>Travels: Plymouth in August

>On the weekend of the 21st and 22nd August, our kind neighbour drove us to her family home in Plymouth, in Devon, to stay with her lovely parents in the home which they have lived in for 50 years!

Day 1: 21 August

On our first day, we started our trip at the Royal William Yard, having a coffee in the Old Bakery. We then drove to a look out point of Drake Island {where Rosehip roses and berries were scattered…this was the sweetest smelling rose I have ever put my nose to}. We drove across the bridge which divides Devon and Cornwall and oh my, I loved our drive through Cornwall and all the narrow country lanes with hedges along each side, despite the very thick mist which hung close to the ground. We browsed little towns like Taverstock where we bought a heart shaped wax cheese of vintage cheddar.We ended our day with a cream tea at home…clotted cream is possibly made in heaven and sent down on long ropes.

Day 2: 22 August
The English countryside of Devon is absolutely beautiful while Plymouth has a gritty lid with bursts of colour bursting through all of the grey. Apparently this rather poor city was completely devastated during World War II as a naval port. In place of all the gorgeous old buildings, grey blocks were erected, but in the old part of town where the Mayflower Steps can be found, the Barbican, there is a glimpse of old Plymouth.

It has a colourful harbour, gorgeous old buildings and cobblestone streets, lots of art galleries, a gin distillery, wall murals by Lenkiewicz* {an eccentric local artist who recently passed away} proper old ice-cream shops {we went to Prebe’s, established in 1882, where I had ice-cream AND clotted cream between wafers….oh yummmm…and admired a Lenkiewicz painting of the Prebe family. We even met the son who is in the painting!}. We explored this part of town on the Sunday..having tappas and mezze at a restaurant on the harbour, admiring the remains of Lenkiewicz* wall murals and experiencing our first taste of Beryl Cook, a local artist and seeing where her inspiration used to abound!

Lesley showed us Smeaton’s Tower on the hoe {think Beatles “She Loves You”…an open stretch of grass overlooking the harbour and Drake Island. The Hoe wonderful expanse to lie on, picnic, walk along the boulevard and kiss! We went to the old Lido pool which sits right on the sea, and we watched boys “tomb stoning” which basically is diving into the sea from the high walls of the boulevard {eeeek}. We also saw the lovely bright doors of the changing sheds, one of which our neighbour’s aunt used to rent!

We caught the ferry home and our hosts had cooked an incredibly delicious Sunday lunch: roast beef and the biggest Yorkshire puddings I have ever seen or eaten {they were warm, soft in the middle, and golden brown…perfect!}. On the way home, we stopped and saw Stonehenge in the eery light of rain and nightfall. It is odd, and incredible to think about.
*Robert Lenkiewicz was a prolific painter, portraying the lives of people across society, particularly in Plymouth. This shot is his wall mural on Southside Street {apparently he was quite the ladies’ man}. He also has a large wall mural on the back of the pannier market down in the Barbican. The painting has been there was years and is now starting to look a little jaded as the council does not see the value in restoring or preserving it {obviously Lenkiewicz or his art caused the council real issues back in the day}. He even painted some members into the mural and they have attempted to board it up-hence the wooden strips on the wall but someone must have put an end to that bad idea. I love that one year, on April Fool’s Day, Lenkiewicz painted three flying ducks on a large white mount to cover the entire wall, to shock and surprise the city. I like him.


>Travels and dreams: Prague

>I know. Even though I think no-one reads these ramblings of mine…I know some of you do. And you know that I have had a haphazard relationship with my blog…feeling the need to go out and live and breathe real life and get away from the computer screen. This evening I was dreaming and thinking and bringing back ideas from the past…and good old faithful, my blog showed me all of my thoughts, inspirations and collections from the last couple of years. I felt a little like a neglecting parent or traitor so I decided that a catch up was due. Let me tell you about some of our travels…beginning with Prague.

♥ red geranium pots on window sills
♥ Trdelnik…warm, rolled bread dipped in sugar
♥ architecture: Art Nouveau, Baroque, Roccoco
♥ pork and heavy bread and red cabbage
♥ Jewish cemetry
♥ greens, reds, golds, ochres, oranges
♥ our Art Nouveau apartment
♥ music
♥ beer
♥ gorgeous sunny weather
♥ Franz Kafka
♥ the trams
♥ the Vltava River swollen from afternoon rain

Prague Day 1: Saturday, 31 July

We went to Prague at the end of July with our dear friends, Courtney and Alan, from Cape Town. Well, this city known as the “golden city of spires” is absolutely breathtaking. Every corner, every view, has something intriguing, quaint, beautiful, breathtaking. My love and I arrived at our Art Nouveau apartment on 8 Brehova in the Jewish Quarter and felt instantly in love. We walked along the Vltava River in the sun, from Chechuv Bridge where we admired a wildlife photography exhibition along the banks of the river. We met our friends at the metro stop and caught a tram {oh, I do love trams now} home. We had a catch up as we walked into the Old Town Square for a pub meal of goulash, czech soup and sausages {not to mention pretzels and beers}, a walk through the old streets which are littered with cool little shops: an absynth museum, chocolatier, crystal and garnet boutiques. We admired the famous astronomical clock and jumped on to a free walking tour with our Czech local guide, Klara. We walked, with stories, all the way to the Prague Castle {really, the stuff of fairytale dreams}. We ended the day with Mission Impossible Find a Grocery Store and eventually did, before going home for red wine, tortellini and good friendship time.

