Sunday, January 30, 2011
It’s apple season in the Cape and I recently visited the Paul Cluver Estate just outside Grabouw in the apple vally of Elgin, about an hour's drive from central Cape Town.
The main reason for my visit was to write stories about the Paul Cluver Wine Estate and the Fresh restaurant on the farm. Besides the elegant cooler climate Cape wines and the Cluvers' romantic vegetable garden, it was the orchards hanging heavy with apples and the amphitheatre that wholly captured my imagination.
Being the lovely hospitable people that they are (I would also like to think it’s because they liked my articles) the Cluvers invited me to attend a show at the Cluver amphitheatre which Dr Paul Cluver (the father) built with his own hands. He is quite the woodworker and has also made a lot of the furniture on the farm, including the tasting room and restaurant.
I arrive for the concert on a warm, still summers night. The Cluvers are amongst the most hospitable hosts around and before I know it I have a Grabouw boerewors roll with tomato smoor and Caprese cocktail sticks – no doubt with tomatoes and basil from their own patch informally known as the Garden of Elgin. It goes down just beautifully with a glass of Paul Cluver Pinot Noir served by Mr Paul Cluver (the son and ruler of Cluver land) himself.
As dusk falls I can almost imagine fairies stepping out of the shadows amongst the tall trees. We move over to the amphitheatre to settle down in this enchanting space and listen to Arno Castens as he sets the mood for the evening with some chilled numbers. The die hard fans are already lip synching to the songs.
Arno Carstens and his former band have had a significant impact on the psyche of South African rock lovers and also in the soundtrack of my life. I will never forget shaking my hair to ‘Little Daisy’ and ‘Bubblegum’ on holiday in Hermanus during high school.
Indeed, after the break former Springbok Nude Girls band member Theo Crous makes a surprise performance on stage and the crown goes wild. Arno Carstens’ former band has reassembled to perform as opening act for the U2 concert in Cape Town on 18 February 2011. I feel quite nostalgic as I listen to them performing soft rock versions of the songs that first made them famous.
As the last of the daylight fades in the Cluver forest I am convinced that there is a little magic in this place. Perhaps it's the combination of wine and music beneath giant trees but this forest amphitheatre is by far the most haunting venue in the whole of Cape Town.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
A part of me stayed in Wackersberg after that trip to see my friend Caroline get married in the Alps. It was a reunion of best friends who met in Cape Town while studying years ago and my first flight out of Cape Town after coming back from Dubai.
These people have had such a big part in shaping who I am today. They have loved me through the best and the worst of times. Between Frankfurt, London, Dubai and Cape Town, we’ve managed to stay in touch over the ocean and spend many holidays together over the years. Borders, visas and beaurocracies may make things more difficult these days but it cannot really separate.
Looking back over 2010 I am only grateful. After almost three years of living in Dubai my Capetonian friends received me back in the Mother City with open arms. I felt not only welcome but celebrated and whilst I lost myself a little in the desert they were ready to guide me back onto my path. It is because of the people who love me that I can step into 2011 a stronger, happier and more courageous me.
I realize now that I am incredibly blessed with love. I may have a scattered family and still be very single, but I am surrounded by so many people whose eyes light up at my company - in so many parts of the world. People would take me in at the blink of an eye, who has never used my secrets against me and who are always ready to listen and choose my side no matter what.
It’s my friends, more than anyone, who has taught me what it means to love.