A fine taste of farm life
This working farm near Arniston will let you sample a simpler world — and rest as much as you need, writes Nick Yell
I pointed out a herd of springbok pronking in the distance
WITH the prospect of melting in temperatures approaching 40°C, we had to get away from our beloved “Botriviera”.
Bot River is called that by some of us local “global-warming cognoscenti” because we know when the polar ice-caps melt and flood the lower-lying coastal regions to the south of us, our more frugal property investments will be girthed by sea. Until then, we still need to make pilgrimages to the distant ocean to cool off.
Foolishly, I found myself searching for a place to stay on the eve of a long weekend.
This left very little choice in the way of accommodation near our preferred destination of Arniston, and I was just about to settle on holing up in my air-conditioned study for the weekend when my fiancée, Annette, found an available farmstay cottage on Lekkeslaap.
We threw a few things in a bag and were soon heading for the much cooler climes of the Overberg’s eastern coast. En route, we stocked up on some good-value wines at the Aladdin’s cave-like wine, art and décor shop, Vindigo, in Napier and completed our victualling foray in bustling Bredasdorp, where you can shop for almost anything these days.
With a name like Werfhuisie, I had a feeling our cottage was going to be close to the main farmhouse, not a thought I relished but I hadn’t quite expected it to be 10m from the farmer’s back door or, for that matter, next to a toolshed-cum-workshop.
Yet, as one often finds, first impressions can be deceiving.
As we moved past the old barnlike front door we entered a modern and tastefully decorated little cottage that was more than ample for our needs. As we explored further we noted the many efforts the owners have made — such as a dry-packed stonewall separating the cottage’s garden from the farmhouse — that ensure you feel free from prying eyes.
After reading for most of the afternoon, fanned by a cool ocean breeze wafting in from the coast some 5km distant, we took a walk around the farmyard. In the distance I saw a small flock of sheep grazing in a camp and expertly pointed out my observation to Annette. She giggled indulgently and pointed out that they were, in fact, pigs.
Not only was there a happy and healthy-looking collection of pigs of all sizes, there was also a litter of piglets that oozed off-the-scale cuteness. I reaffirmed for myself that I’d make an absolutely useless stock farmer as I would not have the courage to slaughter any animals.
Walking past some beehives — the raw product of which we’d already sampled in our cottage — I swung my binoculars south and pointed out a herd of springbok pronking in the distance. With my classification prowess in doubt, Annette needed to look for herself. Fortunately, this time she agreed with me.
Feeling a little smug, I headed back to our cottage where I got to grips with things I know infinitely more about, sundowners and braaiing under the stars.
Roman beach in Arniston, with its white sands, smooth pebbles and sculpted, putty-coloured rocks, is one of my favourite beaches in the country. The best swimming and bodysurfing area is a 50m stretch of water on the southern part of the beach, en route to the famous Waenhuiskrans Cave, which is only accessible at low tide.
The next morning, I joined a throng of early-morning swimmers there. At last I was really cool and with the air temperature already 23°C at 8.30am, I felt I could stay in the water all day. But eventually, the thought of reading my book under the trees in the hammock I’d borrowed on the farm urged me back to shore.
REST STOP: Annette Theron poses as a ’bywoner’ at Werfhuisie on the Eilands Valley Farm, near Arniston