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Fifty Shades of Greyton

Gorgeous Greyton. A Delicious Day in Greyton. The titles and opening lines for my travel story had already been lilting in and out of my head for days. I hadn’t yet unpacked from my previous getaway when I was invited to write about the charming town that I’d somehow neglected to spend much time in, even though I live one hour away. I’d asked my Travel Blogger friend, Natalie Roos to join me for the experience and could already hear the clinking of our ice as it surfed to and fro inside our gin and tonics between sips.

It was at least 32 degrees centigrade and the Cape was blowing on one final ember of summer, burning across us like dragon’s breath. Notebook, laptop, sun cream, toothbrush. Check.

I hit the road. Air con out of gas. Typical. I wound down the window and listened to Bob Dylan croak out his ‘made for cruising country back roads’ folk poetry. Toasty, golden fields rolled towards the road. Cows grazed. Clouds lazed…

The winding road finally revealed a lush village entrance. Greyton reminded me of the opening pages of a fairytale: gables of dripping ivy framing scenes of charming cottages and children skipping down tree-shaded lanes.

I dropped a few gears and took in the scenes of locals grocery shopping, making deliveries and sipping coffee, before arriving at our destination, Greyton Lodge. Curious, in that the lodge has a Victorian façade but a minimalist and modern interior (obviously expertly styled), it took me by surprise.

Wooden floors and counters had a raw feel, while tan leather couches and textured detailing imbued the interior with warmth. I was greeted warmly by the owners and shown to my suite, where Natalie was already unpacking.

We ordered G&T’s and reclined in the garden. The poolside was draped with nubile bikini-clad bodies soaking up the last rays. Golden hour was approaching and we had to photograph – fast. We were heading to the river and therefore awash with an inconceivable fear of starvation, arming ourselves with every meat, spread, bread, fruit and cheese in Greyton.

Back in our suite and about to dress for dinner, we were surprised by local Chocolatier, Richard Von Geusau. He came to introduce himself and drop off several bars of his locally made Belgian chocolate, which included ‘Salted Caramel’ and ‘Pear’ (my two favourites), amongst others.

We were obviously on cloud nine, shrieking like children after the second hour of a birthday party. Von Geusau chocolates are the best chocolates I’ve tasted in South Africa, including the imported varieties.

They are stocked by the finest hotels in South Africa and beyond for good reason: their maker is clearly dedicated to the tireless pursuit of chocolate perfection (and must secretly relish providing others with intense joy!). I opened a bar and cracked off a piece of dark orange chocolate and sunk into my pillow: a stolen, guilty moment before dinner.

“You should be the poster child for Von Geusau,” Natalie remarked, after witnessing the dramatic cocoa-saturated scene unfolding in front of her eyes.

I quietly judged her for an inability to fathom the true essence of ‘chocoholic-ism’ and hid my chocolates under my pillow. My heart broke to leave them behind but there was wine to be drunk and food to be eaten and somebody had to do it.

We enjoyed many glasses of the best stuff over conversation with old friends in their beautiful home (which had a river flowing through the garden), before making our way to ‘Monks’ – a tapas venue along the main road. Whisky-soaked jazz floated through to the al fresco dining area underneath the stars while we chose our dishes.

Even on a Tuesday night in a small village out in the country, Monks exuded a warm and joyous atmosphere. We fell into bed after a full day.

Natalie had to leave first thing in the morning, so the owners of our accommodation in Greyton, Greyton Lodge, offered to make us an early breakfast. They were the most wonderful people – all heart – and their generosity and love for their work was tangible.

Fruits, meats and cheese spread out before us in their sun-drenched modern dining room that looked like it belonged somewhere in the hippest nooks of Woodstock. I ordered French Toast, drizzled with fynbos honey. My eye fell on two gifts of wine: the sweetest finishing touch on our perfect stay.

I waved goodbye to Natalie, packed my car and turned my sights towards the hills. Wild horses can’t keep me from the mountains, so I followed a path and hoped for the best. First a reservoir, then a lush crevice, a stream, a river. I lay down on a rock and soaked it all up.

Clambering back down towards the village, I peeked into Searle’s, which not only boasts a bar, a pizza section and outdoor dining, it also has its own theatre (an absolute must-visit). I walked to the Oak & Vigne, which now has a vintage clothing store in the courtyard and a retail area for Von Geusau chocolate.

Gretha Quinlan Candles was a little further along: another absolute must for those who can’t resist a world-class hand-crafted product (or candlelit baths). Quirky Country Gallery is a new addition to Greyton, stocking hand-drawn illustrations, modern art, jewellery and more.

Horses roamed the streets – yes, horses – grazing freely and cooling off underneath the shade of trees: yet another quirky aspect of this kooky town. There are so many more shades to Greyton than top notch restaurants and first class eateries (although, those obviously don’t hurt!).

You’ve got to fall a little in love with a village that boasts a theatre, a rock ‘n roll venue, fine dining, art galleries, a market, mountain biking, horse-riding – and their very own Willy Wonka.

Greyton ain’t just a pretty face. It’s fifty shades of gorgeous.

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