Operation Oysterhood: Birthday weekend

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

— @HaggardHawks

It could not have been any better, my birthday weekend. Bubbly birthday perfection. Bubbly joy on all fronts.

Even Topolino marked the day!

At 45, totally unfit, one is entitled to a bit of a midlife crisis and the wish to climb Table Mountain without any preparations on one’s birthday. Fortunately, I have the loveliest, spontaneous friends – two of them, visiting from overseas, agreed to accompany me on my mad quest. They’d been up Table Mountain many times during their regular visits to our beloved shores in the last two decades, but they’d never climbed the Mountain. What we could not predict was that we would be sharing it with well over two hundred matriculants and way too many boomboxes, but the kids were quite polite and turned down the volume when asked. ‘Let the tannie pass,’ one of them said when I was attempting to crawl past a group of them resting … ‘Enjoy those fit, young bodies while you can,’ I thought, ‘they don’t last forever.’

Fit or not, we made it to the top where we were met by drizzle and the Table Cloth on full display, so it was a change of clothes, hot chocolate and the cable car (free ride in one’s birthday month!) back to the city. Five days later and my legs are nearly pain-free again, but the huge sense of accomplishment persists.

The rest of the day was about resting, Skyping with my family, preparing for the weekend away and, happy as a bee, I went to the last of the UCT Summer Lectures on social insects presented by Karen Jennings. It was wonderful.

In the evening, my love and I went to the only restaurant I wanted to celebrate at this year: The Hoghouse, of course!

It was the first time I had their chocolate cake – and there is no going back. This is the ultimate chocolate cake (I will somehow have to break it to Bill when we return to Oudrif, but his is still the best chocolate cake baked on a braai!). I went to bed a happy woman.

The next day, my love arrived on my doorstep, ready for our bubbly birthday adventure. We were invited to spend the weekend on the Graham Beck wine estate near Robertson and it was an adventure of a lifetime. I have known many happy days in my life, but this was bliss on a different level. I had always wondered whether there is a point when one does not want to drink bubbly any longer – when enough is enough – and now, I can tell you: not for me! It will never ever get boring.

It’s harvest time at Graham Beck and the excitement is in the air. We visited the cellar where for the first time I was able to taste wine in the making, only a few days old, fermenting happily away in all its magical glory. I had never tasted anything like it – it’s very difficult to describe the textures and flavours of this incredible process. But if you ever get a chance, it is an absolute must.

But then, the real tasting began … of the bubblies that have made it into bottles and have been patiently waiting to showcase their sparkling beauty. The Maestro himself – Pieter Ferreira – and his amazing wife Ann Ferreira, also known as Bubbles Ann, guided us on this astounding journey through method, dedication and excellence.

I learned so much that it is difficult to capture in a few words. What fascinates me the most is that even someone like me who just loves drinking bubbly but knows very little about it can recognise the difference in taste and smell of the various approaches to bubbly making. An experience like this makes you look at corks and oak barrels with new eyes. Fun fact: corks have memories, and they can lose them :)

But this was only the beginning …

We had the enormous privilege of staying in the Grace House on the farm where a more leisurely celebration continued in the company of our wonderful hosts and their friends. There was no end to the beautiful bubblies, local and foreign, and no end to light, laughter and stories.

All of this and – after some deep sleep, no hungover (!!!), and another fantastic bubbly meal – a mousebird, and Rafa’s 21 Grand Slam.

Three lovely friends who joined us for the Sunday afternoon arrived with a mousebird they were nursing back to health after s/he had fallen out of the nest. I never imagined I would get an opportunity to hold and stroke and feed a mousebird, but there s/he was in my hands, chirping and stretching her/his wings which are nearly ready to fly. I was so happy! I will always think of her/him when I see my favourite birds – with their great hairdos, mouse tails and fluffy chests – in the air.

And then there was Rafa. What can I say? I am ecstatic, no?

Best tennis birthday present imaginable :) Vamos indeed!

There is no rest for the wicked, so we joined the midnight harvest for a while – even Pieter, who by then was on crutches, because of a bone fracture in his foot (which happened just when we arrived on Saturday before he even had a sip of any bubbles!) – in the vineyards and in the cellar, before getting a little bit of sleep and heading home on Monday, bubbles still – or not so still – on our minds.

Karina (45)

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local. Get vaccinated, please. Live.

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


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