Relaxed Mountain Biking at its Best in the Stanford MTB Classic

Three hundred mountain bikers experienced the rebirth of relaxed stage race riding on the 17th and 18th of February in the 2018 Stanford MTB Classic. The two day race was in reality more of a stage ride, with untimed routes and no prizes for the first riders across the line encouraging everyone to slow down and enjoy the magnificent scenery.

The Stanford MTB Classic featured a relaxed atmosphere where stopping to take photos and take in the scenery was the order of the day. Photo by Oakpics.com.

Hosted by the Stanford Valley Guest Farm, in the fertile vineyard lined valleys and on the pristine fynbos covered slopes of the Perdeberg Mountains, to the east of the country village of Stanford the event took in some of the Overberg’s best kept secrets. The 46 and 40 kilometre stage distances meant that time in the saddle, even at a leisurely pace, was limited meaning time relaxing off the bike in the beautiful race village could be maximised.

The swing bridge over the Waboomsrivier was one of the highlights of Stage 1. Photo by Oakpics.com

Stage one featured a mix of smooth gravel district roads, a little more rugged vineyard jeep tracks, a grassy 4×4 trail to the highest point of the day and the flowing Paardenberg Farm singletracks which wind their way along, and across a couple of times, the Waboomsrivier. The highlight of the day was either the swing-bridge crossing of the Waboomsrivier or the descent back to the Stanford Valley Guest Farm; depending on who one asked. The hot weather was tempered by a cooling wind, but that only served to ensure that the Spar water points, stocked with koeksisers, watermelon and the more conventional water point snacks were utilized to a greater extent.

The festive atmosphere extended off the bike where chats about the trails and scenery flowed along with the excellent local wine and beer. Photo by Oakpics.com.

Post stage, riders kicked back and relaxed under the shady oaks on the Stanford Valley Guest Farm lawns; with the riders enjoying a delicious lunch before whiling away their afternoon with a good book, an excellent beer, or deep in conversation over one of the region’s world class wines.

The pristine fynbos of the Perdeberg and Kleinrivier Mountains provided the backdrop for beautiful mountain biking. Photo by Oakpics.com.

Stage two featured more scenic 4×4 trails, this time along the foothills of the Kleinrivier Mountains as the route meandered towards Stanford itself, passing by the Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary and through the safer but no less distraction filled Sir Robert Stanford Wine Estate, where an impromptu wine tasting awaited. Following on the heels of port tasting at Vaalvlei the shorter distance of just 40 kilometres was perhaps a wise option by race organisers Freebody-Sports.

The winding gravel roads of the Overberg provided easy riding for much of the route. Photo by Oakpics.com.

The conclusion of the final stage was followed by lunch under the oaks and a lucky draw prize-giving, where riders regardless of where in the field they finished stood an equal chance of winning one of the prizes donated by the Stanford MTB Classic sponsors. While each and every rider contributed to making the event a festive and social success a special word of praise must go to Lizelle Cloete and Charl Avenant who dressed up on both days and as such have won a weekend’s accommodation at the beautiful Stanford Hills Guest Farm for their exceptional spirit.

Lizelle Cloete & Charl Avenant embodied the spirit of the Stanford MTB Classic by dressing up for both days of the event and as such have won a weekend away at Stanford Hills. Photo by Oakpics.com.

For riders looking to experience a more intense mountain biking experience, entries are open for Freebody-Sports’ sister event, the Greyt Escape. The event is a three day mountain biking stage race which takes place from the mountain biking mecca of Greyton from the 15th to the 17th of June 2018. For more information on the Greyt Escape please visit www.thegreytescape.co.za.

The 2019 Stanford MTB Classic meanwhile is pencilled in for the 16th and 17th of February next year, and for more information please visit www.stanfordmtbclassic.co.za.

Words by Seamus Allardice

Valentine’s plans

What’s cooking, good looking? Are you dazzling your date with a homecooked meal, making a homemade card, and decorating your lounge with tea lights and rose petals? For those of you who are all thumbs when it comes to crafts, more boerie-on-the-braai than fillet steak, and are about as romantic as a beige pair of secret socks, we have some suggestions to help you surprise your Valentine.

To book for a comedy evening with Mary Steward at the Tasting Room at Stanford Hills Estate, and enjoy this midweek Valentine’s Day with Date Night for the whole family, click here. A blackboard menu and local wines will put hearts in your eyes.

