Caperitif – a Cape revival

Ideas are born out of desires to change the world. Not necessarily to improve it, since you cannot really improve it – it runs as it runs – as good as it comes – but to bring something new or the forgotten old into it again. To add style, comfort, chic …

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Ideas rise from early morning heaviness of sleep – when night fades out and light of day has not quite come – and are imbued with dreamscape stuff of earth and honeyed dust.

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At Kalmoesfontein in the Swartland district of the Western Cape, home of the Badenhorst wine making family and place of the official “Caperitif” launch.

The idea was to resurrect an old product – Caperitif – a Vermouth type aperitif which had been produced at the Cape of Good Hope early in the twentieth century.

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The reception. At the Badenhorst’s farm in the Swartland district of the Western Cape.In the middle background Cornelia Badenhorst.

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The presentation.
Adi Badenhorst, rebellious winemaker  and Dave Hughes, well-loved, witty, widely respected booze expert.

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The address.
Dave giving a jolly if not somewhat quirky historical overview over the Cape drinking landscape.

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The proclamation.
Wim Tijmens – profound botanist and irrepressible raconteur.

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The product. Instead of the original “Vermoed” now “Kaapse dief” a vermouth with a preponderance of Cape fynbos.

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The mixing, with a great splashy indulgence.

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There it is – the Cape classic ingredient to a variety of cocktails.

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The jolly crowd.

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The luncheon.

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The setting.

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Adi Badenhost  … man with entrepreneurial enthusiasm ….

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… Lars Erik Lyndgaard Schmidt who thought it all up and had the vision …

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… and someone who couldn’t give a hoot about the fuss.

Thank you, Lars, for inviting us. We thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.

With love as always
from
Colleen & Walter
Stellenbosch, 08 March 2017

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A walk through the garden at Babylonstoren

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Babylonstoren with a view of the Simonsberg mountains.

The garden at Babylonstoren is one of our favourite places to be. It is a place of perfect serenity where you can almost see and touch the balance of energies love and respect for the land and the people who work it have created. Dutifully and carefully the garden is tended throughout the year. Smallest details are taken care of. Nature and man appear to be in easy harmony here.

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Preparing the optimal environment for growing Cardoons – “a cross between artichokes and asparagus. Cultivated plants grow up to 2 metres in height. This process involves wrapping the stalks with newspaper and black bags for several weeks, so that when harvested, in late autumn, the stalks are pale green.”

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Cardoons. Source: Christine Ingram with Roz Denny and Katherine Richmond, The Complete Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking. Hermes House 1997, p. 35.

The owners of Babylonstoren, in collaboration with gardeners, workers, chefs are continuously experimenting with introducing new varieties, such as tamarillos (tree tomatoes), tree melons or aubergine and artichoke varieties among others. All plant material is carefully selected and tested first for its suitability for long term cultivation.

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Still in winter dream mode or just resting … they, together with ducks, are part of insect control.

The hedgehog could be seen as a metaphor for the approachability of nature: prickly on the outside with a soft pink underbelly. Treat it with care and respect and it will reward you with its own particular usefulness. All the wonderful lovely fruit the garden will yield in the coming months has the prickly side of many hours of intensive and continuous labour of love.

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Fig trellises. Optimally positioned to catch the light with easy picking as a trade-off.

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Over 9000 plants with a number of varieties are spread all along the pathways bordering the garden.

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Dante and Vergil in the upper world.

We and Marietjie had been invited by Annette and Hermann on this walk through the garden, especially to see the display of Clivias which are now at the height of their flowering season and also for a special treat at “Babel”, Babylonstoren‘s fine restaurant.

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Annette considering the lighter shades of red.

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Clivias are of the Amaryllidaceae family and native to South Africa and Swaziland.They are typically forest undergrowth plants, adapted to low light (with the exception of C. mirabilis from the Western Cape).

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Their common name is Natal lily or Bush lily. Six species of Clivias are identified, all represented here in the Babylonstoren garden.

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Marietjie considering the darker shades of red.

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Clivias and arum lilies alongside a rivulet running through the garden.

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Water lily ponds in front with “waterblommetjies” (Aponogeton distachyos – also: Cape Pond Weed). The Drakenstein mountains in the background.

