Operation Oysterhood: 2-5 April

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


Sunrise at Oudrif

Oudrif. Oudrif. Oudrif. Visiting for the Easter weekend has become an annual tradition for us. And once again, we basked in every second of it.

Jeanine and Bill welcomed us with the usual warm smiles and cool drinks, and from the moment we arrived the world seemed a better place. Our straw bale cottage, the surrounding hills and their stories, and the now shallow Doring were waiting.

The days have a simple routine: morning coffee, walk, breakfast, rest, light lunch, rest, drinks, evening braai, sleep. Most of the food is vegetarian (best imaginable), but – if wanted – there is always a chop or a steak waiting at the end of the day for carnivores.

Jeanine and Bill are amazing cooks and hosts. A few days in their care and one simply feels revitalised. They are super-conscious of the environment and are completely off the grid. They live with a few rescue animals with inspiring stories. Over the years, these animals have also become very dear to us. And this time, Mafutha decided to adopt us (always a great honour) for two nights and slept in our cottage when invited. (Do not tell The Cats!)

For many years now, Jeanine has been involved in CLAWS, the Clanwilliam Pet Sterilisation Project, which helps control the feral populations of cats and dogs in the Clanwilliam area. They do stunning work and improve the lives of many animals and the humans who take care of their four-legged friends. Lockdown and the resulting lack of usual funding have been disastrous for the project, and many animals suffer. At the moment, Jeanine is hand-rearing six abandoned kittens. And although I nearly – accidentally! – became a kitten assassin (long story!), of course, I fell head over heels in love with all of them (The Cats know).

Behold: the unbearable cuteness of kittens!

For most of them, Jeanine has already found good homes, but there will be more little ones in need of love and care and a roof over their heads. Not all will be lucky. That is why the sterilisation project is so vital.

As always, there were also a few very cool humans visiting at Oudrif: a couple we have met before and adore, so we were very happy to see them again; a famous journalist and his amazing wife; and another fascinating couple who had great stories to share (and a bottle of incredible bourbon). One of the guests was celebrating a birthday, and Jeanine and Bill made their famous chocolate cake on the fire to mark the occasion. It is the ultimate chocolate cake, a culinary treat like no other.

Morning walk with Bill

I have seen the rock art sites we visited this time already, but they never cease to amaze me. I could stare at and think about them for ever. The aardvarks are my favourites.

Connecting with our ancestors

Most of our time was spent simply relaxing, and there is no better place that I know of to just be. No cell reception, no wifi, all you can do is talk, walk, sleep, swim, sunbathe, play board games, stargaze, read and eat. Occasionally, drink bourbon and devour chocolate cake. Bliss.

We are back home, but my soul has stayed behind at Oudrif – somewhere next to the river, or with the kittens, or the ancestors who whisper their stories through the rock art to us.

“Winter Special from 1 May till End July 2021 R1000 per person per night all inclusive,” says the Oudrif website. I think I need to look at our diaries and start planning the next trip …

Sunset at Oudrif

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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


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