JOHN-CLIVE: Pictures – just a taste…

John-Clive’s paintings are many and various. He works in watercolour, acrylic, gouache and pencil, sometimes mixed and on board or art paper. Sizes of the originals also vary – but he can make high-quality prints of any of them in a size to suit. Here is a random collection of boats, fruit, flowers, landscape, portraits – but he turns his brush to many things. Let him know which one of these, or the sort of subject, that takes your fancy and he can make it work for you, or send you a selection to choose from. Prices depend on requirements. But as a start, contact him on

MARMITE – Gouache on paper 60 x 40cm
UMBRELLA – gouache on paper 60 x 40cm

Hope you’ve enjoyed this small sample of John-Clive’s paintings – plenty more where these came from and he’ll be posting more soon, so watch this space. Meanwhile don’t forget, if you’d like to see or know more, just pop him an email:…..till when, bye for now. 

When JULIA meets ERICA

There are over 850 species of Erica – the largest genus in Southern Africa….
….but there is only one Julia…..

Julia September knows what she’s talking about. A trained nature conservationist, on one sunny Saturday morning in Southfield, she’s passing on her knowledge to a group of Communitree volunteers at a 3 part Special Species Care workshop on Ericas and Proteas. Part 1 was Growing and propagating Ericas….

…and some very happy brand new gardener-conservationists. Thank you Julia. Thank you Communitree!

GREYTON ART – Keeps on Walking….


‘Can I borrow your hammer?’ The lady with the fish paintings comes back later for a blob of prestik. The chap who brought the spirit level deserves a medal and the lion portraitist’s little ladder is a godsend…..

A few frenetic hours later on a fine Friday morning in November 2019, with their work hanging cheek by jowl in the old church hall, thirty odd artists had become family. But that was last year. So what about The Greyton Art Walk 2020……?

Well, it’s happening! ……

Says founder Chris Cloete, just a little more contained and compact, safe and sanitised.

There’ll be new places to visit…..

… well as traditional venues….

…..there’ll be some familiar and well established faces….

…as well as new ones with popular features like portrait painting and participation.

The indefatigable organising team will be doing their thing and the viewers, maybe even buyers, will be there to admire it all.

There’ll also be the chance to walk the leafy village streets, take a pony ride and have a coffee or a drink… why wouldn’t you go!

See you there! For more info and all the details, check the facebook page, email or call 071 225 6163 or 082 495 4019.

ON SPEK…the whole story


SPEKBOOM, ‘pork bush’ or Portulacaria afra is a small-leaved succulent South African plant. Like a sponge, it absorbs and removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere improving air quality. Show it some soil and it grows happily and prolifically. Big attributes for a humble shrub. I have a huge bush of it in my garden grown from a cutting stolen from its true home, the Eastern Cape.

Just prior to the Covid-19 Lockdown late March 2020, I read that Communitree SA were looking for people to nurture small indigenous plants to help establish fynbos corridors connecting under-greened areas of Cape Town for the benefit of bugs, birds and small beasts. Good call.

With 21 Locked-down days ahead, growing small plants from the mother-bush, so to speak, seemed like a worthwhile project. And so, the Personal Lockdown Spekboom Challenge began…


I started, giving each pot a number in case I lost count. A request from a facebook friend asked for the how-to, which was not rocket science,  this was all there was to it really..,


….and very soon the collection, um – grew…

….with it a selection of garden finds….

….that included a small heart hand painted by Tracy Prosalendis, a shell, an airplant, a twig, a marble, stone, a late snail and a variety of feathers, amongst other things….

…including an egg on Easter Sunday. A challenge however, was finding containers and towards the close of the 21 Days….

…beer cans (those few that were left on account of the booze ban), became the only option. And so it was….


…that we reached the end of the line. But then….


….blow me down if Cyril didn’t go and extend Lockdown for another two weeks!

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So manpower was recruited. John-Clive hand-numbered some recycled poly cups, while  Biksegn took on the task of making drainage holes…

…and so we continued, snipping and planting, till finally reaching the grand total.


At this point, I was ever so slightly over the Personal Lockdown Spekboom Challenge.

I won’t pretend there wasn’t a certain sense of achievement, but what now….?

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Then, with liberty hours declared between 6am and 9am, out running one morning I came across a man planting in a spare patch of grass….who are you and where are you from? I inquired. ‘Paul’, he replied ‘from Communitree’ . Eureka! Cut to the chase, we made a date….


