Some of you may remember the surprise courier packages I received, one of which carried the prominent label FRAGILE Handle with care LIQUID INSIDE. The first of the bottles I sampled is Bruce Jack Cabernet Sauvignon.

When you turn to the more serious looking label you might find there is something cheeky about the ‘stamp’ declaring it to have been INSPECTED by the Bruce Jack Dept of Utmost Quality, which has passed it as having been crafted for freshness.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, it is said – but before twisting open the screw cap on the closure, take a close look at the capsule. The one on this bottle contains intricate drawings of grapes being cut from the vine in the company of South Africa’s national bird, the Blue crane.

A rooster perches on top of filled wine barrels.

An all-important bee features prominently above the globe – an indication of the reach of this wine company – with swallows flying in the sky. The details here fit in with the company’s claim to “aim to leave our land in a better state than we found it.”

The first thing I noticed after pouring this wine is the beautiful dark red colour, which I like very much. The rich smooth taste is soft and full-bodied, but initially left a fairly sharp aftertaste. I found it was best to let the wine breathe in the glass for a while for the best tasting experience. The rest of this ready-to-drink wine still tasted delicious the following day. If you are put off by cheeky looking labels, do yourself a favour and look past this one in order to enjoy to the full what lies behind it. I didn’t detect the notes of mint chocolate crunch with a twirl of blueberry – you might!



Ursula K. Le Guin tells us that it is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end. We had an end in mind for our journey south that was particularly good to have – a celebration that was worth travelling all that way for. So far I have shown you glimpses of various things along both ways of our journey that made those passing kilometers interesting and the journey feel like a holiday in itself.

Join me in the feast that lay ahead: a selection of sweet and savoury eats to enjoy on a sunny afternoon in the garden of a home with beautiful views and in the company of delightful people. The proteas on the paper serviettes are an apt motif in this area where they grow in abundance.

These arum lilies were picked locally, where fields of them are blooming next to the road, in ditches and damp hollows.

Take your pick.

Who can resist these?

Or these?

The children made a bee-line for these luscious strawberries.

While grapes in both this and the bubbly form went down well with the adults.

Of course there was cake too!

Finally, after much talking and laughter; congratulations and enjoying each other’s company, the afternoon light took on a softer hue; the clouds gathered over the mountain tops; inside lights were switched on; and the guests began to take their leave.



There are so many varieties of red wine in South Africa that one can be spoiled for choice. I find I go through stages of preferring one type to another – much depends on the weather, whether or not I am enjoying it with food, or if I am sipping it on my own whilst enjoying the last light of the day. Shiraz has been a recent favourite.

The name Shiraz is interchangeable with Syrah – much has been written about the similarities and differences between these names. According to Winemag [link below], these particular red grapes express themselves differently depending on the climate, soil and regional style, although certain characteristics remain the same. Those characteristics include their boldness and full-bodied flavour, with aromatic notes of smoke, black fruit and pepper spice. I cannot vouch for the aromatic notes, but do enjoy a full-bodied wine when the occasion calls for one.

Given how warm it gets here in the summer, it is common practice to chill red wine for at least fifteen minutes before opening. This ensures that the wine won’t taste warm and a little dull. The good thing about Shiraz too is that, if capped or corked after opening and kept in the ‘fridge, the taste remains for a couple of days – so there is no need to quaff it all at once.

A particularly delicious choice recently was Groote Post Darling Hills Shiraz 2019 – a delightful and unexpected gift. Apart from the robust flavour, I like its dark ruby-red to purple hue.

Wine labels have always intrigued me and so I looked up the name of this winery – there is a fascinating history behind it in the link below, which is well worth reading. Wine-making has a long history in this country and Groote Post is no exception, being an historic 18th century farm on the West Coast of the Cape Province – an area famous too for its annual display of spring flowers.  An intriguing quote In 1808 this was Groene Kloof (now known as Mamre) where many of the vegetables required to supply the fleets of the Dutch East India Company were grown. Here, too, grazing was necessary to support the great herds of cattle and flocks of sheep owned by the Honourable Company provides an interesting link with the VOC [Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie – Dutch East India Company] on the label. This is engraved on an historic slave bell with the date 1706 – a nod to the past.

