Today is day 20 of the lockdown. Like the featured image of this post, it feels as though time moves at a snail’s pace of late. I have slowed down. As I sit typing this post, I can hear the waves crashing in the distance, and the occasional cheep of a wagtail. The local hotel’s resident ducks are also meandering around the neighbourhood by the sounds of things. All these sounds have just been drowned out by an aircraft that is audibly flying very low.Continue reading
Review: Sekelbos Restaurant
I’ve been seeing daily ads in my Facebook newsfeed for a place called Sekelbos Restaurant, so decided to take The Bean there yesterday for a light bite. Sekelbos, as explained to us by our polite waitress (whose name I didn’t get) is a type of wood that is said to burn for ages, but never to ash.Continue reading
Review: Bellevue Restaurant
I’m a firm believer of taking the road less travelled, because often, they do lead to stunning destinations, unless you get lost, of course!
On Saturday a friend celebrated her birthday and invited me to join her and some others at a place called Bellevue Restaurant, at The Village Lodge. It is about 40 minutes’ drive from my house, seven kilometres of which are on a well-maintained gravel road. A bonus is that on the way, you may get to see some game. In this instance we saw zebra, Cape Buffalo and some antelope (but they were too far away to photograph).
It is essential to book ahead if you’re planning a visit, as the lodge may have guests, and they have preference to dine at The Bellevue. The atmosphere is relaxed, as both the lodge and restaurant are child friendly. There is a luscious green lawn where kids can run around to their hearts’ content, as well as a jungle gym and tyre swings.
Saturday’s meal was so impressive, that I booked a place for Sunday, intent on taking a follower-friend and my parents for lunch.
Saturday’s meal consisted of two harvest boards: A Ploughman’s Platter and an Antipasti Platter, and three pizzas: Parma Ham, Cajun Chicken and Pulled Pork. The platters are colourful and fresh. The orange slices on the ploughman’s were sweet and juice, without spitting in your eye. The pizzas were delicious too, and have super-thin bases, making them easy to fold to enjoy your pizza calzone-style if you prefer.
Afterwards we had milkshakes for dessert. I’d seriously go all the way back there just to drink another one. The Lemon Meringue one I had was out of this world! There are other options, like Bar-One, Salted Caramel and Peppermint Crisp to name a few.
Sunday, after our coffee-stop, we hit the road again; this time we saw zebra, some antelope and rhinos. Even if we’d gone home starving, seeing the rhinos would have been enough.
We were seated outside, close to the bar area, and if it’s a little chilly, there are light blankets available for patrons on request. There is also seating indoors and in the evenings the fireplace is lit.
Our lovely waitress, Claudine, took our drinks order and within a few minutes we were clinking glasses, drinking to happy days and new places.
I ordered a Ploughman’s Platter for the four of us (which mind you, was enough for us to all have our fill).
Follower-friend opted for the Parma ham pizza (as I told her it’d been a hit the day before), Mom had battered fish, hand-cut chips and salad, Dad had pork hock served with mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables and I opted for a rosemary Karoo roast lamb sandwich on seed loaf with sweet potato fries and salad. That seed loaf tastes almost sweet and has a cake-like consistency. Deeeeee-lllliiiii-cious!!!!
At the beginning of our culinary adventure, we’d wanted dessert, but we were so full we had to take the leftovers home, so we’ll have to go back for sure.
There are dishes for every taste, ranging from mid-level to high prices. The quality and freshness of the food justifies the price, as does the service. The waitstaff are always close by, without hovering over patrons, which is a huge plus. There is also a large selection of beers and ciders I’d not seen before until my visit. The cocktails described on the drinks’ list sound superb, but if you’re driving, I’d probably say it’s safer to give them a miss until you can savour them and have someone drive you home. The setting is tranquil, and given the distance from home, a delightful place to escape to over a weekend even if only for a cocktail, coffee and something light to nibble on.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Highly Recommended.
