Betty, meet Stan

We got back from the Transkei and almost immediately started packing for a sneaky mini getaway with our favourites, Guy and Claire. Betty’s Bay was our first stop – I hadn’t been back to the pretty little retirement/ holiday house town for ages, but it was still much the same. We stayed at Gull’s Nest; a lovely (and massive) family home, framed by mountains and overlooking the sea, with a balcony and braai area surrounded by fynbos.

Much of our time was spent hiking or wandering, and we popped into the gorgeous Harold Porter Gardens for a hike up Leopard’s Kloof. No leopards were spotted (although we did find some scratch marks on a tree), but the waterfall was charming, and the first of the season’s red disas were just beginning to dot the mountainscape.

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The restaurant has become rather overpriced (R65 for a toasted cheese sandwich), but it still boasts a lovely view of the pristine grounds. In the evening, we went to Tides Restaurant for dinner. Simple and satisfying, the cosy spot oozes small town charm and has a tasty menu to boot.

I managed to acquire a lilo from the Crazy Store in Kleinmond (weird place, with a hodge-podge selection of stores and a smelly stuffed lion), so we wandered down to the sunlit dam next door to the house for a swim. Guy and Tom kindly blew up my floating throne, so I lazed on the lake, while Tom tried (and failed) to float next to me and Claire swam off like a fish.

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We also popped in to see the penguin colony. Betty’s Bay has one of the largest colonies of these tiny tuxedo-ed troopers in the Western Cape,  and they were all lined up in a forlorn moulting mess,  getting sprayed by the sprinklers to keep cool. Apparently the adults moult once a year – and they don’t look terribly attractive while doing so! Claire and Guy have a mussel collecting licence so we went to the beach to scavenge lunch from the rocks – or rather, they did that, while I sat on the rocks and watched a giant red octopus furtively flit out from his hiding place in the tidal pool.

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Our next stop was Stanford – a sweet little farm 20km out of Stanford off a rocky dirt road (important info for anyone who is as precious over their car as T Love). Laughing by the River (also known as Laughing Waters Farm) is owned by the lovely Kirsten, who is a wonderful host with a holistic approach. Far removed from anything, it’s a peaceful place surrounded by mountains, with numerous sunbirds, and neighbouring goats that enjoy breaking into the garden to graze. We stopped at Hemel and Aarde en route (my favourite wine route), and had a sublime tasting at Creation Wines – unmatched views and a great Chardonnay.

Again, we spent much of our time hiking in the mountains around the farm. Claire and I drove up the mountain to the dam for a twilight dip one eve – Claire drove like an absolute pro, even though I was certain the car was going to tip over on the rough roads at times. It was lovely to float in the warm water while the sun shone its last golden light on the plethora of proteas surrounding us.

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We also went on a long hike with the boys – Tom and Guy watched aghast as I opened a fence and crept onto the property next door – allowing us to have the most wonderful walk through the lush vineyards of the adjacent wine farm. We walked passed many a dam, sneaked out the gates, and then trekked along the road (in hectic heat) back to the farm. This was followed up by a trip to De Kelders for a swim in the sea (toes dipped in water rather than actual swim), after which we munched fish and chips, and Guy bought us ice creams – best.

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On one of our last days away, we went wine tasting. We started at Raka, which is a beautiful estate that gazes over the mountains, with roses lining the drive. We tried six of their wines, bought a case of rose (delicious), then hopped across to Springfontein. As the main restaurant was closed (and is fully booked until 8 Jan BTW), we had the tasting room to ourselves. The sommelier was generous, and after three almost full glasses of wine, I was more than a little bit tipsy. Claire and I had a nap under the tree on the lawn, while the boys laughed at us and took photos of us not quite looking our most sprightly.  I had a snooze in the car on the way home, and then revived enough for the braai that eve.

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We had the best time with our lovely friends and the days flew by in a blur of hiking, drawing, eating delicious things, chatting, drinking, snoozing, and swimming. I don’t think I’ve drawn that much in ages – it was really inspiring being around Claire who is extremely creative and talented. Both Betty and Stan(ford) surprised and delighted us – they’re accommodating and laid back hosts with much to offer in terms of scenery and relaxation.

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