring. Put on as much wool as you can was her advice.

I checked my collection of cuddly sweaters and packed a huge suitcase. In went woollens from Norway proper, from Lithuania where I had been freezing to death on a business trip until I got hold of a wonderful woollen jacket with felt lining and from Ireland where the seller had assured me that an old grandma had been knitting my sweater for a whole month.

In went two pairs of slipper socks another dear Norwegian friend had knitted for me. I was ready for the ice age. At least, I didn’t have to put on my reindeer fur from Hardanger Fjord.

It can get nearly as cold in Northern Germany at the Baltic Sea. Then I am visiting my daughter in Kiel where she is working I can feel that I am close to Scandinavia.

The beautiful Kieler Förde is like a Fjord w…

South African-French Christmas

For Christmas dinner I am filling up my supply on red wine from the Cape at my favoured wine estate Groot Phesantekraal. Once the owner asked me about purchasing sources for a gobelin from France. Meanwhile, she has acquired the beautiful wall carpet you can see behind me at their wine tasting room. I can only admire the masterful embroidery in the traditional French style.

The carpet is forming a bridge to my other home in the South West of France. There, in a tiny neighbouring village our friends have just to look out of their kitchen window to enjoy this artwork in stained glass at the village church. In winter deer is sometimes to be seen in some solitary garden just as in the gobelin. The elegant European buck seems to me close to the South African antelopes. 

I admit to fancy English Christmas canes like a child. That's why the jumpsuit with the candy stripes was an obvious choice for wine shopping on a hot pre-Christmas day.

Matching Melissa's

Shopping for Christmas in midsummer is always a bit strange. So I need a respite from the Cape’s blazing sun at Melissa’s. Melissa was the first to introduce the concept of Deli cum coffeeshop to South Africa and she is still the best.

Today my outfit happens to match her French style furniture and it goes as well with the sign board of my local fruit market who is wishing me a Merry Christmas. I am no chameleon seeking camouflage but fitting in with your surroundings can be so satisfying not the least during the Happy Season. Some say it is the Silly Season due to all that shopping and merry-making frenzy. Who cares?

My Christmas tree in the from of a red poinsettia will be greeting me at home and I am looking forward to a balmy evening with Carols by Candlelight in the semitropical garden of the Shuttleworth family whose son has done a trip to the International Space Station some years ago. May be, he has yearned to watch them celebrating Christmas from above?

Querida Muneca

My beloved doll, mother with child, hails from Salta in the Andean province of Argentina. The cult of the Pachamama, the mother of the earth, is still practiced in this remote part of the country. I hope my muneca will not mind that I put on a Japanese dress as there are quite some Japanese immigrants in Argentina.

The reversible kimono dress, soft and cosy, is a find from Tokio’s huge department store Isetan. I happened to be there at Christmas time. The main shopping street in Shinjuku was sparkling with Christmas decoration and at Isetan’s coffee shop they served slices of true German Stollen, a special fruit cake making me feel at home. To my great joy the store was a branch of the Holländische Kakaostube, the traditional coffee shop in Hannover, Germany where I use to by my Christmas cookies, Zimtsterne, Dominosteine, Marzipankartoffeln and gingerbread, delicious!

Plushy Hood

The ball season in Cape Town starts in autumn that is to say in March/ April. On those chilly nights a plushy hood comes handy. In Johannesburg where the House of Alfalfa is based the evenings are always chilly. The matching cuffs of my dress are a nice addition and I do like the petrol tint.

When in Germany or France for the season I switch to midnight blue georgette from Petronella. No hood but still long sleeves and my preferred colour. Dark blue seems to me more romantic and complements the skin tone better than black.

Rainy Days Are Here Again

After the dramatic drought Cape Town experienced last summer this summer season is starting with rain so much longed for by the Captonians. Water restrictions are lifted, lawns are changing their colour from brown to green and I honour the rainy weather with a visit to the MOCAA. This stunning museum is the foremost gallery of contemporary African art on the continent (see also my post Clever Klûk of. March 15, 2018).

The current exhibition Five Bhobh assembles 29 artists from neighbouring Zimbabwe in a remarkable show covering all aspects of life and history of the country that got a new breath of life after the 32 years' misrule of autocratic Robert Mugabe came to a sudden end. Here he is posing as Jesus with his disciples in a Last Supper sunrrounded by other African and international dignitaries. Five Bhobh that is to say life is like a run for five bhobhs (five kilometers) on a communal minibus.

Kenian artist Cyrus Kabiru is playing with the African theme of masks. His enigmat…

Back in Philadelphia

One of my first trips in the new summer season at the Cape led me to my favourite village. Philadelphia is truly all about friendliness and even friendship. The old Cape Dutch church and the white washed houses in a grove in the midst of deep yellow grain and canola fields exude peacefulness and spell gentle country living. With all the yellow, bright blue and stark white around me I opted for a bold colour and put on my newly acquired tomato red jacket.

I cought up with my dear friend Alta the general dealer, post master and heart and soul of the village. On her stoep / porch I watched the villagers passing by and munched one of her tasty pastries filled with venison and washed it down with her homemade ginger beer.

My Memory Boost

As the Cape forms a huge peninsula between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean fish abounds. My local fish monger assures me that eating fish will give my brain a kick. I am easily convinced because I do love to indulge in fish and seafood.

I try to merge with my rustic surroundings in a combination of silky slacks and shirt in unobtrusive beige and a locally hand-crafted neckless made of shells and ostrich eggs. Oldies always wear beige, isn't it so?

Freshly harvested mussels from the Atlantic is my catch of the day and a big slice of the appropriately named mussel cracker is following.
We discuss the best recipes at length. T𐌾he fish monger approves to do the mussels à la Francaise in white wine with a bit of cream and garlic and a lot of parsley. For the fish, however, he insists on having it braaied, barbecued in the South African way that is to say basted with some ready made mixture of oil and herbs and accompanied by a hot sauce.

Think Global, Create Local

After so much winter I am back at the sunny Cape of Good Hopes. One of my first outings led me to my favourite art association. Rust en Vrede is the name of the historic Cape Dutch venue. What they do there is far from rest and peace. It is full of life and creativity.

The vernissage was all about ceramics. Internationally renowned land arist Strydom van der Merwe obliged and contributed a magic circle of small ceramic pieces in earthy colours. Many of the other objects were not less intriguing. The installation of Karin Lijnes was as simple as it was inventive and skillfull. She had put together a square of black and white bottles which she had first slip-cast and then painted. They looked like readymade plastic bottles, thus turning Marcel Duchamp's strategy upside down.

For my first sunny morning here I had chosen a sun coloured suit from Zara and a night blue top from Stefanel as dark blue as the Southern sky at a clear night. It turned out that two of my lady friends had had …