Saturday, June 15, 2024

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine


A vineyard adventure

I must have mentioned ad nauseum that I have been suffering from a foot pain and hip stiffness after weeks sitting in front of my computer. This has prevented me from heading for the hills with the hiking groups and it has certainly done me no good. At last I have taken the bull by the horns and seen a physiotherapist, and the results after two sessions are nothing short of miraculous. I should have gone months ago. Suddenly the pain has gone! To celebrate, I took myself on a gentle stroll through the gorgeous vineyards of Groot Constantia, a place associated with many pleasant memories, from early childhood visits to the present day, not to mention the ideal place to walk alone in absolute safety.

The morning started off badly with a burst pipe near home, and consequently the only shower I could have was from a bucket – not my favourite – and no opportunity to wash my hair. I never ever leave home without washing my hair. But I needed to test out my repaired legs, so I put on a sunhat and set off at a good pace through the vineyards. The vines are still laden with fruit, and it almost seems as if they are leaving the bunches to turn to raisins, but perhaps that is the modus operandi for the sweet wines. I didn’t venture onto the upper vineyards, where they may have harvested earlier in the year, and being alone, I was only able to mull the questions in my own head and not ask for other opinions – a great pity. The varying colours on the bunches appealed to my artist’s eye and for a change I took more pictures of grapes than of scenery. A fresh wind blew in from False Bay – one of the reasons for establishing the first wine farm in that position back in 1685, and one can imagine the residents walking or perhaps riding horses over the slopes that looked down the lush valley towards the sea in that very same wind and counting themselves among the most fortunate people in the world to live in the fairest cape in all the circumference of the globe.

I did a square walk, starting at Simon’s carpark and going down past the old wine cellar behind the homestead, down to the dam, across to the graveyard and up to the long drive leading up to the front door. I again imagined myself hurtling along in a carriage drawn by four horses, anticipating the fine dinner and entertainment to be laid on by the hosts, the young oak trees lining the drive not yet tall enough to provide a canopy of shade in the late afternoon sun. Other guests had arrived before me, and their carriages were pulled off to the right where the horses could be watered and fed in readiness for the return home later that evening.

I was snatched from my reverie by the cheerful chatter of a group of people crossing the lawn, carefully avoiding the multiple ‘Keep off the grass signs’ as they rushed forward to pose before the gracious gabled manor house. Cameras clattered as they captured proof of the annual overseas holiday, and then they were off to explore the inside – the fact that the house was destroyed by fire twice and restored rather detracts from its authenticity for me, but it is still magnificent.

A painless little walk of only 1.5km – seemed much longer – was over in 27 minutes! Elevenses beckoned at the Jonkershuis, another marvellous bit of history with food to match.

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