How to have a ‘nervous breakdown’, Cape Town style

2013-08-07 13:31

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Who can afford a nervous breakdown spanning three continents anyway?

This is why I never watched Eat Pray Love.

Frankly the thought of watching Julia Roberts trot around the globe in search of herself fills me with terror. And by terror I probably mean envy. Hats off to Elizabeth Gilbert, the American writer on whose memoirs the movie is based. But still, we all hate her a little bit, right?

Most bosses simply won’t encourage their employees to combat accumulated existential angst between slurps of spaghetti in Italy over the course of four months – followed by stints in India and Bali.

My nervous breakdowns are usually quite localised, mostly owing to entirely foreseeable circumstances such as budgetary constraints and work obligations.

Julia Roberts has a breakdown spanning three continents in Eat Pray Love

So, if a multicontinent-straddling Eat Pray Love epiphany isn’t quite within your present game plan either, how about a nice little soul massage this side of the sea? I have some suggestions.

On Sunday, life led me to the Delaire Graff Estate on the Helshoogte pass, on the R310 between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.

I did a news piece on the place fairly recently, as it is the new intended home of Tretchikoff’s iconic painting, Chinese Girl.

The estate’s British owner Laurence Graff bought the oil painting for silly millions at a London auction earlier this year and intends to display her as part of his considerable South African art collection on the farm.

The main building is filled with Kentridge sketches and Deborah Bell figurines; Dylan Lewis leopard sculptures survey the landscape. The view is the penultimate canvas of sunshine, vineyards and mountains.

Fine dining at the restaurant is pricey but delicious (the most affordable meal is fish and chips at R155). Their signature Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and green. A beautiful man with laugh-crinkled eyes played a piano.

Outside on the terrace we saw a suikerbekkie, those little shimmering disco-hued birds with long beaks for extracting nectar from fynbos.

The art-infused estate is somewhat surreal – like an Alice in Wonderland for grown-ups – and offers a welcome escape.

Alternatively, save some cash and have a cycle or a stroll and a picnic in the nearby Jonkershoek Valley, just past the Lanzerac Hotel outside Stellenbosch. The valley follows the curve of the Eerste River, leading to the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve and its mountain wilderness beyond.

R40 gets you into the park, where a hiking trail leads to three waterfalls. Walking to the first waterfall is an easy half-hour stroll. Try to avoid stepping on sun-basking lizards.

Cyclists get discount (Cape Nature appears to be quirky like that) as it’s only R25 to get into the reserve with a bicycle. Bikes are available to rent at a coffee shop at the reserve’s gates at R60 an hour.

What’s more, Stellenbosch is only a 40-minute drive from Cape Town.

The point is that respite can be fun in small doses, and this side of the equator too. Take note, Julia.

So let’s get off Facebook and live a little, shall we?

Biénne proves that respite can be fun in small doses, and this side of the equator too

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