Mr Goncalves

I recently found this post written a while back, in my notebook. This incident happened about a year ago. This is one of the many bazaar and crazy guest house experiences I have had through the years and although it was quite stressful at the time it was also entertaining.

There is never a dull moment  in the hospitality industry and last night did not fail to disappoint, delivering a generous dose of entertainment and excitement for ourselves and the guests.

Two days ago, a Mr. Goncalves found his way into my reception.  I soon realised however that all was not well with the so called Mr Goncalves. He was swaying rather dubiously and unfortunately the fumes from his breath hit me a tad too late. Before I could think of a way to get rid of him he was already counting out his cash to pay for a nights stay. Hoping for the best but sighing inwardly and mentally ‘kicking myself’, I showed him to his room. I was relieved the next morning to find him gone, nothing broken or taken, and his key in the key box at the gate.

The following night however  I mistook the ring at the gate for a guest I had been waiting for.  It was dark outside and drizzling. I waited for my ‘expected’ guest to make his way to my reception, but nothing happened. The engine of his vehicle stayed running but no one emerged.

Feeling annoyed and somewhat apprehensive, I armed myself with my pepper spray and went to see what was going on. As I approached the familiar vehicle, a beaten up old red Toyota Corolla, I realised my mistake. I had once again let in the dreaded Mr. Goncalves. I proceeded to very firmly but politely tell him that the guesthouse was unfortunately fully booked and he would have to leave as he was blocking up my drive way. He however mumbled  incoherently and proceeded to firmly and politely remain put.

I went back inside and phoned up our Security company. They promptly dispatched two of their guards who arrived within minutes to help with our predicament. Even they could not convince Mr. Goncalves to leave. The police were called, we rolled our eyes, knowing it could be hours before they showed up. The guards explained that they were not allowed to physically remove the unwanted Mr. Goncalves, their job was to keep us from harm and try and convince him to leave. Which they did, but to no avail. And so, we waited.

Realising by now that this was going to take some time, chairs were pulled up and mugs of coffee dispensed. Every now and again Mr. G would start his engine and then switch it off. Sometimes opening his door and attempting to get out but then seemingly forgetting why he had done so, and slumping back into his seat with a vacant confused look on his drunken face. Each time he did this, the guards Phillip and Siphiwe, (we were all on first name basis by then,) would jump up and rush forward just in case he attempted anything. At one point he managed to get out and make it to the boot of his vehicle. This he surprisingly managed to open, and then proceeded to relieve himself into it.

By now a small crowd had gathered on the verandah. Some of the guests had heard the commotion and wondered over to watch the show.  Mr. G had once again gotten out of his vehicle. He stood there swaying precariously and peering at all of us gathered on the verandah, as if he had only just seen us there for the first time. He stared for a good while, we stared back. Then, quite suddenly, one could see the penny drop. Within seconds he switched gears from drunken stupor to drunken madman on the run!

All hell broke loose as he tried to make his escape. Between shouts of “Haaibo!” and “Oh Jesus!” from the guards and the guests, pandemonium erupted. Poor Phillip and Siphiwe had their hands full as they tried desperately to keep him from reversing into the wall, whilst I was trying to time the opening of the gate to hopefully coincide with him finding it!

At last the now notorious Mr. G was out, and we watched with relief as he swerved chaotically and dangerously into the road, paused one last time, and roared away as if his life depended on it. His engine sputtering and misfiring into the distance.

Thankfully he has never found his way back to Penryn again!




A conversation

“Iv’e missed you” said the mountain.

“I’m sorry, Iv’e missed you too” I said.

“Where have you been?” asked the mountain.

“Looking for something” I replied.

“Was it important?” asked the mountain.

“Not really” I lied.

But the mountain knew and gently whispered

in the way that mountains do,

“Never mind”.

My Running my Sanctuary

Running runs like a ribbon, threaded through the fabric of my life

Each step a stitch, each run a knot

Helping to hold the frayed bits and pieces together

Running is my truest friend and has seen me like no other

Down to my deepest darkest places where even I am too afraid to go

Running is my silent companion, no words are needed between us

It makes no promises, and hears no pretenses –

But listens quietly to the thoughts I cannot begin to express

Running is mine alone to diligently pursue or forget for a while if I choose to

It makes no demands and holds no agendas

it is a patient and generous gift

And so over time, each run and each step has slowly carved a space into my being

A transcendent tranquil space

My Running

My Sanctuary



Acacia trees and forks in the road

The writer and artist Austin Kleon describes how he uses “one project to light the next one”. Sometimes stalling and floundering for new inspiration can leave one feeling stuck and anxious about what to do next. This for me can lead to weeks or even months of artistic procrastination  – not a good place to be. I have learnt that it is best to keep the ball rolling and the momentum going by feeding off what you have been doing and seeing where that leads. If it  leads you to a fork in the road, take it.

A few weeks ago I had a request for a bag with an Acacia tree screen printed onto it. As much as I love trees I had never really spent time drawing them so was a little daunted at first. Needless to say I loved doing the drawing. The effect of it screen printed onto the Shwe shwe fabric was lovely and all the bags sold quite quickly, I was sorry I hadn’t had more printed.

This project however led to someone commissioning me to do a painting with an Acacia tree in it. It was such a joy to use my oils again – albeit with some intrepidation and ‘rustiness’ – I am happy with the result but more importantly the client is thrilled.