…the spekbabies were packed up and ready to go….


….so here we were, (from left below) Frances Taylor, founder of Communitree-SA ecologist and environmentalist, me, little Cheslyn and his mum who stopped by to help,  Daphne the neighbouring gardener and (above, standing) Paul the plantsman Hoekman. It should be noted that spekboom is NOT indigenous to the Western Cape (eish!), but their tenacity and wind resilience make them useful for protection purposes. Phew!

….a happy ending to the Lockdown Spekboom Story thanks to Communitree – with spekbabies planted halfway round the windswept spare patch….


….so now to get started on the other half….

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….with cuttings from Frances of some proper indigenous plants to nurture. Watch this space!


CO-LABORATING in LANGA….now and then

New and old:  tech, people, countries, cultures, skills, mindsets and opinion converged at #Cocreate Design Festival in Langa, February 24 and 25 – towards Digital Inclusion.

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Flying Dutch colours in honour of the Netherlands hosts, it took place in and around the  Guga S’thebe Cultural Centre.

People were there to see and be seen….

To connect and confer….

….converse and contribute….

….inspire and uplift….

With industrial revolutions present and future….

….but there’s no escaping the past in Langa….at the old Post Office and Pass Office.

Thank heavens for the women, now and then….who keep it all together….

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….with creativity – and a smile.

Thanks to all who co-created the event – exciting times. #Cocreatesanl and The Craft and Design Institute  x


FINDING PHILIPPI: People, planting, problems…and hope.

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Long, long ago the sandy stretches of what today is called the Cape Flats just outside Cape Town, was Khoi and San grazing and hunting land.

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Much later, when the population of the Cape ‘colony’ became too big to feed from the Company’s Garden in the city, the ruling British decided to solve the problem by bringing in poor but hardworking farmers from Germany to work the inhospitable terrain known historically as Die Duine or The Dunes. Despite not getting much help from the government of the day, by around the 1880’s, the persistent Lutheran immigrants had managed to transform the area into one big market garden……

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What is known now as The Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA): approximately 3000 hectares of farmland, said to supply between 50% and 80% of Cape Town’s fresh produce and employing around 6000 people.

It’s also said that Philippi was named after Dr Philip Faure, an early Dutch Reformed Minister. But what’s known for sure is that this large tract of land sits on top of the Cape aquifer, which means there’s plenty of water, and has a micro climate that can allow for up to five harvests a year.

But all is not happy in paradise. And some parts of the PHA have been exploited and used for dumping and farming shacks instead of crops.

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A Rastafarian community on a piece of land called Oasis – is especially aggrieved.




The place where they’ve been settled for the last 30 years, once a healthy place of growth where migratory birds, fish eagle and turtles used to frequent the dam and they could raise their children in peace – has literally become a dumping ground.

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But the people are mobilising…..

And have joined forces with the PHA Food and Farming Campaign founded about 10 years ago by Nazeer Sonday who came through to help with a design workshop to look at planting potential and the way forward. And where there is community, there’s hope.

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And there’s lots of that at the PHA Food and Farming Campaign HQ.

Where Winnie (left) and Susanna (right) are practicing and preaching Agri-ecology or regenerative farming.

Seen to be working on the outside, with the concept of the 2ha farming model….

…and on the inside through workshops, information sharing, seed harvesting and sales.

With high potential for the people to reap the rewards.

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But again, all is not OK in paradise. Developers, politicians, a sand mine, lifestyle businesses and homeowners are encroaching on and threatening this prime productive farmland. Court cases are pending.

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But where there is heritage and community….

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There is hope.


24 HOURS IN JOZI: barriers, books, and breakfast with a dog called Patch…..

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It all began with a moving visit to The Apartheid Museum…..

….with some chilling reminders of a dark past….

….but mercifully some wonderful moments of hope….for the future…

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…..and some welcome relief at the end.

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After that it was straight to the South African Book Fair at Constitution Hill, with a joyous and colourful welcome….

…where I bumped into book buddies from Durbs, Gcina Mhlope and Cedric Sissing of Adams Books….

….followed by lights, cameras and lots of action…..’


….but there was more action to come that evening at The Sunday Times Literary Awards. Winners announced by bookista sisters Michele Magwood and Jennifer Platt (above).

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…..where, one of the lucky judges, I got to chat to winner of the Barry Ronge Award for fiction with her rare, imaginative book The Theory of Flight (Penguin Random House), Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu (right), seen here with her mum Sarah Nokuthula Ndlhovu (left) and award winning book mama Elinor Sisulu.

