WHEN my friend Terri and I spent the weekend at The Vineyard Country House in Montagu around about a year ago, it wasn’t the first occasion I’d been there. Several years before that, I was involved in the collection of a classic – possibly vintage or even antique – Ferguson tractor. Details of the day are hazy, lost in time and the frozen margaritas I drank on the way (as a passenger), but it was shortly before Louise Smith and Lauren Zarges bought the property.
It was mentioned in passing back then; on this visit I was accompanied by the owner of said tractor, which made for a delightful story which will no doubt be added to the many other serendipitous events which have occurred here, some of which Louise shared with me on Sunday morning over the big wooden kitchen table, where she was icing cupcakes.
She and Lauren love to cook, and I love to relate how I ended up there, because it all had to do with the food. You can read about it here. Happily, the breakfast remains An Event, beginning with an exquisite fruit platter, and bread. But not just any bread. Louise is accomplished enough to take on a Jan-Hendrik recipe and turn it out in style; the mosbolletjie loaf with its sticky sweet glossy crust, was still warm from the oven. I ate it with Louise’s ginger and brown sugar butter.
Previously, I raved about Louise’s light and fluffy omelettes so they were the obvious choice. They were filled with feta, peas and fresh mint from the garden (“yes, just over there,” said Louise, indicating the pot) and topped with buttery mushrooms on rosemary skewers.
There are four suites at this stylish guest house, which is on your right as you drive into Montagu from the Robertson side. One is in the main house – where you’ll have your fabulous breakfast, and also relax in the lounge (there is a record player, as well as books and CDs) – and the others are separate. Suite 5 has an outside shower with romantic billowing white curtains, and a wicker couch overlooking the vineyards, your view framed by white roses.
For some reason, the bed reminded me of the John Denver song, Grandma’s Feather Bed, for its size and comfort (and wrought iron frame), and in the separate loo there is a wall on which you can write in chalk. What are the odds that the message right in front of me was by people I know?
When I travel, I always have a book with me because that’s my ultimate indulgence – to be able to read in peace and quiet. This trip, however, I found my mind wandering elsewhere and I barely read two chapters. And you know what? That was just fine. I was more than happy to lie by the pool (after trying out the swing chair and finding it not the easiest nor most practical place to sit with a glass of wine) and simply gaze at the sky and ponder the shapes in the clouds.
Like last year, I had my first swim of the summer, and yes, the water was cold! But I like to remember that last year’s dip was only the first of many – here and over the seas – so hopefully this one will be a similar omen.
Like I said in my article before, the warmth, comfort and generosity of the hosts make The Vineyard Country House feel like a home from home. It’s truly a joy to spend time here and I can’t wait to go back.
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PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©