7 Vineyards in 7 Hours

Overlooking Paarl

Overlooking Paarl

The first Saturday of March is the Paarl festival Ommiberg – Round the Rock. It is the festival to welcome in the new wine which is unfiltered wine which looks like cloudy apple juice. Young and fresh – very different. You buy a festival pass and this includes entry to  the event (you can visit any of the 13 vineyards that are participating around Paarl) a stylish tasting glass and free participation of events that are included in each vineyard. Price is 120 rand which is equivalent to about £7.

 

Local Music

Local Music

We decided to start for 10am and go to the vineyards that are situated north of Paarl. We went to Windmeul which did a Farmers Breakfast for 50 rand which is equivalent to £3.50. There they had a farmers market, grape stomping competition and a traditional African band.

 

Stomping Grape Competition

Stomping Grape Competition

We then travelled on to Pederberg which the vineyard’s logo is a zebra. They had large machinery for extracting the grapes. The smell of wine was everywhere. The liveband was more of traditional country music and a market selling food and goods. Here we came across a German couple selling flammkuchen – which said this is not pizza but flammkuchen. Rob spoke in German to them and found out they are architects and have been living in South Africa for 18 years and only did the sellling of flammkuchen as a side business for charity.

Grape Juice Extractor

Grape Juice Extractor

 

Some wineyards were busier than other. Druk-My-Niet was a nice little one. Again owned by a Munich couple and the food they were offering was German traditional sausages . We sat next to an English couple Roger and Pauline who introduced us to quite a few people. They have an olive farm next door and had lived in South Africa a few years after living in Spain for 18 years. They said they loved living in the sun and would never go back to England to the cold. They had travelled quite a bit around Africa – Namibia, Mozembique, Zambia, Tanzania and never had any trouble at all.

Nederburg Manor House

Nederburg Manor House

 

We then proceeded to Nederburg which is a large vineyard where we can find this wine easily in the UK. It has one of the oldest Dutch Cape Manor houses and had beautiful gardens. The history of the farm and its successful farm is owed to yet again a German!

Michelle preparing to stomp

Michelle preparing to stomp

I was persuaded to try some grape stomping. I’d been told that many different nationalities had had a go at this but no-one from England. So I couldn’t let the side down and as they had the facility to wash my feet afterwards I couldn’t say no. I would be stomping unusually in grapes that have a red juice.

Michelle representing England!

Michelle representing England!

Normally red wine is obtained from the skin colour when it is left to contact the juice. These grapes were Rubinet which produces red juice. It was a strange sensation to have my feet in the grapes.

Michelle's foot

Michelle’s foot

They loaded fresh grapes for me to really stomp. It some areas the grapes were really warm.

 

The last vineyard we finished was at Mellasat vineyard. Here you had the opportunity to have a vinotherapy foot massage. Grapes mixed with sea salt with lavender and lemongrass essential oil and massaged with grape oil. Unfortunately there was a little queue so I was unable to have this.

With our friends - Welsh, Thelma and Emille

With our friends – Welsh, Thelma and Emille

 

In the evening we went to our friends house – Welsh and Thelma and their son Emille. Thelma had made a traditional South African Malay curry which was delicious. We had a fun evening and talked about how life is in South Africa.

Our friends

Our friends

http://www.ommiberg.co.za

www.windmeulwinery.co.za

www.perdeberg.co.za

www.rhebokskloof.co.za

http://www.bolandwines.co.za

http://www.dmnwines.co.za

www.nederburg.com

http://www.mellasat.com

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Segway Tour through the Vineyards

Rob and Michelle

Rob and Michelle

Today we decided to go to visit Spier Vineyards south of Stellenbosch. Here is where they do a Segway tour through the vineyards. A little different from a normal tour. For those of you who don’t know what a segway is it is a 2 wheel electronic transport where you stand and control it by leaning your body forward to go forward and leaning backwards to slow down or come to a stop.

Michelle stepping onto segway

Michelle stepping onto segway

We were a little nervous but we had to try it. Stanley was our guide and instructor and we were joined by a young South African couple where she had made a surprise gift for her boyfriend.

