Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Rather Delightful Interlude and Something for Garden Lovers Everywhere!

Sign pointing to the duckpond ("eendedam") at Grietjiesdrif Guesthouse, near Rawsonville, in the Breedekloof (Breede River Valley) Wine Region.

There is nothing quite like a short break from ones daily routine to reignite a lackluster frame of mind. I enjoyed just such a change in pace and perspective this week, when I accompanied my daughter, Linda, on an overnight trip to Rawsonville, a small, wine farming community situated in the picturesque Breede River Valley. The quaint town of Rawsonville is the central hub of this lively agricultural community and well-worth a visit!

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We were booked into Grietjiesdrif Guesthouse, and arrived late in the afternoon. It had been a particularly cold, wet, blustery day both in Cape Town and en route to our destination and we arrived between showers. I took this picture on the morning we checked out. The sun was shining beautifully and Linda was gesturing, "Well, aren't we leaving, then?" while I was hastily snapping a few last pictures of the pretty garden.

View from outside the door to our room (we were in the last room, No 4) looking down the passageway towards the exit to the dining room which was upstairs at the other end of this wing. The guest quarters were constructed in an old, existing wine cellar.

 What a delightful scene awaited us on the afternoon we arrived at Grietjiesdrif! Mist-covered mountains enveloped the property providing a theatrical backdrop to the deep green, sheep dotted paddock which our cosy en suite room faced. Although the wind was biting (we discovered the reason for this the following morning, when snow-capped peaks revealed themselves!), I grabbed at the opportunity to snap a few pictures lest we were destined to wake up to another day of rain next morning.

The in-residence managing owners of this enchantingly whimsical guesthouse, are devoted animal lovers.

Apart from their beautiful, seven year old, long-haired, male German Shepherd, Troy, they keep a number of happy, freely roaming hens, a few sheep (of which three are young lambkins!), a couple of calves, two horses and two rescue donkeys.

What a gift! A sunny morning greeted us after the cold and rainy day before!

Apart from having enjoyed an excellent four course dinner in the evening at a local restaurant, followed by a restful night's sleep, we awoke to the sound of vocal sheep and donkeys being given their early morning breakfast. Once up and dressed for the day, we were fed a top-notch breakfast in the lovely dining room ourselves. The roaring fire that welcomed us to breakfast added the perfect touch! Linda and I agreed that the really fresh fruit compote, served with muesli and thick yoghurt, was of the best we'd ever eaten, away from home! The eggs to order were cooked perfectly and served with crispy bacon, cocktail sausages and grilled tomato on attractive, handpainted platters. Freshly squeezed orange juice was served from a jug at our table. The toast was hot and delicious, buttered and topped with homemade, chunky marmalade served from a pretty jam jar. To round it all off superbly, the large bodum of coffee was HOT and very good! Our host and hostess were both cook and waitron. A charming touch to the over all experience of a visit to Grietjiesdrif, one which I can confidently recommend.

Not much cloud left over from the day before.

The two selfcatering cottages at Grietjiesdrif Guesthouse, separate from the Bed and Breakfast en suite rooms where we stayed.

Quirky stoep (verandah) with built-in braai (barbeque) for one of the two selfcatering cottages.

Wishing-well water feature in the garden at Grietjiesdrif Guesthouse

Do you want to make a wish?

Lichen growing on one of the wooden disks that acted as a pathway to reach the wishing-well.

The cast cement tables and chairs in the garden were decorated with inlaid pieces of chipped tile and pottery fragments, creating a delightfully novel effect.

None of Johan and Louella's animals (all are given full pet status!) is destined to end up on their dinner table! All are offered a lifetime of full board and lodging for the nominal fee of...
  •  acting as Chief Guard Dog, but Troy is so friendly, his role is more in line with that of a concierge!
  •  providing a daily supply of freshly laid, delicious eggs (hens)
  •  full-time lawn mowing services (sheep, calves, horses)
  •  fullcream milk bottling services (milk cows-in-training)
  •  early morning alarm clock duties (donkeys, rooster, sheep)

"We spend our days grazing (mowing the lawn), resting in the sun or beneath the shade of trees, chatting politely to each other about our respective lambkins."

"I'm the proud, dehorned Dad Ram around here and I'm rather partial to a tickle on the head. Would you mind obliging?"

"Oh, Blackie! Haven't I told you before that it's impolite to pee in front of the guests?"  "No, Maaa! I'm only a week old!"

