The sleepy village of Stanford is paying the price of being at a crossroad for the increasingly popular destinations of Gansbaai, De Kelders, Franskraal and Pearly Beach, not to mention Baardskeerdersbos, the Overberg wine route and private nature reserves in the surrounding hills. The road joining Hermanus to all these places has been undergoing a necessary upgrade to cope with the volume of traffic for a few years now and the end is not quite in sight. The most obvious addition is a new traffic circle at the intersection of the Elim road and the Gansbaai road at the edge of Stanford. While being the most efficient form of traffic control at intersections, this one was a little too small to accommodate a double-trailered cattle truck which lurched over the middle and caused a momentary expectancy of tipping over. All viewed from the verandah of Ou Meul, the bakery chain that has proliferated across the Western Cape and has become the road-trip Wimpy of the coffee and cake cognoscenti. Traffic circles aside, a tour of this still charming village with river frontage and pretty architecture will reveal why it has become yet another retirement escape for the well-heeled, and it certainly makes a great springboard for forays into the nearby hills.
Having planned a full day out to maximise the adventures, we drove up the R326 to the furthest destination, from which we would make our way back with our planned stops. The glowering sky promised much rain later and cloud obscured the mountain tops of yet another astoundingly beautiful valley in this region, gaining elevation via the Akkedisberg Pass. Hay bales lay scattered in newly harvested fields, and cows with newborn calves dotted the hillside. A cow in the throes of labour caused some consternation as it seemed that no progress was being made and the calf’s head had presented, and we almost went in search of the farmer, but decided not to interfere and went on our way.
The Stone House Cheese Shop was impossible to miss with its cheerful murals of cheeses on a black background, and it wasn’t long before we were clustered around a generous tray of cheesy chunks, sampling the very pleasing soft cheddars available. The brie and camembert that form the basis of their production from a Jersey herd of 500 were unfortunately not available for tasting – no doubt snatched up by local restaurants for their fine quality. The cheddars were creamy and moreish, leading us to demolish a fair amount with the excuse of lining our stomachs for the wine tasting to come. Satisfactory purchases were made and we turned back towards Stanford, past the labouring cow, and on to Raka for the next event.
To be continued…