Review: 4 Cousins Bar & Bites
I’ve not reviewed a place in a long time. Frankly because I’ve not got out much in the last couple of months, and when I have, it’s been to a place known to me.
On Saturday, I took The Bean and The Toppie to lunch for the latter’s birthday (which is today) to a place called 4 Cousins Bar & Bites. It’s been open for a while, but I’ve only ever driven past. When The Bean and I were discussing places to go, she asked if we could do lunch somewhere different and we took a risk, which paid off!
The restaurant wasn’t busy when we arrived around lunchtime. It is tastefully decorated: cosy, homely and inviting.
We were seated at a comfortable booth and our needs were seen to by a lovely, friendly waitress called Carlin.
I’m not allowed to consume alcohol with my medication , so I asked for the one of the two non-alcoholic beers on drinks menu and she told me they didn’t have it, but an alternative (not listed on the menu) was available, so I opted for that.
When it came to taking our food order, I was undecided between a chicken wrap or a lettuce burger (you can clearly note I’m serious about my health and fitness again). Carlin recommended the lettuce burger, telling me that it is what she personally eats most often.
The Bean ordered a seafood combo which consisted of a fair-sized fillet of hake, nuggets, calamari, chips and a small Greek salad. I ate the olives and the feta.
The Toppie opted for a chicken schnitzel which is served with choice of either a cheese-, mushroom or pepper sauce and a choice of two sides, either chips, sweet potato fries, salad or onion rings. He went the same route as The Bean.
As a surprise I ordered jalapeño poppers for him and I to share. They were well presented and tasty. The small salad on the side also included some olives and pomegranate rubies (which I love!)
The food took a while to arrive, but it was clear that it has been freshly prepared and everything was cooked to perfection. The plates were also hot, which is something I appreciate. Unless I’m ordering a salad or a chilled consommé, I like my food hot.
The Bean, who hates calamari, gave me what was on her plate, but when she saw my eyes roll back in with pleasure, she had a taste and ate the majority of the strips. The fish was the best she’s eaten in ages, it just flaked off when touched with the fork. The Toppie clearly enjoyed his meal as well, because I had to tell him a few times to wipe the pepper sauce off his face. My burger was tasty, and not heavy as is sometimes the case with a conventional, bunned one. The mini marshmallows used to garnish the delicious sweet potato fries were a nice touch.
Living in a small town, especially one that is still very much a “holiday” one, I personally am inclined to visit the same places, only going to a different one on the recommendation of someone I know well and whose judgment I trust. In this case I had no such insight on which to base my decision, except a few reviews on Facebook and Tripadvisor from nameless strangers.
All in all, it was a five star experience, from start to end. The only regret I have is not having enough space for dessert, but… we’ll definitely be back!
Weekend Wins; Healing’s (Slowly) Happening
I very seldom check emails on a weekend, so when I got into work today, I quickly scanned through my inbox, noticing that someone had commented on my previous post. I haven’t had this person comment before, but I was deeply touched by his/her kind words, because it confirmed that my putting my feelings out there did help – maybe not someone else, I don’t know, but it helped me, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.
It also inspired me to write about where I am vs where I was last week.
It’s been a week since I spoke up about my relapse. In that time, as short as a week is, there has been improvement. The only thing not going as well as I’d hoped is sleep restoration; whether the meds are not working as they should, or I’m going to bed too early I’m not sure, but most nights, before 21:00 I’m exhausted and so I sleep. 0300 I’m awake again and I try to force myself back to sleep, telling myself stop thinking about whatever you are. It’s three in the morning! Even if you could do something about it, now is not the time! Sometimes it’s easy. Most times it’s not.
Yesterday was the first time since my relapse that I didn’t cry. In my book, that’s a win. I’m not discounting the cathartic properties of tears – I’m just tired of bawling my eyes out at a song on the radio, a mere sentence in a book or during my morning shower because the prospect of another day is simply too daunting.
This past weekend I ventured out of The Cave (which is what I affectionately call my flat, because it doesn’t get much light and when going into the back rooms, the lights must be switched on) and attempted to be part of social activities with group dynamics.
