Colourful fishing boats on the beach at Struisbaai, near Cape Agulhas

Wine and fun are our main focus this week. We had a great time at Grand on the Beach with the Chenin Blanc Association’s Beach party. In previous years, this was a trade event but, this year, it was opened to the public; a great idea – making it open to the customers! Then a launch at Grande Provence in Franschhoek, with excellent wines and food in a beautiful place. Kirstenbosch, our National Botanical Garden, is another beautiful place and we took a day off from household maintenance to revel in its beauty. We hope you’ll enjoy sharing them with us

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Invited to the annual Chenin Pizza Party at the Grand on the Beach in the Waterfront, we were delighted to see that they had opened up the great tasting of South Africa's best Chenin Blancs to the public. It was on a sizzling summer Wednesday from 4 till 8 pm. Flip flops and beach wear were obligatory and essential. This event is so ably organised by Ina Smith and Jan Sleet and the team of the Chenin Blanc Association. Read on…

An invitation to the Grand Provence Merlot launch on the estate in Franschhoek gave us an insight in to the growth and confidence of two talented young men, the winemaker Thys Smit and Head Chef Marvin Robyn. We were picked up by minibus at 8.30 and, after rather a long trip to pick up other members of the media, arrived at the farm at 10.45.  Thankfully, it was great weather, nice and cool. Rain had been promised, but it didn't look likely, so Lynne took a raincoat and a sun hat. As we were early, it gave us a chance to have a look at the art gallery which has some superb paintings, sculptures and photographs. Whoever does the curating has a superb eye. Read on…

We who live in the Cape sometimes find that people from the rest of the country tell us that we are a bit insular, aloof. We always respond that it’s not true, Capetonians are just always busy, there is too much to do here. Just ask if you can join us! But being busy means that we often do not get to some of our favourite places and Kirstenbosch is definitely one of them. While we were on holiday, we made a list of places we wanted to visit and this was at the top. So, on a warm Tuesday, we headed there to take advantage of the Pensioners free entry, free for local pensioners every Tuesday. Read on…

After the long power cut we had at the weekend, caused by the fierce gales which hit us on Saturday night, when we dared not open our freezer, Lynne went in to see what she could make for supper and found a small piece of beef fillet - and a sheet of Woolworths Puff pastry. And some chicken liver pâté she’d made at Christmas. So combine those three pantry ingredients and you get a classic Beef en Croute for 2. We made it to celebrate the end of the wind. It is not difficult to make and actually doesn’t take that long but getting the timing right is crucial if you need your steak perfectly cooked, medium rare, à la Gordon Ramsay. She used his times and hope that they will work for you. She made a large crêpe pancake to enclose the beef in, so that the pastry would not get soggy from the pâté. Read on…

Our Wine of the Week is the newly released and just launched 2018 Grande Provence Merlot. The grapes come from the golden triangle in Stellenbosch and would usually have gone into the Grand Provence red, but they were just so good, that winemaker Thys Smit felt that they needed to be showcased alone. Read on…

23rd January 2020

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We keep talking about rain and the scarcity of water in our blessed, beautiful province. We are still in trouble. 2018 saw the lowest rainfall of any year since 2010 and even then we had 100 mm less in 2019 than in 2018. We still need to be careful; we don't know what the future holds. 

It is not difficult to be careful; just be aware of what you do with water and look after this precious resource. Don't leave the shower running while you soap, use grey water to flush, don't run the dishwasher until it is full..... We're in crisis. Think about it! Your garden may, like ours, become a desert. Sad, but necessary and a minor sacrifice in comparison to queueing at a hose for your daily 25 litre allowance. We are planting succulents and other water-wise plants which will tolerate the conditions and still give us pleasure

So don't think that it's OK if it's raining; the trouble is that it is not raining enough. The dams are only, on average, not sufficiently full. We need to try harder. It is no use hoping that more rain will come. If it does, it will be a blessing, but the long term forecast still does not encourage optimism. Tapping into aquifers and installing desalination plants will help in the long term, but we must face up to the fact that water will always be a scarce, precious commodity in the Western Cape. The world's weather is in trouble. Europe is experiencing temperatures that we are used to here in Africa. Vineyards are being planted in England. It might be normal in Spain, but when we hear stories from chilly Scotland and often icy Norway about temperatures in the 30s.....

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