A WEST COAST BREAKAWAY
One of my favourite things to do when I come home is to look for a beautiful, quiet place to spend a few days just to recharge. Over the years, I’ve discovered so many wonderful gems that I thought it was time to start keeping a journal of my breakaways. I recently had the pleasure of staying at Casa Blu’ on the outskirts of Dwarskersbos, a tiny West Coast village about two hours’ drive from Cape Town.
BOKKOM AVE, VELDDRIF
West Coast culture has fascinated me ever since I first moved to the Cape, and as I’m always on high alert about anything involving food, one of the first things you pick up around Velddrif and Dwarskersbos is that bokkoms are still deeply ingrained in the culture. If you’ve never heard of bokkoms, it’s basically fish biltong – dried and heavily salted southern mullet – that, around here, gives regular biltong a run for its money. At Bokkom Avenue in Velddrif, you can catch a glimpse of the process behind this treasured local snack, where the fish are still hung out to dry, salted and prepared the traditional way. I can seriously recommend bokkom braaibroodjie with brie and apricot jam. Think snoek braai as expressed through a braaibroodjie… yum!
DIE VIS VLEKHUIS, VELDDRIF
One thing I seldom had growing up in Mpumalanga was fresh fish and chips. But when you’re at the coast, I’ve always thought the best way to enjoy fish and chips is at a small, harbourside restaurant overlooking the ocean – nothing fancy. I find that Die Vis Vlekhuis ticks all these boxes. So well, in fact, that you can skip supper.
DELI ON MAIN, DWARSKERSBOS
In March 2021, this fairly recent addition to the Pretkor Centre en route to Velddrif from Dwarskersbos bought out Soetcase, the last tuisnywerheid in the village, although the owners still supply the deli with a variety of traditional South African homemade treats. Deli on Main brings a modern touch to the area with their array of fresh, local produce, locally produced charcuterie and excellent meats, artisanal olive oils, confectionery, cordials and freshly baked breads. The space is also perfect for breakfast, lunch and tea between leisurely walks on the beach.
TIMELESS TREASURES, DWARSKERSBOS
Although the West Coast is awash with antique and second hand shops, few offer a selection as curated as that of Timeless Treasures, which is situated in the same complex as Deli on Main. From Japanese maritime lanterns to silver tea sets and fine crystalware, Timeless Treasures truly lives up to its name. The shop has a second space resembling a storage facility adjacent to the main premises, so don’t miss out.
WESKUS HARDWARE & GESKENKE, VELDDRIF
This nostalgic little high street shop really took me back to my childhood. Back then, every small town had a general store that simply refused to be labelled – the kind of institution where you could buy anything from a tennis racket to a tumble drier while discreetly perusing the adult-orientated novelties.
56 WESTE STREET, DWARSKERSBOS
Few hideaways on this unspoiled stretch of West Coast shoreline cater better to a large group or family than Villa Kersbos. The neutral tones and textures blend in with the natural surroundings perfectly, inviting the outside in while creating a flow to the outside where the stoep meets the sand. A couple of stand-out quirks to this beautifully decorated residence are the pyjama room, a haven for tweens and teens, and a wood fired, poolside pizza oven that makes for a fun alternative to a braai (pssst, Spar in Velddrif sells pizza dough ready made).
At night, let the sounds of the ocean lull you to sleep as you sink into a cloud of percale linen, or while away your day on any of the fine sofas or armchairs with a good book as the fresh ocean breeze invigorates your senses.
4 PIKKEWYN CLOSE, KERSBOS STRAND
As one of the first houses to be constructed on this sublime stretch of beach, Casa Blu’ is truly special – a true find. There’s something so unmistakably West Coast about the white exteriors that meet the white sands that roll into the blue sea. Watching the ships as they arrive to dock at Saldanha Bay Harbour – sundowner in hand – time comes to a standstill. The owner of this stunningly furnished, open-plan house has also left his surfboards and kayak to use, which might inspire me to take up a new hobby.