“Hm, I’m not sure I want to tell everyone about this delightful place,” I remarked to Tuffy-Cat who was helping me to choose the photos for today’s blog(s) by climbing all over the keyboard and inadvertently (or perhaps deliberately? with cats, who knows…) clicking keystroke combinations that could’ve re-booted my computer.
“If I do, then they’re going to tell their families and their friends and their visitors from overseas, and before you know it, there’ll be tour buses clogging up their little parking area, and groups of people with foreign accents and envy-inducing superzoom cameras lenses impatiently clamouring for service… Can’t I rather keep this secret place to myself?”
“Mrrrreow,” replied Tuffy, sitting down squarely on my mouse-pad and wrapping her tail over her paws. She gazed fondly up at me, blinking slowly.
“Oh. You don’t agree?”
“Rrrrmmm,” she rumbled, twitching her tail. I think that was cat-speak for Don’t Be Selfish. You Can’t Keep This Place Secret. Besides, You Don’t Have THAT Many Readers.
Trust a cat to put things into perspective.
So here you go. Thanks to Tuffy, I shall reveal to you the Secret Location Of The Most Enchanting Tea Garden In The Deepest South. But you’ll need to be a little patient for the story to unfold. Of course, if you don’t want to wait that long, you can always scroll to the end. 😉
Cape Point Ostrich Farm
On Sunday, after we had investigated the Shipwreck Trail in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, our second hike of the weekend (our first being the Kanonkop Circuit), we were longing for a cup of tea or coffee, and A Little Something To Nibble. As we now knew that the prices at the Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point were intended more for dollar-and-euro-bearing tourists than for mere rand-carrying locals, I scrutinised Peter Slingsby’s most excellent Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope: The Map, in case he had faced the same dilemma and thus offered any useful alternatives.
“Aah!” I exclaimed, excitedly stabbing my finger at the map, and momentarily distracting hubby who, as he drove, was also keeping a lookout for more wild animals for me to photograph. For The Blog.
“Uh-huh…” He braked sharply, reversed rapidly about 20 metres, and pulled off the road, so that I could photograph two bontebok, which he had spotted in the veld.
Unfortunately, I had the wide-angle lens on the camera, and by the time that I had undone my seatbelt, climbed out of the car, opened the boot, extracted the telephoto lens and connected it, the two bontebok had decided to lie down in the middle of the fynbos. Not the most dramatic or award-winning kind of photo, I know, but sometimes One Just Has To Make Do with what nature presents. And the telephoto lens did at least let me get closer than last time.
We continued our conversation.
“There’s something called the Cape Point Ostrich Farm and Tea Room, and it’s only about a kilometre from the main entrance gate,” I explained, waving the map emphatically, “It says, T-E-A R-O-O-M.”
The magical words ‘Tea Room‘ had registered.
“Should we go and investigate?” Hubby looked at me, beaming from ear to ear. I beamed back happily. That is not a question you ever need to ask me when it comes to Tea Gardens or Coffee Shops. 🙂
Shortly after the entrance gate, we turned left onto Plateau Road and literally within 0.7 km, turned right into the Cape Point Ostrich Farm. A long straight lane with paddocks on either side housing ostriches, took us down to a parking area.
We ambled over to the main building on the left, and inquired about the tea room. As it turns out, they do not have a tea room as such; there are tables and chairs, and you can help yourself to tea and coffee at R5 a cup, but there are no nibblies for sale. For future reference, there is, however, a Restaurant in another building, which serves more substantial meals containing ostrich meat.
In addition, the main building houses a Leather Shop with all manner of absolutely beautiful ostrich leather bags, handbags, wallets, etc. Next to it was the Egg Shop, selling both painted and carved ostrich eggs. We were particularly impressed by those, and by the incredible skill and patience it requires to make them. I was rather taken by the carved ostrich eggs that you can use as a lamp – with the soft golden glow of the light shining through the carvings, these are exquisite!
Visitors can also go on one of their guided tours, where you will be shown around the farm and taught a little about the lives of these extraordinary birds. Did you know, for instance (Info from Wikipedia):
- That ostriches are the largest living species of bird in the world?
- That ostriches cannot fly? They can, however, run at up to 70 km/h (45 mph), which makes it the fastest bird in the world – on land.
