Saturday, October 31, 2009

Only in Riebeek Kasteel!

The main vegetation of the Swartland area where Riebeek Kasteel is situated is wheat. The area is a fairly new wine-producing region. But of course, the ocean breezes and low-lying position of the region is ideal for vineyards. So do not be surprised by what I am showing you here: town gardens covered in vines! Browse along the main streets of Riebeek Kasteel to admire a quaint clockmaker, a peaceful little village church and restaurants housed in Victorian homes, and suddenly you spot them: the urban vinyards! So, who wants roses?

The key to having such a lovely-looking healthy vineyard is disease control. Young vines are carefully selected and planted in vine nurseries, then uprooted, dusted for disease control and thereafter sold to farmers or any person willing to plant and nurture them. Trellisses support the growing vines which are always planted in symmetrical rows. Thus a growing vineyard will form these eye-catching patterns we love!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Awesome Riebeek Valley

It does not matter how many times you turn off onto the lookout outside Riebeek Kasteel to look up to the solitary mountain or down into the vast valley, it is always a pensive moment. People and even kids do not talk, but just stare and take it all in!

Against the mountain and into the fruitfull valley (to the right) the eye plays over vineyards, olive groves and beautiful export vegetables. If we visit the paved gift shop area which I showed into an earlier blog, all these products are there for tasting and for sale. I photographed some delightful vegetables there displayed in old enemal bowls far removed from polystyrene trays and plastic wrap. Riebeek Kasteel also has some new eateries with tongue-in-cheek names: "Auntie Pasti" and "Bar-bar-black-sheep"! So that is good, because we all love to enjoy lunch out in Riebeek Kasteel!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kasteelberg Inn and Bistro

For quite a few blogspots I have been looking at eateries. But of course, Riebeek Kasteel is very much associated with good dining. Here at the Kasteelberg Inn, I am always impressed by the Frenchlike informality of checked table cloths and a few fresh flowers just plugged into little pots. And what makes it extra nice is the pristine white linen serviettes and some good glasses on the table, not only for wine but also for water. We have heard it whispered that a French cook was doing the cooking. The menu changes all the time, but I will not easily forget my first course consisting of a little trio of chilled soups!

We art bloggers are on a roll, and I meet new people through art blogging every day. Two main things motivate us all: to paint on a daily basis, fitting it in between the scores of things we have to do, and secondly, to always look out for new challenges. Maybe that will explain why I had to put the flowers behind the glass!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Marmalade Cat

My painting of little Felix, the restaurant cat, was very popular and I had comments, Facebook comments, e-mails and phone calls about it. So, even though I am working on paintings about Riebeek Kasteel, I was prompted to paint another restaurant cat. This very quick oil sketch shows a tabletop scene at The Marmalade Cat, a popular Darling eatery where tourists, locals and especially the local artists hang out.

Before you think this little cat makes a habit of jumping on tables, I must explain something. My husband has that sympathetic aura about him, so that any animal who makes eye contact with him thinks: Mmmmmm, here I will get away with ANYTHING! (There, I told the World, and Darling, please take your dog off my white sofa!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finding Felix

There's no such Cat in the metropolis; (oh well, make it 'village'). He holds all the patent monopolies. For performing surprising illusions. And creating eccentric confusions.

(From Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S.Eliot -Mr Mistoffelees)

No wonder there are great poems about cats! We found the surprisingly tiny Felix in the backyard of the restaurant, among planting tools, squeezed in behind some pots! It seems like his favourite resting place! I found the painting very plain against my usually cluttered works, but persued the topic nevertheless.

Cafe Felix is linked to Old Oak Manor House in Riebeek Kasteel. Do yoursself a favour and google this guest house. Restaurant and guest house owner Salome Gunter is one of South Africa's well-known interior designers. The bedrooms are truly fall-apart-in-my-backyard sumptious and a little cat like Felix is likely to get lost between those large puffy cotton-print pillows.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cafe Felix at Riebeek Kasteel

My painting takes you to Cafe Felix, nestled in a house built in 1856 and named for a real life cat. I was instantly bowled over by the soothing music, the hand-carved chairs reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh and the oversized orange linen serviettes. Soft from washing, they invite you to sit down and inspect the blackboard menu of Mediterranean-like food.

Or wait, there is such a wonderful courtyard linked to the main dining room and dappled in sun-and-shadow from the enormous trees, where you can eat al-fresco. It is furnished in rusted-looking cast iron furniture and has tables laid in various printed cottons with the same large serviettes. I would recommend the chorizo salad made with pears and chilli-flavoured olive oil, but the menus change all the time, and new wonderful dishes will appear every few weeks. We are not leaving Cafe Felix, because I am on a mission of finding Felix, the stray cat who adopted the watch my next blog for that elusive cat!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Friendly Place for Shoppers

In South Africa we have a great fondness of our little towns. If they offer wide open pedestrian walkways without motor traffic, like Riebeek Kasteel, they attract happy browsers. Here you can leave your car and get away from the pollution. You can enjoy fresh mountain air, shopping and coffee in the morning and have lunch at one of the several splendid restaurants.

There are mostly galleries and gift shops along this walkway. Here you can buy unusual lacy long skirts, knitted scarfs and berets, and embroidered cushions are stacked high on the stoep. The talented artists who chose Riebeek Kasteel or its sister village Riebeek West as their home, are well represented here. My painting shows the lovely colours and finishes on these restored Edwardian buildings.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Riebeek Kasteel in the Early Morning

In 1660 Peter Cruythoff discovered the area and named it "Riebeeck Casteel" after Jan van Riebeeck, commander of the Cape settlement. The mountain then became Kasteelberg, named for the commander's castle in Cape Town. In those days there were lots of wild animals including lion in the valley and mountain. Today it is an idyllic area with vineyards, fruit farms, olive groves and a pleasant climate and part of the Western Cape biosphere.

Today Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West, with their Tuscon aura, are some of the prefered residential areas for artists looking for small towns to work in peace, and the site of many excellent restaurants. We often drive through from the coast to enjoy lunch here. There are also such delightful B&B establishments that I sometimes wish we were far enough to sleep over.

In my painting I show the main street, believe it or not, looking very peaceful and that one cyclist sure wanted to be nowhere else, but in this lovely village. My first 46 West Coast paintings were done in acrylic, but I have changed to oils now since the previous painting.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Olives, please!

203mm x 254mm
Oil on canvas
R1250, framed

In the Riebeek Valley, against Kasteelberg, nestle the sister villages of Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek-West. Kloovenburg wine and olive farm is always my first stop on the left, before entering Riebeek Kasteel. The 300-year old farm has the biggest selection of olive products anywhere in South Africa. Bowls filled with the goodies to taste draw me like a magnet into the large cool cellar.

Among my favourite products are olives marinated in a blackberry infusion, pitted dried olives which swell out when used in pasta or can be nibbled dry as a snack, and the large old-fashioned tins of olive oil. The oil is only chosen after dipping many little hunks of bread into many bowls!

Here, I usually buy for home use as well as products to give away, as the packaging is beautiful. and the products superior. My painting shows the walkway towards the cellar door. O, yes there are very good wines under the Kloovenburg lable, and olive oil soaps too....expect to taste and shop for quite a while!