“Artists work because it’s a chain reaction, each subject leads to the next” Charles Eames.

Now onto the next…



A stroll for the soul

My intention this morning was to go for my usual Friday morning trail trot. Once out there however I found that my legs were heavy and my thoughts even heavier. I felt weary and uninspired, the by – product of an exceptionally busy few weeks and the ups and downs of life. So I took my tired body and my weary thoughts for a stroll in the veld instead.

The burnt black has been replaced by a lovely carpet of fresh green, and there are wild flowers popping up everywhere. I am always on the look out for grass orchids during my mountain excursions. They are generally uncommon and not so easy to find, many of them rare and threatened. It can be quite exciting to find these elusive beauties – ‘orchid fever’ is real!

My reward today was the discovery of this gorgeous buttery yellow grass orchid growing all on its own in the veld, there were no others of its kind to be found. This seems to be a ‘Eulophia inaequalis’. My photographs do not do it any justice as my phone camera also seemed to be out of sorts today and would not focus. I have posted a photograph from the internet, courtesy of Duncan Mac Fairlane.



Beautiful small things

There is nothing more breathtaking and inspiring than a magnificent landscape opening up in front of you whilst on the trail. The magnitude and expanse a beautiful statement, making one feel so in awe, inspired and humbled.

Lately however it is the beautiful little things that have been speaking to my heart. The fresh newness of the first Spring wildflowers, many of them so fragile that they only last a day. The small Fire lilies with their drooping fire engine red trumpets are a stark contrast to the sooty black of the newly burnt veld.

A small jagged piece of quartz glinting in the sun on the path. I picked it up and ran my fingers over it. One side smooth , the other rough and sharp. One side a creamy pearl, the other marked with a bleeding purple black stain. The ambiguity of life.

Making my way up a very steep section earlier this week I stopped to catch my breath and turned to take in the view. As I turned back to the path again I noticed right next to me, about hip height, the tinniest little nest. Perhaps a Robins. Perfectly woven into a little bowl and lined with moss. It had been cleverly secured to a few long stalks of grass. So vulnerable and yet at the same time so safe – as are all homes.

I left the trail that morning feeling poignant, deeply humbled and grateful. I left feeling that all the beautiful little things are not really little at all, they are far bigger, and far more important than we care to give them credit for…

Seasons and trusting difficulty

There is a change in the air. As the long cold Winter starts to finally draw to an end some early Spring flowers are already bravely peeking through the powdery veld. I enjoyed my run on the mountain today – the promise of change hung about in the fresh still morning air and the sun was shining cheerfully.

I got to thinking about seasons and the metaphorical seasons in our lives. How unbearably long and never ending the difficult ones can seem, as if they are stretched out forever with no horizon in sight. We would never choose ‘difficulty’ and yet, the lessons learnt and the strengthening prosesses are so essential to personal growth. We question and we fight against it. Perhaps we need to learn to trust difficulty.  It is only in hindsight when the grey has started to lift and we are through the worst that we can see the lessons learnt and we can make sense of it.

I love this quote by Rilke – “It is clear we must trust what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us…”

aloe seed heads

Late afternoon runs and Orchids in the grass

After an extremely busy week I finally managed to get out for a trail run late this afternoon. As I made my way up the muddy path I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy to be out there, doing what I love in my favorite environment. If the path was not so full of cow pats I might have gone down on my knees and kissed it!

A lovely trot up the mountain was just what I needed to escape the bustle and busyness of the last few days. A blissfully quiet and peaceful reprieve with the only interruption being bird song and the whispering breeze.

On the way back down I almost over looked this little beauty peeping through the dry grass. The first,rather early, Spring flowering grass Orchid – ‘Eulophia Hians’. There are more than 200 species of Eulophia Orchids, most of these are grass orchids spread through the Eastern parts of South Africa. They need summer rain and are usually Spring flowering. Although this little Orchid is not threatened, all indigenous Orchids are protected by law, so take pics only. I cannot wait to see what other wild grass flowers are in store this Spring.

Chilly days and ‘Halleria Lucida’

This morning I stepped outside into the chilly air and I almost stepped back in again. It had started to rain lightly and the sky was gloomy and grey. I wrestled with the temptation to go back inside, but instead took a deep breath, and headed out for my midweek mountain run. I have found that if I overthink the decision to go for a run – I can easily talk myself out of it. Best to shut off the brain chatter and just go.

A little bit of rain had fallen onto the path and I found myself mesmerized by the patterns of the splashes the drops had made – like a sprinkling of polka dots in the powdery dust. The overcast cloudy sky had a way of blanketing everything in a lovely peaceful silence. Even the birds were a little quieter this morning. I enjoyed my run despite the cold.

There are a number of ‘Halleria Lucida’ shrubs or small trees growing on the mountain. These have been flowering on and off, even through the Winter. Because they are evergreen, you have to look closely for the pretty orange or sometimes yellow trumpet like flowers. The sun birds feast on them.

This shrub I photographed had lots of flowers hidden in the greenery and some bright green berries which will go almost black when ripe, more for the birds! Sometimes flowers will form directly on the main stem as well as the branches. Traditionally the Zulus used the ‘Halleria’ to treat skin and ear complaints.

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