The Road to Ladybrand

There is a long gentle uphill road from the border post at Maseru to the main road in to Bloemfontein. And people usually bustle their way on. but there is this tantalising turn-off to the right a couple of kms from the border, onto a dirt road. Long ago I took the turn off and found a pretty route that followed the Caledon river for distance before turning away to head towards Ladybrand. The road passes through some valleys between sandstone topped hills.

There is one particular place where the road descends and crosses and stream before going up and around a hill. The road is lined in places with Apricot trees. Maybe it is due to the fact that I have usually completed an intense consulting job when I take the road, but it just feels like a holiday.

And what better way to celebrate a holiday than to sit and do a painting.
Over the years I have painted the same scene in different seasons. And here is a record of my work.

The local farmers make fence posts out of the local sandstone and here is one of the first paintings I did of one of those fence posts:


Maseru is just across the valley.

There is a termite mound I like to sit on. It is not very comfortable and I perch there holding my water-box and paint box (holding together the lid and palette) and holding the page on which I am working. Man! Those are the days I urge myself to get organised!!!

That fence post is just below the hill in the above photo.
But I really like sitting on that termite mound to paint this view above.

Quite often I would be there in Winter and these are the watercolor paintings I did:





And here is a summer painting, after a good rainy season:


Here is the painting I did at the start of 2018.  I had a meeting with my client in the morning and so hit the backup at the border post.  It took me two hours to get through.  And I knew it would take me two hours to get to Bloemfontein to catch my flight to Cape Town.  So I literally had ten minutes to do do this little painting, listening to field larks and the sounds drifting over the Caledon river from Maseru.


Here is a painting capturing the change in seasons.  the poplars are still grey, the turpentine grass in the foreground is a rich red and the bushes in the middleground are sweet green:


And here is a painting I did from the other side of the hill, looking back to this position.  Another Winter painting.  I just love the huge copses of poplar trees.  I would love to camp there – though this would be a bit risky I think.


The notch in the mountain in the top-right of the mountain is very characteristic.  I can see the same hill from the hotel I sometimes stay in in Maseru.


While I paint on my termite mound I am always aware of what is going on around me.   Once I had a guy walking up to me from across the fields to ask for money.  Intuitively I felt danger so I asked him if he wanted to be in a photograph of the scene.  He was keen so I asked him to go and stand in the middle ground.  Then I said “back, back back”  and then when I thought he was far enough I waved goodbye, grabbed my painting kit and hopped into my hire car and headed off to Ladybrand.











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