Operation Oysterhood: 6 September

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Just when you think something cannot get any better, there is breakfast with a view. Vineyard Views Country House is one of those places that radiate perfect hospitality. Our hosts, Gareth and Grant, made us feel welcomed in a way that one seldom encounters with complete strangers. We were staying only a night, but the hours spent at the Country House completely recharged my batteries. I slept through the night, woke up refreshed and eager to explore. But first, there was the divine breakfast with a view that took one’s breath away. I love travelling around the world to faraway destinations, but sitting on the stoep of the Country House this morning, with the Vineyard Views spread in front of us, I thought: why long for faraway places when you can have the ideal getaway on Cape Town’s doorstep?

After breakfast, we had a stroll around the village and its quirky shops and galleries. Riebeek Kasteel will see me again soonest. But preferably, next time, we will know how to manage what one local explained was “The Mountain”, no reception in the centre of the village because of the nearby mountain range which reduces the available signal to nearly nothing. Usually, no problem, but when you are in a new place during loadshedding and are searching for a place that turns out to be closed anyway and you can’t rely on Google Maps or phone anyone and have to drive around in nearly complete darkness to find another somehow functioning restaurant, it can become ‘difficult’. Also, and I say this with a heavy heart and knowing that after the Mullieneux tasting not many wines would have managed the comparison, but the Brink Family wine we had last night was … shall we say, ‘difficult’, too. No wonder we never heard of it before … But I did enjoy the label :)

Isn’t the Swartland simply stunning?

We came back home in the afternoon to the sad news of Achmat Dangor’s passing. I have been reading his work ever since I discovered South African literature. He was always kind to me on the few occasions we met on the literary scene. The last time was at the Open Book Festival in 2017 when I interviewed him along with Qarnita Loxton and Jonathan Jansen. Qarnita took this wonderful selfie of us – one of my favourite festival photographs ever – at the event.

This year has taken away so much from so many people and the loss deepens with every passing day. It is difficult, if not impossible, to allow oneself to feel all the pain – communal and individual. But every loss brings with it the reminder to treasure the moments we have with one another, to embrace the joys that others bring into our lives. We need to keep one another in our hearts and in our memories. One day our smiles will be on display on our lips again – until then let us shine goodwill with our eyes. May Achmat rest in peace, and may his loved ones find comfort in the memories he leaves behind.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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