Stanford is a pretty village that consists of a few blocks of unpaved roads around the cricket oval, bounded by the river and the national coast road. Many of the Victorian houses have been refurbished into designer weekend cottages. Amongst which, are the unkept like poor relations, or those who clinging to ‘originality’, like a moth-eaten sweater.
A fire welcomed us out of the rain, to our comfortable cottage at Galashiels Lodge. The kitchen, rudimentary. Furnishings, clumped together leftovers from granny’s attic. Eclectic. Relaxing.
The large terraced garden, slightly ramshackle, retains much of its original country garden feel, full of bird song. Silent in its winter slumber beneath the mountains.
Amongst the quint and cutesy cottages, there are hints of architectural brilliance emerging that could transform the village from a historical into a dynamic progressive country village. Solar energy and water harvesting have been integrated into some of the renovations, while there are indications that disadvantaged on the fringes are being incorporated, rather than excluded.
The renovations at Don Gelato are not quite complete, hence, the ambience was a tad sterile of a trattoria on a rainy evening. The food, however, was stunning. Prosciutto and salami as well as tomato, basil and olive oil bruschetta and meat balls in a tomato sauce, as a primi. Followed by the best melenzana I have tasted and gnocchi. Their signature gelato for desert.
While they have an extensive wine list of Italian wines, we had Italian style wines from the Bottega Family Winery in Stellenbosch. Rosso, a Sangiovese and Barbera blend, and the white, Bianco, a Pinot Grigio, that is the star.
There is something that grabs the soul with ringing of the church bells on a still winters morning. Snow drops, a brilliant white in the mist. Flowering pomegranate, salmon coloured brilliance. The sensuous curves of a Malawian women in her blue chitenje heading to town.
Warmth, and familiar comfort of the trendy Oude Meul, where great coffee is served while the baking of their morish breads are created with flamboyance. Country brilliance.
I spent oodles of time at the gallery studio chatting and looking at where I can improve the studio in Knysna