Month: August 2017

‘Dunkirk’ – Distilled

A technical tour de force but an artistic failure, ‘Dunkirk’ contrives to combine cheesy dialogue and cardboard characterisation with the terror and immediacy of war and violence. You are in the cockpit of a stricken Spitfire as it swerves towards the grey greasy ┬áChannel and ditches; trapped in the cockpit, you struggle for breath as its sinking pilot bangs frantically on the glass above him, fighting to get out as the water rises. Or you are in the bowels of a bombed or torpedoed ship, as exhausted soldiers fight their way towards the exits. The story follows three narratives, telling […]

Hillfold Pottery, Midlands Meander

You reach Lindsay Scott’s Hillfold Pottery in Lidgetton in the Natal Midlands by following a dirt road into the hills, climbing through forest, then turning off down a narrow rutted track that makes you wonder why, oh why, do you no longer have the Landy, until suddenly the woodland opens and you are in a sunny clearing where a low bungalow awaits, and the studio beckons. The man himself was there, reserved but gracious, and while he might have been of few words the work spoke volumes. We bought a piece for ourselves, and one or two smaller pieces for […]

Midlands Meander

The Midlands Meander in KwaZulu Natal – well, meanders, criss-crossing the N3 that links Johannesburg to Durban, offering the traveller a network of scenic routes that winds through hills and valleys as it folds into its embrace potteries and chocolatiers, breweries and cheese-makers, leather workers and artists. It is the land of dairy – and, along a nondescript stretch of the old Johannesburg road, beside the railway line not far from Howick, the area where Mandela was captured, in August 1962, following a tip-off, it is believed, from the CIA – those friends of democracy everywhere. These images, I hope, […]

Not such good bird photos

Bird photography is one of the most challenging areas of photography, at least in my experience. Finding them in the first place – birds, I mean – and getting them to sit still, or hover in one place, just where you want them, is the damnedest business, never mind getting your images sharp and properly saturated. Nevertheless, we spent one idyllic morning between two bird hides on a farm in the Karkloof, hoping to see cranes, but seeing instead grey herons, spoonbills, ibis, and – away in the distance, perched on the topmost branches of a tree before launching into […]

The Natal Midlands: Two Gates and a Landscape

Two sets of gates on Beverley Farm, in the Dargle Valley; two interpretations. The one gothic, the other more bucolic. The landscape shows the Karkloof, where we spent a lovely morning hiding in bird hides, on a farm, hoping for cranes.

Trees, Beverley Farm, Dargle Valley

We left Johannesburg on the last Saturday in July, around ten o’clock, for a much-needed break – five nights in the Natal Midlands, followed by three nights in the Drakensberg. The traffic was light, the day was sunny, the wind was at our backs as we drove across the highveld, stopping at Harrismith for lunch, before descending the escarpment. We turned off the N3 near Howick, not far from Pietermaritzburg, passing the Mandela capture site, of which more in a future post. A short while later we turned off the old Joburg road, the R104, towards the Dargle Valley, and […]

Lunch with my mother

My mother, at 85, likes a good lunch, and likes to be spoiled. Cucina Labia, the official home of Count Labia, envoy to South Africa of the little Italian dictator, Mussolini (Trump’s clownish forebear) ticked all the boxes when we went there – appropriately enough – on Women’s Day, last Wednesday. ‘I like this. I like this. I can do this,’ my mum kept repeating. Here are two photos of her – still pretty sharp, I’d say, at her age. The photo of the ladies doing lunch, at a Women’s Day fundraiser, helps establish the scene and the ambience. The […]

Master Thomas B. Tjasink, Esq.

We are back from our week away in the Natal Midlands and the Drakensberg – got home last weekend, in fact. I have since been down in Cape Town on business, and because Wednesday was a holiday, was able to take my mom out to a rather fabulous lunch at Cucina Labia in Muizenberg, the former residence of Mussolini’s envoy to South Africa and now a place of faded grandeur and fine cuisine. So there are tales to be told and photos to be processed and displayed. First call goes, however, to the grandchildren – in this case, Master Thomas […]

Parkmore Field Market

It’s becoming a meme, I guess, at least of this blog – the notion that Joburg, and South Africa, is a study in contradictions. Creativity and enterprise flourish, the place is dynamic and happening – but it is also a dead-end of fraud and corruption, crime and incompetence. There is warmth, love, vibrancy in human interactions, across race, creed and class – and there is sullenness, indifference, even hatred. The glass is half full, and at the same time half empty. You get the idea. One of the creativity, love, enterprise happenings happens once a month, on the second Saturday, […]

A birth and a birthday

Thanks to all of the family, friends and colleagues who have sent me birthday wishes today – as the years fly by ever faster, and my sins of omission and commission as well as my many unexpected blessings loom ever larger in my imagination, I appreciate more each time around what it means to be remembered. Thank you indeed. The real news though is not my┬ábirthday – this is a movie we’ve seen more than once before, after all – but the birth, on July 26th, of my third grandson, Gabriel Michael Fisher, to Hayley and Jonathan, in London UK. […]