Our youngest daughter Anna, husband Chris and three small boys surprised us all just over a year ago when they announced their intention to emigrate to South Africa. Their enthusiastic plans to start a business in the tourist industry progressed faster than any of us imagined possible, and with the proceeds of their Surrey house they have bought a “farm” with a house, 5 “cottages” and 600 acres of land near Hermanus. The land is “fynbos”, a particular form of SA flora and, apart from the 1,000 olive trees, not suitable for farming. Chris is a botanist who has specialized in SA flora in Cape Town where he did a PhD. Anna did her PhD on elephants at Addo Elephant National Park, so both have many years experience of South African living.
They left in November last and we were keen to visit and help in the early stages. We have just returned from three wonderful and surprisingly relaxed weeks with them, enjoying being together with the peace and wildlife. We painted vast areas of wall in the first 2 cottages, although for a spacious modern house able to sleep 6 or more we felt cottage is a bit of a misnomer! But then everything in South Africa is on a huge scale. Our small hire car ground to a halt up their steep, rough track when we arrived, but the road was upgraded to passable while we were there. Proper trails across their virgin, quite difficult, but very interesting terrain, which includes the mountain, a large cave and a delightful waterfall, still need to be made. Surrounding countryside with the stunning coastline just 20 minutes away, is beautiful.
A daunting prospect to get it all going but we feel confident that they will, although Anna home schools her children so has little spare time. The youngsters go barefoot everywhere, and are enthusiastic wildlife experts. Employing permanent staff will happen soon, yet another major challenge.
After three weeks we felt that while nearest neighbours are not exactly round the corner, their “village” of Stanford, 15 minutes drive away, is very friendly, with lots going on and reasonable shops, and we always met people we knew down there. We also met folk who own farms in their valley, all kind and supportive.
We were in touch with Helen Roberts (nee Gee) who lives in SA. However she is near Johannesburg and wasn’t able to come over and stay this time as we were almost camping in very basic accommodation in one of the cottages. Maybe next year when we go out again.
It’s a wonderful part of the world with delightful climate, and we wish them every success with their venture. If you want to know more, look at their excellent and very informative website at www.phillipskop.co.za