The winter of 2015 has been exceptionally cold in the Cape with not very much rain This has had an impact on the Spring Flower season. Our tour was booked for mid-August as always and 5 of us set off on Wednesday 12th August on a grey, rainy & cloudy day. We reached the West Coast National Park at about 11h00. Nothing seemed different here – also grey and rainy. However, ambling along the road there was an air of anticipation.
A cup of tea at our first stop down at the sea is always a favorite – this was followed by our drive through Postberg (only open during the flower season). There were flowers but because the sun wasn’t shining, a little disappointing. However, the views from the top of the hill overlooking Langebaan and their wonderful healthy animals made everyone feel very happy. Lunch at Geelbek before we headed to Paternoster was very good.
Checking in to old friends at the aH Guesthouse and everyone was indeed very comfortable. Dinner tonight was at the Voorstrandt Restaurant. Most chose seafood with delicious desserts afterwards – the Bar One Cheesecake being a favorite!
Breakfast at aH Guesthouse is always SO very special. There was fresh fruit with yoghurt. This was followed by a baked egg dish with asparagus rolled in bacon with baby tomatoes. The absolute treat was a brioche with vanilla ice cream, topped with honey and a bit of yoghurt – a decadent way to start the day!
We headed through Velddrif (now in more rain) and so when a coffee stop at Draaihoek Lodge was suggested, it was welcomed! Our coffee with miniature gingerbread men was a lovely addition. We arrived in Clanwilliam just before lunch. Nancy’s restaurant has always been an excellent choice. A little shopping in town before we headed along the N7 en route to Nieuwoudtville! A customary stop at the Klawer Wine Estate coupled with a tasting of their wines and everyone was happy.
Arrival in Nieuwoudtville at about 16h30 had us all wondering what everyone does in this one-horse-town………when you have experienced the warmth of the people you know exactly why everyone comes-back-time-and-again!! We arrived at De Lande farm, our accommodation for the next 3 nights and were warmly welcomed by Mariette van Wyk. She runs this 4 bedroomed guest house coupled with Jan Voorman’s cottage (another 2 bedroomed unit 50 metre from the main house) along with very efficient staff. We were told to unpack and be back by 18h30 for drinks around the fire followed by dinner at 19h00. The meals are very capably handled by Amanda Jones who lives in Paternoster and every year does the cooking for De Lande. What a veritable feast every night. Three courses and every night just as delicious as the night before! Everyone slept well on this night in the very comfortable beds with electric blankets and wall mounted heaters at strategic places.
Early on Friday morning we woke to another grey, cloudy day…….this did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. After a large breakfast we were ready to go ‘flower hunting’!! First stop was the Matjiesfontein Padstal – we were taken on a short walk to see their “Katjie-Piering” (cup-and-saucer) flowers which had started flowering – the people in this area are so very proud of their amazing bulbs. A drive through the Matjiesfontein flower reserve had us viewing some very good patches of flowers. The highlight of every tour is a visit to the Waenhuis restaurant at Papkuilsfontein farm where Alrie, her mother and very efficient staff produced an awesome lunch. Of course, another favorite at Waenhuis is always the hat parade! Amazing how something so very simple turns into an ‘occasion’.
We then all boarded Willem’s Land Rover for our 2 ½ hour tour of his farm. Willem loves his farm and the walk we did down to the waterfall is always a delight.
Another very special dinner tonight – Amanda is to be complemented on the food she prepares – she makes roast-potatoes-to-die-for!! Considering that the nearest shops are well over 90kms away, makes one even more appreciative!
Saturday morning dawned and we had the most beautiful sunrise! An excellent sign!! A clear day with the sun shining! We headed down to the Quiver tree forest! Amazing how very large some of these trees are, how extensive the ‘forest of trees’ is!! It is always a requirement when you’re in this area to hug-a-tree which everyone quickly obliged and did!! I always say it gives you ‘magical qualities’ – no-one has ever argued with me……..Who knows what qualities these trees give a person but being in nature with these trees towering above you, coupled with little flowers of every description at your feel, makes you feel extremely ‘magical’!! Lunch was at the Dutch Reformed Church – every year the local congregation provide a simple meal of soup / savory and sweet pancakes / ‘snackwiches’ / oh yes and their market with homemade jams and gifts to take home is always a welcome addition! After lunch we took to the Rondekop road where it was reported that there were fields of flowers. Indeed everyone was right – amazing patches of yellow – one farmer seems to have the most beautiful display – it was argued in our vehicle that he ‘has’ to cultivate the flowers in front of his house! He has so many more than in the surrounding area.
Then everyone felt like coffee and chocolate cake! A feat for our coach driver, Chris who obliged us all by driving back out to the Waenhuis restaurant (23kms from Nieuwoudtville) where we all knew Alrie has the most amazing homemade cakes. We were not wrong – some had carrot cake ; some had the freshest red velvet cake with meringue topping! Coupled with rooibos tea and coffee and everyone went back to the De Lande farm by about 17h00, knowing that in an hour and a half we would be faced with our 3 course dinner!
Our last supper was no different from others – Sweet potato soup with grated apple; Shoulder of Lamb; A delicious chicken curry with the most awesome vegetables; this was ended with Amanda’s delicious lemon meringue pie. Oh my goodness, when will the diet have to start!!
Sunday morning and breakfast was equally delicious. Cheese scones; fresh fruit salad & yoghurt with bacon, egg, mushrooms, tomato! We were all packed up and ready to leave by 09h30. Ready to start the 405km trip back to Cape Town.
En route to the city we ‘found’ a very good padstalletjie where we stocked up on fresh dates; delicious oranges; – it’s quite amazing how much 5 women can actually gather!!! Outside Clanwilliam there were several patches of the most amazing white daisies. In fact, we said it actually hurt our eyes to see-so-much-white!! Patches of yellow and of course, not forgetting the awesome mountains in the background!!
Lunch was at Piekenierskloof Mountain Lodge – we had pre-ordered – so in no time we had our lunch – lamb; fish and chips or chicken & prawn curry followed by a selection of mini desserts and very soon we were all back in the vehicle to do the last 170km back to the city!
The drive along the N7 is so very beautiful right now – fields and fields of green Lucerne and Canola is such a beauty to behold.