Posts Tagged ‘wine’

It is FREEZING here and my thermometer on our deck reads minus 20 degrees centigrade! The weatherman adds another dimension to this bone chilling report by explaining that with the wind chill factor, it should feel closer to minus 30! I have developed my own parameters for measuring how cold I am….one being that if my nose hairs start to freeze then I need to get my little behind inside!  I just cannot get my head around these temperatures. I do believe they exist but have developed certain coping mechanisms to make ‘it all go away.’ It is a case of adapt or die…..


Canadians dream up all sorts of activities to hurry this brutal winter along. One such activity is the Polo Bear Dip……

Crazy Polar Bear Dippers on New Year's Day.

Crazy Polar Bear Dippers on New Year’s Day.

It was New Year’s Day and the sun shone out over Ontario Lake.  Today was the big day that 700 dippers would plunge into the Ontario Lake. As I watched these frozen bodies descend down to the icy shore many questions filled my head.

What could have possibly possessed them to do this insane act? Was it the indulgences from the night before that gave them the courage? Did a group of friends set up the challenge? Where they just trying to test their endurance or bravery? Whatever the reason, it was for a good cause as the funds generated would help supply clean drinking water in developing countries. I hate to admit it publically but another question popped into my head….

Would I take the plunge next year!

 Many of the winter activities do test the endurance level like skiing and ice wall climbing. As you can imagine they all require an element of fitness and in my mind, bravery. For those of us that prefer something more sedate, you can try snow shoeing. Slip on a pair of ‘paddle like shoes’ and head for the hills. The layers of snow buffer the sound and the tranquility up in the forests is food for the soul.

As winter progresses the ice layer thickens on the rivers and harbours. This is when the ice fishermen appear.  They bore a hole through the ice and drop their fishing line into the icy waters. Once set up they erect a small tent over the area for protection. I can imagine that these fishermen have a huge reserve of patience and endurance! But believe it or not, there are still fish to be caught here in our Canadian waters. I think I would have migrated to warmer lands if I had been a fish!

Patience and a loyal dog....

Patience and a loyal dog….

So with the era of the polar vortex firmly in place we strive to get out there. We are constantly exploring new ways to outfox and to take pleasure in winter. Thank goodness for wood burning fires, glowing saunas, hot tubs and a glass of red wine!


I just want to see you be brave…..


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The old tractor chugged along in front of me. It was heading along the windy road between the farms outside Stellenbosch. The wooden slatted trailer was laden with red grapes. They spilled over the edges as it bounced along. The round berries were bursting with juice and the sun picked up their purple hue. They would have a royal reception once they drove up the long driveway to the homestead. The wine maker stood alongside the cellar in anticipation. It was press season and he had his time cut out for him. I noticed all the activity on the farms as I slowly meandered along my favourite route. Farmers drove up and down in their ‘bakkies’ as they checked the harvest for downy mildew. The crop was looking good and it was all systems go! There was much to do and one sensed the flurry and excitement. They had to act swiftly as soon the leaves would change colour and would shrivel and drop. It would then be time for the plants to rest, but first these red jewels had to perform and yield.

The beautiful Stellenbosch Mountains

The beautiful Stellenbosch Mountains

In the distance the craggy Stellenbosch Mountain stood proud as it framed ‘the dorp.’ I thought of the time that I had run up its steep sides as an enthusiastic child. The descent had been a tricky one and I recall how I had eventually wobbled my way down exhausted and dehydrated. But that experience had not marred my fascination for this giant folded mountain. As a teenager I spent many hours wondering around at its foot. I used to enjoy a walk up there through the forest of pine trees to clear my head. (I remember there being much to contemplate in my teenage years!)

My cold- blooded encounter....

My cold- blooded encounter….


There I had discovered a wealth of flora and fauna and even had an encounter with a puff adder. It had been an unusually warm winter’s day and the cold blooded reptile had ventured out of hibernation. It basked on the rock and warmed its ectothermic coils. Fortunately his sleepy state had allowed me to get quite close up so that I could admire his shape and skin. My dogs did not hold the same fascinating and went into ‘fight or flight’ mode. Much barking ensued and the graceful creature slid off the rock and down into a pile of earth. They gallantly wagged their tails as they peered up at me. How could I not be grateful? 
The sight of the bright blue backdrop of sky brought me back to the present. As I made my way back to our family home, floods of memories filled my mind and were savoured.   

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The reality sets in!

