18 September 2010

heart of stone

Even though it isn't true anymore, one day I will publish a book of photographs of sculpture entitled "I only love women with hearts of stone".
picture of la JeuneTarentine, figure photography, B&W, black & white, marble, musée d'Orsay, museum, natural light, nude photography, Paris, sculpture
I met la Jeune Tarentine in 2003 and was entranced as long as I could stay with her. Even with the evidence of chisel marks on the plinth and her slightly stylised facial features, it was hard to believe she was not about to take a breath and roll over languidly. She may be 99 years older than me, but she will stay heart-achingly lovely long after I am dust and and can no longer remember her.

16 September 2010

happy sad Gladiolus

Last night a gentle rain fell all night. And in the morning everything was soft and wet and fresh. And Gladiolus tristis, whose name of course means the sad Gladiolus, was positively radiating contentment. And although it's normally only scented in the evening, on this overcast morning it is strongly perfumed.
Despite how delicate it looks, this Cape lowlands geophyte is tough, and from a handful of bulbs I bought way back from Adriaan Hanekom at the Caledon Fynbos Nursery, I now have several overflowing pots full, have given more away, and still have plants popping up in any soil that ever hosted them.

and I made it all up myself he said modestly

Clearly 'boeuf bourguignon en croûte' is just a poncy way of saying steak pie.

10 September 2010

the Cape rocks

and plants and other bits of nature. In the middle of London! Talking of the British Museum, they may have raped and pillaged half the globe during the empire years to populate the displays inside, but they get serious Brownie Points for making most of the South Africa display outside about my favourite floristic region.

Still on till the end of October, before they carry off those Aloes to the safety of heated glasshouses in Kew. Get there while you can. On second thoughts, I took those photos in July and it's already autumn there. Those flowers must be looking pretty sad by now. Just come here instead for the real thing.

09 September 2010

history lesson for the day

A random snippet from our London-Paris-London-Mallorca-London trip in July, this amazing fact: did you know that the Romans had glass manufacture all sorted out by AD 100? It was a surprise to me. If the thought had even crossed my mind I would have assumed they only had ceramic or some kind of tin or lead alloy for drinking ware, or the usual gold and silver for the rich.

But not only did they have glass, they were already making baubles of loveliness like this.

Although the patina of 2000 years does add a certain something, I'd bet that this would be the next hot thing if someone made it today.

(British Museum: Mould-blown glass beaker. Made in the eastern Mediterranean about AD 70—100. From Tyre.)

08 September 2010

little spears of happiness

Let it be noted, I am a bad seedsaver. Bad. There was a time 10 years ago, when I was a carefree postgrad with a half day farming job, and an only slightly overdue thesis, that I would lovingly bag and hand pollinate my cross-pollinating heritage veg if I grew more than one variety, select the best plants, harvest and carefully dry seed for replanting.

ready grown temptations

I'm a reluctant Woolworths shopper. I do admire their apparently genuine commitment to stocking sustainable and more ethical food, and certain items are definitely worth making a detour for —  waxy potatoes, their bulk packs of spinach and asparagus, organic dark chocolate and maybe the occasional free range chicken. But I am not ready to be one of the aspirational, and it must be said, mostly miserable looking masses, buying my ready-chopped veg, ready-made meals, all blemish free and over-packaged.

05 September 2010

what Sundays are supposed to be

On final deadline for huge project. But managed to do a real Sunday anyway. At least I did actually work all day yesterday...

Olympia Bakery pastries — not the best in the world, but the almond croissant and hazelnut danish with a not bad takeout coffee get an awful lot of mileage out of the setting.
(photos of me by Rosie):

Then  a brief foray into spring at Kirstenbosch - the glasshouse and gardens all bursting with flowers, but this Cyrtanthus only just about to open. Graham Duncan somehow manages to coax these shy princesses to show us their stuff.

04 September 2010

my mate Smokey

bird, cockatiel, pet, Nymphicus hollandicus,Calyptorhynchinae, Cacatuidae

He came to us one drunken night only a few weeks ago when Onno's housesitter gave his bird away. Rosie says I'm obsessed — I say I'm just trying to be a half decent substitute for a flock of social birds. Who would have thought that 100g of flying lizard could have so much personality? Or shed so much down?

OK, so I know it is really not cool to have a cockatiel at all, nevermind to have him on your head for half the day. But c'mon, he is cute.

Looks like clouds of dusty feathers and the occasional splot of birdshit are here to stay.