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Next stop was Home Suite Hotel where the invitation writing is on the wall….

….and where, gladdening my heart, there were books on every surface.

Even more joyous, at breakfast next morning, who should come barreling in….

Patch at HSH

…..but happy Patch the rescue dog from Oscar’s Ark….

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….who, it turned out, belonged to HSH owner himself Gidon Novick there having breakfast too. Walking the talk.

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But no escape for a book fan short on time – and next it was back to the SA Book Fair to join Griffin Shea, owner of Bridge Books (right) for his acclaimed Underground Booksellers Walking Tour….

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…which starts, understandably at Bridge Books itself, where we meet Nhlanhla Mchunu, founder of Lisakhanya ikusasa (right).

And then we hit the route, with sure enough, booksellers aplenty along the way.

Eventually coming to an auspicious stop outside the Rand Club, across the road from the even more auspicious offices of two erstwhile very well known attorneys.

Inside and downstairs at the grand paneled, formerly (white) men-only club,  we were welcomed into the James Findlay Collectible Books and Antique maps….

….then upstairs to the members-only library with infinite shelves packed tight, plush leather and pile carpets where young Nhlanhla looked right at home.

Finally, with many more booksellers still to see, but a plane to catch, it was farewell to Bridge Books and the walking tour…..


….and hamba kahle Jozi, till the next chapter, Thank you! ps look forward to seeing poet Lebo Mashifane in the Mother City soon.



A pretty city in Portugal – that’s…..

….a sacred place….

….on the move….

…..architecturally diverse….

….historically potent….

… loving….

… loving….

… loving….


….a bit mad…….

…..sometimes restful….

…..and totally colour-coded.  Plenty more peeps – if you’re interested, let me know!


Cheers Odette! May 2019



….and the Wonderful Wedding Weekend that we shared with them-….

It all started with Family arriving…..and relocating to Stanford Holiday House…

….followed by a river boat trip on The African Queen for the wedding party boys and girls….


….and a completely Load Shedded dinner at the Groom’s spot.

Next morning there was chillin’ at the house and cake preppin’ in the kitchen….


There was a mad hatted cricket match on the Village Green….

…..lots of tea and friend-making opportunities in town….

…..and an exhibition of 100 Years of Wedding Dresses at the Stanford Hotel.

There was a great deal more tea and beer tasting – with cheese farm visiting ….

…..later there was an even madder hatted Brothers Quiz night….


….with book donations for the local Children’s Book Network.

Next morning at Beloftebos, the venue…..

… was all systems go – with a five-star dedicated decor team….!

Meanwhile, back at the house….it was dressing-up time….

….then all aboard the bus….

… take our pews and wait.

The boys arrived, the cameras snapped….


The girls arrived… by one….


…and the rugby-player singers sang…like angels.


….and finally, there she was, the exquisite bride….and brother….

….for vows…and special words from Dr Seuss…


….and there we had our Happy Couple.

Some legal admin, candle lighting, tears and flowers….

…pictures taken, friends….

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…and new family….

….till it was time…..


….to shower the Happy Couple, with love and leaves!


To play putt-putt, sip and nibble among the trees….among friends.

The tables were laid, the cake was made….

…and cut. Speeches flowed, thick, fast…..funny and fabulous.

….with smiles and thank you’s all round.

The dancing began….slowly, speeding up….


….and got a little wild, ‘silly’…..and very, very happy!


….and the memories will be fresh forever!

Thank you to our brand new Mr and Mrs for a truly Wonderful Wedding Weekend. March 23 2019



At the launch of Halala Winner! by Jabulani Kunye at Injongo Primary in Khayelitsha, everyone was indeed a winner….

Most especially (left) Ros Haden and Dorothy Dyer from the proud publishers Cover2Cover, and (right) Xolisa Guzula, inspirational biliteracy teacher and founder of the Stars of Today Literacy Club….

…and Injongo school itself has a lot to be proud of too – its vision, achievements and bright, smiling staff…..


….not least its learners!


So the launch celebrations began with singing…

….with prayer, praises and beaming principal Mr Mhletywa….

….with dance and lots of encouragement….


A winner too is cartoonist and illustrator of the book, Brandon Reynolds, with his wife Rose-Anne….

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…..lots of proud winners all round. So Halala! to everyone involved in this brave new dawn for bilingual literacy.

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Khayelitsha, April 2019