Farmers in South Africa are a hardy but hospitable lot, happy to share a drink on their stoep as the sun goes down or go the extra mile to help a traveller out of a pickle.
Far away in both time and distance, three girlfriends managed to change their first punctured tyre, feeling quite pleased with themselves. But a second puncture on a stony gravel road in the gramadoelas foiled them until a farmer loaded them, their punctured spare tyre and their luggage into the back of his bakkie and took them home to his wife for some koffie en koek while he fixed the tyre in his workshop round the back.
We’ve often stayed at farm B&Bs and enjoyed the farm-fresh food and friendly chatter that always teaches us something new. It was no different when we stayed at Pedroskloof farm 25 kilometres east of Kamieskroon in the Namaqualand.
We were in the area working for Reach4Sight, which takes free eye clinics to the underprivileged of rural areas. When farmers Tertius and Mariaan Archer saw how dog-tired we were at the end of the day, they took us under their wing and set the tone for the next four nights.
Tertius provided the cold beer and wry humour that allowed us to unwind while Mariaan – ex-teacher, church organist and one-time mayor of Kamieskroon – showed she was a dab hand in the kitchen too. Lamb or pork chops from their own animals, with lashings of pumpkin fritters, sweet potatoes rolled in cinnamon sugar, spinach tarts, and cauliflower cheese. Although I love boerekos I’m always taken aback when I see three starches on one plate – but I always polish off every bite.
We spoke Afrikaans because Tertius quipped, ‘Around here only baboons and tourists speak English.’ So where did his English surname Archer come from? His ancestors came to the area in 1820 just after the potato famine in Ireland, he explained. They were on their way to the Eastern Cape when their ship had a spot of trouble so they got off early and started farming in the Cederberg, not too successfully.
After about nine years they threw in the towel and trekked on foot to Springbok. ‘The clever ones found work on the copper mines and the stupid ones went back to farming,’ said Tertius dryly as he showed us the precious original deed signed when his great-great-grandfather bought the farm in 1843. Tertius is the fifth generation to farm on Pedrokloof and his son will keep the tradition alive.
You won’t find five-star luxury here at Pedroskloof, but you will find cleanliness and comfort and you will feel safe and cared for. By the time you leave, there may even be hugs all round – because that's what happens when you say goodbye to friends.
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