Pieter de Lange and his wife Mariaan live in Kent, England. They recently went on holiday to South Africa. Pieter shared their adventures with Worldwide.

Reading the news about South Africa in the newspapers, it seems there are but murder, manslaughter, corruption, protests and hate speech. But when we arrived there for a long-awaited holiday and hit the road, we were overcome with nostalgia for adventure and discovery. We started with a nice breakfast at the Damhuis in Melkbosstrand and were on our way back to Franschhoek when someone suggested we take the R304 and stop at the old mission station in Philadelphia. That colourful little village in the wheat fields of the Swartland made our day.

It all started in 1863 with a Dutch Reformed Church built on a piece of land donated by a local farmer – hence the name that means ‘brotherly love’. The old mill, formerly the residence of artist Pieter van der Westhuizen, is now De Malle Meul, a popular wedding and dinner venue, where Van der Westhuizen’s art is exhibited. The Peppertree Art Stable & Coffee Shop, a busy eatery, coffee shop and art gallery, is situated in the shade of a beautiful, huge old pepper tree. If you like precious stones, then Magic Minerals is your place.

Nowadays, the Swartland is also a wine-growing region where interesting characters with an international wine background live, such as Count Stephan von Neipperg of the Capaia Wine Estate at De Hoop.

But we had to hurry to get to the Franschhoek Motor Museum. A camera team wanted to take action photos of two precious Ferraris on the museum’s track, and I was fortunate enough to join my friend Dawie Theron in his F40. One of the young photographers was so enthusiastic that we were afraid he would drop out of the bakkie while he was shooting.

The next morning, I came back to earth with a Park Run at Franschhoek, certainly one of the most beautiful places in the mountains to punish yourself for 5 kilos.


From left: Wayne Harley, curator of the Franschhoek Motor Museum; Dawie Theron, owner of the one F40; and Corenzo Farella, the museum’s senior technician

Our next route was over the Franschhoek Pass via Vyeboom, Grabouw and Houwhoek. We stopped above the Houwhoek eatery and the names ‘Grabouw’ and ‘Houwhoek’ recalled old memories. More than 50 years ago, I visited this region with my father, a civil engineer, when he helped to plan a road construction project. I had a look at our route on the map, and the beautiful place names jumped out: Floorshoogte, Rooiels, Riviersonderend, Akkedisberg, Papiesvlei, Baardskeerdersbos, Ratelrivier, Hotagterklip, Molshoop and Skilpadkop, to name a few. No wonder Nina and Frederik in those days wrote a song (Rietfontein) about South Africa’s place names.

We moved on to Sedgefield. Near Heidelberg we discovered Die Skeerhok Padstal, a nice coffee shop, and the Hooikraal Slaghuis, and I bought a delicious piece of bush pig sausage.

Despite the prominent shark bite kit on the beach, Buffelsbaai is still the beach we love best. At the RiverDeck Restaurant among the wild fig trees on the Goukamma River, we could choose from potjiekos, braaivleis, bobotie and other classic food dishes usually enjoyed with family and friends. We also met our former colleague Frans Grobler and his wife Sophie there. We chatted so much that I never got to the rowing boats.

A street singer on Knysna’s Waterfront enthusiastically sang us De La Rey.

In Herolds Bay, we had a braai with former colleagues Piet and Jolita Erwee. Is there a more beautiful place on the beach?

Three classmates who qualified together in 1974 gathered at Babylonstoren. I still work in Kent, Lourens de Jager practised in Somerset West and Johann de Vries was dean at faculties in Canada, Australia and Qatar.

Lizette de Vries and Mariaan, my wife, enjoy the herb gardens at Babylonstoren.

We saw these chaps in their safari suits in Herolds Bay. They were mostly farmers from Rawsonville heading to the motor show in George with their beautiful classic cars and bakkies.

Three beautiful, original vehicles: On the left is a 1949 Chevrolet Delux, in the middle is a green 1954 GMC and the red bakkie is a 1948 Ford F1 with a healthy V8 engine.

The most beautiful tidal pool

Birds of Eden is a two-hectare bird paradise. A giant net is stretched over the forest of dense trees and shrubs. There are over 220 bird species, mainly from Africa. As I walked in, I was welcomed by a Jardine parrot that wanted to sit on my shoulder and stayed there until we left. At first, he slept for a while, then he almost fell off, and then he became naughty and bit pieces from my watch strap.

An American ibis

A golden pheasant

Signage unique to South Africa – at Oliver Tambo Airport, a timeshare resort near Crocodile Bridge and a turnoff to Hooikraal near Heidelberg

These two signs we saw in Herolds Bay.

Beautiful nameplates at pretty houses in a resort on the border of the Kruger National Park




This post is also available in: Afrikaans

Pieter de Lange
Pieter de Lange

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