My overflow bin is overflowing!

My overflow bin is overflowing! Seems autumn is here. It’s been pouring with rain since early this morning. Feels surreal after all this hot, dry, windy weather. Having a little trouble switching off my internal “GO GET THE BUCKETS AND FILL ALL THE CONTAINERS” alarm.

Backyard wildlife

I got the concrete removed from our backyard. At the moment the biggest plant is the dusty miller, and it’s just flowered, and is popular with the bees. I watched this one do a complete grooming session and then tuck into the flower ūüôā

The Bullet

We’ve been living in Costa da Gama for about a year and a half now. It’s quite a change from Woodstock. For example, about a year ago, we found a small and unexpected hole in the roof above my writing room.

This was the hole before we patched it over.

We’d just had work done on that part of the roof and had inspected it thoroughly, and this was definitely a new hole. I suspected it was a bullet hole, partly because the taxi war in the area had been heating up and it’s not unusual to hear shots fired.

Well – today I found the bullet.

I found it behind the compost bin, next to the wall just  under where the hole had been. It must have gone through the roof, and then down the outside of the wall. If it had gone just 5 cm to the right, it would have come out into my writing room and gone through the budgie cage.

Just as well it didn’t.


The Dragon Girl

A fairy tale that came to me when I was supposed to be writing something else…¬†

Once there were two dragons. They lived in a cave quite close to a village. This was lucky for them because they were both getting old and could no longer fly long distances to find food. Every now and then one of them would float down the mountain on the evening breeze and pick up a cow, or a sheep, or a villager for their supper.


Through the windscreen from Cape Town to Durban

Some pictures taken through the windscreen en route from Cape Town to Durban, and a few from the journey back again. We took four days to get there, and three days to drive back again. Unfortunately the photos of the most beautiful part (through the Swartberge) came out all blurry so I had to leave those out.  The map of our route is right at the end.



Cape Town Carnival: Chameleons, Dragons, and Pirates :)

We went to the Cape Town Carnival last night. It was fabulous!  It was a warm, windless evening, everyone seemed happy and relaxed and the floats were just awesome.


The first real display were these fire-fighters perched on top of their truck, showing off their muscles. You can’t really see in the shot, but they were posturing up there with their shirts off. ¬†That is, the men did. The female fire fighters sat on the truck, looking unimpressed. ūüôā


Many of the costumes had lights inside, like this floral skirt:


This was one of my favourites: a magical chameleon. He was huge:


Each float had a troop of dancers behind it. None of my photos of them really came out that well:


This was another great one. Van Hunks and the devil. You can’t really see the devil, but he stood on the float looking awesome in a great big horned headdress. (Van Hunks is the guy who sits on table mountain and smokes a pipe, causing all the clouds.)


A skinny elephant ūüôā


This elephant float is probably the loveliest one. There are people inside making the legs walk, and its body is made of foliage:



These guys were awesome too. They balanced the drums on their heads and drummed as they walked.


This float reminded me of that scene in Asterix and Cleopatra, where Cleopatra decides to tell Julius Ceaser what’s what:


And these wonderful pirates and sea-creatures. The pirates had sparkly red hearts visible through their ribs.


Some glowing dragons and sea-creatures:



And that’s that! It was a great evening. Such a good vibe.

Shower Songs: we are back!

I’m can’t wait: Shower Songs will be playing at the Voorkamer Festival in Darling, next weekend. ¬†In case you don’t know, Shower Songs is what we call our duo – Brendon plays the Mandolin, and I sing. ¬†Folk songs, blues, ¬†pop, anything, really, as long as it’s the kind of thing you might sing in the shower ūüôā

Photo by Niklas Zimmer

The Voorkamer Festival sounds amazing. The performances take place in people’s homes ¬†From their site:

“Darling taxi drivers take festival visitors from home to home on a number of set routes ‚Äď each route features three homes and three performances. The beauty of this format is the surprise element: Visitors don‚Äôt know beforehand which performances they will see on their route, nor which homes they will visit. It‚Äôs an exciting and unpredictable cultural experience with a difference!”

You can read more about it at the Voorkamer Festival site.


Photo by Niklas Zimmer

A bad memory for bollards

So I just wrote a scene in which one of my characters drives his car up onto the pavement there at the end of Adderley street and some way up Government Avenue (for those of you not from Cape Town, this is the pedestrian walkway that runs through the Gardens in central Cape Town).  Then I happened to walk near there and noticed a small problem:

The Ruined Mill

One of the things I’m enjoying most about writing fiction is finding real places to include in my story. ¬†On Monday I visited the Ruined Mill in Newlands forest, where I’m going to place some of the most exciting scenes in the book I’m writing at the moment. ¬†It is a really evocative place – for photographers as well as writers.