The two rescued donkeys have been adopted in accordance with the vision ascribed by the Donkey Sanctuary in Mc Gregor, namely " to provide abused, neglected and elderly donkeys with the opportunity to live out their lives with respect and dignity, surrounded by their own kind, in a protective and natural environment."
"We are ever so grateful to Johan and Louella for having taken pity on us!"

"Yes, when we arrived two months ago, we were so afraid of humans, no one was able to approach us. Now we readily trot over to say hello, thanks to the lovely, safe home we have been given here. Thank you, Johan and Louella! And, thank you, Desiree, for giving us the opportunity to share our good news with the world through your blog."

A farm further along the road from Grietjiesdrif Guesthouse has a zebra living with their resident donkeys!

It was lovely to see snow on the surrounding mountain peaks and it certainly explained why the weather was so nippy!

We'd checked out right after breakfast and had driven into the little town of Rawsonville (a mere 8km away from Grietjiesdrif).

A cottage in Rawsonville being given a "makeover!" This is becoming a popular trend in many of the smaller villages, where old houses are readily snapped up by city folk and turned into lovingly restored holiday homes, easy to access for a weekend escape from the stresses of city living.

Knowing how much pleasure I derive from seeing gardens different to my own, Linda had decided to cater to this idiosyncracy of mine before we returned home. There is something so enjoyable about driving around, and peeking into, the gardens of little towns and villages one doesn't normally have reason to visit.  The following pictures were taken of the unfenced pavement, or fenced, streetside gardens of various homes in Rawsonville. It was especially heartening to me to see how much pride many of the local residents take in creating their own beautiful landscapes. They put many of the gardeners, in the far bigger town where I live, to shame! I hope you enjoy peeking with me...  

The resident dog at this property gave me permission to lean over the low front fence in order to take clearer pictures!

This was such a lovely garden that in my enthusiasm to take lots of pictures from different angles, I took a few liberties and stepped into the spaces to get a closer look.

This perspective was achieved by stepping on to the driveway where the garage was situated. I was so pleased I had!

The next series of pictures show the creative use of gravel, stones, rocks and waterwise plants.

I was so impressed with how attractively this owner had landscaped what was a relatively narrow space right to the kerb of the street.

These gardens were already so colourful and this before our annual show of spring glory! I would have loved to have seen these gardens a few weeks from now!


  1. These pictures were beautiful! I agree that we all need to get away like this more often. I love the story about the donkeys. Until this post, I didn't realize you lived in South Africa. Lucky!

  2. Again a wonderful set of pictures. The self catering cottages looks so pretty! It is indeed a great escape location. Maybe one day :-)

  3. What lovely photos you captured of those gardens at the end, and how wonderful that you got to spend that time away with your daughter, Linda. It looks like such a delightful place that you stayed at. What a difference in that picture with the mountain in the background. One with the cloud and the next one clear blue sky! Lovely post my friend.

  4. Yes, I have a wish! I wish I could visit your most gorgeous country but, in the meantime, DO NOT STOP TAKING AND SHARING PICTURES!

  5. Those gardens are delightful with their colourful flowers and the clever use of driftwood, pebbles and 'features'. So beautifully kept!

    Best of all though, I love the snow capped mountains, so crisp against the clear blue sky!

    What a wonderful time you had!

  6. My love for South Africa grew even more today as I viewed the magnificent pictures you and Linda took. That is exactly the kind of place Linda and I would love to spend a week or two. Thank again for a wonderful photo journey.

  7. First of all, how lovely to take a little trip with your daughter - it's one of my favorite things to do too. In fact, I have a little trip planned with my Lillypad soon.
    The gardens and guest house - they are stunning. Over and over again you make me reassess my old view of your country. Believe me, it is never shown this way on TV or in the press. It's so very beautiful.

  8. Such wonderful photos makes me want to go aways somewhere peaceful......

  9. It's so beautiful there! I really enjoyed the scenery. The more I see of your country, the more I know I need to travel there one day and see it in person.

  10. Mom, this is a great write-up of our little overnight adventure! It was so much fun...and now you've got me craving that breakfast again!

  11. What a great place to be....great pictures!! what a trip ! from

  12. Beautiful photographs of an amazing place.

    Wow those blue skies are something else!

    I loved my visit to your blog today.

    Thank you


  13. My wish is the same as "EmptyNester's." I've never really wanted to travel to South Africa before. Seeing the United States and Europe was the limit to my longing to travel. But your photographs, Desiree, always fill me with the desire to see your lovely country.

    I'm so glad that you are an "animal whisperer" and that you share with us what the donkeys and lambs and Troy were saying to you. Such lovely creatures.

