Sunday, 8 May 2016

Babylonstoren’s Hanging Gardens, outside Paarl in the Cape …



Coming with me on my nostalgic trip to South Africa? … you just need imagination, a love of learning, appreciate a little more history … and who knows what else will appear – lots of photos – let’s take life easy – now 2016’s A-Z is over …

Table Mountain ... 

The great Dutch maritime and trading company having established trading routes eastwards founded a victualling station for passing ships … plying the route from Europe to the Indies and Spice Islands in the east …



A photo from the book below ... a Plan of the Company's
Garden as it was in the early days of settlement ...

… the gardens grew with the Cape becoming a very welcome stopping off point … Dutch farmsteads spread and the culinary mix of Cape Malay (spices from the islands) came about … with Cape Dutch dishes becoming established …




I use it for inspiration, recipes as
well as history ... 

I bought this book on my arrival in South Africa in the late 1970s … and it’s been a boon as I continue to refer to it …



The Portuguese mariners finally rounded the Cape in 1486 … calling it the Cape of Storms because of the violent seas being churned up … but happily this name was short lived;




Cabo de Boa Esperanca - 1ate 1400s

… soon it came to be called Cabo de Boa Esperanca … the Cape of Good Hope … so called from the optimism engendered by the opening of the sea-route to India and the East.





Cape of Good Hope with its swirling, churning currents

From then on, with the Gardens established, the Cape won further renown as ‘the tavern of the seas’: symbolically Table Mountain beckoned to all seafaring gourmets to pause a while and sample the foods and delights of southern Africa …



Chutneys and Sambals - a blend of local
fruit and exotic spices - a heritage
bequeathed by Malay slaves.



Before we go off and whet our appetites … we perhaps need to take stock and save our pocket money … for this visit will be enjoyable and we will need a sufficiently deep purse for our R & R …




So today I invite you to vicariously visit ... Babylonstoren with me.  I happened to come across this resplendent Wine Estate when I was researching Emily Hobhouse … I got waylaid!


Babylonstoren's banner - the plan doesn't look
that different to that of those early days

The Independent’s article gives an amazing overview … I will just add snippets and some photos … so my last post referred to the Babel of the A-Z … this post is on the newly created Babylonstoren Farm Estate at Babel Hill, outside Paarl …


A selection from the food choices on their site ... a banner again


The ceramic bull watching over the
seasonal change to the menu


... from an estate dating back to 1692 … now called after the Hanging Gardens of Babylon … you need to check it out to see why …




… the wonderfully written article – 3 paragraphs giving us an oh so tempting wish to jump on a plane and visit … camomile and thyme lawns, yards with hens and ducks, a bee garden … prickly pear maze, guava avenue, the grapevine pergola … and so it goes …



Sprankel - their 'new' champagne

It looks like everything is taken care of, or can be … the only thing we need is to get there!  Relax, enjoy ourselves, savour all the delights … the South African landscape, the local foods … the luxury of sumptuousness …





Their red Nebukadnesar 
What would you like to eat and drink … Babylonstoren wines … Nebukadnesar – a red wine, Sprankel – their sparkling champagne … steaks, lamb, tapas, fish, delicate fruits, cheeses … all locally grown or produced …



The Hammam Spa

A trip to South Africa would suit me now … perhaps I’ll wait for warmer weather – but oh how wonderful a trip would be – to luxuriate in South African hospitality …



Cape Dutch heritage ... 
Happy visits to Babylonstoren … the About page details world history, as you scroll through the farm’s development from 1652 (the very early days) – when Dutch painter Jan Vermeer exhibits (1664) his “Girl with a Pearl Earring” …


Oh nostalgia me!

The Independent's write up - well worth a read ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

56 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Ooooh and ahhhh.
It does sound truly delightful. A haven for the senses.
Thank you.
So much.

Nilanjana Bose said...

I'm coming right along with you. Luscious! And that book looks like a gem.

Off to check out the links now. Pleased to see your post.

Happy week to you!

Out on the prairie said...

An interesting array to get ones interests built. I will look forward to hearing more, I have been preparing a number of gardens this last week. My main vegetable garden is 1/2 acre, a major work of art.Keeping the dogs out of the sprinklers is a tough one, they see it as a play area and are easily amused while getting wet.

Elsie Amata said...

It sounds like it would be a lovely visit. The food would be an adventure in itself. But I'm with you, I'll wait for the warmer weather before I head over :)

TexWisGirl said...

i think it would take a lot of $$ to save up for that trip and splurging.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sprankel - interesting name for champagne.
Good Hope is a much better name.

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

I was just thinking what Alex said about the name! The cookbook would be a great treasure. It's great you held onto it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - yes ... I ooohed and aaahed when I saw the site. Then when I read more I thought how brilliant to restore the estate to its former glory ... and I just loved the name. I'm quite certain - it would be a haven for the senses ...

@ Nila - that's wonderful you'll be joining me - the book is a treasure ... and can still be found - I bought a copy for a friend as a present.

Hope you enjoyed the links .. and yes I think I'm posting once a week now ... while I sort things out ...

@ Steve - I'm afraid no more - til my money box gets a wee (huge!) bit fuller!! But I can dream.

Good for you - I'd love to have a garden and do some proper gardening ... oh I can imagine the dogs will be having fun ... but it's a great life you're giving them and the various children, grandchildren too .. enjoy!

@ Elsie - it does sound a glorious place ... and if I had the cash I'd be out there now - whatever the weather! Then I'd go again when it was warmer ..

@ Theresa - I'm sure it would be a lot of $$$ ... but it's a lovely thought!

@ Alex - I have to say I thought it was an odd word too ... but it may mean something slightly different in Afrikaans ... hence is a good name.

Cape of Good Hope is a better name - but the Cape of Storms is true to the area .. it is rough ...

@ Holly - I can see where you're both coming from with Sprankel ... I don't think it would have my vote ...

The cookbook is a treasure - and it's one of a few that I couldn't let go ...

Cheers to you all - one day perhaps we'll get there ... Hilary

Vallypee said...

Oh me too, Hilary! A visit would be lovely right now, and even SA winters are often better than English summers! What a lovely post and a great place to visit too. I love the Cape's elegance, but I also love its focus on building an inviting atmosphere. The ambience, scenery and hospitality that you describe give me waves of nostalgia too. Thank you!

D.G. Hudson said...

Anything is enhanced by your wonderful telling of the charms of a place, Hilary. South Africa has a lot of history, especially with the ships trying to find the exotic 'spice islands'.

Thanks for showing us a peek into a land many of us may not see with our own eyes. . .

Rhodesia said...

Thanks for the memory
Of rainy afternoons, swingy Harlem tunes
Motor trips and burning lips and burning toast and prunes
How lovely it was.

Great post Hilary. Thanks Diane

Inger said...

Another interesting journey with Hilary. Making me hungry. And, guess what? I just learned who to spell "whet" as in whet you appetitie. I will not tell you here how I thought it was spelled. And just so you know, I am a very good speller of this language of yours. I just changed to a watermark template too, but a different color. The one yo have here was my original one back in 2009.

M. Denise C. said...

What a great post, Hilary. I love that pic of Table Mountain. Cheers, MDC

Denise Covey said...

Hello Hilary! Up to your usual standard! Never heard of Babylonstoren, but of course it conjurs of the Babylonians of Biblical times and the confusion of languages. Do you think you will get back to South Africa? It would be wonderful to see how it's changed since the '70s.

As always, thanks!

Denise :-)

Weekend-Windup said...

Enjoyed reading your post. Thank for sharing them...

Botanist said...

This post set my tastebuds a-tingling :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Val – wouldn’t it be wonderful to visit … and yes SA winters, particularly early winter, are definitely quite warm. Delighted you could relate to the post and envisage the area and contents …

The Cape is a gorgeous part of the world – your descriptions just add to the post .. thank you – waves of nostalgia I still get as I think back …

@ DG – really appreciate your thoughts … it is a magical area – there’s just something that draws you in, particularly if you’ve visited and know the area. The history is fascinating – as so much of it relates to today … and again – I’m delighted I’ve given you that insight into Southern Africa …

@ Diane – you know what we’ve seen and been through … living in southern Africa … lots to see and to do – and involve ourselves in the different cultures that have developed.

