Many of you know this but allow me to share again the busyness of November for our family and how significant the number 3 is in our lives. When Anton and I had been married for almost 3 years we had Zac who was born 3 days before our 3rd wedding annivery. Three years later we had Zoe who was born 6 days before our 6th anniversary. So this year Zac turned 9, Zoe turned 6 and we were married 12 years in the week of the 4th to the 10th of November. This was not planned and genuinely happened like this natural labour births and all. Weird, hey?
Well, after the combined birthday party last year that included 50 children under the age of 10, I decided we should do something different this year as last year was quite exhausting with a cake for school, a cake for home and a special occasion cake for the party times two kids in one week. This is when we decided to take a family weekend away as due to budget constraints we don’t go away as a family and this would actually be our first holiday together.
After looking around online I finally found something that was far enough away to feel like a holiday but didn’t require 8 hours of driving there and back for a 3 day vacation. Since I really don’t like camping (I need a proper bed to sleep in and a shower with a door and no wildlife) and budget restraints still fully in place, self catering accomodation was really the only way to go. I found that we could have a cottage a Klondyke Cherry Farm for R1500 for the whole weekend and it came up trumps in the midst of other places wanting to charge R750 per person per night and the only thing extra that included was breakfast!
Even though the website indicated that the cottage was fitted with a kitchen, braai facilities and electric blankets I didn’t want to over anticipate what would be provided so we took a few of our own things just in case. The farm is very remote so you can forget about popping out to the shop for anything you have forgotten as the closest shop is about 20kms and a mountain pass away. Anyone who has travelled with children knows how much stuff they need so our little Ford Figo was jam packed by the time we hit the road on Friday.
What a lovely holiday. It was remote enough so that it was pitch dark when you turned out the lights at night and when you could get two kids to sit still for long enough, the only thing you would hear were the sounds of birds, sheep and occasionally the sound of a river flowing somewhere. The kids were over the moon about being on holiday and living in a house with a fireplace. They didn’t even notice that there was no TV or radio and they don’t have any toys like portable DVD players or handheld gaming consoles that could stand in for the tiny bit of screentime that they usually have access to on a Saturday morning.
Since our kids go a bit crazy when they are over tired we decided to keep their bedtimes the same as they were accomplishing nothing but driving themselves and everyone else nuts. Once they were in bed, Anton and I could spend some time catching up in front of the fire before climbing into our electric blanket pre-warmed double bed with fluffy duvet and crisp clean linen. So much better than camping!
The kids woke up bright and early (5am) on Saturday morning so we were heading off for an adventure by 8am which works for me as I love being on the road when the air is still crisp and clean. The camp owner had come to check that we were happy with the accomodations the night before and I asked him about Tankwa Padstal that I had heard about from one of my colleagues at SANPARKS. He said he had heard about it too but hadn’t had the opportunity to find it yet but he drew us a map based on what he had heard. So, armed with that map on Saturday morning we went off to find it.
I cannot get over what a beautiful country we live in. We were silenced at the view around every corner and travelling on a gravel road most of the time gave us the perfect excuse to drive slowly. We stopped along the road as often as we could to take pictures and just chat about what life must be like for those farmers whose closest neighbour is about 5 kilometers away! The kids got to see the start of the Karoo for the first time and since they live with mountain and sea views everyday it was facinating for them to see the other side of the colour spectrum. Where they are used to blues and greens all they could see here was gold and brown.
After driving on the R355 for what felt like absolute ages and with my bladder making itself more and more urgently known we finally saw the sign Tankwa Padstal. There was a great deal of whooping and hallelujah’s in the car as we drove about another kilometer to “n ietse van alles in die middel van nerens” (a little bit of everything in the middle of nowhere).
After dashing to the bathroom we met the owners and started exploring this little shop/bar/vehicle repair center. There is too much detail to encompass everything here but I hope you will go and see for yourself. The owners have plenty of (often tall) stories to tell and it is worth just sitting at one of the under cover benches and chatting to them about what life is like in such a remote area where there are about 150 people from neighbouring farms and villages who need things like violin and guitar strings from the shop as well as blue snooker chalk cubes and herbal remedies. One of the owners plays the cello and mentioned that if one of her strings snap (as often happens during their icy winters) she would have to wait for someone to drive to Cape Town to buy a new string to the tune of R800 each.
After having delicious chicken, steak or rib burgers (R35 each) with some coffee/tea at 10am we watched as a pack of bikers came through and stopped off for cooldrinks on their way through to Calvinia we got ready to head back to the cottage but not before buying a few drinks for the road and a pomergranate tree for R30. The owners of this padstal (road side shop) grow a few pomergranate trees and had lots of advice on how to ensure that it survives and thrives once we get back to Cape Town.
So, if you decide to visit Klondyke Cherry Farm for yourself prepare yourself for a relaxing vacation where you see and learn new things and that an area without cellphone reception is very good for the soul. Also, chat to the locals who are a wealth of information and are so friendly and happy to chat and hand draw you a map to places you can find on your way.
I should also mention that I threw in a packet of Nomu Pancake and Waffle baking kit and even when you read the instructions incorrectly (thinking you have 2 packets and doubling the liquids of the mixture) the pancakes still turn out fine and go down very well with some farm-made youngberry jam.