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    A journey of pure joy!

    Embarking on the next stage, a 140-km round trip to the Biedouw Valley and Wupperthal will prove rewarding in every sense. The route is on the R364 over the Pakhuis Pass, where you’ll turn right onto the Biedouw Valley/Wupperthal road. The flowers are remarkable. If lucky, you’ll spot Leucospermum reflexum, the Snow protea (Protea cryophylla), blue Lachanaea filamentosa, yellow sparaxis, pink Cyanella alba and the Clanwilliam Cedar.

    Do stop awhile in Wupperthal. Despite the village having been decimated by fire in January this year, its engaging inhabitants are worth meeting. In this time-capsule wilderness your lunch picnic of roosterkoek and rooibos tea will go down a treat.

    4. Citrusdal – private reserves

    After a flower-filled day, return to Clanwilliam and take off to Citrusdal (63 km) along the N7 where you can overnight at The Old Village (022 9213963), first road right when you take the Citrusdal turn-off. Choose between five charming cottages. Sonia Hager’s dinner (fingers crossed it’s one of her stews) will leave you begging for more and the same applies to her drop-dead breakfast pizza before starting the next stage of your journey.

    Floral expectations on various farms in the Citrusdal area include fields of maartblom, bloedblom, daises and fynbos. Time permitting, an extra fun adventure is Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort’s Zip-line (022 9213574) which has seven platforms ranging from 3 – 30 m for flying!

    5. Paternoster – Cape Columbine Reserve

    When done, aim for Piketberg along the N7, choosing the R399 to Paternoster (147 km). On arrival, just about time for a quick fish and chips at Voorstrandt (022 7522038), Strandloper Street – a historic 114-year-old tin fisherman’s cottage overlooking the beach. All seafood dishes are highly recommended. If you have the energy, a stroll along Mosselbank beach will aid digestion.

    Once in Cape Columbine Reserve on the outskirts of Paternoster, beautiful views of spring flowers, an array of fynbos and Karoo succulents will greet you against the great Atlantic Ocean backdrop. Spend a pleasurable hour or two meandering around and you might just be lucky in spotting whales and/or dolphins as well.

    6. Langebaan – Postberg Nature Reserve

    Best bet now is to head to Langebaan along the R399 (39 km) where accommodation awaits at The Farmhouse Hotel (022 7722062). Rates range from R800 pn.

    After breakfast, depart for Postberg Nature Reserve. Only open during August and September, this reserve has an almost undisturbed floral landscape of suurvy (Carpobrotus edulis); Elandsvy (Carpobrotus acinaciformis); Gousblom (Arctotis hirsuta); Bokbaai vygie (Dorotheanthus bellidiformis); white rain daisy (Dimorphotheca pluvialis); sporrie (Heliophila coronopifolia); Magriet (Ursinia anthemoides); and soetuintjie (Moraea fugax). The reserve is also home to zebra, buck, snakes and tortoises. You may drive, cycle or walk.

    7. Darling – Renosterveld & Tienie Versfeld Reserves

    There’s still time for two final floral destinations 52 km away. Returning to the R27, turn left at the R315 intersection. About 7 km further, the Tienie Versfeld Reserve is on the right. Due to its varying topography the reserve hosts a wide floral diversity – said to be around 10% of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Flora include butterfly lilies, lachenalia, chincherinchee and bulbs. Great for bird watching too.

    Stop at JP and Carien de Beer’s cheery Chicory Cheese Café (076 9756197), 5 Lang St, for a much-needed artisan midday meal. Try the jalapeno chicken burger, spinach pancakes, Vietnamese rice paper springrolls or almost caveman salad. Round this off with a fudgy peanut smoothie and beetroot chocolate cake.

    The next stop is within sniffing distance. Just above Darling Primary School lies the 20-hectare Renosterveld Flower Reserve. It offers not only a plethora of flora (renosterbos, bellendini, kapokbos and vygies), but also cute red-bellied tortoises.

