Country roads (contd)

A lesson to learn when passing through an unfamiliar place looking for a coffee stop is to drive from one end of the town to the other before stopping at the first welcoming sign. My usual choice of the Barn on 62 in Montagu has disappointingly been closed on the last two occasions I tried to renew my happy acquaintance with their delicious fare. Perhaps Sundays are just not their day. Three other cars were reversing from the parking area as I approached, similarly dejected and seeking an alternate venue. They turned in at the next offering, a typically rustic (although on reflection slightly shabby) farmstall type of shop, and I followed them in. Initially it was warm and folksy but again, on reflection, really a place selling the local tannies’ crocheted doilies and home bakes.

In all fairness, the scone was light and fluffy, the butter and cream very generous and the berry jam definitely homemade, but the coffee didn’t make the grade and I didn’t finish it, telling myself that the oversized cup was a sip too far. Country prices didn’t hurt the pocket, but as I drove out of town I passed three far more enticing enterprises which I subsequently learned were a must-stop for the farmstall cognoscenti. You live and learn.

The drive through Cogman’s Kloof rates high on my list of favourite passes – I may be prejudiced by those childhood memories or even my love of geology – and it was with a tinge of sadness that I passed the remains of the narrow old road clinging to the mountainside, away from the new bridge and more adequate roadway. Progress is not always pretty.  

Ashton remains a small town devastated by years of roadworks, bridge building and potholes. Hopefully it will one day see the last bulldozer and tar truck fade into the distance, leaving behind a new road and neat verges. Little can be done about the proliferation of cheap shops selling cheap imports, yet they still serve a need in the community where there is little money in households.

The stunning displays of roses that characterise the Robertson valley drew me eye to each wine estate as I hurtled along the excellent road – a reminder that a few days in this fertile and lush region will enable one to appreciate the skills of many award-winning winemakers, both boutique and more commercial, as well as the hospitality of a multitude of B&Bs offering tranquil surroundings after a morning’s winetasting. There is little point in making a day trip from Cape Town when there is so much on offer!

(To be contd)

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