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Cape Winelands, Coffee Corners, Dining, Exploring the Cape Winelands, Lifestyle, South Africa, Sunny in South Africa, Travel

A Winter Country Getaway in McGregor

It felt good to be nestled in my corner of the world again. It had been a while since I was back in the little village of McGregor where I grew up. I take a moment to breathe in the silence.

I arrived on Friday night a while after sunset. The road trip up from McGregor was a sightseeing trip in itself. Autumn carpeted the lengths of the Langeberg Valley as vineyards turned with the seasons. The two-hour trip whisked by as I gazed in awe at the landscape and refamiliarized myself with the curve of the mountains.

Driving into McGregor that night, the first thing that struck me was the stars. A dazzling Milky Way greeted me as I sat braced against the cold air in the middle of nowhere.

The Road to Nowhere

Mcgregor literally is in the middle of nowhere though. Situated two hours from Cape Town on a right turn off from Robertson. The road leading up to this little village is actually named The Road to Nowhere. And sometimes that’s where you have to be to find yourself.

The McGregor main road in rush hour traffic. Credit: Oliver Heistein.

The McGregor main road in rush hour traffic. Credit: Oliver Heistein.

This little village has its charm, once you get over the shock of being disconnected from civilisation. Upon entry, you will see your cell reception bars drop to zero. Then the dreaded words “No Service” flash across your screen. Welcome to your digital detox.

Welcome to the Quiet Life

I grew up in this little corner of the world called McGregor. I loved every minute of running in the hills, riding horses bareback and playing with Pokemon tazos. But soon the quiet dread sets in. The words “What do I do now?” echoes in your head.

My advice? Explore the krans at sunrise, grab a coffee shake at Tebaldi’s or a lunch at Flora’s. Then your afternoon is open to explore the splendour of the surrounding wine farms. Like I did.

A winter morning sunrise at my favourite spot in the McGregor hills.

A winter morning sunrise at my favourite spot in the McGregor hills.

A Wine and Art Pairing

On Saturday I got to be a plus one to a stunning event taking place in the heart of the Langeberg Valley. Tucked around a corner, somewhere between Robertson and Ashton, lies the beautiful destination of Zandvliet Wine Estate.

The old Cape Dutch houses stretch out to welcome you in. It was late afternoon and the Klein Karoo air was cold. The event was to be hosted in the Kalkveld Lounge. It was an unusual pairing of a wine event and a gallery launch, which was to take place underground. The first artist to grace the ancient cellar walls is Laresa Perlman.

The signature Zandvliet Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc by the fireside.

The signature Zandvliet Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc by the fireside.

The cellar tour of Laresa Perlman's work at Zandvliet Wine Estate.

The cellar tour of Laresa Perlman’s work at Zandvliet Wine Estate.

The Klein Karoo's signature red sunset.

The Klein Karoo’s signature red sunset.

We spent the evening sipping Shiraz by the fireplace, engaging in conversations about art, and admiring Laresa’s raw portrait and nature photography. Then it was time for the Klein Karoo’s famous red sunset.

A Girls Night In

Mira and I pulled into the driveway back home just after dark. It’s funny how still the village is at night, but there is a soft remnant of light like a candle wick that has just been doused.

We decide to call it a girls night in. Mira reheats the leftover pizza, linguine pasta with pesto, spinach and mushroom and whips together a salad in no time. I set the table and the mood, with some music from Brooklyn Duo. After we wined and dined, we set aside the rest of the evening for social. But not the kind you have in mind.

Two country pumpkins. Mira and I have been friends for 18 years and grew up together in McGregor.

Two country pumpkins. Mira and I have been friends for 18 years and grew up together in McGregor.

After a whole afternoon without wi-fi, we have a lot of catching up to do. Mira is the proud owner of her own PR company Hot Oven Marketing. And I had my own accounts to fill in about the day’s events. Then we called it an ‘early’ night and tucked into bed, layered under a mountain of blankets to fend off the cold.

Breakfast at Flora’s

“We’re meeting for breakfast at Flora’s with Annie at 11,” called Mira as I was walking out the door.

I am booted up and kitted out to face the icy chill in the McGregor air. This village is renowned for scorching hot summers (low 40°C) and its cold winters. Unfortunately, we have not prepared for the cold in South Africa and our houses are far from insulated.

I wandered down the street with my camera, tracing back familiar steps of my childhood. I notice the little changes happening in the village: new places popping up, others closing down, new for sale signs against fences, and gates ‘Sold’ has been slammed on. On a micro scale, everything is always changing in this town.

From a friend's house, to Frangipani's, to Flora's. Change is in the air in McGregor.

From a friend’s house, to Frangipani’s, to Flora’s. Change is in the air in McGregor.

Flora’s used to be located further down the village but now sits opposite Carol’s Pub. To me, it will always be the house where a good friend lived for years. I enter into the newly face-lifted abode. It’s been beautifully done. Flora’s is renowned for her interior decorating style with flowers blooming across the wall. Her family style restaurant is a whole new world of flavour with a healthy twist.

The floral interior at Flora's Eating House and Gallery in McGregor.

The floral interior at Flora’s Eating House and Gallery in McGregor.

Isn't this breakfast simply delightful?

Isn’t this breakfast simply delightful? French Toast with maple syrup and bacon with a side of latte.

 

By Soninke Combrinck, May 31, 2017

Soninke Combrinck

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Hi, I'm Soninke
My name is Soninke, but I am more affectionately known as 'Sunny'. I am a food obsessed, coffee loving travel bug who wants to save the world. Tag along on my journey as I try to navigate this crazy thing called life.
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