[Vince outside Ashton]
The start of our little trek took us through Ashton and Montagu, following the R62, and on to Barrydale, in the Little Karoo.
Before the R62 was a well-recognized tourist route, the Tradouw Guest House (don't let the lacklustre website put you off) was serving coffee and toasted sandwiches (this should be our national dish, quite frankly), garden salads and cold wine under a grape arbour in a pretty garden.
Vince and I booked for one night, to see us over till we got to the Wilderness, and were met by Leon, one half of the Leon-and-Denis who own the Tradouw...We never met Denis. I fact I'm beginning to suspect he doesn't exist. I've never met Denis. He cooks. And here I really messed up, because I didn't specifically book a dinner with them. Which meant no dinner. And really, that's the main reason we were there.
Whoever cooks, whether it's Denis or Tara, the uncannily-intelligent-looking black dog in residence (I imagine her trotting to the kitchen, tying on an apron and standing on her hind legs to fry some eggs or stir the stew, then untying the apron, and trotting back out to beg for a crust of toast) - the food is good, and far, far superior to anything else in town. Leon says they have stopped serving the lunches because their guesthouse is not on the main drag through town and people with little imagination do not sniff about for alternatives.
I hope they will start again at some point, because it's a special little place, very comfortable, very reasonable and original on a route that is beginning to spawn the ubiquitous and the expedient.
The next morning before we left I went out across the road to the piece of land that Leon and Denis (or the black dog) own, and toured Denis' vegetable garden. If you do stay there, book for dinner. If you're lucky you'll find some of the garden on your plate that night.
Yum: two kinds of mint at the water tap.
An onion flower
Gorgeous, rainbow Swiss chard.
Very sexy tomatoes...
This is Mother, who visited me in Leon's rocky Native American medicine wheel. In the Karoo.