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.
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.
They don’t make ‘em like this anymore. No, they do, but the classic tuisnywerheid (home industries) is definitely a dwindling breed. Here you can find anything from a bar of boerseep and general bric-a-brac to ystervarkies, soetkoekies, milk tart, jams and preserves.
DELI ON MAIN, DWARSKERSBOS
A fairly recent addition to the Pretkor centre en route to Velddrif from Dwarskersbos, Deli on Main brings a modern touch to the area with their array of fresh, local produce, locally produced charcuterie, artisanal olive oils, confectionery, cordials and freshly baked breads.
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.