Groote Post (biggest post) was a large guard station on the property overlooking grazing areas to prevent cattle-raiding, which was prevalent at the time. A homestead was later built with the same name.

Interesting further reading:


Don’t expect anything glamorous or high class here. I was scrolling through my archives, getting rid of pictures as I went, when I realised that a number have got something to do with food or drink – all have been taken with my cell phone, so must have been taken to share with members of my scattered family. The random sample will begin with me preparing a camping meal on a particularly icy, windy night:

I warned you not to expect anything glamorous! A more genteel moment came with enjoying a cup of tea with a slice of cake:

I suspect the teapot and cup were the main focus – a gift from grandchildren. Another quietly domestic scene is a glass of wine at the start of our hard lockdown – when none of us realised just how long that confinement was going to last!

We didn’t realise then either that the sale of alcohol was going to be restricted on an on-off basis for well over a year. It is during the past year too that South Africans have had to bid farewell to many of their favourite magazines: no farewell, this is the final issue, sad to be leaving you in the lurch – they just vanished from the shelves!

There is nothing like home-baked biscuits to satisfy the need for a little sweetness. I baked many batches of ginger biscuits during the first few months of the pandemic – as you can see, some were snitched before they could even cool down:Here is some flat bread I made for a hasty lunch one day:

Lastly, an all too rare opportunity to eat out:

This was in celebration of my birthday – several months after the event!


Blue wine? Nooit! “What does it taste like?”

“Oh, I think you’ll enjoy it”

“Give me a clue: crispy; dry; sweet?”

“You’ll see.” With that my brother thrust the bottle of blue wine into my hands moments before I had to leave for the airport. That was months ago. Hold the bottle up to the light and it looks beautiful.

Good curiosity value – that’s all. I had no immediate takers once I had arrived home and so I placed it on my wine rack, where the pretty colour dulled from the outside as the bottle gathered a layer of dust. None of the family present for Christmas dinner was eager to try it. Blue wine? I could see a disparaging ‘bubble-gum flavour’ in the thought bubbles floating above their shaking heads – that ubiquitous blue bubble-gum flavour of milk drinks and crushed ice so beloved by some. Why is blue associated with bubble-gum? When I was young it was always pink.

Lockdown arrived. In South Africa this meant that not only were we initially confined to our homes, but the sale of alcohol was forbidden. The weeks extended with slight variations to the theme … then alcohol was on sale again … then it was banned again …. I had not stocked up at all and the holes in my modest wine rack were gaping – even being used as anchor points for spider webs.

Time for this blue wine to be cleaned up and spend time in the fridge. It looks like a wine that needs to be cold to enjoy. Was I going to enjoy it? Why had my brother smiled … what was the catch? Lockdown continued with no visiting of friends or family allowed … the spiders were beginning to consider renting out apartments on my wine rack.

I removed the bottle of Casal Mendes from the bottom of the fridge and looked at the bottle suspiciously – all over. I scrutinised the label that tells me it is a product of Portugal, should be served at 7°C – I was right about that. So, the moment had arrived: I poured the teeniest portion into the glass (look, my brother gave it to me – I might be the butt of a rather drawn-out joke, who can tell?) and did the swirling, testing the aroma, looked for legs – anything to delay the actual tasting.

Hey! It’s not bad! In fact, I discovered that this blue wine is eminently drinkable: crispy and light. I found I enjoyed the unsweet, slightly acidic, fruity flavour. While I do not think this is a wine to keep, I can imagine enjoying it during the heat of summer.

I have since discovered that this blue wine has only been in the Casal Mendes range since 2016 and is based on a ‘green’ wine – what is added to make that beautiful shade of blue, I wonder. Whatever it is, I am going to look out for another bottle once summer gets underway!