DOWN COUNTRY ROADS
After months of travelling, both in South Africa and overseas, I came to a conclusion: South Africa is unique, and our people make us so different from any other country. We are creative, fun, talkative and open. Some may call a spade a spade, but that’s okay.
It is this creativity I fell in love with while taking long road trips through the Free State, Eastern Cape and Western Cape and it is this creativity I’m going to explore in my series Down Country Roads. From farm stalls, coffee shops, guest houses and quirky and fun shops and little towns, I hope to inspire you to explore our beautiful country.
Farm stalls are as uniquely South African as biltong and boerewors. Some, like those in the Karoo, it seems to be compulsory to serve roosterkoeke. Those of you who haven’t seen or eaten a warm roosterkoek with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, you should try it. Instead of having the same burger and chips at one of the general garages along our main routes, just once stop at one of these farm stalls and discover what you’re missing. Don’t get me wrong. Not all of them are great. Sometimes there may be a reason for the shelves being empty. Drought and other circumstances have an influence on what an owner can offer. But sometimes, just that cup of coffee or cold drink you buy there may be the difference between an owner being able to feed his family or staff or not.
Farm stalls each have their own character, quirky decor and produce may differ from stall to stall and district to district. That is the fun of discovering them, finding hidden gems in sometimes a godforsaken landscape. And just sometimes they may be the place stopping you from dehydration in the middle of the summer when you missed the stop in the last town or feeding the nagging children in the back seat or provide a much-needed toilet for Ouma.
Farmstalls are not the only places worth discovering in this country. I have visited so many coffee shops around the world, and most often than not, they are all the same big-chain stores. In Scotland, I’ve found a couple of ‘tea rooms’ and coffee shops I fell in love with, which I’ll also share with you.