Monday, January 16, 2012

Shooting from the seat

So we drove out of Cape Town in the early morning and headed towards the hot town of Paarl, turning left before its mountain, to go riding with my father's friend and colleague, Alan. Alan still keeps his own horse for riding through his vineyards, and for pulling a wedding carriage (that's another story) but we hired two trail horses to be our mounts - the other horses on his farm are now all happy, lucky retirees. My horse, just arrived in a horsebox from a neighbouring farm, was Shimmer. I soon fell in love, despite the fact that Shimmer has a dread of cows (I mean, who doesn't, right?). My dad was on Poncho. Both horses were lively and responsive, seasoned trail animals - and appear in movies, too.

A hot day. Dust in the air from the hooves.

Cinsault vines, below.

Halfway through the ride the dogs from the family house escaped and followed us so we had to turn back and return them home, or they would have been pooped in the heat.

Our second leg took us up a hill still covered in Renosterveld, the most threatened biome within the Cape Floral Kingdom. It has been lost to agricultural and urban development.

On a dirt road running behind the farms.

Oh dear. Cows. They must have sensed something because they started to follow us. Lets spook the horse. The horse was not amused.

Alan and my dad, who turned 79 last November.

We turned back onto the farm - I asked about these vines, below. They belong to New Beginnings: the land was given to the farm workers some years years ago, and initially yielded good results and wines. Money was made. But interest flagged, and the vines now look terribly neglected. These are Pinotage grapes.

I snagged a small bunch on passing and nibbled. Sweet! If I could do it all again, I'd like to make wine.

Three hours later we collapsed our stiff bodies into wide chairs in Alan's cool voorkamer and tasted some New Zealand and local wines before heading to the cellar to pick up three cases of the estate's '04 Shiraz - the Frenchie's favourite wine, by far.  I received, very happily, a gift of noble rot dessert wine.

And then we headed home, the mountains hot and blue.


  1. Beautiful horse! And it all looks very dry, is this a dry year or just a dry area?

    Lucky you. :-)

  2. You look about 14 in that picture.

    Riding must make you very happy.

    Or could it be the heat?

    xo Jane

  3. Shimmer. What a wonderful name for a horse. It looks like it was fun. I hope you are not too sore!

  4. The dogs were following, then the cows, now us! Looks like a lot of fun.

  5. Dit lyk heerlik. En ja, jy lyk baie hot in daai foto.

  6. Paarl... a name from the distant wine past. Loved the grapes & mane shot.

  7. What a beauty! If I could have a horse, I would choose a lovely dapple gray like your friend Shimmer.


  8. I'll help you plant those aloes...I'm happy to be paid in wine and horses.

  9. Ok, my second thoughts at random:

    Your dad on Poncho in front of the farm, that was almost Pancho Villa.

    The Estate's '04 Shiraz? Aj no man, it's the best Shiraz I've ever tasted. Period. Wow. Leaves a memory on your tongue sweeter than a whole orchard in bloom, sparkier than a freshly brewed Italian espresso and more melancholic than a campfire's smoke drifting over Sossusvlei's auburn dunes...

    Simmer's aversion for cows, I can relate. Me, it's pigeons and ticks.

  10. Beence - well, summer is dry. But this is dry for a dry summer :-)

    Jane - yes, brings out my inner cowperson. Yee. Ha. Baby :-)

    Donatella - I was quite sore!

    Frank - was...

    Karen - merci. I would also like to ride a giant guinea pig. Soft...

    Arcadai - waaa!

    Janet - hm, I wonder what the wine was like? It's better, now :-)

    Ikaika - Shimmer had a bit of cattitude...

    Ellen - phew - they must remove the gum trunks first. I ain't removing those...

    Beence - Ag no, man...that dude is Alan, not my dad! :-) And I may have to send your shiraz description to our leonine host. xx


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