I never again thought I’d see the day I didn’t want rain. After South Africa’s record-breaking drought in the Western Cape leaving dams just a few drops short of empty, a winter rain (let’s call it torrential downpour) for a whole weekend should be the very gift from heaven we prayed for. The small problem was that we had invested a little of our saving for a rainy day in the very hope that the rainy day in question wouldn’t be this weekend. A trip to Babylonstoren is all about the outdoors, meandering the gardens, bike riding in the vineyards,
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And as we hit the N1 highway, the charcoal clouds merged in a huddle, opened their taps, and let the rains shower unrepentantly.
As we arrived, the trickling streams that run from top to bottom of the farm, were rushing. A sense of quiet disappointment hung like a cloak on the kids demeanor. Like their mum, they’re farm girls at heart, and Babylonstoren is a pinnacle in their year.
A hearty lunch of soup, scones and potato wedges in the superb metal atrium that is The GreenHouse Restaurant lifted the mood as the clouds briefly dispersed. Dropping the bags in the room, we made a dash for the bikes, peddling through puddles and tackling the maze of nature woven throught the 8 acre gardens – broken down into sections comprising fruit, vegetables, berries, bees for pollinating, indigenous plants, fragrant lawns, a prickly pear maze, ducks and chickens, and more. Without hesitation, and based upon a tip-off from Babylonstoren’s superb guest relations host, Jerome, the kids found their treasure on the garden map, unearthing carrots and racing to the donkeys, handfeeding them with both shrieks of joy and trepidation combined.
The heavens opened and the race to the room commenced as though a starter gun had triggered. Wet to the skin, there was no other choice to get warm as quickly as possible. In the jacuzzi.
The newly renovated spa, sauna, steam room, salt room, jacuzzi and pool holds the look of a farm cottage, but with a modern teak clad interior and frameless glass gazing out to the winefarm. The circular glass jacuzzi steals the limelight centre stage. While kids are not always allowed, we had special permission due to the weather and they hopped gleefully from jacuzzi to heated pool, swimming from indoors to outdoors under the floods of rain.
Back to the room for a piping Rooibos and Honeybush tea, and once again the skies clear. Responding like a fire brigade to an alarm call, the kids hauled on their jackets and hats and clambered onto bikes. Dad teaching the youngest to ride without stabilizers (embarassingly, a rather back-breaking exercise!)
Dark creeps in and it’s time to spark the fire, open the wine and watch a DVD in front of the fire, the crisp white and modern interior design glowing with welcome heat. We had decided not to visit the award-winning Babel Restaurant on this occasion – we have learned that (our) exhausted kids prefer meals in than out after so much excitement. So, earlier in the day, I visited the Babylonstoren butchery and picked up some superb marbled fillet and some biltong, having picked fresh greens for an accompanying side salad. The glass conservatory kitchen played host to a culinary feast, with starters arriving at the kock of our door – mushroom bruschetta and a glass of red wine – before serving our (quite surprisingly delightful) main course.
The morning the kids woke up to get flying on their bikes again, under a seemingly fresh and positive weather outlook. The donkeys were handed their breakfast by their new youthful keepers (aged 5 and 10) and we all converged at Babel for the freshest organic breakfast one can find. Farm to table in the most literal sense of the term.
Muesli, fresh fruit, juices of every colour and depth, honey-glazed bacon, eggs laid by the very chickens that chased the girls the day before, the richness of flavor is a testament to the authenticity of natural produce. There is no mistaking the difference.
Down the home straight, of course the clouds had one final installment for us. As breakfast concluded, the strongest downfall had been saved to last, as we were all drenched in the pursuit of shelter. The race home was a happy adventure as opposed to a miserable drama, children teaching adults the importance of adaptability and presence.
Granny had looked after the dogs for us back at home. So, as we departed, we scouted the farm shop for a tin of Bablyonstoren’s famous rooibos tea, olive oil, a few bottles of wine, fresh bread, and honey. A lover of the farm herself, it was a peace offering, as much a gift of gratitude. When it comes to Babylonstoren no one wants to get left behind. Whatever the weather.