I must go down to the sea again … just popped into my head.
Everyone should experience Hermanus at least once, or twice, or more in their lives. Most people travelling to, or through South Africa do. Hermanus is famous for whale watching, people watching, holiday by the sea destination, and just about anything else that smells of salt air and suntan cream.
Driving up Sir Lowry’s pass and along the fruit and wine farms, there was no hurry today. The drive is part of the charm and one should make time to stop at the pinnacle to look back, the roadside offerings of anything from jam to wine, and pace, not power, but pace along the way.
I was almost late for my meeting. Have to say, the scone at ‘Savannah’ cafe could have fed an army but I want more of those. The town was sleepier for lack of Monday tourists and those large beauties lolling in the waves, but suited me and I made time to do a bit of research and re-research (if that is a word) of the accommodation options on offer. The Marine is ideal for those who want taste and elegance, a dip in the pool, a little sauna and some great food with a view. The Birkenhead likewise, and the view in the evenings from the hotel is a world class act.
And the view from the Birkenhead …
Now who would not want to live there?
It was the little town of Stanford I had heard about, but never visited, so took myself in my little hired car for a spin along the coast, it’s a short way away.
Small. Nearly through it, some small shops and all very quaint. Many beautiful holiday houses and if the trend is anything to go by, the house prices are set to soar in this little hamlet of escapism.
What fascinated me more about Stanford, was her history. Mr. Robert Stanford himself. Distinguished British officer, Mr. Stanford and his wife left the service to settle in South Africa and bought a farm called Klein Riviers Vallei, where Stanford stands today. A successful farmer, he added bought more farms and transported his goods by boat to Cape Town.
The failed Irish rebellion of 1845 saw the British sending captured Irish rebels to South Africa. The colonists would have not have none of this and boycotted the ship, which ended up listing off shore for nearly five months. Some provided supplies through loyalty to the British but it was a sad affair. The Governor then approached Stanford with a hangman’s option. Provide the rebels with provisions or face martial law and have his provisions taken by force. Not much of an option then, and the poor man had no choice. Little did anyone realise that the colonists took it upon themselves to brand him a traitor. All turned against him, the banks, his friends and even the doctor who refused to treat his sick daughter, resulting in her death.
The original farm.
Broken and financially ruined, Mr. Stanford went to England to plead his case. Compensated, he returned to find his farms in ruins, and later auctioned, so the poor man returned to England to die in near poverty. The new owner sold off some land and decided to call the town Stanford. This is my short cut version but I stood there, listening to the lovely lady at the tourism office and thought ‘The bastards.’ Having said that, the history and tragic story of Mr. Stanford, gave the town a deeper level of understanding and I walked through the main street again, with a little respect for the way she came about. Definitely worth a visit and the attractions go beyond just the local shops and restaurants, there is plenty to do on the estuary, wine farms and hikes along set routes in the Overberg.
It was time to go, but not without a promise to return and spend a little more time in and around Stanford. I love it when history makes the place more interesting, don’t you?
My return drive would not have been complete with a stop at the beautiful Grotto beach, in Hermanus. A proper beach with umbrellas and everything, and the ideal spot for some lunch and a dip before the end of your day trip.
Images: lizmagrathcollection, the Royal portfolio, exploria, roxannereid, sleeping out