    I yearn for the day when I can use a camera at least a little as well as you do. I also hope someday soon to learn how to get the photographs from camera to computer. A technological challenger for sure!

    Finally, thank you, Desiree, for your comment on my Saturday posting. Your words touched me deeply. You wrote, "You seemed to possess the ability to transcend whatever life tossed your way, as though you were drawn to something beyond your physical self"and I realized the truth of your words. I am drawn, and have always been, to the Oneness of All Creation.

    Your blog helps draw me into Oneness. Thank you.

  14. that inn is just perfect! the landscape and personal, rustic touches of their place, and of course, their fantastic animals, make it a great place to rejuvenate the soul. those gardens are gorgeous too!

  15. When Spring comes to Africa, please do take lots of photo's!
    You have given us, (me) a wonderful gift. I know full well that I will never ever see Africa. Documentaries are wonderful, but for some reason this is..different. It is almost like visiting with you and enjoying your world first hand. Of course it is not anything close to it..but for me it's a gift. A beautiful gift to visit your blog and look at your world.
    Sending you a big hug!

  16. Just stopping by to say hello and follow you!

  17. Oh waht a beautiful place. I only had one wish at the wishing well and that was to be there with you enjoying this special trip. Thank you for sharing this with me. I felt as if I was there. Stunning photos. B

  18. Desiree, a few minutes ago I returned to Friko's Saturday blog and read all the comments.

    Your comment reflected what I was trying to say in my comment. However, I was unable to find the words.

    I'm so glad you found them and introduced all us us to the those who have celebrated such important life milestones in that ancient Norman church.

  19. A beautiful and varied group of photos, delightful. I like the bench made with tile.

    Do people there like reusing old objects found at tag sales or 'flea markets'? We have a very lively group on FB called that Flea Market Gardening, where these folks from many different countries come to compare notes. It's so fun!

    I'm so glad you'r e able to make these wonderful trips,...the B&B is lovely looking.

  20. It would be easy to write an entire blog about any of your pictures.
    These are stunning. The mist covered mountain photo makes me want to board a plane and head over there :)
    Good job.

  21. What a fun trip! Ok I want to make a wish. I wish I could see half the neat stuff you get to see you lucky woman. I'm so glad you enjoyed your time with Linda. How fun! I loved the donkey's and the little spotted sheep. I keep telling Phil if we got a goat he wouldn't have to mow so often. I loved that gnarled trunk also what a gorgeous picture it made.

  22. I really love it when you preamble about a little trip away or a short break. It means you're taking us all with you and sharing all your experiences.
    Mmmm, I could just about taste that very hearty breakfast!
    So nice to read about all the animals and each of their important jobs. Those donkeys look the picture of health. How lucky to have been rescued and brought to live there - no wonder they look so happy.
    Peeking into other gardens with you is also another treat.
    Thank you Des, it was great fun :D)

  23. Wow, Desiree! I would love to be dropped off and spend hours strolling around that breathtakingly beautiful area. I get a calm and peaceful feeling inside just looking at these marvelous pictures. I love animals and I would be happy to tickle Dad Ram's head and have close encounters with all of the animals. I love gardens and have a modest collection of cactus and succulents.

    I have become a follower of your blog, Desiree. You are too good a friend and have too nice a blog for me not to join. Once again I sincerely thank you for supporting my blog as well!

  24. This post is huge! I had to travel through it several times to truly enjoy every detail. and capture your feeling from your added scripts. Might I recommend posting in segments so it can be less overwhelming? Still you have given me me beautiful insight into a new place. Thanks for that

  25. A delightful little break, a great pleasure for you and lovely to look at for us.

    those gardens in SA are fantastic. Climate has a lot to answer for!

  26. Oh, Des.....This is going down as one of my favorite posts. Absolutely beautiful photographs of an absolutely gorgeous countryside.

    I am delighted to find that there are people out there who provide for the care and safety of the gentle creatures of our world.

    And, yes, the situation I found myself in was funny (well except for the gastric distress). As I wrote, I found myself laughing throughout the latter part of the experience. I also kept thinking....THIS WOULD MAKE A GREAT BLOG!

    As for the hug.....I feel one every time I read one of your posts.

    Marie Calender will not hear from me. It was probably the fault of a distributer not delivering them on time (causing the frozen dinner to thaw and refreeze). I'm fine, and better for having the knowledge that comes from such an experience.

