Tag Archives: Oudrif

Operation Oysterhood: The Missing Days

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

— @HaggardHawks

Oudrif. A long weekend of calm, at least on the outside. Once you lose your inner equilibrium, restoration requires patience and time. I am working on it. Returning to Oudrif with my love was part of the journey. Especially at a time like this.

There were friends – human, canine and feline – books, a flowing river after the rains, the soothing light, flowers galore, stories, walks, dreams, and the ultimate chocolate cake (from the fire).

One of those days was the 500th day of lockdown.

Today was a day of harsh and wonderful everyday realities. No matter what I do, I cannot escape the tired heaviness that follows me around. But I am in a warm bed with a loving furry family around me. And my brother has moved into his new flat in Salzburg. And Topolino has new shoes. And we are reprinting books. And people continue to be kind. There is so much to be grateful for.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 20-23 May

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

— @HaggardHawks

Oudrif

Balm for the heart and the soul. Oudrif. There is no better place to recuperate. Exactly what we needed after the ordeals of this month. We arrived just after the heavy rain and had one more day of drizzles and cloudy skies, but then the sun came out and with it the first tiny greens and flowers – another stunning flower season may lie ahead.

This is the place I always want to return to. Oudrif. Its calm, its beauty, and the simplicity of it all. Between the pale rose sunrises and molten sunsets, each day unfolds with gentleness, and with every passing moment you feel more and more restored to yourself. The people, the animals, the Doring River, the surrounding hills with their ancient rock art and their stories, the communal meals and walks, the evening fires – and laziness, and sleep, and enlightening conversations with friends and strangers alike. Oudrif.

The first night, I slept for ten hours. I even slept during the afternoons. I finally managed to finish reading a novel I had been reading for much too long (not because I struggled with the book, but with the lack of time to devote to it), and had time for a poetry collection and two manuscripts. I could sit in the sun to dry my hair and soak up vitamin D and massage my favourite moisturiser into my neglected skin. I could rest.

And then there was The Puppy, whom my love named Pippi because of her cast-longstocking. Jeanine of Oudrif is involved in a pet sterilisation project in the greater Clanwilliam area. The projects focus on sterilisation of disadvantaged dogs and cats in rural areas. When possible, Jeanine also nurses neglected pets back to health and finds homes for rescues. Pippi arrived with a broken hind leg, a million ticks and protruding ribs – after only a few days at Oudrif, she has transformed into the cutest, sweetest little dog who everyone present fell in love with. The Cats have forbidden me to adopt more animals, but I was very tempted, and I hope that the lovely Pippi with her gentle nature finds a home where she will be loved. She will make someone very happy. If you are reading this and thinking of adopting a puppy, please let me know …

While I was gallivanting with Pippi, The Cats and our home were in the care of a very dear friend. Her weekend was not as peaceful as ours … Just before we left, I noticed that the roof started leaking in two places, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I just asked my friend to ignore the dripping as much as possible … What she could not ignore (and what I had no clue about before leaving) was that the rains locked the front gate into place and damaged an alarm sensor. Luckily, she is a Superhero Friend and managed the disaster extremely well, even when it involved mopping up rain-drenched floors, climbing over a wall, being constantly on the phone with ADT, using the garage door to enter/leave the property and not giving in to Salieri screaming at her for different food (she is not impressed with her new thyroid diet). And at the end of it all, my friend did not say anything about “never again”. I am very grateful to have friends like her!

So now, with batteries recharged, I am tackling the new week and starting with ADT and the wretched gate (that I was promised would never give me trouble again after the traumatic installment of a new special gate frame a few years ago … traumatic because the man responsible for the job, in the process, cut off my water supply and my electricity, took weeks to fix everything, and nearly drove me insane – I won’t be calling him for help!).

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

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.