@ Inger – great to see you … and whet or whet! Oh that’s good your English spelling didn’t desert you at the last minute or leave you very damp!

Oh well done .. I’ll be over to check out your ‘new blog face’ … I need to do mine ... and hopefully will do soon …

@ MDC – so glad you enjoyed seeing around – Table Mountain is an extraordinary part of the world …

@ Denise – I hadn’t heard of Babylonstoren til I was ‘sent’ to check it out … there is a personal link. I loved the name – I’ve always thought living in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon must have been wonderful … though I’m happy living in our era – it’s easier!

I sincerely hope I’ll get back to South Africa at some stage – it’s getting on for 20 years since I last visited … and then it had changed – I left in the early 1990s …

@ Weekend-Windup … appreciate your visit …

@ Ian – good to see you and tastebuds a-tingling .. make sense

Thanks everyone so much – I’m happy you’ve enjoyed visiting Babylonstoren .. cheers Hilary

Keith's Ramblings said...

I'm getting such itchy feet! Thanks for another entertaining and informative piece Hilary.

Visit Keith's Ramblings

Mason Canyon said...

I always enjoy your post, Hilary. You take me to such interesting places and I learn so much. Always fun.

Murees Dupé said...

I drive past it all the time, but have never visited the wine farm/ restaurant. Your post definitely makes me want to change that:)

Karen Lange said...

What a rich history - I had no idea! Thanks for taking us on the journey with you. I appreciate your inclusion of details and pictures. I always feel a bit like I've visited too. :) And often I find myself hungry...lol Have a wonderful week!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

I'm loving my "visit" through your photos and commentary. How beautiful is the photo of Cape of Good Hope. And can you imagine? A thyme and chamomile lawn! Thanks so much for sharing this journey with your readers, Hilary.

Chrys Fey said...

I've heard about Cape of Good Hope a lot. It looks beautiful. And that view of Table Mountain is amazing. A trip to South Africa would really be something.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I would love to visit and spend days and days experiencing everything.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Visiting a winery is also fun.

Deborah Weber said...

LOL - waylaid at a Wine Estate eh?! I wouldn't want you to get lonely so I'm happy to head right over there. I love the name Babylonsoren as well - you can tell there's wonderfulness there.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith – if you haven’t been before – you’ll love South Africa and will see so much … especially the Cape and Victoria Falls … what a great trip to look forward to …

@ Mason – many thanks … I just had to write about this – it looks an amazing place …

@ Murees – well that’s good .. you can then tell us all about it – giving your South African flavour to my English take … I hope you do take a look in …

@ Karen – thanks I like to bring the post and area to life when I write about things … and this book has history too … so I’m glad you feel you’ve visited fleetingly perhaps … but at least have a feel. Sorry about the hungry bit … but SA food is so good …

@ Victoria – appreciate seeing you here and enjoying the story line with the photos/images … I agree that thyme and camomile lawn is such a wonderful idea … so pleased to see you …

@ Chrys – well one day I hope you visit us here in the UK, and then have a holiday in South Africa … the photos I love looking for them … reminding me of times past …

@ Susan – oh a good few weeks would be lovely and I’d love to chat with friends over a glass of SA wine and share life with you all …

@ Diane – yup – visiting a wine estate is as you say always fun ..

@ Deborah – well I thought we could all get waylaid … so that’s excellent you’re on your way over too – let’s dream!!

I just thought that name rang out so loud and clear – I couldn’t help but check out the estate of Babylonstoren – it runs off the tongue, and into my psyche …

Cheers to you all – and one day perhaps we can all get to see the estate … I’d love that - Hilary

cleemckenzie said...

You were waylaid in one wonderful spot. The Wine Estate was one exceptional place to linger and enjoy. The date alone gave me pause to think. And that bull's head. How big is that anyway?

I'm always fascinated by the photographs of food in cookbooks. They have a way of whetting my appetite to try new recipes and taste new flavors.

