SA winter hideaways in the country

Lingering mists, crisp walks, bike rides, log fires, coffee, books and blankets – winter is definitely a good time to leave the city smog and hibernate in the country. Here are a couple of fabulous winter weekend getaways in the Western Cape and Gauteng.

Penhill Farm –Toontjiesrivier

IMG_3240Winters in the Cape tend to offer lashing rain and heavy skies, interspersed with mild blue-sky days, where the countryside washed clean, glows verdant green. Tucked into the beautiful Nuy Valley outside Worcester, with its views of the Riviersonderend and Langeberg mountain ranges, with its whitewashed Cape homesteads and indigenous gardens, Penhill Manor completes this picture of pastoral bliss.

The farm is a great weekend retreat for families, couples or groups of friends. Originally built as a replenishment station, the Penhill manor house and adjacent four cottages are lovingly restored for guests. Early historical elements have been preserved, including “buite-kamer” doors, “stoep kamers”, gables and sash windows. The interiors have been modernized and include wi-fi, air-conditioning and sound systems. A great deal of thought has gone into the mix of old and new in furnishings with natural fabrics and woods defining the space as carriage lamps complementing downlighters, highlight simple objects d’art.  As tempting as it might be, don’t just spend your days lazing on the stoep here. You can choose to go trail running or hiking, ride mountain bikes, play tennis, or relax at the dam. Otherwise, enjoy an olive and wine tasting, then cozy up around a fire with a book or spend the afternoon playing boardgames and toasting marshmallows. And there’s the option of your own private Jacuzzi to ease your aching muscles after all the effort.

Koningsfontein – Stilbaai

k2Overlooking the GouKou river just outside Stilbaai, the cape thatch Koningsfontein homestead blends into a countryside of small farms, fynbos and sheep pastures.

Bring your friends and family because the house sleeps 12. Make use of the private river frontage to kayak, boat. Or simply go fishing. Head downstream, to visit the local fynbos gin distillery. Winters are best spent lazing in front of the fire on one of the deep leather sofas or cooking up a foodie fest in the well-fitted out kitchen.

Bloomsbury Cottage – Stanford

Situated in heart of the charming village of Stanford, Bloomsbury Cottage, with its vintage shabby chic decor offers a treasure trove of quirky collectibles.

IMG_9337Stroll down to the river or through the town, or simply relax on the vine covered veranda.  The house sleeps six and has a gorgeous kitchen, perfect for family meals. And if you don’t feel like cooking there are lovely restaurants and cafes within walking distance of the house.

 

Greens Camp – Dinokeng (Bobbejaansberg Valley)

Only 100km from Johannesburg, Greens Camp is a bushveld retreat that will make you feel as though you’ve been far far away for a very long time, and will rejuvenate you for weeks.

The rolling burnt umber and raw ochre veld, big winter skies, clean air and total stillness, except for the birdsong, will charm you. Enjoy the services of the property caretaker, Amon, who specializes in making bread and biscuits, and will fire up the pizza oven for an al fresco lunch on the patio, or light a fire for a braai as you watch the sun sink red between the Acacias. Otherwise, take a sundowner drive to one of the viewing spots to spot Giraffe, Wildebeest and Zebra from the hilltops. Greens offers colonial meets Africa luxury, with big sofas and lamps for relaxed reading and an open thatch boma with 360 views over the countryside. The perfect weekend chill space for friends to gather and retreat around wine, stories, games and books.

for more information contact Perfect Hideaways: www.perfecthideaways.co.za

Finding Synergy in Scarborough

Synergy Treehouse, a beach house high on the hillside of Scarborough, Cape Town, fuses nature and design perfectly.

IMG_0954Kitesurfers fly over foam-flecked breaks, surfers bob like seals waiting for waves in the storm surf. Hippie houses and contemporary designer homes sit side by side watching from the hillside.

Synergy Treehouse welcomes us in – a glass, wood, stone, inside-out house that wants to play. A waterfall splashes through the house and down into an indigo blue swimming pool, glass steps spiral up from the bedroom into the living area; magically managed downlights, uplights and blinds, switch on and slide back to open the house onto Balau decks. Smeg appliances brew coffee exactly-as-you-like-it. Fires crackle in the bedroom and the lounge, inviting us to enjoy the cold weather in comfort.

Owner Craig, who is passionate about the house he’s created, shares details of solid cypress walls, rain showers, smart house technology, his love of building and his vision for ‘Scandi’ houses designed around living and being.

The beach is cold and invigorating, windswept unspoilt, decorated with kelp, oyster catchers and gulls. The village is quiet, dreamcatchers and driftwood sculptures peer out of hidden gardens and dogs race the wind down the shore.

The house is a warm sanctuary, the glass walls keeping the weather out and inviting the view in. Yellowtail, herbed and buttered sizzles in the fire pit. In the evening, the house and decks glow with subtle lighting, looking out towards an invisible roaring rushing sea. It feels wild and far away.

For more information about Synergy Treehouse in Scarborough or to book, contact Perfect Hideaways www.perfecthideaways.co.za

AfrikaBurn – a journey into the interior

Once a year, millenials, hipsters, ageing hippies and middle class urbanites abandon their mundane existences and head into the parched hinterland of South Africa to experience a burst of freedom and self-expression in the desert at AfrikaBurn. Transforming the Tankwa Karoo into a fantasy village of theme camps, art, costumes, music and play for a week, AfrikaBurn gives, shares and liberates.

IMG_2798As the Burn begins, the vast space fills with thousands of Burners camped in the desert shale like refugees pimped to party in the dust.

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SUV’s are parked, masks and costumes clamber onto mutant trucks blaring beats, fur covered Vespa’s and dayglo bicycles, to follow the fire, music and play.

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AfrikaBurn culminates in a series of primitive ritual burns of massive artworks built for the event – crowds clamour, sparks shower and tribal nudists cartwheel around the fiery pyres.

Burn fires

Regrouping through the night around nothing and everything, trails of LED lights follow the moon and the music.

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Until the sunrise gong signals a new day, giant bubbles catch the breeze, yoga mantras float on the morning and coffee percolates tired souls.

AfrikaBurn sunrise bubble

Jack Kerouac grafitti scrawled above the Chinese barrister in the coffee tent, sums up the experience: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

IMG_2942Dusty, partygoers revive and pull on tangled fishnets, corsets, and monster faces. Dancing aliens relentlessly follow the trance and Elvis dances to disco, masked bodies spin on hula hoops.

BurnersHeat forges mirages of vessels sailing across the plain, towards supernatural towers, welded steel beaks and eyes glare across the Binnekring (Inner circle).

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The sun reluctantly sinks, tribes gather and disperse and press in again as fires flicker and the burn continues.

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Find out more: http://afrikaburn.com/

 

Presenting Augusta de Mist of Swellendam

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Churchhaven – Worshipping the West Coast

About an hour north of Cape Town, you’ll see a turn-off to the left into the West Coast National Park where a road will lead you to a hidden hamlet on the Langebaan Lagoon.  Chattering seabirds swoop over faded fishing … Continue reading