Feel like a romantic meal for just two people, in the restaurant or courtyard at Coffee Corner? Enjoy the welcome bubbly and 3 intimate courses click here.

An al fresco picnic basket packed with lovely treats and a waiter on hand as your recline on the bank of the lily pond will fill your heart with pleasure at Zesty Lemon at Sir Robert Stanford Estate. For more information or to book, click here

For something a little more on the wild side, why not book a special Valentine Sunset Visit at Panthera Africa and feel the deep rumbling roaring of the big cats at sunset? For more information or to book, click here.

Klein River Cheese has decided to stretch Valentine’s Day right from 14-17 February, so if a basket brimming with cheesey treats and a blanket thrown open on a lush lawn sounds like heaven to you, make sure you extend your Valentine time to include this.

You can pack your own picnic basket with charcuterie from Erwin or Martin’s Deli, mature cheeses from Klein River Cheese and buttery bakes from Ou Meul. The Fynbos Distillery sells delicious grappa-based liqueurs, and Stanford Harvest has a wine shop with beautifully labelled wines that will knock your socks off. The Stanford Wine Route has some specials so pop in to one of the 9 boutique farms and choose your favourite. Welgesind has a special offer on their Romanse Blanc de Noir and Boschrivier is offering a cheese platter and bottle of wine at a show-stopping price!

If fresh flowers are the best way to your Valentine’s heart, why not keep them local and ditch the long-stem roses? Fresh bunches of fynbos are available in the village from OK MiniMark and the Village Emporium. Ou Meul has some beautiful wild olive saplings for the gift that will bear fruit year after year. And for an exquisite orchid grown right here in Stanford at Eikenhoff Nursery, call Debra to make an appointment and surprise your love with one of these beauties!

Antjie’s Handmade Naturals are available from the shop on the stoep of the Stanford Hotel – sprinkle some of the Rose Geranium bath salts into a semi-shallow waterwise bath, balance a glass of Cap Classique from one of the local Stanford Wine Route farms on the edge of the bath, and let the evening follow its own path.

And if you are single, footloose and fancy-free this Valentine’s Day, we strongly recommend the bath with bubbly anyway!

Words by Phil Murray, Stanford Tourism 028 341 0340

Stanford Food Heroes in partnership with FoodforUs

The Stanford Food Heroes is a collective of Stanford growers and producers who live and work in the area surrounding Stanford. You can inhale the scent of their herbs and aroma of their buttery bakes, roll their tomatoes and lemons around in your hands and breath in the spices of their charcuterie at the weekly Wednesday Morning Farmers’ Market at Graze, and the Saturday Morning Market on the Stanford Hotel stoep. Besides these markets, some heroes supply or run their own restaurants and delis. Their identity is that they hold home-grown, local produce dear and believe in keeping the supply chain local and lekker. They believe that the best things in life take time.

In 2017, a small group of ideas people identified the Stanford Food Heroes and the increasingly foodie identity of Stanford, and approached them to ask if they were interested in being a part of a new phone application trial aimed at marketing fresh surplus to the closest market, and reducing food loss. What a great idea for a communications app to team up with a group of growers and producers – the Stanford Food Heroes could really sink their teeth into this partnership.

The new FoodforUs app is a United Nations-funded application that links local growers and buyers. It was designed to ensure that edible and nutritious food is not wasted at farm level but instead fulfils its primary purpose of feeding people. It will do this by linking local groups of growers (farmers at all scales) and buyers (feeding schemes, early childhood development centres, restaurants, guesthouses and individuals) through a convenient mobile app. The app will provide an overview and images of what is available from each grower and enables growers and buyers to communicate on payment and delivery methods.

Food is wasted at farm levels for a variety of reasons. Retailers sometimes cancel orders at the last-minute leaving farmers unable to find appropriate markets for their produce in time, or farmers can produce a surplus that they have not planned for in terms of marketing and sale. The FoodforUs app provides farmers with immediate access to a group of local buyers.

The app is available on the Google and iTunes play stores. Once registered, participants will be sent a password that they use to log into the app to view the produce available. This research trial is being conducted in Stanford, Worcester and two pilot sites in the Eastern Cape. Once the initial phase is complete, users’ feedback will be incorporated into a revision of the app’s features and the platform will be released to a wider audience.

Follow the project on Facebook @foodforusza or contact the team directly on info@foodforus.co.za.

FoodforUs looks forward to working with Stanford’s innovative food networks to trial the app that helps to reduce food waste by linking local growers and buyers. More information can be found on the project at www.foodforus.co.za.