It is some way into Newlands Forest, and next to a mill stream that diverts off a small river.  Several years ago a tree fell on it Рin fact, several trees:

It’s covered in graffiti – “Keep Out” as well as tags and images:

Here  is a close up of the back wall, showing some of the rocks that smashed their way through the wall.  Some of them are still balanced rather precariously:

The mill-stones are gone, and so is the roof:

Cant’s wait to write these scenes ūüôā

The best way to spend a Monday morning

I took advantage of the fact that I dont have a 9 – 5 job today and spent my Monday morning in Newlands forest. ¬†Research, you see, for my new book ūüôā

Trying out My Artist’s Way Toolkit

For the past few weeks I’ve been participating in My Artist Way’s Toolkit. This is an online companion to Julia Cameron’s book¬†The Artists Way. ¬†It contains many of the tools from the book, ways to help you get around (or under, or through) obstacles to creativity. ¬†It’s presented as a sort of online notebook. ¬†You can click to view inspirational quotes, suggested¬†activities¬†and exercises:

Well, as you can see I signed the contract – here is a closer view:

I’m sorry to say I’ve not been very good about¬†honouring¬†the terms of this contract so far. ¬†In particular, I’ve not been as good as I should be about writing the “Morning Pages” – you are supposed to do three pages of longhand freestyle writing every morning. ¬†But reading all the “why I’m not doing the morning pages” comments on the blogher discussion about the Morning Pages¬†¬†– has¬†perversely¬†enough made me once again feel motivated to try to stick to the routine!

So far the best thing I’ve gained from this process is to¬†become¬†more aware of what Julia Cameron calls the “internal censor”, ¬†that little internal voice that is constantly belittling everything you do, telling you not to take risks, making you doubt your abilities. I’ll be writing soon again about this process of using the My Artist Way Toolkit – so watch this space…

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Crates and Wheelbarrows in Rainham Lane

This weekend we continued our mission to clean Rainham Lane.  This time we were carting some of the rubble and soil we could not fit into the truck, into containers for plants.  It was heavy work!  Petrus and Liana carry a tub of soil while Ingrid adds more soil to the wheelbarrow:

Liana organised some large wooden crates, and Brendon found a lot of plastic milk crates to act as plant containers. ¬†It took many trips with the wheelbarrow to fill up those crates, but thanks Pippin’s vigilant supervision no mistakes were made:


Rainham Lane – stage two

Yesterday, Liana organised a truck to pick up all the waste we ripped out of Rainham Lane.  The truck just fitted into the lane!  The two men who came with the truck  pretty much picked up all the rubble, sand and weed piles while me, Dittany and Liana did our bit to help.  I did not get any good photographs of the guys, but they did a fantastic job.

In little over an hour the lane was cleared of most of the rubbish.  The next stage to gather the loose soil and sand left behind into containers for plants.  Here is the lane as it looks now:

And this is what it looked like before we started.  Part of me prefers the forest of weeds rather than the bare concrete, but under those weeds were heaps of garbage and builders rubble.

Casing the joint at the museum

I spent the morning at the Natural History Museum in town doing research for my new book. ¬†It’s a strange place. ¬†Part of it is brand spanking new: glossy displays with beautifully lit objects, enhanced by multi-media sound and video shows . ¬†And part of it is a sort of time warp, with the stuffed animals crammed together into huge glass cases backed with hessian. ¬†I was relieved because this is just what I needed for the scene that is supposed to play out here:


Also happy to see that there are no security cameras in this older area, and the locks on the display cases look very pick-able.   No, I dont intend to break into the museum, but one of my characters might need to!

Some of the older parts are lovely, though.  Particularly the bird displays and the dioramas.

Cleaning Rainham Lane – work in progress

Yesterday a small team of us, residents of Chamberlain and Salisbury street, started cleaning up the servitude that runs along the back of our houses: Rainham Lane.  It was pretty bad. Some areas of the lane were completely choked with weeds.

We could hardly open the door leading from our backyard into the lane, and everyone got covered in burs.  Did not stop the dogs from having a total ball though:

The weeds by themselves were not so bad Рhome to praying mantises, crickets, snails, spiders and earthworms.  But there was also a lot of garbage woven in among the plants.  Plastic packets, chunks of concrete dumped after renovations, condom wrappers and so on and on:

There were also some pleasant surprises, like this gooseberry bush :

We ripped weeds out all along the lane, cleared doorways and the gutter  all along the lane, and caused a slow-motion panic among the snail population.


We soon saw that there was far more rubbish than we could dump with our single bakkie.  The plan is to get a truck in next weekend to get rid of the worst of it.  In the end we managed to take out the entire weed forest and sort the rubbish into piles.  It does not look pretty at the moment, but this is just the beginning:

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