Mountain buzz

2019-01-21 16:37
Stephanie Saville.

Stephanie Saville.

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It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning and we were heading for a Champagne breakfast in the mountains.

Weren’t we the decadent and brave! We’d planned it all week. I’d suggested a day out in the Berg to get away from it all. Somehow, our weekend routine has become Saturday morning breakfast out somewhere, shopping, home, chores, a wander around the garden complaining that we’ve not yet done the things we said we would, watching sport on telly, maybe a braai or out for supper.

Sunday is kitchen creations day, getting ready for the week ahead and gardening, with visits or an engagement of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all lovely and I love just being at home after a week at work, but sometimes you do have to head for the hills.

So we set out for our favourite spot at Highmoor near Kamberg. What pure bliss. I’ve been going there since I was a young girl. My dad was a keen trout fisherman and he’d let us tag along and run wild there. I’ve never stopped going. It’s a steep climb through ancient mountains to the Ezemvelo boom gate and once you’ve parked your car and started walking, you’re on the moors.

I always imagine Emily Brontë walking across not too dissimilar moors and I love to imagine Cathy and Heathcliff running wild in a place like it. I re-read Wuthering Heights annually and my suggestion to call our current house Wuthering Thrushcross Grange Heights was not met with delight. I can’t imagine why. My assessment of our moors at Highmoor when compared with those I found on my pilgrimage to Brontë turf at Haworth some years back, was that our moors are infinitely better. 

I wish Emily could have run wild on ours. She’d have loved them.

Anyway, literary references aside, there is a wild serenity on those plains that I think is perfect for solitude and reflection. There’s “pleasure in the pathless woods”, etc.

As I sit there in the shadow of Giant’s Castle, dwarfed by the exquisite, timeless, untouched landscape, I tell the giant my problems. He says back: “Pssshhaw (blowing a little cloud from his lips). Is that all?” And I realise they are indeed a mere trifle when the world is this big, and time this infinite.

Okay, so spiritual references aside, we had a great walk. We’d set off by 7.30 am after a 6 am start from home. We admired the many wildflowers of varying hues, shapes and sizes. We startled a buck of sorts. We had a snack at the edge where the valley drops away in a breathtaking vista beneath and great birds of prey soar heavenward, their eerie cries to each other resonating over the hills. Excuse me while I wax lyrical. It was real food for our city-weary souls.

Exhausted from our effort (truth be told, we could be fitter), we made our way back to the car and then our usual sublime picnic spot on the river, to eat, drink and bathe in the cold water. Especially to drink. We were parched.

We’d planned the lovely Champagne breakfast around a bottle of sparkling wine that had been on top of the fridge for some months and which we’d got from somewhere, simple cheese rolls and a packet of chips. Don’t judge me. We packed quickly.  I’ve not imbibed much alcohol recently and was slightly concerned about the effects of the “Champagne” on me, especially since our spot on the river is a fair drop from the road on a steep, uneven, pathless hill. But I took some solace in the thought that I’d have some hours to recover and would be fine by home time.

We settled in on the big flat rock above the pool in the river and cracked the bottle (don’t you just love that pop and the mysterious mist that rises from it?). It was so delicious, icy cold and refreshing, that I might have drunk a bit fast. It had uplifting hints of berries and was not too sweet, which I loved. We sniffed it, swirled it in our mouths and savoured its magnificence, trying to act like the connoisseurs we aren’t.

The brook bubbled, the “Champagne” fizzed and I felt my head responding as it became a bit lighter with each gulp. I swear I was wittier too somehow and yes, I think he laughed a little louder  too during our chatter.

We had a lovely time feeling a little tipsy as we ate our rolls and contemplated the majestic landscape around us, philosophising in the way one does at those times. I kept saying that I shouldn’t have too much more, but each time I said it, I topped my glass up.

When the bottle was drained, I said to him: “That was so good, we really must get more of it. What was it called again?”

I reached over, steadying myself in case I toppled into the drink below because of the bubbly, and clutched at the bottle to see the name.

My loud chortle and snort got his attention. “It’s non-alcoholic!” I managed to get in between laughs. The look on his disbelieving face made me laugh even more. We hadn’t had a drop of alcohol between us. We were 100% sober.

And that’s the story of the “Champagne” breakfast that wasn’t.

Happy Saturday!

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  opinion and analysis

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