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

Sunday Times - - LOCAL ESCAPE - — © 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

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