Coffee Talks and so can we! - Day 347
A day of two halves: the morning was culture and the afternoon community: Coffee Talks and so can we!
First thing, we visited the Free State National Botanical Garden, which is on the edge of the city. Tim had recently read a book about trees and how to identify them and so that is what we did. It is amazing how many trees have the magic number 3. Three leaves at the end of a branch, three leaf clusters or a leaf separated into three parts. We also noticed if the leaves are alternate or opposite. I love our school projects!
One of my favourites here was the Succulent Garden. It was laid out resembling South Africa’s nine provinces and each bed representing the succulents found in each area. My other favourite was some petrified tree stumps. These old tree stumps are about 240 million years old. Covered in mud or sand would have stopped the normal action of decay and gradually sand particles slowly replaced the organic material of the tree, causing it to become petrified (turned into stone).
As we walked around, we had to avoid water jets that were, for some strange reason, placed near the paths, soaking these as well as the grass. Why were they on in the late morning when the water evaporates so quickly? A waste of water when there is a severe shortage. Two children didn’t seem to mind though, and it was fun to see them jumping through the sprays on purpose and screaming with delight.
It was getting scorchio so on to Oliewenhuis Art Museum, just a 10 minute drive away. The building is a grand white Neo-Dutch style mansion and first used as a residence for the Governor General of the Union of South Africa from 1942. King George VI and his family stay there for three days in 1947. After a long campaign by Bloemfontein residents for an art museum, this building was converted, and Oliewenhuis Art Museum officially opened in 1989, making it one of the youngest art museums in the country.
As we entered, I asked if there was a guide, and instead of a paper version, we were introduced to Celeste, a pretty young lady with her gorgeous long red hair, who turned out to be an artist herself. In the two rooms downstairs was a temporary exhibition called New Breed Competition where we could choose our favourite paintings and/or artists of the 54 showcased and vote on the computer. The winners will be announced on 8th November.
We both loved an oil painting by Daniëlle Pretorius which represented the changing colours and textures of the sand dunes and sea near Richards Bay. Tim loved a photo by André Rose of a bushfire with smoke and blue of the sky reminding him of a Turner painting.
As we walked upstairs to the permanent exhibition, I got chatting to Celeste, and she admitted her struggle as an artist. I shared how our friend Charron has turned her passion as an artist into a viable business, how she has a strong brand and markets her art well. We ended up having quite a philosophical chat together. Meanwhile, Tim was looking at the permanent exhibition and showed me one of his favourite: Wading by Hanneke Benadé –quite dreamlike and peaceful, as the lady is walking in a calm lake. The silk of the dress or nightgown and the ripples of the water are so beautifully painted. What talent.
It was lunchtime, so we found a café with a 4.7 rating from 146 reviews on google called Coffeetalkscafe. As we drove into the driveway, we could see quite a ramshackle of a place with a sign that said “Hostel”. One of the reviews said it was for Hipsters, so we thought, hey, must be our kinda place!!
It took us a time to find the actual café, wandering around various rooms; lounges with comfy chairs and books, a place selling second-hand clothes, a creative workshop area that can be rented out. Finally, we walked into a cosy, rustic room full of tables, chairs, sofas, rugs, books, a display of cakes, various spices and veg for sale, and found the café. After drinking a very tasty coffee and eating our wholesome lunch, (refraining from the cakes), we relaxed watching the birds flying around, listening to some beautiful piano music and reading a book I found on one of the shelves. Moments like this are priceless; at peace and content with life.
We started chatting to the owner and found out that it was a family run business, well, more of a way of life. The family have lived here for 23 years, and during this time, the place has evolved organically. What a lovely family they are. The eldest son Victus is passionate about permaculture farming and showed us around their land. With chickens, sheep, donkeys, ducks and a new cow, we could see Victus’s excitement having this cow. He shared that there is even enough milk to sell to neighbours. He proudly showed us their greenhouse they built and the salads and vegetable that are starting to grow, mulching heavily with straw. His next project is to add irrigation. We loved his passion and such a lovely young man.
What a family they are. The daughter is training to be an Art therapist and helps at the care centre next door, and the Mum and Dad are a delight. They seemed very curious about our travels and with their friend Herman, gave us loads of tips on where we should visit. I think we will have to return to South Africa one day, there are so many amazing places that we just cannot fit them in our time span. Since then Herman has sent me loads of links of places to visit. Such kind people.
We sat down and had such a pleasant conversation about life. It was great to hear local people appreciate that we are all human. The colour of skin is of no consequence, and we agreed that it is so ridiculous that people judge others by their outward appearance, in fact, that we judge full stop.
The café has a lovely ethos, believing that Coffee is more about the experience, from the smell and warm sensation of freshly brewed coffee to the “wonderful chats you have with your friends, family, perhaps your soulmate of even the time you set aside for yourself, contemplating life..” However, this family and business are so much more than coffee. They believe in building a community, creating a homely and welcoming space for people to come and relax, to learn and share; a platform to educate and inform about the importance of caring for each other and our planet earth.
Well, we didn’t expect to be there for 5 hours! I’m not sure they did either!! Probably they were very relieved when we finally left! What a fabulous afternoon – times like this is what our travel is all about. Spending time, and learning from amazing people. Thank you Coffee Talks Café.