Here in Britain we endure hard winters with Ethan Frome patience and await each spring with bountiful British optimism for a blistering summer!!
However, if you are the luckiest person in the world, and get to travel to the other side of Africa, to break up the long winter months, I can highly recommend a visit to Babylonstoren, near Cape Town. This 16th Century estate, with vineyard, farm, hotel and restaurant is quite evidently some inspired dream made real, driven by a vision, a purest aesthetic, and some extremely hard work. If you are planning a late summer or winter honeymoon, think of it rather as Eden, the garden of human love and sexuality, although Babylonstoren is more of a modern wonder of the world.
The South African cottages on the Babylonstoren estate are the essence of a house, no more and no less. Created with a John Pawson aesthetic, these beautiful, simple cottages take one very far away from city life.
The garden is vast and laid on classical lines but contrary to an English garden of blooms and abundant colour, Babylonstoren’s gardens produce all that we really need to live on. Like a large-scale kitchen garden, everything is grown for a reason, be it for food or medicinal use. Goose pens and chicken runs surround and there within are enchanting surprises such as chamomile lawns and ornithological hideouts. It is an awakening of the senses.
This abundance of fresh ecologically grown food keeps the restaurant Babylon stocked well. We ate the most delicious salad I have ever tasted with a herb dressing which is apparently their secret. Clearly a compulsory, as everyone else had it as a first course too. The menu had two choices per course – my favourite kind of menu – minimal in choice with maximum satisfaction! I forgot to pass by the farm shop and buy the cookbook. I wonder if that dressing recipe is included? I might even find the time to grow a mini herb garden on my roof in London this spring.
COME ON SPRING – GET A MOVE ON!