Olvera, Spain – the Iglesia de la Encarnation

Olvera, one of the ‘white towns‘ or pueblos blancos of Andalucia, is dominated, as you will have seen in my earlier post, by a massive church-on-a-hill, the Iglesia de la Encarnacion.¬†

The building itself is in need of some maintenance, but its setting is magnificent, and its brooding presence over the white town below it speaks volumes.

Here are three images, in black-and-white.

Cafe Life, Sevilla

They call Sevilla, or so I am told, ‘the frying pan.’ And man, it is hot. Or at least it was when we were there, in September; the sun baking into the stones and reflecting back so that by mid-afternoon you were in an oven, and only beginning to cool after eight or so in the evening.

But the evenings are long, and the good citizens of Sevilla – like those of every other town we visited – know how to live. Living, in the Spanish way of life, means going out at 8 or 9, having dinner at 10 or 11, and wandering from tapas bar to tapas bar way into the small hours of the morning.

This image, of a cafe in Sevilla, in the evening, offers a more sedate but still typical portrait.

Did I tell you that we loved Sevilla? Oh boy, we did. We’d go back in a flash, Rob and I.

Cafe Life, Sevilla

Cape Vidal

Cape Vidal, within the St Lucia Marine Reserve, offers an expanse of beach facing the Indian Ocean, a pretty curve of bay, holiday accommodation, and what would seem, from the number of people you see wading into the surf with their rods, some pretty good surf fishing.

It was also, when we were there a few years ago, one of those curiously ‘white’ playgrounds, an anomaly in the rural African heartland – an echo, in a sense, albeit unlegislated, of the bad old days of apartheid.

Looking through my photographs of the Cape, I was struck by how the orange sand, deep blue sky, and white frothing surf offered a reminder of the old, unlamented South African flag, the ‘orange-blanje-blou’ of Afrikaner nationalism.

I have played up the effect, a little, in these images.

The President’s Keepers

‘The President’s Keepers,’ by Jacques Pauw, published by Tafelberg, has caused something of a sensation here, not least because of government’s clumsy attempts to suppress it – the best publicity that Pauw and his publisher could ask for. Copies of the book have sold like proverbial hot cakes – I had to place a copy on order, and picked it up at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park yesterday. I have hardly been able to put it down since.

Apart from anything else, it is damn well written – fast-paced, vivid, more best-selling thriller than sombre analysis. And yet the story – already so depressingly familiar – of Zuma’s utter corruption and malfeasance, surely treasonable as well as criminal? – comes off the page in a blaze of anger – the Zuptas and the rest of the whores who prostrate themselves before the gods of state capture naked in their greed and criminal impunity.

It’s in the anger and revulsion of the common citizen that South Africa’s hope lies. The rot in the system has gone too deep to cure itself. Let’s see what 2019 brings.

To remind you, and myself meanwhile, that there are still people who do honest work for a living – and as a reminder that there is more to this beautiful land of ours than scoundrels in office – here are some images of the crayfish boats and fishermen at Paternoster.




With Rob safely and warmly (well, warm indoors I guess) back in our little house in Marchmount Road in Toronto, my thoughts somehow turn to our last days here, back towards the end of 2010, when we had packed up our home in Johannesburg and were doing one last road trip to say goodbye to South Africa, before the big move to Canada, where I would descend into Pearson as a landed immigrant, and set out on the road towards becoming a Canadian.

One of the last places we stayed before our departure was the little fishing village of Paternoster, up the West Coast from Cape Town. Well, it had been a fishing village, was still, in one marginal corner, but to all intents and purposes it had become, for some years already, a playground of well-to-do – and therefore mostly white – holiday-makers.

And yet, on that distinctive coast, with its blinding contrasts of sea-green Atlantic, sand and sky, the lobster fishermen with their traditional boats – with motors now, not just oars – maintain a toehold, and the sea and the sky and the expanse of beach retain their simplicity and a little, still, of their wild innocence.

So for Rob, and her safe return to our other homeland, here are a few photos of Paternoster.

More will follow. With boats, this time.



Drakensberg, dawn and dusk

I was out in the evening, and up early in the morning, as I observed in my last post, chasing the light in the Drakensberg, hoping for something dramatic. What the ‘berg gave me instead was a picture of calm, of light peaceably moving over a silent landscape, as the slow world turned.

In the end, I quite like these images.

Ardmore Ceramic Art, Midlands Meander

Ardmore # 1Ok, so you’ve meandered through the Natal Midlands, you’ve stopped off for a coffee, or a glass of wine at Ardington Winery, you’ve pulled over to take photos of hills, of valleys, of dairy cows contentedly doing whatever it is that dairy cows do on an August morning or afternoon, and then you turn down a winding dirt road, and swing off into a driveway, and there – across a placid pond and beneath the bucolic hills in the distance – what do you find? Ardmore # 1 B&WYou find the wildest, craziest, most lunatically imaginative art at Ardmore Ceramics.

Now, if you described to me the kinds of craziness that Ardmore gets up to – teapots and candlesticks and vases and bowls intertwined with psychedelic crocodiles and monkeys on LSD and humans on elephants and all kinds of fantastical contrivances individually crafted and hand-painted Ardmore # 4I would have said – well, that’s not my cup of tea. But the work at Ardmore is so inspirationally mad, so over the top, so out there, that all you can do is gawp, and admire, and wish you could afford to own a piece – just one piece, mind you, as that one piece would be enough to totally dominate your living room, if not blow it to pieces.

With each piece in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars, however, all we came away with was a couple of napkins and a whole lot of crazy photographs.

Not to be missed, if you’re in the Midlands.