Nicola said...

I have heard of the wine estate and it looks fantastic. South Africa is on my 'to visit when I'm published and selling lots of books' list :) Thank you for sharing and whetting the appetite :)

Christine Rains said...

I know so little about South Africa. I can't wait to go on this journey with you. :) Have a lovely week.

Paula Kaye said...

What beautiful pictures. And I love the history lesson. I am wanting to taste a bit of all the cuisine. My favorite thing about traveling outside my country...

Joanne said...

I've heard it's a lovely country. Do you work for the tourism board? You should. I've joined your adventure tour. You whetted the appetite

Lynda R Young said...

Those coastal shots are gorgeous.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lee – yes finding the estate and wanting to explore – even vicariously … gave me lots of ambience to think about – and to be able to get a glimpse into the layout and setting ... and to see the history. That bull is amazing isn’t it – I’ve no idea of its size …

The world was opened up quite quickly once the ocean waves could be conquered more easily … but the African coastline is not very friendly … and lots of lives were lost … as it was explored: the Skeleton Coast tells its own story …

This cookbook is just a delight … so informative and the photos/images in the book are just lovely to look at and think about … I loved the flavours of Cape Dutch dishes …

@ Nicola – that’s great you’ve heard of the estate .. I just inadvertently came across it. I’m so glad it’s on your list of places to visit – good luck to selling plenty of books … and I’m delighted you enjoyed the ‘taster’ ..

@ Christine – I’m glad I’ve given you something to think about re South Africa … I’m afraid my journey is over for now – though I could write some more at some stage – and may do so …

@ Paula – thank you … I’m delighted you enjoyed the history lesson – and yes travelling allows us to sample new cuisine doesn’t it … my taste buds are happily rolling!

@ Joanne – it is a beautiful country. No I don’t work in tourism ... I just write what I feel like – but I have lived in South Africa ... and I know this is a place I’d love to visit. Delighted I’ve whetted your appetite …

@ Lynda – thanks ... the coast is just so beautiful …

Cheers to you all – so pleased you enjoyed your R & R read through …. Hilary

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like a fantastic trip.Loved the pictures. And Sprankel, tapas, fruits, and cheese sound delicious.

Jean Davis said...

Your posts always make me hungry. :) Thanks for the little dose of history to start my day.

Sherry Ellis said...

I agree - a trip to South Africa would be lovely! That is some ceramic head of a bull! If I went there, I'd probably be too distracted looking at that, to eat.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Natalie - so glad you enjoyed the vicarious trip ... and yes I'd love to take a trip right now ...

@ Jean - thank you - the food is good, the history is always interesting ..

@ Sherry - there are some wonderful gardens there; that ceramic bull is extraordinary isn't it ... I'd be distracted by all around me, I suspect .. the place sounds wonderful ..

Thanks so much for visiting .. cheers Hilary

Gattina said...

I have a friend in SA, it must be very beautiful. One of my classmates has been there 3 weeks ago and found it wonderful ! A pity it's so far away !

Susan Scott said...

Hi Hilary! I've been to Babylonstoren! It was almost to the day two years ago ... we were down in Wellington for the Wellington Wine Walk which was wonderful and thereafter was the Franschoek Literary festival. We met up with a dear friend Sheila and her friends (bookings are made much in advance), and my son and his then lady friend (now his wife) joined us at Babylonstoren for a very memorable meal. I have some photos of the meal - which was ordered according to colour, I think green, red, yellow, maybe purple ... and the walks around the estate where the food is grown is beautiful.. horses in pasture, friendly dogs. We were there in the area again later in the year, this time to show our US friends but not for lunch. I remember buying a very beautiful soap for my niece Elizabeth - pockets had to be fairly deep for that purchase, especially for the lunch but worth every penny!

Lynn said...

I would love to visit Babylonstoren! Thank you for this glimpse into it. It is a truly magical place, I can tell.

Crystal Collier said...

I would LOVE to take a trip to South Africa. I'd need a few more dollars, and a babysitter, but hey, it's doable, right?

