Papkuilsfontei Farm boasts a wild olive tree, over 600 yrs old ! We were on the farm to look at flowers, but it was a cloudy day so hardly any were out – (the Spring flowers blossom under sunshine, but grey skies send them back to bed again. I know the feeling!) However we admired some ruins , remains of houses built, by the original settlers. Then we visited a magnificent waterfall, charging down the rocky sandstone cliffs. We lunched at the Farm’s Visitors’ Centre and our Tour Group had some fun trying on their collection of hats. Put a man in a floppy, pastel coloured hat – a sight to behold; no picture, alas.
We saw a waterfall at Papkuilsfontein Farm yesterday, and visited another one 7 km outside of Nieuwoudtvillewe– so unexpected, no sign of a river in the surrounding countryside, but suddenly a respectable sized waterfall emerging from a hole in the sandstone cliff, carving a gulley, water plunging a long way down to the rocks below and rushing away in a stream of bright green water. There was a low retaining wall of stone, and a winding footpath along the cliff-top, and from another vantage point one could finally see the small river which suddenly emerged from the rocks and turned into the waterfall. The sun shone, the flowers bloomed, and I stood watching birds spiralling up and away on the thermals generated by the falling water – their wings flashed orange on the underside, in contrast to the black silhouette, making a magic moment.
But the thing that really says small country town to me is the windmills. In the early days they were very necessary suppliers of water, drawn from deep underground acquifers. I love to see the grey blades turning creakily against the high blue skies. For some reasons, windmills are always grey – whether it’s just bare galvanised iron, or whether it’s the manufacturer’s colour choice, I don’t know. In fact, Nieuwoudtville boasts a Windmill Museum. Apparently there are only two in the whole world, the other one being in Arizona, both areas renowned for their aridity.
There are a number of B & Bs catering to the tourist trade. They range from the excellent to the adequate. We were lucky enough to stay in an excellent one, with super-helpful hosts and generous meals (see Swiss Villa, in part 2). Running a B&B in a tiny town means that major shopping has to be done in van Rhynsdorpover 100kms away, so there’s no popping down to the shops to do a quick pick up of forgotten custard powder.
There’s also a brave attempt at a new coffee shop/curio store a few kms out of town, its called the Blik Bazaar and offers handstitched tray cloths, home- made rusks, fig rolls, quince rolls, cleverly made trinkets from re-cycled tins, hand-made bits and bobs. You can sample the traditional rooster-koek, but you need a strong set of teeth to tackle them, and don’t on any account, ask for tea. It’s dreadful. The Afrikaaners make good coffee, but they don’t understand tea – unless its Rooibos tea, of course, which most Ceylon tea drinkers dislike.
Chris, our genial B&B host , told me Nieuwoudtville actually has a Pigeon Racing Club – it only has three members, mind you. He also told me there is no resident doctor, only an elderly nursing sister who has officially retired, but still dispenses good advice.
Nieuwoudtville’s an interesting place to visit, if you’re after peace, quiet, clear air, and glorious Spring Flowers. But I wouldn’t like to live there.