Watershed rocking the Hills

Watershed started their ‘short, and very sweet’ April Road Tour on the lawn of the Tasting Room at Stanford Hills Estate on Easter Sunday. Easter is traditionally a day spent with family; in my family, we don’t go beyond the garden perimeter which is scoured for chocolate in the early hours, and casually rescanned throughout the day for any escapee eggs. This year, Easter Sunday also fell on April Fools Day. These factors might have made a live performance, in the late afternoon, a fairly hard sell for a live concert. Was it all a joke? We know Sunday concerts work in Kirstenbosch, but life slows down when you come to Stanford, even more than it does when you pop out of the city bustle, and into the Mother City’s botanical gardens. And over the Easter long weekend, would anyone make it out of pyjamas by mid-afternoon in Stanford, let alone into a car and up to a wine farm with sugared-up kids?

Watershed frontman, Craig Hinds, admitted to being unsure whether a Sunday was going to work in Stanford. But luckily for us, it worked a charm and hoards of people turned up to listen to the dulcet tones of one of South Africa’s favourite acoustic bands that has been weaving magic since 2000. Bedouin tents provided shade as people lolled and lounged on picnic blankets and deckchairs, and kids cavorted on the jumping castle and paddled around the waterlily dam. It couldn’t have looked more idyllic – a ‘perfect day, with perfect people,’ Hinds called it. A neighbouring farmer pulled up in a tractor loaded with couches, kids perched on the top of the sturdy swing, and I hastened to spread out my blanky in one of the last remaining central spots. I quickly realised the reason why it was still available was because some early birds had marked out their spots with camping chairs, and were going to partially block my view. But my heart was filled with good vibes and an overriding sense of South African good will – nothing a gentleman’s Panama hat could obscure.

My goodwill faltered when I saw the length of the beer queue, but the peppy team of Stanford Hills barmaids made quick work of it, keeping my good mood intact. And the food trucks handled the crowds with ease, serving tornado-tatoes and other delicious festival-style food.

Watershed kicked off their performance with ‘Close my eyes’ – a solid favourite from the 2006 Mosaic album. Everyone was swept away with the melody, singing along and swaying to the familiar tune. The 1000 strong audience was made up of a delightful mixture of young and old, glamourous and casual,  and the band engaged warmly with the crowd, getting cheers from those from Hermanus, Cape Town, Stanford and even a contingent from the middle of the Free State.

The line-up included a sprinkling of original songs from all the Watershed albums, including Watch the Rain, My love is gone, Nothing about you is the same and Letters, glittering and perfect on a balmy afternoon. And as it was Easter Sunday, a pucker Watershed rendition of Leonard Cohen’s epic Hallelujah seemed fitting. A rhythmic cover of the Waterboys’ Fisherman’s Blues and Counting Crow’s Mr Jones nailed the brief as those audience members who came of age in the 90s sang along. A few couples were spotted busting out some langarm moves on the bank of the dam – always a good sign.

The variety of instruments from the bass and acoustic guitars, drum and violin to the ukelele, tambourine, and harmonica, along with resonant lyrics is what has earned Watershed wide respect and a loyal following across generations. Guest artist Renata Riedemann’s violin added a sound reminiscent of Irish moor mists as well as the jaunty sound of a fiddle. And they saved their first hit, Indigo Girl (2000) for last, delivering it loud and true to the fans. What a superb Sunday afternoon! Step aside Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts because Stanford Hills Estate delivers a top notch open air concert. And we have it on good authority that the team from the Hills is going to keep building their live music line-up, keeping it fresh, proudly South African and strictly full of good vibes.

Thank you to Stellenbrau, sponsors of this Watershed April Road Tour. The beer and the gees was lekker.

Words by Phil Murray

Winter Long Table at Beloftebos

The Winter Long Table and Wine Pairing at Beloftebos was a magical night that saw 150 guests seated under twinkling lights, enjoying an elegant meal that was full of surprises. The rain beat down on the soft top of the ivory bedouin tent while the wind battered the wall of glass windows reminiscent of London’s Crystal Palace at the turn of the last century. Sparks flew from crackling braziers creating a natural fireworks display in oak tree garden, and inside, guests were toasty and relaxed, warmed by the enormous fireplace, gas heaters and smooth local wines.

Chef Corneli pulled out all the stops as guests were greeted at sundown with glasses of Hermanuspietersfontein Bloos, Raka Sauvignon Blanc and trays of canapes around the braziers. Smoked salmon served on cucumber discs, bobotie springrolls, and amuse bouches of braised beef got the juices flowing before guests were invited inside to a table cleverly laid with bite-sized roosterkoek, Klein River cheeses, local honey and preserves.

Three long tables of raw sanded wood were simply set with an array of simple vases and fynbos, and guests slowly found their way to their places, each lovingly labelled by hand with a simple sprig of rosemary. Andries de Villiers welcomed everyone in his warm, relaxed and cheerful manner, thanking his wife and the close family team at Beloftebos. The local Stanford Mill cut all the local wood for the venue renovation, while Grant Anderson helped with the architectural drawings. Beloftebos is now an all-weather venue which can comfortably accommodate weddings, conferences, and parties all year round.