Rob on segway

Rob on segway

We had to put on a cycling helmet and we had an opportunity to practice before we went out through the vineyards. It took a little while to get my balance and I felt very tense at the beginning but after going through a little obstacle course and practice run Rob and I felt comfortable to proceed.

Rob and Michelle on segways

Rob and Michelle on segways

 

It was great fun and the hour went by too quickly. We had little stops where Stanley told us a bit of history about the vineyard and we stopped to try some of the grapes.

Michelle feeling a little more confident

Michelle feeling a little more confident

If someone was to fall off I would have put my money on it being me. But guess who did? Yes Rob!!!! Luckily it was only a scratch but for a moment I thought he had broken a leg because he lay there not moving. I was behind him and could see what happened. It was like slow motion. He said he was admiring the landscape and didn’t see going into a hole. Rob ended up with a scratch on his elbow but no broken bones!!  Though we think he has broken the little camera which is ashame.

 

Rob with eagle owls

Rob with eagle owls

Spier is one of those vineyards that has lots of extras. Not only has it hotel and conference facilities, spa, craft market but it also has an Eagle Encounter. It did used to have cheetahs but they were moved to Somerset West a few months ago. The Eagle Encounter is a rehabilitation sanctuary and we saw a demonstration of them flying and catching food. The most interesting was when a secretary bird was being fed. They attached the food onto a plastic snake and move this around. The secretary bird then taps at the food to catch its food and this is the reason why it is called a secretary bird as it is as if it was typing.   We were also invited inside a catch to see some eagle owls. They were used to humans and they sat on our shoulders and head.

 

Bread with individual wrapped butter

Bread with individual wrapped butter

Spier also has a wonderful cafe/restaurant. Again very creative and a wonderful outdoor area to eat. We had fresh juice (1 apple and 1 pear) and this was the best we ever had. When they brought the bread out which was like cake they served the butter individually wrapped just like sweeties.

 

http://www.spier.co.za

Cape Canopy – Zipwire in the Elgin Valley

Beautiful Scenery

Beautiful Scenery

This was the adventure we had waited for. We’d heard about Cape Canopy opening 6 months ago and decided then that we would do this on our next visit to South Africa.

1 of 13 zip wires

1 of 13 zip wires

We’d already tasted the tree top canopy last year so this gave us a flavour of what was in store as Cape Canopy is the big league. Zip flying through Elgin Valley which is situated in a nature reserve called Hottentots Holland south of Franschhoek.

Rob with Hilda and Enrico

Rob with Hilda and Enrico

Our guides were Hilda and Enrico and we joined a group of South Africans who work for Cape Nature Reserve.

More Scenery

More Scenery

As part of their job they had to have a taster of the Cape Canopy so they could then promote it to customers. There are 11 zip wire slides and they only participated in the the first 2 slides where as Rob and I did the complete course of 11 slides.

Group Photo

Group Photo

The group was great fun and a couple of them felt really nervous but they motivated and encouraged each other and made us feel part of their group. The group motto was – Are you with me?   Yeh!!!

We all loaded onto a bakkie (4×4 truck) and it took 30 mins to get to the top of the mountains where the first platform of the zip wire slide started. The road was really off-roading and we bounced around in the bakkie.

Michelle and Rob before departure

Michelle and Rob before departure

Everyone was nervous for the first slide but once we had all done it we felt a sense of achievement and knew what to expect. We were surprised to find out that the group were only participating in the first two slides and then it would just be Rob and I with the guides to finish the course off. As each slide went by we felt more and more relaxed about it.

Rob zip wiring

Rob zip wiring

Some slides were faster than others but the longest was the last slide. On about slide 8 I felt my body totally relax and I then started taking notice of the beautiful scenery around me. I even watched a beautiful waterfall as I zipped by.

Michelle hanging on

Michelle hanging on

By the time we got back to base they provided pie and salad for us which was a welcome meal after all the energy we had spent. All in all a wonderful and fun experience. We definitely want to do it again.

Preparing to jump off

Preparing to jump off

Remember this adventure is advertised as a guided adventure activity for nature enthusiasts of ages 5 to 75! Even though they say age to 75 years I found out that their oldest customer was 90 years old. So for those of you reading this there is still plenty of time to put this on your bucket list and do this!!!

See videos on my Facebook page (hopefully they work ok)

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007459484702#

http://www.capecanopytour.co.za

Crocs on the Farm

Crocodiles in the Pool

Crocodiles in the Pool

After visiting Babylonstore we decided to stop at the crocodile farm next door Le Bonheur. It was very quiet here and when we arrived we joined a short tour with another couple.

Rob holding baby croc

Rob holding baby croc

The farm has 3,000 crocodiles and crocodiles are reared for their meat and for their skin leather. I’ve never tried crocodile and somehow it doesn’t appeal to me but I’ve been told the meat tastes like chicken or fish. Crocodile leather is expensive so you can see that this is a lucrative business to be in.

Michelle holding baby croc

Michelle holding baby croc

The crocodiles on the farm are mostly no older than 10 years of age. We were told that if you try to run away from a crocodile you should never run in a straight line always in a zig-zag fashion. That way the crocodile finds it hard to turn quickly because of its powerful tail. They also need to have water and they an smell water as far away as 3kms.

I asked what happens when they need to clean. The guide joked that all the men employed need to have wooden legs!! What they do is drain one pool and as the water slowly drains away the crocodiles need water so they leave the empty pool and go to another pool of water and that way the men can clean the dirty empty pool.

Close up of Michelle holding baby croc

Close up of Michelle holding baby croc

They also have a crocodile that was born disabled called Lumpy. Its disability is not having a tail. So it is on its own in a shallow pool otherwise it would drown quickly without its tail.

The guide also explained that even if you were to hand rear a crocodile from a tiny baby it would never be a pet or your friend.  They are wild animals and it is their instinct to snap for food and they would think of you as their dinner.

Rob inspecting baby croc

Rob inspecting baby croc

We were allowed to hold a baby crocodile which was only a few months old. Even as a baby the crocodile has a lot of strength and you could feel this from its tail.

Keeping cool by opening its mouth

Keeping cool by opening its mouth

I recall in the late 1960’s my mother receiving a present from one of my Dad’s friend who came from Sudan which was a complete baby crocodile handbag. I was fascinated as it still had its head and teeth. How times have changed and we now find these things distastful.

http://www.lebonheurcrocfarm.co.za

The Gardens of Babylonstoren

Babylonstoren Farmshop

Babylonstoren Farmshop

We had been recommended to visit Babylonstoren by a few people. As we were leaving Paarl to move on to Franschhoek for our 2nd week it made sense to stop here as it was on our way.

Entrance Area

Entrance Area

The entrance fee was only 10 rand per person which is equivalent to 60 pence. We booked on the daily 10am tour and Talitha one of the gardeners was our guide.

One of many species of Lavender

One of many species of Lavender

Rob had thought this was just going to be a bit of a garden and wasn’t that bothered about visiting. He hadn’t appreciated at how large the gardens were and became really interested as Talitha made the tour really interesting by telling us about all the herbs and different varieties of all fruit and vegetables that are grown.

Squash Growing Area

Squash Growing Area

Babylonstoren is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms dating back to the 1600’s when the first settlers came but is now owned by the Media 24 people. It is a totally organic farm and gardens. It describes itself as a fruit and vegetable garden of beauty and diversity, unique accommodation, fine food and a sense of well-being.

The Glass House

The Glass House

This place is enormous. If you can think of any kind of fruit and vegetable or shrub or plant or tree I can guarantee that they will grow it there. The garden is split into different sections and has some very interesting features eg. a handmade giant birdnest (to give you the impression of what it would be like to be in a birdnest), a secret garden that has bee hives (but with traditional African hives) and a giant snake railing walk. They also have 4 different chamomile lawn areas.  We were encouraged to take our shoes off and walk on the carpet of chamomile lawn to release the essential oils of the chamomile.

Michelle on the Chamomile Lawn

Michelle on the Chamomile Lawn

We decided to have a snack at the cafe. Wow the presentation of food was magnificent. There is something about South African food and catering that is so special and creative always with a modern twist. I know I keep repeating myself but the UK could learn so much about ideas of presentation. We seem to be so behind and old fashioned somehow.

