Two flights carried 10 people to the Eastern Cape on Tuesday 16th October – to a world of absolute peace and beauty! To a world where we ‘touched base’ with the friendliest people – to a world where we met new people, and all had a wonderful experience!
The Cape Town flight was, in fact, delayed 45 minutes which meant a late arrival in Port Elizabeth, which in turn meant we only got on the road to Hogsback at just before 14:00. Then, we hit several STOP ‘N GO’ road construction sites, and only eventually arrived in Hogsback by about 18:30. A looooong day!
Checking into our lovely forest cottages was, indeed, great, and once we had sorted out the luggage, everyone soon chilled and were ready for dinner at about 19:45 (a bit later that we wanted to – but who cares? We are all on holiday!).
On waking on Wednesday there was rain – and it looked like it had rained very hard overnight. This resulted in an early call to Ann who is from the Hogsback Garden Club and was our hostess for the first morning.
Well she said – “Carol, I’m ready, raincoat and wellington boots on – nothing must spoil your time in our area”. Well, how right she was – we started our first garden in drizzle and this had cleared and gone by the time we were ready to head out to the next garden. We looked at MISTLEA first – Oh My Goodness – Paradise on Earth.
In fact, Ann said she had taken an old man on tour through this garden and he said to her “I don’t need to die and go to heaven – I’m already here.!”
We then had a walking detour through BACK ‘O MOON to HURRY (the access road to Hurry was completely closed off as mud made it impassable!!) HURRY is another very special garden – we were even privileged to meet the owner and his wife. Thanks to Ann and Elsa from Hogsback who did our guided tour.
After lunch at Butterfly Bistro, we were all raring to go again and go we did – HIDDEN AWAY (A gem of a garden). Carol of the Hogsback Garden Club did this tour!
Wednesday evening saw us heading up the Bluff area to The Mountain Table where Angus met us with such a friendly greeting! Laurent our chef for the evening was busy in the kitchen and boy what a fabulous dinner we had! Candle lit table decorated with fabulous flowers from the garden – oh we all felt so privileged being in their home, enjoying a dinner par excellence – what a fabulous place – AND when they wheeled our dessert into the dining area and flamed it with Cointreau – it was as if we were in the best 5* restaurant in Cape Town!
With a menu such as this – no wonder we did!
Chicken fillet flambeed with brandy and dressed with a tarragon cream sauce, served with asparagus and a polenta cake, baked with onions, cheddar, Parmesan and parsley. A very tasty dish.
Baked Alaska in Swiss Meringue flambé with Cointreau
On Thursday we headed up to THE LITTLE TIMBERS property where we had a fabulous walk-about in their little piece of heaven! Some of us went down to the lake to do a walk-about – & we were so very glad we had managed to do this as well, in our allotted time!
We were then taken on a walk about of the NUTWOODS GARDEN, which is also special – and this tour was made even more special because we had Neil Boyle to do the tour. After our garden tour it was Gin and Soda and Cucumber for a few / with white wine to cool others, whilst Atilla served us a decadent lunch
A lovely chicken, cheese cream sauce pancake with salad and a trio of puds!
In the afternoon we met Trevor Webster up at the Church on the Hill where for an hour he enthralled us with history stories! Fabulous to spend time with this man who has such a passion for Hogsback.
In the evening seven of us went down to the Butterfly Bistro where we enjoyed a light dinner and got to know each other even better.
Friday morning dawned, and it was time to head out of Hogsback to Bedford. We arrived at our first few gardens which form part of the Cowie Valley route. We started at Cavers – totally awesome and a good place to enjoy lunch on their patio! Then it was onto Glen Gregor – another beautiful garden – it was like paradise. Then we headed to Donkerhoek where they grow food gracefully. The farm is almost self-sufficient; tea and cream scones are legendary in this fabulous garden!
Late afternoon we headed out to our accommodation which is the Angler and Antelope in Somerset East – 61km from Bedford. We were warmly welcomed by Annabelle and Alan and after settling in, went to their restaurant and bar which is in the Old Catholic Church! A fabulous meal was served.
On Saturday, after breakfast we headed back to Bedford where we started off at the Maasstrom Garden – this inspiring garden made me want to get my secateurs out to cut roses for the vase! It’s a long time since I’ve seen so many different species of roses, all beautifully flowering! A visit to the NG Kerk to their market and the shoppers amongst us were content. Flowers and quilts at the Presbyterian Church with a fabulous display of flowers done by children, made us all very happy. This was followed by a visit to SA Rosarium followed by a few going off to the Township to visit gardens whilst the remaining sat in the gardens of the Duke of Bedford Hotel and ordered lunch.
What a pity that Bedford had so many gardens on show and our time was limited but we did manage to get to Albertvale after lunch , where we arrived just as Kim was about to give her walk-about over her sprawling farm garden. Two of us got great joy photographing a baby lamb calling for its mommy!
This brought us to about 16:30 and we went along a gravel road which took us via Cookhouse, back to Somerset East.
Dinner tonight was with Janet Telian who has had a fabulous career in cooking at many top restaurants in South Africa. She has worked in Johannesburg at Harridans and Pomegranate (both well known) and then came to live in Cape Town and opened Savoy Cabbage with her partner, Caroline Bagley. What a delicious dinner she produced for us.
A two-course dinner of Smoked Salmon Salad / or Medallion of Beef Fillet garnished with a Quenelle of shredded shin braised in wine with vegetables / or Chicken Breast with Lemon & Rosemary sauce with Vegetables. The Piece de Resistance was the dessert – a coffee Pavlova, homemade yoghurt ice cream served with warm berries! We felt so spoilt and well-fed when we left her home.
We were so lucky to meet Ros Turner who runs the Walter Battiss Art Museum in town and thrilled when she volunteered to open it for us on Sunday morning! What a treat to learn to understand this brilliant artist a little bit better.
After this, sadly the end of tour was upon us – as the old saying goes –
ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END
But I believe we all know that
IT’S THE FRIENDS WE MEET ALONG THE WAY THAT MAKE US ENJOY THE JOURNEY!