Sipping and sweating in Tulbach

The bubbles of the crisp Cap Classique danced on our tongues. The tasting room at Saronsberg Wine Estate was cool with a light yeasty smell lingering in the air. The large glass vase with proteas, and the long tables lined with Philip Starke chairs, announced style and elegance. We ended our tasting with a spicy Shiraz and headed for our stable. The bronze, naked lady on her donkey greeting us on the way out.

We booked a room on a farm just outside Tulbach. This quaint town is an hour’s drive from Cape Town, flanked by the Winterhoek and Witsenberg Mountains.

Our converted stable was decorated in shades of cream. White iceberg roses, arranged in a crystal vase reflected in the mirror.

That evening we BBQ’d sirloin steak on our patio, while sipping straw coloured Saronsberg Viognier. Sussex cattle, sheep and purple flowers dotted the pastures below.

Early Sunday morning we set off on our mountain bikes, a map of the trail tucked in my back pocket.

We cycled past vineyards labelled with different cultivars. Hip-high fynbos scratched my bare arms and legs. We crossed a couple of rivers. The sand from the river beds formed a paste on my wet chain, which groaned like my thighs. We hit a gravel road, farm labourers dressed in their Sunday best greeted us on their way to church. They wore oversized suits and hand-me-down shiny bridesmaid dresses.

We cycled through an orchard, where the unpleasant smell of pesticides lingered in the air. Blood red nectarines tempted us. As if we hadn’t learnt a lesson from Adam and Eve, we each picked one. The juicy sweetness was well worth the guilt.

Cycling past the labourer cottages, we heard the non-church goers announcing  their rebellion with an off-base ghetto blaster. Care-free chickens clucked and crackled. A toothless old man, grinned and greeted formally: “Goeie more mevrou!” A baby crawled in the dust. The children tried to outrun us but gave up, their bare feet couldn’t keep up.

The sun became merciless and the saddle uncomfortably hard. We lost our way many times. Back tracking up what had previously been fun down hills, sipping luke warm water, and cursing.

Never before have I been so happy to see our car, parked alone under an oak tree.

These weekends away, recharge my batteries.  Exercise, country life, great company, good wine and food – my recipe for happiness.

The view from the cottage to rent Our room in the rented accommodation Our room in the rented accommodation View from Raptors Rise