Healthy Juices and Carrot Cake

Healthy Juices and Carrot Cake

Healthy Chocolate Cake and Homemade Ice-cream!

Healthy Chocolate Cake and Homemade Ice-cream!

The farm shop was fantastic.  It still kept the character of the building but having a modern and inviting feel.

Jams and Preserves

Jams and Preserves

Homemade Goodies

Homemade Goodies

This type of place is my heaven. Growing of herbs, fruit and veg, keeping of bees and all being organic. Wonderful farm shop with all the produce from the gardens. Babylonstoren also does accommodation and has a spa. This is where I managed to find my wonderful South African toiletties – Africology which is even better than Dr Hauschka that I use.

I would definitely recommend on visiting Babylonstoren. This had everything and more than I had thought and is my paradise.

P.S – They also had the largest room (luxury with art) for a toilet that I have ever seen. Equivalent size to a studio flat in London!!!! Please see picture below.

Largest room we have seen for a toilet

Largest room we have seen for a toilet

www.babylonstore.co.za webpage available in English and German (please see top left hand corner)

www.africology.co.za

Olive Tasting

View from Morgenster Tasting Room

View from Morgenster Tasting Room

I’d wanted to try some olive tasting for some time and had the opportunity at a place called Morgenster in Somerset West. The owner of the vineyard is Italian and has imported olive trees from Italy and Greece so that the vineyard produces olives and olive oil.

 

Olive and Olive Paste Tasting Plate

Olive and Olive Paste Tasting Plate

A platter of black and green olives as well as olive paste was brought with cubes of bread and crackers to try. We preferred the black olives overall. For the olive oil tasting it was a little like wine. A selection of 5 oils and 1 balsamic vinegar were brought in glass cups. For the first 3 we had to warm the oil by cusping the glass around our hands to raise the temperature. My favourite was the lemon olive oil and Rob’s was the white truffle which had a strong aroma to it – a little like garlic but they assured us the smell was just from the truffle and didn’t have any garlic.

Olive Oil Taster Platter

Olive Oil Taster Platter

 

This was a new experience for us and I am glad that I tried this and I would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity.

http://www.morgenster.co.za

Clothes for South African Children

With bags of clothes we carried

With bags of clothes we carried

A few months ago in the UK we met through Facebook Lynelle Swanepoe who is a South African expat living in the UK. Lynelle had started the initiative of Carry on 4 Babies. As we were planning our holiday to Cape Town we realised that we could become carry on buddies’ to carry some of the clothes back to South Africa. Please read about what Lynelle has done and why she started this campaign.

Clothes we carried

Clothes we carried

As the clothes are given directly to those who need rather than sold and money raised we were interested in participating in this scheme. We have so often become disillusioned with charities as often there are admin fees etc that only a small percentage of what is donated actually gets to those that the money was intended. We have become infuriated with charities at home as they have often refused to take particular items donated as they are not wanted.

Michele with the children in the safe house

Michele with the children in the safe house

Instead of just dropping off the clothes at a contact point Lynelle arranged for us to see what happens with the clothes and how they are distributed. She introduced us to Michele Engela and Bronwynne Pietersen who took us for a visit first to see Agnes who has 5 children then onto a safe haven in the township of Nomzamo in Somerset West which is run by a wonderful “mom” to 26 children, Lydia. Recently a ten day old baby was abandoned at her home.

Bronwynne distributing clothes in the safe house

Bronwynne distributing clothes in the safe house

We met some wonderful children who live in the safe haven. All have disturbing backgrounds but are happy and smiling.

Lydia with the abandoned 10 day old baby

Lydia with the abandoned 10 day old baby

Lydia has created a wonderful safe environment for them. People like Lydia are real heroes.

Agnes and Bronwynne

Agnes and Bronwynne

http://www.sapeople.com/2014/08/05/south-african-abroad-carry-on-4-babies-811/

https://www.facebook.com/CarryOn4Babies

http://www.thesouthafrican.com/carry-on-4-babies-takes-ubuntu-across-the-ocean/