The Best of Barrydale

Having recently returned back from a weekend away in Barrydale with my mom, (not forgetting our two Yorkshire terriers that accompanied us) I thought I would share some of Barrydale’s best stops.  Barrydale is approximately a 3 hour drive from Cape Town. Its a small farming village situated between the Overberg region and the Klein Karoo.  Its not a very big town in comparison to other “dorps” we have been too. However the scenery of the mountains certainly creates a tranquil setting. A perfect way to settle into the weekend.

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Overlooking the town of Barrydale

Mom & I took a leisurely drive through from Cape Town, exploring all the farm stalls en route, a tradition I seem to have to do whenever I do road trips. I simply can’t help myself! We went through the Tradouw Pass (which means Women’s Path in the old Khoi language) before entering Barrydale. This 17 kilometer drive through an altitude range of 219 meters meanders through some of the most beautiful & rugged mountain scenery on offer in the Langeberg. This pass is undoubtedly in the Top 20 tarred passes in the Western Cape on an overall rating. The pass joins the towns of Barrydale and Swellendam and was originally built by Thomas Bain. Shortly after exiting this beautiful pass we arrived at our accommodation for the weekend, Sandy’s Place (http://www.sandysplace.co.za/). It is pet friendly which of course was our main concern since we were traveling with our dogs Jack & Zoe. It has pleasant rooms with nice” braaiing” facilities outside as well as an adjacent garden which Zoe & Jack could wonder through. Hosts Johan & Sterna van Eeden do their utmost in making sure your stay is a great one & are very hospitable and welcoming.  It was pouring with rain upon our arrival, so our plan of having a braai quickly changed & turned into dining out at the Karoo Art Hotel, 1km away from where we were staying. It is a very quirky, modern and art filled hotel (https://karooarthotel.co.za/). Their award-winning restaurant Karoo Grill certainly proved to us why it has won so many awards over the years. Their food simply delicious. A perfect setting especially for mom as she is an avid lover of painting & art herself. The art made for great dinner conversations in the restaurant as we heard various tables chatting about the beautiful art that surrounded them.  The emphasis in this restaurant  is very much on South African traditional food, particularly on Karoo dishes. I definitely could recommend this as a great dining stop!

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A Taste of the interior of Karoo Art Hotel

On Saturday morning the clouds had cleared and the beaming sun was out. We were smiling. So we browsed around the main street, which I may add isn’t a very long street at all! All the shops were dog friendly and loved Jack & Zoe popping in. One of the interesting shops we stopped in at was Barrydale weavers. Where they make all sorts of items from hand towel, to bath towels & mats. What took my fascination was the lady pictured below who was clearly making a mat & how skilled she was at working the line of thread behind her with the turning of the weaving rack. (She worked on this piece the entire time while we were in Barrydale).

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Work in Progress

 

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Barrydale Weavery

It was a very chilled day & I think we were just enjoying the sunshine along with the fact that it wasn’t raining. Absolute bliss! Once we had browsed the shops that were open we decided to drive a little bit out of Barrydale heading toward Montagu direction. As you leave Barrydale you pass Barrydale Cellars which we stopped in at very briefly. They are very much brandy oriented, very lovely, however Mom was looking for some wines to take home & sample.

A fantastic winery with not only great clean tasting wines but it is also beautifully laid out & decorated is Joubert – Tradouw Vineyards (http://www.joubert-tradauw.com/) which in my opinion is a definite stop even if you do not buy anything, just to experience a taste of what wine making is about, seeing the barrels in dark cool rooms simply made my experience there a very personal & real one! After tasting & buying a few wine bottles at the various wineries along this route, we decided that it would be a good idea to turn around & head back before we literally end up in Montagu.

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Joubert-Tradouw Winery

Magpie Art Collection (http://magpieartcollective.com/) is another interesting stop not only if you are interested in art but if you like to see items being reused & recycled. As this is exactly what the artists at Magpie do, they take the residents trash & simply turn it into art, whether it be light fitting decorations, chandeliers, bird mobiles & chairs just to name a few. You immediately feel immersed in the huge amounts of creativity that flow through their exhibition room. It really is fantastic to see what you able to do with a little bit of creativity and flair.