- That ostriches are native to Africa? They are the only living species within their family (Struthionidae) and their genus (Struthio), but belong to the same order (Struthioniformes) as kiwis (endemic to New Zealand) and emus (endemic to Australia).
- That ostriches lay the largest eggs of all living birds? (Apparently, the elephant bird of Madagascar and the giant moa of New Zealand laid larger eggs than ostriches, but both of those are extinct.)
- That adult male ostriches have mainly black feathers (with white primaries and a white tail), whereas females and young males are greyish-brown and white?
- That ostriches have the largest eyes (50 mm in diameter) of any land-based vertebrate animal, which means that they can see predators from a great distance away?
- That ostriches can only kick forward with their powerful legs? Although they normally run away when threatened, they are capable of delivering fatal blows with their legs.
- That an adult ostrich carries about 1 kg of small pebbles in its stomach? They swallow these in order to grind their food (mainly seeds, shrubs, grass, fruit and flowers) in their gizzard.
- That one ostrich egg is equivalent to about 18-24 chicken eggs, depending on the size?
- That the brown female bird incubates the eggs during the day (she is able to blend in with the colour of the sand), whereas the black male bird sits on the eggs during the night (when he is less visible)?
One of these questions is bound to come up in Trivial Pursuit or 30 Seconds sometime!
One of the staff members explained to us that ostrich eggs are sooo strong that you can actually stand on an egg that is still full. Naturally, I was sceptical, so he took an egg and walked outside with us; placing the egg on the lawn, he took my hand for balance, and urged me to stand on it, while hubby took a pic. Here is the proof!
To end off our brief visit, we bought a R5 paper bag containing pellets to feed the male and female ostrich living in the corner paddock right in front of the main building. I admit that I was VERY nervous – those beaks are sharp and powerful, and there were signs on the fences warning visitors that ostriches are dangerous, which didn’t exactly help to make me feel any more at ease! So it took considerable courage to hold out my palm with a handful of pellets within ‘firing range’ of their beaks. As you can see, I kept my distance as much as possible!
Hubby, of course, was much more relaxed about the whole thing. Look:
What an interesting place to visit!
However, we had still not found The Tea Garden We Longed For. Back on the Plateau Road once more, still heading westwards, we kept a lookout for any signs. On our trip home the day before, we had passed a nursery, and I thought that I’d glimpsed the magical words ‘Tea Garden’, but I wasn’t sure where it was.
Good Hope Nursery and Tea Garden
“THERE IT IS!!” I yelled, pointing to the right.
We turned sharply onto a little gravel lane, and found some shady parking next to a large motorbike. Then we followed the signs into what really must be The Most Enchanting Nursery And Tea Garden In The Deep South.
It is the Good Hope Nursery (they also have a blog), which was originally situated in Hout Bay, but moved to its current premises in 1986. They grow hardy indigenous plants, which they sell to, among others, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Table Mountain National Parks – which is definitely an endorsement of the quality of their plants. Given the increasing water shortages throughout our country, there is a greater awareness among the public that waterwise gardening is the way to go, and that is the market they target. I think it’s brilliant.
I see on their website that they even offer accommodation in the form of a Fynbos EcoLodge, which is a two-bedroom self-catering cottage that can accommodate a maximum of 6 people. It looks wonderful for a relaxing getaway!
We were welcomed by a friendly lady, who genuinely didn’t seem to mind that we found it most difficult to decide which of the tables and benches we would like to sit at, because they were all just so pretty and quaint and rustic and ooh-and-aah! As it was quite summery and we’d had quite enough sun for the day, we finally settled on a solid bench under some shady trees. We ordered a pot of coffee, a pot of tea, a slice of rosemary and rooibos cake with a dusting of cinnamon, and an apple blossom cupcake with apple jelly centre and a butter cream topping.
We could also have had spinach and feta frittata with homemade chutney and a home-grown garden salad with edible flowers; or a pepper steak pie with homemade pickle and salad; or cheese and tomato toasties with fresh basil and chilli/mayo on white/brown bread and a garden salad. Now does that not make your stomach rumble? It does mine…
I shall let the rest of the photos speak for themselves. We are definitely coming back here.
P.S. If you have Google Earth installed, try entering the GPS coordinates: