On a cold, wet and windy Friday afternoon, we headed out to the gourmet capital of the Cape, the magnificent Franchhoek Valley. Our destination was La Verdure, a working fruit farm, which offers four self-catering cottages and is owned by David and Susan Lermer. They have lived here for the past three years, since moving from Hout Bay.

On arrival, we were welcomed by Susan and her son Jonathan. We were pleased to see him loading our car with wood as it would be sorely needed due to the extreme weather conditions.

Jonathan guided us to our romantic dwelling. I couldn’t believe he was running around barefoot, as it was freezing. After bringing the wood in and showing us around the ‘Ibis Cottage’ he took a cross-country run in the rain, clutching a bottle of sparkling wine, destination unknown.

The cottage was clean, nice and private with beautiful views, but lacked warmth. We might, however, have been influenced by the weather conditions .

We were disappointed to find there was no coffee or tea available. In fact, we were devastated. The cold had permeated deep into our bones and we needed warmth and, because we were going out later, it was pointless starting a fire. The best option was to tum the heater on in the bedroom and climb into bed under genuine down duvets for a decadent afternoon nap.

Early in the evening, we headed out to the village to see what was on offer. We stopped off at Rubens for a drink, which has a plane’s wallpaper. A real boys’ pub. \Ne thought we a would try something more intimate, so headed e to a place called Attie’s Pub. All intimacy was lost as heads of stuffed animals stared down at us … once majestic animals of the bushveld now degraded as hunters’ trophies. We didn’t stay long!

Our restaurant-of-choice was the French Connection. and a very good choice it was, too, The decor, food, wine and service were a real treat and prices were no more expensive than those in the Beautiful South. This was truly a memorable evening.

Well wined and dined we headed back to our cottage to light our long-awaited fire. Thank goodness I had my own matches and, after
remembering I saw firelighters in the garden, soon had a blazing furnace going.

The following morning, the rain let off and gave us a chance to wander around the farm.You can really have a wonderful, relaxing time here. The scenery is stun ning. They also have a stocked trout dam and a great cabin, appropriately called the ‘Trout Cottage’,right on the water’s edge. You can light your braai, enjoy a drink, fish off the balcony and once you have caught your trout, slap it onto the coals. Who says a guy can’t multitask? This cabin is private, comfy and a definite must.

It has two bedrooms, both en-suite. Avoid disappointment and book in advance as this is really a special place.

All in all, La Verdure is well worth the visit. It is well run and the hosts are warm and friendly. Bring your own tea I coffee, food, drink, condiments and matches and you will have an enjoyable stay. With the hospitable and enchanting Franschhoek just down the drag you certainly are going to have a romantic rendezvous.

La Verdure has also just produced its first maiden vintage, called Chloê Shiraz, which is an easy-drinking red wine. I’m no wine connoisseur but certainly enjoyed it. Well done, La Verdure!

– Dales Nesbit
Remember today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday