By Myrtle Ryan
Cape Town - “Shhh. Fairies sleeping,” read the sign, but these fairies were clearly not dozing off – they were very busy.
I had taken one of the walks on Oude Muragie farm, which wanders alongside the river, through a charming copse very similar to an English wood. At any moment bluebells would surely bloom. Out came the camera; a place so special had to be captured in a photograph. The camera failed to function. Walking deeper into the forest kingdom, I tried again and again, but nothing happened. Was that a tinkle of fairy laughter above the murmur of the stream?
Okay, so I was being fanciful. The camera batteries were flat, but it was much more fun to imagine it being the work of fairies.
Friends of mine who live in the UK say they just love Oude Muragie, and the place is certainly special. On the day I arrived, Satan had been stoking his furnace, even though it was only September. Everything shimmered in a heat haze.
The road to Oude Muragie meandered alongside olive groves. A herd of cows blundered in ungainly fashion down a hillside as they spotted a tractor arriving with bales of feed.
Now it was early evening – one crafted in heaven – and sitting on the veranda of my cottage, Vogelnest (a former maid’s quarters which had fallen into ruin, but been converted) I looked out over verdant pastures.
Trees were sporting their new green jackets, the Swartberg Mountains, which can at times look bad-tempered, smiled down with a benign nod. Birds chirped in the aloes dotting the garden; a bumble bee bumbled busily. Dorper sheep arrived bleating from the fields.
Leaving my perch, I followed them, and got a chance to cuddle a newborn lamb. A couple of city kids joined in the fun, after which owner Maggie Fourie took them to see the ducks and geese. Guinea fowl flew in to roost amid their usual noisy approach to life, while birds bobbed in and out of the nest they had built on my veranda, which also has an undercover fireplace (making a braai possible in even wet weather).
As the shadows lengthened, Maggie arrived bearing tasty farm fare for supper.
“Vogelnest has the best view of the five houses,” she said. The most distant one, Kees en Kie (named for the baboons which once foraged there), also has a wonderful view of the mountains. You can lie in bed and look straight on to their rugged folds.
When a neighbouring farmer decided to move to town, Maggie snapped up their double-storey house, which she has turned into a 12-sleeper.
As to Vogelnest, it is the epitome of charm. The double bed is partly ensconced in a niche with a reed-lined wall as headboard. The ceiling, too, is made of reeds. Guests dine at a table, sitting on cushions atop a brick bench.
While the comfortable mattress lured me to stay in bed in the morning, perfect weather meant a walk towards the mountain dam was much more the order of the day. That was followed by a stroll along the river, leading ultimately to the fairy-friendly forest.
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