Christmas in July is becoming ever popular! When South Africans celebrate Christmas it’s on a HOT, SUMMERY day and the whole spirit of Christmas is spent in the sun, normally at the pool, eating cold meats and salads!
So, to celebrate Christmas in July is a great way in mid-Winter to the enjoy company of others & a great meal indoors. We chose this year to go to the Montagu Country Hotel and what an excellent choice!
We left the city on Friday 20th July and headed through the Du Toitskloof tunnel to Worcester and onto the Nuy Valley. Our first stop was Nuy on the Hill. Of course, we were offered tasting of 5 of their wines, and who could resist – a lovely way to start our weekend away! After this a lovely lunch getting to know the new ladies on tour. Great excitement in the air – next stop is a ‘compulsory’ stop whenever in Robertson is a stop at the ON Route 62 wine deli, owned by Tommy Foulkes. Tommy always offers free wine tasting but believe it or not, this time it was turned down by the group (after Nuy tasting).! We chatted a while and left the shop with a bag of oranges – always something Tommy does – you never leave his shop empty-handed.
Next stop was Springfield where Linda left with two cases of her favourite wine and we headed onto Ashton and to Zandvliet. Carol had recently visited this estate and considered it worthy of a second visit!
The ladies all explored the basement with the unusual art exhibition before enjoying a Gin and Tonic served with orange slices – WOW – what a fabulous combination! Their Clemengold Gin is fabulous! They have large citrus orchards on the property all under cover and export much of their crop. This is a fabulous exciting estate with much more to come. They will be finished their accommodation and new restaurant in 2019 and certainly worthy of another visit!
Our final stop was the Montagu Country Hotel where it’s always SO good to see familiar faces! Fabulous welcome with a sherry on the table waiting for the group. We all met in the bar at 18h30 and enjoyed ‘another’ drink before a delicious dinner!
Potato & Leek Soup
Smoked Salmon salad OR Mushroom Delight
Burgundy Beef OR Roast Leg of Lamb
Cape Brandy pudding OR Crushed Pineapple Fridge Tart
After all this, we certainly needed to JOG around the block, except we all crawled into bed quite early. A very full, happy day!!!
Saturday dawned and six of the ladies were heading to the Protea Farm for their fabulous tractor ride. We arrived at just after 09h30 and waited until 10h00 until the tractor starts up and gets on its journey. The whole Burger family is involved in this business and it was great to see Old Man Burger who previously used to drive the tractor, standing waving us Good-Bye! Little did we know that it was his magic trick – as the tractor passes him, he turns on sprays which give you a ‘wet’ good-bye. This tractor ride is a ‘must-do’ in the Montagu area – my goodness you climb to a distance higher than Table Mountain and at one stage you are literally above the clouds covering Montagu and Robertson below. (1500m above sea level) – these tractor trips started in 1985 and are legendary – producing little surprises along the way! One stop which was great was overlooking the Koo valley when 4 of our group decided with others to walk up the hill! We collected them later – Yvonne was the bravest of all sitting up front on the tractor with some new friends she’d made! Fabulous views from there BUT cold. The coldest part was on top of the mountain where the views are magnificent – it’s here that we all started singing “I’m on the Top of the Hill looking out over creation” – WHAT A VIEW!!
You then head to the little hikers’ hut where a glass of sherry quickly warms your soul and some of the famous dried fruit of the valley is served. The tractor then slowly meanders back down the mountain and 2 ½ hours later you’re back at the start! This tractor ride is definitely something you can do over-and-over – testament to the fact, that it’s my 5th time and I’ll never tire of it.
Back down in Montagu, we collected the ladies who had been doing other things whilst we were up the mountain. Caroline and Christine who had ‘done’ the museums of Montagu ; Linda who had a massage at the Spa ; and Lindy and Sylvia who ‘did’ the Saturday morning market and browsed Montagu finding the dried fruit shop to stock up on produce to take home.
We all enjoyed lunch at The Orchard. All we ever seem to do on these trips is EAT, DRINK and ENJOY the company of others. What could be better.
A compulsory ‘ironing-of-sheets’ was suggested and no-one declined! After all we had the Christmas in July party at 18h30 to ‘get-ready-for’
We all met in the second lounge with its baby grand piano and there was much laughter and frivolity. The ladies were ALL so grand in their Great Gatsby gear. So much so that in the few days after our tour on the Montagu Country Hotel facebook page – Gert Lubbe their owner, had this to say about us all!
Gert Lubbe “Ag dit was net ‘n plesier om julle “darlings” so beautifully dressed up te hê!!” You all looked fabulous!
The dining room was already full when we made our Grand Entrance! A German lady at the table next to ours was so taken by us all that she insisted on taking photos of us all, she is used to Christmas with snow and couldn’t quite fathom this Christmas in what she called HOT weather!
A 4-course dinner followed
French Onion Soup OR West Coast Mussels
Roasted Smoked Pork Belly OR Duck Prosciutto
Roasted smoked Rabbit OR Beef Fillet
Spiced Brandy Poached apple
Top marks to the chef and his team. To Gert, for arranging some light-hearted entertainment in the form of a mime artist, who made us all laugh and even gave Sylvia his false eye lashes after his performance. Then the music started, and it was fun to dance a few numbers to work the food off!
After 11h00 we all decided enough-is-enough, and our beds called.
We had a ‘late’ breakfast on Sunday – easing ourselves into the New Day! After breakfast we headed to McGregor a lovely short 20km. Most of the ladies took themselves into the Temenos gardens and when we all met up again were raving about the peace of the place and saying they could definitely come back to experience more.
A delicious lunch ended our long weekend away. Tebaldi’s Restaurant is certainly worthy of the many excellent reviews – one for you to read –
‘What a charming restaurant, set in beautiful gardens. Warm and friendly hosts, good service, excellent food at reasonable prices and being winter a warm fire’.
By 14h15 we headed out of McGregor (The sleeping hamlet!) and headed back to the chaos of Sunday traffic headed back to the city. Shuttles were waiting to take everyone home again.
Christmas in July is soon (I’m sure) to become a regular tour!
It’s the Friends we Meet Along the Way
That help us Enjoy the Journey
The off kilter photos will be corrected shortly!