    Alas, time to head home. After a kaleidoscopic three days, think of this when your head hits the pillow: “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”



      A reactive skin, Ingenuity, hard work and a sprinkling of jolly good luck kicked off Helena and Pierre van der Westhuizen’s success story.

      In this floral issue of Atlantic Gull, profiling a couple who built their business from that astute pollinator of blooms, the humble bee, is more than fitting. As Kahlil Gibran said, “For bees, the flower is the fountain of life. For flowers, the bee is the messenger of love.”

      Believe it or not, a wedding gift of a single beehive in the 1950s spawned the origins of what’s today the thriving Simply Bee skincare business with 350 stockists and exports to eight countries.

      When Helena’s father, passionate hobbyist beekeeper Derick Hugo, bequeathed his Hopefield beekeeping business to the couple in 2008, little did they know what a honeyed goldmine this would prove to be. They pottered on expanding the business. Three years later Helena’s allergy to synthetic ingredients and harsh preservatives in cosmetics led her to research products made from honey. Soon she was handing out the initial five products of lip balm, soap, antiseptic balm, hand cream and wash to friends and then the Eureka moment when she made her first sale in March 2011.

      The couple started selling the Simply Bee products at markets, then at farm stalls and gift shops and as luck would have it, Wellness Warehouse approached them for a listing. Fuelled by the massive demand for natural products, the range now consists of 150-plus products: from hand and body lotions, facial skincare, baby care, men’s grooming and hair care to soaps, candles, ointments, balms, polishes and gift packs.

      Top-selling products are propolis serum, anti-ageing cream, antiseptic balm, propolis balm and heel balm. Last year the heel balm, propolis serum and anti-ageing cream were finalists in the UK’s Natural & Organic Awards. (Propolis, a resin collected from trees and bushes, has anti-fungal and -bacterial properties. Studies have shown that it fights cancer and gum disease by encouraging healthy cell growth. It’s usually used to insulate the hive and protect it from viruses.)

      Helena explained, “My biggest challenge was preserving the products without using chemicals. So by using propolis it took a while to get it spot-on, plus finding good quality water to conserve product integrity.”

      Pierre’s initial 240 hives now number more than 600 – all badger-friendly and on private land among fynbos. She continued, “We don’t move our hives, except when more shade is needed because of the sun’s changing angle, or when the area’s food source has been depleted. And we don’t pollinate because we believe it stresses the bees too much. To us, responsible, sustainable beekeeping is paramount.”

      Simply Bee also has been awarded the 2019 Conservation Company of the Year, Western Cape by Luxury Travel Guide. Helena added, “Our success has been beyond expectations and as such we believe in giving back by sponsoring a student and the rugby teams at both local schools every year.”

      Helena and Pierre’s non-bee time is enriched by quite the mammal menagerie: Jasper the Anatolian/Ridgeback X, Fred the Collie/LabX, DSH Hansie, plus Maine Coons Bella, Henry and Jenna.


      To veg out we read

      Our sport is walking

      Our hobbies are sewing (Helena) & gardening (Pierre)

      As sport spectators we love watching rugby (Pierre) & tennis (Helena)

      Our pet place on the West Coast is Paternoster

      Our favourite restaurant is Russells on the Port in Port Owen

      We love eating wholesome, home-cooked food

      Our signature drinks are Inverroche gin (Helena) and whisky (Pierre)

      Best TV programmes are NatGeo (Pierre) and cooking shows (Helena)

      Favourite reads interior design & bee research (Helena) and National Geographic (Pierre)



        Stormy seas and biting temperatures all seem but forgotten when arriving home to a hearty bowl of bean soup. This used to be a staple in West Coast homes when the fish weren’t running and money was scarce. It tastes even better when made the day before.

