Our friend Tracey of bellowblogs fame was feeling a bit burnt out and wondered if she might come hang out for a week or so. She is involved in an exciting new project that is occupying her time and energy – but her mind is awash with the events of the past few months. Not all good. And she wants to be fighting fit for when she gets back.
Sure, I say – I am always up for a bit of a get away. Besides – I have some changes of my own coming. A new job in a couple of months – and a new, more regimented and self-imposed, work regime.
Her trip co-incided with the Easter Weekend, traditionally the last weekend of summer in Cape Town. The last couple of years have seen Jack and me standing in the pouring rain – waiting for the Positive Heroes team to cross the finish line after the Two Oceans ultra-marathon (a mammoth 56km/35mile run round the Cape Penninsula). A lack of funds this year have meant that we couldn’t race as a team. Nor could we do outreach work in local communities. That’s where the runners tell their hopeful stories of living with HIV. And where I am reminded why I love this work.
The lack of funding and change in personal/work commitments by the Charity’s Directors has also meant that we are starting the process of closing down PH. We have achieved a lot in the past 4 years … and I will stay available to answer personal emails and keep social media contact for a while. But the actual nitty gritty of creating initiatives will stop. I know we have done great work and made a difference – and I know that all things must change: but I will miss the Heroes. They are most excellent people. And I have been feeling a bit glum.
So – the idea of going away for six days couldn’t have come at a better time and we set off in beautiful sunshine for McGregor. A sleepy village about 90 mins from Cape Town.
McGregor is popular for its traditional Cape architecture: it is surrounded by rolling hills and nestles in a valley that is home to no less than nine vineyards. The streets are quiet and sedate, the natives are (mostly*) friendly, there are fun places to eat and plenty of walks and hikes if you are so inclined (I am not).
Converging ley lines in the village create a high level of natural energy – almost an aura … so McGregor is considered a sacred site and has attracted a good number of artists, craftsmen and healers to its quaint, whitewashed cottage lined streets. Add the fact that there’s little pollution, the skies at night are filled with stars and it is safe (always a consideration in SA) and you’ve got a winner.
We found a fabulous place to stay The Old Village Lodge run by Nicolaas and Chris… two natural, sweet fun hosts. The rooms were gorgeous, the breakfasts sumptuous, nothing was too much trouble and Jack was welcomed with open arms. Perfect landing – and we happily spent the first two days lying at the pool, reading a pile of magazines imported by Tracey – and eating our stash of snacks.
Then the rain came.
It’s always a test of one’s travel mettle when it rains on holiday. Either you handle it – or you spend the rest of the time moaning. We decided to get out and see things. Which turned out to be not so easy: for some inexplicable reason, much of what was around us was closed. Really; what the hell – it’s the Easter weekend, the area is full of tourists, and you close your bar/restaurant/bakery/art gallery/wine farm? I just don’t get it. But we soldiered on and worked with what we had.
What we did discover was Millstone Pottery; where we both indulged. I was rooting around looking for something with a fish on (I have no idea why) and Tracey was looking for pieces for her new house.
Paul de Jongh, the potter, introduced her to his Raku pots. Gorgeous, but not functional. Which T discovered when she informed him of her plans for the bowl: For dips at a drinks party! Nope, too porous. For cotton wool in a bathroom! Nope, too fragile.
Tracey’s purchase resolve wavered a bit: “what shall I do with the bowl then?”
“Keep a dream in it”, said Paul.
And the deal was sealed … because Tracey has a dream.
Paul’s studio was fascinating. He is so passionate and dedicated to his craft – telling me that each piece he throws has its own life, own story: he is just a messenger. He is on his way to New Zealand at the end of the month to give a talk – and I can understand why they want him. There is such variety and quirk in his pieces. Plus he uses what he finds to give interesting finishes to the more experimental works – crushed sea shells from a recent home excavation, curved branches as pot holders. I came away from his studio feeling like I had met an old-school real-life, artist.
One of the other hightlights was a wander through the garden at Temenos. Essentially a yoga/meditation retreat – Michael the owner has created a Zen garden with a maze, reflection pools, two small temples, a rememberance site and a chapel. There are cottages set in the garden – complete with visiting ducks, geese and peafowl. And – best of all … you can sit and look out at all of this from the stoep (what we call a porch) sippling a glass of something cold (or warm – if fancy dictates).
Which I did before I had a massage with the brilliant Deidre Scott-Rogerson. Massages are weird things – so often they are useless and yet we lie there and let them happen. And then pay for it. Not with Deidre – she knows what she is doing and makes you lean into the pain. But stops short of any screaming. Jack was pacing anxiously so she put him on the bed with me. Not many masseuses would do that. And she gave him a gentle workover before we left. He was in heaven.
Deidre offered me a ‘bird-card’. I am not usually into any hooky dooky – but it seemed the right time to go with the flow. I picked the ‘sun bird’ from the pack. Which talked about one phase ending and another beginning. And promised me sweet blessings. So that was ok by me. I also liked the bit where it said my ship was about to come in. Abundance ahoy. Watch this space.
The final most wonderful discovery was a restuaruant called Karoux. The last time I was in McGregor I avoided eating there as I witnessed the owner throwing an ugly hissy fit at one of his staff. But now, recently taken over by Ryan and Amy – it was fabulous. sofabrother Mark had joined us for the day and the three of us were craving wholesome, beautifully cooked, home comfort food. And that’s what we got – with bells on. Every dish was delicious, the room was simple, warm and welcoming. The wine was the perfect temperature and they welcomed Jack. For the menu, read Tracey’s post on Karoux here.
As I drove home I realised I felt relaxed. The break had been sweet, simple, welcoming, relaxing and easy. Nothing fancy, just perfect. That’s how you do it – when you do it right.
(Mostly*: the woman who told me that her Staffordshire terrier would ‘murder and kill’ Jack, if she let him off his lead. Her dog was the only one in town that was walked on a lead. Poor bloody dog. I think the lead should have been on her.)
All images copyright Campari&sofa. None of this post was sponsored in anyway. Just things we love.