When planning a Spring Flower tour you have to take into account the weather you are about to have! With Smartphones and the Up-to-date weather planning that is available today, it becomes a whole lot easier to ‘negotiate’ a tour.
We left on Wednesday in inclement weather with a few drops of rain en route to the West Coast National Park. Arriving by about 10h30 we still had overcast cloudy weather! However, this did not deter the enthusiasm of the people in the coach. We spent a good hour and a half ambling through the flowers; enjoying the healthy animals in the background of the park as well!! Of course, the vantage point where one can overlook Langebaan is always good and this was enjoyed by us all. (The sun shone through here for a brief moment)
Lunch was enjoyed at Geelbek Restaurant and the meals were delicious! Mid afternoon saw us all heading to Paternoster and we settled into aH Guesthouse where we were warmly welcomed by Arnold and Annelise. A short rest and then a short drive around Paternoster before sundowners in the famous Panty Bar at the Paternoster Hotel, and everyone was in excellent ‘spirits’ when we went back to aH Guesthouse for dinner.
Arnold is a chef extra-ordinaire –
• Starter of quail stuffed with chicken/mushroom/bacon and tarragon resting on mushroom risotto served with basil pesto and truffle oil…….
• This was followed by a salad of Gorzonzola/ labnah/ grana padano/fresh beetroot and pear salad with crushed sesame/sunflower seeds/ dried pomegranate/cashew with fennel brittle served with a soya, sesame and mustard vinaigrette.
• We then enjoyed locally farmed fillet of Kabeljou Moroccan style served with Moroccan style roast vegetables and a sweet corn fritter resting on gingered sweet potato puree.
• Dessert was a granadilla and butterscotch tartlet and flourless chocolate cake served with frozen orange and white chocolate mousse resting on caramelised white chocolate and granadilla curd ice-cream resting on a lightly salted cashew shortbread and vanilla ‘sand’.
“Sublime Flavour” – “Oh my goodness what food” were the comments – absolutely fabulous meal.
Next morning breakfast was an even more different decadent meal – who ever eats a cheese soufflé coupled with dessert for breakfast….?? Absolutely so very different!
We took our leave of Ah Guesthouse and headed up the R27, branching off at Velddrif – and eventually arriving in Clanwilliam for lunch at our usual Nancy’s Tea Room. A short stop at Ramskop and of course, the new Rooibos Tea Shop and we arrived in Nieuwoudtville at about 5.00 pm and checked into the De Lande Farm. Dinner is served every night at 7.00 pm and is always a three course meal. The hospitality at this farm is exceptional and Mariette is always on hand to make sure everyone is comfortable and enjoying the farm.
Early next morning after breakfast we headed out to the Matjiesfontein farm almost opposite De Lande. A short time in their shop saw all the ladies purchasing a beanie and when we were warm we headed onto their farmlands for a drive to see wonderful fields of flowers! We arrived on the Papkuilsfontein Farm by 12h00 and placed our orders for lunch. A few of us took a stroll to see the sheep being sheared. Lunch is always fantastic at Die Waenhuis and Alrie and her mom can be justifiably proud.
Willem has a new open vehicle which he now uses for his tours and this provides a good vantage point for viewing the flowers. We ambled through his fields and got on-and-off a few times to actually meander through the flowers. He then took us to the waterfall which is such an impressive sight……….late afternoon and we all headed back to De Lande for a short rest before dinner. Lamb features on the menu every night and their chef Amanda is well known for her roast potatoes!! (Even the Greenwood Guides Book mentions this!!)
Saturday morning and our party visited Willemsrivier Farm – this is originally the ‘old Nieuwoudtville’ town and the 7th generation owners who now live there have opened up the old jail ((now a museum) ; graveyard; old church (now a store room) to the public. We spent a wonderful hour browsing and thanks to Erika for telling us all about her collection in the new museum!
Leaving the farm we drove to the Quiver Tree Forest where we had to ‘hug-a-tree’ – this is compulsory in the Nieuwoudtville area and after this we spent a bit of time ‘gathering’ at the annual church bazaar before we had a light lunch at Smidswinkel restaurant in town.
The highlight of our afternoon was undoubtedly a visit to Hantam Botanical Garden where they have now acquired an open type viewing vehicle. Eugene has such incredible passion about the area and his tour is fantastic. We ventured out of the Hantam park because of incredible winds (quite cool) and drove along the road to Calvinia to the Hantam gardens behind the Municipal property. We were blessed with sightings of Satynblomme ; A full field of Orange Bulbenilla ; and several birds of note. What an afternoon – and something that will remain with us all for a long time to come.
Sadly all too soon we had to leave Nieuwoudtville but there was such a cold wind that it was almost a blessing that we were heading home. Flower viewing would not have been pleasant at all today.
A short stop in the Van Ryns Pass with views to die for and we headed onto the N7 with the road upgrade in full swing and plenty of “Stop-and-go” points. Oh dear after 9 stop and goes it does get a bit irritating!
We however decided to take the R364 which links Clanwilliam to Elands Bay and eventually Velddrif (a far better alternative to the busy N7) – and we arrived at the Draaihoek Lodge who had prepared a traditional Sunday roast Lamb / Chicken pie lunch for us!
The tour was wonderful – the group of 7 thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and many a laugh was heard day-by-day! We all decided “Laughter is the Best Medicine” and felt so very relaxed and happy when we reached the city late afternoon!!