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The restaurant “Babel”. Marietjie about the restaurant: “… it is such a pleasing visual experience. ‘Eat with your eyes’ is so true. Everything at Babylonstoren just oozes ‘style’ – the one thing that money can’t buy.”

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Aspects of the Manor house.

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Splendid indeed – but what on earth is he thinking —- no-one seems impressed. Well, he’s just shaking his feathers, if you want to know or in Afrikaans: “Hy sleep vlerk”.

Visiting the  garden of Babylonstoren is part of an everlasting love affair with nature in its yielding to our cultivating mind and hands. The hands of many, of those with resources at their disposal willing to share wealth and vision with the many who on their part are lending their strength and passion in the pursuit of a common happiness.
Happiness in seeing nature bloom and blossom, widening the horizon of day to day politics. And be touched by it.
As a start.

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With love as always from
Colleen and Walter
Stellenbosch, 27 September 2015

Stellenbosch 2015 Vintage

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View of the Hottentots Hollands mountain range from Annandale Road.

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Rows and rows of cultivated land.

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Against the Helderberg mountain range.

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Entrance gate to a farmstead and vineyards on Annandale Road.

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Pin oaks turning their colour with the vines.

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Simonsberg and Stellenbosch mountain range behind.

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Strong reds already in the barrel.

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A homestead with Table Mountain in the distance.

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Polka Drive. Vlottenburg.

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Stellenbosch Kloof.

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Rising the dust on our ride home.

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Shadows fall and mountains turning blue.

Stellenbosch, 13 May 2015
With love from
Colleen & Walter

Namibia Impressions III – Farmscape

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Namib landscape by Colleen. 1990. Owned by Peter & Gerda Klostermann. Farm Süderecke/Namibia.

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From Lüderitz we are travelling in a north-easterly direction to Peter and Gerda’s farm near Helmeringhausen.

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There will be rain soon – a Namibian farmer’s constant hope during the rainy season. Their water supply is pumped up from reservoirs hundred and more meters below. – The Brukkaros, an extinct volcano, in the background.

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You are asking me what to do? I say, live wild and dangerously, Arthur!

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A dried-out river bed which after a heavy downpour can come alive very quickly.

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A housing estate of social weaver birds, looking a bit tatty but still in use. The colonists left at our approach.

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Farmland picnic. No lions or rhinos around here, but sheep, goats, cattle, horses, springbok and oryx antelopes.

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Peter – farmer, shopkeeper, entrepreneur.

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For years providing for basic needs in the farming community.

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The farmyard at dusk. Virtually all their power demands are met by photovoltaic roof panels.

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On the road again towards Swakopmund with an overnight stop at Capricorn rest camp.

Thank you, Peter and Gerda!

With love from
Colleen & Walter
Stellenbosch, 25 April 2015

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Mutually beneficial communities

Our children are questioning the wisdom not so much of our institutions but of our ways of living together as human beings on planet earth. We live, they say, wastefully and could share with each other so much more of our talents.

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Coastal road near Gordon’s Bay on a winter morning in August.

How true is that and how so very naïve. Much of what we see and hear of, daily, are the results of manipulations by people exerting power and people who willingly or forcibly collaborate. Two examples: the classical one of how power with a broad sweep of suppressive tactics is abused to preserve the privileges of the ruling class: the so-called democratic election in Zimbabwe. 

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Strawberry fields near Stellenbosch very early in August.

The other: a well-known farmer in the Robertson district widely respected by his own staff and the community at large is targeted by the executors of a political agenda which publicly declares to bring democratic rule and governance in the Cape Province to an end before the next elections in 2014.

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Welgevonden community living outside Stellenbosch.

A case against this farmer is construed, the courts are invoked and the press and his overseas business partners are instructed even before he himself is made aware of it. Why? His labourers did not participate in last year’s politically orchestrated labour unrests in the Western Cape. Smearing this farmer’s image with the ugly brushstrokes of apartheid days, again is part of the ruling party’s drive to discredit the opposition’s governance in the province.

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A mutually beneficial community of bovine and egret interest. Pausing for a midday rest.