*For more on the Stanford Food Heroes, click here

Words by Phil Murray and Stephanie Swanepoel

Having lunch at Havercroft’s

If you like the idea of a sitdown Sunday lunch, soaking up winter sunbeams outside in a sunny courtyard, or inside next to the crackling fireplace, then Havercroft’s is the perfect cottage restaurant to be. The simple white-washed walls and cotton table cloths, with unpretentious clay water jugs, and even a bit of peely paint, allow guests to linger and feel quite at home. Innes welcomes guests in her brusque but warm way, throwing a few jokes and witty comments their way to make sure they unwind and loosen their collars. Havercroft’s is about good food, relaxed chatter, loud laughter and warmth, and Innes’ unique brand of humour and sarcasm is meant to put people at ease. She proclaims she is an unwilling waitress but she is attentive and alert, topping up every sipped wine glass and drained water jug. Her anecdotes and impromptu poetry performances make her part of the experience as she works the floor effortlessly.

The chalk board menu is short and simple, but don’t assume that will make your choice any easier. Innes says she has not been able to take the starter of Devilled Lamb Kidneys off the menu in 15 years so we had to try them. The kidneys kickstarted the meal with a clout of red wine and paprika, served on a crispy, savoury  rosti of potato and parsley – packed with flavour and a sensory mixture of textures. We also ordered the creamy cauliflower soup which came with nubs of strong blue cheese and buttery cheese straws shaped like paddles, perfect for swirling through the velvety velouté!

The main course was equally difficult to choose so we settled on trying the Chicken Ballotine and the Pork Belly. The chicken was soft and tender, and the stuffing – sweet and savoury with onions, garlic and dates. A pomme dauphine of choux and mashed potato whipped together to form a quenelle was served along with a mustard cream sauce – quite exquisite! The belly of pork was an enormously generous serving, served with  nutty lentils, winter veggies, beetroot and apple chutney, and two spears of flawless crackling – a sensory experience.

We were certainly sated after mains but it is not every day one gets to eat Brydon’s food, so we put good manners aside and dived into the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream and nutty brittle sprinkles. It made us sigh with pleasure.

Brydon packs full flavour into every dish. He and Innes work hard and are proud of their cottage restaurant. They share their best food, favourite local wines and their energy with their guests, and the experience of eating at Havercroft’s is an intimate one. People leave with bellies full of great food, and warm chuckles.

 

By Phil Murray

 

The Story of Creation in 7 chapters

 

Not far from Stanford is the seaside village of Hermanus – a great day trip destination with seaside cliffs, world class land- and water-based whale watching and a beautiful hidden valley called Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, heaven on earth! Excellent restaurants and wine farms are tucked along this valley, now more accessible than ever because of the R320 upgrade.  Creation Wines is one of these stunning and surprising estates which brims with creativity, passion and fun. Not only can you taste wine and go on a traditional tour through the vineyards and fynbos, you can blend and label your own wine, sample the Creation wines and menu through a selection of pairings, order from the blackboard menu, or indulge in the newest pairing – 7 courses of food and wine served to the table in a story format – the Story of Creation from the egg to the Big Bang!

The Story of Creation is part adventure, part witty comedy as the chefs weave their magic to pair food with Creation wines. Nothing is left to chance. The glassware is elegant, the plates and dishes are earthen and organically shaped, and the sommeliers are relaxed and eloquent, reading the mood of the diners well. The view is out-of-this-world, and the experience is heady and hedonistic…this is well worth booking as it will feed your soul with earthly pleasures and abundance.

Proudly locally sourced produce is conjured into dishes that show off elegant wines. Take a deep breath and dive in – immerse yourself in the fun. And book a shuttle to drive you back to Stanford so you can really let your hair down.

Words and photographs by Phil Murray

Quality Rural Education in Stanford

One would agree that Stanford is one of the most beautiful small towns in the Western Cape. It is also the centre of a diverse farming community that is home to a number of communities.  Unfortunately these communities face a host of obstacles including poverty, lack of transport, substance abuse as well as the lack of quality education.  All too often, rural schools focus on quantity to keep their heads above water, rather than quality.

Koos and Joanie Smith, founders of the Fynbos Community Foundation

That is where our story starts. Koos Smith started a Fynbos export business on Langverwacht farm on the Papiesvlei/Elim road in 1991.  From here, Langverwacht Fynbos grew to the successful business it is today with its head office in the industrial area of Stanford. Soon Koos saw the desperate need of the communities he worked with and there the dream of a rural school with small classes and individual attention was born.