    You that saying about life and lemons........
    Well, I say that when life gives you sour lemonade
    be sure to add a lot of your own sugar to make it palatable...........kt

  27. What a wonderful getaway you had! It's amazing how much adventure you can pack into a few short days. I always feel like I've had a small vacation of my own, reading your posts.

  28. Thank you for this wonderful getaway! And how I'd love to visit in person -- what a beautiful country!

  29. The photos are just gorgeous from a lovely place...wish I could travel there someday...what scenic beauty!

  30. Firstly I want to say a big thankyou for the wonderful comments you left on my last post, such lovely words, that mean so much to me.

    I find your world just as beautiful and stunning, what a great place to have escaped to briefly with your daughter. It is so special to be able to share our worlds with people from all over the globe in this way :)

  31. So phenomenal! I love seeing the pictures you take. You always find the most amazing angles! You're very talented.

  32. Hi Desiree, It is always a great read to come on these adventures with you. The mountain view with the mist at the top was a specacular backdrop to the guesthouse where you stayed. I am in love with the two rescue donkeys. They have the sweetest faces. How could anyone abuse them? I am so glad they have a happy home now. Seeing the gardens from a completely different place in the world was very interesting. I especially liked the bench with the bits of tile and pottery.

  33. Stunning! You're a regular paparazzi snapping those photos of stranger's gardens. Or is that a peepin' Tom? Just kidding, that would be me--thanks for taking me on a tour of Africa this morning. I love the donkeys!

  34. Fabulous winery, gardens, scenery, and accommodations (plus talking animals!). A great trip.

  35. Hi Des,
    So sorry it's taken me a while to get over to view your lovely posting. It looked like quite an enjoyable holiday. I was that a sega palm tree in the last photo? How cold do you get in that area? We grow them that large outdoors in New Orleans, but they wouldn't last the winters here in North Carolina.
    I love places where animals are treated with love and grace.
    Nothing has changed yet with my sweet love, he's still waiting for the stone to pass and hard headed man he is has gone off to work today. He isn't one to lie about and I worry for his health. He is pushing himself when he is already taxed. Men. Once the stone is out we head back to find out what the spot on his kidney is all about. Thanks so much for your kind thoughts and I'll be in and out on blogs for a bit longer before I'm back to writing on my own.


  36. Desiree, the countryside is so breathtaking where you live. You've opened another world in my head that I never new existed. Now I can visualize myself traveling there sometime before I die. Previously my mental images of South Africa have come from things learned in school about unrest, aparthied, etc. There's so much missing. So I'm truly thankful to know you and to see your part of the world. Thank you for the recent visit to my blog and for the sweet comments that make me cry! In a good way... I hope you have a great week:)

  37. Hi Desiree,
    It sounds like things have been going well in your parts. I enjoyed reading about and seeing the photos of your trip with your daughter. That's a lovely place, and it sounds like lovely folks who own it. It sounds like they are great people, taking care of animals the way they do.

    How sweet of your daughter to go looking at gardens with you. Those are awesome places!

    Thanks for your comment on my Bloomin' Tuesday post. After 3 days in a row of burning things, the neighbors seem to have stopped doing that. The temps have been a bit warmer, so that could be why. I'm also wondering if someone closer to them complained about the smoke. I enjoyed some great gardening time a couple nights ago, but last night, I was too tired, so I sat outside and did some reading. That was nice, too.

  38. what a lovely place! In many ways it reminds me of California, where I recently traveled. The wine country there is not much different from the pictures here.

    Did you make a wish in the well?

    And - the donkeys (and zebra) are wonderful! How great that someone takes them in. I have my two rescue dogs and they are amazing, but how wonderful it would be to live in a place where I could take in their hooved equivelents. :-)

    I have to say, I find it interesting how right now we are in the same place - weather-wise. You are on what I think of as the "upswing" while my pendulum is swinging back the other way - but now we cross in the middle. Soon enough I'll be waling through the leaves which are just starting to change and you will be happily tending the new sprouts of another spring. It just amazes me every time I come in here - the things that are the same and the things that are different. It makes the world seem a very small place.

    Thanks for sharing ;-)

  39. wow! what a trip!! LOVE the first little place you stopped at...the creative table top & benches made of broken tiles...the wishing well...the landscape...the snow peaked mntns...the DONKEYS!!!! and all the other critters!!! and then that house...the fixer-upper!! what beautiful gardens. gorgeous!! so lush...all the stones, rock & weathered wood...
    i just have to say that i'm happy to have found i've always wanted to get to Africa...and now i'm there...thanks desiree! :)


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