Our children are disturbed not only by the corruption of our institutions but of our minds as people who helplessly stand by, allowing all this to happen. And of course, they are not really naïve, they are looking for answers but do not seem to find them in the political arena. They want to spend their energies in living a life of mutual benefit. They want to receive but they are keen to contribute of their own outside the bounds of party politics, race and gender.

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Strand beachfront early in August.

With love as always from
Walter & Colleen

Betty’s Bay, Monday 5 August 2013

Views of Betty’s Bay

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Main road into Betty’s Bay. Pringle Bay approach.

There are many aspects of life in Betty’s Bay, which are worthwhile exploring. Looking across the fence, there is an artist’s studio and next to him a chef, former owner of the then only worthwhile restaurant in the immediate area, now a full time chocolatier; next to us a couple retired as we are, she a top notch quilter and her good husband a garagiste in the true sense of the word, pressing, maturing and bottling red blends in his garage, just enough for his and his friends enjoyment and down the road, friends of ours, an architect and former art teacher. Not to count a number of academics and the many gifted and highly specialized artisans and artists – all retired and leading by all accounts, varied and interesting lives.

In the 19th and 20th century until the mid-50’s it was whale hunting – the main attraction these days is the area’s rich plant life, as part of the Cape Fynbos Kogelberg Biosphere recognised by UNESCO and globally acclaimed for its diversity in flora and fauna. Leopards, lynx, buck, flamingoes, pelicans and other water fowl abound, dolphins and whales visit the shores with regularity. And so we could go one. But there is something else: there is the wind. The South-Easter in summer, the North-Westerly in winter. Betty’s Bay is the windy corner of this part of the coast and often in summer weather builds up against the mountains, leaving us with an overcast sky and a cool breeze while not 10 kms away it is blue skies and happy sunshine. That has kept Betty’s Bay out of the limelight and the mainstream of tourists. And we are not promoting it to the contrary. We love our lonely walks on the beaches and the odd surfer or fisherman. The summer holidays see an influx of people, good enough to keep the small businesses afloat for the rest of the year, but otherwise Betty’s Bay is an unassuming 10 km strip of seemingly higgledy-piggledy variedly shaped, sized and coloured dwellings thrown about between sea and mountainside and no-one driving through on casual glance is likely to perceive any kind of particular quaintness …

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Yesterday we took our grandson Luke for a stroll around the block – taking pictures of some of the views Betty’s Bay may offer on a cold winter’s day in late afternoon light:

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Further down seaping into the ocean – habitat of the Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis).
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An architect’s abode.

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Colleen with our grandson Luke at the Lakeside.

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Tucked into the fynbos.

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Candelabra aloes (Aloe arborescens).

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Sun setting behind Blesberg.

A few views of Betty’s Bay – with love as always
from Walter & Colleen
Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A visit to Babylonstoren

“Babylonstoren” is the name of one of the oldest farms in the Cape. The name tower of Babylon or Babel refers to the ziggurat of Etemenanki  and the photograph below of Bruegel’s conceptualization gives you the ziggurat type mountain side on the farm Babylonstoren.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Tower of Babel, 1563, oil on panel, 114 x155 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The “ziggurat” mountain on the farm “Babylonstoren”.

However, there is more to it than just the about shape of a hillock. After the Cape had out-run its purpose for the Dutch East India company to simply serve as a revictualing station for their East Indian trade and was eventually “colonized”, farms were established on the land and to run these enterprises Khoikhoi and slave labourers from the East were employed bringing with them a symphony of languages.

Layout of the farm.

Colleen, Rood, Retha and Mia.

Entrance area with the ziggurat mountain in the middle field.

Fish ponds with waterblommetjies (Aponogeton distachyos) – also called Cape pondweed – indigenous Khoikhoi food.

Fingerlunch outside the Conservatory.

The Conservatory …

… made in France.

Alongside the river you walk through a shaded shrubbery housing some nine thousand clivia plants with an amazing range of flower shapes and colours from pale yellow, yellow, to orange and deep red.

The “tower of Babel” in the background.

The homestead.

This was our first visit to Babylonstoren. Thanks, Retha and Rood for your invitation to lunch and Mia for charming companionship. We will come again and spend more time in the gardens and report in more detail.

With love
Colleen & Walter
Betty’s Bay, October 30, 2012