There are still Legavaans in Smithfield

Whilst closing my windows against the incessant wind and dust today, I spotted something in my garden outside. I had to take a good second look as what I thought I saw should surely have been a log. But, on the second good look I saw a small dragons head,Legavaan in my garden 20 Oct 2015 then I made out a long body and realized I was seeing a Legavaan! I went outside to have a closer look and after freezing for a moment the Legavaan made a dash for a large woodpile. I was surprised at how fast it moved.
I went back into the room and waited, and luckily it came out again, crossed the path and went back to eating some leaves under a bush, and I managed to get some photos.Legavaan in my garden 2 20 Oct 2015 I looked it up on the internet and realized it must still be a baby since it was only about 50cm long and they grow to more than a meter. It’s also called a Monitor Lizard.
What a pleasure to see quite a large wild animal in my garden, in the middle of Smithfield!

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Bridge in Smithfield!

A few months ago, I was asked by friends here in Smithfield, whether I played bridge. I replied that I had learnt to play it when I was in high school (about a century ago) but hadn’t played since then and couldn’t remember how, really. I enjoy playing card games like Canasta and such games where “tricks” are won, and so I thought I would try to learn how to play bridge again. (I’ve also heard that it’s very good for the old grey cells, which I realise are good to look after, in balance to my inevitable aging and some ‘sins’ which I indulge in!)

So developed our little foursome, Julius Bramley, Anne and Geoff Montgomery and I. We play every week, sitting on the stoep of “Smithfield House” overlooking the Montgomery’s beautiful garden, and having tea and  cookies at four.

Bridge Club

Anne (left) Julius and Geoff (right)

Julius celebrating a winning game.

Julius celebrating a winning game.

I have really come to love playing with these people and especially the tranquility and ease of our afternoons and company. Our growing familiarity has spawned a lot of laughter and I realise how precious time can be with people one enjoys. I also realise that I much prefer playing bridge with good company than sitting around visiting with people and just talking. Maybe I really am getting old! BTW I have become quite good at playing bridge, so these brain cells are still working well!!!

So, if by chance you come to visit Smithfield, you would be more than welcome to come and join us in a hand or two of bridge.

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Home made bread, to die for!

If you’ve been wise enough to order a dinner hereKitty's home made bread at the Garlic House, you might enjoy this delicious sourdough bread I make. It is quite hilarious to create and I know it looks like a rock but the results are always really good: crispy crust and holy insides. Happily, it’s only made from flour, yeast, salt and water! (Strange that if one leaves out the yeast and baking, it’s the same recipe for glue, play-dough and I don’t know what all else!) (Maybe I shouldn’t have said that!)

Bread and cheeseAnyway, come and try a slice or two of this bread with cheese, tomatoes and basil from the garden. It’s simplicity reminiscent of Greek island food which has always been my favorite.

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Stay for Dinner! Organic Veg from my garden.

A Garlic House dinner from sea and garden.

A Garlic House dinner from sea and garden.

Since buying my over 100 year old house 11 years ago, my gardener William Novasi (Pastor, gardener, craftsman*) and I have worked really hard to establish a garden from a piece of veld. All that was here were a few trees down at the bottom of the 1 acre field. So now, when I look around, I get a wonderful feeling of achievement since so much has changed. The hard work of yearly compost heaps and river sand being dug into the acidic,clay soil , has paid off with trees producing fruit, Hanepoort and Sultana grape vines feeding the birds (we get the left-overs), and of course, the veggie garden feeding us with really tasty organic food.

The House’s namesake crop of garlic, is the biggest and easiest one to grow. Once you’ve tried home-grown garlic, you’ll never want a shop bought clove again. William and I spend weeks washing each bulb and then plaiting them into strings which hang all around the ‘stoep’, keeping the vampires at bay (mozzies don’t mind them at all, contrary to all the herb-lore)! My potatoes are really special, having brought the original seeds from Germany years ago before I knew it was not actually a good thing to do. They are a very yellow and firm variety which have unbelievable flavor.

Garlic House produce for dinner. Fish caught by us at Quora Mouth

Fish caught by us at Quora Mouth, Transkei, Eastern Cape.

Each season brings it’s work and crops of strawberries, artichokes and asparagus bring it all on in spring. Then the pumpkins start coming up in the compost heap and do their own thing. I’ve realized, the best pumpkins come from their own choice of when and where to grow and planting their seeds has never amounted to much! Actually, my whole garden is really about this self-seeding haven; so many plants are so much stronger when they grow where they want to. Tomatoes, parsley, dill, spinach, wild rocket, leeks, German “Feldsalat” (a delicious winter salad leaf) all have to be weeded out to give space for their neighbours to grow.

A Garlic House dinner from sea and garden, cooked..

A Garlic House dinner from sea and garden, cooked..

I know there’s nothing unique about making a garden from scratch with just one helper (twice a week) but only those of you who give your time to doing this will understand the rewards, the soul food and comfort, the peace and joy that one receives. And then, to top it all, I get to share it with guests who come to stay in my B&B wing – The Bluegum Cottage!

Now, the fun can get even better as I start to offer dinners to guests using this produce, so watch this space and come for dinner!

*William Novasi has a link on this website, showing his lamps made from wild olive twigs. See

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The Question of Light: Tilda Swinton’s speech at the Rothko Chapel

Conner Habib

tildaBelow is the only place to read Tilda Swinton’s moving and radiant speech at the Rothko Chapel in Texas.  

Why do I have it?  A brief explanation.

Last year, actress Tilda Swinton was presented with the Rothko Chapel Visionary Award at the The Rothko Chapel, which is home to fourteen of Mark Rothko’s paintings.  It’s also a spiritual and human rights center whose mission is “to inspire people to action through art and contemplation, to nurture reverence for the highest aspirations of humanity, and to provide a forum for global concerns.”

One of her friends (writer William Middleton, mentioned in the unabridged version of the speech) sent the speech along to me and my boyfriend.  We read it aloud to each other, we paused, we marveled at the wisdom: art and light and compassion.  Then we read it again, inspired by its unfolding grace.  

When I tried to…

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Kitty Schneider – featured artist in Matie group exhibition

Kitty Schneider – featured artist in Matie group exhibition.

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On May 18th 2014 a Pale Chanting Goshawk came to rest in my ancient bluegum tree. He sat there for at least an hour, silently contemplating everything (or nothing?). He wasn’t at all bothered by the dogs and mePale Chanting Goshawk 18May 2014 Garlic House Smithfield underneath him in the garden, though he did keep his beady eye on us all. What a treat.

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