Often the best place to escape to is one where the paths are less beaten, the grass a little rugged and the people are honest and friendly. In McGregor, a quaint village 20km from Robertson along route 62, you will find the perfect example of country life; charming properties, open gardens, dirt roads and a main road that acts as its heartbeat. It’s the perfect location for wandering, wondering and escapism.
| McGregor offers quaint, thatched cottages, outdoor activities, art and crafts, tranquility and relaxation. Surrounded by mountain trails, fruit orchards, olive groves and the vineyards which supply the various McGregor wineries, the village has maintained a rural peaceful ambience inspirational to its artists. |
With an invitation from McGregor Country Accommodation to come visit and explore we were ready for a weekend of activity but were not fully prepared to have our hearts stolen.
Here’s my share of what you need to know for you to plan your visit:
We stayed in the very charming Tumbleweed self-catering cottage which could sleep 6 people and had a plunge pool at the back and a lovely braai area which we will be relaxing in when we return again in the summer.
High ceilings, quirky country touches and generous space make it standout accommodation for week-long stays. I always judge a place by how much kitchen space there is, utensils available and whether the bed envelops me as one of its own – Tumbleweed ticked all the boxes and more.
Other beautiful places to stay are:
Robertson Small Hotel (post coming soon)
Once you’ve checked in, the fun begins; I could happily walk around the town for hours, it’s peaceful and enchanting and there are plenty of little coffee stops for you to stop in for a morning buzz.
Every Saturday at about 9am, there is a market which lasts for around 45minutes and allows for residents to sell their homemade breads, pies, cakes, oils and where all the dogs of the town head to because they know they are going to get well fed. Starting your day off with fresh koeksisters can only set you up for a win.
Visit Edna Fourie’s art gallery on the main road. A beautiful expression of one ladies love of discovery through art. Located on the main road, the gallery is light, bright and a haven for her pieces that speak of transformation and personal growth.
For a development story with glitz and plenty of energy then you must pay a visit to The Next Step Dance Company. These girls have come from varied and troubled backgrounds and channel their passion and hopes into dance.
For your soul
Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary is a paradise and rehabilitation home for abused donkeys – here they can find relief and rest from a history of cruelty. The sanctuary now encompasses 9 hectares though it started with just R100 in a bank account and a “will to do more”.
It’s peaceful, forgiving and meeting with each donkey, having them nuzzle at you when they have known such pain is very humbling. They often have parties of children visiting who have experience abusive circumstance so that they may experience therapeutic and gentle healing.
There is a restaurant and whilst the service is slow, the scones and muffins are homemade each day and taste delicious.
Karoux is run by partners, chef Ryan Josten and Aimee Van Hecke who used to be at Steenberg but gave up the corporate life to follow her dream of offering good food in a beguiling setting.
The menu changes weekly depending on produce availability and it generally consists of four options per starter, mains and dessert. It’s a really intimate setting – they only do 30 covers a night – but the place is always packed and despite there being only 3 staff (Ryan and Aimee included), the service never lets up. Generous portioning, great ambiance and a healthy wine list consisting proudly of only local McGregor/Robertson wines (though you are welcome to BYO for a R30 corkage fee). I will happily be back as my husband said their pork belly was the best he has ever had. High praise indeed.
If you’re a fan of olives, Rhebokskraal can take care of your every culinary delight. Annalien and her family are yet another story of people who have escaped the busy life to settle in a quiet town to do what they loved.
The olive experience that Annalien offers is her love-letter to McGregor and she has made it into a personal and open experience for everyone. Not only can you visit the Rhebokskraal farm and have lunch under their vast and ancient oak tree, you can make olive-inspired breads, paint, sketch, listen to Annalien play music for you, visit their rescued tortoises and soon, in the summer, take marble cutting classes.
For your antioxidants
Because we all know wine is good for you…
Lord’s Winery has gone under some serious renovations and upgrades and I believe there is much more in store for this award-winning family-run business. Last year, their MCC Brut walked away with trophy for the best, non-vintage blended brut at the Amorim Cap Classique Challenge and their Sauvignon Blanc 2014 won a gold medal at the 2014 Michelangelo International Wine Awards award.
Met by Melané Oosthuizen, we were taken through a mini wine and food pairing activity which saw us tasting the entire range of Lord’s wines as well as some special barrel samples.
It’s well worth a visit, even if it is on the road to nowhere – the bubbly is well worth the trip.
Tanagra first came to my attention when I looked in to staying at their self-catering cottage Faraway (it’s amazing right?) but it was for their grappa and wine that we made our visit. Robert and Anette Rosenbach, originally from Germany, moved to McGregor and are firm believers in the seamless and necessary meld between ecology and economy and their respect for nature is found in the products they produce.
Grappa is made from the remnants of wine grapes – it’s incredibly eco-friendly – and Robert makes a variety of styles and flavours. It’s strong stuff, good for putting hairs on your chest, yet it’s smooth and bursting with flavour.
The wines are from vineyards next to the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve and there is minimalist interference from the Rosenbachs. I particularly enjoyed their Blanc de Noir made from Cabernet Franc grapes; crisp, well balanced with a beautiful salmon pink tint.
Have I given you enough reason to visit? I could carry on…
The real beauty of McGregor is in its ability to offer so much whilst demanding very little from you in return. The tranquil nature and pace of life makes it an attractive destination for anyone wanting to simply get away from it all.
For more photos of McGregor, click here
Big thanks to McGregor Country Getaways for their great hospitality