I was off on Friday, so made plans with Harriet for lunch. In my half-awake state, I got the time wrong and ended up at the mall an hour early. I walked through every single shop in the mall before I met up with her. I was a bit nervous because of all the people milling about, but I didn’t do my nut, like I did in the pharmacy the day I was discharged from the hospital. I had a healthy meal – admittedly I couldn’t finish it. The meds suppress my appetite, so I took what I didn’t eat home and ate it later.
Warren and his wife, Lara, are visiting from their new home which is 1100 Km (683 miles) away. As they’re only visiting a few days, and have many friends here, the plan was to meet at a local restaurant on Friday night and catch up. There were quite a few people at the table when I arrived, but being the amazing people they are, they did the rounds to chat with everyone. I had told Warren I wouldn’t stay long and sent him my previous post to outline why. He understood. I lasted a little more than ninety minutes before the noise and people got too much for me to handle and my hands started to shake. I felt overwhelmed and anxious and made a beeline for the exit. I’m not sorry I went; it was great to see them both, the view of the Bay at night was breathtaking and I pushed my limits a little.
Saturday morning, I popped in at Carmen for a quick cup of tea. It wasn’t a long visit because she and Ewan had plans, as did I with Harriet. When Harriet arrived at The Cave, we took a walk to the local church fête, but by the time we got there (both of us were slow out of the blocks that morning) all that was left to buy was second-hand books. Not a problem for either of us, because we are total book sluts. And at R2 (US $0.15) a book, we went a little overboard. Afterwards we stopped at the vetkoek (a South African food made from deep-fried dough and filled with anything from curried mince to cheese to jam to marmite to chicken-mayo and anything in between!) and went down to the beach where we sat on a bench watching the people taking in the summer sunshine.
The rest of the day I spent in The Cave, on the couch with The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg, which I’d started the afternoon before. I read until my eyes felt like the entire beach had been blown into them. The book is so funny in parts that I laughed out loud – for the first time in a long while.
Yesterday I took my folks out for lunch to a place that’s been around for yonks, but that we’ve never been to. Rustic, but with fabulous fare. I got a little sunburnt too, because we sat outside, but the warmth on my skin did me well. A little calcipherol never hurt anyone, now did it? It also did them good to get out of their flat a bit, because they’re quite isolated where they live. An old friend, Stan, also happened to be in town for the night on business, so I popped by one of the beach bars and we had a quick drink – well he did, I had club soda. We haven’t seen each other in going-on four years, but both of us were knackered, so the visit was quick. I finished the book last night, intent on finding another one in the series. Laughter is good, cheap medicine.
Tonight I’m going to the gym, but not to train. I am not in that frame of mind yet. I’m just having a fat percentage test done because I’m a little concerned that I’m melting away. I haven’t needed to wear a belt in ages to keep my jeans up, and now it’s on the furthest hole from the buckle…BUT I’d rather have that, than pick up a huge amount of weight like I did the last time. My appetite will eventually come back. I just have to keep eating, albeit like a bird.
I’m not sure when I’ll post again because I am trying to focus on me and my recovery. All I can say at this stage is thank-you to each one of you that reads my ramblings.
Until next time…
Where Were You? At Nyaru!
I have posted this entry on Tripadvisor, as well as my Niume blog, but the photos are not necessarily the same as the one in this post.
Many private game/nature reserves often lean towards being just a touch pretentious. This is not the case with Nyaru. The place is a tranquil, family-friendly getaway, about a half hour from Mossel Bay. Two Saturdays ago my parents and I visited the reserve, just to have some much-needed down-time. We weren’t really sure what to expect, because after all, we’re not really bush people. But…it was close enough from home for us, and as we didn’t have to travel far, we were able to use the money we would have spent on fuel, on a game viewing experience.
