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Published: September 8th 2015
We last saw Lindsey's cousin Ian in Mulhouse, where a local man had offended him and then tried to meet him for mutual language lessons. By a fortunate coincidence we happened to be in Cape Town whilst he, Sybille, his wife, and their children Simon and Lizzie were here to celebrate his 50th birthday. Since we live away from the family it feels like we miss out on so many family occasions so it was lovely to be here to celebrate.
Ian had gone all out with a whole day spectacular at a venue called The Range, which is set amongst the forest at the foot of the mountains in Tokai. We started with a champagne reception in the sun whilst we met and caught up with the family. There was a rugby ball lying around and a few people got up to have a throw around. I surprised even myself by getting up and joining in. It must be 15 years since I endured the torture of throwing a rugby ball around a muddy field. I quite enjoyed it -despite the occasional flashbacks to sadistic PE teachers.
Following our throw-around, we were invited to enter a huge fairy-light
bedecked tent, to be seated for breakfast. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day to eat out so I was looking forward to this treat. I wasn't disappointed. There was a lavish feast of yoghurt and muesli, pastries, breads, pancakes (strangly called "flapjacks" here), bacon, sausage, tomatoes, juices, coffee and more champagne. With three plates of food inside me even my breakfast cravings were satisfied.
With a mountain of food making us a bit uncomfortable we decided to go for a walk. At the entrance to The Range there was a fork in the road. The road continued off towards the forest and there was a sign for a market. I love experiencing markets in other countries so we decided to take the short walk to have a look. By this time the sun was burning down on us - making our winter attire feel quite uncomfortable. A Cape winter can be very unpredictable, the day before we'd had rain and cold.
The market was a charming little area buzzing with activity. There were stalls made from wooden poles with tarpaulins stretched across to give some shade. Between the stalls were strung lines of bunting of all
different colours and patterns. Most of the stalls had various kinds of food. Given the volume we'd consumed these didn't appeal much - though we forced ourselves to try some fudge - it just had to be done. In the end we bought a bag of fudge off-cuts for R10 (50p) and not much else.
When we got back to the tent we were invited to go wine tasting. I've found it to be a good policy to never refuse the opportunity to taste wines so we decided to join the group. This meant we had a lovely walk over the ridge to the Beitenverwachting Wine Farm. The scenary was idyllic, with endless lines of vines leading up the slopes of the mountains, a beautiful tree shrouded dam and a tiny village of good looking houses for the farm workers. We crossed over a river and in front of us was the old house.
We were met by Tiennis, our wine guide for the afternoon. He led us to the shade of a huge old tree in the middle of the lawn at the front of the house. We took our places in a circle around him and
were joined by a rooster and a group of hens. Tiennis knew his stuff and was quite engaging. He led us through five or six white wines and then followed these with a rosè, a red and then a wonderful yellow dessert wine. I can't pretend to remember much about the wines, or how they tasted, but the whole experience was very pleasant.
The walk to Beitenverwachting had been leisurely. The walk back was positively languid. We enjoyed the sunshine, the fresh air and the beauty of the great outdoors. When we got back there was a lull in the festivities so we went to chill out for a little at Aunty Col and Uncle Paul's house.
We returned for another drinks reception with canapés as the sun was going down. As the temperature dropped we took our seats inside. The meal was interspersed with a set of short and generally entertaining speeches given by people from different parts of Ian's life and also a quiz which Sybille had created from questions related to people's experiences with Ian. It was all very fun. The meal itself was a buffet with beef and chicken, rice and potatoes. Again it
was delicious. Dessert of chocolate brownie, passion fruit cheesecake and various other goodies followed. By the end of the meal Lindsey and I were stuffed and sleepy so we made an early exit. Next morning I sill felt too full to eat.
Overall, it was an amazing celebration which really reflected Ian's character of generosity, hospitality and his easy way with people. He has an amazing capacity for building and maintaining friendships with people and that was so obvious from the range of people that were there. I can't wait for his 60th party!
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