Art Studio and Life #27 featuring artworks and painting

I am late putting up my blog this week, as my computer has been getting slower and slower and eventually fell over.

Our eldest has just passed his road theory test. He kept saying he didn’t want/need to learn to drive, that he could just walk or use public transport. Turns out, he was terrified of the theory test because of being dyslexic. I get it, because I was so petrified about both the theory and practical driving tests that I only got my licence when I was 25. I can’t tell you how beyond grateful I was to get it, and to never have to do a driving test ever again.

Then we moved to New Zealand, and I. Had. To. Do. A. Practical. Driving. Test. AGAIN. Within a year of arriving….

 Eeeesh! Aaaagh! (and sundry other verbal expressions of dismay).

Anyway, I passed it, thanks be to God! So once the penny dropped about what was stopping him, we reassured and coaxed him, told him he could fail twenty times, and each time he tried, we would take him out for a consoling milkshake, before he braced himself to try again. He got 100% the first time! Milkshake plus burgers! (I think we don’t tell our children (or ourselves) often enough that we are allowed to fail. It is certainly a requirement of a creative life.)

And now it’s hard to get him out from behind the wheel. Teaching him to drive is definitely less nerve wracking in NZ than it would be in Africa. One of the things I love about New Zealand is that people drive at or below the speed limit. Concept.

When we first moved here, the general speed limit of 50km per hour and top of 100km p/h felt like crawling along. Now it feels comfortable, and definitely gives one more reaction time. In Southern Africa the general speed limit is 60, top 120. If you drive at 60 in the suburbs in Botswana, people grumpily overtake you, and on the highway, many drivers seem to view the limit if 120 as a general guideline, cruising at 130/150 to get to the distant cattle post, and this despite the fact that goals, cattle, donkeys, buck and elephant may stroll across the road at any time.

In Zimbabwe, an orange light means go faster, a red light means go faster still, and a green light means slow right down and wait for the red light speedsters to get through. Overtaking is a creative challenge, you may overtake on the right, the left, and drive up onto either pavement if you are really in a hurry. Pedestrians and cyclists need the reaction time of impala when lions are around.

Zebra Crossing (120 x 60cm)

And as for zebra crossings, people actually stop for pedestrians in NZ! There are pedestrian crossings in Southern Africa, but Kiwis traveling to Africa please note: NO ONE WILL STOP FOR YOU. If you think they will, you will get very upset, but don’t worry, it won’t bother you for long, because you will be dead. That is why we Africans are masterful jaywalkers – we have been trained to dash across the road during miniscule gaps in traffic.

Since I am feeling all homesick now, I am showing you some of my African art.

This painting recently winged its way to the UK to the home of some dear friends that we first met in Zimbabwe BC (Before Children).

We Three Kings

Young adult male elephants leave the matriarchal herd when they become teenagers, and live by themselves, or band together for varying periods of time, in unstable small herds. They wrestle to figure out who is the boss, and then, once they have figured out the pecking order, travel in a group. (Any similarities with human teenagers?) If one of them goes into musth, he gets all grumpy and hormonal and heads off on his own to look for women. That is the time when they are most likely to get annoyed with passing tourists, and overturn, or squash their car.

These three big boys hung out together in Botswana, eating as they walked, with a mandatory evening stop for a refreshing 100 litre drink.

Very homesick now…

So, this weekend, may you pass any tests you have! May you drive safely! And may you enjoy any wildlife and birds in your environs. (and, note to self, may you not be jealous of those who live near elephants!) 

Xx Barbie


  1. Daniel Button

    It’s us!! We are the ‘dear friends’ who knew Bruce and Barbie way back when… (BC – before children – gosh, it’s been 20 years) and FINALLY bought one of her beautiful paintings – The Three Kings – 3 bull elephants. We love it, suits our home perfectly.
    Thanks Barbie.

    Sorry this is so late and no one will read it now, but at least I’ve posted it at long last. 🙂

    • Barbara Podmore

      Thanks Dan! Better late than never in this case, as in many others.