The Dal Times
A road less travelled to Tesselaarsdal…
Issue #4 – October 2020
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Life is about Experiences..
“A walk is just a walk,“ says Chris Goodwin of well-established tour operator, Active Africa(www.activeafrica.co.za) who offer activity based tourism throughout Africa. “It is the experiences that you have en route that make it memorable.” With many years of experience behind him and many kilometres on his clock, the Editor took note of the point and so this issue is dedicated to some of the unique experiences and unusual characters that you may meet around Tesslaarsdal.
Marianne and Ron van Heerden of Bakgat Potteries (www.bakgatpottery.co.za) have been operating for almost 20 years, having moved from Greyton because it was too busy for them! They mine their own clay in the area and process it themselves to the required standard. This keeps their input costs down but also their standards high. Visiting when the paraffin kiln is fired up, is like popping into Dante’s Inferno, with temperatures to match. Their speciality is to sell pottery which contains sauces and which can be re-used forever. They are friendly and willing to share their skills, so they offer hands-on training for small groups – come and get fired up!
Firing up the Kiln Marianne at the Clay Press Pots with a View
Cheese is milk’s leap to immortality (Anon)
At the turn-off to Tesselaarsdal from the R316 to Stanford is Stonehouse Cheesery(www.stonehousecheese.co.za), run by the Fraser-Jones family. Its rare to be able to interview contented Jersey cows and immediately taste their produce. In the Dairy, Patrick is in charge and he runs a tidy ship.
A Pretty Pair of Ladies Patrick in the Milking Parlour
Staffed by a bubbling bevy of cheerful women and fronted by Susanna Swart in the shop, the atmosphere reminded the Editor of the book, Blessed are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch. Go Girls Go!
Cheesemakers at your service A well-stocked shop
They make a range of hard and semi-hard flavoured cheeses but their good-to-go Nguni Camembert with the charcoal coating, is the one to take and leave in the sun to melt. It is scrumptious with a mild bread.
If bread is the staff of life, what then are olives?
At the north-facing base of Shaws Pass, Dr George de la Harpe of Morningview (Website under development) who qualified in agriculture before studying medicine, has a grove of some 15 hectares of olive trees and a view that stretches to the Riviersonderend Mountains. What normal retiree would get off a stoep with such a view? However, George is a man of action and a tour of his olive pressing facilities reveals a keen eye for detail and great attention to hygiene.
Yes, there is a George in there.. Extra-virgin is on the label
At three score and fifteen years plus, he is really into his third career and his enthusiasm for life is infectious. He is a keen student of history and grew up in the area, so he is also a useful source of local knowledge.
If pigs could fly, this is where they would land
Tucked away behind a grove of poplars, is Glen Oakes Farm (www.glenoakes.co.za), where Charles and Julie Crowther run a free range piggery. No smelly and muddy grunters here, instead fields of green with convoys of piglets, accompanied by mothers like battleships. They are neither bored nor hungry and they come sauntering over to socialize with visitors.
The Mob on the Range Hi there!
It looks a laid-back operation but the real attention is given before and during the farrowing, when the numerous tiny piglets are exposed to the large bulk of the mother. Within an hour, each piglet has chosen its teat and that is where it will drink until weaned. No queue jumping allowed!
Getting up close and personal Behind every successful pig…
Can walking make you wiser?
What if one could get fitter and smarter at the same time? We think that it is possible to enjoy the countryside and learn something useful about it at the same time. In this way you should be able to answer seminal questions like: “Why is Tesselaarsdal suitable for growing Pink Lady apples?” or ”What makes a Solitaire egg free-range?” The answers after all, will affect your life choices – or at least, what you buy at Woolworths.
With this in mind but putting fun foremost, we are arranging a series of walking weekends based from Heilfontein, where you will touch the countryside and enjoy a combination of fresh air, exercise, good food, wine and company. We call it “knowledge based walking” and we are testing it in December. Contact us if you are interested. It could put the spring back in your step.
Up and running
We happy to advise that people – like nervous buck – are starting to venture out into the country again. Self-catering facilities which are appropriately socially distanced, seem the sensible way to go. Heilfontein is open for bookings in the Lodge, Log Cabin and Hermitage. Come and unwind in safety. Our most recent addition is a super Jungle Gym for the kids and your pets are most welcome to roam the farm with you.
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