Posted in Travel

Garden Court uMhlanga

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

We have but washed the sea sand off our toes and schools are closing again on the 15th of next month!

I can well understand if you feel you need a break already. Happens to the most content of us. So, helpful hint…

During a recent trip to Umhlanga, just North of Durban (look at me using directions like a boss) we stayed at the affordable Garden Court uMhlanga which is part of the Tsogo Group offering.

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The Hotel is centrally located to Umhlanga Main Beach, but not located on the beachfront. The higher floors have a distant ocean view, so if available remember to put in a request for a view.

While the Hotel has over 200 rooms, it does not have the feel of such. The entrance is modest in size and we comfortably booked ourselves in and out during a busy weekend. We found the staff exceptionally helpful and accommodating.

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We had a standard room, suitable for a business trip, so while ample, not exceptionally romantic. We were welcomed with snacks, JC Le Roux and a card which I thought was a thoughtful touch as it was unexpected.

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By the way, I did have a peek at one of the family rooms and it is spacious. One could comfortably have an enjoyable extended stay. The breakfast buffet was probably my favourite part of our stay. The hustle of people getting ready, mixed with the smell of fresh croissants and bacon cooking. All the usual suspects were lined up from fruit to pastries, a large variety of warm side dishes and cheery staff. Eggs are prepared as requested. A spot of warm toast. Nice.

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There is a coffee/tea station on the side of the dining room with which I thought a great idea.

Dinner was also buffet style in the same space and if you arrived a little later, families tend to have eaten, so the dining room was less noisy. The Hotel offers a selection of salads, hot and cold starters, carvery meats and vegetables as well as pasta and of course dessert.

I think it is difficult to get away from the “cooking in bulk” feeling when doing a dinner buffet and for that reason, I am not a huge fan. The dinner service was quite long which I thought was great, but it also means some of the dishes had been standing for some time.

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I admit that I would totally have overlooked the above if we were travelling as a family as it is perfect for children. A large variety of dishes to choose from and endless ice cream!

There is a beautifully landscaped pool area which looked inviting, especially at night with all the lights, but we had a tight itinerary and unfortunately did not have time for a dip at the Hotel.

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The staff is a huge asset to the establishment, rooms are comfortable and well equipped, breakfast is a treat and the location is fabulous as a base from which to visit all the wonderful destinations. Families will especially enjoy their stay.

Tsogo Sun has always got specials available so I would suggest you follow them on social media to be kept in the loop – totally worth it!

I wish you enough,

Wenchy

Posted in ... a bit of that, Competitions, Giveaway, Travel

Tangled in a tree with a crystal glass.

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

Last night, I opened a bottle of wine, very Shirley Valentine I was. My husband came home and gave me a strange look. Apparently coming home to me drinking wine is a new thing. Well, it is…. and I quite liked it!

Last winter I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the McGregor, Robertson and Bonnievale area in the Cape. One of the many wine farms I visited was the Van Loveren Wine Estate. What drew me in, was the stories that surrounded the estate. I’m a sucker for a story, do read it over HERE.

I was thrilled when I received a case of Tangled Tree for my enjoyment, and an e-mail offering one of my loyal readers a taste of the tangled also! I was so inspired that I recorded the following, <insert my voice here> which holds the answer to a box being delivered to your home.

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Clearly the “plastic” the very un-green (learning to be eco friendly I promise!) me called the packaging, is not plastic. Hides head in shame. 

…. and I quote:

  • PET, or polyethyline terephthalate, is an unbreakable thermal polymer that is also up to80% lighter than glass. This makes wine in PET bottles ideal for consumption in the outdoors, allowing wine lovers to carry the bottles along easily and safely on hikes or forpicnics.

  • It is completely recyclable.

  • The manufacturing process of these bottles has a significantly lighter carbon footprint (up to 75% less) than glass bottles.

  • The cartons used to transport the wine are also completely recyclable.

The best part is that because the packaging is so ultra cool, it loves to travel to all the weird and wonderful places you do…. and I know where some of you go…. #justsaying

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In order to have a box of Tangled Tree delivered to your home, answer this simple question in the comment section. Please ensure I have your e-mail address to arrange delivery. Entries in by Sunday morning please, so that you too can enjoy end of the month salty crack… in wine form. 🙂

My question to you:  Which wine did I open and spoke about in my sound cloud recording

I wish you a crystal glass,

Wenchy

 

Posted in ... a bit of that, Memories, Thoughts, Travel

A Tumbleweed dancing in the light of the moon.

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

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It was cold the day I arrived at Tumbleweed Cottage in McGregor. A crisp kind of cold where you don’t shiver, but you would not say no to a mug of the coffee from Strictly Coffee in Robertson which I had become accustomed to while visiting these little patches of vibrantly alive dorpies.

Besides, I had discovered a true gentleman with a winning smile in the owner, Hanno Schwartz. I rate a feeling of belonging highly on my scale of returning. My head always thinking too much, with a heart born from sentimentality, which my also be the death of me.

