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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Had a Farm in Africa

"I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills..."  (Karen Blixen - Out of Africa)

Well not quite . . .  I had a farm in Africa between Mooi River and Estcourt in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands (South Africa)

Unless you are something of a Boer or Zulu War enthusiast the area won't mean very much.  It is not far from Spioenkop - one of the most eerily atmospheric places on the planet with its mass grave of British soldiers who fell during the battle.

This is Beaconsfield - affectionately known by my family as Beaky's.  The farm actually belonged to a friend of my stepfather's and we would spend short holidays there from the mid 70's to the mid 80's.  Usually not much more than a long weekend as we had to take EVERYTHING with us, including all the water we would need.

I became quite adept at using two small bowls of water (warmed by the sun to conserve fuel) to clean my teeth, wash myself and my hair and any sundry items of clothing that need freshening up.  The loo was a long drop in one of the barns.  Not everyone's idea of the perfect holiday, but for me it was heaven as I love places that are remote and untamed.

The hill behind the farmstead looked very innocuous from the house but when you climbed to the top there was a powerful sensation of magic in the ground that I found a bit scary and unsettling.  (I can cope much better with the fairy forests here in Ireland.)  As a result I never went up there very often.

Many of my photographs from that time are slowly loosing their colour.  They are ending up with a strange sepia effect and in one sense I'm glad that I'm starting to scan them now before all detail is leached out completely.

This is Zacharias (Zaccy) - he was not much bigger than a mouse, but had the heart of a lion.

According to 'legend' the farmhouse (I think it was build in the 1800's) was abandoned after one of the original family members was killed by lightning.  One account is that this happened on the hillside in front of the house.  The other is that the person was struck while throwing out a pail of water from the stoep (verandah).

Later a new modern house was built somewhere else (I never saw it) and the old homestead was left to quietly crumble away, with what was left preserved like a time capsule.

Playing cards with my Mom and sister Melanie (I'm in the middle).  We were hooked on sergeant major - a great game but restricted to three players so anyone else had to sit out. 

Melanie having fun with a frisbee in the 'garden'.  (I think I'm on the other side throwing it to her.)  

Where ever I went at the time a sketchbook came with me.  These are sketches I made at Beaconsfield in 1976.  I think they were all done during the same holiday.  The one at the top (it is a single drawing but I had to scan it in two halves) is dated 28 December 1976.

Pressed leaves gathered at Beaconsfield in 1976.  Some would have been used when I did the drawing shown above.

We holidayed at the abandoned farmhouse for a period of 10 or so years.  Then when the growing crime rate become more rampant we started to feel uneasy about staying in such an isolated place and so our visits stopped.

For me, though, these memories of Beaconsfield are some I will always cherish - a snapshot of my past that will live in my heart forever.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Morgana Paper Doll - Violet Dress

Morgana Paperdoll - Violet Dress

Another rainy weekend so I decided to make another outfit for Morgana.  This time I chose her violet dress which is actually a cape - I'm going to give her two versions - this one and another with the hood of the cape up so that you can actually see it.  I think this was a favourite during the early seasons of the show (BBC's Merlin) as she wore it quite often - I can see why - it looks comfortable as well as being quite sumptuous.

Morgana Pendragon

Morgana - Violet Dress

As I've done before I'm including the sketch of the dress before it was coloured in:

Morgana- Violet Dress Sketch

The original Morgana paper doll post including her purple, green and blue gowns can  be found here (posted 1 Jan 2012)

Morgana's white dress can also be found here (posted 5 Feb 2012)

Morgana's black lace dress can be found here (posted 7 October 2012)

 Sharon Souter - not to be used for commercial purposes 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mervyn Suart - Signs of the Zodiac

I'm having a brief foray back into blogging from my 'summer break' today for two reasons -
1. The weather is absolutely awful and
2. I was thrilled this week to finally complete a collection of Zodiac illustrations that I previously owned and loved as a child. (I have been searching for these for years!)   Mervyn Suart's sumptuous paintings have such a magical quality - I've always found them very special.  My collection is now complete thanks to Debbie at debsj267 .  Her eBay shop is well worth a visit as it also has some very tempting cross stitch pattern magazines and Debbie herself is a lovely person - very helpful and friendly..   

When I was a young girl I thought Europa in the scene above was the most beautiful and glamorous princess I had ever seen.  Looking at this picture again for the first time in 40 years I'm thrilled to find it is just as lovely as my memory of it.    

I do have to apologize though for having to show each image in two halves.  My little scanner only takes A4 size documents and all of these are considerably larger.  Besides having to cut them in two I also had to lose some of the top or bottom of each picture.  Unfortunately some of the nicer detail as in the picture above is therefore affected.  I hope despite this that you enjoy what I have been able to put together.

I have included a post on Mervyn Suart before (back in February last year.)  In it I also mentioned that the Look and Learn website has some of these images.  The direct link to the art of Mervyn Suart includes 9 of the Zodiac paintings.

From my own collection the 12 signs of the Zodiac follow:

I see Blogger have been messing around again with everything and my 'Followers' gadget is no longer working.  It is fine in preview but not in the published version.  I'm hoping its a temporary problem and that they will sort it out soon.  If anyone has experienced the same thing and figured out a way to fix it please let me know as I am stumped!


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