Euphoria is supposed to be the first stage when you have a sudden change like a move. You are meant to be enthralled by your new environment and all the new stimulus that greets you. Well, I can agree with that, except that my first stage was hardly euphoric but an acceptance of the situation and the way it was.Yes, there has certainly been excitement but there has also been the missing of family and friends too. This week I thought that I had finally declined into the next stage and this is how it happened.

I had spent a wonderful day out with a SA girl and we had trailed around a few interesting shops and had a delectable lunch at a Parisienne cafe. It was time to make my way back to the condo so I set off in the car and said thanks to my sat-nav for leading me through the maize of houses and down to the lake shore near our apartment. I was just about to congratulate myself on my cool countenance and turned into our road when an officious looking police officer jumped out in front of me. “You can`t turn in here, there has been an accident” I searched the road for the obvious signs of a collision and saw nothing but the flashing lights. These were enough to ward any one off especially someone who was about to do her Canadian Driver`s license for the first time. I drove aimlessly around the block and returned on the other side of of the street thinking that I might be able to persuade the other officer to let me in. No such luck! I then proceeded to drive around Toronto in rush hour traffic for almost 2 hours. To add to my dilemma I had forgotten to fill up my tank and I was literally driving on the smell of an oil rag. I made one last circuit and decided to appeal to the first police officer again as I now had a pulsing headache and was beginning to have a sense of humour failure. I put on my most polite voice and used the ‘little girl lost’ approach but even that did not work.I was furious! Anyway a garage was found and I even mastered the art of filling my car up with petrol. I eventually limped through the condo door and collapsed in a heap! The first stage of my transition had definitely been terminated!

Then tonight we decided to celebrate David`s birthday and Bryan`s arrival into the country. We had a beef roast filling the air with delicious aromas and there was a good bottle of SA red on the table. The brothers managed to get the the music piped into each room in the condo so I had smooth jazz playing in the kitchen and it followed me  as I made my way around the apartment, even the bathroom! I realised that there are certainly going to be mishaps but on the whole life is goooood!

Family, friends and good wine.

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Josh travels light

Josh travels light

On our visit to the Niagara Falls we drove back via Niagara -on -the- Lake. This is a small town much like Pilgrims Rest in SA. Someone was obviously given the task of finding out the relevance of this little town and this is what he came up with:
It was the first capital of Canada and boasts the first library in Canada, the first anti -slavery laws were drawn up there, the first newspaper in the Ontario province was produced here and it boasts the oldest golf course in North America. The bit that I never told you about is that this quaint little area produces 80% of Canada`s wine! I had also heard that this area produces very dry wine because the growing season is short, the sugars do not have time to develop. Well, this Cape girl needed no invitation, lets go and taste some!

We drove up a palatial driveway of the Peller Estate with the Chateau nestling majestically in the trees. This one was chosen from our brochure for no particular reason other than the fact that I liked the architecture of the winery and we had been given a wine tasting voucher at the St Lawrence Market on the previous day..
Josh and David decided to stay in the car as this was definitely not their thing and David wanted to catch up on some much needed sleep as we had had him up at the crack of dawn that morning.

The Peller estate has been around for 50 years and was established by a Hungarian family. It  has received many accolades for their Chardonnay, Riesling and Ice Wine.We stepped through the maginificent wooden door into the winery and I decided there and then to clear my memory bank all the wonderful memories of wine farms in my beloved Stellenbosch. Philip and I were greeted with such grace and were taken through to the wine tasting area. It did look different from what we were used to, I could not help it! I missed the earthy aroma that always wafts through our cellars in the Cape and being at the coal face, these cellars are often right next to the actual vats.The aroma of wine permeates your whole being when you taste wines and you might even spot a spider webb en route.

Everything on the Peller estate tasting room was very clean and precise. I tell myself that this is going to be a different experience, so just go with it! .We tasted 3 of their wines a  Reserve Riesling, Reserve Meritage and an oak aged Vidal Icewine. I have never liked Riesling much but I was pleasantly surprised and the red wine was very dry  and smooth but that has never frightened me. As for the icewine, this was much like our late harvest but with the added romance  that it is picked when the grapes are frozen. At least the Canadian winters will be bearable if I can soften the harshness with some Icewine

.As we walked out to the car, I felt a sense of relief, this Bolander will be able to survive in this foreign place. Yes, it is very different but there are common threads that weave through the life here in Canada and it is up to me to find the threads and savour them.

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