Thursday, April 29, 2021

a month of cheese platters

If you follow (or stalk) me on Instagram you'll have picked up that we've been away A LOT in the last few weeks. Sickening really. Sorry.

This is almost entirely thanks to lovely friends who cleverly booked weekends away with a foresight for fun which we've struggled with the last few months, and also in part to bookings made in 2019, in The Before, which have only now been fulfilled. 

What follows is a small review of some weekends in paradise, and the well-timed cheese platters which accompanied us.

A long weekend camp at Altyd Water (always water - a big claim for an end-of-summer campsite in the Cape - turns out they weren't wrong) kicked off the festivities and reignited a will to live. Amazing river water (no crocodiles!*), perfect kiddie dynamics, croquet on the lawn, a live snake capture, tequila cocktails and the cheese platter which saved us.
Packing up the tent on the last day we were already planning the next one...

But first, this. Not technically a cheese platter but just a hint of the luxury sampled on a freebie weekend at the Steenberg Hotel & Spa with my bestie. This was an amazingly generous gift from a friend in cold Berlin who was unable to make use of the booking she'd made pre-pandemic.
We slept, and ate, and lolled at the best poolside I've ever hang out at - feeling our shoulders actually relax, our souls unfurl and the utter peace which only comes with not having to do one single thing you don't want to do. Not one.

And then the big one. 5 days deep in the Groot Karoo on a friends farm.
And this cheese platter - the most humble of them all, but the most special. A hunk of Camembert hacked to pieces with a pocket knife, a sleeve of very standard crackers. Gin cocktails with pink peppercorns foraged from the tree we would sleep around that night - out under the stars in a sheep paddock on the farm. Mattresses on the ground, a big bonfire, the best lamb chops of my life, endless stars, a creaking windpump, snuffling children bundled up in the night with just their noses peeking out, a faithful doggie who kept watch and the gentlest dawn. Magic.

Later the following day, after an icy pool dip to rinse the dust from my sinuses, and a work call taken in the old farm office - still in a damp cozzie, kids yelling to each other outside, a faded sheep deworming schedule up on the wall - the beginning of a conversation which has culminated in an actual work contract for an actual in-person event (just when I thought it would never happen) - this was the snack board I made to celebrate - served on the verandah with ice cold wine and some self-congratulation.

I don't have a photo of the food, or anything much, from the quick trip to Onrus we squeezed in after the only weekend in 6 that we spent at home. A quick 24h of diving, swimming, crayfish cooked and eaten on the beach, a Japanese Wagyu fillet which was indescribably magnificent and an emergency vet run for one of our stinkers. (Honestly, the only weekend away they joined us and someone ate something weird and had to go to the vet. For shame.)

But not all platters are created to be shared - and the above was for a small girl on a warm afternoon. Summer fruit, cheese, yoghurt and honey for dipping.

And to round it all off - another camp. Another river (still no crocs!*), another cheese platter, more cold but incredible swims, more kids having the best time while the adults followed suit, more friends, more laughter and more reminders that: we can hang out safely and largely outdoors, we can move beyond these homes we spend so much time in, we are, as always, incredibly lucky, we will always, always, have a cheese platter.

Thank you March/April - we needed this so bad. And now, actual work. My god I wonder if I can remember how to do this?

*at the beginning of the year the news broke of a crocodile farm (a tourist attraction back when there were tourists) which lost its fence in a flood and subsequently, over 100 crocodiles into the waterways of the Western Cape... Not being sure how many crocs escaped in the first place, it's impossible to tell whether they've all been recovered. Adds a certain frisson to weekends away on rivers at the moment.