CHECKING IN

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Proteas, South Africa’s national flower, cost two a penny here in Cape Town, where I’m spending some of my winter, sourcing the new ADORNjewellery collection and homeware collection, as well as doing some relaxing and getting LOTS of mani- pedicures! Such luxury. My fingernails only ever grow when I’m away from the workshop ... no pins to pull out!

I spent a week earlier in February away with Binky (my host) in Kwazulu Natal, at the other end of the country, visiting several beadworking groups in Durban, then off to ‘the Bush’ about 3 hours north of Durban, to visit some of Binky’s basket-weaving groups. The whole visit was so stimulating, as it always is when you get together and brainstorm with creative people. I think that’s the part of my trip that does me the most good each year; minimal admin/humdrum and maximum inspiration.

The basket-weavers made a huge impression on me. They are unassuming, simple people, living on their plots of land in the traditional Zulu way, with their round huts, open fires, with cattle and chickens running around, producing these beautiful pieces of art, with a ‘no biggie’ attitude that is more than humbling. I watched in fascination as they built fires under big black cauldrons, adding natural dyes and the ilala palm, stirring it around until the colour had taken. Then laying it on the grass to dry, sorting and splitting it, then sitting on their woven mats, knotting a few strands together and then off they went, weaving a unique piece of basketry, just like that, no machinery, just the palm and a sharp knife for trimming the ends. It doesn’t get more purist than that.

During this part of our trip we stayed in a small lodge in a wildlife park, and were treated to zebras as night-time visitors, nyala and impala grazing just outside our bedroom doors, and we spied the odd duiker now and again. On a day trip to a more remote area to meet two master weavers, I was nearly beside myself as we drove pas ambling elephants. Such a privelege to be around these animals. Not bad for a business trip!

Then back to Cape Town to find my photographer had sent me all the photos from the photoshoot we did the day before I left Lagrasse for SA, so it was full steam ahead to update the website. Which is done, finally! I do it myself (economy oblige) and because it’s only twice a year, I more or less forget from one session to the next exactly how it works, so it’s always a bit of a struggle at the beginning, but then my brain kicks in to logical mode and off I go. I’m pretty pleased with it this season, and very pleased with the photos. I hope you’ll take a look (you know the address).

I’m busy packing up boxes to send to myself in France, full of lovely baskets and other things for the homeware collection ... if I get them off this week they should arrive just after I’m back in Lagrasse. Binky has an exhibition this week in Cape Town centre, and 2 open days on Friday and Saturday, so it’s all hands to the deck to try and make some room inbetween the zillions of baskets in her showroom.

And now I have to go off for a manicure. Sending you all lots of sun and warmth, and warm wishes.

Beverly xx