Tesselaarsdal. The first weekend away since the beginning of the lockdown. And it was clear from the start of the journey that we were not the only ones leaving the city: heavy traffic with its usual culprits stuck in the right lane as if their lives depended on it, masses of people at the Peregrine Farm Stall in Grabouw, and every cottage in the valley seemingly occupied by intra-provincial travellers. It was my first time visiting this beautiful area and I am certain it will not be the last. Our cottage on the Heilfontein protea farm – perched high up on a hill with an incredible view over the protea fields, water-lily pond and happily grazing cows – was wonderfully secluded (or: pandemic-proof).
G&Ts on arrival settled us into the place. We watched an industrious mole re-organise her molehill right in front of our feet while sipping the contraband. It is ridiculous that one should feel legally threatened for transporting one’s own legally bought and always moderately enjoyed alcohol for a weekend away next to a comforting braai fire under the Tesselaarsdal stars. I understand the reasoning behind the ban during the pandemic, but I would like to see real, permanent solutions to the multi-layered crisis that is fuelling the irresponsible, dangerous and often life-destroying consumption of alcohol … (Dream on, Karina.)
After a light lunch, one of us had a nap, the other worked a bit because she is behind with one of her projects and needed to catch up to properly enjoy the relaxation on offer. Then it was time for a glorious two-hour walk around the area. For a while, we were accompanied by a flock of mousebirds! Guess who was smiling from ear to ear all the way back to the cottage? We also saw sunbirds and sugarbirds, all feasting on the rich offerings of the farm. The setting sun brought a peaceful light to the valley.
It was time for a braai and a bottle of smooth Chianti, which we enjoyed next to the fire and with the delicious dinner. The stars came out to say hello and wish us a good night. I was a bit apprehensive about insomnia disrupting the weekend, and it is always more difficult to deal with when one is not in one’s own bed, but although it wasn’t entirely plain sailing, I managed to get some decent rest, even snore up a storm (according to my love’s report), and it was simply wonderful to wake up next to my love again.
Rain, morning in bed: coffee, Alma Café rusks, breakfast, reading and watching rainbows appear whenever the sun came out to play.
We brought two Sunrise Beauty Studio DIY Vitamin-C facials with us and had fun applying them after finally getting up.
A long walk along the Yellow Protea trail around the circumference of the farm before lunch. It was still raining on and off, but we had come prepared and rain gear kept us warm and dry. The view from the hill opposite our cottage’s slope was spectacular. No mousebirds, but the sugarbirds were undeterred by the weather and kept us company in the protea groves.
Lunch was a lavish leftovers affair with a bubbly treat of note. Despite coffee, I fell asleep reading the Harry Bosch novel I had abandoned quite a while ago because of other work-related reading commitments. But also, reading had become difficult again in the past two/three weeks or so; not sure why. It was good to return to a book again, and to nap in the afternoon – something I don’t allow myself often because I am usually groggy and unhappy after sleeping during the day and thus incapable of further work. But there was none to be done today, so I just relaxed and enjoyed the extra sleep. The rest of the afternoon was spent in front of the fire that my love made for us. And Harry continued chasing crooks through the streets of L.A.
Dinner was again a braai feast – simple but delicious. The rest of the bubbly a welcomed aperitif. The evening ended with books next to the fire. I finished Bosch. Justice prevailed.
I had been apprehensive about leaving home for an entire weekend again, but I cannot thank my love enough for making it happen. It was good to get away, to be in a alternative space and experience a new landscape and a different light. An African Hoopoe visited us while we were packing to go this morning. And on the way out, we saw a Cape Vulture devouring what looked like the carcass of a sheep.
We stopped at the famous Café De Postkantoor for delicious takeaway cappuccinos.
The return home meant a full return to duties, home-and-work-related, but they were all manageable in the afterglow of a restful weekend.
Be kind. Wear a mask.
“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”