Winter in the Garden Route is delicious: generally cool at night and balmy during the day. So when the birthday of a member of the family falls in June – well, there’s nothing better than a weekend away at a cottage by the sea.
This year, for my son’s 34th, his wife chose Sandpiper Cottages in Boggomsbaai, and invited both my 9-year-old grandson’s 11-year-old bestie and me to join the party.
And I really don’t know who had the funnest time – the kids or me.
Boggomsbaai is a village about 30 km west of Mossel Bay that has neither shop nor post office. But it does have a hand-made sign that says ‘Pasop/ Kinders, goggas, fietse/ Straatkrieket. Balle’ (Beware/ Children, bugs, bicycles/ Street cricket. Balls) – and that should tell you almost everything you need to know about the place.
It has a sports centre, though (also operated by Sandpiper Cottages), which has a squash court, a tennis court, a spa, and a Fred Orban – probably the friendliest oke in the district, definitely the owner of the business.
And it’s got an endless beach, too – to which The Grandkids “NEEDED!” to go “IMMEDIATELY!” – and the moment they woke me at 6:30 on Saturday morning. (The bestie spends so much time with the family that he pretty much counts as another, very welcome, grandchild, which is why I talk about them in the plural. Less confusion, too.)
Forcing a bit of food down their throats at least bought me a little time until it got light – which it does at about 7:00 at this time of year – and, leaving the adults to lie in, we made our way as quickly as we could first to Boggomsbaai beach, and then, after an hour or two, by car to Vleesbaai, another sleepy beach-side village about 5 km to the west again.
Perhaps it would be kindest to spare you the details of all the fascinating, smelly, interesting things the boys found on the beaches and in the tidal pool at Vleesbaai – I mean, have you ever had to carefully examine the mouth-parts of a metre-long ragged-tooth shark, dead and lying in the sun these past few days? – and concentrate instead on our accommodation.
Sandpiper Cottages manages nine houses, which sleep between four and ten people each. Ours – Ostrero (Spanish: it means ‘oystercatcher’) – had three bedrooms, all en-suite, and, with the third (loft) room having three single beds, can accommodate seven in comfort.
It had everything you could want – luxurious bedding and towels, of course; TV with all the channels; books (but we didn’t have time to do much reading except at bedtime); an après-beach outdoor shower; and a kitchen stocked with more tools and appliances than I was able to immediately identify.
Being more of a braai-and-salad kind of family, though, the best part of the house had to be the enormous indoor fireplace: that and the dinner table. We like our food, so we do. And our warm winter fires.
So while it wasn’t really cold over the weekend, it certainly was cozy.
And I’d certainly recommend it.
Bring the kids!