As children, Sundays mostly meant picnics somewhere interesting. More-often-than-not this entailed some traipsing after our parents, over-or-through barbed wire fences stretched just wide enough for us to get through, across farmland, around old family cemeteries where we’d stop to read the headstones, through any streams we could find (remember, I grew up in the drought-stricken Free State and dusty North West) to find the perfect shady spot at which we’d eat our sandwiches, our shorts covered in black jacks and our heads filled with adventure.
The prospect of a picnic brunch while we tasted Saronsberg’s wines overlooking the beautiful mountains on a Sunday, therefore, was welcomed with blissful reminiscence and the smell of khaki bush in my head. That sounds weird but when I think of those long ago picnics, it’s the aroma that overwhelms my memories. So fresh and young and filled with wonder.
We headed off early on Sunday morning, which dawned cool and gray, a welcome respite from the heat. Taking a little drive toward the mountains looking moody under the grey clouds, my predilection for old buildings was satiated. The beauty in the breakdown.
Then it was time for us to meet up with Carol at the well-known Readers Restaurant in Church Street, where we picked up our picnic basket (with two hands, it was full-to-the-brim), stopping to chat about our mutual adoration of cats amongst other things. From there we drove out of town to Saronsberg.
Saronsberg is a treat for both wine lovers and art lovers (and those who love staying on wine farms or marrying on wine farms, apparently … I didn’t try either of those bits of the farm this time, but I plan to visit again!). Welcomed by a spectacular piece, of a naked man with rocks on his head, looking particularly incredible backed by the grey clouds bulked up behind him, everywhere you look, there’s a piece of art, both indoors and outdoors.
Greeted by the wonderful hostess – who’s name I’ve also forgotten, eek, WAY too much delicious food and wine – we settled ourselves at a table outside, overlooking the dam and overlooked by the gorgeous lady sculpture, and spread out our picnic. And boy, what a picnic it was!
Fresh baguette, a box filled with cold meats, another with cheeses on a wooden board with fresh fruit and a bunch of salady stuff (and even a tiny olive oil and balsamic vinegar). Meatballs, olive tapenade, pickles and patés. I’m still dreaming about the smoked snoek paté. There was even pudding … brownies that melted in my mouth. I should’ve got more food pictures but I was too busy filling my mouth with deliciousness. It was superb.
While we slowly ate our way through the feast, we tasted our way through Saronsberg’s delicious wines, making sure we bought a bottle or two to take home to remind ourselves of this heavenly place. Now that is the way to Sunday.
All good things come to an end – a cliché that I could happily do without, but clichés are clichés for a reason – and, after checking out more of the art, we had to bid our new friends at Saronsberg, including the two wonderful swimming ladies at the entrance, adieu, to start dragging our feet back to the city.
Luckily, we still had one more stop, Fynbos Guest Farm, on the Wolseley road. What a fabulous place. They have camping and a couple of chalets and an entire menagerie of rescued animals all living their last days in this piece of paradise. Goats, emus, llamas, ducks, rabbits, pigs, zebra, donkeys … they’re all there and happy to meet people and eat snacks (they tell you who likes what. The lovely guys who own the farm, not the animals).
We took an amble around and met some of them. They were all most polite, including Guido the llama who is known for his fondness for the ladies. When he saw us, he was miles away on the other side of the field and bounded over at speed, only getting shy when he got close. I learnt that pot-bellied pigs fall over in a blissful trance if you brush their backs and emus sound like drums in the distance. And I got to stroke the donkeys’ velvet noses … my very, very best.
And then it really was time to head back to the city, but being lovers of back roads, we took this one, and were rewarded with these views. The perfect end to a perfect weekend, a picnic and some velvet noses.
Readers Restaurant is up a few, relatively short and wide old stone stairs, so a little challenging, but nothing a few strong arms couldn’t help with if you’re not worried about being lifted up stairs. The picnic baskets, however, are completely accessible … they can bring them out to you in the car. I’m telling you, you really don’t want to miss out on Carol’s cooking.
Saronsberg is completely accessible, with ramps and pathways. The gallery is upstairs, but there is so much wonderful art (and wine!) downstairs and outside, that it’s not too serious.Sorry, I know the picture doesn’t show that … I wasn’t very clever with my picture-taking of the paths because I was blown away by the art and distracted by the picnic!
Fynbos Guest Farm has dust and gravelled roads, so it’s a bit of a rough ride, but well worth it. The little cottage near the donkeys and llamas looked like it could be relatively accessible, but we didn’t go in. Contact them to ask and you could have a couple of llamas, some alpacas and some donkeys as across-the-road neighbours for a few days! If you’re lucky (and a lady), you may even get a pic with Guido!
*We were graciously hosted in Tulbagh by Tulbagh Wine and Tourism. Thank you, Patty, for all the organising!