“No, we do not need a bakkie or a 4×4… we are perfectly fine with our VW Polo”, I can hear my hubby saying this. True, but there are some ‘nice’ roads … and with 4 adults driving to Stilbaai it is a little bit crappy. Luckily the mountain bike and the boogie board went with friends. It’s always quite an organization to get all the food, books and clothes packed, but here we go….
Chatting and listening to music, counting birds of prey and seeing a lot of storks in the dry farmland does make time fly, driving the long straight hilly N2 towards Riversdale.
Our first stop is just after Riversdale and there is a good reason for it. It’s a place where we can have lunch and a wine tasting.

Our favorite winemaker (how many do we have?) is working at Baleia. Stunning new place, great label, love the blue accent and could be a great place to chill down on a lovely afternoon. I don’t want to advertise but I think you really have to stop here and fill up the extra space in your booth with their wines. I choose Chardonnay and Tempranillo … but please taste them all! 
From Riversdale, we go south, towards the Indian Ocean, not a long road but the tar changes to dirt road …yeb, that takes some time. We follow the direction of the Olive Farm. It’s the place where our friends are staying and we understand that our cottage is not far from them. So we follow the road along the meandering river, old farm houses, and newly renovated farms, taking lots of hairpin turns and biting the dust every time one of those ‘monster’ trucks passes us.

We park our car under an old tree at the Stone Cottage and walk to the main house to get the keys. What a stupid idea at this time of the day, it’s hot and quite a climb. I mentioned Jan that I wanted to lose some weight, but please not all in one day… and while we are unpacking I ate the whole package of peanut brittle chunks ( I needed some energy) and by eating them all, I couldn’t fall into that temptation anymore… sorry, guys that I didn’t share! Must tell you that they tasted delicious in a romantic cottage like this ….

By opening all the French doors, we let the fresh herb-scented air in so it could fill the rooms … I love the romantic touch in the bedroom, with white linen and a ‘corrugated iron roof style’ cupboard. Oh and I forget to mention the amazing view on the river. A free view but still have a feeling of privacy on your covered stoep.

From Stone Cottage, it’s about 12 kilometers to Stilbaai village, it’s a good dirt road with after every corner a great view. Most impressive and touchy for me are the houses Muffets, Birdsong and Milkwood, they look gorgeous and for me it’s more than the beauty, as I heard that these cottages belonged to Wilbur Smith. I am just reading his last novel ‘Golden Lion’ and my bookcase is filled with all his other work about the Courtney’s…so yes, I am a huge fan of his work and it’s special to know that in this area, in a small fisherman’s cottage, his thoughts found empty paper.

Canoeing on the river along the reed, seeing rock formation behind it, I can see where his inspiration is coming from.
Almost at the end of the River road, there is Kleinbergskloof we were lucky to have coffee and carrot cake here, it’s often booked for private functions and I can imagine why. Such a gorgeous spot where everything is white with some antic touches. I bought some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and we talked about the design and that it could be the perfect spot for a wedding organized by Aleit.

Later in the week, we tried to go back for lunch but unfortunately…closed for a private function.
But there is always a reason for things like this, so we turned around… back to town and squeezed in at the last table at Paradiso, it was mentioned by the owner of our cottage and she was right. Very nice fresh food and a bit of a Capetonian feeling.

Shame we didn’t have more time but Jan had already a slot booked at the local golf course. He and his friend did 9 holes, I only saw it on pictures and I think it’s a great place to play…a bit better early morning or late afternoon as it was very hot at 14.00.
We were lucky that Neil and Eliana the owners of Long Thin Farm were also having some family time at the farm and that we could have a garage style olive and wine tasting. 

Something I never did before and that was quite refreshing … it’s always nice to hear people talking about their passions in life. To have the feeling that they are sharing a secret.
To walk around in their garden underneath the olive trees and to lie on their lawn after a good swim or practice of canoeing against the wind.

I fell in love with this lovely spot along the Goukou river and felt really at home in their cottage where I couldn’t finish my second book ‘Op naar Geluk’ (meaning ‘On your way to happiness’) but feeling really happy and lucky to have spent some time in nature, floating down the river towards the Indian Ocean and the gorgeous beach, watching the birds and insects around the house and taking care of and feeling loved by friends and family.

Tips from the Winelands, Western Cape
by Zeelandhuys
januari 2016