Babylonstoren, you took my breath away.
In many ways, South Africa, you took my breath away.
My last stop in Cape Town was brief and I managed to see as much as possible in my rapid transit through town. I didn’t experience the city, which must wait for another time, as my destination was the wine growing regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.
I think I am spoilt spending so much time in France and being a witness to geographical beauty first hand. (France I think there is a little competition out there. I am not being disloyal, as my heart is true but I would be remiss if I did not wax lyrical about the landscapes in these areas so close to Cape Town.)
I was reminded of France and our Alpilles in Provence and yet the scene was larger, so much more bold and impressionable. I was reminded of Sonoma and Napa Valley in the United States; again the scale is larger. The manicured gardens, the perfectly aligned vineyards and the quaint shopping streets with boutiques and galleries had a Hampton-esque feel and yet still uniquely South African.
It is difficult to put into words.
Cape Town felt familiar. You know that feeling when you see someone, you think you know him or her but you aren’t quite sure. That is how I felt. The one thing I do know is Cape Town is magnificent. The reputation as such is well deserved and doesn’t disappoint.
One not-to-be-missed stop on my journey was Babylonstoren, one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms in the area. I am sure many of you are familiar with the property and have either dined, stayed or promenaded in the magnificent gardens.
I was told the farm would resonate with me; an understatement.
The day we visited was my birthday and if the calendar must keep turning; there was no place I would rather have been.
What was it that impressed me so?
The physical beauty of the location certainly is awe-inspiring but what held me was the attention to detail in all endeavours of the operation. I took away so many ideas I would love to implement in France and I feel truly inspired. The way of life in Europe can become a set piece and it is easy to forget how much the ‘new world’ can show us.
I adore detail.
I think I am a small picture person in many ways. I know we must see the larger whole but I do like the finer points. Babylonstoren managed to conquer the grand and celebrate the small. Their plantings in the prickly pear maze had me screaming with delight; their stream and Clivea walk almost teary.
I was taking detailed photo after photo with no thought to composition or light; simply idea after idea to show the French fellas back home. The plantings are similar, the climate simpatico but it was the pairings that intrigued me. Why have I never thought to under-plant our olives with wild rosemary? We have both in abundance.
The Cape Dutch decor, all white and pristine was simplistic in style but immaculate against the dramatic landscape. An emphasis on old botanical prints permeated throughout the farm; from fabrics, to paintings and packaging. Their shop was filled with exquisite printed linens; it was pure torture leaving those behind. I am already regretting the fabulous fabric panels that would have worked so beautifully at our farm. Yet, another reason to return.
To be so inspired and take away such beauty in my mind’s eye was the best birthday gift of all. xv