The Fynbos Community Foundation (FCF) was officially registered as an NPO in November 2012. The FCF has developed and implemented the Rural Education SA (RESA) program, to address the educational, social and vocational needs of rural children in South Africa. The ultimate goal is to equip our children to become self-sufficient, well rounded individuals.

Fynbos Career School students learning how to arrange Fynbos centrepieces

The program has successfully been piloted in three schools namely Fynbos Academy and Career school on Langverwacht Farm, Hoopland Academy in the industrial area and Blouvlei Academy and Career School outside Wellington. The schools are all operated by RESA and Joanie, Koos’ wife and experienced educator, visits all three sites every week to provide academic support.

Thriving, vibrant, positive learning environments have been created and will continue to grow from strength to strength. Many lives have been impacted positively as the RESA schools provide a beacon of hope in struggling communities.

In 2017 FCF established two Career Schools for young people between the ages of 14 and 18 years of age where the focus is on both academic and practical development. This is a 4 year course where learners are enabled to qualify in preparation for entering the employment market, or equipped to engage in entrepreneurial activity.

Grade R learner, Marihano Jacobs, enjoying his lunch of spaghetti bolognese

The RESA programme caters for transport with 4 busses to and from school, provides nutritious breakfast and lunch and most importantly, provides rich and individualised educational, cultural and sporting instruction and assistance, in the lives of our children.

If you have time to spare and a willing heart to serve then please do get in touch with us as we would love to hear from you. You can find our head office in Centro Jardim next to Spar in Victoria Street. Pop in for a quick hello or book a visit to one or more of our schools.

Alternatively, email Elizabeth at elizabeth@ruraleducationsa.com

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

 

Visit the Grootbos Foundation

Stanford is fortunate to be a mere 10km from Grootbos, an astonishingly beautiful guest lodge that reclines discreetly on the fynbos slopes above the Walker Bay Whale Sanctuary. Built from earthy materials like stone and wood, with huge glass windows to maximize views, Grootbos blends into its natural surroundings. Winding pathways curl through ancient milkwood groves, and bright and smiling staff welcome visitors to Forest Lodge and Garden Lodge, two halves of the same destination. Grootbos is also the home of the Grootbos Foundation which is a non-profit organisation fully committed to empowering and uplifting local people by developing sustainable livelihoods through ecotourism, enterprise development, sports development and education. Everyone benefits.

Greener futures for all through learning and growing

From the staff and students at the Green Futures Programme, to the children on the sports fields in Gansbaai, Stanford and Hermanus, to families in Masakane, Gansbaai who have access to a community garden where they can grow and then sell fresh produce, the Foundation is committed to giving back. The Foundation creates jobs, and teaches people sustainability in a world which is only gradually beginning to consider introspection regarding our consumerism. The Grootbos Foundation offers in-house training with certifications in eco-tourism, with the emphasis being on preserving and even expanding the indigenous flora and fauna of our surroundings. One team is working on linking the pristine fynbos nodes in a continuous corridor from the Walker Bay Conservancy all the way to the Agulhas Plains and the Southernmost Tip of Africa. This will not only create jobs and preserve nature, but it will create an experience for visitors to travel, and will improve the knowledge of locals and farmers so that farming and livelihoods can become more sustainable and successful in the future.

A Grootbos Foundation Project: The Community Garden in Gansbaai where people can plant and tend their own allotments, growing food for their families and for sale.

The team at the Grootbos Foundation dreams big, and it puts its money where its mouth is. No plastic or straws are permitted on the property which now bottles underground spring water in glass reusable bottles for lodge guests. The nursery is full of cuttings and seedlings lovingly borrowed from nature. Volunteers and students help coach sport at local schools wherever they are invited, including the Stanford Canoe Development Academy. The general optimism and enthusiasm of everyone at the Grootbos Foundation is inspiring.

Grootbos herbarium filled with every plant species found at Grootbos

Michael Lutzeyer, owner of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, believes that everyone can grow food, anywhere, and his passion for fynbos and conservation is evident everywhere. The Grootbos Foundation is prolific in the work they do to help people in this region. Their imagination and generosity knows no bounds – all we need to do is to take their hands and walk with them on this amazing eco-tourism conservation journey. This is exactly what Stanford Tourism and Business intends to do.

