Darling Dearest.

Posted: August 13, 2012 in Travel and Adventure writing

As the wildflowers start to raise their petals to the sun, the residents of Darling crawl out of their winter hibernation, shake out their spring feathers, and turn their quaint village into a vibrant hive of activity.

From August to October, the fertile soil of the Darling district gives birth to the wildflowers. Darling is also a cultural hub all year round.  It’s here where you will find Evita Bezuidenhout’s Perron.  Tannie Evita, as she is fondly called by Saffies, is our most renowned political satirist and cabaret artist. Her home and surrounds contain two theatres, a restaurant and a museum, or as Evita calls it, ‘Nauseum’, which holds a vast collection of apartheid era pictures, posters and letters.   There is also a Boerassic Parkfilled with life-size statues which reflect the ridiculous side of the South African political world.  The most memorable cement statue in the garden is that of the beleaguered extreme left leader, Eugene Terreblanche, falling of his horse during a parade. Once you’re done with reflection and laughter, you can sit down to a wholesome plate of food at her restaurant.

Rocking the Daisies – pic by Jonx Pillemer

If you like to experience something a little unusual, you should be in Darling for the annual Voorkamerfest, from 31 August to 2 September. The Voorkamerfest, which means ‘front room festival’ in Afrikaans, is a collaboration of performance artists and musicians which takes place in residents’ homes.  What sets this festival apart is that you book a theatre route in advance. ‘The venues and performers remain a surprise until everyone arrives at the various destinations.’ Evita’s Perron is the main hub of this arts fest. Each of the six routes has three Voorkamerfest stops, with a 25-minute performance in every front room, which range from small township houses to grand Victorian dwellings.

Once you’ve had your cultural fill, head to Duckitt Nurseries which has an open day on the first Saturday of the month, from May to November.  This is the only time the Cymbidium orchids are on view to the public.  Nibble on pancakes as you select a rare and exotic orchid for your home. This nursery has been in existence since 1979 and is situated approximately 3km south of Darling.

If you prefer your flowers out in the wild, then Burgherspost Wine Estate should be on your itinerary. Here, right at the foot of the picturesque Dassenberg Granite Hill, you can enjoy a guided flower and game drive. Along the route you will encounter a variety of African mammals (including Bontebok, Eland, Red Hartebeest and Zebra) and bird species.

Next door to Burgherspost is Cloof Wine Estate. Cloof has a delectable selection of wines including their Daisy Darling white wines which are tasty and easy on the pocket. Together, the two farms produce top quality grapes for the wine market. If money is not an issue then don’t forget to stop at Groote Post wine farm to stock up for your wine collection. The winery is set in a lovely green valley threaded by the Klawer River.

For the ultimate floral extravaganza you cannot miss the 95th Darling Wildflower Show (1416 Sept 2012). ‘Every imaginable species of indigenous flora will be on display’, with experts available to offer information on the various plants.  The show also has a green footprint. Most of the income from the show goes towards conservation initiatives like the Darling Flora Project. There are also food and refreshment stalls that serve tasty home-made treats. This year, the price of your entrance ticket includes a lazy tractor ride to a private vlei, a marsh of sorts, which is otherwise inaccessible to the public, where you will be able to view some of the most spectacular wildflowers in bloom.

Rocking the Daisies – pic, Jonx Pillemer

Article first published in LATITUDE.\ magazine

 

Rocking the Daisies Music Festival

(7-9 Oct 2012)

This two-day music festival takes place on the Cloof Wine Estate. You get to sit under the Milky Way and enjoy a feast of musical acts.

Darling Cellars Crush Day

(23-24 Feb 2013)

Everything you may ask from a fun day out Cape Town is included in your ticket. Join the farm work during the harvest then relax with a traditional Westcoast lunch and some wine tasting.

Where to eat

Marmalade Cat (19 Main Rd,

+27(0)22 4922515)

Along Darling’s Main Road you will find this small marmalade-coloured building serving specialties such as the generous portions of home-made chicken pies, tender lamb shanks, and rich stews.

The Slow Quarter (Wed-Sun from 11am to 6pm, 5 Main Rd, +27(0)71 9012532, www.darlingbrew.co.za)

This few months old tap room offers an interesting alternative to the traditional wine and food paring. Their currently signature dish is the Bone Crusher battered tempura prawns served with a spicy barley salad.

Where to shop

Darling Olives (Testing & Sales)

Darling Olives on the Darling Yzerfontein Road,

+27(0)22 492 3171

A great place to taste, buy and learn everything about olives and their derived products.

 

Book League (bookshop)

Station Rd, +27(0)83 6587581

Browse among the local interest books as well as the selection of new titles and children publishing. Great spot for a rainy day.

 

Darling Country Market (fresh products, arts & crafts)

Nitrophoska Building, Main Rd

Every Last Saturday, from 9h00 until 12h30, visit the local market to find your favorite homemade or homegrown product.

Where to stay

Aloe Cottage

+27(0)83 4001666

www.aloedarling.co.za

Three en-suite bedroomsprovide a comfy stay for up to six guests. It is self-catering, but every imaginable luxury and necessity has been thought of, and in great style. Cottage from R1,200 per night.

Maison de L’Amour

+27(0)22 4923995

www.maisondelamour.net

A real gem decorated with the elegant country style typical of the South of France. The bed & breakfast is perfectly located to explore Darling on foot. From R720 pppn.

Burgherspost Cottage

+27(0)22 4922830
www.burgherspost.co.za

An authentic country-life escape set in the picturesque Dassenberg Mountain offering a breathtaking view over the vineyards and dams. From R600 pppn including game drive, wine tasting and cellar tour.

How to get there:

The village of Darling is an easy drive from Cape Town. Head north taking the R27 for about 80kms. Turn right at the sign to Atlantis (R307). Follow this road to the T-junction and then turn left towards Darling on the R304.Meander gently up and over the hills through the countryside dotted with sheep and cows, past the turning to Malmesbury and onwards for the last few kilometers to Darling.

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