And you feel like family when you go to Beloftebos. The venue and decor has captured country chic at its best without any rustic stumblings and rusty excuses. The sense of simplicity and beauty is visible everywhere from the outdoor and indoor lighting and garden pathways, to the bathrooms. The warm easy smiles and laughter of the staff, and comfortable couches put everyone at ease. The band played an excellent line-up of fresh covers, and the vocals and harmonica added quality to the two guitars.

Four courses which cleverly mixed salty, sweet and savoury tastes of modern South African cuisine showed off the wines, grown by neighbours and friends of the de Villiers family, Hermanuspieterfontein and Raka. The guinea fowl risotto was a first for many, while the orange and ginger glazed and roasted patats were a triumph in themselves. The snoek samoosas would have impressed Marco Pierre White himself, but Chef Corneli had one more surprise for everyone after the 4th plated course. Wooden boards laden with little espresso cups of Crème brûlée with glazed oranges and chocolate brownies were set down the middle of the tables and completely stole the show!

The Winter Long Table and Wine Pairing was an utterly delightful evening filled with sensory spoils. Beloftebos is the perfect venue for all seasons.

 

by Phil Murray

 

Fantabulous Fynbos Flair

Here in Stanford, we’re really quite proud of all the cool stuff our village and surrounds has to offer. You’ve heard us wax lyrical about our river, mountains, our wine, our wildlife, our heritage and just gush in general about Stanford’s natural beauty (not to mention its world-class accommodation, restaurants…).

So small wonder that here’s yet another part of Stanford I want to tell you about: The Cape Floral Kingdom.

Of the six floral kingdoms in the world, South Africa’s might be the smallest, but, as the old adage goes, it’s not the size that matters. You see … it’s also the only floral kingdom occurring entirely within one country.

Photo Copyright: mosaicsouthafrica.com

Photo Copyright: mosaicsouthafrica.com

The Cape Floral Kingdom is composed mostly of fynbos, a biome (that’s basically science talk for a really big family) that is endemic to the region. It is these particular plants that give the region its impressive biodiversity bragging rights, as well being interesting in their own right.
Fynbos species are pretty unique in their reproductive and fire-adaptive strategies, making the Cape Floral Kingdom incredibly valuable to science. Many fynbos plants contain oils and resins that make them extremely flammable, and fires are undoubtedly important natural factors in the evolution and maintenance of fynbos vegetation. Many fynbos species can resprout after a fire, while others depend on fire for a chance to flower and set seed.

Photo Copyright: stanfordvillage.co.za

Photo Copyright: stanfordvillage.co.za

I came across an article in the Splash Magazine highlighting facts about different types of fynbos. Strictly speaking not all the plants mentioned are fynbos, but you will find them growing in the fynbos region of the Western Cape. They were included in the broader appreciation of fynbos. Just too highlight a few…

*The term fynbos (or fynbosch), recorded in the Tsitsikamma area by John Noble in 1868, was first formally used only in the early 20th century, when ecologist John Bews cited it as “applied by the inhabitants of the Cape to any sort of small woodland growth that does not include timber trees.”

*The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay is unique – in that it encompasses a complete river system, from its start in the mountains to its mouth at sea level.

*Artemisia afra (Wilde-als) is one of the most well-known indigenous medicinal plants used in South Africa. It is primarily the leaves that are used as a treatment for fevers, colds and chest problems. Nasal congestion and headaches is said to be alleviated successfully by placing rolled-up leaves into the nostrils or by inhaling the dried powdered form of the leaves.

*Buchu is great for hangovers. Although challenging to grow (plant it after first rains and you will have more luck) buchu attracts bees and butterflies to the garden, and is a natural insect repellent if rubbed on your skin or bedding. To deal with hangovers simply add a handful of the leaves to boiling water and drink as a tea.

*Eat the sour fig raw. The dried fruit often sold on the side of the road in Cape Town is great for sprawling quickly over undesirable banks and areas of the garden you want to cover. But you might not know that you can eat the fruit raw (bite off the bottom and suck out the syrup) and that drinking the leaf juice will help with indigestion, toothache, vaginal thrush and earache (although not necessarily in that order). It also helps subdue insect bites and bluebottle (man-of-war) stings.

*There are 23 different species of honeybush, only 9 of which are used for tea. Honeybush produces an exciting pea-shaped yellow flower in spring that is a feature for any garden. The plant grows quickly, needs pruning, and looks best when planted in groups at least one metre apart. To make a tea simmer the dried leaves and shoots for 20 minutes.

Photo Copyright: mosaicsouthafrica.com

Photo Copyright: mosaicsouthafrica.com

Incidentally, the Cape Floral Kingdom also happens to be strikingly beautiful. So even if all this information means nothing to you, you really need to get yourself out and into the fynbos to see what we mean. Conveniently (isn’t nature ever so accommodating?) you can see and walk in the Cape Floral Kingdom in Stanford and its surrounds.

Comes to no surprise that even early visitors to the Cape was also overwhelmed by the diversity and beauty of our local flora. Lady Ann Barnard, wife of the Secretary to the First British Administration, notes in her diary entry for 10 October 1799

“…I was more than ever confirmed in the opinion that a botanist here must live a
year or two in the country…for he must be in many places at once as the plains, the
marshy or dry soils, the tops of the mountains or the gullies all produce very
different flowers from each other in the same season”.

Toodles

#visitstanford #thinkstanford #tourismforall #fynbos #capefloralkingdom #capewhalecoast