All this, while indulging in their delicious, banting friendly breakfast and cappuccinos. I admit, I did not expect these little towns to know about banting and was pleasantly delighted when in conversation I realized they didn’t just think “low carb”, they had done their homework. I watched as Hanno checked each plate as it left his kitchen. Winner, right there.

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Tumbleweed Cottage looked like my white picket fence would have, had I ever had one. The kind where the look is a feeling, and in reality had nothing to do with fences dressed in white.

The front door had a trick to opening it. Once inside, I dumped my signature purple luggage,  breathed in and exhaled a smile.  It was perfect.

Clean lines, modern yet rich in history. Quiet but not silent. Open space without feeling lost. I walked towards the window overlooking the backyard.

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The white paint of the outbuildings in contrast with the deep blue plunge pool water. For a moment I lingered over the space where I imagined children laughing in the pool in warmer weather, the unique smell of South African braai fires, adults sitting on the back stoep enjoying the ample grape selection of the surrounding wine estates.

I turned around, curious to see what the rest of the space held. The lounge with an inviting fireplace caught my eye. I made a mental note to get wood. It was cozy while big enough to cater for a family. Rich leather seating you melted in, with a throw neatly arranged to curl up under. I noticed a Tumbleweed hanging from the roof. I love attention to detail.

The kitchen was not very large, but big enough for the needs of the cottage. Well equipped with all one may need.  My need went as far as coffee and rusks which was stocked in the cottage. The blends from Strictly Coffee was clearly well supported by the community.

I made a cup,  folding my hands around it for warmth,  stepped out of my shoes and in my socks I explored the huge clay shower downstairs. Felt the textures under my finger. Experience all things with all senses. Towels neatly stacked with a piece of lavender on top,  just so, as you enter the bathroom. Purple whispers. What’s not to love? I disturbed the arrangements as I spread out the towel to see the size. I like big bath towels you can get lost in, oh and two ply toilet paper. A non-negotiable for me.

I walked up the stairs to find the most beautiful main bedroom. A sense of romance. A bath one could read, or be coy in. I imagined my husbands laughter. The room was spacious and light played across the white bedding. A sacred space. I missed @SirNoid as I ran my fingers over the linen. Beautiful. As I walked downstairs, I turned once more for another look. Just in time to invite night to fall eventually on this room of fifty shades of dancing light.

Putting my cup in the sink,  I looked into the second and third bedrooms,  positioned on the ground floor.  One room comprised of two single beds and the other with a rather large bed with a door that opened onto the front stoep.

I decided to make myself comfortable in the bedroom downstairs with the large bed, as travelling alone, I did not want to taint my vision of the romantic loft.

Before I could go in search of wood, a man with a wheelbarrow arrived selling wood. I was very pleased as I was starting to feel the chill. I paid for the wood and probably looking at my purple hair and acrylic enhanced long nails, asked “Kan ek Mevrou help met die vuur?

I naturally accepted and he systematically explained step for step how to make a fire and if I need more wood, he would be back tomorrow.

I smiled, thanked him and asked for a hug. He truly looked shocked, surprised and delighted at the same time. A toothless grin as I hugged him and said I would see him the next day.

White woman offering a coloured man with a wheelbarrow a hug. Clearly was not the usual order of business by his reaction. Well, I’m not a very order of business kinda Wenchy.

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I had a lovely supper out in town at Tebaldi’s at Temenos which is worth an entry all on its own. When I returned, I put the heater on and closed the door to keep the heat captive.

I phoned home. Stretched out under the white, fresh linen and was soon lost in a land where wheelbarrows meant smiles, a Tumbleweed dangled from the moon and I was sipping champagne in a bath, in a room of wonders.

I found in McGregor, dreams could easily become reality. What you thought to be your truth, was easily challenged by the sincerity of a toothless grin.

You should visit… especially if you enjoy watching a Tumbleweed dancing in the light of the moon.

I wish you enough,
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McGregor

McGregor is a small village in the mountains of the Western Cape, South Africa. It is roughly 150 km east of Cape Town. It is located in Ward 5 of the Breede River Winelands Municipality. According to the Census 2001, this Ward has a population of 10,254 people (Stats SA, 2001).
McGregor Accommodation
Contact Mira for accommodation, places to go, things to see and all things country pumpkin around McGregor and the greater community:

Strictly Coffee

Strictly Coffee

  • Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/StrictlyCoffeeCapeTown
  • Twitter:  @StrictlyCoffee
  • Contact number:  083 270 9668
  • Email:  info@strictlycoffee.co.za
Posted in ... a bit of that, Memories, Travel

Get your kicks on Route 62*

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

Founded in 1853, Robertson (named after the Dutch Reformed Minister Dr William Robertson) lingers in the long shadows of the Langeberg mountains, gently persuading the Breede River to share in the bounty of the land.

Today, Robertson is a sleepy little town by night but as as the largest of the neighbouring towns of McGregor, Ashton, Bonnievale and Montagu which all fall in a 160km radius of Robertson, supplies are mostly collected from Robertson.

I was invited to join Mira Weiner from McGregor Country Getaways for a boutique breakfast at the very stylish and excessively upmarket restaurant under the watchful eye of Chef Reuben Riffel (see Masterchef) situated at the Robertson Small Hotel.

