Operation Oysterhood: 18 – 22 September

Oudrif: a state of mind. We took our time on the last part of the journey from Cape Town, stopping every few minutes on the dirt road to Oudrif to admire the serene landscape covered in the spring tapestry of colour. Arrived to a socially distanced but as warm and charming as ever welcome: friendly eyes, ice-cold beers and a catch-up chat. The moment you get there, all the stress of the everyday begins to drain away from your body and mind and rest sets in. There is no reception, nor internet, so the world cannot reach you. It is just you, Jeanine, Bill and their caring staff, the animals of Oudrif, the hills, the stars and the Doring river – flowing enthusiastically after the rains. The place always attracts the most fascinating people. This is where we met Natalie and James of The Hoghouse (when we picked up our takeaway breakfast for the road to Oudrif, Natalie included a gift for me: a packet of my chocolate chip cookies!) and Sue Greeff, the artist with whom I have subsequently collaborated on a literary project (her stunning artworks also grace my walls), among many others. This time, a young Dutch couple were there. They have made SA their home for over six years now: she works with community projects focused on regenerative farming, he with solar energy – it was amazing to listen to their stories. And we also met a local couple who travel around SA in their retirement and who also had wonderful tales to share around the braai under the Milky Way. Every day after breakfast, we went on the usual walks with either Jeanine or Bill – walking with them through this landscape is always enlightening and soothing and it makes you feel better about the world. We visited the sheep rock painting. We saw the flowers. Four nights later, life was just a better place to be in, as it always is when you can recharge your inner batteries at Oudrif.

Our next trip here is already booked. This is the place I always long to return to, like home. Oudrif. Oudrif. Oudrif.

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