Prague Day 2: Sunday, 1 August

We woke late and leaisurely to the noise of the tram buzzing along the street below. Fruit salad on the balcony was followed by a tram to the Palace Gardens where we saw the most spectacular plants and views! Stunning sunshine and lush gardens can really make a girl’s heart sing. A highlight was the Sgraffito which is etched plaster…in gorgeous patterns and designs {see the photo of us sitting in front of it}. We walked through the Castle and particularly loved the Lobowicz Museum: where we gobbled ice-creams, watched a lunchtime concert, followed by an intimate and interesting audio guide narrated by members of the Lobowicz family {my absolute favourites were the Croll art room, the Beethoven and Mozart original music sheet books} and Prague ham baguettes and Lobowicz beers on the balcony of the Palace. Next, we found the Strahov Monastery and tried four brews of “monk beer”…two words: acquired taste {ie. disgusting!}. In the evening we dined on a Jazz boat that cruised up and down the river with a fusion jazz band in the background. A late night walk through Old Town Square and glam Parizka Street {barefoot on the cobblestones} completed our second day.

Prague Day 3: Monday, 2 August

We started the day with tea and cookies on our balcony, in the rain. We made scrambled egg and ham on rye toast before wandering over to the Jewish Museum, made up of six synagogues and the eeary, yet beautiful Jewish cemetry {12 layers deep…}. This was an experience I will never forget: my first ever time in a synagogue, children’s drawings from Terezin concentration camp, a synagogue covered in names of those who were killed in the Holocaust…very haunting and poignant. We found a cafe for pizza and beer for lunch, then browsed through quaint Czech antique shop before heading for Trednilk {rolled dough cooked and then dipped in cinnamon and sugar…yumm} and listening to an old man play the sax on the cobbles.We visited the Spanish synagogue which was exquisite! We shopped in Swarovski and had coffees in an art gallery on Brehova. Our last night we went up the funicular to Petrin Tower with the most incredible views of the city at night.

Prague Day 4: Tuesday, 3 August

We said goodbye to our dear friends and then spent the day walking through our favourite parts of the city once more…and also to Wenceslas Square. We viewed the city from Kampa Island in the pouring rain; went to Manufaktura to buy a little wooden toy; watched the Astronomical clock on the hour; and ate Czech sausage rolls and caught the metro back to the airport. I absolutely loved Prague and encourage everyone to go and experience this city of wonder!

>Oh my yum Risotto

>Tomato and Sausage Risotto
Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food via Smitten Kitchen {my favourite}. I would have taken my own photo but we were too hungry to find the camera! So I have used Smitten Kirchen’s gorgeous photo {as all of hers are!}. Steve said “oh my yum” two or three times so you must know…it is totally oh my yum. A subtle warning though, a risotto is a bit like a woman, it needs a lot of patience, time and stirring. Here is the recipe:

Tomato and sausage risotto
Serves 4

1 can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach (10 to 14 ounces), washed well, tough stems removed, chopped (about 7 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons butter

In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.
In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.
Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).
Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.

>Monday thoughts

>Last weekend we spent an amazing extended weekend, four days, in Prague. I will post a detailed photo journal of our time in that wonderful Eastern European capital, another time. Today I am on the couch, under a blanket with a big box of tissues and a bad cold. I am feeling so many things that are too personal too blog about…but in brief I have been through a time of questioning, sometimes putting so much pressure on myself and therefore letting myself down and feeling like I need to do something remarkable with my life. Analysis paralysis perhaps. I have such a long to do list and want to do list that it sometimes results in nothing getting done because it is all too daunting! Silly I know. From afar. I have started reading the Artist’s Way again and hope that it will ease my creative pains! I tried to close my eyes for a sleep, but my head was buzzing and I pulled the laptop close…resulting in a blog post. Here are some inspirations. Happy Monday.

Today I finally subscribed to Selvedge magazine and will be following the the blog. I cannot wait for my July/August issue to arrive!

I also joined Burda Style and have downloaded the Coffee Date dress and have added the Bella trousers to my basket.

Kat, my friend and recently ex-colleague {although she still works in the Village so we have lunch dates together}, has applied for a design assistant position at Caramel. Run by Eva Karayianni, this is a children’s wear business that is firmly cooking on gas. I have been back to look at this website numerous times and I am not sure if it is because a} I would love a stylish little entourage of six or b} I would love to start sewing some cool clothes for friends’ children, or c} It is just super cool little people’s fashion. Kat, I hope you get it my friend.

I am really proud of some friends in Cape Town who have started a unique coffee roasting company in Woodstock. Do have a look at Rosetta Roastery to be inspired and to order some beans. I especially love their write-ups and their “How To” page.

I had this amazing lecturer in my final year, postgraduate in teaching course. I treasured the days where I headed off campus to the heart of Newlands to visit the Frank Joubert Art Centre for our lectures. Five of us sat around the table with the sash windows wide open, with cups of tea, and Jill {my amazing lecturer} would lead us through reflection, methods and the heart of art and design teaching. In the midst of this time of “what am I doing with my life” I have been thinking of her lots. A determined, passionate and leading woman who really made a mark on my life. At the moment, teaching design is one of my top careers that I am thinking of going into. I was browsing the FJAC website and stumbled on the gallery of photograms and photomontages. I love this one by Cecile Reyneke in grade 1o.

Oh, and ps, my love and I have been together for 10 years as of yesterday. High school sweetheart love to be continued. I am more in love now than ever and grow more appreciative of this one constant in my life. One decade down, a million more and eternity to go.