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When we arrived at the Old Rectory the first thing I did once we’d checked in to our private garden apartment with its own terrace was go looking for the swimmer girl.
I’ve been following sculptor Marieke Prinsloo Rowe’s swimmer girls for years. There was one in Kalk Bay near Ohana Café, and another one at Chartfield Guesthouse. And now I can say that I’ve met Prinsloo Rowe’s “Finding you in the Sky” swimmer girl.
After taking lots of photos of the swimmer girl I start snapping away at the vertical garden and adjacent outdoor dining area. Posting photos on Instagram a friend says: “Yes, but what about the inside of the rectory? What’s that like?”
Well, the rectory is a treasure trove with an original building that dates from 1777 housing the reception, dining room, lounge, and snug bar. Built of stone the walls are solid and as thick as my arm, the windows deeply-recessed.
We have supper in the beautiful dining room where the exposed stone walls are softened by blue and white chairs that have a replica of broken blue and white china that was found in the grounds of the old rectory. My pasta filled with butternut with cubes of butternut on the side and a creamy sage sauce is delicious and so is David’s pea risotto with mint.
We didn’t order dessert (too full) but there were some chocolates waiting in our room that we managed to eat before retiring to bed, lulled by the sound of the waves on the nearby beach.
Waking up early the next day I wandered in the direction of the beach but took a detour past the beautiful old Timber Shed opposite The Old Rectory. The stonework in the deserted building was haunting and it’s sad to see that some of the old walls are starting to crumble. Built around the same time as the rectory and used as a place to store timber, it’s remarkable that the walls are still standing square.
After walking on the beach and watching the sun rise I went back to our private garden cottage for a shower in the luxurious bathroom ensuite. We had breakfast on the outside patio, flanked by a vertical garden and adjacent to the pool area and my swimmer girl. I stuck with muesli, fresh fruit and yoghurt but I did manage to eat a very tiny plaited pastry with my second cappuccino. David had poached egg and miso mushrooms on sourdough toast and lots of coffee and we set off to explore Plett. Yes, I found an eco-shop in the centre of Plett and we browsed the shops selling resort-style clothing (this is the playground of the well-to-do in December and January).
But we’re not here to shop, we’ve been invited to have lunch at Kay & Monty Vineyards in The Crags, just outside Plett, so we set the sat-nav and let it guide us to this most splendid place.
There’s a small vineyard, a lake, a converted orchid greenhouse used as a restaurant and wedding venue and horses in the paddocks. Okay, so it’s pouring and the horses are soon led into a cosy stable but we’re inside and there’s food and wine and what else do you do in Plett when it’s wet?
We tasted the three wines on offer: They keep it simple with one sparkling, one white and one red and decide the rainy weather called for carrot and cumin soup and vegan aubergine and mushroom cannelloni with a glass of Big Red on the side.
In the winter there will be a fire in the huge fireplace that has the biggest cushions I’ve ever seen on either side. So you can sit with your back on the warm wall and recline on your cushion.
There are floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides of the converted orchid house and the double-volume space looks out onto horses in the paddocks (when it isn’t raining).
While watching the rain and waiting for it to stop we ordered coffees and decadent desserts. David had a baked cheesecake drizzled with a caramel sauce served with fresh kiwi slices and cream. I chose the pavlova with more of that whipped cream and fresh fruit. I must admit I had my Instagram moments.
This poem sums up our stay at The Old Rectory, left on my pillow when we checked in.
by Kaveri Patel
You who always have
so many things to do
so many places to be
your mind spinning like
fan blades at high speed
each moment always a blur
because you’re never still.
I know you’re tired
I also know it’s not your fault.
The constant brain-buzz is like
a swarm of bees threatening
to sting if you close your eyes.
You’ve forgotten something again.
You need to prepare for that or else.
You should have done that differently.
What if you closed your eyes?
Would the world fall
apart without you?
Or would your mind
become the open sky
flock of thoughts
flying across the sunrise
as you just watched and smiled.
Melanie Farrell, who writes about eco-conscious living in South Africa, was a guest of the The Old Rectory and Kay & Monty Vineyards, part of the Rare Earth Collection.
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