        Ingredients: 500 gm dried sugar beans; 1 kg soup bones; 1 kg beef shin/neck (or a meaty ham bone/2 smoked ham hocks); 1 L cold water; 1 large chopped onion; 2 cubed tomatoes; 5 diced celery stalks; 4 large shredded carrots; 1 turnip; salt; 1/2 tsp pepper; 1/2 tsp dried thyme; 1 can tomato puree; 2 Tbsp brown sugar.

        Method: Soak beans overnight. Wash soup bones & meat and place in large saucepan. Add tomatoes & all vegetables except the celery to the meat. Drain and pick over the beans, add to the meat, followed by the water. Heat to boiling point. Add tomato paste, chopped celery, brown sugar & a kettleful of boiling water. Each time the mixture comes to the boil, add boiling water as required – ±4 times. After about 3 hrs when soup is thick, add salt & pepper. (If you’ve used the ham, remove bone, cool and trim meat from the bone. Add to soup.)

        Thick slices of fresh bread are compulsory with this wholesome broth! And a glass of red on the side won’t hurt either.


          1 The SPIER ARTS ACADEMY TOUR explores the growth of artworks within its vicinity, eg John Murray’s mosaic and Zanele Muholi’s self-portrait beaded work. Galettes served at Swan Café after tour – 10am, Spier Arts Academy, 25 Commercial St, CBD, ph 072 3778014. Cost R300

          2 Don’t miss PRIME CIRCLE|INNOCENCE TOUR – 8pm, Barnyard Theatre, Willowbridge Centre, Belville, ph 021 9148898. Cost R200

          1 – 31 LA COLOMBE & LA PETITE COLOMBE WINTER DEALS offer lunch only. La Petite, Le Quartier Francais Hotel, Berg St, Franschhoek, ph 021 2023395; La Colombe, Silvermist Wine Estate, Main Rd, Constantia Nek, ph 021 7942390. Cost R450 pp (Photo: La Colombe)

          1 – 31 Divine 7- or 4-course meals at SEVEN SISTERS FOOD & WINE PAIRING – various times, Seven Sisters, 468 Welmoed Rd, off Annandale Rd, Lynedoch, Stellenbosch, ph 071 0494109. Cost R350 – R550

          1 – 31 A 1-hour fitness promotion with full-throttle cardio challenge, plus a Green Power smoothie at the ONE&ONLY WINTER FITNESS CHALLENGE – from 6am, One&Only, Dock Rd, V&A, 021 4315810. Cost R250

          4, 11, 18, 25 A good winter’s treat of LIVE JAZZ & FONDUE AT DELHEIM – 4th John Hassan (percussions); 11th Ramon Alexander; 18th Schalk Joubert; 25th Bongani Sotshononda & Babalwa Meintjies – 12pm, Delheim Wines, Knorhoek Rd, Stellenbosch, ph 021 8884600. Cost R350

          13 STORY-TELLING PIANIST PRESENTS HOLOCAUST STORY – a compelling tale of a Kindertransport child who achieved fame as a pianist – 7.30pm. City Hall, CBD, ph 021 4625553. Cost R165 – R195

          23 – 31 Harmony is the theme at the CLANWILLIAM WILD FLOWER SOCIETY SHOW – 8.30am, Blomkerk, 41 Hoofstraat, ph 067 0886969. Cost R50

          27 – 31 An inspired work of flute and jazz from CLAUDE BOLLING SUITE JAZZ – 8pm, Artscape Theatre. Cost R100

          28 Claudette Schreuders leads the WATERFRONT SCULPTURE & ART TOUR – 10am, Everard Read, 3 Portswood Rd, Waterfront, ph 072 3778014. Cost R350

          29 – 31 Raw comfort features at the CAPE TOWN HOMEMAKERS EXPO – 10am, CTICC. Cost R90

          31 Heaven at THE CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL – 11am, The Woodmill, Vredenburg Rd, Devon Valley, Stellenbosch, ph 071 4616692. Cost R50 – R180