The area in which breakfast was served was beautifully lit with natural rays. Servers ready to provide you with your every need and a smile. I had a salmon omelette which was very tasty, but the flapjacks were the item that made everyone around me order the same.

Rich in colour, light and fluffy and beautifully presented. The most photographed flapjack of the day!

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Robetson Small Hotel

Robertson Small Hotel won the “World Luxury Hotel award” in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Think intimate, private, plush, pleasurable, stylishly being spoiled and pampered.

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I was delighted to get a tour of the rooms. My favourite being the accommodation that opened up onto the pool. A slice of heaven, literally just sliding into refreshing blue water.

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I could curl up with my book and let the hours pass me by in the luxury that surrounded me. Beautiful scenery, Inviting smells of freshly baked goods and friendly staff…

I wish you enough,

Be The Change

Email: reservations@therobertsonsmallhotel.com for reservations and do sign up for their newsletter as they do have regular specials.

*Robertson Wine Valley forms part of the longest wine route in the world, Route 62.

Posted in ... a bit of that, Travel

There are things about a small town that you can’t necessarily quantify.

Dear friends and other interesting creatures,

“This town of churches and dreams; this town I thought I would lose myself in, with its backward ways and winding roads leading to nowhere; but, I found myself instead. – Magic in the Backyard (excerpt from American Honey)”
Kellie Elmore

Have you ever read a book so enchanting that you didn’t want it to end? Or perhaps you had a love affair that you knew in your heart would end, with unlimited lingering, sentimental memories, but in the end you would have to part?

It is that feeling of wanting to keep what is sacred to you, so close to your heart, that you don’t want to share. While I knew the love and longing would always stay, I simply did not want to share the beautiful, simplistic secret that is McGregor. Not yet. I want to keep my gift wrapped!

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You see, it caught me unaware.  I didn’t expect to fall in love. Notebook and pen in hand I arrived.  Very city girl with purple hair and big rimmed glasses. Ready to write down the facts of what was to be a review of accommodation,  attractions and restaurants.

Instead I felt pieces of my soul being torn from inside me as I met the people of McGregor, saw the unique Cape style, white washed homes with green tin roofs. I listened to the accents and stories of those within whom I saw McGregor had grown too. Some like bark from an old tree, some excited as spring time blossoms… and some that only knew this one place,  McGregor and had no yearning for another.

What I can tell you is…  I may arrive Social Media Diva and Blogger like with a cheeky “So? Show me what you got?“, with McGregor giggling “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” already knowing I will leave changed, forever.

I invite you to travel with me over the next couple of weeks as I stumble over the pieces of my soul that has sprouted seedlings and is ready to grow, as I share them with you.

I stayed in various cottages, ate at numerous restaurants, a river boat ride, endless laughter, many a wine to tasting and jokes to share with fine dining and laughter.

My first overnight stay was at the rustic “Ons Huisie”. Set on the edge of town with a view of fields, and Badge mountain (I’m from Jozi, anything that isn’t flat is either a mine dump or a mountain – I don’t even know how to describe a hill!) and the odd cow. I immediately felt in love with it. I found the cottage unpretentious with gorgeous purple flowers arranged on the dining room table situated in the pine kitchen with traditional read ceilings.

The kitchen was very well equipped and I was impressed to find proper, high quality plunge coffee and rusks. Yes, I checked that there were books in the cottage as I do judge a house by the books it keeps. Very happy to report there are current best sellers on the shelves and not books written just as paper was invented!

The back yard is a wonder all to itself, especially for little people to explore with parents overlooking the large porch and braai area. It is all so very pretty, in excellent condition and clearly loved. You will find that Mira, the best representative the area of McGregor and surrounds could ask is exceptional with a wealth of information, helpful and truly, she will do anything to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

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The cottage itself caters for four people, but I wouldn’t go bigger than two adults and two pre-teens as the stairs going upstairs are a bit steep and the toilet is downstairs. That said, I know my kids would love the adventure of sleeping in a loft type arrangement. Very cosy and comfortably set out with two single beds, a chest of drawers and with a view of Badge Mountain. Can you hear the whispers and laughter late at night when the kids are supposed to be asleep?

 

What struck me as so peaceful is the light fabrics used to let light into the cottage, while it works just as well at night when you draw it closed. It was winter so I spoiled myself with a hot water bottle as there was no electric blanket in the cottage, it just felt …. right! I cannot stress the peaceful feeling I experienced in this cottage enough. I loved it!

The main bedroom has a shower very conveniently with the most gorgeous soap! I don’t know where the soap comes from but it is absolutely luxurious. Ample towels are supplied with heaters in both the main bedroom and the lounge.

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Over the next few weeks I will share more about fine dining in the heart of town, wine, chocolates, blue skies and the delights to be found in and around McGregor. I purposefully am not posting all at once as I believe the charm and excitement I feel will be lost… so stay with me. This is not a destination, it is a journey!

I wish you a traffic jam that includes a stop street, a single car and a very determined cow!

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