A photo speaks many words. You look at a picture and you just naturally make assumptions. “Wow, they look so happy.” “Wow it looks like such a great place to raise children!”
The true story however is in the section that is cropped out. The cropped out broken glass in the corner of the room. The cropped-out litter pilling up all along the highway. So when I look at those amazing pictures online of South Africa, I can’t help to reflect on what I know about all those places and my own experiences.
Just to name a few of the amazing places where I have lived: Namaqualand, The Great Karoo, Kimberley, Grahams Town, Port Elizabeth (Just two days) and then The Helderberg, where I spent the last decade of my time in South Africa. When I look at pictures of Helderberg I don’t see the images in front of me. I see the late night strolls along the beach. I see the ice cream store on the corner of Burnard and Beach Road. I see the ocean when you drive down that last hill on your way back from Stellenbosch. I see the two letters, GB, against the mountain. I have always enjoyed telling people that it stands for General Botha. Which usually results in an argument where they claim it stands for Gordons Bay. I will then silently think for myself, “Know your town, Transvaler!”
The Helderberg is where my heart settled. It is where I met God and where God met me for that matter. I was running away from Him for so long, as soon as I hit the shoreline there was no place left to go. He had me cornered. I had to listen. In Helderberg is where I’ve met my wife. My steady right hand when my mind is a ship on a stormy sea. She gave me a strong young lion and 4 years later my drop of sunshine. Helderberg is where this all started. How can I not call it home.
For me living there always felt like I was on holiday. Close to the beach, wonderful people, camping areas in each direction and mountains, mountains everywhere! Even in a natural wonder like Australia, where I currently live, the mountains just cannot compare. I won’t even mention London. No mountains there. Wales was the closest you can get to mountains and we were just too busy to ever make the trip.
My mind will often travel back through time to reminisce on all the good times we had and all the Helderberg has to offer. The great people, the sea, the mountains, the WINE! Oh, my goodness, so much wine. Wine farms everywhere! Not that my wife and I ever over indulged. In fact we stopped drinking alcohol years ago, but I will never trade the memories of the little things that makes us cultivated. Biltong, braai vleis, long strolls on the beach and wine tasting on farms that looks like they are situated on God’s own door step. Farms like Morgenster, Vergelegen, Waterkloof and Lourensford. Each one offers you a wide variety of treats like chocolate, olive oil and wine tastings. Each complimented with a magnificent view.
Now Lourensford needs no introduction as it is internationally known for it’s great wines, but next time you find yourself wondering Somerset West’s finest, ask for the chocolate and wine tasting when you’re at Lourensford and when you feel you had enough rounds walk 20 steps to the coffee tasting area to sober up. Just because I’m lazy, find a link to their website below.
Morgenster offers a wide selection of olive oils to choose from. My wife, being much more cultivated than I am, introduced me to olive oil tasting. It’s where the addiction started. Not that I’m that much of an olive oil fan. The wine was great too. Morgenster offers a great pond view while you’re sitting back sipping and tasting through the delicious aromas of fruit that might as well have been stolen from the garden of Eden itself.
How about a South African German experience? If you ever get lost on the back roads driving through Somerset West, on your way to Sir Lowry’s Pass, you might see to your right a dodgy looking place called Eim Eimer. Definitely one of my favourite places in Helderberg. Many good memories with friends and family. Best eisbein you will ever have. Just stay away from the Zappa, which consists of an espresso shot with an extra shot of something else which much resembles Tannie Saartjie’s Mampoer. You’ll end up losing your memory on that stuff. They are also one of the very few places that sell beer by the litre. You might think for someone that does not drink a drop I sure write a lot about it, but like I said…the best eisbein I’ve ever had.
Fancy a cuppa? Gants Industrial hides the gem of all coffee places. Like a diamond in the rough. All freshly baked delights ready to cheer you up no matter what the pain. Whenever in the area I always make a point to pop in and have a browse at all the antiques they have on display. They always have some newly baked delights teasing my tastebuds and I’m never afraid to put a little jammy something-something to the test. Pajamas and Jam is a family restaurant but if you truly want to get the best experience from it, treat your Misses to a surprise lunch and take your time browsing all they have on display.
How about a massage after a long stressful week running around the job, even though it’s still Monday, Mukda Thai Spa offers a whole range of different massages you can choose from. Just make a right off the N2 down Sir Lowry’s Pass Road and to your left you will see what looks like a Thai villa, teleported out of place and out of time. I designed their first website for them 5 years ago and I’ll admit, I have taken advantage of the opportunity on more than one occasion. Not just for myself but friends and family too. I felt like Oprah. Handing out massage vouchers to everyone that I could get bookings for.
Helderberg truly has so much to offer and I have only scratched the surface. There are so many good memories to recall. All the late night braais, the impulsive decisions to go camping at Koelbay, the 4am fishing mornings at Platbanke or the 6am runs on Strand beach. But most of all, those priceless sunsets…oh wow those sunsets. Nothing to crop out there. No matter how hard your day was. Like a forgiving mother Table Mountain smiles at you. Winking the sun away as quickly as it appeared. Leaving you with that warm feeling of hope. Good Hope. Encouraging you that tomorrow is another day.