The final stop on my brief Barrydale weekend with you would have to be the much talked about Diesel & Creme (http://dieselandcreme.co.za/). Boy O’ Boy was it a delicious treat for Mom & I, certainly won’t be forgotten in a hurry that is for sure. We had walked everywhere the entire day to make sure our tummies were empty for the tasty surprise that awaited us as Diesel & Creme. Mom ordered “Morning Glory” (coffee & espresso milkshake) while I ordered Peppermint Crisp for a change as being a creature of habit I generally always go for something chocolate. Surrounded by a fabulous atmosphere we were silent whilst sipping away at our milkshakes!

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Mom & I with our milkshakes!

The decor certainly keeps you entertained with a mix of old & new, it almost takes you right back to your childhood. Only happy memories at Diesel & Creme. A great way to end the weekend.

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Because every day is a great day at Diesel & Creme

 

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Funky Milkshake Bar

Bye for now ….Fiona

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You never know

In my short time on this planet I have noticed that my life has become a bit predictable.
It is no longer much fun watching television or movies as in the first few minutes, its not hard to work out the plot and story line.
Saddening as it is to say, even my daily commitments as well as my interactions with most people can be a bit of a predictable tiresome routine.

One thing that always seems to surprise me is Nature. No matter if I am swimming, hiking or any of the outdoor activities that I  do, I always seem to be learning something new.
I am very happy to live so close to nature and have it so accessible in South Africa.
I must admit I would find it difficult to get into ‘city life’ for any amount of time.
Its not always whopping huge shockers,it may be something very small and very easily overlooked but there always seems to be something to be seen when being surrounded by nature.

Fiona and I try take any opportunity we can to get out and make the most of what is right on our doorstep. I thought I would share a great example of the totally unexpected, from our weekend adventures. Whilst hiking or swimming I find it is so easy to get caught up into the rhythm of the exercise till something unexpected catches your eye and or peaks your senses.

A Sunny Saturday Afternoon:

A bit of bird behaviour and then a twig breaks. Total silence falls over us like a thick blanket.
Fiona quietly points to the direction of the noise and we stop. We look for signs and wait.
The breeze is on our back so whatever it is chances are it knows that we are here.
Not really thinking it’s a big deal we move silently as possible into the middle of the clearing towards a little mound. Waiting patiently we still can’t see anything as there is thick brush in that direction. “Na it’s probably a porky I say” (referring to a Porcupine or something like that as its late afternoon).
Moments later I can hardly believe my eyes.

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I am astounded to see what is slowly making its way almost directly towards us. A Rhino….Wow. How does an animal so big move so quietly through the bush?
I know that there are no black rhinos in this area and by the size of its head and its wide grazing mouth it has to be a Wijt or White rhino.
Black rhinos tend to be a bit moody, like my grandmothers old English bull terrier, they have bad eye sight and just tend to charge at  any movement.

The big male seems to be very relaxed after what looks to have been a great mud bath.
He does not seem to worried about us. Now he is just standing in the clearing. How odd!!!
Its a bit of a “pinch me” type of moment.
Just as we are getting accustomed to the sight of him, the rest of the group slowly emerge from the brush.

Its a whole social group!!

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The moms were even kind enough to give us a glimpse of their little ones.

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How is it that five of these animals were standing just meters away in the bush and we were non the wiser.
Fully grown a White rhino can get up to 1.8m in height and weigh around the 2000kg mark. Its big on television but something to behold in the flesh.

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Just as quickly and silently as they arrived they soon disappeared into the bush on the other side of the clearing, leaving us both a little trail blazed as to what we had just seen.

As I said,   no matter what we choose to do outdoors its always a bit different with new exciting things to be discovered.
Big or small, it all adds to the experience that we call life.
That day shall not be forgotten any time soon.

Dan