Thanks for the vicarious trip.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina - SA is very beautiful and so glad you've a classmate to chat to about the country. I know it's far away - but it's just an overnight flight?!

@ Susan - good to see you ... and how fascinating you've been there - the Wellington Wine Walk sounds good then the Franschoek Literary festival - wonderful.

Babylonstoren - well you've whetted my appetite even more for a vist - how fascinating to have - courses according to colour ... and then your confirmation of the layout of the estate and the delight it offers. I'm sure the pocket needs to be lightened with any purchase or meal - but I just felt worth it, when I looked at the review.

Perhaps you can let us see the photos of the food ...?!

@ Lynn - it does look magical doesn't it ...

@ Crystal - yes the babysitter first, then all the moneyboxes cleaned out and your own ones ... and then with another few years savings a trip would be in order - definitely doable!

Thanks so much - lovely comments ... and vicarious trip or not - just worth reading up about .. cheers Hilary

janice h said...

I don't think I've ever heard you this wistful and sentimental about a place and its delights before, Hilary. Make a wish... get yourself there! I'm sure your hundreds of contented readers would be happy to help as a thank you for your years of tour guiding, entertaining, educating, inspiring and supporting us all.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Janice - wonderful, wonderful idea - I shall get over there sometime soon ... for now I must reside here and live for my dream!

You're a star for leaving such a complementary comment - long may I continue on - and long long may you all keep visiting and enjoying what I post about ... cheers Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You put a lot of effort and love into your posts, Hilary. I just wanted to thank you for that. As for the blog itself, delightful. I shall win the lottery, then we are off on a jet plane, first-class, of course!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joylene - thanks so much ... and yes when (not if!!) we win the lottery we can all meet up and have fun helping each other ... and have a visit to Babylonstoren ..

Cheers Hilary

Jeffrey Scott said...

Looks like the making of a great trip.
I'm not much of a wine person, so I will have to keep my eyes open for beer postings. ;) If they have that sort of thing in South Africa.
But now that I think of it, I think a South African company recently purchased Miller Beer, a hometown brewery.

Mark Noce said...

Thanks for enlightening me! My knowledge of South Africa is somewhat limited:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jeffrey - when the time comes .. I'm sure it will be an amazing trip. South African Breweries took over Millers I think ... but there's plenty of beer in SA - and now lots of microbreweries have sprung up since I came home.

@ Mark - I'm glad you enjoyed the brief overview ... I don't know Australia and the Far East having never visited ... but my time in SA helps somewhat ..

Thanks for visiting .. cheers Hilary

Romance Reader said...

Beautiful pictures. Can I come along with you? Sounds fun!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Bartolomeu Diaz and his journey around the Cape of Storms/Cape of Good Hope was part of my explorers unit when I taught 5th grade. Diaz was one of the less blood-thirsty explorers. Too bad he didn't survive his second trip around the Cape!

A Cuban In London said...

I truly loved this. I have wanted to go to SA for a while. I must admit, though, that I find the level of crime scary. I know a couple of South Africans based in London now and they told me that they left because of the ever-rising crime. Your post makes me want to give it a go.

Greetings from London.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nas - everyone was invited .. and you're on the list ... it would be brilliant wouldn't it ..

@ Dianne - lovely to hear you were teaching the children about Explorers and especially those that went from Europe to the Spice Islands round the Cape .. travelling wasn't so easy then ... but he made it once and that helped us today ...

@ ACIL - yes the crime is challenging, but one just needs to be careful and go with people who know the ropes ... and it's fine.

It is a beautiful part of the world and well worth a visit - to see the landscape, the animals and to experience a different side of life, particularly in the Cape ... I hope you get there soon ..

Cheers and thanks for the visit - enjoy the weekend - Hilary

beste barki said...

In the back of my mind I have been wondering about your days in South Africa. I'm happy to hear that you're taking us on a trip with you Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Beste - this was a new wine estate I came across and was bewitched by it ... so had to write about it - I hope one day I can get back to visit ... for now it will have to wait - mind you it's summer here! So this was a vicarious visit for us all .. cheers Hilary