Sunday, 14 May 2017

Hawksmoor House, Stellenbosch

Extending time


This is my second stay at Hawksmoor House and I start to wonder how they organise such intensity of blue skies each time I visit. It is so blue it lifts the soul instantly. You would have to be a seriously miserable person to be unhappy here.

The artistically landscaped gardens offer many delights. Someone has considered the movement of light over the property and throughout the day there are back-lit gems of all colour and shape.

Within the historic homestead, artistic decor picks up on the rich blue skies, red vines, green-lit Oaks and purple lavender. Around every corner there is a surprise and one is drawn into fascinating spaces with each vibrant, sunlit wall and perfectly balanced piece of antique furniture. The choice of colour for each room becomes especially clear in the late afternoon when the slanting light reflected off the long koi pond creates a play of interconnecting hues.

No lazy, tourist-pleasing pseudo-African decorating here - this no faux wine estate or country fake new build. It is intensely local, a 300 year old Cape Dutch thatched grand house surrounded by rambling outbuildings. And being on a real working wine and fruit farm, you feel local and privileged to enter this space. 

I give a gasp as an enormous (and may I say very well endowed) bull walks right past my low window. I am relieved to see he is on the other side of a fence and we spend a good few minutes staring at one another in equal fascination. It seems he got as much of a fright seeing me as I him and despite his size and ferocious look, I gather he is a bit frightened of the wind and seeking company rather than trouble. I stop short of offering a cuddle.

One of the best value luxury stays South Africa has to offer, I recommend this place to everyone I can. It is perfectly placed to access the Cape Town International airport, the wine farms and restaurants of Paarl, Wellington, Stellenbosch, and even Franschhoek and Cape Town itself. If you can bear to leave that is - Hawksmoor specialises in deep, beautiful baths, quality white linen, antique furniture, dramatic decor and double French doors letting in a splay of golden light and leading onto characterful outdoor seating areas. Most surprisingly, all this comes without primp or petulance, with the hosts offering warm, genuinely friendly and helpful hospitality such that your stay here will simply never be long enough.

Accommodation experience
Indeed the days are too short here and I wish to apply for an official extension of time at the magical space that is Hawksmoor House. The weather puts on such a spectacular show that it takes me a while to settle. The sky turns even bluer now, almost purple in its insistence. Fortunately my camera battery dies and I am forced to spend a slow sunset simply sitting on my private balcony where this place does indeed perform its magic on me. I am able to extend my time here through a portal into presence, a different time dimension altogether. 

Here there are delicious moments which extend downwards, rather than horizontally, into infinite sensory experiences which stretch even to the future where I am able to access them as I write. The experience of the sun streaming into my room, the layering of a valley with trees and mist, the tinny call of a guinea fowl, a row of impossibly straight ducks flying slowly past my open doors, a hawk caught on an updraught, suspended in time like me. If I could stay in this state, here on this natural patch of earth, I am sure I could live forever.

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