Notes on a recent trip to Stanford

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“Isn’t that a band, Stanford and Sons?”
“Hmm? I think you mean Mumford & Sons.”
“No but I’m sure there’s also an older band called that, something Stanford …” I tune the rest out as I steer the rental car up the treacherous hills of the Western Cape. Forget the speed bumps in Melville, these roads mean business.
“You said to set the GPS for Standerton, right?” Clearly Sean’s noticed I haven’t been listening to him for a while.
“What? No! Do you even know where Standerton is?”
“Do you?”
“Well, no, but that’s not where we’re going!”
Our passenger in the back seat keeps quiet, probably wishing for death or strong drink after having been submitted to the various quarrels couples get into when they’ve been together for half a century and they’re no longer afraid that an argument would topple the house of cards.

When my steering finally takes us over the mountain pass (“You drive like a granny”) and we catch the first glimpse of the picturesque village of Standerton … Sandton … fuck! Stanford, all the stress of an early morning flight, blowing our budget on airport Mugg & Bean and spending six hours trying to convince the okes at *** Car Hire to give us a car without a credit card strips away.

Stanford is the ideal wedding spot (our reason for breaking the bank and searching for coins in the couch folds to make the trip) and is situated about 20 kilometres outside Hermanus. Driving down the one main street is both a trip through a 1950s movie set and a throwback to my own Karoo dorp upbringing, complete with the Friday post-work furore at the local off-sales.

Our accommodation is luxury we haven’t known since the third dog moved in. The Country Cottage is the epitome of Karoo hospitality and the owner, Denise Anderson, told us that she started the cottage six years ago with the purpose of creating a space where people can relax and return home revitalised.

Oh and did we revitalise.

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The Country Cottage is bigger than our apartment in Joburg, with a bathtub, sheets smelling of lavender and a garden filled with frolicking birds. We rose early on Saturday morning, partly due to the savagery of the Pin-tailed Whydah (a tiny blueish bird with really long tail feathers) as it fought off its enemy (ahem, reflection) in our sliding door. Denise had written down the weather predictions for the weekend on a black board by the front door so with rain on the horison we didn’t do the river tour that Stanford is famous for, but instead forayed onto the main street where we were told the evening before there would be a market the next day.

Sean bought a lovely home made spinach and feta pie and I had my heart set on pancakes but failing to find any had a muffin and a mini quiche. After an educational visit to the Overberg Honey Company where we tasted many kinds of honey and bought presents for the folk in Jozi, we made our way to the Birkenhead Brewery where Sean tasted beer, I tasted wine, and a wino husky decided we were his new favourite patrons to shed on.

All in all, a memorable trip, and one that makes you yearn for the quiet life. When I go again and the weather is in a better mood I will go on the “Wandelpad” a walking route around and through Stanford that came highly recommended.

As ek moeg word vir die lewe in die stad, lok my die wandelpad;
As ek moeg word vir die lewe in die stad, lok my die wandelpad;
in die veld pluk ek ’n wandelstaf van die naaste doringboompie af,
en sing my wandellied, en sing my wandellied.

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