View from Grootbos

 

By Phil Murray

Secret swimming pools of Stanford

Cool, liquid, floating relief from the heat of summer comes in many forms in Stanford. These glorious pools are tucked away at guest houses, self-catering cottages, and on farms. Don’t forget Stanford’s very own Klein River, perfect for cooling off. Go on, take the plunge!

Jump in at Stanford Valley Guest Farm

White Water Farm has a magnificent pool that brings the Indian Ocean islands to Stanford, and it also has a great dam, perfect for bomb drops! http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/white-water-farm/

Aquamarine pool at White Water Farm

Top dam at White Water Farm

Stanford River Lodge has a pool with a view, and private access to the Klein River. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/stanford-river-lodge-bb/

Stanford River Lodge

Private access to the beautiful Klein River from Stanford River Lodge

Phillipskop Mountain Reserve is open to day visitors and overnighters. Fancy a dip in a natural lily pond or at the bottom of a waterfall? https://www.phillipskop.co.za/activities/swimming/

Phillipskop:  Nerine Pool

 

Swimming in the Lily Pond, Phillipskop

For a top-notch farm dam, Stanford Valley Guest Farm boasts one of the best. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/stanford-valley-guest-farm/

Perfect farm life at Stanford Valley Guest Farm

Let your troubles float away at Stanford Valley Guest Farm

And within the village, many holiday cottages will delight you beautiful swimming pools like this one at The Country Cottage. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/the-country-cottage/

8 metre pool at The Country Cottage

The Little Farm House has a dam perfect for a dip. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/a-little-farmhouse/

Children playing at the Little Farm House

And Stanford boasts the Klein River, a cool, winding ribbon of water that flows from its source in the mountains outside Caledon, just 5km as the crow flies to its mouth on the outskirts of Hermanus. The Klein River is fun for swimmers and paddlers who need to cool off on lazy, late summer afternoons.

Klein River at the bottom of King Street

 

By Phil Murray

 

Kiwinet – as good as it nets

 

Front of house team

Stanford is home to a uniquely South African product. Kiwinet has been growing from strength to strength, draping the bedrooms of local homes and luxury boudoirs of guest lodges in Southern and East Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean Islands with their elegant yet functional mosquito nets. From Out of Africa white that gently billows in the breeze to highly customised nets, dip-dyed in shades and hues or beaded to match individual requirements, the Kiwinet team is dedicated to delivering flawless nets that add romance to any bedroom, daybed or outdoor living area.

Front of house

Robyn Lavender bought Kiwinet in 1998 from Sharon Jevon, a New Zealander (hence the name Kiwinet) living on a farm near Elim, who started the company in 1994. Robyn based the business on Boschheuwel Farm near Stanford until she moved the business into the village in 2005, and then secured its current premises which were opened to the public on 1 April, 2015.

Kiwinet

 

Natural linens and a Traditional Kiwinet in simple white and grey with button detail

Three Standard Ranges – Basic, Classic and Traditional – will accommodate your needs and budget to ensure you have a peaceful night’s sleep. If you can dream it . .  . Kiwinet can make it.  The Hoopnet and Suspended Four-Poster, Kiwinet’s two standard designs, are designed to dress cots through to king and custom-sized beds. Robyn’s flagship Suspended Four-Poster Kiwinet floats over ones bed to create a four-poster feel that is magically light and airy.

Tutus for the playful at heart

Robyn is immensely proud of her team. She is always expanding her product range and is currently adding beautiful natural bed linen and other speciality bedroom accessories to the shop, situated near the entrance to the village on Daneel Street. She is dedicated to conservation and the environment and plans to build on her range of Consol solar jars to include other sustainable items. To minimise wastage and landfill, offcuts are used to make cushion covers, travelling, washing or lingerie bags as well as children’s tutus so that no fabric goes to waste.

Kiwinet employs a team of local women and men who work cheerfully to the background rhythm of the radio. The constant snipping of scissors, hum of the sewing machines and swish of each net being hung and checked for imperfections while Kiwinets float on the line in the sun makes Kiwinet a vibrantly busy and yet calm place to visit.

Cutting

Sewing

Checking

Testing

Sanding

Painting

Open to the public Monday – Friday 08:00 – 17:00, Saturdays 10:00 – 14:00

Contact: 028 341 0209

Email: info@kiwinet.co.za

Website: www.kiwinet.co.za

 

By Phil Murray