The Cape of Good Hope – Day 8 (Saturday)

Tuesday 1 November 2011: 5 years 2 months on … Advantage CBD 

The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
   
Saturday                                         Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)
 

Sunday morning                                Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 8 – Saturday 8 October 2011

Planning to do “The Mountain Trip” this morning, we were scheduled to arrive at Protea Farm at 09h00.

We could not get accommodation there as they were full. So we were booked in right next door at Oak Tree Cottages for the weekend.

It was a short trip to Protea Farm. Upon arrival, we checked in and took our places on the back of the trailer. Some 40 other people took up the remaining seats on our trailer and tractor, and another combination of tractor and trailer was filled with another forty plus people.

All of us were headed for the top of the Langeberg Mountain. At a height of some 1500m above sea-level, we would eventually be at an elevation one and a half times that of Cape Town’s world-famous Table Mountain.

And we would get there towed up on a man-made road (in parts double concrete tracks) by a tractor.

We had been warned by sms on Friday that we should bring warm clothing. However, it was a picture-perfect day and the temperature was warm, even at the top.

As we slowly ascended, and stopped every now and then to take in the views and eat the apples, the Koo Valley slowly receded into the distance way down below us. And, as we went up, the vista became wider and wider.

We could see more and more of the Overberg around us, the blue mountains that surrounded us, the green valleys way below us, the myriad of farm dams – some with brown muddy water and others with crystal-clear clear blue water – and the green fynbos and bright orange and red proteas carpeting the entire area.

It was yet another picture from God’s collection of postcards of Planet Earth.

Eventually, from the very top, we could see from Worcester in the west through McGregor in the south to Montagu in the east, and Robertson right at our feet 1500m way down below us.

Fresh mountain water on tap right at the summit quenched our thirst. And we went on to the stone hiking hut, where we were given a glass of Montagu muscadel and some dried fruit.

Then the trip down – at about one o’clock we arrived at the bottom at the beautiful lunch area in the woods.

Juice and wine with stokbrood, roosterbrood, fresh bread, farm butter, home-made jams, lamb, potjiekos, curry, baked vegetables, rice, ice-cream, baked pudding, fruit salad, and seconds and more seconds, and thirds … whatever gaps their may have been in our tummies were quickly filled with the most delicious of South African home cuisine – lekker boerekos! (nice farm food).

We headed for home at the Cottage filled with food and the wonders of Nature in all her glory.

But we were on a roll, and the holiday was fast coming to an end – we couldn’t sit still; so off we headed back to Montagu’s thermal springs and the warm water baths. (The waters spew out of the earth at a temperature of 44 degrees C.)

I don’t think any of us were prepared for the masses of people that we encountered there. Barely a square centimetre was available for us to squeeze in to lie on the lawn or to get into the warm water of the pools.

But once in the water, it was difficult to get out. I must say that even on a balmy spring day, I really enjoyed being in that warm water (with being being the correct verb. There was no doing word, because it was almost impossible to do anything more, or even move). There was definitely no room to swim in this Inn.

Our holiday had ended on a warm note.

We returned to the Cottage and prepared packing so as to get off to an early start on Sunday morning. It was a case of “Early to bed, early to rise … “

Port Elizabeth beckoned.

The Cape of Good Hope: Day 7 (Friday)

Monday 31 October 2011 (Halloween): 5 years 1 month on … Advantage CBD 

The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
    

Friday                                            Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)

Saturday                                         Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)

Sunday morning                              Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 7 – Friday 7 October 2011

Our trip back to Port Elizabeth was scheduled to commence on Friday. However, we planned to take a leisurely drive and to stop over in Montagu for the weekend. The Ridgways were to accompany us and to act as our tour guide. Unfortunately, it was “month-end” in the accounts department at the Mount Nelson Hotel and Michelle could not go. So Sebastian and almost one-year old Hannah did. (It was amazing to see Sebastian look after Hannah – I never was such a good father!)

After packing and saying goodbye to our flat and The Strand, we left, as scheduled, at 08h30 and headed through Stellenbosch, Paarl, the N1 north through the Huguenot Tunnel and on to our first stop in the Slanghoek Valley outside Rawsonville.

The farm OPSTAL is owned by Stanley and Ria Louw. Stanley was at Stellenbosch University with me when I was an undergraduate student. He was also in Helshoogte and served on the House Committee. He is married to Thomas Moolman’s sister Ria (we had been staying in Thomas’s flat in The Strand.)

Rawsonville has special memories for me. I visited the Moolmans often there (and at their caravan in Gordons Bay when they camped during the summer holidays). I also spoke at Thomas and Marzeth’s wedding in the church hall in 1983 and it was the town where my very first brand new car was written off on a trip back home from Infantry School in Oudtshoorn when I was doing my military service.

But I had not yet visited Opstal.

So we stopped over for breakfast – a big farm one! – and our first wine tasting of the day. Unfortunately, Stanley was in Worcester and we did not get to see him. However, in the midst of preparing for a weekend Slanghoek Valley Wine Festival, we were graciously hosted by Ria.

It set the tone for the rest of the day (as can be seen from the photographs accompanying these blogs!)

Our next stop was the Klipdrift Brandy distillers in Robertson – “met ys!”- and then on to the wine farms along the Breede River valley between Robertson and Bonnivale.

Farm after farm, wine after wine, sip after sip and taste after taste, we moved through the valley and through the wines – the dry and the semi-sweet whites through the rosés and the red Cabernets and Pinotages, and all the other special wines and the cheeses, too, where available!

We visited Bon Courage, Van Loeveren, Excelsior. I’m not sure if it’s the wine or the CBD that makes the names fade into oblivion now.

Each farm has something special – that little extra thing to make it unique – whether it be a cheese platter, a snack, a river cruise, or a donkey cart.

Sean, Phill and I especially enjoyed the opportunity at Excelsior to blend and bottle our own wine – Excelsior Our Own Creation! The challenge now is do we keep it or drink it!

 

Bacchus would have been proud of us. The day moved into a haze of splendour and by late afternoon, it was time to head off to the Spar in Montagu and stock up on provisions for our braai at our overnight weekend guest house in the Koo Valley, north of Montagu.

What a spectacular valley that has escaped me, and I guess many others, all these years.

Most of us, I would imagine, are familiar with the name Koo and Langeberg – being the brand names of canned fruit and vegetables that have graced our kitchens over the years and that we all have eaten somewhere along the line.

Langeberg, of course, means “long mountain”. It’s the range that runs parallel to the Indian Ocean coast all the way from Robertson to Swellendam and beyond. The Koo (Khoisan for “cold”) is a valley between these mountains and the next range that forms the border with the Great Karoo. The road that runs through it links the R62 at Montagu with the N1 at Touws River. It is in this valley that we find the fruit and vegetables that go into those cans!

The scenery is magnificent, and would become even more clear to us on the following day when we ascended the mountain.

In the meantime, in the quietness of the setting sun and the darkening sky, we braaied in front of our cottage at Oak Guest Cottages, and called it an early evening! Saturday belonged to Protea Farm.