Clip, clip, clip. Once more my tips are trimmed. It's been the same routine for over 40 years. I'm never short of water or food. I'm never too hot or too cold. I'm constantly cared for, constantly groomed, but yet I am still so small. So unbelievably small.
How do you script a perfect anniversary day? Well it's hard after the previous day's experiences at Kagga Kamma and God's bedroom - but we are determined nonetheless.
The start is obvious. Walk the 100 meters down Frasnschhoek's Huguenot street to the best coffee spot, The Hoek. Begin the day with the best flat white around and their delicious chocolate twists - crispy on the outside with soft chocolate on the inside. Great start!
We then head over Hellshoegte Pass to the university town of Stellenbosch. Unlike Franschhoek on the opposite side of the mountain, Stellenbosch is not only bigger and busier, but it has a student vibe not a tourist vibe. The green heart of Stellenbosch is a stunning botanic garden and so we start our visit here. Soon we are immersed it its beauty and tranquility.
“This bonsai is 40 years old,” an official and obviously knowledgeable curator says as he gently trims the tree. Everything about it is miniature, even the fruits. It's amazing. “Yes,” he replies, “they are olives. However they are a special olive that is naturally small and so it makes them appear just right for the tree.” It's like we've been transported to a Lilliputian world. In fact we are so enraptured we even consider returning next week for a bonsai course.
We wander out the gate and notice a popup art exhibition in a disused building, and discover that Stellenbosch is having a huge art festival. And so begins a visual feast as we stroll through art shows in restaurants and shops, craft markets in hidden corners, and food stalls tantalizingly beckoning the unwary towards them. We soon find ourselves wandering around the vaulted halls of Stellenbosch's museum and art gallery. It's like being in another world - art, music, beauty, history, smells, tastes.
It's not long before our meanderings lead us past a restaurant that is advertising a delicious sounding mushroom burger. And so like those helpless to the siren's call we are drawn in for a burger and beer. A student sits with a long empty coffee cup at a nearby table working on his computer, while at another table a group of friends laugh loudly as they clink their glasses in a toast. The food is rich and full of flavor, just like our experience in Stellenbosch.
Returning to the botanic gardens towards our car we round off our experience with a dark chocolate cake and a chocolate mousse cake washed down with a double espresso. Our gastronomical glands are enraptured.
Did I say “round off our experience”? You can't leave Stellenbosch without wine tasting, it is one of the top wine regions in the world. And so we need to round off, again, our experience, by visiting Blaauwklippen and Lanzerec wine farms for a taste of the grape and a mellowing of the soul. Now we feel fully rounded off! With a glow of contement we drive back to Franschhoek to spend a few hours catching up on life before the coup de grâce of our day - dinner at Rocos.
We arrive at Rocos which is located at Dieu Donne wine farm just before sunset. We are seated outside where we have drinks and watch the sun explode the sky into oranges and reds from behind the mountain. We then move indoors to their beautiful glass enclosed restaurant and settle to enjoy what Josh and Hannah say are the best meals they have ever had - I have a Pork Belly that is superlative, Hannah has the Springbok Loin which is equally delectable and Josh and Nicky share a cheese board starter and a Pork Belly.
We all feel a little like porkers with full bellies, but as I drive home and slip into bed I can truly say this has been a day gifted by God…a gift that began 23 years ago and just keeps on getting better. Thank you Lord for 23 years and my four beautiful gifts.