Operation Oysterhood: Elgin weekend

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

— @HaggardHawks

Freshly squeezed pear juice

Elgin Valley, my happy place. We spent the weekend in Elgin, indulging in the beauty of the valley, where the grapes and apples and pears are ripening at a different speed to other parts of the Cape because of the cooler climate of the area. Time feels different in the valley for people, too. It slows down. Everything is calmer and better when we are there. It’s the place and the locals, a closely-knit community that always makes us feel welcome. We stayed in one of the cosy Cheverells Farm cottages and dined nearly exclusively at the newly established Cheverells Farm Shed, the home of the Country Café & Gift Shop, a Wellness Studio and a gorgeous Glass Greenhouse nursery, which made me wish for green fingers.

We attended a food and wine pairing at the Shed on Friday evening. Everything was so tempting and delicious that I overindulged in white wine and paid the price the following morning. I have always known that I need to be careful with white wine and the evening reminded me exactly why (but it was all worth the next-day-suffering).

The Shed is one of the places in the area where you can buy Lester Walbrugh’s bread. It is absolutely delicious and I brought two of them home for myself and bought one for my lovely neighbours.

The Baker of Grabouw

On Saturday morning, Lester and I watched the film he co-produced and starred in, 2 Thirds of a Man. It is the coming-of-age story of Justin, a talented but guarded teenager who leaves his home in Beaufort West and returns to Cape Town where he was born to navigate the challenges of being a first-year student at Rocklands University. He moves in with his mom’s brother and meets G and Bronwyn who both change his life in remarkable ways. Together they explore the ups and downs of friendship, what it means to trust and to love someone.

I was moved by how a story that has been told many times became unique by confronting and escaping the pitfalls of stereotypes throughout the film. The mundane became special, the ordinary worth telling, and all of it was filled with a gentleness and tenderness that touched me.

The music – all original – was stunning. Towards the end, Justin goes on stage and sings – it is a powerful sequence and Mario Ogle shines in his role here. It felt as if the actor and the character were simultaneously coming into their own in that moment.

Already recognised with several nominations and awards at film festivals around the world, I hope this film will eventually reach wide audiences in South Africa and abroad.

No visit to the Elgin Valley can go without a stop – or a few stops – at Liberty Books. On Saturday evening, the bookshop hosted another remarkable event: John Maytham performing Finuala Dowling’s script, ‘Valentine’, an early Valentine’s Day treat that had us thinking about love in its many manifestations, tearing up and laughing, and going home feeling nourished by Finuala’s and John’s love of words.

On Sunday, my love and I returned to Cape Town to have lunch with dear friends at Blanko. Even though, I have been to the other restaurants at the Alphen Hotel many times, this was my first visit at Blanko and I cannot wait to return. Beautiful food, great service and the outside tables under the trees perfect for a summer’s day afternoon. We were celebrating a birthday and had the loveliest of times.

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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