When making the booking, the process was handled quickly and efficiently, by a lady named Sarah, who followed up with a printable copy of the confirmation. I made a special request for an early check-in, which was met with special consideration. The check-in process was also dealt with quickly and we were showed to our accommodation by a young, friendly member of staff named Lauren. Not long after we had unpacked, Sarah came to personally check on us, to see if everything was to our satisfaction.
The facility offers various accommodation options – The Nightjar Retreat, which is the only option that offers a bath and shower. All other rooms, be they villas or chalets, have showers only. The balcony not only overlooks the dam, but gives the occupants a 180-degree view of the reserve. If you’re a keen game-, or bird watcher, don’t forget to pack in a pair of binoculars.
We stayed in one of the villas, which, like the chalets, are self-catering units. Each villa has large sliding doors which open onto a small verandah, overlooking the pool and the mountains, giving the illusion of space and airiness.
While all the villas are furnished to the same design, each villa is unique in its selection of furnishings. The one we stayed in had two large vintage-like wingback chairs, African artwork-, and a large wall clock made out of a barrel. It had a large double bed, with two bedside lamps. The other villa, which I viewed for comparison in this review had two leather single-seater couches, twin beds, a single bedside lamp, abstractly-modern art- and a large silver clock on the wall.
Both villas were equipped with flat screen televisions, a sleeper couch (for a third guest) and selected satellite TV channels (although with the breath-taking surroundings, I am not sure one really needs TV).
I am quite the advocate of a small kitchenette in any room, because when I’m away, I don’t want to be dictated to by meal times, or schedules. I had enough of that in boarding school! The kitchenette is well-equipped with crockery, cutlery, an induction hot-plate, the requisite pots to us on the hot-plate, airtight-containers for left-overs and a fridge/freezer.
There are a few small things that need attention in the villa we stayed in, which did not at all negatively impact our overall experience. We did mention these ‘snags’ upon our departure and Sarah assured us that our comments have been noted and that the required action will be taken to rectify these issues.
Only my parents and I were booked for the 16:30 game viewing experience, which made it a special family affair. Our outgoing guide, Natasja, answered all our questions and shared her knowledge with us. Her love of bird-watching was also evident as she pointed out many ground-, and tree-dwelling birds to us. It must be mentioned though, that if you’re looking to see the Big-5, then this may not be the lodge for you. There are many species of antelope to be seen, as well as giraffe, ostriches and zebra, to name but a few.
The resident meerkat and warthog are huge hits and are happy to pose for a photo with the guests.
After our drive, Natasja was kind enough to show me the chalets as well. The little thatched units are cosy and depending on the number of guests, can house 3, or 5 people. Each chalet also has its own verandah but includes a braai area. The chalets are also located much closer to the main reception/dining area than the Nightjar Retreat and the villas. If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, I would recommend the villas rather than the chalets. Both sets of accommodation have a small pool close by to cool off.
We opted not to have a formal sit down dinner at the restaurant, but rather a picnic. The selection of food blew us away! While we were on our game drive, the staff set up the food at a small sheltered ‘lapa’ overlooking the entire reserve. A true ‘dinner with a view’. We did have an unexpected guest too.
Ironically we were tuckered out from a day of fresh air and relaxation and retired to our clean, crisp, comfortable beds for a good night’s rest. The following morning, after a steaming hot shower, we went to the restaurant for breakfast. Many of the reviews I had read on Tripadvisor prior to booking stated the breakfast as rather ‘basic’. I guess it depends on the guests’ expectations. To me, a selection 2 juices, 3 cereals, fruit salad, cheeses, yoghurt, croissants, muffins, cheese and preserves and the option of a full hot breakfast of bacon, eggs (to preference), sausage, baked beans, hashbrown, tomato and toast, seem more than sufficient. The only thing that I did miss at breakfast was filter coffee and hot milk (for both cereal and coffee). The hot breakfast was served quickly, on a heated plate (big thumbs up), and again, it was a meal with a view.
We were quite sad to have to leave, because while we arrived as strangers, we left as friends. We will definitely be back. After all, this soul-restoring hidden gem, is literally, right on our doorstep.