Years ago, when my brother and I were still teenagers, my parents suddenly developed a taste for peace and quiet. Annual holidays at a popular Hermanus caravan park, bristling with children’s laughter and the cacophony of competing boom boxes, were replaced with getaways to a secluded campsite on the outskirts of the Strand. Here the only sounds were the rustling of wind through the leaves and the chipper of birds.
We were mortified. What were our parents thinking? Twenty years and two children of my own later, I finally get it. With a yearning to escape the daily grind, my husband and I didn’t think twice when we heard about Die Kloof, a Cape homestead located on the fruit farm Koelfontein outside Prince Alfred Hamlet in the Ceres Valley.
Koelfontein’s website describes the house as an original Cape homestead dating back to the 1800s, which “radiates an authentic charm”. And that is what we found at the end of our two-hour drive from Cape Town. The fully-equipped, three-bedroom farmstead is beautifully restored and great care has been taken with the interior design. Antique furniture and accessories in warm earth colours gave the house a cosy feel. The hearth in the family kitchen, fully stocked with wood (R10 a bundle), was another delightful reminder of days gone by.
But I am a city girl, so although the old-world charm was appreciated, I was relieved to find all the modern amenities in our self-catering cottage – electricity, warm water, a full bathroom with a ball-and-claw bath and an outside shower with a view of the peach orchards. Another unexpected treat was the five-star quality of the bed linen and thick towels provided.
Seated on the huge stoep under the oak trees (complete with another braai spot ideal for the gathering of friends), we were greeted with views down the valley towards Ceres and the Hex River mountains in the distance. It being a working farm, the children also whooped at the ad-hoc appearance of herds of sheep and cows left to graze in the fields. Much to our kids’ disappointment, these encounters were brief as the livestock would make a quick getaway at the sound of said whooping.
Another of their favourite pastimes was the dirt road (our car just managed it, but if you have a 4x4, bring it along), which leads to the cottage. It was a perfect slope to charge down at full speed with their scooters. My husband and I had the task of retrieving their hot wheels, again and again. Had we been there without our kids, we might have had time for the other “fun things to do”: farm walking tours, bird watching, hiking and mountain biking.
We did manage to squeeze in a visit to Cecilia’s World, a factory farm shop, selling dried fruit and nuts, only a few minutes drive from the cottage. Here I purchased the most delicious dried pears, nectarines, mango strips and honey-coated almonds.
We also stopped at the Koelfontein tasting room, Die Kelder, operating from the restored original farm house built in 1832 when the first Conradies arrived. We tasted the Koelfontein Chardonnay 2008 (the 2009 vintage is now available) and the Koelfontein Shiraz 2006. I don’t know much about wine, but my husband does, and his verdict was they were decent wines at a good price, R47.50 and R58 per bottle, respectively. We left with three bottles of each.
Back at the cottage, we had another bottle of shiraz waiting for us – a gift to Die Kloof guests. Later that afternoon, while the children were taking a nap, my husband poured us each a glass, which we enjoyed on the stoep. For a brief moment the laughter of children was replaced by the chirping of birds, the rustling of leaves and the rushing sound of a nearby mountain stream. Ah, just like the good old days. Only better.