I took a sneaky weekend getaway to one of the Western Cape’s most colourful regions: the Overberg. This winter escape at White Water Farm took me straight back to my childhood days I spent in the countryside. We drove along the Whale Coast, passing through Hermanus and stopping just outside Stanford for our weekend getaway destination.
For a girl’s weekend, my friend Mira could not have picked a better country destination. “Oh, Mira! They have horses!” I exclaimed as we climbed onto the dirt road. We hugged the white paddock fence as we curved along the muted countryside.
Speckled Nguni cows greeted us with heavy grunts. Curious horses pushed their heads through the open windows, nuzzling our shirts. I beamed – I was in my element.
The farm is elegantly arranged. As we ascended the hill, we passed a few houses on the right until we reached the reception. This natural white, modern-meets-country design sat in front of three aged oak trees, bare-barked in winter. I observed a family frolic on the large lawn.
Amba came to assist us, followed by an entourage of dogs.
“Your room is this way,” she indicated with a hearty smile. We obliged and followed her to a cute cottage perched halfway up the hill. The view was splendid. We overlooked the little valley, and I could happily watch the farm life pass by.
The Manager’s Cottage was beautifully furnished with a pale palette in mind. It suited the surrounds and did not overpower the winter landscape. We were even lucky enough to get a happy little Peggy to show us around.
Meet Peggy, the friendly little pug and one of the many four-legged residents at White Water Farm.
“So typical. Two country pumpkins escape to another country pumpkin land!” Mira exclaimed.
It’s true. Even though I am a country pumpkin turned city slicker, I have my roots buried deep in the country. Both Mira and I are from a small village in the Klein Karoo and conducted our ‘winter escape’ to another small village in the Overberg. This rural spot in the Kleinriver Valley caught our hearts… picking up a pattern here?
After we got settled, I took a little walk to greet my favourite four-legged friends.
I salute the horses with the familiar greeting, by extending my hands for them to sniff. Once this ritual is complete, I have permission to stroke them. My hands find the well-known contours along their top line to their withers, and I rearrange their manes. I keep a steady eye on the gelding’s ears to watch for a change in mood. But his ears casually flick backwards and forwards, and he rests a hind leg.
I meander over to the mares, who are still eating their supper. Inspired by their peace of mind, I take a seat on the grass and watch the world. The sun set a few short minutes ago, and already the grey light has drained from the valley. The full moon is as clear as a coin in the sky, just hanging out of reach of the gnarled oak branches.
There is something so meditative about a horse eating. The munching of oat hay between the molars was calming, and slowly I felt the stress of city life slip away. I forgot how simple life could be. Somehow I lost my ability just to soak up the silence and live in the moment. This evening I was reminded what that was like, and it tasted sweet.
I set my alarm early. I wanted to watch the world around me wake up. Funnily enough, I didn’t need the alarm that morning. I rose, showered and layered up for the brisk winter air. Once I burst out the cottage, I could see a soft pink douse the mountain tops. And the echoes of my childhood would not be complete without the morning feeding frenzy.
The horses and cattle were eagerly waiting for their breakfast, and they were chewing impatiently. Even the calves seemed to sense that breakfast time was near. But the valley was quiet.
I wandered down the little dirt road to explore more of the farm. Eventually, I sensed movement near the feeding stalls, and I made my way back. Then I met Johan and his son Jake, who were preparing to feed the chickens and ducks. In a flurry of feathers, the chickens rushed out of their coup and pecked at the ground aggressively. Jake was enjoying the feeding process, and he strewed more mielies on the ground for the chickens. The ducks were a little more poised but rushed to the pond once they finished their breakfast.
Then it was our turn.
Mira and I made our way down to breakfast at around 9 am. It was served in a beautiful room with tall glass windows, allowing us to appreciate the morning sun stuck in the oak branches. Breakfast was a buffet with muesli and fruit – and excellent coffee from the local Beanery in Hermanus. You could also opt for an English breakfast, but the fresh fruit won in the end.
I left with a heavy heart – the only regret I had was that it was too short. But it leaves you wanting more.